Monday, March 23, 2009

The Spiritual Series: Part I

(Note: a lot of people believe you shouldn't talk about politics or religion. Hmph. I already did the first, why not the second? ;) In all actuality, I think it's too important to *not* talk about. If this subject makes you uncomfortable, feel free to ignore it. But if it doesn't, please join in!)

I am, by nature, a spiritual person. I have been contemplating how to blog about some of my recent thoughts, because they seem to be so complicated and without a general theme. I'm going to do my best to share with you the most important part of me. Hopefully you will share your views...I do find that I grow the most from other peoples' opinions.

Part I: How does God answer your prayers?

I believe in the power of prayer. I had this conversation with some online friends recently, and one woman said that she actually hears God talk to her. Actual words. Lucky! I don't. But I feel His presence in response to my prayers.

Every time I have a decision of any consequence to make...where the outcome may shift the direction of my life...I pray. I make all decisions prayerfully, because I know that God will not mislead me. Then, when I am given answers through people I talk to, sermons I hear, suggestions in the things around me, I know that God provided these things to help me make a good decision, thereby answering my prayer.

How about you? How do you pray? How and when has God answered your prayers?


ethiopifinn said...

When I was living my life as someone who was spiritually destitue, I prayed for survival. I survived. When I was being surrounded by self-righteousness, I prayed for humility. I was humbled. When I was drowning in a sea of doubt and dark swirling worldly hopelessness, I cried out to be uplifted. I was raised up. When I was overjoyed by the birth of my first child, I prayed thankfully and for wisdom. I was given a second child.
I don't hear a voice or words, in my mind, that is God moving us in the proper direction.

Leanne said...

Beautiful, Jenny. So, would you say, that it is when there is something to be learned, when there is a change in your path - that is when you hear the voice of God?

Oprah says something like, when God's trying to get your attention, he starts with pebbles. If he can't get your attention that way, he throws larger stones. Sometimes a whole stinking wall has to come down before you hear what he's saying?

Leanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen H. said...

yes, what Jen said. Every time that I have been in need, I have been taken care of.

Krista said...

I try to also pray through all decisions in front of me/us. I find it far easier to go my own way, until my way crumbles hopelessly! And that doesn't take long.

What I love is looking back on where Karl and I have been, and the steps that have led us to where we are. They aren't steps we would have taken on our own. God has provided a wonderful path, often better appreciated in retrospect!

Elizabeth said...

I think I am odd. I don't pray in that sense. I used to say the obligatory "bless x and y and z and .." before I went to sleep. I offer up prayers of thanks - for everything under the sun. I pray for people. But I don't ask for anything for myself. I don't know why. It's not that I don't want anything. But I never ask for it.

Maybe it's because I never really have a question when it comes to making a big decision. I trust my intuition. Either I know which choice I am going to make as soon as the decision comes up, or I know that it's not time to make the decision. And I do believe that our intuition is one major way that God speaks to us. :)

Leanne said...

Libby - I couldn't agree more. That silence and power of our own decisions IS sometimes how God speaks to us. There is no question in my mind that you are living IN your spirituality, so maybe that's why you don't have to ask?

Brent said...

Leanne, Leanne...

I just want everyone to know that Leanne is the greatest!!! And that my sister sent me this blog post just recently.

So if you don't mind reading a book, allow me to tell you Leanne how similiar our lives might be. By the way, I am not doing a spell check on this... we'll see how I do. June of 2006 I took a step of faith and walked not by sight, but only by faith. I soon had to make a decision, turn towards Christ or continue to do things that I had already messed up. I chose Jesus. Soon after this decision, the house we build was sold, the vehicles we had were gone, the 401(k) gone, the money gone, the family taken away, job lost, one by one, as though things that I had once been given as gifts were now being taken away. And yet through all of this, I already made the decision. I suppose that is why it is all gone, for god knows each and every heart. He knew that since I had already made the true commitment to him in prayer, that I would not compromise my faith... as though I was Job in the bible, regardless of what happens he did not lose faith. King David, lost his wives, his family and yet he remained faithfull, he would not budge on his faith. If one ever stops their busy life to consider the big picture, the hole thing. Its funny, you go through school, you study science, you go through sunday school and confirmation. You go off to college, you take courses in pshycology and maybe in ethics but do you even stop to consider just how exactly a human is created. Now, I am not talking in humanistic terms, I mean the bible tells us that man was created in gods image. Male and Female... so it is so. Adam and Eve, created by god himself in his own image. So then Eve takes the apple (the fall) then Adam hides behind a fig leaf. And so generation after generation male and female fail god and try to hide. But god knew Adam was hiding, he knew he was shame full... so what had to happen. Rebuke of Adams sin, Repentence by Adam, forgiveness by god, reconcilation of Adam and God, and Restoration of Adam and God. What had to happen between Eve and God? Rebuke of her sin, repent of her sin, forgiveness of her sin, reconcilation of Eve and God and finally restoration of Eve and God. And so it is so, generation after generation there is a pattern to be followed by all of man kind. Every relationship, every problem, every issue Rebuke, Repent, Forgive, Reconcile, Restore.... One is only accountable for themselves. One cannot make another forgive, one cannot make another repent... for who should try to remove the speck from anothers eye when they have a log stuck in there own.

Yes Dear Leanne, you do hear from god for the bible also tells us that we meet with god in prayer. So if that is so, you must have 3 type of thoughts, those from god, those from satan and those from yourself. If your thoughts don't align with scripture, chances are they are not from god. If your thoughts align with scripture and can be held accountable by other believers than I would think you can be pretty confident in that decision. I personally have come a long way in 3 years of understanding life and purpose. To some reading this may seem foriegn or confusing. Just think for a minute of eternity... forever... we are here on earth but a short time. Humans are part of gods plan... he designed us... he put humans in charge of all the land of all the animals for a purpose and a reason. Also, if you don't understand the holy spirit, this can be a difficult discussion to understand. I guess I will end with saying, we are all on this world together... yesterday is gone, today is almost over and tomorrow will come soon enough. It can be a scary world, but if you want peace, if you want love, if you want a calmness for eternity, just believe. Just believe that all your sin's, doubts, weaknesses are forgivein in Jesus holy name and precisous blood. I don't know who you are reading this right now, but right now just believe it and know that all will be ok. Our Heavenly father cares about you so much, and if your not sure... just ask him. He will prove it to you.

Gods Peace ~ a weak brother in faith made stronger with understanding. Please pray for me and my family.

Leanne your still the greatest! Remember when we went Christmas caroling to the nursing homes in Cokato the Christmas of 1994? By the way, do you also remember when during confirmation Pastor Bill called on me for the answer and you had to whisper it to me because I didn't know it. The truth is I was trying to catch a fly when he called on me. I guess he thought I was raising my hand. Dough!

Laura Jean said...

I mostly pray for strength- whether it is for me or someone else. I believe we are all given our trials for a reason, and if we can have the strength, we will find our way through each and every one of them. Lately (very recently), I have prayed for understanding. And, always, I pray for forgiveness. I am human. I make mistakes. God knows that, and I believe he has the heart to forgive me if I can admit I am not perfect.

I also love prayers of gratitude. Some nights I am falling asleep and trying to quickly rattle off things/people I am thankful for, and other nights I lay there and think of every little thing that makes me life good.

I would say my prayers are more like casual conversations with God. I like if I'm alone because then I talk out loud. I don't hear anything in response, nor do I expect to see any signs. I truly feel like I pray and then put all my trust in God that He will take care of me. ...that's been really hard these last couple days. Do you think God minds that I'm kind of mad at Him? Actually, more than kind of- there have been moments I've right out yelled at him for playing with our hearts. Yet, I still pray for that understanding. Strength right now? Forget it. Just let me understand please.

Elizabeth said...

maybe ..

maybe it's more that I don't pray consciously. when I said that I offer up prayers of gratitude, I don't know if I do that consciously. it's a feeling. it just happens. the feeling bubbles up in me and goes upwards. I imagine the same thing occurs for more than gratitude - it's just that I notice the gratitude more because the feeling is so joyful and overwhelming. ??

Leanne said...

Brent. I was wondering why you never emailed me. Thank you for your beautiful post, for sharing that with me. I'd really love to get together with you still, and would drive to you, or we could meet somewhere. Your recent journey is something I'm sorry I've missed out on; it sounds very inspiring. You are a wonderful man, clearly taking the lessons from life's challenges.

You'll be in my prayers, dear friend.

PS I don't remember that at all about confirmation. I do remember when you gave me the "gumbylike" Santa for Christmas that year; I still have it.

Julie said...

I love your blog. :)

I pray out loud when I have words and when I don't, I just direct my thoughts on upward.

I feel God working or answering my prayers when despite the odds, things fall into place or I get a deep sense of "knowing" or peace that goes far beyond my own skeptical nature.

Two long-ish stories...

When Gregory was one day old and due to go for his first surgery the following morning, I had kissed him goodnight and was alone in a mother's room for awhile that happenened to share a wall with his own isolation room in the NICU. I was sad, completely overwhelmed and didn't even have any sort of words to pray- I just felt numb and sick. There was an old radio missing an antenna and I turned it on, finally found a station that worked, and just sat there in the dark in silence. The next song that came on the radio was He's My Son by Mark Schultz. I had never heard it before and it felt so surreal. If you haven't heard it, the chorus is:

"Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me
Let me take his place some how.
See, he's not just anyone, he's my son..."

Everything I was feeling had been put into words- I felt completely at peace. There were many other times during Gregory's first hospitalization that we felt His presence so strongly.

Another thing somewhat recently happened the day Gregory was diagnosed with a blood infection. That morning, we had a hospital follow-up appt. from Gregory's previous hospitalization. He seemed absolutely fine, it was Ethan who was in the ER the night before for croup and tonsillitis. We nearly didn't make his appt. because I didn't wake up from my alarm. One minute before we had to leave, my alarm went off anyway, at 8:59 a.m. We literally flew out the door and were only five minutes late! When we got home I told my mom that for some reason, an angel had set my alarm to wake up- that I must have needed to go to that appointment. The doctor visit itself went great but late that afternoon, the doctor called to tell me that labs were back and his white blood count was very elevated and she wasn't sure why. How was he doing? I looked and he and Ethan were playing toys and he seemed normal. At her suggestion, we set up another visit for the first spot the following morning to re-run the bloodwork. Ethan and I then went to run an errand and left Gregory with a babysitter. When we got home, an hour and a half later, he was running a temp and sort of grunting with each breath. It was very odd but I gave him some fever-reducer medicine, buckled him in his carseat and told the babysitter to hang out with Ethan because I might be bringing Gregory down to Children's again. I had this gut feeling, armed with the information that his WBC information, that I should probably bring him in to get checked out. Once we arrived in the cities, I felt like I was completely overreacting because the medicine had kicked in and he was giggling and smiling! Of course, it turned out then that he had an infection that had spread to his bloodstream and like I mentioned on a recent blogpost, the doctor later told us that bringing him in when I did probably saved his life. I know that I needed to wake up that morning so we would know that his labs were off- how else would we know the smiley guy was sick?! :) I don't pretend to understand or feel okay with certain things but I do know that God has absolutely been taking care of us throughout this time.

ethiopifinn said...

yes, & totally what Oprah said!

Leanne said...

Julie - I love that you can see those things even in the middle of this life challenge. Things will be even clearer when you look back on this period.

For all those who talked about gratitude: I couldn't agree more. We talk about Law of Attraction a lot, and this is such an important aspect of that, isn't it? Besides, when I look around me, someone always has it worse. I have much to be grateful for!

Leanne said...

Laura: if we could all continuously have: strength, understanding and forgiveness, what a wonderful life it would be!