Does God always answer prayer?

I believe that God always answers our prayers—the Bible is full of examples, plus we have verses such as Matthew 21:22: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Yet, for many of us, our life experience tells us otherwise. Does that mean God lied? Is the Bible untrustworthy? Or, perhaps, is it our lack of understanding that’s causing the problem?

Many years ago, Pete and I dreamed of moving to someplace less urban than the middle of Silicon Valley. We were tired of the traffic, fed up with the smog, and yearning for a simpler lifestyle. We prayed, and it seemed as if God was saying yes, get ready, you’re going to move. Great! We’ve always enjoyed the northwest, so Pete spent several months investigating jobs in the Seattle area. Things looked positive, but then the doors started slamming shut. We were so confused. Hadn’t God given us the go-ahead? Had He changed His mind?

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You Can’t Delegate Compassion

[Thanks to my husband for setting my mind on this track!]

There are certain “spiritual” practices that most Christians would agree are a Good Idea—practices such as reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers. If you stop and consider, you might add additional items to this list—meditating on God and His word, practicing hospitality, generosity (aka giving), and fasting. We often aren’t aware that those among us are fasting, but I’m sure they are. Jesus assumed his followers would fast; it just isn’t something that we’re supposed to notice. Continue reading

A Worship Lesson

We were at our church’s Good Friday service, just a few weeks ago. Pete and I arrived “less early” than we usually do and found our usual spots already taken, so we ended up sitting further back than normal. No big deal, I thought. But as the service opened with the worship our church is noted for, I discovered that sitting in the back was a much bigger deal than I had anticipated.

The people around us weren’t participating.

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Seeing Jesus in the Seder

Passover begins this evening. It seems especially significant that this year, Passover begins on Good Friday. After all, they both celebrate the same thing.

The very idea that Passover is still celebrated now, in 2018, amazes me. Over thousands of years (with minor exceptions, such as during the years leading up to King Josiah), the Jews have celebrated the Passover. Whether in Israel and Judea, or even when spread to the corners of the earth, they’ve faithfully reenacted God’s sacrifice and salvation year after year after year.

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Glad to Meet You!

“Glad to meet you!” I shook hands with the couple behind me at church, mumbling over and over the names they had just told me—Josh and Laurie, Josh and Laurie. I tried to think of some way to cement their names into my brain, but I knew with certainty that they would be gone from my memory by the time next Sunday rolled around. No matter how hard I try, or which little tricks I employ, I’m simply horrid at remembering peoples’ names.

If only they were flowers—or birds! Continue reading

Let the Little Children…

We were cruising around the block for the umpteenth time. Street-side parking spots are rare in San Francisco, and we urgently needed one. I was grumbling under my breath, my attitude deteriorating faster than an overripe banana, when a small voice piped up from the carseat in back. “Mom, did you ask God for a parking spot?”

“Er, that’s a great idea, sweetie! Why don’t you pray for us?”

So my preschool-aged daughter asked God for a parking spot—and darned if one didn’t appear just down the street, as if by magic.

Hmmm, I thought.

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