Yesterday, while we were praying at Bible study, I was hit with a short vision. Prayer is an interesting thing — I’m not usually so much a visual person when it comes to prayer. I’m an engineer — I think in words and number, not abstract pictures. I decided to really let myself go and see what would happen and I was given a vision. To be fair, it was really just a vision of a Bible verse, so not really that imaginative, but it was a vision nonetheless. I started seeing a figure I understood to be Jesus and he walked with me along beautiful green grass, in a pasture, towards water. The verse was the well-known Psalm 23:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
And it was then I understood — lately I had been feeling tired and felt like I needed a vacation, but I had been looking for rest in places other than my Lord. I mean I had prayed about getting rest and asked God for energy, but I don’t think I really fully gave it up to him.
In the end, He restores my soul. And now I feel great. I feel rested. I don’t feel like I need a vacation anymore, though I should probably still take one just because I haven’t taken one in the last 6 years except for a family cruise once, but that didn’t really feel like a vacation haha.
I’m really thankful for God’s presence in my life.
I stopped writing for awhile, partially because of lent — I found that after I stopped using tumblr on my phone I stopped jotting notes/thoughts down and thus never ended up really posting anything.
Now that I’m resuming…wonder if I still write again? I haven’t been reading and writing as much as I’d like…will have to get back on that.
Lamentations comfort only by lacerating the heart still more. Such grief does not desire consolation. It feeds on the sense of its hopelessness. Lamentations spring only from the constant craving to reopen the wound.– Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
As part of Lent, I decided to give up a number of apps on my phone that I check daily — I logged out of them or deleted them, so now whenever I go to one of those apps out of habit, I end up reading my Bible app instead. For whatever reason, God put Nehemiah on my heart (probably because of a really convicting sermon by David Wilkerson that’s always stuck around in my head) so I started reading and came upon this verse that comes after Nehemiah and others start rebuilding Jerusalem and it made me wonder whether prayer without action is useless:
Nehemiah 4:7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry.
8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.
9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as protection against them day and night.
It doesn’t say exactly what they prayed for, but based on the context it’s probably safe to say that they prayed for God’s protection over the restoration project, as well as for their own lives. Though if you read it slightly differently, it could also be prayer + guard = protection. Why not just pray about it and stop there? Is prayer that ineffective that you have to set a guard as well?
Prayer is really misunderstood. Yes, it is a conversation with God, and yes it usually contains questions/requests, asking God for things of which we are not assured, and yes God performs miracles. But prayer is not a genie you just summon whenever you need something — it doesn’t matter how much you believe or trust in God, faith without works is useless (James 2:17).
In these verses from Nehemiah, they took action and set a guard in addition to praying — they didn’t just leave it at prayer.
Prayer without action is lip service — when you want something to change or something to happen, you need to do something about it. However, action itself can mean different things — it doesn’t mean you rush head way into danger — action could take the form of planning, finding people to help out, or even just a change in your heart.
That said, perhaps the phrase should be:
Prayer without change is useless.
Actions don’t necessarily push change towards what you’re praying for so it’s not enough to take random actions, but focused actions that produce change in the direction you are praying.
Are you praying for a friend’s sick family member? Don’t just pray for them — follow up and ask how things are going and perhaps you can help them get medicine or you have connections to good doctors.
Maybe your heart has hardened towards someone because they wronged you and you ask God to soften your heart — perhaps your heart will be changed by you offering a conciliatory gesture.
Are you praying for a spouse? Well you’re not going to find them sitting where you are and being who you are.
If I had to summarize things more succinctly:
Active Prayer > Passive Prayer
We should strive to be active prayers — we pray and we effect change (don’t pray for something you’re not willing to be part of the answer for), rather than passive prayers, people who pray and expect things to come to them or something to magically change them. Prayer is telling God that you want to help or that you need help, and that you want His support and perhaps His vision/wisdom in figuring out what you can do or change.
#halfmoonbay #latergram (at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay)
Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action. But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.– John Mackay
Tell me honey, what’s your drug?– This Providence (This Is The Real Thing)
For self-medicating heartache
I’d tell you, all you need is love
But didn’t love break you in the first place?
Fireworks look like a whole galaxy, complete with stars and planets. Just watch the fireworks. Here, you can be anything. (at Rincon Park)
I wonder why is it that we as humans settle so easily sometimes for less than what we were meant to have. Sometimes we know what’s best but we still compromise because we’re more concerned about the short term plan, rather than the long term.
On the other hand, if we wait too long for something, that something may disappear on us, or perhaps our lives will pass.
When people talk about living each day as if it’s your last, they’re emphasizing our need to not take things for granted and really relish each moment as if it were our last — though it also refers to doing things you might not otherwise do, or to some extent, satisfying any latent desires.
Say you meet someone attractive — do you ask them out? Or do you wait for someone who might be a better match? Or do you do both? Each has different ramifications and of course, it’s dependent upon your own goals as far as dating is concerned.
Or you have a $100,000 — you could invest or you could blow it all on that dream you’ve always pursued, despite being able to afford much more later on if you invested.
That said, where do you draw the line between satisfying that short-term desire and waiting a little longer because the satisfaction could be that much greater? Could is the key word here, nothing is ever guaranteed, and nothing is eternal, at least not in this world.