I was listening to a podcast this morning and the host, and his guest, were talking about “guys who have been following the Lord for a long time now”.
I never really thought about it, but now it hit me like a football to the face: I’ve been following Jesus for over 30 years. Just typing that sentence makes me feel old. I’m not even sure why, but I suddenly have the impulse to drive slow, leave the blinker on, eat hard candy, and watch 60 minutes with the television volume turned up way too loud.
When I look back, I can recollect a lot of people who have given up following Jesus over the years. I don’t think they meant to, it just kind of happened. I suppose the reason most people fall away from the faith is not because they get mad at God (though some do) or they intentionally stop believing (usually after unanswered prayers). I think most people fall away because they neglect their souls.
This lead me to another football to the face moment. I had to ask myself how I’ve kept my beliefs all these years. I searched inwardly for some sort of Tweet-worthy revelation that people would ask me to write a book about. I thought that there must be some sort of mind-blowing secret to going the distance with my faith.
It turned out that the answer was really simple: just keep showing up.
Every day (or most days) for 30 years, I’ve been setting a little time aside to show up before God’s throne to say hi. I usually read the Bible too. It’s not a big deal. I’m not one of those guys who prays for two hours, then breaks out the commentaries and Greek dictionary. I just show up and visit with God for a bit. It may not sound like much, but it’s how I’ve kept my faith so long.
When I was a pre-teen, my mother had a friend who used to take my brother and me places to hang out. He had bigger muscles than anyone I’d ever known before. Every time I’d ask him how he got into such good shape, he’d always say the same thing, “It’s better to do one pushup a day than to lift weights hard but inconsistently.”
In other words, “Just keep showing up.” That’s the secret. The “one weird trick” to following Jesus for over 30 years is to talk to him every day.
Build the habit of prayer into your life and that habit will build life into you.
We are not as you intended
We’re like sheep who resist the safety of the sheepfold
We ignore the Shepherd’s call and choose the siren’s song of seduction
We claim to want relationship with our redeemer but our claims are false
Our actions speak louder than our claims and our words deceive none but ourselves
We adore the screen
We tithe to the God of entertainment
We worship at the alter of comfort and crave leisure more than your presence
We’ve exchanged our strength for gluttony
We’ve traded our honor to belong in a world that hates us
and forfeited our dignity to broadcast our opinions (more…)
I read, in a book, this story about Napolean. It goes like this:
The great French conqueror, Napolean, in his quest to rule the world, was quite surprised on one occasion when he encountered unexpected resistance while attempting to capture an island in the Mediterranean. The fighting was fierce and he lost many good men in the battle before finally overcoming the enemy.
Napolean and his generals were having a celebration feast when from out of nowhere, it seemed, a young officer approached him. Napolean saw the young man and asked abruptly, “What do you want?”
The young man said, “Sir, please give me this island.”
The generals were deeply offended at the brashness of the young man. But, suddenly, Napolean asked for pen and ink, promptly writing out a deed to the island. He then signed it and gave it to the impetuous officer.
By this time the generals were astounded. They asked their leader, “How could you give away the island to that young man when so many of our men paid such a high price to obtain it?”
Napolean responded, “He honored me by the magnitude of his request.”
Did you catch that? “He honored me by the magnitude of his request”!!
You know, I think sometimes we simply pray too small. We pray prayers that might come to pass on their own because we’re afraid to believe for the impossible. We pray safe prayers, for things that we can make happen on our own with hard work and perseverance. We pray for mud piles, but God wants us to pray for islands!
This story about Napolean provokes me to ask God for the impossible, implausible, and downright grandiose. I believe the Lord is honored by those kinds of prayers.
What’s YOUR island? Let me encourage you to bring your massive, hairy, crazy dream to God and see what happens. In fact, why don’t you start right here? If you’re willing to put yourself out there and share your impossible prayer in the comments section, I’ll commit to agreeing in prayer with you for it.
If you’re reading this, and would like to pray for the requests posted here, just hit that reply link under the request and let that person know you’re praying for them.
I’ll start OK? My big prayer is to be able to take three missions trips a year, including one to Africa this August to visit the well our church just financed. It’s a $4,300 trip, but it might as well be a million dollar trip for us.
Another edition of Tozer Tuesdays, prayers from his book The Pursuit of God They have profoundly impacted me and I hope they challenge and move you as you pray them too.
Lord, make me childlike. Deliver me from the urge to compete with another for place or prestige or position. I would be simple and artless as a little child. Deliver me from pose and pretense. Forgive me for thinking of myself. Help me to forget myself and find my true peace in beholding Thee. That Thou may answer this prayer I humble myself before Thee. Lay upon me Thy easy yoke of self-forgetfulness that though it I may find rest.
“After I had come to Ireland I daily used to feed cattle, and prayed frequently during the day; the love of God and the fear of Him increased more and more and faith became stronger, and the spirit was stirred; so that in one day I said about a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same; so that I used even to remain in the woods and in the mountains; before daylight I used to rise to prayer, through snow, through frost, through rain, and felt no harm; nor was there any slothfulness in me, and I now perceive, because the spirit was then fervent within me.”
Wow! Patrick was a man of prayer!
This is incredibly convicting for me. I’ve woken up very early many mornings to simply roll over and hit the snooze button. So many opportunities to pray wasted.
Patrick recognized the connection between prayer, the awareness of God’s love, and a fervent spirit, and he gave himself to seeking God.
How about you? What can you learn about your prayer life from St. Patrick’s example?