Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Lucy and Summer are fascinated with the squirrels in our yard. We have a lot of oak trees and the squirrels use them as a highway to get around our property. From one tree to another they leap using an aerial pathway. Eventually, they have to come down to the ground to find acorns which are abundant this year. But, they have to be careful or a Doberman or Retriever will be silently waiting to snag them up. Not that that has ever happened. They are more apt to find a mole or baby bunny than they are a squirrel. Even when one misses its mark high in the trees and sails down to hit the ground with a thump, the dogs are too slow to catch it before it is back up in the trees. That does not stop Lucy and Summer from sitting patiently under an oak tree hoping, just hoping that the squirrel will come within their reach. At least Lucy is patient. She sits silently staring up into the tree for hours while Summer waits only a few minutes before she starts barking and leaping at the tree as if to taunt the squirrel to make a move. Then, Summer runs off leaving Lucy to stare heavenward alone. Lucy’s resolve reminds me of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. When I was younger and more people asked me about my resolutions, I would chose something that I could accomplish in the first few days of the new year, clean out my closet, get my ears pierced or rearrange the furniture so that I could easily get it done and over. In my opinion, most New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. Still New Year’s is a time for fresh beginnings so to commemorate the start of 2013, I have been reading a book by Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker: Praying Dreams Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, and its companion guide, Draw the Circle, A 40 day prayer Challenge. The books are about prayer. About consistent, faithful and relentless prayer. Batterson says that many Christians pray “asap” prayers. “God, get it done as soon as possible” and when whatever we are praying for does not happen right away, we either make it happen ourselves or give up and move on to the next desire. Instead, Batterson says we should pray, “alat” prayers, “As Long As It Takes”. He notes that few believers really know the power of prayer because we do not practice it. The process of prayer is as more about getting into God’s presence so He can reveal His plans for us than it is giving God a “divine to do list.” So, for the next 40 days, I have resolved to be more like Lucy, steady, patient, quiet and waiting, than Summer, demanding, distracted and quick to give up. It will take at least forty days. I’ll let you know how it’s going periodically. But, I am also looking for people to join me in the process because Batterson encourages us to take the challenge to pray in groups. Any takers?