Updated: Jan 11, 2020
How practical is your faith? What I mean is, how often do you pray with expectancy over the things that will happen today? I'm not talking about prayer against a life-altering car accident on the way to work; I'm talking about the things you know are going to happen today. The annoying things like that coworker that is constantly sucking up to your boss, or the scary things like the big presentation you have to do in front of senior staff; what kind of prayers do those things get?
I've had a pretty interesting life since I've been married. My husband was an infantry soldier in the Army and on May 31, 2012, he stepped on a roadside bomb that caused the loss of both of his legs. The power of God was shown to me through his injury and recovery. I tell many people that Walter Reed Hospital (the hospital that housed amputees from the War in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan) was where I learned to cry out to God. I prayed big prayers because my back was against the wall, and many times, so were the doctors'. The problems that needed fixing were life or death for Josh. We prayed out loud, we prayed with strangers, we prayed for private things in public because we knew God could and would deliver what we needed. My husband's injury was an incredible means to a greater relationship with God and with him. I understood how present God is. He knows what we need before we know we need it, but when we come to the end of ourselves and place our problems in his hand, our Creator does not shy away or put us in line behind other needs. Instead, He says “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14) We handed our problems to God and rested. Literally! We slept, our heart rates went down, we stopped worrying. The Lord had shown up and saved the day on a regular basis for us. Our faith was big during those years in the hospital and it's something that we still lean on and remind ourselves of everyday.
But what about today? Today, my life is fairly normal. I have a job, husband, kids, a dog, and bills just like everyone else. Despite all my training in growing my faith, I still battle with panic, fear, anxiety… HOW?? Look at what all I’ve been through. How could things as small as mistiming a meal for my team almost give me the shakes? Why am I not able to sleep at night thinking about losing a match?
The answer: God wants the little prayers too.
The things I've learned:
1. God wants to give us "abundantly more", meaning we should feel a greater purpose than wake up, pay bills, and die. Sometimes I think people hear that and think about how different their life will be one day. Abundantly more can be found in the situation you are in right now in all the same conditions. Less than one year ago, I toed the line of finding another job. I was so frustrated, defeated, and my confidence had never been lower. Before I would allow myself to walk away, I decided to commit my job and my attitude to prayer. I learned that the more I prayed, the more I prevailed. God's way literally sets things up for success both spiritually and logistically. Situations where I was often second-guessing myself now had a newfound peace because changes in my daily habits took the guess work out of my planning. I also was able to take on more responsibility because I was not feeling overwhelmed by the daily tasks. Why? Because I prayed practical prayers over small things.
2. I learned that God can show his might in big situations, but the devil can show his might in the small situations. Growing up, we get this image of Satan as someone/something that can only be found around drugs, crime, abuse, etc. Satan actually is more like ingesting a drop of poison everyday. Every time God makes a plan, Satan makes one too. When God opens the door to opportunities, relationships, fortune, and influence, Satan works to turn those things into stress, betrayal, greed, and selfishness. For me, Satan lived in my work place. I indulged every negative thought, all while believing the all-encompassing lie: "it's not me that's the problem, it's you." It's not always Satan's style to drop bombs. His most effective form of warfare is slow and steady dissolve into every action and thought. He sickens you from the inside out then he will lie and tell you you're not sick. When I prayed the practical prayer ("God, help me to not put this to-do list off today. The longer it gets, the more overwhelmed I feel," or "God, when I talk to my boss, search my heart for the moral reason why I'm coming to him in the first place") Satan had to GET BEHIND ME. No longer would he sow seeds of sin in my job. As our pastor, Chris Hodges, says "Choices Lead, Feelings Follow." I made the choice to pray and understand others instead of getting annoyed, rolling my eyes, and spreading negativity.
3. When I asked for God's help, I didn't feel desperate, I felt clarity. I declared His Word over my situation and then vowed to walk away knowing it would be taken care of. Not because the Lord is like Santa Claus or the Wizard of Oz: we ask for something and it just magically gets taken care of without any further action needed from us, but because He wanted to empower ME over my situation. I am strong enough to overcome the things that bother me, but only if I look at those things through God's lens. I found peace in knowing that God already knew what was going to happen and all I had to do was catch up.
Think of a spiritual leader in your life. This person might have education in religion or a lot of experience doing mission work, but that's not why you look up to him/her. Your admiration comes from knowing there's something he/she has that you want for yourself. While you might admire formal education and faith based experiences, it's practical Christianity that drive these people. Their lives are not stress free, but they are free from the stress. Practical Christianity withholds our judgment toward the mom with the screaming kids in the store. It helps us consider the years of insecurity that might cause our coworker to suck up to our boss. When things go wrong, it helps us think clearly on a solution instead of panicking and crumbling. Practical Christians are people that commit every day things to God. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, confused, lost, or unfulfilled, nine times out of ten I am not giving God my every day things. Don't let the devil use the to-do list, deadlines, or difficult people as a tool to tear you down. Instead, give it all to God; not because he will take care of it for you, but he will take care of you for it! You will find abundantly more because you will realize you were meant to be right where you are.
"whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17