Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 5, 2013

great intentions

I trust your 4th of July was meaningful.  To give you a challenge today, I have decided to share an archived Journey article from several years ago.  I found myself in a similar place during the past week, and the context of the article reminded me of great intentions, and praying from a distance. I trust it will encourage you.

At the beginning of every year, every month and every week, projects are started with great intentions.  Any honest person would admit that our great intentions often become issues of regret when they are not completed. Too many times I have started a new diet on Monday, only to regress to burgers and fries by Wednesday. Just thinking about projects you’ve wanted to complete, books you were going to finish, the time you were going to spend with your children, etc… can cause varying degrees of frustration and regret. Great intentions in our spiritual lives (where life really matters) left undone will cause us the same measure of frustration and regret. But since I am a strong proponent of yesterday ending at midnight, let me offer this to you.

In my weekend reading of the Bible, I was struck by both an Old and New Testament passage about prayer. Elijah prayed and it didn’t rain and then he prayed and it rained (you know the story). A church was praying for Peter and he was supernaturally released. They struggled with unbelief, but our God of grace answered. We all love the great passages that detail God’s dramatic intervention. But do we really pray asking or expecting that in our own lives?  As I started praying on Sunday morning, it hit me that my prayer life at the moment was stale. My great intentions about prayer were being left unfulfilled. I have seen my Father intervene countless times, and prayer is essential to me, but I was praying “from a distance.”

Prayer was still coming from my lips every day, but absent was the passion and discipline that my Father deserves. My most important relationship was not getting attention. I was still reading the Word, but not communicating well. If you are like me, your confidence level is lower in times like this. It is my firm conviction that those who really see God move are those who spend quality time with Him.

James 5:17-18
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

My intentions are to see God move in my life, just like Elijah did. But it won’t happen “from a distance”. On Sunday morning, I had to square up my prayer life with the Father. And it was time to move forward. Very little is accomplished by using emotional energy on unfinished tasks. God meets us at our point of need, and I am confident that I will see the “rain” come as I seek Him. God loves you and I enough to forgive us for failed great intentions, and bless us in our new endeavors.

I hesitate to use personal illustrations, but today I prayed from a “closer distance” and you can rest assured I have great intentions about my prayer life going forward. And when you and I fall down, we’ll get up and begin again.

You may need to finish that book, complete a home project, give your son or daughter the time you promised … take heart, you can begin again today. Your relationship with your Savior may be “at a distance,” and you can square it up today. Never stop living with great intentions, but live with confidence in our God, who brings the rain.


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