“Faith-Filled Living Pours Peace” from L.Willows
Have you noticed that in the course of just one day, it is possible to encounter conflict and crises? Many of us don’t even need to go far to find it. Some live in regions that are immersed in a conflict that is not even their own. For the rest of us, we find that as the hours of a day compound, a kind of ‘atmosphere’ seems to arise in our midst and there we are. We are far from the peace that we long for. These are the times when we need to live with Faith-Filled hearts!
Of course, conflict plays havoc with the heart. It tosses us all into states that are not the best for action. There is a good guideline for such a day. We are advised to:
1. Pause; step back.
2. Assess; what is the atmosphere?
3. Pray; seek out God’s wisdom, and
4. Walk with Love.
It can all be found in Scripture. One example that I love is in Daniel. I remember when my Bible study group was reading about Daniel last year. I was in awe of how the Prophet Daniel of the Old Testament always paused to prayer whenever he was faced with crises. He would withdraw to his quarters and face Jerusalem to pray.
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Daniel 6:10
This reflected the oldest tradition. Facing Jerusalem was a way of honoring God. The Temple of Solomon was in Jerusalem. In the prayer of Solomon, at the dedication, he said, “If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name.” From that time on all of the Hebrew people faced the Temple of God as a symbol of His Home when they prayed.
Daniel trusted God in the most extreme moments of crises. We can too. He always kept his head and heart clear regardless of conflict and crises in his midst. I noticed that he always paused and stepped away to pray before acting in every situation. He never acted without seeking the counsel of God. In prayer and in life, he praised God and put God’s will first. He was humble. He was completely faithful to God.
The atmosphere of his heart, mind, and person was filled with his worship of God. His faith filled him with God’s Presence. Because he faced “Jerusalem” when he worships, and always filled himself with God’s Presence before taking action, he faced life with faith-filled actions. His life was an extension of his worship.
Well, we are not Daniels but we can do our best! We can learn from his wisdom. The next time you find yourself in the midst of conflict you can:
1). Pause; step back.
Try taking a breath from the situation. Step away if it is possible. Find a way to refresh your mind and heart with a pause before further action and thought. The goal is to interrupt any pattern or habit from the past that may be dictating a behavior or causing a reaction. You desire wise action, not a reaction. Some initial ways of pausing in our modern day world might be (as you prepare for prayer): breath! shift attention, walk, briefly change activities.
2). Assess; what is the atmosphere?
When you assess it is important to be aware of noticing what you are using as an evaluation tool. Is it your experience? Is it your history? Is it your emotions? The evaluation tool that you are assessing the atmosphere with is as important as the measure that you come up with. So, we all need to recognize that we are not impartial assessors of atmosphere, we are each with an inborn bias. We need a way to see with wisdom. We need to beware getting too wrapped up in our mental states.
It helps to first feel and know our own hearts. First we “take our own temperature”. We ask how we are feeling. Sometimes we don’t know the answer, especially with conflict. We often hide from these feelings because they are so uncomfortable, sometimes unsafe. Perhaps we don’t want to lose the approval or love of the persons involved. There is often a loss of some kind involved in a conflict (reputation, relationship, love, self, recognition, pride, control) or fear of loss. These are powerful roots in all of us. We get them just by being born mortal.
By taking the temperature of your own heart and being honest about what you are feeling and saying on the inside it will help you to get to a peaceful resolution on the outside! We can react on the inside, but it may not match a situation with logic. We may be connecting to our own history with a situation rather than what actually happened. By listening to our heart (taking our temperature) we diffuse our need somewhat in that hour.
We have much atmosphere that we carry within us but it is the atmosphere of God that we desire to walk in, that is the key to peaceful living! The atmosphere of God is His Presence. When we face God with Prayer and Worship we become faith-filled.
3). Pray; seek out God’s direction and wisdom.
After pausing and taking the time for an honest assessment, we are ready for prayer. Frankly, there are times when you need to hastily rush directly to prayer and skip the first two steps! We need God to review our heart and look into the situation. We will call him into all of it. When Daniel prayed he went to his room which was on the upper floor of a house. There were windows that he opened. He removed the “frames” from the windows so that he could see Jerusalem better before praying. This is all such a beautiful description of prayer and worship.
When we pray we are going to an upper room in the sanctuary of our own hearts. We are seeking to look to God. Before meeting with him in worship, we need to remove the ‘planks’ or frames in our own hearts that might impair our vision of him. We need to repent. Repenting is being honest before God who loves you. For me, sometimes I don’t even know what is going on in my heart. I need to ask God to help me to see my heart first. I ask in prayer, Lord- show me my heart; what is there that I need to see?
There is always an answer. It comes in small waves during or immediately after the prayer. And I am always surprised. Who me? I feel that! I thought that I already knew everything. Well, we always think that we know everything. That is how our minds keep us feeling protected. But it is false security. As you can see it gets toppled easily. The heart needs to be cleansed of whatever it is holding on to. Our minds need to let go as well. We need to surrender to His Will and His Goodness in this and all situations. Nothing lasts but the security of God’s peace. Prayer is the way to lift your heart out of any crises, any concern and to bring it to the altar of God. It restores you in His Presence.
You position yourself with God to receive His wisdom and direction for the next steps.
4). Walk with Love.
When you have been filled with God’s Presence in prayer you walk in Love. Your heart has been loosened of what it was holding onto a while before. Things and circumstances look different now. It is possible that nothing has changed but you have. Your atmosphere has altered. You are faith-filled. We become filled when something greater than ourselves pours into us like water filling a vessel.
When we are abundantly filled it spills out generously from us like a love that must keep moving. That is how God’s Goodness moves through us. Even in times of conflict and crises. It is possible that things can appear more confusing temporarily before they become clear. I cannot see what God plans for each of us. I do know that he has a plan. I trust the plan. I rest in the plan.
I am praying right now that we each are moved to pause to always be brave enough to step away to be with God in times of conflict and crises. I ask that we become hearts that are responsible for our own atmosphere and that we each commit ourselves to know God, worship of him and learning humility before him. I desire that we all grow in prayer and enjoy a relationship with God.
Most of all, I pray that we walk in Love; that we each bear His Presence in our hearts and that it generously pours out into our lives. Faith Filled Living Pours Peace.
© 2019 Linda Willows
for more resources on Prayer see: PRAYER: Sources
on seeking peace amidst conflict see these articles on BELOVED:
Christian Conflict Management by Gustav Adolfsson.
How Your Trials Can Create a Pleasing Aroma for God, by June Hunt; founder of Hope for The Heart.
The Great Story of Your Walk with God by John F. Walvoord.
photo: The Praying Hands by Dania Reichmuth