Tag Archives: unceasing prayer


Fireworks are one of my favorite things in the world! I adore their pageantry, creativity and grandeur. With childlike abandon, I look forward to the 4th of July, researching when all the fireworks displays will occur and trying to squeeze in as many as possible.

foreworks imagesWhat I don’t like, however, are folks who purchase their own and insist on shooting them off into the wee hours of the morning. In the early morning hours of the 5th of July, I felt my house was under siege as the neighborhood booming and banging didn’t stop until almost 2AM. Who could sleep with all the ruckus outside my door?

Unfortunately, I don’t do well when my sleep is interrupted, so today I am bleary-eyed and irritable. I’ve been fervently trying to gut it out without a nap, so I also ardently pray, “Lord, help me get through this day.” Every few minutes I lift up this request because my eyes are droopy and my to do list is long.

Sometimes I feel a bit sheepish praying to God for something so trivial. I rationalize, “He has more important things to worry about like world peace, starving people or decaying morals. He doesn’t care about my lack of sleep.” But in 1 Samuel 1:15, Hannah states, “I am a deeply troubled woman. I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.”

Now Hannah had some real problems. She was infertile in a time when women were judged by the number of children they bore. She was one of two wives – a cultural norm at this juncture in history – and was experiencing a rival wife problem. I’m sure these challenges left her feeling frustrated and devalued. But Hannah poured out all of her problems, her entire soul, to God. Not just the monumental concerns, but the entirety of them.

It is easy to believe God is not interested in my sleeplessness, but God cares about everything. He is faithful and longs to fill our souls with peace regardless of what is bothering us. When we explain our feelings to Him, He bears our burdens. What is important is not the size of our problem, but the time we spend with Him. For it is in His presence, we are changed.

My sleeplessness may pale in comparison to your concerns. Maybe you are dealing with financial woes, relational difficulties, a bad medical report. Your life may be peppered with seemingly impossible situations that won’t be solved by a good night’s rest. But when you pour out your soul to God, when you get really honest with Him, He will faithfully replace your empty with His fullness, regardless of whether He removes your burdens or allows them to remain. Only in prayer do we experience the One and Only life-altering God.

Going to God with whatever is causing your head to ache reminds us that God is able. He is powerful. He is caring. To get through the worries, fears and hurts bring them to Him. So when you are feeling alone, scared or just plain tired, pour your soul out to God and experience the relief of divine arms wrapping themselves around you.

The best way to pray is with deep honesty. To gain that transparency, pray often- frequently opening up your life to God. Even if all you are praying for is a little sleep.


Church is supposed to be a safe haven, a place where we learn to trust God, to find security in Him, to worship God. We are rescued there from the evil outside. But what if that evil comes crashing through the doors and robs us of our shelter?

stained glass1That’s what happened on the evening of July 17, when a young man visited a Bible study in a compassionate church in Charleston, South Carolina. What started with the love of God ended in violence as nine members were gunned down by their guest. The shooting rocked the core of the community in Charleston, but it also caused fear to lodge in my heart – in a body that was 2500 miles away. Why do bad things happen? And could it happen in my church? Fear, pain and confusion aren’t limited by distance. They grow in you despite your best efforts to sweep them away.

My heart broke when I heard the news of the shooting, late that night, across three time zones and all those miles. I heard my heart crack while I snuggled in bed thinking of the families whose loved ones were victims. My heart was heavy, but theirs must have been inconsolable. Church should always be safe. Church means loving and caring and living in a community that heals our pain. It should never be a battleground, but a kinship that is able to overcome any artificial barriers we humans put up. Christ came to save us all.

That evening started with Bible study and it is now the Word healing the hearts of so many – not only in South Carolina, but throughout the country. Hearts so deeply wounded can only be restored by dressing themselves in the love of Jesus. I am so inspired by the forgiveness shown to that troubled young man by the members of the church who rose up and said publically, “I forgive you.” They are administering lavish grace not just to him, but to all of us. Their actions point out that the best way to tend your own wounds is to open your arms wide in love and forgiveness.

We are called to grieve with those who grieve. I am doing that as I watched mourners come together across racial differences. Marchers who held candles and walked across bridges and shouted even in their silence, “The only way to heal is to show love.” When the world breaks your heart, the only way through the pain is to show more love. These brave souls are inspiring me to develop a habit of showing love, of reaching out, of trying to comfort rather than inflict more pain. I want the world to experience the God of redemption and grace through my actions and my thoughts.

It sounds like an impossible task, but let’s be motivated by those who at their most crushing moment of loss stood up in forgiveness. Just as God filled the angry, broken places in their lives, He can fill them in all of us freeing us to love more fully. God can shelter us from the pain of the outside world because it is only God who is bigger than our pain.

Whatever is causing you fear, whatever brings you pain, always remember God will never abandon you in the midst of your trial. Throughout the Bible, God promises as He does in Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” He will always be your sanctuary.

While I Was Gone

Last night, I sighed as I opened my front door, returning from a vacation that was more a marathon than an opportunity for recreation. There was no rhythm to my time away, just rush, rush, rush. Ran from one activity to the next trying to see it all, do it all, visit with as many people as possible.

The trip reminded me of an early childhood memory. My family loved car trips. These were pre-Internet days, so at evening’s end, instead of searching the Internet, we searched the “vacancy” signs in front of motels. We were greatly disappointed when we found a fairly decent-looking one, but the “no vacancy” sign out front was lit.  

That memory came wafting back to me because while I was gone, my soul began to feel vacant since I had hung a “no vacancy” sign on my life. For nine days, I spent almost every waking moment involved in my overbooked schedule with little time spent in sacred communion with God.

All sorts of activities vied for my attention to the point I experienced a broken union with Christ. One of the first things I unpacked was my journal, but it sat right where I placed it on Day 1 until I packed it up right before I left for home. While I did pray every night before I went to sleep, that isn’t really enough, is it? We need more than that to deeply fellowship with our Creator.

Yet, while I wasn’t seeking God, I was overcome with joy because I strongly felt His presence in all my activities. That’s because He lives in us, so His sacred love permeates all we do. He was right beside me while I was visiting with friends, in the dentist’s chair or even trying in vain to clean out the basement. All I needed to do was acknowledge His presence.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says simply, “pray without ceasing.” For many years, I struggled with that. Imagining that meant being down on my knees with my hands folded together, I never thought unceasing prayer was possible.  How does God expect us to pray every moment of every day? That question haunted me until these overbooked days where one activity ran into another ended and the truth slammed me. Our lives should be one giant prayer to God.

I’m not saying to forget about those private extended times alone with God.  We most certainly need those. But by acknowledging God’s presence in every aspect of our lives, we will experience His sacred love in everything we do.

God’s love is powerful – enough to pervade the nooks and crannies of our lives. That includes visiting with friends, cooking dinner, doing the laundry or even packing up your suitcase. I might have forgotten to welcome Him into my presence, but He never forgot to stay with me; that’s how much He loves me.

Those nine vacant days were a wake-up call. My time away taught me I want my life to be more Him, less me. From now on, I want to spend my days acknowledging Him, striving to follow Him even in the busyness of life.

What about you?