It’s difficult to say a prayer together when you’ve just been bickering. I’d like to say that my family never bickers, but we do. Sometimes it’s a result of a bunch of people trying to rearrange cars in a little lot at the end of a long driveway. A few snide requests for people to be “a little more considerate” mix with a few comments that someone could have gotten up a few minutes earlier, and the tense mood at the start of a short journey is set.
As we pull away, lips are sealed tight and annoyed for the duration, that is, unless someone does the hard thing. The day isn’t off to a bad start if someone can do the thing that is sure to cause a few moments of unspoken and subtle resistance, and forced and uncomfortable, but brief, self-refection. Breaking the heavy silences, someone prays. As family members sit, arms folded defensively on chests, as the car heads out the driveway, someone says “Dear Lord, Thank you for this day. We love you. You are so good, so awesome, so loving. Please be with us. We welcome you into our day. Please keep us safe, help us to be a blessing to others and to bring you glory. Amen.”
No one in a bad mood likes to face God.
It’s a simple fact that we need to take control of ourselves in the moments of sliding into “fleshly” behavior, and stop it. Calling on God is the absolute answer. When the bad-behavior-o-meter starts to tilt toward the red zone, God is there, waiting for our request for help. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This is when we are on the defensive, feeling potentially overtaken, and God always responds. In Exodus 22:33 God says of the Israelites, “I will certainly hear their cry.” He still does this for us, today.
There’s a way of living where we keep much trouble at bay. This is offensive living, where we acknowledge that “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) We march into the day knowing that we need God to be part of it. Jesus, Himself, told us to pray “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13) when He gave us the model of the Lord’s Prayer. We can’t afford to be too busy to pray. We know that we need God and His angels and His people to all work together for His purposes. So we intentionally stop to pray and acknowledge our dependance on His presence and protection and effectively arm ourselves for what’s ahead.
It’s important to heed Paul’s warning in Ephesians to arm ourselves with His full armor; “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13) The full armor of God protects us and empowers us to do great exploits for God. Fully-armored people are disciplined and devoted. When we love and know Jesus, we want to be in His army, and live accordingly. But our relationship with Him is not dependent on our perfect behavior. It’s a result of our acceptance of His love and grace. He is intensely concerned about us and wants to be part of all we do.
Some of our greatest battles in life will happen in front of the coffee pot in our kitchens, or as we pull out of the driveway of our homes.
We had a lovely day yesterday, blessed in every way. I marveled as I held my phone, studying the next neon turn on the black screen of the GPS app. As we drove away from so much fun, I wondered why God was so good to us that day? I wondered this, exhausted from sun, wind, rain and too much road trip coffee. God’s answer entered my mind in a whisper; “Your day was extra blessed because Marsha prayed this for you, and I answered her prayer.”
Wow. She did. On Sunday she had hugged me and prayed for me, asking for good things for my family. She had invited God into our days ahead, on our behalf and He came, and He blessed us! Thank you, Marsha! These small, short and sincere prayers can be the building blocks of very good things.
This is what God wants so much that He gave His son; to have fellowship with us. (See John 3:16) He’s as zealous as a little kid wanting to join His parents on their date night. But He’s so much more regal, and loving, and patients, and honorable, and worthy. We should be the little kid begging Him to come with us.
We are so much better off when we ask Him to come.
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, God tells us that He wants His ways to be an intricate part of our daily lives. He directs the Israelites;
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”