Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reflections on "The Father's Delight"

I remember when our daughters were younger and full of curiosity.  It pleased me so much to do something special for them because of their joy filled response.  My gifts were simple: an ice cream cone, a stop at the park for 10 minutes of swing time, sitting down to create a treasure out of playdough, hanging their picture on the frig.  My simple “yes” to their desire made parenting them as young children an enjoyable experience.

As I’ve grown in my identity as a beloved child of my Heavenly Father, I’ve begun to realize my interaction with my young children mirrors the interaction I have with my heavenly daddy.  He, too, delights to please me because of the joy it gives me to experience his answer.  It’s cylical too:  the more I express my delight, the more he loves to give me his gifts.  This reality is even in Scripture when Jesus expresses, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11)

I’ve been praying a Scripture out of 1st Timothy 6 that almost always causes my spirit to leap up, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment!”   There it is in print: our heavenly father richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Do we believe this?

Do I believe this?  I think for a long time my view of the Heavenly Father was one of withholding.  I thought he would withhold from me because it was good for my character, or I had disappointed him, or someone else deserved it more.  It’s taken me time to move into the mindset where I firmly believe he wants to please me.  He just wants to please me.  Wow, this makes my relationship with my heavenly father a lot more enjoyable.  Just like my time with my young daughters; it was more enjoyable for me when I was telling them “yes, I want to please you,” rather than a “no” or “come back later” or “just a minute.”

I often wonder why it is such a struggle to stay on the side of believing our heavenly father wants to please us.  But, when I take time to explore it, I remember Adam and Eve and their interaction with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  The serpent so brilliantly planted the seed of doubt in their minds:  “Your God doesn’t want to please you, he’s holding out on you by telling you not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  He caused Adam and Eve to begin to mistrust God’s good intentions for them.  His strategy worked so well, he’s been using it on the rest of humanity ever since!

So, you may ask, how do we begin to experience our heavenly father showering us with good gifts provided for our enjoyment?

First, experience his love through getting to know him better as your daddy.  Spend time in Psalms 103, Romans 8, 1st John and Psalm 139.  Go to a location where you feel most alive.  If you love to be in nature, take a hike and meditate on one of the passages along the way.  If you are contemplative, put on some soothing music and read the Scriptures slowly, letting God’s love pour over you.  If you are an activist, consider how you can convey God’s character to those around you who need to hear “good news.”

Second, begin to pray.  But, don’t just make it a long laundry list you spout out occasionally at God.  No, begin to be very specific, consistent and unified in your prayers.  These three concepts will literally begin to unfold God’s delight in answering our heart’s desires.

When I pray, I often set timelines for when I’d like God to answer. Some people have commented they think it’s demanding to ask this way, but I disagree.  When we pray specifically with timelines, we can be even more positive it’s God’s answer. When we are in the process of discovering God’s delight in answering, it helps to build our faith and to recognize his work amongst us.

I love this example.  Our house was on the market in preparation for our move to California.  Our new house was set to close on November 17th, so I prayed for a contract in hand by Nov 15th before we closed on our new loan.  The whole week leading up to November 15th, not one person came to look at our house.  I kept telling God, “It’s getting close, don’t you want to bring a new person to look?” I like to say, “God is the God of just in time” because he often likes to wait until the last minute just to make his answer even more tangible and dramatic.

Well, it turns out that we didn’t get just one offer on November 15th, we got 4!  One offer came from traveler in China who got up in the middle of the night to call their realtor. When we signed a contract for purchase of our present home in our kitchen at 3:25 on November 15th and literally walked around the corner to our living room at 3:30 to close the loan on our new house, I was fully aware of God’s smile as he looked at me and said, “See, you didn’t need to worry, the answer was always on its way.”

Pray Specifically!

Pray Consistently.  I continue to encourage those around me to set their alarms to go off at 10:02 a.m. every day. The reason?  Jesus taught his 72 friends to pray for harvesters because the harvest is ready in Luke 10:2. Luke 10:1 tells us Jesus’ strategy was to send his friends out two by two to the places he intended to go.  It’s the same with us.  He sends us out in prayer to prepare the way for where he wants to show up and show off! 

The third aspect to discover God’s delight in answering our prayers is to do it with others in unity and community.  When we make a decision to pray together at the same time, wherever we are, when the alarm goes off, we know we aren’t on this journey alone, but we have fellow travelers who are praying with us for God’s answers!  When we get a spectacular answer like the one we received for the contract on our house, it’s so much to share it with our friends who are praying too!  It’s just like Jesus sending us out two by two to prepare the way for his coming.

Jesus told us “When two or three are gathered together, I am in their midst.” This promise applies to us even if we aren’t literally in the same location. When we are gathered through our commitment to pray at 10:02, Jesus is there, preparing the answers for us. 

Last week my sister came to help me unpack our new home.  When the alarm went off at 10:02 she cried out, “Time to pray for the harvest.” Even though she doesn’t live by me, she knew about the prayer because she had just been with her son who also prays at 10:02.  We stopped our unpacking for a couple of minutes, prayed for a harvest in my new neighborhood, and then went back to work.

The father’s invitation is here for you to know him as a generous and loving Papa who wants to please us.  Put my challenge to pray specifically, consistently and in unity and community to the test! 

Start the challenge through considering what would fulfill your heart’s desire.  Is it a visit to see your grown children?  A trip with your family? A promotion at work? A meaningful conversation with a neighbor?  A medical issue healed?  Nothing is too big for our heavenly father.

Next, set your alarm to go off at 10:02 every day.  When the alarm goes off, pray your specific prayer, every day.  Invite your friends or family to pray with you at 10:02.  If you are with others at 10:02, stop and invite them to pray with you.  If you are in a business meeting or in a place where it isn’t appropriate to stop and pray out loud, take a moment in your mind and pray; then, re-engage what you were doing.

I can’t wait to hear your answers to prayer.  Post them on the blog, or send them to me at  We have a heavenly father who can’t wait to hear from us!

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