My Prayer in the Midst of Struggle

All Powerful and Most Merciful God,

Look upon me with abundant pity;

I am but dust in Your immense and omniscient presence.

I am Your feeble and frail slave who struggles daily to serve You – and with utter 

inadequacy.

My most noble attempts to honour You are fraught with selfish motives and the

shameful stench of sin.

I ask that You, in keeping with Your overflowing mercy, forgive me for my offences:

For my lips that have so casually uttered Your most blessed Name,

For my ears that have refused to accept admonition and critique,

For my eyes that have lingered longingly upon that which is not mine,

And for my mind, that has entertained that which should not be articulated.

My flesh pulls me toward the world even as my soul is captivated by and drawn toward You…

At times it seems that I will be split in two by this constant tug of war…Forgive me.

And yet

I see a growing love for my Dear Saviour welling up within my soul.

I am ever more enthralled with His beauty, His perfection, His sacrifice –

and the desire to serve Him grows stronger with each passing moment.

The blood that He so freely offered in absolute obedience beckons me to forsake all and follow and imitate Him.

I look to Your Beloved Son for the righteousness that I can never attain on my own,

And for His peace that passes all understanding.

I look forward to the undeserved pleasure of hearing You say, “Welcome Home, My child”.

Grant me, through Your Precious Spirit, the strength to overcome the lures of sin,

The diligence to saturate my every thought with Your Truth,

The perseverance and commitment to grow in holiness,

And the boldness to be Your light in this sin-sick world.

Amen.

7E63EE53-4919-4699-B9E6-475DC2D40BFC

Advertisements

Weaning Ourselves from the World

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life – is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1 John 2:16

Life on earth is fleeting.

All it takes is attending a funeral to drive home the pointlessness of collecting worldly possessions. Some of us have buried loved ones and have had to deal with sorting through, distributing, and even tossing many of their belongings. Items of great sentimental value that were painstakingly chosen and cherished by our dearly departed family member now sit in a box in a storage unit or await the next trip to the local dump. It’s horribly sad and certainly makes one THINK.

What legacy am I leaving for future generations? Am I simply amassing things that are precious treasures to me now but will one day be tossed in a trailer bound for the junkyard? Or does my life show that my treasure is in heaven “where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:20)?

Society would have us believe that true fulfillment comes from having the nicest house, the newest car, or the most expensive vacations. There’s nothing inherently wrong with nice houses, new cars, or expensive vacations, but the Bible is clear that if these are the things we treasure most, then that’s where our heart will be (Matthew 6:21).

It’s not easy to wean ourselves from the world and become heavenly-minded. In this fast-paced world our jobs, schedules, families, and recreational activities all clamour for our attention. Unless we’re very deliberate and disciplined, our personal devotions and prayer times will take a back seat to all these worldly pursuits. I’m not saying we should neglect ANY of these things, but they mustn’t become all-consuming and detract from our relationship with Christ.

Easier said than done! There is a daily battle between my flesh and my spirit. I long to immerse myself in the Word of God, but my flesh shows me a million and one things I could be doing instead. My spirit cries out for sweet communion with my Father in prayer, but my flesh tells me there will be plenty of time for that later. It’s only through Bible reading and prayer, however, that I will become less enamoured with the world, and more focused on my heavenly home.

Saturating myself with Scripture through deliberate and diligent study makes me long more and more for eternity. When I gaze upon the beauty of Christ within the pages of the Bible, I see just how temporal and insignificant material possessions are.

So what do I do to counteract my natural bent toward the world and its fleeting pleasures?

I turn off my devices, take the phone off the hook, and ask the Lord to open my eyes to the wonders of His Word. Then I hunker down and make a concerted effort to read, pray, and study. I sit in the Presence of my Master, and revel in His loveliness.

5D8B16E6-5755-4B20-9646-2D2EFEC2B6C0

Be Careful What You Ask For…

 

97AEFFC2-DDE7-4F6E-B63C-065D21E91012

Our prayers change over the course of our lifetime, don’t they? Over the years many agonizing prayers have gone up for the salvation of my unbelieving family, for healing for dear saints wracked with cancer and other debilitating ailments, and for guidance during particularly stressful times of decision. But a few years ago, when I really started digging into God’s Word and He started showing me His character and perfections, my prayers slowly started changing. Instead of ‘give me’ prayers, there were more ‘make me’ prayers. My desires had been changed by God Almighty, and I now longed to be more prepared for the life to come, rather than to be more comfortable and happy here and now.

But even then, I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I asked Him to make me more aware of my sin. I genuinely longed to rid myself of anything that was displeasing to my Father, especially in my thought life. I expected the Lord to reveal my transgressions in manageable chunks over a period of time, but instead I found myself smothered under an avalanche of offences that God in His infinite wisdom chose to show me all at once. It was (and continues to be) a gut-wrenching process.

Sleepless nights filled with tears and crying out to the Lord ensued. As God exposed to me the blackest, vilest corners of my being, I realized, like Robert Murray M’Cheyne, that “the seed of every sin known to man is in my heart.” Covetous thoughts, angry thoughts, lustful thoughts…these all assaulted me to the point I thought my head might explode. It was reinforced to me that sin really does begin in the mind – and that even if I never act on those thoughts, the sin has already been committed and God has been dishonoured! Even more jolting was the realization that it would only take the right opportunity or circumstance for those thoughts to work their way to the flesh.

So now that I’m becoming more aware of those quiet, unseen sins and their approach into my consciousness, there are a few practical things I’ve found to be very helpful in the fight for purity of mind. Maybe they will help you as well:

  • MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE. In my struggle I memorized much of Psalm 51 (still working on the last few verses) and cried out to the Lord with the words of King David. I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve recited that Psalm in the wee hours of the morning, when the temptation to entertain sinful thoughts was almost overwhelming. Filling your mind with Scripture is the best weapon against temptation.
  • TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO OBEY CHRIST. Like it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, I would immediately identify a sinful thought the minute it made its way into my consciousness, repent of it, and ask the Lord to give me the strength to resist being distracted by it any longer. This is a work in progress.
  • READ YOUR BIBLE VORACIOUSLY AND FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS. There’s nothing like gazing on the beauty of the One who died for those sins, to make you want to forsake them and be obedient to His Word.
  • GO TO BED LISTENING TO A SERMON OR HYMNS. Night time is always the most vulnerable time for sins of the mind to rear their ugly heads. You’re tired, you’re alone with your thoughts, and generally trying to slow down your thinking process so that you can fall asleep. Your mind will take full advantage of this and turn unwittingly toward things you ought not to ponder. Listening to a sermon or having songs quietly playing that are replete with rich theological truths before drifting off to sleep can sometimes help prevent you from falling prey to this.

As difficult as this has been, I wouldn’t trade the lessons I have been learning for anything. Instead of being spiritually smug (“That sin will never be a problem for me, Lord”), I have come face to face with the pervasiveness and the power of remaining sin in my life. I have seen that although “our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing” (Romans 6:6), the lure of the flesh is still a mighty foe to be conquered at every turn. I have seen just how desperately I need Christ, and what I have been saved from. And most comforting of all, is this from Romans 6:14:

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” 

Yes, the struggle is real. Yes, I do things I shouldn’t, and don’t do the things that I should.  But with Christ’s help I will improve and be victorious, for I am “more than a conqueror through Him who loved (me)”, Romans 8:37. To God be the glory, for rescuing me, sustaining me, and for one day bringing me into His presence “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

Marvelous Grace…

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

– Julia H. Johnston

I love this old hymn! The words penetrate me to the core and make my heart want to erupt in thankful praise to the One who stooped down to save me. I couldn’t think of a nicer name for a blog.

The Marvelous Grace of our loving Lord:

  • brought a believer into my life in my teenage years who took the time to explain the Gospel, give me a Bible, and introduce me to prayer (which was completely foreign to me!)
  • opened my eyes to my sin and my need for the Saviour
  • granted me repentance and faith
  • brought me from death to life and changed my heart of stone to a heart of flesh
  • has planted within my heart an insatiable desire to know Him and His precious Truth
  • continues to reveal to me the incredible beauty of Jesus Christ
  • is developing within me a hatred of my sin, while at the same time slowly and steadily giving me victory over it
  • is weaning me from this world and sowing within me a hunger for eternal things

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

nature sky sunset the mountains
Pexels.com