Be careful what you pray for! It’s a well-known principle that when you ask God for patience, you can expect trials. When we tell Him we want to love more, He sends us the unlovable. And when you want to strengthen your prayer life, well, you can be sure that you’re going to have something to pray about.
One of my goals for 2020 was to improve my prayer life. I dared to ask God to teach me to be a better pray-er—to hear His voice more clearly, to feel His heart more strongly, and to pray with more faith and more passion. Please don’t blame me for a global pandemic, but I have to admit, we’ve all had plenty to pray about lately. Between the coronavirus itself and the resulting economic fallout, we could spend hours on our knees. God has our attention, and He’s taking full advantage. But sometimes, God aims closer to home.
One of my good friends read my “Bait and Switch” article and wrote me a thoughtful email about another kind of bait and switch that has become a significant issue in the church. She gave me permission to fill out her thoughts; the resulting collaboration is today’s post.
There is another bait and switch—not pulled off by God, but by the church—that is weakening the Body and causing dissatisfied “customers.” We, the evangelical church, are “selling” the gospel as merely therapeutic, rather than as the Good News it truly is.
Christian church bombed in Nigeria. Muslim convert disowned by family.
We read the headlines, and try to imagine, but it’s very difficult to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. We love to complain about the demise of Christianity’s cultural acceptance here in the U.S., but we really have no idea what it’s like to lose our home, our family, or our life for our faith.
One way to overcome this barrier is to read Christian biographies. The dialogue may be fictionalized, but the stories are true. As we immerse ourselves in the book, we begin to identify with the main character. What happens to them? How do they react? How would we react in the same circumstances?
As I write this, I’ve been battling the Worst Cold Ever for over a week. I won’t go into the gory details, but this truly is the worst head cold I’ve ever had—and it just won’t go away. The doctors assure me it isn’t strep, so there’s really nothing much I can do except buy Kleenex in bulk, slurp chicken soup, juggle the decongestants with the antihistamines with the expectorants with the cough suppressants, and pray that I get better sooner, while my husband still likes me. (Am I whining? Oops, sorry.) Praying for healing is always a good idea.
A dear friend of ours suffered a massive heart attack yesterday morning. As of last night he had not yet regained consciousness, needed a respirator to breathe, and had no brain function. Doctors are giving him a 1% chance of survival—as a vegetable.
Family and friends are gathered at the hospital, and of course we’re praying for a miracle. That’s what believers do, right? But in spite of our professions of faith, it seems that very few of the pray-ers actually believe in miracles. And, they assume, if God does intervene, He only does so on exceedingly rare occasions. As their church pastor pointed out, she had never actually seen a miracle. The whole concept was hypothetical.
In honor of the resurrection of Jesus, I’d like to share our family’s personal story of God’s miraculous healing.
Holiday. It comes from “holy day.” To me, Easter is the most holy day of the year. The resurrection is the centerpiece of my faith in a God who saves.
As Paul told the Corinthians, “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15)
These verses have extra meaning for our family because of something that happened in 1997. While in Pretoria, South Africa, to speak at a conference, my husband, Pete, was walking across the street when he was hit by a speeding car. The events that followed cemented our faith in a God who works miracles—a God with resurrection power. It’s the perfect Easter story.
I’ll let Pete tell you what happened in his own words.