I have been reading a couple of books on the subject of prayer. Both are very good, one is an older book originally written in 1937 by Oswald Chambers called “If You Will Ask”. I am reading the 1989 edition. I am also reading a new devotional book by Mark Batterson called “Draw the Circle”. Both have inspired me and challenged me. I find myself praying differently, more often and more boldly. There are so many take-aways I could share, but I want to focus on one part of Chambers book entitled The Submission of Life.
He starts the chapter with this: “We are not built for ourselves, but for God. Not for service for God, but for God. That explains the submission of life.” Submission is one of the most difficult things to do and yet one of the most powerful things we can do. It seems odd that submission is powerful, but with true submission comes peace, unity and rightness with God. Chambers goes on to say this: “God is not concerned about our aims. He does not say, “Do you want to go through this bereavement, this upset?” He allows these things for his purpose. We may say what we like, but God does allow the devil, He does allow sin, He does allow bad men to triumph and tyrants to rule, and these things either make us fiends or they make us saints. It depends entirely on our relationship with God. If we say, “Your will be done,” we get the tremendous consolation of knowing that our Father is working everything according to His own wisdom. If we understand what God is after, we shall be saved from being mean and cynical.”
God isn’t checking in with us to see if his plan is ok. God sees all things and knows all things, therefore he knows what is best and how to work all things for good. When we fully submit to his will we can stop worrying about everything in the world around us and focus on how we are responding to the things in our lives. We can look to what God wants to do in us. Listen to what else Chambers says:
“The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women, or they are making us more captious, more insistent on our own way. We are either getting more like our Father in heaven, or we are getting more mean and intensely selfish. How are we behaving ourselves in our circumstances? Do we understand the purpose of our life as never before? God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God, and that is declared in John 17:22 “That they may be one just as We are one.” Am I as close to Jesus as that? God will not leave me alone until I am.”
When I read that I said Wow outloud. Prayer is really about getting to know God, becoming more intimate with him and understanding his heart. The more we pray the more we change. God wants to be one with us, but that can only happen if we submit to His will and His ways. The more time spent in prayer the more clear our purpose in life becomes. What would happen if we would start praying for God’s will to be done in our lives, for us to become one with Him and see as He sees and think as He thinks. What would happen if we would do what He says and be obedient to His will. God’s will is that we become one with Him as Jesus was one with Him. To become more like Him in all our ways.
Self-awareness is one of the most important skills a person can have. It leads to emotional health and relational stability. One of the ways to develop this skill is by asking yourself questions to dig down into why you are feeling certain emotions or why you are doing certain behaviors. If you have never gone on a self-discovery retreat you might consider doing so. A great way to do that is to start writing down your thoughts to a series of questions.
One exercise I did years ago that helped me begin that journey was to write my own obituary. I wrote down what I would want my wife to say about me, my family, my friends and co-workers. I then started writing down character qualities that I wanted to be known for. That was a great beginning to a time of self-awareness for me.
Here are some other great questions to ask yourself and spend some time reflecting on and then writing down your answers:
What am I trusting God for today?
Who are the key relationships?
What are the joys in my key relationships right now? What are the stresses?
Why are these people important to me?
In what ways am I experiencing inner peace? How am I lacking?
What are my three most significant prayer requests?
Am I entertaining any fears at this moment? What are they?
Do I feel discontent in some way? Describe it
What has made me laugh recently?
Have I read or listened to something convicting or stimulating lately?
Is there someone I need to forgive? What’s holding me back?
Am I really accountable? To whom? For what?
Am I putting too many hours in away from those I love most?
How am I cultivating a good sense of humor?
What can I learn from this test or hardship I am enduring?
Have I affirmed someone lately? Has anyone affirmed me? How did it feel?
Am I in full control of the way I spend my leisure moments? If not, what’s out of control?
Are my priorities the best ones?
Overall, how has my attitude been this past week?
Is there anything I need to release to God so I might worry less?
Is there anyone I am consistently encouraging with no thought of return?
Am I spending time with the right friends? How do I know?
What decisions am I facing right now for which I need divine guidance?
What am I learning from Scripture passages I’ve been studying, or sermons I’ve been listening to?
These questions come from a book called Mentoring Leaders by Carson Pue. Asking yourself questions and then honestly answering them is vital to good health. Talking about this with some trusted friends is also a great way to grow and know yourself better. After my time of self-discovery I developed my personal mission statement that I have followed for the past 15 years. Growing myself and others in faith, character and leadership. What is your mission or purpose in life? Start the journey now.