Friday, January 9, 2015

A Different Kind of Getaway

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Colossians 4:2

We have all known people who are devoted to their hobbies, house, movies, digital gadgets, pets, or plants but how many do you know who are devoted to prayer? When I was a child growing up in Somalia the missionaries would devote one day a month to prayer, besides their daily brief afternoon prayer meetings. I joined them and discovered what it means to be devoted to prayer. What a privilege to have that modeled before me as a child!

Ed and I love to start a new year by taking a few days to devote ourselves to prayer, reflection, evaluation, and listening to the Spirit’s voice for any new messages, reminders, or instructions and this year was no exception. After a full Christmas month of ministry we packed our bags and drove out to our familiar  getaway place just outside the city. 

It did not take long until restlessness set in. The first thing that made me restless was a feeling of being closed in and shut down.  Normal routine and activity was temporarily put on hold. However, the short time away devoted to prayer proved beneficial. We can get addicted to people, work, digital gadgets and even ministry.  We love what God has called us to even though it brings huge challenges and frustrations from time to time. We are confronted with a host of spiritual battles. Even as we devoted our few days to prayer, simultaneously our minds were alerted to the satirical cartoon attacks in Paris unfolding on TV.  I guess that is why Paul exhorts us to not only be devoted to prayer but to be alert.  What was happening not only in the earthly realms but the heavenly realms, too? What message should come from the Church? We were “on alert.”

Such prayer retreats have a way of centering us, renewing our first focus on God Himself, and showing us anything which needs to be changed or aligned differently. This year the Spirit communicated to me that I need to release certain Muslim acquaintances who are clearly not responding for whatever reason that might be. This is very hard for me to do. For some people it might be the easiest and most logical thing to do but not for me. As I read over my 2014 journal, reflecting on how ministry went, I could clearly see how easily I would get in a funk of vexation with encountering unresponsive people. When I eventually released them unto the Lord a fresh freedom swept over me and He moved me on to new people. Simply put, unresponsive people bogged me down from time to time throughout the past year. The Spirit spoke to me how Jesus did not get bogged down with unresponsive people. He kept moving to new encounters waiting to see how people would respond.  Sometimes I just need to take some reflection/prayer time to hear the Spirit speak to me.

Now we have returned home refreshed and invigorated and more certain of discerning God’s will in our lives. What a great way to begin a new year.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to me when I devote myself to prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.