Tag: prayer

For Those Skeptical Of Prayer, You’re Not Alone

Prayer—a popular part of the Christian life.

Perhaps for you, prayer is believed to “change everything.” Seek Jesus with all your heart while plugging in the right spiritual algorithms and prayer becomes a powerful tool to influence God towards your desires and unlock His. The measure to which God is working in your life is in direct proportion to your prayer skills, faithfulness, and persistence. God gives the gift of prayer as a way for His followers to open the heavens, learn of His specific will, and unlock the blessings and capacity of God to benefit your life, pursuits, and those for which you pray. From prayer warriors to prayer chains, the accessing of God, moving Him to do the miraculous, or simply wrenching a blessing out of His hands are all just prayers away for those who crack the code. In fact, don’t expect to hear much from God or land the key to His blessings if you aren’t seriously getting on your knees and prioritizing purity. Pray more and pray better, get more and live better—it’s that simple. To those who believe differently than you and do not share your same prayer experiences and vigor, a simple answer is ready to thwart their reservations—”If your prayers aren’t working, the issue isn’t with God, the issue is surely something with you.”

Or maybe for you, prayer is more complicated and mysterious. You love Jesus, feel a responsibility to pray, and sense it’s probably a good thing. But, how it works and whether it works is, at times, certainly uncertain. When things are clicking in life and all the pistons of firing, prayer feels awesome and is rendered such a powerful experience. Yet, when the chips fall and the ground crumbles from underneath, prayer is met with suspicion and secretly questioned to be a spiritual gimmick that can’t be trusted nor can the God to which it is directed. As a result, prayer becomes a kind of protection from being caught with your pants down. You do it, not necessarily believing it really works, at least not consistently, but because you don’t want to take the chance of not having checked it off your spiritual “to do” list. So, you go through the motions, just in case God’s in a good mood or it’s your special day. In the presence of your doubts and lukewarmness toward prayer, your Christian friends and church leaders encourage you to adjust your methods, strengthen your faith, give God the benefit of the doubt, be more patient, and remember “God works in mysterious ways.” Yet, when all is said and done, in your mind, if you are honest, prayer is hit or miss—perhaps even a bit misleading, cruel, and unfair.

Well, no matter where you are in the spectrum, chances are you have been taught that prayer is a transactional exchange.

That is, we are down here, God is up there—and prayer is largely how we connect with God, access His mind, and move His hand to work from there to here on our behalf. Prayer is that which bridges the gap, the disconnect, and the distance believed to be present between us and Him. It’s a kind of life-line, necessary for communication and the delivery of His will, blessing, guidance, movement, and favor from His world into ours. Without prayer, only the autopilot default interactions between God and humanity would be possible, filled with significant limits, disconnects, static, and separation. Therefore, prayer is what opens the flow of the divine spigot so that God can greater move in response to our greater movements of faith, faithfulness, and asking—it’s all transactional.

With that as the popular Christian view, no wonder why you’re skeptical of prayer and I gladly join you at the table—you’re not alone.

For if prayer is transactional in any way shape of form, then God is an unfair, callous, inconsistent, limited, humanly codependent god, and prayer is a scam and scheme of the most diabolical flavor.

For I have witnessed repentant Christ-worshipping alcoholics desperately pleading with God to be released from their addiction, only to be tortured with a life of unending vigilance and unequaled burden. I have watched humble Jesus-loving sacrificial pastors begging God for revival in their church only to be unfairly sent to the curb by the Deacon Board who is there today and gone tomorrow. I have watched good-hearted Christians ask God to bless the food on the church picnic table only to spend the next three days knee-bent at the porcelain altar. I have heard the despair of Jesus-worshipping church-attending parents who pray day and night, week after week, every year of their children’s adolescence only to see them grow up and face severe tragedy or embark on unyielding rebellion. I have observed numerous believers pray in and around their local schools, only to have them fall victim to devastating violence and murder. I have seen my fair share of faithful Christian fathers and mothers praying in tears for the cure to their child’s cancer only for their son or daughter to tragically die months later.

I know, I’ve heard it all before—God is going to use the death of their child, their addiction, their termination, or their misfortune to work out greater things in their life or that of others, and besides, He was focused on meeting their “needs” not their “wants.” Really, that’s how prayer and your god works? God is impotent to prosper people without pain, death, and difficulty, and everything He gives is predicated on stinginess? The same Jesus who fed the multitudes with a few loaves of bread can’t afford the healing of a cancer-stricken child? I know, “His ways are not our ways and His timing is perfect.” Really, for who?

If that isn’t enough, I’ve also witnessed countless people who couldn’t give a rip about Jesus, God, or their fellow human, seemingly blessed at every turn and miraculously spared of tragedy. In fact, the only explanation to their success, deliverance, and good fortune is to attribute it to the Divine, though they would surely never acknowledge it. If God truly “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” then this transactional understanding of prayer is the child making a Christmas list of hopes, dreams, and wishes with a special note of their love for Santa, all while the evil Parent has already determined what they will and won’t get—love letter or not.

For if this is the sum and true essence of prayer, and God gives it to us in hopes of convincing us of His love and goodness, then He surely has a funny way of going about it, and you are not alone in questioning it.

Thankfully, our relationship with God and the essence of prayer have been widely misunderstood—the truth is so much better.

Thank God almighty, the truth is so much better.

First, because of Jesus and the cross, there is nothing transactional about our relationship with God. Any needed exchanges and transformations between us and God were completed at the crucifixion on our behalf. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. The cross obliterated any distance, conditions, and transactional kind of relationship present between us and God. All of those are now relational relics of a covenant long past.

In fact, truth be told, we really don’t have a relationship with Jesus at all—certainly not in the conditional, transactional, distanced, and compartmentalized way we think of it. No, what we have is so much better. For we are nothing less than perfectly interwoven into the Trinity having full communion and union with God. He is us, we are Him—His life is our life, our life is His life. This is the power of Grace sealing us indistinguishably and irrevocably together with Him in a divine togetherness that is impenetrable and irreversible.

In fact, everyone you see, including yourself, is a walking Trinity in the flesh. As Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are One, so are we with the Creator of the universe.

This is the mind-blowing cosmos-shaking reality the biblical writer Paul tasted on his lips when He penned,But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” It’s the same Grace-bomb Jesus desired to explode in our understanding when He announced, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Notice, according to Jesus, our inclusion and infusion into the Trinity was a past reality already established in the heart and mind of God that He longed for us to awaken to in the present. This is why Paul could confidently declare we “lack no spiritual blessings” from God. For God extends His generosity as far as possible in fully giving Himself to us, to be us, with us, as us—living, breathing, walking Trinities sharing completely in everything He is and possesses.

Are you ready for this?

Therefore, the true essence of prayer must reflect the true essence of our inclusion and infusion with God.

Prayer isn’t the inferior language of a transactional, conditional, and distance-ladened relationship with God, it’s the divine language of our full union and unconditional communion in, with, and as the Trinity Itself. It’s the voice and echoes of our heart reverberating with His in the living mystical chamber of our inclusion into the fellowship of the Trinity. Prayer as a life-line is rendered woefully obsolete as He is our life, and our life is His—inseparably.

Prayer is the longings of our heart in conversation with the Father, Son, and Spirit within and all around, with every word continually recalibrating our soul to the unstoppable, fully capable, and beautiful human we are in Him, lacking nothing in capacity to face our every moment.

It’s not a pleading with a distant God to receive something we don’t already possess or He might not give, but our words, feelings, and thoughts being shaped and sounded into faith by the Trinity within and all around—convincing us that everything He is and has is already ours—self-sustained Trinities with skin.

It’s the gaze of our insecurities into the Trinitarian mirror dwelling inside and out, showing us who we truly are—whole, righteous, divine, loved, affirmed, inseparable from the Father, Son, and Spirit—popping and sparking with life.

It’s the every step we take, not into the divine or in pursuit of gaining closer proximity to His presence, but rather as the divine and as His presence in this world—this is prayer, for you are the Trinitarian conversation that changes everything.

It’s the crying of our heart that is met with the shared tears of the Father, Son, and Spirit when our divinity interacts with the insanity of an insane world.

It’s the rage of our anger that is met with the shared angst of the Father, Son, and Spirit when the Trinitarian chord of justice indistinguishably interwoven into our being is sought to be silenced and defeated by the darkness.

It’s the desperation in the depths of our soul that is met with the shared compassion and passion of the Father, Son, and Spirit within, when unfairness seeks to devour the perfect sufficiency of Grace that fills us and all things.

It’s the fierce and courageous solidarity we express that is met with the shared unyielding inclusiveness of the Father, Son, and Spirit within, when discrimination, inequality, and condemnation seeks to undermine the Kingdom of Love we are and bring.

It’s the thanksgiving we feel welling up in our hearts when the Trinity within assures us there is no distance nor lack from God to us in any way or anything.

It’s the asking, seeking, and desiring that is supplied and resolved instantly and effortless without pause, not with pithy answers, clear paths, miraculously changed realities, and instant Jedi powers, but with nothing less than an awakening to our complete seamless inclusion into, with, and as the Trinity Itself—together navigating life on planet earth as One.

No more wondering, have I been heard?

No more questioning, has God turned His back?

No more doubting, maybe I’m not good enough?

No more believing God is inconsistent, distant, callous, stingy, and downright unfair and un-trustable.

For the more we pray the more we realize, God is moving in, through, and as our lives, not because we pray, but because it is who He is and who we are with Him.

Living in the Trinity, as the Trinity, the ultimate unstoppable force in a forceful world.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Pushy School Prayer People

So you read the title of this article, and your back has already tightened up. As we speak, your mind is powering up remembered “prayer” passages from the Bible as your eyes drift down to find the comment section of this post.  But before you have a cow, or some other farm animal, read closely. I believe prayer is important. I pray, I value prayer, and encourage others to do so.

But holy steaming manure Batman, not only have many of us Christians turned prayer into everything Jesus never intended it to be, we have also become so ridiculous about this “prayer in school” issue.

“You need to pray more of this,” “you need to pray about that,” “pray this way,” “don’t pray that way,” “pray here, but not there.” Hot off the shelf,  “6 steps to more effective prayer,” “10 steps to bending the ear of God.” All with the vibe, if you aren’t doing prayer like us, you aren’t doing prayer.

I mean seriously, we have created such a huge fermenting debacle out of prayer; eroding it into spectacle, verbosity, formula, ritual, work, Law, and God arm pulling.

Yes, I believe prayer is important, Yes, giving a time for all students to silently reflect or pray as school begins seems benign. For the individual this can be either religious or not, and always kept personal. I get it.

But common, nothing is perhaps worse than Christians who have become reckless about the issue of prayer in schools.  Some demand that students have a set time to pray in school (even audibly) and whine like little school girls when in some instances they don’t get their way, or their way is threatened. Many blame the lack of prayer in school, or its restriction, as the reason why students’ behaviors and morals are in decline. Some, even go as far as to say that if prayer (the Christian kind of course) was more prevalent and planned in school, there wouldn’t be near the school shootings and other tragedies. “Don’t let them throw God out of school” is the battle cry of many, as if that would be possible anyways.  I’m just shooting in the dark here, but I think I remember reading a semi important figure in the Bible discovering something like… “I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.” Gee, I wonder if that includes schools. Probably only those where Christians are praying.

It all makes perfect sense to me now.  Duh, God only answers prayers from certain locations, right? God thinks to Himself, “Yeesh, I could have kept that tragedy from happening if they only allowed or encouraged kids to pray in school.”

It’s interesting to me, how many Christian adults care so much about having kids pray in school, but never, or rarely pray at home. And by the way, that religious “bless this food, Jesus” around the KFC bucket doesn’t count. Ranting about prayer in school all while buying your kids tickets to a Miley Cyrus concert, sounds like a plan to me.

I mean really, does God think to Himself, “Now that you asked me to ‘bless this food’ not only will I Jesus-zap the Ecoli out of it, but I will make it send your body into the next level of fitness and vitality.” It’s so obvious this is the way God works with prayer. I mean can’t you tell by how healthy, fit, and slim all those Christians are who religiously ask God to, “bless this food, Jesus.” Besides, no one ever gets sick at the local church barbecue… never.

Nothing lacking or present in the daily school life of a child can resurrect what is being put to death or ignored at home.

Furthermore, none of this is to even begin to get into the whole issue of Church and state and the constitutional restrictions and freedoms thereof.

I find it interesting that Jesus taught…

And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who pretend piety by praying publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. Truly, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you. Don’t recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are answered only by repeating them again and again. Remember, your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!  -Matthew 6:5-8

See, if you pray the way Jesus taught, every person has the freedom to pray biblically anywhere at anytime. And believe it or not, Jesus listens and responds to it just as much (and maybe more. *wink wink).

I know, but there’s no spectacle in that, no religious pushing and shoving, no freedom fight, no work, no spiritual notch on your belt, no protest. Praying Jesus-style takes all the Evangelical fun out of it. Dang nab it.

Did I say fun?  My bad, I really meant “flesh.”  Stupid spell corrector.

“We just need to keep prayer in school.” “God is offended we are keeping Him out of schools” It sounds all so spiritual, like we are real-deal Christians, but it’s so reflective of how religious, insecure, selfish, political, parental-outsourcing, and Jesus-doubting we have become. We obviously believe prayer is primarily about location (school), behavior modification and personal performance (kids do better), and getting God to do certain things He wouldn’t normally do or hasn’t done. This is absurd and nothing like Jesus’ attitude towards prayer.

“I don’t entertain guests in my closet. You’ll never hear me tell visitors after dinner, “Why don’t we step into the closet for a chat?”. Denalyn and I prefer the living room or the den. God apparently likes to chat in the closet. The point? He’s low on fancy, high on accessibility. To pray at the Vatican can be meaningful. But prayers offered at home carry as much weight as prayers offered in Rome. Travel to the Wailing Wall if you want. But prayer at your backyard fence is just as effective. The One who hears your prayers is your Daddy. You needn’t woo him with location.” -Max Lucado

Let’s stop outsourcing and pushing prayer onto schools. Let’s do our jobs at home to spiritually lead the way. Trust me, teachers and administrators would trade their salaries for parents to start doing that.

Let’s see prayer as a way of life, a humble communication with God, not a spectacle, ritual, or Evangelical badge to be worn.

Prayer is simply talking and listening to God.  Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s not how you pray, as if God were into verbosity, postures, formality, formulas, or eloquence as a condition or key for prayer.

It’s not where you pray, as if God was a location snob, territorial, or contextually limited.

It’s not how long you pray, as if God were holding a stop watch, doing a word count, or was impressed by stamina, waiting for that “o.k, that’s enough” moment to respond. The false notion that “the more you pray, the more God responds” places the power of prayer on you and not God.

It’s not how hard you pray, as if you have to bend God’s ear, wrench His blessings, or prove you’re seriousness in order for Him to reply or to increase His willingness to reply favorably.

It’s not how loud you pray, as if God is hard of hearing.

It’s not how good you are as a person, as if anyone’s righteousness before God comes from their own performance.

God already knows what you need long before you ask, He knows the desires of your heart, long before you express them.

So, why pray?

It’s simple, because God enjoys hearing from you and you could benefit from hearing from Him. Prayer, from a posture of thanksgiving and faith, draws our minds and hearts to all that we already have in and with Jesus, and reminds us that He works out all things for our good. Prayer is not about getting what you want, but much more about embracing, enjoying, and resting in all the you already have in Him.

In prayer, you don’t get anything more from God that you don’t already have, you just become more aware of it, and thus can enjoy it, harness it, believe in it, and be blessed by it. Bam, there ya have it!

Make you prayers full of thanksgiving, words (declarations) of faith, and honest requests. Then… listen, with the Holy Spirit as your guide.

Keep it simple, personal, and genuine. And for crying out loud, stop being so ridiculous, pushy, and preoccupied with prayer in schools. Jesus is bigger and prayer is higher, deeper, and wider than all of that.

If your particular brand of Christianity requires you be pushy, be pushy about making sure prayer happens at home. And even more so, be pushy about making sure you and your kids have the right heart, understanding, and attitudes toward it.

Reclaiming Prayer

Over time, if you put something in the hands of Christians, chances are we will make it more complicated than it needs to be, and turn it into a means to puff up our spiritual pride.

Such is often the case with prayer. What God intended to be a simple dynamic of our relationship to Him, we have often made into a complicated, formulated, legalistic religious ritual.

Prayer is simply talking and listening to God.  Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s not how you pray, as if God were into verbosity, postures, formality, formulas, or eloquence as a condition or key for prayer.

It’s not where you pray, is if God was a location snob, territorial, or contextually limited.

It’s not how long you pray, as if God were holding a stop watch, doing a word count, or was impressed by stamina, waiting for that “o.k, that’s enough” moment to respond. The false notion that “the more you pray, the more God responds” places the power of prayer on you and not God.

It’s not how hard you pray, as if you have to bend God’s ear, wrench His blessings, or prove you’re seriousness in order for Him to reply or to increase His willingness to reply favorably.

It’s not how loud you pray, as if God is hard of hearing.

It’s not  how good you are as a person, as if anyone’s righteousness before God comes from their own performance.

God already knows what you need long before you ask, He knows the desires of your heart, long before you express them.

So, why pray?

It’s simple, because God enjoys hearing from you, and you could benefit from hear from Him. Prayer alone is not what moves the heart and hands of God, faith is. Prayer coupled with faith is truly powerful, it releases God to work on your behalf. Faith is the key.

Stop trying to impress God (or others) with prayer. Stop using prayer as a way to appease some imagined condition you have imposed on God’s willingness to bless and move in your life. Your prayers do not make God any more or less willing to bless, prosper, and move on your behalf.  Stop using prayer as a spiritual thing-to-do to fulfill some kind of Christian duty, show you are serious about Jesus, gain the gleam of God’s eye, or stay in good standing with Him. Stop asking God to do what He has already done, and begging Him to do what He is already willing to do. All of that takes the power out of prayer and turns it into an empty religious act.

Rather, make you prayers full of thanksgiving, words (declarations) of faith, and honest requests. Then, listen.

Keep it simple, personal, and genuine.

It’s the heart and faith behind your prayers that matter, not your words, volume, length, posture, location, intensity, or depth.

 

 

Backpedaling or Giving Up?

Some time ago, we went through an experience with our son that has served to teach him (and all of us) the difference between backpedaling and giving up.

If you are like me, as a parent you never want to see your child “give up” on something. Whether it’s plans they have established, a team they are on, or a promise they have made. And so we teach them phrases like, “You need to finish what you start” and “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” And rightly so, giving up is not a principal that one is served well to live by. In our convenience-laddened culture, the idea of “giving up” comes much too easily and prematurely. Many simply “give up” the moment the going gets tough or causes them inconvenience. Indeed, commitment is the willingness to be unhappy for a while.

Yet, at the same time, there are times when we need to backpedal. That is, we get into a situation we thought was healthy, right, and in the flow of God, only to clearly find out, it wasn’t. The writings are all over the wall, “something is deeply wrong and even evil here” or “there is something not of God about this” or “this is not something for which God is anointing you.” You may not see those messages with your physical eyes or hear them with your ears, but your discernment and spiritual eyes see it clearly. It’s not a matter of trying harder, cow-boying up, or just enduring a difficult season. It’s not about you merely being frustrated, tired, hurt, or discouraged. It’s about that fact that you pedaled into something thinking it was God’s leading, only to find out, God’s no longer into it, He was never into it from the beginning, or He isn’t into it for you.

Obviously, this takes some skills in discernment to know the difference. God often leads us into situations that are challenging to grow our character and dependence on Him. But at the same time, Satan loves to entice us into things that waste our time, steal our joy, and distract us from God’s true leading in our life.

What’s the difference? God’s presence.

The moment you feel God’s presence/anointing leave you or a situation, it’s time to back pedal, and fast. Yet, as long as you sense God’s presence/anointing, you should never give up.

There have been times of great challenge, adversity, pain, and struggle in my life where in my head I wanted to give up, and could come up with all kinds of reasons and excuses as to why I should and could even spiritualize them. However, God presence/anointing was still there, and so I couldn’t give up. It’s hard to explain in words, but to those who are sensitive to it and seek it out, you can have a sense of what God is anointing (putting His presence into) in your life, and what He isn’t.

A couple years ago, our son Harrison signed up to play challenge-level soccer. He made the U-11 team and was excited about the season ahead. Yet from the beginning, with coaching problems, parent problems, and player problems, we began to discern, “something isn’t right here.” But instead of pulling the trigger too soon, we decided to give it time and see what happens, even to the point I agreed to be the head coach of the team, even after two coaches had previously opted out. Yet the more I got involved, the more the signs became loud and clear, “something really isn’t right here” and this wasn’t a battle God wanted me to fight.

In life, we need to choose our battles carefully, and especially make sure that if you tee-it-up for battle, God better be in it with you. Sometimes we take on challenges and battles God never gave us the green light for. And then we wonder why we tire easily, get bruised and battered, and ultimately wind up discouraged and even defeated.

So what did we do? We back pedaled. We didn’t give up on soccer and I didn’t give up on coaching. Not a chance. Rather, we backpedaled off the team and redirected ourselves to another opportunity for Harrison and our family where we felt God was putting His presence into. It wasn’t an easy decision, but one we knew we had to make if we wanted to be in God’s flow for our family.

Three great questions we all need to ask about every opportunity before us…

1) Is this God’s will? 2) Is this God’s will for me? 3) Is this God’s will for me at this time?

And even after all of your best discernment, always remember, there is nothing wrong with backpedaling when you find yourself into something God is simply not into, or God is simply not into for you

At the end of your rope?

If your life has been at all like mine, there have been times when you have reached a dead end. The situation seems hopeless and you wonder how things will ever work out. You may feel trapped, abandoned, or just totally zapped.  Every effort you give to solve or move past the situation brings with it more confirmation that the challenge is above and beyond your strength and understanding to resolve, remedy or explain.  Is there anything you can do when you come to the end of the rope? How should we handle the times when we come to a dead end? Is there any hope when we find ourselves in hopeless situations?

Here’s a few words of counsel when you find yourself holding on by the threads…

1) Consider that what appear in life to be “setbacks” are often “setups” from God

Sometimes when we feel backed in a corner with no way out, the situation can be daunting and very intimidating.  So naturally, we first think of it as a negative, not a positive.  We imagine the worst possible outcomes and conclude that life is unfair and the situation will never turn out for the good.  However, what we may not immediately realize is that God is trying to correct our path or even set us up for an entirely new course, and if He didn’t force the issue, we would have never considered nor traveled down the path of His desires for us.  

Consider that maybe God is testing your faith, or drawing you closer to him so that He can move you to a new chapter in your life.  Or, maybe God is protecting you from greater harm or disappointment.  Maybe God is positioning you to impact and influence people whom you never would or could have if He didn’t allow the situation you are in to come to pass. 

Or, maybe just maybe, God is simply giving you a real, true-to-life story to tell of God’s faithfulness as He leads you, walks with you, and takes you from tremendous difficulty to tremendous triumph.

Instead of seeing your circumstance as a sure “setback”  try asking God to show you what He is trying to “setup” for your life and future through the challenging circumstance you are in. You might just be amazed at what He shows you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

2) Wait on the Lord

Typically, when it feels like we have been left hung out to dry in life, our first impulse is try to quickly get away from the pain, solve the problem, make a decision, move things ahead somehow, or find a way out.  The problem is, those impulses are often emotionally driven and impulsive.  Who could blame us? We are hurt, spent, tired, disillusioned and the list goes on and on.  But that’s all the more reason to “wait on the Lord.” When we find ourselves feeling hopelessly trapped in a dead end, we aren’t usually as stable and sober in our thinking and judgement.  And most of all, waiting is the last thing we want to do.  But waiting, is actually one of the most important things we should do.  The times when life throws us a curve ball and the unexpected happens are some of the times when we are the most vulnerable and apt to take a mistake and make into a bigger mistake, or a difficult situation and make it into an even more difficult situation.   The scheme-artist Satan would love to do nothing more than exploit you and your situation.

Waiting on the Lord doesn’t mean you do absolutely nothing, but it does mean that you make every effort to take each step with the clear leading and nudges of God, and not before. Remember, God is very likely setting up something, but if you rush ahead, you’ll miss it.   You never know what God is up too, and the last thing you want to do is to give up too soon.  Is there a time to “give up?”  Is there a time when you may realize, God is closing one door and opening up another? Sure.  But if you don’t wait on the Lord, you will never know what was His will as compared to what was merely you getting quick in the saddle and moving before God blows the whistle. Unfortunately, the only thing that can come as a result of that is found in one word you should do everything you can to avoid experiencing…  regret.

If you wait on God, he will show you, lead you, and nudge into His purposes and plans. Waiting on God assures that you don’t get ahead or behind what God has been working towards all along.  

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

3) Remember, when you reach the dead end, you are actually closer to deliverance than you have ever been before.

It’s hard to see, it’s hard to believe, it’s hard to feel, but it is absolutely true!  When you are at a dead end, you are actually closer to the possibility of things truly moving forward and new doors opening up than ever before.  Like a doctor will tell you, sometimes a fractured bone needs be completely broken before it can be healed. And furthermore, when it does heal, it will then be stronger than ever before.  Sometimes God has to bring us to our knees before we are willing to wake up and seek His will and wisdom for our life.  In a sense, he has to break us so that we can be truly healed.

Dead ends have a way of opening us up to real life, the life only God can give us.  Dead ends have a way of showing us how much we need God and His supernatural power. We often think we are the masters of our own universe and that we don’t need anybody but our own smart selves. Dead ends shows us how desperate, insufficient, and in need of God we really are.

God-given deliverance never comes without coming first to a God-planned dead end.   Dead ends have a great way of showing us where we end and God must begin if things are to ever truly move forward towards healing and wholeness.  Unfortunately, many come to a dead end only to give up too soon, or never turn to God to be and do for them all the things in their life that they can’t and never will be able to on their own. What happens? They never graduate. 

Think of every dead end in your life as a classroom from God where most of the time, the ticket to graduate is turning to God in faith and faithfulness at a level you have never before.  If you never turn to God in faith God will allow you to either turn away from Him or keep bumping your head into the wall.  With God’s classrooms, there is only one grade, “pass.” And he will allow you to stay in that classroom until you do.

Sometimes God uses dead ends to press you towards repentance (turning to God for forgiveness and salvation, and turning away from sin).  Other times he uses them to press you towards faith and trust in Him.  The bottom line is, what God might be trying to deliver in your life is a bucket load of forgiveness, hope, healing, salvation, supernatural blessings, and the list goes on and on. But God can’t deliver what you don’t desire and turn to Him for in your life.  If you feel like you have been in a dead end and nothing is moving forward, it isn’t because God doesn’t desire to deliver you through it, it maybe that you haven’t sought out His deliverance because you want it, realize you need it, and know you can’t truly move forward without it.

The Bible says that without faith we can’t please God, dead ends have a way of pressing us towards faith and dependance on God.  So often we think we can deliver everything our lives need for fulfillment, peace, and happiness, and wholeness.  Dead ends teach us that only God can deliver what we really need and long for in life. 

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

4) Listen closely for God, and if He is silent, it may be because He wants you to learn to trust what He has already said or shown you.

The Bible counsels us that in times of crisis, we need to “Be still.”  Listening closely for God is one of the most important things to do when you get the end of a rope and it feels like there is no way out.  Yet at the same time, it will be harder and take longer to hear God if you haven’t been in a good habit of listening to God prior to when you ran into a dead end.  That is not to discourage you, but to say that listening to God before the storm comes reaps a lot of benefits for your life when a storm finally does come.  As a matter of fact, I have found that God will prepare me and even warn me of rough waters ahead if I am willing to listen to him when the skies are clear and the sun is shining. 

If at first, you don’t sense you are hearing from God, be patient.  Yet, God may remain silent. Why?  There are several reasons, you could have an unconfessed sin mudding up your connection with God, you can be too busy and scattered in your life to hear Him, etc.  But one reason may be is that God has already spoken into your life what you need to hear from Him and you need to simply trust in what He has already said or revealed to you.  God isn’t opposed to repeating Himself, but sometimes His silence is a message to you that you haven’t been listening.

Whatever you do, make sure you take time to slow down, be still, and listen to God.  In the passage below, Elijah didn’t hear God until he was willing to listen.

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.   1 Kings 9:11-12

5) Seek out counsel not advice

Anybody can give an opinion from their best take on a situation, but not everybody can give good counsel.  Advice comes from the opinions of people, counsel comes from the wisdom of God.  When you come to a dead-end level situation, you are going to want expert counsel from the expert of life, God.   God created you, He knows His plans for you, and He knows you better than you know yourself.  If there is any wisdom you should seek out, it should first and foremost be God’s wisdom.  Where do you find that?  Two primary places…   1) God’s Word (The Bible)  2) People who are wise in the ways of God

If you don’t have one, get a good study Bible and some Christian books on the subject of your dead end.  Read your Bible everyday and apply what you read.  If I can understand it and make sense out of it, trust me, you can too.  If you don’t go to Church, find a healthy, Bible believing and teaching Church that suits your personal preferences. Finally, seek out the counsel of Christian, faithful people who love the Lord and believe in the Bible as the absolute truth. 

There isn’t a more important time to avoid advice and seek Godly counsel then when you reach the end of the rope and you are clueless as to what to think, feel, and do. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

6) Present yourself totally available to any direction God might desire to take you, then watch for what God is anointing and what God is closing down.

Sometimes, even in the desperation of a dead end, we can have our own preconceived, stubborn ideas as to what direction our lives should go.  There is nothing wrong with that unless of course it keeps you from allowing God to overhaul, change your plans, rework you expectations,  or redirect your life completely.  

Behind every dead end is an opportunity to take a time-out with God and reevaluate where things are going in your life.  It’s a great chance to present yourself to God as an open canvass upon which God can erase, redraw, and repaint whatever He desires for you future.  Though this may sound like a bit of a frightening proposition, it really is a win, win.  God will confirm what is headed down the right path and gently correct what needs better alignment with His will. Regardless of what God does, you can trust and know for sure that it will be for your ultimate good. 

As you completely open up you life for evaluation and possible renovation, start looking for what things God is blessing and what He is closing down in your life.  From bringing into your life new friends and closing down old relationships, to giving you new passions and desires and shutting down old ones, follow the path God lays before you of closed doors and open ones. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but you will be blessed as you take on new God-dimensions for your life.

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me into foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise. Psalm 51:7-15 (The Message Translation)

7) Finally, walk by faith, not by sight. 

God doesn’t allow you to get to the end of the rope for you to spend the rest of your life there. It may feel that way, but it is not the case.

At some point, after you have done what is listed above, God is going to nudge you to move forward in faith.  You will know it when it happens.  It won’t be exactly clear what the future is going to bring, but that is why it requires faith.  God will give you enough to follow and yet leave enough undisclosed so that you can do so in faith.  That way, God gets all the glory.  

God will go with you, but He won’t go for you.  At some point, you are going to have to pick up and move on towards God and His will for your life.  And if at first, you are a bit off course of His perfect will, He will gently correct your path, so don’t feel like every decision you make is do or die. The first step is the hardest, but once you get going, God will direct you and steer you into His purposes and plans for you as long as you keep the connection lines wide open between you and God and seek to honor and please Him in all the you are and do.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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