Friday, October 19, 2007

Praying for Peace


She was once a sweet sleeping peaceful baby swaddled in the soft comfort of home-stitched blankets. Peace enveloped her as her mother cooed over her cradle and sang sweet songs of love to her. But, now. Now, life is so much more complicated. Sin has entered in and the once peaceful baby is a woman tormented by bad decisions and an unseen enemy. The mother looks at the hurting woman and wishes for peace… Prayers are offered daily for babies grown up and for mothers whose hearts are broken. The pain is great, the burden is heavy and despair lurks around the corner. So, we persist in seeking our God, banging on His door, begging Him for answers and seeking peace.

“I do not see how you could bear so much sorrow.”
Hannah responded, “I did not bear it. The Lord bore it for me.”
The lady agreed, “We must take our troubles to the Lord.”
“Yes, but we must do more than that: we must leave them there. Most people take their burdens to Him, but they bring them away with them again, and are just as worried and unhappy as ever. But I take mine, and I leave them with Him, and come away and forget them. If the worry comes back, I take it to Him again; and I do this over and over, until at last I just forget I have any worries, and am at perfect rest.”

Taken from Hannah Whitall Smith’s The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

I was recently asked a question for which I did not have the answer: When do I leave my prayer requests at Jesus’ feet and when do I persevere in prayer continually like the nagging widow(cf. Luke 11:1-8)? A balancing act must be performed between persistence and surrender. What is the answer to this question? Hannah seems to have figured out that to find true peace, we must not only surrender a worry once, but many times.

Eugene Peterson put it this way,
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Let praise shape your worries into prayers… God’s greatest desire is that we would turn to Him in true relationship and He knows our hearts: He knows that sometimes He needs to use worries and burdens to draw us to Him. A mentor once told me to thank God for the burdens because the burdens bring us to Jesus. If we didn’t struggle with besetting sins, addictions, pain, fear or anxiety, would we come so readily to Jesus in prayer each day? These reminders of our weakness and humanity are what Jesus calls being poor in spirit and there is a blessing attached to that. The blessing of intimacy with Christ.

So when do you cease praying and rest? When you have found peace. And if the peace vanishes, go back to the cross and repeat the process. Amazingly enough, our God doesn’t weary of our tedious prayers but welcomes us back again with open arms.

There is peace in that embrace.

Peace is found looking deep into His eyes full of compassion.

Peace resides at the cross.

My husband reminded me of Amy Carmichael’s perspective on peace:

He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places,
They shall be filled again.
O voices moaning deep within me, cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, "I will crowd action upon action
The strife of faction
Shall stir me and sustain;
O tears that drown the fire of Manhood cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavor lieth peace.

He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease."
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, "I will submit;
I am defeated.
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmuring, why will ye not cease?"
But vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain."
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain.
For in Acceptance lieth peace."
~Amy Carmichael

6 comments:

Denise said...

Your daily inspirations are a true blessing to my soul, thanks my friend.

Vicki said...

This is just beautiful, my friend. I'm so blessed by your writing. And you've quoted some favorites of mine(Hannah Whitall Smith & Amy Carmichael). They seemed to really grasp the beauty of a surrendered life.

love you bunches,
~V.

Robin @HeartofWisdom said...

Beautiful post! "Let praise shape your worries into prayers" I'm putting this on a post it now.
Thanks for sharing Amy's words-- always inspiring.

Thanks again for your prayers. This morning I posted an update on my valley to mountain journey.

SharonB said...

Thank you.

As I read this I was reminded of something Ruth Graham Bell said. We mothers do what we are to love, affirm, encourage, teach, listen and care for the physical needs of the family. Then we surrender to God what He can do. He convicts of sin, creates hunger and thirst after God, and converts sinners.

We do the possible and trust God for the impossible.

Nana Cheryl said...

"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers."

I love how the Message takes verses we know so well and says it in a way that we hear it again as if for the first time. Worry steals our peace, but Jesus will "displace" our worries and replace them with HIS peace which settles us down. Beautiful post.

lori said...

That was beautiful Heather! Really, really beautiful...
We had that reading this weekend from Luke about the persistent widow...and you are right, balance until the peace overwhelms us...

a friend told me once that, "God is not a God of confusion." If its confusing it must not be God...keep praying..
peace...feeling the peace!
I really LOVE coming here...it's a visit and it always encourages me on my walk!
you bless me!
lori