"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14
Over the course of my life there have been many, many cycles and seasons within my prayer life. Saved at the ripe old age of four years old, I simply cannot recall a time in my life when I wasn't aware of Jesus Christ and the lifestyle of a disciple of Christ. I began journaling faithfully in junior high and as I glance over those many tear-stained entries that made up my adolescence, one common theme pervades amongst them all: the struggle to maintain a prayer life. (Okay, that may have been a close second to "I like that boy, he doesn't like me, I don't care anymore, oh, wait, I DO care, but I don't want to care..." Sigh.)
I remember often pleading for forgiveness from the Lord as, once again, "I had failed Him" in my lack of consistency of discipline in prayer. I never walked away from Him. I always wanted to please Him. I determined early on to read from His Word daily, even if it was through blood-shot eyes and heavy eyelids before sleep. But there was such a measure of guilt involved when I didn't make it to the heavily preached on prayer closet where the truly good saints would tarry for hours, oblivious to the passing time.
As I reflect back, however, I can see how the seasons of my relationship with the Father followed much of the same pattern as many human relationships. The friendship was still there all along. Perhaps we just weren't staying as closely in touch as we ought. And by we, I mean, I. In times of marginal growth and stretching, I was as close and intimate as could be, clinging to His every word and resting in His presence. But in times of less intensity, He and I walked as companions with less travail and toil.
The seasons of intensity most assuredly brought growth in every way. But the seasons of lighter fare were pleasant and easier. The guilt placed upon me was never given by Him. I misinterpreted His desire for my company as His punishment for my neglect. This robbed me of the joy of tarrying, making it more like work and pentance.
What if we could sojourn with the Father and grow so close to His side that we knew the difference in these seasons?
The different seasons of our lives bring about variation in what is served at the King's table for us as we come to commune with Him. And different seasons of prayer bring about different responsiblities and varied results.
My Bible fell open to the book of Esther as I sat down to the computer to write for this week's entry. "What on earth can I teach about prayer, Lord? This summer season has been one of mixed intensity and frenzy. I know You asked me to lead a series on prayer, but I feel strongly that I need to be taught myself again!" And there it was, staring at me, the conjuring of a rather significant plot in Esther's heroic tale. Things were brewing to a life-threatening climax for the Jewish people on the heels of Esther's fairy tale entry to royal life. What could possibly go wrong now? She was adored by her new husband, doted on daily by her many servants, and living the good life after her own Cinderella experience as an orphan raised by her uncle.
Undoubtedly you are familiar with Esther's dilemma. Her people are being threatened because of a misunderstanding created by an evil man in the king's inner circle. And here she sits as the spotlight falls on her delicate shoulders. Do something. Preferably, now.
"We can't act hastily. I could lose my life if I do this the wrong way," Esther respectfully reminds Uncle Mordecai.
"Most assuredly, but unfortunately you are at risk if you do nothing. But who knows? Perhaps this moment is the very reason you were placed by God in the king's house."
Verses 15 through 17 in chapter four let us know Esther's plan of action: fast and pray.
Whatever cycle or season you may find yourself in today, inevitably life will bring you a dramatic dilemma on the heels of a "castle spa day". And upon its arrival, the goal of our Father is for you and I to stop before we act hastily. I have no doubt in my mind that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23). But sometimes the wicked throw in a detour! And like Queen Esther, we may find ourselves smack dab in a situation where, if we fail to consult with the Father, we may risk losing it all, or at the very least, lose our sanity.
Do you feel the spotlight falling on your delicate shoulders today? Stop. Draw together those you trust in prayer (We are here for you!). Fast. Take time. Listen for His voice. Once you've heard Him, then stand up, dust off the ashes, straighten that royal robe, and move forward. Perhaps this moment is the very reason you were placed by God in the King's house.
Next post: WEEK THREE
Join us each Monday in August for our series on prayer. Post your thoughts and prayer needs below each post, letting us know you're joining the series. Your name will be entered to win Debbie Morris' amazing book, The Blessed Woman.