Make Away with Selfish Prayer

If you believe in God, do you pray to Him? If yes, how do you pray? What do you pray about?

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I come from a family of non-believers. None of my immediate family members are Christians, so in my young years before knowing Christ, I prayed to the gods that my parents prayed to. After I accepted Christ, unknowingly, I still prayed the same way.

I read books on prayer and I listened to sermons on prayer. When I first accepted Christ, because I didn’t know how else to pray to God, I would recite the Lord’s Prayer daily. After attending baptism classes, I learned the A-C-T-S approach to praying. Every now and then I would use this approach in my prayer, but more often than not my prayers are selfish.

Why do I say that my prayers are selfish? Most of the time I talked to God about my needs and my wants, my fears and my anxieties. I know that we can talk to Him about anything, but rarely do the well-being of others are mentioned in my prayers. Once in a while I prayed for some dear friends but that’s hardly enough as a Christian.

Some time last week, I decided to make away with selfish prayer. I tried to stop focusing on my own needs and wants, and each day I picked a person or an item to pray for, which has absolutely no beneficiary relationship to me. There are some days I don’t know who or what to pray for at all… not to mention that I am also struggling with my own personal matters.

After this past one week, I realize that it is not about whether I pray for myself or not. How can I have a personal relationship with God if I choose to keep my most vulnerable self from Him? The point in praying is to come before Him, in humility, in knowing that I am but His servant, in honesty and in faith.

It is just like what you would do if you want to build a healthy relationship with a person.

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Are You Reading Your Bible Daily?

To answer my own question: I used to.

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I used to read my bible daily, diligently, early in the morning just before I head off to work. I used to feel uneasy whenever I did not manage to do my reading for that day. I remember how cell group members reacted with awe when I shared about my daily morning routine with God. My intention then wasn’t to brag about how I could pull myself out of bed to read the Word. The question was posed to me, so I answered. I also used to have a copy of Our Daily Bread on my office desk, and the first thing I did when I sat on my desk in the morning is to read the devotional for the day.

Sounds like a perfect start to the morning, isn’t it?

All that started to change after I had my second baby. The routine is to have no routine, because I was either too tired from the interrupted nights, or too worn out trying to juggle between a whiny toddler and a wailing baby. I started to fall behind my bible reading plan, but I still tried.

Since last year, for some reason, I just couldn’t get onto the bible reading routine. I would do it for one, or maybe two or even three days, and then life would catch up and I went back to square one. The feeling is frustrating, as I stare at the bible and wonder about what I have been missing out when I don’t spend time with God. I still pray, but without the nourishment of the Word, praying becomes dry and prayer becomes merely words.

Is busynesss your reason too for not reading your bible daily? Or is the daily reading too dry that you couldn’t find the willpower to carry on to the next day’s reading? If you are like me, it could probably be all of the above. It is just so easy to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. But tomorrow becomes another tomorrow, and days become months, months become a year.

Perhaps you and I had been too ambitious when we set out on our bible reading plan. I simply could not fit in the quiet time like I used to during those pre-motherhood days. Lately I discovered that I could actually make sure that I get to do my daily bible reading, if I do it while having my breakfast. It may sound like I’m not truly focusing, just trying to buy my way out, but that is better than not reading at all. What I am trying to say is that we can do it, and we don’t have to do it like what others do. Every person’s circumstances are different, so we work around our own circumstances.

Let us start afresh today in our reading of the Word, and may this journey bring us closer to Him, no matter how you choose to do it.

Worship is beyond Sundays

Worship.

One of the most basic entities of Christianity is worship. Worship is a significant part of the Christian life. As a Christian, I attend Sunday morning worship services. I listen to praise and worship songs. I read about worshiping the one and only God.

But what really is the meaning of worship? Is it expressed through singing the Christian songs which creates a “feel good” feeling in me on those Sunday mornings? What are the ways to worship the almighty God?

I gave some thought to this word, worship, and it became clear that one way I could understand it better is by applying the word in another context. If I talk about worshiping a person, would that give a better picture on what worship entails?

If I worship a person, for example, a particular celebrity, I would follow his every Instagram post. Do I follow God’s words as closely?

If I worship a particular celebrity, I would try to emulate his style, his characteristics, the way he carries himself. I would align myself with his likes and dislikes. Do I try to emulate the characteristics of Jesus Christ?

If I worship a particular celebrity, I would look forward to talking to him (assuming I have that chance). I would be punctual when I have a “date” with him. I would present my very best before him. Am I as enthusiastic when it comes to praying, going for church-related activities and coming before Him?

Worship is beyond the Sundays. Worship is not just about singing songs in the church and forget all about it once the services are over. Worship is actually a big, big word.

Are we worshiping?

Do the Right Thing at the Right Time

When I first started reading the Holy Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my favourite books. There is a Shakespearean air to the way that it is written. It contains many words of wisdom, similar to the book of Proverbs yet different in its approach. Today as I ponder on the question of “Should I stay at home, or should I work?”, “Should I enrol my son for piano lessons, or painting class?”, I am reminded of a familiar verse.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  – Ecclesiastes 3:1

In this age of Pinterest and so-called parenting experts, being a mom becomes almost like embarking on a research-intensive, perfection-required project. Every day we are bombarded with content (images or text) which are supposed to inspire us to be a better mom, better wife or to have better homes. We are not short of advice on whether or not to spank our child. It can become rather overwhelming.

As a mother, I find myself often wondering if I made the right decision for my children. Did I make the right move when I decided to spend three years of my life staying at home, looking after my baby / toddler? Did I do the right thing when I sent my young children to nursery and daycare so that I could have some time to focus on my own studies? Have I missed out on something? Should I have done things differently?

We can never be short of worries. But we can learn to trust God and to proceed in faith. We must understand that different persons have different circumstances, so what works for one may not for the other. We should strive to do what is right, after weighing in the options, at the point when we are making the decision.

Sometimes we share, sometimes not

One of the earliest missionaries in the Bible is the man who was healed by Jesus from being demon-possessed (Mark 5). He had been troubled for many years before he met Jesus by the river and He commanded the demon (which we are told that there are many) to leave the man and sent them to the nearby pigs. After that , the man became sane and whole again.

Naturally, as would many of us nowadays do (or claim to be), he wanted to follow Jesus. Instead Jesus told him not to, and commanded him to go back home and tell his friends the great things which He has done for him. The man obeyed, and many marveled. That’s truly good news.

Later in the same chapter, Jesus healed a little girl at her home. Only her parents, Peter, James and John were present when Jesus commanded her to “arise”. Everyone had thought that she was already dead by then. But “… arose and walked…” (v. 42). This is a great miracle! However, this time around, Jesus strictly forbid those who witnessed it to tell anyone about the whole healing.

Why was it that the demon-possessed man who was healed was told to share with his friends, but on the contrary, those who saw the little girl being raised from the dead were told to be silent about it? What is the difference between these two incidents of healing that warrants a totally different response from the one being healed?

 

The House with the Yellow Gate

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Our House.”

The house in which I spent most of my childhood years is in a suburb, near enough to the country’s capital city for weekly outings but far enough that there is enough space to dream the dream. The dream of living in the capital city itself, one day. Well, that dream is no longer my dream because things have changed so much, but I remember the wide-eyed girl who stared out the car’s windows at those tall skyscrapers and shiny glass buildings.

The house is not big, with only two bedrooms and two bathrooms but it was sufficient for my family. My mother was a stay-at-home mom (way before Pinterest and Internet, so it was a glamorous job then). She worked around the clock making sure that the house is in order, food is served and I am brought up the best way she knows. The house was well-renovated, with built-in cabinets, kitchen cabinets, built-in wardrobe and well-equipped with all the kitchen appliances that we needed. My mother tried out recipes, and did it so well. From soups to stir-frying to baking, she did it. She sewed the curtains that draped the windows. She made the tiny little dresses for my Barbie dolls.

I spent about fourteen years in that house. It was the house that I spent my childhood and my teenage years. It was our family’s house, and the way it was run partly shaped me to be who I am today. It was quiet, because I am an only child and my parents are not the boisterous type. Yet it was full of life because I had the luxury of having my parents home most of the time (my dad worked from home). The neighbours were an interesting mix and I made friends with some of their children. Sadly we do not keep in touch anymore.

It has been seventeen years since we shifted out of that house. Things have changed drastically since then. But I will always remember that house; the house with the yellow gate.

Took A Break

Yesterday evening I was supposed to bake a loaf of bread for this morning’s avocado lettuce sandwich, but I didn’t. I was worn out, tired, and just wanted to let go of all the scheduling. Yeah, I know, it’s the critical point in my projects… that point when I start to slack, become relaxed and the project gets pushed back to the bottom of the pile of ever growing unfinished projects. But if I really didn’t have the heart to bake, I shouldn’t bake right? Someone once told me that our emotions goes into the food which we prepare hence being in the right state of mind when we cook / bake / cut / grill is of utmost importance. I wouldn’t want the husband to be worn out and tired once he takes that first bite of the sandwich that I prepared for him!

Okay, excuses aside.

There is no elaborate effort for breakfast today. There are still three slices of the store-bought sandwich left, so I took two of them, spread some Nutella and just took my time with my breakfast and coffee. I even had some extra time left to catch up with my reading and devotional.

Sometimes, a break is for us to get refreshed and subsequently venture further from where we are currently at.

Breakfast will be back.