Monday, August 29, 2016

speaking faith into existence

Have you ever noticed that praying out loud is often more effective than the silent "pray in your head" kind of prayer?

I have always known that about myself, but always attributed it to the way my mind always has way too many browser tabs open at any given time. I didn't really think about praying out loud vs. praying in one's mind as being a universal issue.

Until last night.

Our church has been doing a Sunday sermon series on Philippians for the last several weeks. For Sunday evening small groups, we've been discussing some of the key points our pulpit minister made that morning. Yesterday's text was Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness* be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

* or, cool-headedness 

A lot of the sermon focused on modern day anxiety and how joy happiness. 

At group, we talked a lot about both of those things. Regarding joy, we talked a lot about how it is a perspective issue rather than an emotional feeling. Bringing in the context of the rest of the book, much is mentioned about humility, and I noted that submission to God's will and to the idea of "considering others as better than yourself" makes the way for a joyful outlook where we can see the big picture outside of our current situation. It was repeated often that living a joyful life is not about being a Suzy Sunshine Christian (see also, Ned Flanders), and understanding that one can be sorrowful and joyful at the same time is a key concept to living with an authentic sense of joy. 

Case in point, Jesus in the garden on the eve of crucifixion. He wept, and struggled with the pain he was about to endure, but he knew that by fulfilling God's promises, he would restore humanity's relationship with the Father. What greater joy could there have been, knowing that HE would be the vehicle to change countless lives through the ages?

Then, a chain of thoughts bubbled up in me as I focused in on verse 6. 

We are made in the image of God → God spoke creation into existence → by speaking our prayers out loud, we speak our trust in the Lord into existence → we also speak into existence tangible reminders of what the Lord has done for us when we offer these prayers "with thanksgiving" → as these things transform from jumbled thoughts to uttered reality, the peace of God sets upon us, whether it makes sense or not. 

And joy springs from that sense of peace.

I don't know if it was as mind-blowing to the rest of the group as it was to me, but it was a light-bulb moment for me, and made me think about how active participation in worship, singing the lyrics into existence versus just listening along, verbally asking God for wisdom, verbally acknowledging the big picture (salvation) and small picture (health, material things, etc) things He has done for us, is so important in growing our faith. 

Reminds me a bit of the Velveteen Rabbit:
“Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.

'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.” 

Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

When we speak our faith into existence often enough, it becomes Real. 

And when our faith is Real, we don't mind being hurt.

That's no small thing.

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