Tag Archives: #patience

WHEN PRAYERS COLLIDE

WHEN PRAYERS COLLIDE is possibly a topic you have never thought about before, but it may actually have an impact on how a prayer is answered—or not answered. It’s definitely something worth considering.

Those of us who have faith and believe in God are prone to pray. It’s how we communicate with Him. Whether our prayers are spoken or unspoken, God knows what’s in our heart. We pray to ask God for help in times of need and to give thanks for the many blessings we have received. Many of us probably have occasions when we pray for God to comfort others who are experiencing difficult times.

Philippians 4:6-7 clearly teaches that we are to pray to God in every situation:

However, I think it is important that we should always be mindful of what we are praying for God to do for us. Let me take a moment to expand on what I mean by prayers colliding.

Hurricane Florence provided a good example when the prayers of many people in North Carolina and South Carolina collided. I’ll be the first to admit that I have more questions than answers regarding our prayers colliding with the prayers of others.

As Hurricane Florence made her way toward the coasts of the Carolinas, many Christians who believe and have faith in God, and maybe even some non-believers, did a lot of praying. I certainly did. My prayers were asking God to send Florence away from land and not harm anyone. With each new weather forecast update, I prayed even harder asking God to turn Florence harmlessly back out into the Atlantic Ocean.

After a few days of increasing anxiety, it became obvious that atmospheric conditions necessary to send the bad girl harmlessly out into the Atlantic were nonexistent. In fact, conditions were perfect for her to make a beeline path toward the Carolinas. The question became, “Where was she going to make landfall—North Carolina and/or South Carolina?”

At this point, the prayers of many likely shifted to, “God please protect my family and friends from harm.” Unfortunately, many folks in North Carolina and South Carolina were also lifting prayers for God to do the same for them. Simply stated, our prayers were creating a situation where we were asking God to do completely opposite things—our prayers were colliding. It became obvious Hurricane Florence was going to make landfall, but not everyone was going to weather her mighty forces safely.

Unfortunately, our prayers were unintentionally asking God to spare “me and mine” by sending the wrath of Hurricane Florence to ravage others. We were asking God to take sides—them or us. This is certainly not the “love thy neighbor” lessons the Bible teaches us to follow.

The subject of prayers colliding made me think of a life-lesson I learned from a baseball coach when I was nine-years old. Please allow me to share my experience with you at this time.

+++ PRAYING BEFORE A BASEBALL GAME +++

We were about to play our second game of the season. As we did before the first game, Coach asked the players to form a circle around him. We removed our caps and took a knee. He then told us we were going to say a team prayer.

As we bowed our heads, Coach said, “Lord, please protect all of the players, coaches, and fans from injuries and help us play our best tonight. Amen.”

Bobby, our shortstop, then asked, “Coach, you said that prayer last game and we lost. Why don’t you ask God to help us win this game?”

I have to admit—I was thinking much the same way as Bobby, but I didn’t have the courage to open my mouth as he did, or maybe I was wise beyond my years—not likely the case!

Coach looked at each of us and replied, “Bobby, see that other team over there—they are our neighbors, and Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors. If we pray for God to help us win, in a way, we are also asking God to make the players on the other team lose. That’s not what Jesus wants us to do—that’s not expressing love for our neighbor.”

“But Coach, if they ask God to help them win and we don’t, we’re gonna lose this game too. God’s gonna help them win,” replied Bobby.

Coach paused, smiled, and replied, “Okay, boys, listen up. If both teams pray for God to help them win, which team do you think God is going to choose to help? Why would He choose our team? Does God love us more than He loves the players on the other team? I want each of you to think about that.”

All the players, including me, just sat there looking at Coach and not one of us said a word.

Coach continued, “You see, God loves the players on both teams. I don’t think He is interested in choosing which team wins a Little League baseball game. God is busy taking care of sick folks and many others who are facing difficult situations. God blessed each of you with the ability and opportunity to play baseball. It’s okay to ask Him to help you play your best because that’s what He wants you to do—give your best in everything you do. God smiles when you give your best. He’s always there to help you if you ask Him, but it’s up to each of you to give your best—on and off the field. Don’t ever pray for God to help you win because, if you do, you’re asking Him to make someone else lose—someone who may have as much faith and belief in God as you do—someone God loves just as much as He loves you.”

Coach then told Bobby to go ask some players on other team if they prayed for God to help them win the game. Bobby wasn’t very thrilled about Coach’s idea, but he did as Coach asked him to do.

Bobby returned and said, “Coach, they asked God to help them win.”

Coach replied, “Okay, guys, I hope you understand what I’ve told you tonight. Now, I want you to go out there and give your best, and we’ll see what happens. Let’s play some baseball guys, give your best, and remember, have fun tonight!”

Guess what—we won that game by playing our best. We didn’t ask God to choose our team to be the winning team. Then again—maybe we won by not praying for the other team to lose—our prayers didn’t collide.

Coach taught me a valuable life-lesson that day and I still do as he said—sixty-one years later. We need to be careful when we pray for God to help us. We should not ask God to choose to support us at the expense of others. Remember, we are to love our neighbors. We may not like some of the things our neighbors do, but we should not wish them harm either.

By the way, Coach—I called him Dad when weren’t on the baseball field. I’m thankful he helped me see the light when it comes to praying.

+++++++++++++

I count my blessings that Hurricane Florence didn’t harm my family or my property. However, the same is not true for many others living in North Carolina and the upper parts of South Carolina. Folks in those areas suffered in many ways—property damage, injuries, and some even died because of the storm. Flooding reached record heights in many areas, yet my family and those who live in the Charleston, SC region were spared—Hurricane Florence “decided” to make landfall near Wilmington, NC.

Now, let’s visit the second part of this topic regarding prayers colliding. What happens to our faith when our prayers collide? As stated earlier, I have more questions than answers about this, so I’m looking to you to help others by sharing your thoughts.

++++++ FOOD FOR THOUGHT ++++++

Consider a few questions that may or may not have answers, but they should help us think about what happens when we pray.

  1. Do you think God creates events such as Hurricane Florence to punish some people while sparing others?
  2. Do you think God spares some people because they prayed and punishes others because they didn’t pray?
  3. Do you think the faith of those spared from harm will grow stronger?
  4. Do you think the faith of those who suffered harm will become weaker?
  5. Do you think anyone blames or praises God for their particular circumstances?
  6. Do you think God sent Florence to punish those who were in her final path for reasons we don’t have the ability to understand?
  7. To your knowledge, have any of your prayers ever collided with the prayers of others?
  8. Do you think God hears the prayers of nonbelievers? If you think He does, do you think He answers their prayers favorably, unfavorably, or does He ignore them?
  9. Are we even supposed to understand the answers to such questions or is that what faith is all about—trusting God to be with us at all times?

If you have thoughts or comments about such questions, please don’t hesitate to share them—some folks, including me, would like to know what you think.

May God’s blessings be upon you each day and may your prayers never collide with those of others! I encourage you to pray often and have the patience to wait for God to answer your prayers—in His perfect timing.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2019

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

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GOD’S MIXING AND BAKING SOMETHING FOR YOU

When God doesn’t answer our prayers quickly, we may become anxious and wonder why He’s taking so long. We may even wonder if He listened to our prayers. It is during such times that we must be patient. We must also understand and accept that God’s answers may not be what we asked of Him.

However, one thing is for sure—we can always be confident knowing that God’s “mixing and baking” something for us. We must have faith in God’s timing—it is always perfect.

My friend, John Kneece, shared the following “down to earth” prayer from a Facebook post by Justin Cross. Although we don’t know the name of the original author, the message it presents is certainly on point.

+++++

One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer.

The deacon stood up, bowed his head, and said, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going.

The deacon continued, “Lord, I hate lard.”

Now, the pastor was totally perplexed.

The deacon continued, “Lord, I ain’t too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.

“Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making. After You get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something even better than biscuits. Amen.”

Author Unknown

+++++

Thanks to John and Justin for sharing this reminder to be patient while God is mixing and baking His answers to our prayers.

May God’s answers to all your prayers be “something even better than biscuits.”

Tom Tatum – Author – 2018

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor

LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

OUT OF FOCUS

Here I am writing this article, which is probably just for my own use so I can read it later. I know things always sound more authoritative when you preface your pontifications with,

“I read somewhere that…”

Remember, you’re reading this message after it has travelled many miles through cyberspace. Think about how much more wisdom the article gained while travelling all those miles from my computer to yours. Read on and when you talk to your friends afterward, you can confidently use the term, “I read somewhere that…” Your knowledge will surely impress them to the max! What do you have to lose? Don’t answer that—read on!

Well, here are my thoughts on a very important matter—my (your) path on my (your) journey in life…

All of us have probably had one or more times in life when the path of our journey in life seems to be out of focus. We keep plodding along on our own hoping to find our way through the fuzzy maze. Each head-butt of an obstacle causes us to change direction as we try to find the right path again. Nothing seems to go the way we hoped it would—NOTHING!

Path Trough Woods2ManBlurWords

Unfortunately, this bouncing-off-the-walls mentality sometimes drives us further from our intended goal. We become lost, lose hope, and want to give up. Things just aren’t working out the way we envisioned at the start of our journey—when things seemed perfectly clear. We finally realize we need help!

Personally, I am at that point—my path in life is now Out Of Focus. Hope your path is much clearer than mine is. I seem to have lost my way and no longer see my path with any clarity. It’s actually a total blur. I find myself in desperate need of help—lots and lots of help. What am I to do now?

Sure, I could give up, but that’s not a viable option for me. I pride myself in not being a quitter. The mantras of positive voices in my head continue bellowing,

“Persevere, Never Give Up, Keep Going, One More Step, You Can Do This, etc.”

Aaarrrgh! The voices are relentless even though I keep telling them I don’t know which way to go. I am directionally challenged at this moment!

Do you have any words of wisdom you care to share with me? I’m listening…

In light of not giving up, I finally made a decision. One that is long overdue! I plan to do what I’ve done many times in the past, and each time, my path forward came into focus—everything became much clearer. Why has it taken me soooo long this time? Call me stubborn!?! Is that a virtue? Hmmm.

I am now praying for guidance. I am placing everything about my situation in God’s hands and asking Him to show me the path He wants me to follow. I will patiently wait for His answer to my prayers and will refrain from head-butting obstacles I cannot see. My head is hurting too much to continue that way!

PrayForGuidance

Yes, I must now have patience—maybe lots of it. I must remember that! If you know me, you know how I struggle with that simple concept. Waiting for three full cycles at a traffic light drives me up a tree!

What was that word again? Oh, I remember now—P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E!

If you are experiencing similar situations in your life, I suggest you do as I am now doing—pray and have patience. God will answer your prayers in His time, and His plan for your path will come into focus when He is ready. Have faith and trust in Him—always!

By the way, did I tell you I read somewhere that…

May God shine His light upon you and bring clarity to your path in life.

Tom Tatum – Author of Faith-based Novels

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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