Jen’s Gem: Pray without ceasing.
A few weeks ago, my children and I returned home to Long Island for a visit. It was the first time we’d been home since my Dad passed away. Walking into the house and knowing he would not be there filled all of us with trepidation. Even though he’d been hospitalized in his final weeks and wasn’t in the house, somehow this time it was different.
As I sat at the kitchen table leafing through the newspaper, memories of Sunday morning crossword puzzles filled my mind. I glanced at the day’s puzzle, bewildered at the first clue. I thought, “Dad would know the answer.” My father knew more abstract words than I can count. When I would challenge him about their legitimacy, he’d say “look it up.” It was always there.
I left that weekend with my Dad’s favorite sweater. The sweater he’d wear as we puzzled over puzzles. There was a faint smell of him still on it. I wondered how long that’d last. When I arrived home, I hung the sweater on my office chair. As a writer, I often search for the right words and thought the presence of my dad’s sweater would magically transform blank pages into works of art.
It’s pretty silly now that I think about it – to place your hopes in an inanimate object. But here’s what that sweater did do for me. It reminded me that even though my Dad is no longer with me, no longer able to give me advice, or marvel at my knowledge of useless trivia that would somehow help us complete crossword puzzles, I have a Father in heaven who can do all of this and more.
Seeing that sweater hung over my office chair served as a reminder to turn my gaze upward to the Father who can give me advice, give me strength, and get me through tough times. In addition to the alerts on my phone to pray, seeing that sweater made me stop for a moment and offer up a prayer of thanks for whatever came to my mind.
We are instructed by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It’s possible many people may find this daunting and think, “I’m supposed to pray all day? How am I going to get anything done?”
But a prayer can be as simple as saying “Thank you” to God for a blessing or for the great idea He just gave you or for opening up a space in a crowded parking lot. It doesn’t have to be a three-hour event. In fact, I think the simpler our prayers the better. And what could be simpler than “Thank you?”
Last week, my son was hit by a car. He is fine; a few bumps and bruises are all that he suffered. After the shock of this incident wore off, I gave thanks to God for protecting him. I gave a high five to the angels I charged to protect him that morning. All was fine until the next day.
The sheer overwhelm that I could’ve lost my son took over. Call it a delayed reaction, but it was a definite reaction as I was an emotional mess for a fair amount of the day. I had forgotten that he’d been protected. I forgot that he was physically fine. All I could think about was that I could’ve lost my son.
I won’t lie. It took me longer to rebound from this emotional roller coaster than I care to admit. But what pulled me out of it was my faith that God had my son in the palm of His hand the entire time. He had His eyes on him from the moment he stepped off that curb to the moment he arrived home safely. That’s who God is. This is what He does.
He keeps us in the palm of His hands 24/7/365. He never takes a vacation. He never has “me-time.” He never sleeps. He’s constantly working to keep His children safe and sound in all areas of their lives. This is not just what He does, it’s who He is.
This week, I would like to encourage you to consider who God is in your life. Is He a source of strength, love, and peace? Is He an arranger of circumstances that benefit you? Is He an unknown to you for whatever reason? Ask God to make Himself known to you. Ask Him to show up for you this week. The Bible says that whatever we ask of Him, in faith, He will give us.
Exercise your faith and ask. Then get ready for the answer. Just as the words my Dad would conjure up for the crossword puzzle were totally legit, so will God’s responses to you be as well.