Tag Archives: Jennifer Slattery

ARE YOU ASHAMED TO PRAY?

Ashamed to Pray

by Jennifer Slattery (reprinted with permission)

Are You Too Ashamed to Pray?

Each day, we are engaged in a cosmic battle, a battle over self. It is a war between entitlement and sacrifice, between self-love and sacrificial love. And each day, God gives us a choice–to squelch His Spirit, His love, His still small voice as we fight for our rights, or to lay it down, allowing Him to reign and love others through us.

Most of the time, I believe we’re oblivious to the consequences. Consumed with ourselves, we don’t even notice the woman in the grocery aisle, the man at the gas station, or perhaps our spouse coming home from work discouraged and exhausted.

In each encounter, God is whispering, tugging, urging us on as His ambassadors. Unfortunately, (if you’re anything like me) the inner voice of self-love often screams louder.

Two weeks ago, our family took a trip to Odenton, Maryland to visit family. It was a wonderful time of fun and exploration–a time for me to see my brother, whom I hadn’t in over five years. But amidst our fun, I soon found myself on a cosmic battleground.

All week, God had impressed on my heart the need to lay myself down, to seek not my own glory, not my will, but His. To be like a wildflower tucked in a nook in the valley, ever-growing, reaching for the sun, even if no one notices.

And then Friday came–our last day in Maryland. I started the day at a surrender zenith, ready to die to myself and be an active instrument of God’s mercy and grace. I was determined to live out the truth God had showed me one morning in 1 Peter chapter four.

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God”  (1 Peter 4:1-2, NLT). (Emphasis mine.)

As I read the passage, I thought of a dear sister in Christ dying of brain cancer. She’s going through a rough time. She’s lost her sight, and her speech has become difficult. But through it all, her heart remains centered in Christ. Each day, her life shouts out His praises and points everyone around her to the cross.

I wanted to be like her! To praise God regardless of what I faced, to be so surrendered to Him, so focused on His love and purposes, that my life radiates His love and glory.

My determination was quickly undone, not by a fight against cancer but instead, something as trivial as crab cakes. And because of my quickly rising self-love, I tainted Christ’s name.

That afternoon, we decided to begin a search for crab-cakes. My husband had heard Baltimore was famous for them. This was the one thing he’d been looking for, the one thing he longed to do before we headed home. Being the loving, supportive, self-sacrificing … (uh-hem. I shift uncomfortably and avoid your gaze) wife I … long to be, I wholeheartedly agreed, and we all climbed into vehicles and headed downtown.

Stepping out of the van and into a dingy and smelly parking lot, my grumble meter sky-rocketed. When we reached street level, things–and the smell–got worse. I clutched my purse to my chest, and my sister and I exchanged glances.

“Can we go somewhere else?” I’m sure my voice held a pleading tone.

All the women agreed. So, we clamored back into our vehicles and drove to the harbor, filled with numerous clean restaurants–any one of which would mesh well with my germo-phobe preferences. Yes, I was pleased. This would do quite nicely.

But unfortunately, we kept walking, past the  trendy harbor area with its cute shops and alluring smells to a busy intersection lined with brick buildings. Memories of Lexington Street still fresh in my mind, I watched the clean–did I mention clean?–restaurants face behind us, my agitation growing. Snippets of my morning devotion came to mind, calling me to die to myself, embracing each moment (bacteria and all) in full surrender. Relinquishing all rights and expectations.

But I wasn’t listening. I was too focused on me.

The restaurant we ended up at was anything but five-star. The bathroom smelled as if it had been doused in urine. The carpet looked as if it’d been splotched with car grease, and the menus needed to be soaked in sanitizer. It was three o’clock, well past lunchtime, and I was starved … and a bit queasy, as my germo-phobiness waged war with my hunger.

Sitting with a firm scowl, arms crossed, nose wrinkled, I didn’t hide my disgust well. Oh, what a role model I was for my daughter!

And then it came time to pray.

The reality of my witness–or lack there of–hit me in the gut. I thought of the waitress who watched me, frumping, wanting to be anywhere else but there. Did I want her to know I was a Christian? Or would it be better, for Christ’s sake, if she didn’t?

Last Thursday, Nikki Arana asked a powerful question:

“Would you share your faith if it cost you your life?” (You can read her post here.)

I’ve often wondered about that–how I would respond if I lived in a country filled with persecution. If, because of my faith, I faced unemployment, physical pain, or even death. I don’t have an answer, but I do know, in the day-to-day when I am called to *live out* my faith as Christ’s ambassador, I often fall short. Not in the face of extreme danger, but instead, in the face of self, over something as trivial as crab cakes.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to die to myself, not just in the big, courageous moments, but in those day-to-day encounters–standing in line at a grocery store or eating at a dirty restaurant. Help me, in all things, to be alert to my witness. Help me to radiate your sacrificial love–the love that drove you to a cross, for me.

 

GRABBING HOLD OF GOD MOMENTS

Grabbing Hold of God Moments

by Jennifer Slattery (reprinted with permission)

A while back, after one particularly crabby day, my daughter looked at me and said, “You forgot to pray today, didn’t you?”

Standing in our kitchen, schooled by a child, I realized how much truth she packed in that statement. Amidst the hustle and bustle of my day, I’d inadvertently left God out of the equation, and it showed. The peace that surpassed understanding? Forgot to grab hold of it. The strength made perfect in weakness? Missed that one, too. By neglecting to connect with my Power-source, I’d trudged through my day ill-equipped and overwhelmed.

Our “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” generation tells us to work harder, strive longer, grit your teeth and get it done, but God flips that. He says, “Slow down and come to me, and let me guide you through life’s hurdles.” God never intended for us to walk through life alone. He’s always there, watching, ready to help us move from stress to peace and fear to victory. All we need to do is abide. He’ll take care of the rest.

The 19th century theologian, E.M. Bounds, said, “The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.”

Fritters away the morning. When I neglect my prayer time, that’s what I do. Run around, expending a large amount of energy, accomplishing little. And yet, when I take the time to pause and connect with God, He stills my heart, fills me with truth and clarity, and helps me navigate through the chaos of my day.

I’ve learned when it comes to my relationship with God, the age-old phrase, “It’s about quality, not quantify” rings true. As a mom, most days I don’t have the time to lock myself in a prayer closet, but I do have snippets of time sprinkled throughout my day that can be grabbed and cherished. It’s about recognizing and catching those continual God-moments.

Most often, it’s a mind-set, a realization that God’s there, ever-present. It’s about inviting God to do life with me, whether I’m cleaning toilets or singing praises. Because I’m easily distracted by the here and now, I often use little reminders to help me pause and focus on God.

I tape notes on my steering wheel with a verse or a prayer request. This turns the countless minutes spent waiting at stoplights into cherished God-moments that add peace to the rest of my day.

I set reminders on my phone. When the alarm chimes, I pause for a minute or two to talk to God or remember a verse from my morning Bible reading.

I tape a challenge or “life-change” verse on the inside of our door so that I can pause to commit my day to God each time I leave the house.

I ask God for help turning my day over to Him, clinging to the promise of James 4:8 which says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This reminds me that God is always there, whether I feel His presence or not.

And finally, I toss out all-or-nothing thinking that tells me prayer must be formal to be effective. When thinking of my relationship with God, I’m often reminded of my marriage. It doesn’t take much for my heart to connect with my husband. On his days off, I enjoy just having him around, whether we are talking or co-existing. It’s about doing life together and knowing we’re united.

I believe our spiritual walk can be strengthened if we view it in the same way. God loves it when we carve out time in our busy day to rest at His feet, but He longs for more. He wants to be a part of our entire day. He’s already there, watching us, loving us. The goal, then, is to recognize His presence, grab hold of it, and cherish it.

Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, and Samie Sisters and is the marketing manager of the literary website, Clash of the Titles. Find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives out Loud.

WHEN IS ENOUGH – ENOUGH?

When is Enough – Enough?

by Jennifer Slattery (reprinted with permission)

We’ve all had those moments in our life when we’re ready to throw in the towel. We’ve prayed and prayed, fervently and with faith, for something or someone, to no avail. And we’ve all had those moments when God’s Spirit has burned within us so strongly, we just knew things were going to turn around, our loved ones were going to finally take that leap of faith, our house was going to sell, we were going to get that job. Whatever. But then the moment passes, and our loved ones are still headed down a different road, the house continues to sit, and the job we’ve worked so hard and long for is given to someone else. So what do we do? When is enough – enough?

I’ve been on both sides of this coin many times. I have moments where my faith is so strong I’m ready to turn mountains into molehills and to command trees to uproot themselves and jump into the sea. But I’ve also had many moments, way more than I’d like to admit, where I’ve thrown my hands in the air with a scowl and a vehement accusation hurled at God.

Yesterday God gave me just a glimmer of His heart, and it overwhelmed me with sadness. I’m not sure if sadness is quite the word. Sadness mixed with intense longing. I couldn’t stop crying, and praying. As I prayed, I listened to Addison Road’s “What Do I know of Holy” over and over. Not sure why, but the song drew me. Even now, as I think about it, tears resurface. What do I know of Holy? What do I know of God? My human mind fails to comprehend. So what do I do? I box Him in to what is manageable, or understandable. Yesterday, God shattered my nice little package with an intense, overpowering love.

I understood instantly that what I was feeling was God’s heart for the person He was calling me to pray for. And I have to tell you, my human love paled in comparison to the gut wrenching emotions that swept over me. And just when I thought I was done praying, and ready to get on with my day (the laundry never did get done and that article I keep talking about never did get written) it’d hit me again, like a Mack Truck straight to the chest, and I was back to tears and desperate cries to my Holy Father.

The pain was so intense it frightened me. If God felt such heartache for this person, did it mean that the person I was praying for had walked away completely? Was God in mourning? The thought terrified me and sent me into another tailspin of fervent prayers. I begged God for mercy, for intervention, for nothing short of a miracle. And then I received an email from a fellow writer who had also been called to pray. She relayed to me the words God had spoken to her, and they resonated so deeply, I was instantly reduced, once again to tears. And more prayers. An hour later, I received another email from another friend who was also being called to pray. She, too, provided words of affirmation and encouragement. Through out the evening, my yahoo account lit up with confirmation after confirmation that I was not, was not, was not to give up. Whether it took a week, a month, a year, or even decades.

So again I ask, when is enough – enough?

Never.

And now I’m going to listen to that song again. Want to join me? Oh, LORD, if you touched my face, would I know you? Touch us now. Overwhelm us with Your love.

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Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, and Samie Sisters and is the marketing manager of the literary website, Clash of the Titles. Find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives out Loud.