the burden

mondays are my days off, when i can get ’em.  it’s funny when you hang out with God for a living – sometimes on my day off i don’t invite God along. i sorta figure that 6 days of his constant presence and conversation is enough, and mondays are for eating bad food, reading non-religious stuff, you know, being like everyone else…
this past monday, the calendar was clear, and i was looking forward to a day away from anything ministry-centered. in fact, i needed it. and while God was welcome to tag along, i really wanted him to let me be. let me relax. not interrupt my 1000-page non-religious novel. prayer was gonna be constrained to a “God is great God is good let us thank him for our food amen.”
God had other ideas.
after a great thai food lunch – so far, so good – i settled in to read the novel. but i couldn’t stay focused. my mind was continually drawn to God’s whispers. it was like he was saying, we need to talk. we have a lot to talk about. 
and so we did. all afternoon. and all evening.
so much for a day off…
we’ve been studying malachi together this month. the first verse reads like this:

the oracle of the word of the lord to israel by malachi.
the term oracle in hebrew can also mean burdenin other words, God is asking malachi to take on the burden of presenting God’s word to God’s people. as one who is responsible for that very thing myself, i know what a burden it can be.
but sometimes it’s an even heavier burden to take words in the other direction. going to God on behalf of his people in prayer is also a pretty heavy thing, especially in times like these. again, a good burden, but a burden all the same. that’s what i experienced monday.
on a regular basis, i am aware of struggling marriages, rowdy kids, financial pits, unhealthy practices, and dark minds. i am thankful that together, we have created a church –THRESHOLD – where we feel safe enough to share our struggles and our pains. it’s important to have others around us who love us, who care about us, and who are willing to get on our knees for one another. that can be a burden.
monday, i felt its weight. but you know, it was a joy. as God and i talked all day and into the evening, we talked about a lot of you. his Spirit did a tremendous job of bringing many of you and your burdens to my mind, and in return i talked to God about them.
it was one of the best days “off” i have had in months.
as this week has continued, i continue to feel the burden to spend more time praying. so i will be doing that. i am convinced that right now, for so many reasons, THRESHOLD needs to be on its knees.  here’s how you can join me…
1. submit your prayer needs
on our website, there is a prayer request form that you can quickly fill out that will allow your burden, or someone you love, to be shared with people who will help carry it to the Lord. go there. fill it out. our prayer team and elders love to pray, and they want to help you carry the burden.
2. pray
i know you pray. but consider praying more. set aside more time in a more determined way. light a candle. use a designated place. talking to God all day is a good thing, but go to the next level of a more specific set-aside time. pray beyond your normal things. include more people. pray for your church. heck, pray for me. please. get more serious about believing that talking to God makes a difference. i know all of the questions and objections about unanswered prayer, trust me. pray anyway.
3. sunday, november 23
make sure to attend worship on the 23rd. we are going to include a structured, intentional time of prayer, maybe as much as half the service. we’ve done this a few times before and the response has always been amazing. i’m sure this one will be no exception. we’ll lead you in praying for your self and family, our church and community, the economy and our elected officials, the nation and the world. and hey, please bring a friend that day. tell them what we’re gonna be doing. if they don’t already have a church-based relationship with God, chances are that right now, they could use some hope. you can give them that gift by inviting them into this special time of hope-focused prayer.
4. let me know
yes, i’m busy. yes, there are a lot of people for whom THRESHOLD is home. yes, there are a lot of needs. yes, i pray for many of you every week. and yes, it’s a burden. please let me carry them. over 20 years ago, God called me to do this, and he has yet to call me to something different. i want to know how to pray for you. it’s okay. it really is.
5. share the answers to your prayers
two of the main reasons God answers prayers is to bring glory to himself and to increase our faith. that happens best when we let others know what he has done. when God speaks to you through answered prayer, tell someone!
thanks as always for being my partner in expanding God’s kingdom.
i’ll be looking for the bruises on your knees!
dare you to move.
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1 Response to the burden

  1. Deborah says:

    Jeff:Thanks for all that. I find that I often pray very fervently when I am in need or I am being thankful, but once whatever I was worried about starts to turn around, I stop praying for that and turn to something/someone else to pray for. Then somehow, I am surprised when that thing falters a little. Even when it’s going in the right direction, a prayer to keep it/me moving is a good thing. Just something I have noticed about myself.

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