Some Days Are Harder Than Others

Life is downright hard some days. You juggle multiple irons burning in the fire at near lightspeed and manage to accomplish the laundry list of to-dos without overstepping your boundaries or hurting anyone. All day, you’ve managed to keep all four wheels between the lines as you truck down life’s highway. And then life deals you an unexpected blow or smacks you in the face with all its force for no other apparent reason other than because it can. You know—those moments where life takes your breath away but not in a good way. As people of faith, we are not immune from these valleys we stumble into along our journey. Life hurts. Yes, Virginia: the Struggle is real. 

What do we do?

As believers, we are called to continue on, faithfully, walking humbly, acting gently, being grateful, and nurturing a spirit of forgiveness. In our words and deeds, we show love, blessing even those who curse us. Even when it hurts. Yes, we mourn, and we grieve. Yes, we fervently pray, begging God for relief from our struggles. But it doesn’t end there. We get up and go on, moving forward, towards the prize, running the race with all our might until the very end.

As redeemed children of God Most High, we are all in recovery, rescued from our shortcomings, no longer bound by the chains of sin, while all the while, day by day, learning how to live life because He lives. It’s not easy. We aren’t perfect. But we are changed, no longer the same. Like new creations learning to find our way, we stumble, and we struggle, getting up after each fall.

God is SO good. Even on our worst days, He shepherds us, providing all we need to maneuver through the trials and tribulations this earthly life brings, from time to time during different seasons. In our plight, we turn to the Lord, showing our dependence on Him to traverse the storms life brings our way.

Jesus Calms a Storm Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV)
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

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7 Ways to Cultivate a More Gentle, Prayerful Spirit

One of the several personal goals I have set for myself in 2017 is to be a gentler, more prayerful man. This is not easy for me. “Till the soil,” I tell myself. “Till the soil.” “Be the light,” I remind myself. “Bite your tongue,” I hear my inner voice exhort. Cultivating a spirit of gentleness and prayerfulness can be challenging for any of us, during the current times we live in.

Why change?

You don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. It causes the skins to swell and burst, spilling the new wine. But it’s hard for us to let go of old habits and make room for new thinking. We get comfortable and set in our ways.

37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”

Luke 5:37-39 (NET Bible)

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The Gospel is a powerful thing. It has a built-in expanding and explosive quality. When we experience a Jesus encounter, we are forever changed. So for this believer, having had a life-changing encounter with Christ several years ago, change is not an option as much as it is an imperative to seek to be more like Christ each day.

Having been convicted numerous times of having a harshness and gruffness, becoming more gentle in spirit is honestly a no-brainer for me. Maybe that is true for you also; maybe not.

As I seek to grow closer to God and be a better reflection of the work Christ continues to do in me through the power of the Holy Spirit, becoming more prayerful is a necessary building block in this process of spiritual growth.

Perhaps, you find yourself wanting to cultivate a more gentle and prayerful spirit.

So how do we proceed?

Here are 7 ways to cultivate a more gentle, prayerful spirit:

  • Pray. It really is self-explanatory, is it not? If you want to become more prayerful, spending time on your knees praying is fundamental. There is really no way to become more prayerful other than by repeated, intentional, constant prayer.
  • Listen. Gentleness grows when we follow Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s advice and seek to understand before being understood. It marks the difference between hearing and truly listening. Listening before speaking helps us respond more gently.
  • Think before we speak. Cultivating a more gentle, prayerful spirit entails responding better and more mindfully to the stimuli engaging us. Recognizing that just because you think something, doesn’t mean you are required to say it. Often times the best response is the answer not given.
  • Consider our actions. Actions have consequences. Too often, the consequences are unintended. People are always watching. If I do this, will it draw people closer to Christ or push them away? Be the light, not the vehicle of darkness.
  • Be mindful. Remember who’s you are. God sought you and bought with Christ’s redeeming blood. You are His ambassador. Do not take that responsibility lightly. Live it excellently.
  • Read God’s Word, Commit it to heart. I have found that there is a direct correlation between my spiritual walk–walking the walk, not just talking the talk–and spending time reading Scripture. Additionally, equipping myself with God’s Word by inscribing it in my heart and committing it to my mind, helps cultivate a more gentle, prayerful spirit.
  • Ask and trust the Lord. Ask God for help. Becoming more gentle and prayerful is not something you and I do alone in our own power. No. We need God to provide us His strength and His power. When we ask, we have to trust that God will do exceedingly and abundantly far more than we ever imagined, in accordance with His will. Ask and trust God to deliver.

It won’t be easy. It will not happen overnight. But we press on nonetheless. I’m praying for you.

Blessings,

RB

the Devotional Guy