Let me introduce you to my friend, Jennifer. Jennifer Dukes Lee is an award-winning storyteller and a grace dweller, blogging about faith at www.JenniferDukesLee.com. She is author of the book Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes. Jennifer and her husband are raising crops, pigs, and two humans on the Lee family farm near Inwood, Iowa. Follow Jennifer on Twitter or Facebook.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I've invited friends to share their words in this space as we explore the mysteries of prayer during the Summer Bible Study.
God saved my life the day I changed my prayers. I stopped asking Him to fix things. And I started asking Him to break things. Namely, my heart.
God would need to break me out of the miserable heart-prison I was trapped in.
Yeah, I was saved. But I was stuck. I would need Him to free me from every mirror, every tally sheet, every report card, everything that was telling me that I’m not (________) enough. I needed to know, down deep, that in Christ, I already was enough. I wrote a whole book about that, about how idol-factory hearts can keep Christians locked up in the punishing Prison of Not-Enough.
The key to the prison door? Prayer.
It’s the kind of prayer that looks less like a list of anything, and more like a conversation about everything. It’s deep spirit-to-spirit communion with God. It’s gut-honest confession with the divine–the kind of gritty prayer my heart longed for. This is the intimate place where God reaches into souls to remind us, again and again, who we really are. Prayer is the place where the born-again are reborn, again and again. It’s the place of second conversions, from bondage to deliverance. For me, prayer is the place where God gently unlocked my heart, by reminding me that the only life worth living is the one where everything else is counted as loss: every resume, every credential, every shred of approval that I think I need from people. Prayer is the place where God never tires of telling us that life’s not about earning anyone’s love, but believing that we already are His beloved. Like so many Christians I know, I’ve got a bossy inner critic who tells me that I must try harder, work faster, perform better. Our own hearts betray us, sending us on crusades to seek someone’s approval or someone’s applause. No one is immune.
I know mothers who think they’re not mother enough, pastors who think they’re not pastor enough. I know accomplished Christian writers who think they’re not writer enough.
One of the most famous artists in history thought he wasn’t artist enough: “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn't reach the quality it should have.” So said Leonardo DaVinci, the artist who brush-stroked the face of Jesus in the most reproduced religion painting of all time: The Last Supper. I had enough of those not-enoughs. And I went to the place where the not-enoughs go to die–the feet of my Savior. And this is what I discovered:
The secret of a vibrant prayer life means we stop asking for the fix, and we start asking for the break.
We stop asking Him to give us more of what our heart thinks it wants–some kind of quick fix to be enough in this world. And we start asking Him to break our hearts, to conform our will to His.
We ask Him to strip our hearts of the stuff that is crowding out Jesus. We ask Him to fill our hearts with more of Him, which is more satisfying than what our inner critics demand of us. He offers exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine.
God is not a glass half empty, or even a glass half full. He is the All in All, to the rim of your life. And then some. His faithfulness reaches to the heavens and plunges into the depths of your soul, way down to that hollow ache under your ribs. His attention is, at once, wholly on everyone, yet undividedly on you. God is "entirely faithful." –Psalm 89:8
And even when He breaks, He mends.
We all want someone to think we’re sensational. We desire to be recognized, to be valued, to be respected. To be loved. Yet this natural yearning too often turns into an idol of one of God’s most precious gifts: love itself.
In this poignant and hope-filled book, Jennifer Dukes Lee shares her own lifelong journey of learning to rely on the unconditional love of God. She gently invites us to make peace with our imperfections and to stop working overtime for a love that is already ours. Love Idol will help us dismantle what’s separating us from true connection with God and rediscover the astonishing joy of a life full of freedom in Christ.
This week, we're giving away 2 copies of Jesus Culture Music's Unstoppable Love CD/Blu-Ray/DVD.
Sacramento, CA-based Jesus Culture, directed by Banning Liebscher, is a ministry mobilizing a generation of revivalists and reformers who will shape culture and transform nations. It was formed organically through the momentum of a movement whose focus is to equip a generation to transform society by bringing people into an encounter with God’s love through worship and discipleship. Jesus Culture Music albums capture the heart of this movement.
To date, the Jesus Culture band has recorded ten albums and released a total of 21 projects on their music label, including Jesus Culture Unstoppable Love.
To win, leave a comment on the original blog post at MargaretFeinberg.com. The three winners will be selected and announced on Friday.
Congratulations to the winners: Tasha,