Tensile Prayer

“Please be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, we are simply asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so you can acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works.”

“We concentrate on this, and pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.”

“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the ‘long haul”—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the “glory-strength”  God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable, and then spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. ”

–Amen.

 

This is a paraphrase that I made of Colossians 1:9-12, using the Message Bible.  This is one of those “scripture” prayers, often found in the Psalms, but in also the Epistles.  It does seem Paul prayed as he wrote.  This prayer is indeed evidence of this.  It has the wonderful side effect of praying while doing something else, and what that might look like, especially when done discreetly and appropriately.

Do we really pray enough?  It isn’t a question of “volume”  but of quality, and precision.  When I am focused and begin to be directed to a certain person, or a very definition– I start to pray, focused and accurate.  But in the “quanity” aspect.  I do admit I falter and fumble this.

The content of this man’s prayer was fabulous, and incredibly strong.  It does seem that it covers quite a few bases.  We can draw out so much.  And yet I keep coming back to the manner in which  Paul prayed.  I wonder if we could be taught to do the same? 

Somehow we start praying in this same level. “Tensile” is a most interesting word, and concept.  It has the idea of being stretched without being torn apart.  By faith we can weave that  tensile strength into hearts of those we love, and understand the hearts of our brothers, or sisters.

Psalms 16, Study–”Something Good”

Psalm 16

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
   even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
   With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
   my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
   nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
   you will fill me with joy in your presence,
   with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 

This is perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of scripture.  There are so many truths enmeshed in this text.  It’s like a chocolate chip cookie, with truth spread through each bite. (Silly analogy, I know.)  But when we examine it and bring ourselves to obey it, His riches flow directly into us.

There must be an understanding, and verses 7-8 brings Him very close to us.  We connect in a special way.  The Psalmist describes us having a direct awareness of His close presence.  But he also describes his general attitude toward the Presence of God.  He wants to be aware–24 hours a day, continuously.

Verses 9-10 are describing a victory over death.  The Psalmist has come to a definite point, he can no longer see death the way everyone else does.  He understands it to be a very silly charade, and somehow he sees through it.  Because of the Lord’s intervention, he comes to this delicious point.  The ugly obscenity of death, is completely undone.

This confidence of the Psalmist is further extended.  He thinks and feels like he  is bulletproof.  Nothing touches or degrades his faith.  He walks out into life and into the confusion.  But you must understand this.  His faith in God has made him “teflon.”  And indeed he does process a deep understanding of the source of love and joy, he knows it.  As he taps into this, he will now have the real possibility of overcoming the darkness, that could very easily absorb him.

The deep truths of this particular Psalm has the incredible potential to transform us into supernatural people.  As we focus on Psalm 16, and endeavour to make it our own, it will change us and it has the power to revolutionize us in a most profound way.  I say, let it come.

Psalm 16, Study– “He is Always Good”

 Psalm 16

1 Protect me, God,
       because I trust in you.
 2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord.
       Every good thing I have comes from you.”
 3 As for the godly people in the world,
       they are the wonderful ones I enjoy.
 4 But those who turn to idols
       will have much pain.
    I will not offer blood to those idols
       or even speak their names.

 5 No, the Lord is all I need.
       He takes care of me.
 6 My share in life has been pleasant;
       my part has been beautiful.

Psalm 16:1-6,  New Century Version

This Psalm is profoundly deep, and the themes it discusses are definitely significant.  The Psalmist has a steady and direct confidence in all that swirls around him.  He knows that God is available and perched to protect him.  To a certain extent he thinks that as he gives himself over to Him, he will be protected and watched over.  He sees that God’s innate goodness is available to the needs his soul has.

We operate and function completely surrounded.  There is no way we can diminish God’s goodness.  It’s the way He functions–He will never be bad, but only and completely good.  The Psalmist goes on to proclaim the wonderfulness of God’s people.  They are outstanding, they are terrific.  He loves those who belong to Him.  The Psalmist understand these two incredible concepts:  God’s goodness and God’s people.  These two resources will help him deal with the future.

The Psalmist abhors the falseness of idolatry.  When you have truly experienced the reality of God, just being with  idols will truly bring you to despair and futility.  In the piercing light, we cannot imagine a substitute.  He knows that God rules and directs.  The Psalmist will not budge or falter.  God sits on the throne, exclusively, and He doesn’t share it with an idol.  Nothing can change that, especially no false maneuvering or manipulation here on earth.  He will still be God.  The Psalmist speaks,

No, the Lord is all I need.
       He takes care of me.
 6 My share in life has been pleasant;
       my part has been beautiful.”

He has a “razor’s edge” understanding of all that has been given him.  God Himself is his source.  God is the well he draws water out of.  God is the complete source of all his needs.  Can you say that?  Will God, your Father provide for a struggling “you?”

As we analyze this Psalm, we are brought into this sense that the believer has been led into a confidence, and an assurance of God’s exceptional goodness.  The writer clearly speaks of “pleasantness” and “being beautiful.”  Without a doubt, these key words will adjust, and assist us to savor His grace.  He has made things to be pleasant and beautiful.  We must take this confidence, and weave it into our lives.

^

ybic, Bryan

Getting Down and Dirty

by Julie Anne Fidler, BB Weekly Contributor

I have a confession to make: I used to avoid church. It wasn’t because the overhead lighting gave me migraines (even though it did.) It wasn’t because my lazy cat had more pep than the worship team, or because I always managed to find a pew filled with screaming children throwing Goldfish crackers. In reality, I have been a member of two churches over the past ten years and both of them were great, Bible-believing churches.

It’s just that everyone in church is so darn perfect, you know? Look around you. Everyone has it all together. Sure, those kids may be throwing crackers, but they’re destined to become evangelists. The women have great hair and impeccable fashion taste and are obviously dream wives. The men never struggle with lust and have never been guilty of spending too many hours at the office.

Right.

But this has been my impression of church for as long as I can remember. The older I get, the more I realize how crazy that is, but I do battle with the concept even now. Church is supposed to be the one place where we get really honest with God, others, and ourselves.  It’s the place where you are supposed to show up with your dirt and your bruises. We are supposed to reach out and say, “Life is hard; help me.” Too often, however, we wear our best, not just on the outside, but on the inside. We want to blend in, look content, and seem overjoyed with the life we are leading.

Even if I never had a mental illness, I would struggle. The fact that I do have one makes it that much harder because I know that a couple of pills mean the difference between being OK and all my engines completely shutting down.  I know that being obedient to Christ becomes a million times harder when I’m sick. I also know that if I shared this part of my life with everyone in that sanctuary, I’d be met with suspicion and disappointment – not by everyone, but by some.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Oh, but I definitely struggle with fear. I know I shouldn’t. I know there’s no good reason to, but I do. I fear the reaction of others. I fear I cannot measure up to the standards of others. I fear looking like a fool.

I deal with these fears by facing them. Don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not trying to frame myself as a martyr.  Some people willingly jump out of airplanes. Some people get as high as the clouds, freak out, and have to be coaxed out the door. I have to be coaxed, but the more I do it, the easier it gets.  I want to be the real me when I walk through those church doors, when I go to a small group, when I sit down with a Christian friend for coffee. Jesus went to the dark places. He knelt down in the gutters. He got dirty. I don’t want to spend my life wearing a lily white uniform.

I want the Church to understand mental illness. As it stands, I think the Church is afraid of it. Of course you are going to be afraid of something you don’t understand. If I want the Church to understand mental illness and effectively reach out to “the least of these” who are suffering with it, I have to introduce them to it. I have to get dirty. I have to be honest about my own time in the gutter, my own days of wandering, if I want them to understand and respond in love.

I may run into resistance and fear, but even if I educate one person in the process, that’s one more voice speaking the truth and cracking the façade. I take a point away from the enemy, who is the creator of fear. Don’t be silent about who you are and what you battle. Trade in your spotless uniform for some dirty rags. Let’s get the Church a little dirty. Let’s love them into loving those who are lost and alone.

Julie Anne Fidler is a contributing writer for Brokenbelievers.com.  She comes with a humble and understanding heart for those with a mental illness.  Her writing gift is valued greatly.  Look for her post weekly, on this blog.   She keeps a personal ministry blog at www.mymentalhealthday.blogspot.com.  Read more there.