Thursday, April 28, 2016

Offensive prayers

I like to think of myself as someone who is normally pretty gentle and kind.

But recently in my life experiences and conversations with God I have been convicted to be more offensive in the way I pray. Let me explain.

A little over a year ago my family moved from a small village in the Canadian prairies to the booming metroplex area of Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. In many aspects it felt exciting to be in a place pulsing with activity -- along with every store and eatery known to man. But on a deeper level I felt like I had been plopped into the middle of oblivion. In the center of this swirl of busyness and business, I knew very few people, and I struggled to know how to connect with others in a meaningful way. Everything was huge. Our church, with all of it's campuses, had 30,000 people in attendance each week. I felt truly invisible.

I remember thinking that if it weren't for my daughter and my husband living in the same home with me, I could literally die in my house and no one would find me until my body had totally decomposed. No one would know to look for me because no one knew me.

During this time of felt obscurity, I was still praying to God every day. In some way I knew He was with me which made a big difference. He saw me alone in my house doing laundry, cleaning and watching Pioneer Woman and HGTV every day. I even believed that He had called our family to move to Texas. I just didn't know why.

I didn't stop talking to God. I told Him I was willing to do whatever He'd called me to. I asked Him to show me what I should do next. As I continued to check out small groups and Bible studies, I was perplexed as no prospective connections came from it. Everyone seemed to already have their circle of friends. I was tired, and fought a bad attitude when I had to re-introduce myself to people I'd already met several times.

One day as I returned home from my morning walk I was really battling a heaviness that told me that I'd reached my peak -- that this place of anonymity was what my life was going to be.

I screamed at the top of my lungs, "God, You didn't bring me to Texas to finish out my life in obscurity! The best years of my life are NOT over!"

The spiritual atmosphere immediately shifted. I could sense God's Spirit saying -- "That's right. Keep going."

I began to realize that while I had been asking God to do battle for me in this difficult place, He instead wanted to partner with me. He was waiting for me to take up my sword and fight.

As I look back on that hissy fit I had in my kitchen, I can see how I was actually screaming out God's truth back to Him. In a really raw way I was making a declaration about His character. I was learning to wield the sword of the Spirit -- the only offensive weapon we are given by God for spiritual warfare.

I'm beginning to realize that maybe there are times I've been spinning my wheels in prayer because I've been asking for some things God has already given me. For example, I have regularly prayed,"God, please be with me." But as I grab onto His Word from Hebrews 13:5-6 I can also declare, "God I thank you that you will never leave me or forsake me. You are my helper and I will not be afraid."

The shift from a passive request to an active declaration is subtle but powerful.

Declaration is NOT a magic bullet. It does not manipulate God to give me what I want. It's also not the only way to pray. I'm simply realizing for myself it's a piece that has been lacking in my prayer life.

Today as I consider my life here in Texas, I can see places where I am making positive connections through my work and also where my niche might be in this huge cow town. Although I still have days when I ask God why we are here, on the whole my prayer life is more expectant and hopefully more offensive:)