Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Prayer is Exercise.

I'm still exercising. I get in at least four days a week, sometimes five, a four mile work out. Sometimes I feel I want to sweat and other times I feel I need to get my pulse racing (through exercise!). Most days it is out of need. Leslie Sansone likes to say, "If you're feeling down, just pop in the dvd and get going, In a few minutes your attitude will pick up and you'll have no regrets making this choice." She's right. Sometimes, reluctantly, I turn the tube on, pop in the dvd and within 5 minutes I feel so much better about life and want to press on. I guess that's why it's called exercise. (Did you notice my 1000 mile mark has been met - all in 9.5 months. I'm keeping the tracker up - for my own encouragement.)

As I was in my 2nd mile today I was thinking about my prayer time this morning. Often, more often than I care to admit, prayer is an exercise of need rather than want. I need, or I should spend so many minutes a day in prayer. Yet I want to approach communing with my Savior out of want or desire, but, alas, more often it's need. I felt this acutely this morning as I laid out before the LORD my misgivings about the election. Slowly, yet surely, my mind and heart were transformed the longer I labored in prayer - from bitterness and resentment to compassion, concern and care as I contemplated President-elect Obama's life to come and the future of our nation.

This man and his family will be facing massive alterations to their lifestyle and their privacy. 
I prayed that he and Michelle's marriage would hold the highest priority, that each would keep short accounts with one another, that they prefer one another, that much grace and forgiveness would fill their relationship.
I prayed that their daughters would be protected from evil, harsh and malicious words, that their parent's love would grow, that they would be filled with grace for their parents and learn to voice their needs and not hide from their loving parents - especially as they face the tween and teen years in the White House.

I prayed for President Obama to lean on the Lord, to understand it is God who is sovereign over the nations - even ours. I prayed he would surround himself with wise counsel who also acknowledge the Creator as the most wise and providential of givers. I prayed he would relish the opinion of those contrary to his - as iron sharpens iron - he would look to others for their points of view (a bit of a selfish prayer but I think necessary for one leading a nation).

I prayed for those around him  - for their egos and self-interest to be made apparent to themselves and President-elect Obama. Once recognized self-interest would be dealt with and the only motivation driving his administration would be for the health and welfare of this country. 

I prayed he would see the nations with wisdom and compassion. I prayed he would gain foresight and ability to look at implications - what is the long-term effect of policies made. 
When I let go of my pre-conditions in prayer it seems my attitude is lifted, my concerns are converted and I tend to look at life, the person I'm in prayer for, the situation I'm praying about, with (what I hope are) more God-centered eyes and understanding. This doesn't come instantly nor naturally. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice of time and my selfish desires. It takes saying, "I need this and now I want this." 

As I thought through the exercise of prayer the scripture of Jesus rebuking his followers to go to their closets to pray, rather than out in the open for others to see came to mind. Now you may think, "My goodness, Barb, isn't the above rather like you praying in the open - oh, look how spiritual I am, look how I prayed so selflessly for our new POTUS!" I suppose you could say that but what I'm trying to convey here is the more I pray, the longer time I spend giving up of self to pray His will - well, it is akin to going into my prayer closet. My focus shifts from my will to His will. And I wonder if that's what Jesus meant. When I get with God, emotionally and spiritually focused on Him and not distracted by my plans for the day or my prayer ideas, He gives me His heart and eyes - no longer looking with my judgement but with His compassion. It is an exercise. I takes perseverance and desire. 


Heather.Merrill said...

Beautiful post, Barb. You inspired me. God is going to use our leadership to accomplish his will, no matter who they are, God is sovereign and our only real hope. Thanks for this post and your prayers!

Paul Merrill said...

So true that when we focus on the Lord through prayer, our eyes slowly get off ourselves.

Thanks, Barb, for that good reminder!

Rev Kim said...

Beautiful. I'm often overwhelmed by the transformation of my attitude through prayer, from "I want" to "thy will be done." Thank you for this!

You're also inspiring me to get on the treadmill for additional attitude adjustments!