Pastor's Blog

A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

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“Connecting with God in a Distracting World.” That is a great subtitle to a book on prayer written by Paul Miller.

Do you feel distracted from God? There sure are a lot of things vying for our attention, crying out to us. I think it is easy to get spiritually distracted in our culture. 

Two things come to mind.

First, my own sense of self-sufficiency is often bred by an affluent culture where everything I really need is readily available to me if I work hard and act responsibly. Or so I tend to think. 

Miller suggests that American culture is one of the hardest places in the world to learn to pray. Why is that? 

“One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time-consuming. Or trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God.”

Relatively speaking, we live a life of ease, and this distracts us from God.

And yet, the very act of prayer itself is an expression of our need for God. This is the reason we need to pray. 

But then, I also find that when problems come, they too can distract me from God. Often, amid my problems, God can seem far away and somewhat obscure to my sight. In other words, I’m distracted.

This is where I need to be reminded of who God is and what that means for me amid my problems. Consider this helpful insight that helps us find God when we are distracted by our problems.

“If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all this.”

Suddenly, the problem I once thought was a distraction is the very thing God is using to show himself to me.

Hope these words help you see God in your life.

A Prayer to Guard our Words

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Consider praying through this prayer today.

O God, you are my God; I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips shall praise you.

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.  Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

How can young people keep their way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.

Make me know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Keep my steps steady according to your promise, and never let iniquity have dominion over me.

O Lord, who may abide in your tent?  Who may dwell on your holy hill?  Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the Lord; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; who do not lend money at interest and do not take a bribe against the innocent.  Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  Amen.

Inauguration Prayer

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people …"

THEN PAUL ADDS in 1 Timothy 2:2, “...or kings and all who are in high positions.” 

I am struck by the urgency with which Paul calls the church to pray for those who rule over us. It seems to me, that currently there is a heightened sense of urgency given all that we have experienced in this recent election cycle.

To what end are we to pray these things? Paul says, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 

I can’t help but think that there is a direct connection between the testimony of leading a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way and the flourishing of the gospel. 

We can live peaceful and quiet lives even when everything around us seems to be in turmoil. How so? We do so by reminding ourselves that we belong first and foremost to the kingdom of God; a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

James K. A. Smith says, “The kingdom of God is something we await. It is not something we create.” I wonder if we have been looking to earthly politics as the vehicle to create what only the coming King can bring. Our center of gravity needs to find itself firmly planted in the kingdom of God.

Today we have the inauguration of a new president and vice president. Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris deserve our devoted prayers. 

With that in mind, I would like to share with you a prayer that Peter Marshall prayed for the President of the United States in 1947. Marshall was the chaplain of the U. S. Senate at the time. I invite you to turn this into an opportunity to obediently respond to Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2.

We pray, Lord Jesus, for our President.
We are deeply concerned that he may know the will of God,
and that he may have the spiritual courage and grace to follow it.
Deliver him, we pray, from all selfish considerations.
Lift him above the claims of politics.
Fill him with the Spirit of God that shall make him fearless to seek, to know, to do the right.
Save him from the friends who, in the name of politics or even friendship, would persuade him from that holy path.
Strengthen and empower his advisers.
Bring them, too, to their knees in prayer.
May their example and their influence spread, that we, in these United States,
may yet have a government of men who know Thee, the Almighty God, as their Friend,
and who place Thy will first in their lives as well as in their prayers.
Hear and answer, we pray Thee,
forgiving us all our unworthiness;
cleansing us from every ignoble thought and unworthy ambition
that we may be renewed in spirit and mind and heart, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.