Thursday, January 1, 2015

Empty Shelves = Greater Prayer Lives?

Reflecting on the miracle journey of 2014
"Prosperity may dilute prayer too.  In my travels I have noticed that Christians in developing countries spend less time pondering the effectiveness of prayer and more time actually praying.  The wealthy rely on talent and resources to solve immediate problems, and insurance policies and retirement plans to secure the future.  We can hardly pray with sincerity, "Give us this day our daily bread" when the pantry is stocked with a month's supply of provisions." - Philip Yancey
(from his book: Prayer, Does It Make A Difference?)

My heart jumped for joy when I read this paragraph.  It's the first day of 2015 and since my husband is not feeling well we are just sitting in the living room resting and enjoying Pandora's classic lounge station.  A cloudless sky outside reveals the full sunlight and makes the room cheery, adding to the peacefulness.

I picked up Philip Yancey's book on prayer to start reading it just now.  Last year at this time I determined to grow in my prayer life and his book is one that I came upon months ago and decided to add to my growing collection of books on prayer.

After reading that paragraph I had to put the book down and write my thoughts.  I have seen the amazing power of prayer in my life this past year.  It really started in June when I decided to host a breakfast at a local restaurant and invite some fans to become part of my Portraits of White dream team.  I called them my vision team, but they have changed it to 'dream team'.  I like it.

I didn't have a pantry full of goods and provision to pursue this vision at the time.  A few hundred dollars in my checkbook and not too much more than that in my savings account either.  But I went ahead and stepped out in faith.  I had bathed this vision in prayer for months.  Now it was time to put it to a test.  I knew if I hosted this breakfast I would start something in motion that would be a complete walk of faith.  I did not have the 'resources in my pantry' to see this through to the end. Was I ready to jump in with both feet?

My first indication that this was going to be an amazing experience came in an e-mail from someone I had invited to attend the breakfast.  They were offering to pay for the cost of the group's breakfast. Another e-mail came a couple of days later with the same offer from someone else.  The day of the breakfast, a woman in the group got up to supposedly 'go to the bathroom' and as I later discovered, had inquired with the waitress as to how to go about paying for the group's breakfast, which by that time was already paid for.

This has proven to be my experience all the way through this past year.  A financial hurdle would arise and was then met with some kind of amazing provision that I didn't know would happen. Honestly, I could write a book on just this past year alone.

One of my prayers this past year was that I would have the concert paid for in full by the end of the year.  Today is January 1 and I am thrilled to report that the funds are there to pay the final bills. It won't leave much left over, but my faith has grown immensely through this journey and all I could say when I read Philip's paragraph was - "hey, though my food pantry is full, my pantry of resources to pursue a big dream was NOT full, but through prayer, hard work, miracles and supernatural means, all my needs have been met."  It would have been easier to just skip my dreams and live comfortably.

I don't ever want any kind of prosperity or deceptive comfort to keep me from stepping out. Sometimes the only way we can see God move is to take that step into the unknown. Is it safe? Nope. Is it tiring? Yep.  Do I feel alive?  Yes!

So here's my final question that I will ponder the rest of the day as I continue reading his book.  If God can do that with my finances, why can't He do it with everything else in my life?  In what other areas can I trust Him to do more than I possibly can?  Why limit it to financial?  Why not trust Him for physical healing MORE, for emotional freedom?  For deliverance from recurring fears and anxiety?

I intend to try.

Why not empty my 'shelves' of all my own prosperity and trust Him for greater things?  I think Philip Yancey is right.  Our own comfort and abilities keep us from that deep sense of need for rescue.  As a result, we don't pray.  We just keep on depending on ourselves.  I'd rather live on the edge.

Don't get me wrong.  I have days when it just looks too hard. It is NOT easy to live this way.  That's why I keep books like Philip's handy because they stir things in me.  They call to the deep in me and keep me on the edge, far away from comfort zones.

Now.........back to my book.

Philip Yancey's book