Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The breath to pray today...

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 143: Today, I am grateful for the breath granted this day to pray. 

Anxious? Breathe. Tired? Breathe. Angry? Breathe. Excited? Breathe. Still breathing? Pray. 

One of the lessons in the past 4.5 years has been the incredible power of prayer. I've never doubted it. I simply did not use it to the maximum benefit. Why? I often left out "the listen". 

So often, our prayers become by rote, from habit or as part of a ritual. Learning the Lord's prayer... or reading Nehemiah 1... are great road maps of how to pray. In fact. Jesus didn't offer the Lord's prayer as a magical one, but as a perfect pattern when the disciples asked, " How should we pray correctly so the father listens?" 

We forget, so often, Jesus went to a quiet place of refuge to clear his mind of all things but what heaven might communicate. Jesus... the human part... knew the value of a quiet place. 

David penned this verse: 

"Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" -Psalm 116:2 (NLT)

What a beautiful thought. 

For David, it was a reality that began as a child. He prayed as he kept the sheep. He was stunned no one would take on Goliath with his God on their side. He was prayerful when Saul sought his music and his counsel. He was prayerful in a cave, where he could have ended the his enemy. He was broken in prayerfulness when his sin with Bathsheba left him out of step with the Lord he loved. He grieve in prayer when the child conceived in adultery died. He was joyful in prayer for the life and wisdom of the next son, Solomon. He was patient in prayer. He was grateful in prayer. He was at peace in prayer as he waited for his earthly last breath and eternity with his Lord. (Thank you David, for writing so much down, so we can learn.) 

So many feel betrayed by a God who doesn't answer prayer, but did they stop to listen? Do we believe a God who loved us enough  to become one of us... to die for us... doesn't care? Do we find ourselves the center of our own universe, neglecting the one who raised His hand to order chaos and design the right hydrogen and oxygen balance to sustain human lungs? That is pride and arrogance, and I have been guilty. 

What an awesome God he is, yet he longs to be in relationship with each of us. Prayer is the language. There must be a sender and a receiver to have effective communication. He can even be funny and he  will leave you shaking your head in wonder at His crazy, perfect ways. 

Grandpa Lindgren's daily prayer was answered that he lived most of his days at home. For all of those days he cared for animals and embraced the land. Grandpa liked to get up first to tend the animals. Matt... like April and I ... lived with Grandpa for a time to help out. We girls helped with Grandma's alzheimer's, but, for Matt's season, it was the two bachelors. One in his 90's and one closer to nineteen

Matt tried to lessen the animal load by getting up before the crack of dawn to tend the cows, cats and chickens. It became a race. If Matt was up at 5am, Grandpa would get up at 4:45am the next day to "beat the boy" to the chores. Finally, Matt called a halt to what was becoming ridiculously early, even for farm folk. 

I am only about half Grandpa's age at this point in my life, but I am wondering if that time became a sacred and holy time of prayer. A time of offering prayer and listening for God's voice in the barn and chicken house. 

God had granted Grandpa land, a home, sons, grandchildren, love in two seasons... and he was one of the most grateful people I have ever known. I can still hear him saying with a nod of his head and deep sincerity, "I thank the Lord for that." He said that often. 

In the sunset fifteen months of his life, he spent time in a nursing home bed. I loved visiting him. A master storyteller... a concerned father... a loving grandfather and great-grandfather... and  he was the Solomon of my days. I asked him how he was doing in the home. He said, "Valerie, I have a lot of time to pray and I do. For all of you. I thank him for all the goodness and mercy. I thank him for my family and the farm. For my church and the people around me. I pray. I thank the Lord for that." 

I told him we all needed the prayer warrior. I remember the lost feeling when our most faithful prayer warrior was gone. His nursing home room was a war room. 

As long as we have breath... we can pray. To complete the act of prayer, we must listen. You can't mix a batch of cookies and never put them in the oven and take them out after the proper time. A wait and timing is part of the process. So is prayer. The waiting matters. The rewards are sweet.

We can pray any day, any where and any time... as long as we have breath. Our prayers are our song of gratitude to a faithful, present and real God. 

Today, I am grateful for the breath granted this day to pray. 

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