Pray the New Year In

The world has much to pray about this New Year. The virus may be uppermost in your mind, but for now let’s go deeper than that. We all want to be happy and healthy and comfortable. So that is how we pray.

I propose that we are praying for the wrong things.

God has promised to hear us, to answer us, to be there with us. He has not promised to give us every item we ask for. His will is not for every person to be healed, happy and comfortable. His will is for every person to come to Him, to connect with Him in a real relationship of Love.

Matt. 7:7-8 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Ask and ‘it’ will be given to you.” What is ‘it’? It is that close, loving relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. God has promised to give ‘it’ to us and He will, but we must seek for it – in truth.

Do we really want to hear God – or do we just want God to hear us? We cannot have one without the other.

Ps. 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him. To all who call on him in truth.

Yet at times, praying is hard work. Paul Miller describes it this way in his book A Praying Life.

“We last for about fifteen seconds, and then out of nowhere the day’s to-do list pops up and our minds are off on a tangent. We catch ourselves and, by sheer force of the will, go back to praying. Before we know it, it has happened again. Instead of praying, we are doing a confused mix of wandering and worrying. Then the guilt sets in. Something must be wrong with me. Other Christians don’t seem to have this trouble praying. After five minutes we give up, saying, “I am no good at this. I might as well get some work done.

Something is wrong with us. Our natural desire to pray come from Creation. We are made in the image of God. Our inability to pray comes from the Fall. Evil has marred our image. We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration. It’s as if we’ve had a stroke.”

Doubts begin to creep in. Does it even do any good to pray? Does God even care? Is there even a God out there? But we cannot admit our doubts to others – sometimes we cannot even admit them to ourselves. Then guilt begins to pile on top of doubt like ten thick woolen blankets, shutting out the light and the air.

Or maybe we have prayed non-stop for years for a friend’s healing or a family member’s salvation with no improvement whatsoever. Then we give up completely.

Paul Miller shares with us, “Life’s unexpected turns had created a path in my heart to God; God taught me to pray through suffering.”

Note what he said – “…created a path in my heart to God”. That is relationship! Relationship that was built in the hard times.

Praying is reaching out to God. It is connecting with Him no matter what happens afterward. He doesn’t need the ‘right words’ in the ‘right formula’. We need to lay ourselves before Him, to Love Him, to feel Loved by Him.

Matt. 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

What is it that is heavy on your heart this New Year?

Go to God.

Lay it down at His feet and reach out – earnestly – for His love.

Seek God, not answers.

Seek God and He has promised you will find Him.

Blind

(Story written by Chuck Murphy, found in his book Christ and the Cowboy. This is a wonderful picture of how God guides us.)

A lot of snow has fallen since I found the blind calf on the rock ledge nearly thirty years ago.

I had made most of my circle starting the calves to the feedlot. It had snowed about three inches the afternoon before, with enough wind to shake it out of the trees and clear the rocks and bare ground. I had ridden out on a rocky point when I saw a lone calf on a rock ledge some three hundred yards away. I rode as close as I could, dismounted, and climbed down to where he was. He had gotten over a rounded sandstone ledge about three feet high. There was a crack in the rock that he could have gotten up if he could have found it. Downward escape would have been to fall about five feet over another rounded edge to the grass and rocks below. The space that he was trapped on was about ten feet by fifteen feet. I could see where he had licked some snow for moisture, and had eaten the few bites of coarse grass at the base of the upper ledge. He was gaunt, dehydrated, and had probably been there for two or three days. His biggest problem was that he was totally blind in both eyes.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I knew that my horse couldn’t pull him back up over the ledge, and felt the best rescue effort was for him to jump down and make his way to open ground out the bottom. As I tried to encourage him to jump, I realized that he had no idea of how far it would be, and that he would feel like he was falling off the edge of the world. I maneuvered him to the area above the least rocks and pushed him off. My heart filled with compassion as I tried to imagine the fear of falling into the unknown.

In disoriented panic he scrambled to his feet and tried to escape this monster that had pushed him into this new field of obstacles and hazards. He bumped into trees and large rocks, and stumbled over the smaller rocks and down logs.

It took me several minutes to get back to my horse and ride around the rim to where he was. He had stumbled into a more open park, and I began to talk to him. He moved away from my voice and eventually learned that he could walk slowly without falling by taking high steps. I could have roped him at this time, but his fighting the rope would have been harder on him than falling over invisible hazards. I stayed fifty to seventy-five feet away, moving wide to either side, and by keeping a constant voice reference, I was able to maneuver him out on to an open meadow with no obstacles. From there, we had to negotiate a hundred-foot wide pass in the rim.

Photo by Kerry on Pexels.com

I had switched to some cowboy songs to maintain a consistent sound, and he would move with some confidence. He soon learned that when my voice changed to words, an obstacle was eminent and he would be more cautious. At the top of the little pass we hit a trail used by the other calves. He became more sure of himself, feeling the trail with his feet and turning back when he felt the undisturbed snow on the side. Soon the calves that had already gathered at the feed lot began to bawl in response to my voice. The blind calf perked up in recognition of the sound of his kind. He knew that he had a chance if he could once more get with the herd. When the blind calf heard the cadence of the water pump jack he turned to the tank and drank deeply.

By the time I had the grain in the troughs he was mixed into the herd never to be isolated again.

This is the end of the story as far as the calf, but it has affected my life for over thirty years.

I remember the anguish in my heart as I pushed the frightened calf over the edge of the rock, and think of the anguish of Father God, as he pushes some of His children into frightening circumstances to save their souls.


I love this story. It is so easy for us to see that the cowboy has only good intentions for the calf. The calf need only trust this cowboy who knows how to rescue him.

Yet it is so difficult at times for us to see that Father God has only good intentions for us, His creation. We need only trust our Father who knows how to rescue us. The fall may feel like a plunge into the unknown darkness, but it is Father God bringing us closer to Him.

God Speaks

My husband and I recently returned from a road trip. Some said we were crazy to go at such a time as this. Some were jealous. We needed to do something uplifting in our lives during this sad and anxious time.

We took off in our tiny RV in October and spent the fall winding through the national parks in Utah as well as the desert in Arizona.

As we turned off the news and opened our eyes to God’s creation – something changed inside of us. We saw God’s eternal power in the mountains and canyons that He formed. We saw His divine nature spread before us mile after mile in the living creation around us.

We stood at the edge of Bryce Canyon and witnessed God’s wisdom and majesty.

Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

We kayaked the waters of Lynx Lake and marveled at what a great God we have.

Lynx Lake, Prescott, Arizona

Romans 1:19 “…what may be known about God is plain, because God has made it plain. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse.”

Max Lucado tells the story of meeting a rural farmer in Brazil. This man raised his family of 14 on a tiny two acres. He told Max, “I have no trouble believing in God. After I see what he has done on my little farm, year after year, it is easy to believe.” Max said, “His faith was rooted in the simple miracles that he witnessed every day: A small seed becoming a towering tree. A think stalk pushing back the earth. A rainbow arching in the midst of the thundercloud…Someone who witnessed God’s daily display of majesty doesn’t find the secret of Easter absurd. Someone who depends upon the mysteries of nature for his livelihood doesn’t find it difficult to depend on an unseen God for his salvation.”

Max assures us, “Miracles happen all around us; we only have to pay attention.”

A time such as this should not move us indoors where we cannot view divine majesty. The more difficult our lives become, the more time we need to spend outside – listening to what God has to say.

We must turn around and see the voice that is speaking to us. (Revelation 1:12)