Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Gift of a Praying Friend

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Luke 15:17-20  (NIV)

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, 
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’20 So he got up and went to his father.

It always amazes me how going away for a conference or a retreat always stirs up things in me that I need to process and deal with. In this case for me it was more the conversation on the six hour drive home. It was wonderful to talk through somethings but in doing so I realized once again that I had held on to and looked at some things for way too long through a wrong hope and belief structure. I knew even then that I was going to have to process more with the Lord on that particular subject and that I would need to let go of and grieve some things. In general terms it had to deal with the idea that there was a plan A for my life that had gone off track leaving me plans B, C, D. In my mind I did not have the faith to believe that God was capable of creating a new plan A... I'm not going to give you details, so don't even ask.

Its funny the things we just can't see until the Lord shines the light on those dark places of fear, doubt and unbelief. I could not even see this belief structure that I had put in place and had held to for so long. The idea of simply settling for God's second, third or forth best was really ingrained in me. Suddenly I could see it and I realized how many things were ascue as a result that I needed to now set right before the Lord. Which meant, that I had some processing and some grieving that I would need to take care of soon. When the prodigal son returns to the father - the father puts his very best robe on him. He gives him a ring for his finger and kills the fatted calf in celebration. He does not tell him "Well sorry son,  but you squandered my best plan for your future. Here are some old clothes we were going to give to Goodwill. I suppose we can find you a corner in the barn to sleep." Like the prodigal son I did not believe I even deserved a new plan A and was content to settle for plan B. Yes the father loves me, but I was going to have to live with the consequences of my poor choices.  When God gives you a paradigm shift it creates a lot to process through and re-think.  I believe God gave me a new model or structure to see the events of my life through. It may take me a bit to sort it all out.

"The beliefs and perspectives people hold truly “shade” their expectations. These come from the unique and varying life experiences everyone encounters, which influences the way the world is interpreted and represented in the mind. From this, paradigms develop. A paradigm is an expectation or assumption about what and how things should be done. These paradigms can help you see important details, but can also blind you from the bigger picture. Everyone has their own lens through which they view the world. Two people in the exact same situation may perceive what happened, why it happened, and how it affected them, in a completely different way." Joe Wilner

On Sunday a friend came up to me after church and said that she had gone to our prayer loft during the service to pray for a friend and as she started to pray the Lord told her "no - pray for Margot". So after the service she came to tell me how odd it was that the Lord had her praying for me. I told her I was processing through some things from the conference and thanked her for praying for me. At the time I was tired and just working through my regular duties and regular Sunday tasks. I knew even then that if God was putting me on this woman's heart, that I was nearing the place of having to deal with another round of things that I would have to release, repent, forgive and grieve.  I was thankful that she was being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So Monday I was tired most of the day and had tried to take a nap at one point only to realize that I could not sleep - I had to go deal with this issue between the Lord and I. So I left the house for a while and went down by the Spokane river to work through it with the Lord. I was sitting in the car crying before the Lord when my phone bleeps and there is a message again from the same woman saying "found myself praying for you again....I have no idea why....but God does..." She had know way of knowing the emotional place before the Lord, that I was in at that very moment. That was God letting me know through her - that I was not alone - that He was present and would help me.

One of the ways that I know there is a God, is that on many occasions, in my instant of grief or struggle, God will put it on someones heart to respond. They may call or message and say that God had put me on their heart, and they did not know why but have responded to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In other instances people have handed me money - not knowing that I had been praying about some financial need. Those people are often far removed from my situation, with no idea what I am dealing with in that instant.  God uses them as a tangible reminder that He is working, he has not forgotten me, that he knows my pain, my struggle, or whatever I'm dealing with, that it will be ok because He is working. 

So here's the "take away" from this post. If God puts someone on your heart, to out of the blue to pray for or to call. Do it! That is the Holy Spirit trying to get your attention. If God wakes you in the middle of the night to pray for someone do it. You don't need all the details to pray just pray as the Lord leads you. I have gained a deeper respect for this particular friend - because she did not fish for any details - she just let me know she was praying. I know now that she hears from God.

Now to end this story, Before I went to sit by the rivers edge I picked up a handful of pennies that were in my car. I think there might have be 11 of them. It was just something that the Lord led me to do in that instant. I sat by the river and as I got through a thought and was able to release it to the Lord, I then tossed the penny in the river. It was a tangible representation that it was done, and that I could not go get it back. Interestingly by the time I had gotten to the 11th penny - I was done. I had talked and in some cases cried each item through with the Lord and had been able to repent, forgive, to grieve and now I could walk back to my car and know I was tired, but ok.
I am glad I went to bed at nine last night. I knew I still had a post to write but last night I needed to sleep. At four this morning I was awoken to the thoughts that I have shared in this post. I want you to know that I am in a good place today. I am thankful for the continuing work of healing that God is doing in my mind and heart.  

On a side note  - people say things like.. "a penny for your thoughts." I also want to point out that  pennies have imprinted on them the words, "In God we trust."  I guess you could say I shared my thoughts with God and as I tossed the penny in the river I chose to trust God. 

Dear Lord,
Help us to be more sensitive to the leading of your Holy Spirit. Help us to quickly respond when you tell us to pray, or to call or to give or do something for someone. Lord thank you for the people who are already being sensitive to your leading. Bless them for their faithfulness and obedience to be moved to act as agents to bear your love to others. Shine your light on those dark places and help us to see what you would have us to see today. Give us the grace to deal with those things in a right way before you.

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