Are we praying wrong?

Let’s start out with some typical prayer requests.

Pray for:

  • A sick child.
  • An uncle who doesn’t know the Lord.
  • Mrs. Smith, who suffers pain every day, that she could have the operation she needs to take away the pain.
  • Mr. Jones, who lost his wallet in Walmart, that some honest soul would turn it in.
  • Fred’s testimony at work.
  • George, who’s an alcoholic and drug addict.

We’ve all heard these kinds of requests, and we know that God will answer prayer. He promises to answer all prayers that are according to His will—what God wants. Sometimes, it’s easy to pray according to God’s will, since He tells us what it is in the Bible. Look at the prayer requests above. Which do we know are God’s will?

The sick child and Mrs. Smith’s pain issue— Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:14-15).

The uncle’s salvation—The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Mr. Jones’ wallet—Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Fred’s testimony—But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15).

George’s addictions—Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

It’s absolutely right to pray for all of these situations. We’re supposed to pray for God to work in everything.

But, we don’t necessarily know His will.

We don’t know if God will heal the child or Mrs. Smith. He may heal them by making them perfectly well, in heaven. Or, He may choose to use suffering in their lives and/or the lives of others.

We don’t know whether or not He will prompt someone to be honest and turn in Mr. Jones’ wallet. Maybe, a dishonest person will keep the money and use the credit cards for himself. The wallet might have been stolen.

We don’t know if George will put in his part and become accountable to the Lord and others about his addictions.

We can be certain God wants to save the uncle, and for Fred to have a pure testimony at work. We can confidently pray for these.

So, how do we pray for the sick child, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones, and George? We ask God to do His will in each case. Since His will for each of these cases isn’t spelled out in the Bible, we don’t know. But, we can be sure that God will use any situation for His glory.

Do you remember Esther? She was taken into the harem of the king, then chosen to be his wife. She had no say or choice. Later, she found out about a plot to kill all the Jewish people, and she, being Jewish, risked her life to go, unbidden, before her husband. After her wise actions on behalf of her people, the Jews were saved from annihilation. Before she went to the king, her cousin Mordecai (her guardian) advised her, For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14) Esther’s reply requested prayer and fasting, but she understood the possible consequences. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16).

Hebrew 11 tells us about people of great faith who subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:33-40).

People suffered in the will of God. The Bible commends them, giving them a good report, saying the world wasn’t worthy of them.

Jesus always did right and always followed His Father’s will, yet He suffered the sins of all the world, the cruelest death, and God forsaking Him.

The Bible says, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

So, what does this have to do with how we pray? Maybe we need to pray like Jesus did in His model prayer and in Gethsemane, Thy will be done (Matthew 6:10; 26:42).

We can confidently pray for God’s will to be done. Lord, accomplish Your will in this life, or this situation. And then, we joyfully accept what He does.

If God wants to take the little one or Mrs. Smith to heaven, they’ll be completely healed—forever.

God might help someone be honest with Mr. Jones’ wallet—or not. God might show Mr. Jones His faithfulness in a different way, maybe by letting him replace those things in record time. Or, maybe God wants to show Mr. Jones how He can take care of all his needs.

We can pray for everyone, knowing that God wants to meet everyone’s needs.

Prayer gives us the opportunity to intercede for others. Prayer makes a difference. But, God has infinite wisdom, and His answer might be different from what we imagine—and it’s all good.

Be careful (anxious, full of care) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7)

Being a Child of the World

When people ask me where I’m from, I usually have to think three things:

1. Where I am at the moment

2. In which language the question is asked

3. What should I say?

The first part of my life story is similar to many. I was born in one place, moved to a few others, moved to a new state, moved to another state, moved back to my second state, got married and moved to yet another state, living in several different houses….

And that’s where the story changes completely. My husband, baby, and I moved to another country and became “foreigners.” We couldn’t even say “hi” when we arrived. In some senses, we went back to first grade—learning the alphabet, how to say simple phrases, the use of verbs, learning to count. We began the process of being strangers in a strange land.

Where am I from?

Birth—West Virginia

Growing up—Virginia, New Jersey, and Virginia

Married life—South Carolina and Spain

I’ve lived in Spain most of my life—eight years longer than in America.

So, where am I from?

Our children have it easy. They grew up in Spain.

My husband and I grew up in Spain, too—in a different sense. We’ve learned so much since we came: a new language, culture, lifestyle, and lots of history. We love it. What a fantastic place in which to live, work, and bring up our family.

So, we’ve lived in Spain more, yet our passport is from America, and our roots and families are across the ocean. We’ve been away so long that when we visit the States, we feel like foreigners, which we aren’t. We don’t here—but we are.

Where am I from?

I can’t tell you. The words don’t come.

Ask me, rather, about my life experiences, how God has proved Himself good through every day.

Ask me what I’ve learned.

Ask me how I think being an MK (missionary kid) profited our children.

Ask me hard questions.

I’m just a human being, a child of the world, a redeemed person with the calling to share my Redeemer with the rest of the world.

Yet, I’m not of this world. I am a pilgrim on this earth. And, I have the wonderful assurance that the world ahead of me is so much better than this one that I can’t even compare the two.

These (people named before) all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16, emphasis mine).

Where are you from?

More importantly, where are you going?

Non-fiction book review: Sick and Tired

Sick & Tired: Empathy, Encouragement, and Practical Help for Those Suffering with Chronic Disease, by Kimberly Rae.

Kimberly Rae begins her book like this: “Sometimes I want to slap a sticky note on my forehead that says, ‘I am sick. No, I don’t look sick at this moment. But, I am not faking having a disease just because I’m not in a wheelchair, and I am not a freak.'”

Of course, she explains she wouldn’t actually do that—since doing so would make her a freak for sure—and she explains life with chronic illness from the viewpoint of someone who has lived for many years with illnesses you don’t necessarily see.

This is a book for two kinds of people: the chronically ill, and everyone else.

If you know what it’s like to be sick with the kinds of illnesses people can’t see (a whole list here, including fibromyalgia, cancer, and hundreds more), you’ll find a friend in Kimberly Rae. She will help you laugh and cry and understand those around you—why they react to your illness in the most ignorant ways, and how you can actually help them.

If you are in the second category, you can’t possibly understand those who are chronically ill, but this book will help you empathize with and help them. Sick and Tired helps you to know what to do—and not do—for your friends. It will help you know what to say and not say. It assists you in knowing how to show you care in a loving, Christian way.

One of the major things I love about all of Kimberly Rae’s books is her non-condemning spirit. Here again, her purpose is to instruct and enlighten and even to entertain, but she does them all without making anyone feel “less than.” You’ll enjoy her ridiculous comics and funny quotes throughout. This book also works as a study, with questions for discussion and reflection at the end of each chapter.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the book, Sick and Tired, to you.

Expressions of Love

Have you ever read old Valentines? They can be really corny. The honeybee says, “Won’t you bee mine?” and the little secretary bats her eyes and murmurs, “You’re just my type.” Cartoon green Martians declare, “You’re out of this world.” Then, we have those lacey, flowery Victorian Valentines with their declarations of love. For example: “Fain would I guard thee through life’s desert drear, And fling around thee love to soothe and cheer, For thoe I live might I but call thee mine, I’d be forever thy own Valentine.” If I ever got one like that, I’d crack up for sure!

My husband makes up little love poems for me. They are terrible poetry, but I know the sentiment is real. They usually begin with “You are my” or “Roses are red.” They’re composed in the moment and always hilarious.

As a child, we decorated shoeboxes with hearts and doilies and put slits in the tops to serve as mailboxes, for our classmates to give us Valentines. We took Valentines to class, and gave each of our fellow classmates a Valentine as well. They were of the honeybee and Martian types (above). The whole concept was goofy. I mean, what did “Won’t you bee mine?” mean in third grade? We were clueless.

Expressions of love.

Real love.

Abiding love.

We all need it. The whole world clamors for love. Usually, the world has no idea where to find love, but it continues to search. Every person on earth wants to feel loved, protected, and cherished.

There is one source of this kind of love. And, there’s one eternal Valentine worth reading: God’s expression of love, the Bible. Enjoy reading what He says to you:

  • The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
  • Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38-39).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).

The Bible is Truth. We can rely on the fact that God loves us. Nothing can separate us from His love. We can give our own cares over to Him.

God’s love—expressed here as great love—gave us salvation. Many times in the Bible, the love of God is linked to His provision of salvation and accompanied by mercy and grace. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

God’s love is reflected in our love for others. In fact, the Bible says that when we love God, we will love others.

  • He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:8-9, 16).
  • When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 22:37, 39).
  • As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. These things I command you, that ye love one another (John 15:9, 12-13, 17).

Not only are we supposed to love others, we’re to encourage them to love—that Valentine word again—and do good. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24). When people see our lives and the way we treat others, they should be encouraged to do the same.

Walking in the Way shares one more Valentine verse:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,

and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice

to God for a sweetsmelling savour (Ephesians 5:2).

May God bless your life with His love.

A Thinking Marriage

Many years ago, I discovered a few secrets that transformed my marriage. Don’t get the wrong idea. We didn’t fight. We didn’t have major issues—well, that’s not exactly true. My major issue in marriage was between my ears. It was an attitude issue. It was wrong thinking.

For example, I’ll share some of the problems I had, along with others that are typical.

  • He didn’t …
  • I hate it when he …
  • Why can’t he …?
  • I wish he would …
  • I know he could have …
  • I feel lonely.
  • I do all of this (accompanied with a list). Doesn’t he see?
  • I need a hug / kiss / whatever.
  • “Mr. Smith” gives his wife roses. Why doesn’t my husband?
  • “Mr. Smith” takes his wife to beautiful restaurants and on cruises—unlike my husband.
  • My husband never tells me he thinks I’m beautiful. (“Mr. Smith” compliments me at work.)
  • My husband spends too much.
  • My husband is cheap.
  • My husband is great with the kids and others. Why isn’t he sweet with me?
  • My husband is grouchy.
  • My husband is (anything negative and judgmental).
  • My husband doesn’t lead the family spiritually.
  • I don’t see my husband praying, reading his Bible, etc.
  • My husband doesn’t pray with me.
  • My husband is not Spirit-filled.
  • He leaves his clothing on the floor.
  • He forgets to clean up after himself.
  • He doesn’t even notice he (something else that bugs you).

We could go on and on.

Looking back over my list, I can make a few observations:

  • I am thinking only about what pleases me.
  • I am thinking about his shortcomings.
  • I am comparing him to another man/men.
  • I am judging his spirituality, motives, actions, etc.
  • I am actually thinking I know better than he does.

Let’s turn this around. Would you like your husband to think these same ways about you? Of course not.

The Bible gives us the perfect outline for marriage. Of course, there are instructions for husbands, but we’ll limit this blog post to our side of the issue and see what we can learn—specifically what kinds of thinking we’re supposed to use. The Bible is the most amazing Book. It’s God’s Word. And, one thing that surprises me is there aren’t a lot of key passages written for wives. So, God makes it easy for us. Let’s explore them.

Read these passages looking for how a wife is to think about her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Obviously, this is mostly about the physical relationship in marriage, but we can learn something about communication, here. It’s obvious that the husband and wife both have a say in their relationship—a mutual understanding—even when it comes to prayer and fasting.

1 Corinthians 7:34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

A married woman cares about pleasing her husband.* It’s the major difference between her and a single woman.

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33   Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing…. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Submission has gotten a bad rap. Submission is actually accepting that one’s husband is the head of the family, just as Jesus is the head of the church. It is the position of leadership in the family—a reflection of the way He ordered the Godhead. Wives are not less than their husbands, but they yield to their husband’s leadership. (You can’t have two leaders.) This passage says in everything, and uses the term reverence, which means respect. This is talking about voluntarily yielding to your husband’s leadership.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

This is the same concept of submission we saw in the Ephesians passage, above.

Titus 2:3-5  The aged (mature) women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Mature Christian women are to be examples and teachers of a godly lifestyle, which includes loving their husbands and being obedient to their own husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-6   Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

This passage begins with the believing woman who’s married to a man who isn’t born again. The word fear is a biblical word which means respect. Then, the passage talks about the adorning of women. It says the outside fancy stuff isn’t what a Christian woman should be known for. She should be known for a meek (strength under control) and quiet spirit—which God values. It goes on to say that women should recognize their husbands as heads of their households and gives the example of Sara.

So, if we put all of this together, what kind of thinking should we have towards our husbands?

  1. Respect. It doesn’t say he has to earn it, deserve it, or even that he has to be a believer. A Christian wife is to show respect to her husband.
  2. Submission. Submission is yielding. It means the husband has the last word. The couple can discuss anything together openly, but the decision—and its consequences—are the responsibility of the husband.
  3. Love. Our thinking should be motivated by love.

Many years ago, I turned around my negative thoughts about my husband. I started respecting him, loving him, and dwelling on what is good about him. I recognized his position of leadership in our family. I turned my marriage around.

Because, when you obey the Bible, wonderful things can happen.

*Note: Pleasing one’s husband, obedience, and submission are not talking about accepting abuse. If your husband mistreats you, please reach out to someone and get help. You might want to read my posts about spousal abuse: https://intheway-lk.blogspot.com/2017/09/i-will-make-you-submit-domestic-abuse.html and https://intheway-lk.blogspot.com/2017/06/ten-red-flags-in-relationships-how-to_3.html.