Saturday, October 24, 2009

Irresistible Invitation

Three weeks ago Matt preached perhaps one of my favorite sermons. The message was quite simple: pray. There was no guilt trip. No, it was an irresistible invitation.

Pray. For it is fellowship with God.
Pray. For it is a beckoning to join with God in accomplishing His eternal purposes.
Pray. For it truly changes things.
Pray. For it is a means of confession + fighting sin.
Pray. For it is an act of humility.

The last statement is what has lingered in my heart and mind. Too often I neglect prayer because, ever so subtly, I am convinced that I have enough control in a situation to effect a desirable outcome. In other words I'm saying, "It's alright, God. I got this one."

"It's alright, God. I can try to be a good wife and do all the good wifely things so that my husband and therefore You are pleased."

"It's alright, God. I can just try to have more patience with my children. Maybe I won't ruin them forever. Maybe if I read the right Bible stories, pray the right bedtime prayers and be a good, happy Mommy, they'll know you."

"It's alright, God. I can give good enough advice and the perfect Bible verse to a struggling saint so that she can struggle well."

And so on, and so on.

Now, I'm not saying that any of the above actions are bad. On the contrary, they are all good and wise things. However, it's where I am starting that is sinful. I'm not beginning with Him, His Son's work on the cross and the Spirit's power. I'm beginning with me--what I can do. To put it simply, I am prideful and presumptuous.

What a weight to bear. Too much, really. How silly to presume that I can carry all of that on my own.

So, instead of trying to "be good," I'm giving it up. Or, I guess, lifting it up. As a mother of three now, my prayer closet looks more like vacuuming or mowing or folding clothes than an actual closet. But it's happening. I'm praying because I want to know Him. I want to be a part of the advancing of His Kingdom. I want to see change--in me and in others. I want to fight sin. I want to humble myself before the Sovereign King.


17 comments:

Kaye said...

This is so my heart today. Hasn't always been with my stinking thinking and my huge pride of "Lord, you really need my help here. I know I can be of some serious assistance on this scene." So ridiculous to know I actually thought that way, but so freeing to admit it outloud and know that truth. My life today consists of what the apostle Paul called praying without ceasing. I used to think that meant to sit all day in a corner and pray like some kind of a monk. Nobody with a remote life can do that. I understand today what he meant. It's a constant state of prayerfulness before the Lord. I live in this every single day of my life now. I pray continuously throughout each day just to make it to the next hour and with my current state of suffering, it's to make it to the next minute. My God has shown me that he absolutely cherishes that I am there with Him now. I am completely and totally reliant on Him for every single breathe I take and every move I make. When my brother and I were little kids, we played a game called kick the can. He would go ahead of me and waive me forward when the coast was clear. That is exactly how I am with the Lord today. I used to go ahead of God and leave him behind. I thought I could manage on my own and then when everything fell apart, I just couldn't understand why. God has shown me that going ahead of Him doesn't allow Him to prepare the way for me. I'm not ready and He needs to make me ready. He also needs to prepare the way for my readiness. God has shown me that because I went ahead, the coast wasn't clear. Today, I wait for Him to whisper,
"The coast is clear." Then I know without a doubt, it's the right time and God has fully gone before me in order to make it okay for me to follow. What a shepherd we have. What a more obedient sheep I have become. Praise you Father!!

Joe said...

I could write a book on this so with that in mind, I will be as brief as I can.

I truly wonder if we would actually, sincerely pray for these things... what would happened.

I know in my past that I didn't want to go headlong into sin but my prayers and thoughts toward God were half-hearted at best and passive at worst. "Oh God knows I don't want to sin so he is going to take care of me."

Several weeks ago, I was faced with immense amounts of temptation when not 1 but 4 very attractive women made it known (to one degree of aggression to another) that they would like to be in a romantic relationship with me.

Now besides that being the anti-thesis of what the gospel is all about, this was incredible hard for me because lust is the one sin that the Spirit has to continually kill. For me lust is simply not physical intimacy but rather, emotional, spiritual, mental and/or physical intimacy outside the covenant of marriage.

Knowing this and trial I have already faced as a divorced, 33 year old, brand new Christian, I prayed and cried and screamed and yelled and wept for God to save me and not forget me and not let me go back into that hell back when He felt so far away when he was dealing with sin on my heart a year ago.

He felt too far away. I couldn't hear him. It made me sick to even think to go through that hell yet again. I can't stand it and I couldn't take take it. He needs to end my life so I can be with him because I can't go through it again.

Wouldn't you know?

My God did not forget me!

My God did not forsake me!

My God never left me!

My God speaks to me!

My God loves me!

My God, shockingly enough, answers prayers.

Now the Psalms of David in chapters 16 to 18 is now as real and as tangible as the shirt on my back. Out of those chapters, these three verses are my comfort:

Psalm 18:19
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

Psalm 17:15
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalm 16:11
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(I saw your tweet and then read this post and I had to, had to, had to share this with another brother or sister in Christ because my Lord and my God is so wonderfully good to me.)

prin said...

Sounds awesome. :) I love that you have a hubby you can learn from and admire. That's a gift from God, imo.

Victoria said...

Great post! I'm going to look up this sermon so I can hear it too! I really need to get back into my prayer closet as well. God's been convicting me for some time about it, what are your plans for moving deeper in this area?

Amanda said...

I love this post. Such a straight forward and honest reminder! I need to listen to Matt's sermon. I've heard a ton of people talking about it.

Love seeing all of Norah's sweet little pictures! Your kids are so beautiful!

Grace Point said...

wow... thanks for the insightful post... me too... it is irresistable :)

Kristyn said...

I just listened to this sermon TODAY! :) I was out of town I think when he preached it so I caught up today! I really enjoyed it, and got me thinking! There's also a little snipit in Cold Tangerines about prayer (and our false sense of control) that I identify with as well! Can't remember if you had gotten to that part? anyways, I did finish it! :) Thank you for letting me borrow! I will get it to you this week!!!!

Colored With Memories said...

oooh...we missed that due to our share of h1n1...must go back and listen.

i too take on too many things in my own strength...so silly and presumptious like you said.

thanks for sharing, lauren!

(you mow too? we must be soul sisters!)

kerry

GloryandGrace said...

"However, it's where I am starting that is sinful. I'm not beginning with Him, His Son's work on the cross and the Spirit's power. I'm beginning with me--what I can do. To put it simply, I am prideful and presumptuous."

That line really stood out to me in your post. Have you read anything by Elyse Fitzpatrick yet? That line from your post brought to mind some of the books I've read by her~

Bobbi said...

What a fantastic post! Thanks for sharing this, I needed to hear this.
My husband and I listen to your husbands podcasts often.
Just today I have been pondering on such thoughts. I have never realized or heard it put that way, that we are starting is sinful by assuming I have these areas under control! Daily Jesus seems to point out little things here and there where my thinking needs to change. Today God used you and your post to shine some light on this area in my life! Thank you so much. I am enjoying your blog very much

The Lacefield Family said...

I think our God is pretty stinkin' amazing. This would be the second time I have "stumbled" on a blog that has brought me to tears because of what the Lord is dealing with in me. Thanks for sharing this. Funniest part of it all is that after I read your blog post a second time I realized I, by association with the Village, know of you. I am on a church staff in Weatherford and work with a few guys who know Matt from way back when and a friend of mine is always quoting from his podcast. Small world full of "coincidences" that all point back to the God of our universe.

Megan

Janis said...

i would like to say i stumbled across your blog but the truth is i went on a hunt for it about a year ago while my husband and i were listening to matt voraciously via podcast and i became curious as to who this guy's wife was. you stopped blogging after norah so i gave up but had an idea to check back in today. so glad i did. being newly married and not from a strong family background, i have been realizing lately that my role models in the media aren't cutting it and i need some real ones who love Jesus or i won't make it. so thanks for coming back. :) i am desperate to learn all i can.

Anonymous said...

I am a pastors wife from NY. My husband and I are blessed by Pastor Matt's ministry. Just wanted to let you know that there are people praying for him and your family all over the country.

BrooksFamily said...

prayers for you and yours.

Helen said...

Lauren,
Sorry to introduce myself via a comment on your blog but I wanted to meet you and obviously don't have your e-mail! My name is Helen...I'm a 31 year old wife to Matt..and a mom to 6 crazy kiddos. We attend Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. Josh Harris is our senior pastor and I heard of your husband through his twitter. Long story short, I have been praying for you all weekend. My Matt has a brain tumor..right frontal lobe. He's had three brain surgeries, etc. We appreciate your husband and listen to his messages on-line from time to time. Although i don't know you..I am praying for peace for your heart..joy in the midst of a difficult time, and that you would have much grace from our dear Lord and Savior. From one wife and sister in Christ to another, I wanted you to know that I will continue to pray for you, your Matt and entire family.
Grace to you!
Helen
my e-mail is helenlowe@gmail.com and our family blog is momofsix.com

Heinzfeet said...

Thank you for the sweet reminder that calls me away from self-defeat and to a place of joyfully surrendering my thoughts to His amidst piles of laundry. It's so easy to grow weary of "doing good" when that was never my job. I pray that I can cease striving and rest in Him that I might truly find that dependency is a precious place. THANK YOU!

My Bright Corner said...

I just stumbled upon your blog today. Ya'll are a beautiful family!

I LOVE this post. The way you write about neglecting prayer spoke to my soul! Thank you!