Hope is the sweetest gift of all

As I continue sifting, combing, and nit-picking away at several partially written blog entries which I can't seem either to untangle, de-bug, or find the loose ends which need tying up, I thought I'd leave you with some words of hope and comfort, from a book sent to me recently from half a continent away by a dear Christian brother.
"Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.....

"We tell ourselves, 'Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a strong Christian, I'd pray more.' Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don't try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allows them to access grace....

"As we mature as Christians, we see more and more of our sinful natures, but at the same time we see more and more of Jesus. As we see our weaknesses more clearly, we begin to grasp our need for more grace....
"The gospel uses my weakness as the door to God's grace. That is how grace works....
"Less mature Christians have little need to pray. When they look at their hearts (which they rarely do), they seldom see jealousy. They are barely aware of their impatience. Instead, they are frustrated by all the slow people they keep running into. Less mature Christians are quick to give advice. There is no complexity to their worlds because the answers are simple - 'just do what I say, and your life will be easier.' I know all this because the 'they' I've been talking about is actually 'me.' That is what I'm naturally like without Jesus.....
"Surprisingly, mature Christians feel less mature on the inside. When they hear Jesus say, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (John 15:5), they nod in agreement. They reflect on all the things they've done without Jesus, which have become nothing. Mature Christians are keenly aware that they can't raise their kids. It's a no-brainer. Even if they are perfect parents, they still can't get inside their kid's hearts. That's why strong Christians pray more."
Paul E. Miller - A Praying Life
 Thanks to simplemann for the gift that's teaching me to come to Christ like a little one again.

Comments

WhiteStone said…
Amen. Thanks for sharing this.
Lisa notes... said…
Okay, that was the tipping point. I WILL put this book on my Christmas wish list. Thanks, Laurie. Hope you're doing well.
Valerie said…
This was VERY good. Maybe it explains why I feel like I know less than ever in my life when I'm 48.
Simple Mann said…
It is such a WONDERFUL book. I wish I could afford to send everyone a copy. Paul Miller is so open and transparent that you will feel like you've spent countless hours in his living room over the last several years while he's lived next door to you. I found his humility quite humbling, his honesty both challenging and encouraging. Do get a copy if you can.

Laurie - what a blessing to know it has blessed you and others. Thanks for that! :)

Blessings!
"Simple Mann"
Laurie M. said…
Ah, "Simple",
You know what a blessing your friendship has been to me. This book is just icing on that cake. But really, I feel like this book is breathing new life into my prayers. Thank YOU for sharing it with me.
Rachel said…
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this...especially during this time where the world's idea of busy could divert our attention from Christ.

Blessings,

Rachel
thenface2face said…
What a wonderful quote,Laurie, and so increases my anticipation of growing in prayer through this book.

In September, Paul Miller was on Family Life Today, and talked for three days on prayer. You can listen here to the first program here, or read the transcript.http://www.familylife.com/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=dnJHKLNnFoG&b=3789887&ct=8627265

His autistic daughter Kim, was on the program the last day. (I tried to find that program on their site and gave up--a shame if it's not acessible) She proves his contention that she is a gift--he said he would never have been able to write about prayer without her ministry in his life. Her story does chip away at the cynicism regarding answered prayers. Kim displays His glory in her own unique way, proving Millers theme that God works in His own mysterious ways, and threading our histories into His own, fullfilling His purposes in His own grand Salvation Story.

This interview is why this book was my own single Christmas request. I can hardly wait to unwrap it and chip away at the last vestiges of my own unbelief regarding answered prayer.

I pray this season of Advent is increasing your longing for the Savior, Laurie.

Merry Christmas! Karen

P.S.And thank you for the helpful and timely cleaning article. I know now why my bagless vacum was a "ground score", ie, found for free on the street! Time to glean another one.

Karen
Laurie M. said…
Karen,
You made me laugh. My last bagless ended up just like that. Out back in the alley. It probably still worked, after it cooled down yet again, but I never wanted to see it again. It really was the "Devil" its name claimed. It was gone within a couple of days and I pitied the poor soul that claimed it.

As to the book, it has been a godsend, in the most literal sense. Really simple, but giving me permission to trust God with even the littlest of my cares and to make even the least significant of prayers has opened the windows of heaven for me. Now I take everything to Him. Truth is, if you aren't trusting Him with little prayers, you likely aren't trusting Him with big ones either. You just pray the things that sound spiritual and "permissible" and God is robbed of the glory of our recognizing His hand at work in our lives.

I hope you'll be as blessed as I have been so far.
Simple Mann said…
It's been interesting to see some people review this book negatively because it takes prayer out of the super-spiritual realm and puts into the everyday "stuff of life". I read one negative review of the book on Amazon where the guy was saying he didn't think "Jesus had the selfishness of little children in mind" when it comes to praying. I don't agree with that statement. In fact, I found this book to be a much needed reminder that I can "bother God" with the pettiness of my everyday life. It is good to pray with dependence on our Heavenly Father, even in the "silly things". And as Paul Miller points out, prayer is one of the ways God changes you.

I don't think the problem for most people is that they pray too selfishly. I think it's that they don't pray at all. Even selfish prayers are moving in the right direction. How excited do we get--as fallen as we are--as parents when our children begin to actually form real words for the very first time! We don't expect our little babies that are just still dribbling Gerber pears all over the place to recite Shakespearean sonnets to us. We'd freak out if they did! We don't even care if they enunciate every vowel and consonant correctly - they are actually talking! And that is just exciting stuff. They are learning to communicate with us. I really don't think God is disappointed with us when we begin to pray and ask for selfish things. I think that as we pray, we grow and that through prayer, God begins to work in our hearts and to change us.

I really liked that he talked so much about their autistic daughter, Kim, through the book. I thought about how much she was able to grow and communicate once she began to use her computer... to have her voice. This allowed her to interact with other people (including her parents) in new and exciting ways that really let her character blossom. And it also had another effect, that may be harder to see right away. It affected the way other people communicated with her. This also helped to nourish and shape the blossoming character in ways that are probably unfathomable. In fact, I have been blessed richly as an indirect result of everything Paul and Kim went through in the process as a result of this book -- it has even had an impact on me, and I know that's true for countless others as well! And I think Paul Miller would be the first one to say that it all started with simple (even desperate) and not so super-spiritual prayer.

Enjoy the book. It's terrific. But even better than that is enjoying your own prayer time with God as a result. Priceless.

Blessings!
Simple
Laurie M. said…
Simple Mann,

I've already been so blessed. And I'm living a praying life again, like I did when I first came to Christ.

You know, there is likely no more selfish prayer than "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!" Yet mercy is God's will. It glorifies Him to pour mercy out on us. He loves us! I go into my prayers with the spoken and unspoken understanding that God may not choose to grant my request and that if He does not it is for good reasons. I do not come to Him as a child does to Santa Claus, but as a child to a real parent who loves and protects her, who wants her to be happy, but also knows what is best for her.

I've never really had a father. Going to someone for help has never been my "style". This book is teaching me to be dependent upon my Father in heaven, and my heart is being changed, and filled with hope.

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