when i think of prayer, i think of “Evan Almighty”.

Do you know the scene I’m talking about? When God tells Evan’s wife, Joan, that when people pray for patience, He gives them an opportunity to be patient. (Get it? Joan? Ark? Add an ‘of’ in there…and we’ll be on the same page with the laughter…)

I think one of the most underestimated things in the world is prayer. It’s easy for us to pray for a Thanksgiving dinner or as a team before a big game, but what are the normal times that we pray? I think I feel some categories coming on!

When there’s pain involved:

Whether it’s a physical injury or a matter of feelings, we humans take pain very seriously. We especially try to avoid pain before it  happens. (The song “Haley” by Needtobreathe comes to mind.) For some people, they become a Christian when they need some help, when they need a spiritual doctor. I think going straight to the source of love and healing for help when you’re hurting is a great way to go. I know from experience that nobody can comfort more than the God of comfort, the God of the universe.

When there’s a contest afoot:

It’s okay, I’m guilty of this one, too. Don’t forget to offer up some reasons to support your plea, such as: I’ve worked so hard or I really deserve this…those are real crowd pleasers. I love this one because we use it to remind God that He loves us…like He owes us, or something. If God doesn’t answer these prayers in the way we intended, we get angry. We assume that we’re worthless and that God didn’t hear us. He had better things to do, greater prayers to heed. When this happens, we can sometimes miss the point God makes, the line He draws. There have been times when I’m so focused on how God “wronged” me by not granting me a wish, that I didn’t see His glory shine in the outcome. Don’t miss those. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Oooh. Conviction alert!

When there’s healing to be done:

This is something I’m proud to say that I’ve witnessed. Not in a mystical mist kind of way, but over time. I have to say…I think my home town is cursed. Van Alstyne, Texas, has seen so much heartache, injury, and disease over the last few years that I’m surprised they aren’t testing the water. Children and teenagers have died from cancer, tornadoes and car accidents, and the community has come together in an amazing way to pray for the students and their families. My grandmother suffered multiple bouts with cancer for 30 years, and her continuous prayer and faith kept her going, along with the prayers of others.

I fervently believe in the power of prayer. I used to believe that it was a script to be recited at certain times, but now I find myself in constant prayer. We all have things in our lives that could use some constant prayer, don’t we?

God knows I’m forever praying about my GPA, so that I can keep my scholarships. I don’t just pray for A’s, though. I pray for the strength to keep studying, even when I get tired. I pray for encouragement from people around me. I pray for reminders of why I’m in college and what my life has to gain from a few years here. We have to go deeper, pray deeper; really connect with the Father, pour our hearts out to Him because He’s listening and He cares.

One of my favorite things is praying with my friends. Recently, I received a text from a friend, asking me to pray for one of his coworkers that had lost a precious baby. My best friend was with me at the time, and we both received the same message. We stopped what we were doing, which was watching Celtic Woman, and prayed together for the girl and her family. I love that moment. It’s so precious to me.

“Our prayers are heard by the same God who answered Moses’ prayer for water in the desert, the God who gave Abraham and his barren wife a son, and the God who made the slave Joseph second in power only to Pharaoh”. (Crazy Love)

What are you praying for? Have you seen any prayers answered lately?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “Say Your Prayers” by The Wedding

Just another day in the garden.

Everyone has that one question that they plan on asking God when they get to Heaven, right? “Why did I get in that car accident?” or “Why was I a natural blonde? You knew I’d dye it, anyway.”  What’s my question? It’s not even to God…it’s for Adam…and it’ll be something like this:

“Really? Hippopotamus? How’d you come up with that?”

Let’s be real – Adam had a pretty sweet job. God created the world, then put Adam in charge of naming everything. In Genesis 2: 19, it says, “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name”. Uh, chicka-yes! “God, you labor for seven days and then do some resting. I’ll take everything from here.”

How often do we do that in our lives? We witness God working in our lives, or creating a perfect situation for us to grow…and we tell Him to back off. Nicely, though, right? “God, thanks for this. You’ve done so much for me, that girl over there could use a hand. Focus on her for a while. I’ll be ok on my own”. Have you ever said that?

I think we do that without realizing it, sometimes. Like we feel guilty for taking up God’s time and energy. God’s a lot of things, but He isn’t absent. He’s omnipresent. Meaning, He’s everywhere at every moment. He’s in the air we breathe. He’s everywhere we go, whether we want Him there or not.

Another part of that verse that really hits home to me is “He brought them to the man to see what he would name them.” To see what he would name them. So, basically…God was curious about man. He didn’t create a world, then throw man into the mix with a “good luck”. He created the world so that we could enjoy creation. So that we could have joy.

Look at what happened to Adam and Eve:

“…God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'” God gave Adam and Eve one rule. I can imagine the hip God that I know saying something like, “Alright, listen…check out all this awesome stuff I made for you to enjoy. Trees, flowers, yeah! It’s awesome! Ahhh…but, uh…I’ve only got one rule. That tree over there? Cool, right? Yeah, don’t eat the fruit on it.” And that’s it. One rule. He didn’t say, “don’t go near that tree” or “don’t look at that tree”, he simply said, “don’t eat it’s fruit because if you do…well…you’ll die.” Pure and simple.

Now, let’s back up a little bit. When God created woman, he created her from Adam’s rib. (Following me? If you’re staring at your screen and mouthing “wait…what”, check out Genesis 2: 21-23.) Ok, now this next verse may seem silly or insignificant, but it’s actually really important, so just roll with it: Gen. 2: 24, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”. At that time, it was normal. Also, animals roaming all other the place was pretty commonplace, but that’s another story.

When the serpent comes along and tempts Adam and Eve, everything changes. Eve decides she wants some of the knowledge that this tree supposedly bears, so she eats some fruit and shares it with her husband. The Bible says in Gen. 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves”. How quickly everything changes, huh? One moment, they’re basking in the glory of the Lord, coming up with words like “monkey” and “hippopotamus”, then the next, they’re ashamed and facing the wrath of God. Remember what He said? Don’t eat the fruit or you will die.

So, God kills them. The End.

It would have been so much easier that way, right? What if God had just gotten rid of them and started over? That didn’t happen. Our God is a merciful god. He doesn’t seek our destruction or rain misery onto our lives. Instead, He cursed mankind. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, women face more pain in childbirth. Thanks, guys. I’m also convinced global warming is their fault. (Not really…but really…)

This event is usually referred to as “The Fall”. Why? I’d choose something like “The Disaster” or “The Trainwreck”. They had everything they could ever want, but they did one thing to mess it all up: they disobeyed God. You have to wonder, were they thinking God was holding out on them? Did they think that one act could make them better than how they had been created? Adam and Eve decided to make their own rules, that God’s weren’t good enough, and all of mankind has paid the price.

What’s happened in your life to where you thought your decision could be better? That He had failed you?

I encourage you to share!

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “Culture & Theology” A Sermon by Matt Chandler

a call to be Christ-like.

I’ve been thinking about this first post for a while now. A friend told me to write about what has made an impact on my life recently. About a year ago, I started reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. Multiple people told me about it and encouraged me to read it. I can honestly say that it took me months to get through it from start to finish. Not because it was difficult to read, but because the realities were too difficult for me to process.

One section of this book that hit me the hardest was the realization of our calling to be Christ-like.

All my life, I’ve heard that phrase: “Be Christ-like”. But it always seemed so ridiculous. To be without sin? We already know that’s impossible, so how am I supposed to be like Christ? Is there a rule book for that? Some type of manual? Here’s the kicker: Yes. Yes, there is.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, God delivers a scout’s manual for how to be like Christ:

“Love is patient andkind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; itdoes not rejoice at wrongdoing, butrejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)

So, if God is love. And Christ is love. And we are to be Christ-like, we should be love, also…right? Are you following me?

Chan issued a challenge: Take these verses and every time you see the words “love” or “it”, replace them with “Christ”.

Makes perfect sense, right? Now, try replacing those two words with your own name. Seems like a pretty false statement, right? I try to be patient and kind. But, God’s revealed to me in the last year that I have a problem with arrogance. That whole “my way or the highway” thing…rings true to my attitude sometimes. I know for a fact that no one on earth can say that when they do this exercise, it’s an honest statement. You know how I know that? Because no man is without sin. No man is Christ, but Christ. We know that we can strive our whole lives to be like the Savior, but we never will be because we have already sinned. Our lives are plagued with sin. Who could possibly want us?

God does. He created us. He wants to see us succeed. That doesn’t mean that our walks with God are easy, yellow-bricked roads with signs along the way warning us of what’s around the next corner. “Watch out! You’ll fail that exam!” is not a warning we get. The beauty is, we aren’t the only ones struggling. God brings friends and coworkers into our lives to help us through the next phase of our lives. I have friends that God has blessed me with that have been accountability partners and are constantly encouraging me. There’s one other person I can think of that knows exactly what it’s like to struggle against sin. He’s my good friend, Jesus.

Hebrews 4:15-16 says “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Wow. I read this verse recently and said that out loud: wow. Yes, God provides people for us to lean on and seek advice from, but ultimately, we have to turn to Christ. He knows what it’s like to be tempted, to be tested. Who else could encourage us to be Christlike, but Christ!

Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” (which makes me think of track season…which happens to be right now.)

No matter how imperfect our lives are, God takes that shame and turns it into beauty. We are His children. How awesome is it that the god of the universe wants a personal relationship with us! I think I reread these pages in “Crazy Love” 30 times, trying to wrap my head around the picture of my life right now, and comparing it to the person I want to be in the future. So let this challenge you, also, to stop and take a look at your life.

Which of these do you struggle with? How has God helped you overcome them? Please, leave comments and let me know!

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “Hundred More Years” album by Francesca Battistelli