Paul Tripp

President of Paul Tripp Ministries

Here is where prayer is so important and so powerful. Prayer makes no sense unless two things are true. First, our lives do not belong to us. Since we have been created by God, everything we are, everything we have, and every situation and relationship in which we live belongs to him. Because we are his creatures, our number-one calling in every area of life is to worship him. Everything we do and say in every situation and relationship of our lives must be done in recognition of his existence and for the purpose of his glory. We were created for his pleasure, and we are called to live in constant worship of him. So, everything in our lives has verticality to it. Everything we do must be done in recognition of God’s presence and his rightful ownership of our lives. We must live in our marriage in a way that is distinctively and comprehensively Godward, even in the most mundane moments of life.

There is a second thing that must be true for prayer to make any sense. It is that sin makes us comprehensively needy. Every area of our personhood has been in some way damaged by sin.
We don’t desire what we should. We don’t think as we should. We don’t speak as we should. We don’t act as we should. We need help. We need rescue. We need wisdom. We need forgiveness. We need strength.

So, here is what prayer does for you. In a way that is powerfully protective and relationally transforming, each time you pray, you are reminded of the context of your life. The context of your life is not a situation or a location. The context of your life is a person. The context of your life is God. He is above, around, below, and in you. He created everything that makes up your existence. He controls every situation and relationship you are in. It is his power that keeps you and your world together. He has written the story of your life from beginning to endless end. His plan, purpose, and will are meant to be the reason for everything you do. He alone offers the help that reaches to the deepest areas of your personal and relational need. He is the rightful owner of you, your life, and your relationships. He is the conceiver and creator of your all that makes up your world, and because he is, he is best able to diagnose what is broken and to cure what needs to be fixed. He is the only reliable one who can define what is right or wrong, good or bad, true or false, and wise or foolish. He is not only near you, but because of the cross of Jesus Christ, he is now living inside you by his Spirit. He is your life and the hope of your future. He is your counselor, protector, advocate, teacher, guide, and friend. He surrounds you with his love and bathes you in his grace. It really is that “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is the context of your life.

But prayer does something else; it reminds us of the reality of our life. The reality of our life is a constant, moment-by-moment dance of sin and grace. Every day, sin rears its ugly head, and every day, grace gives us what we need to deal with sin. In the same way that we cannot understand life without understanding God’s existence, his ownership, and his power, we cannot understand what we experience in part of our lives and how to deal with it unless we understand sin and grace. Sin is the reason for all the struggles of life and grace is the only reliable hope of being able to deal with them.

Because of the fact that sin still remains in you and in your world, you need to be reconciled to God every day, and every day you need to be reconciled to others. Every day you do something that offends God in some way, and every day you do something that offends another. As we have observed before, these dynamics of sin, struggle, and rescue take place in the smallest and most mundane moments of daily life, moments so normal and in all ways so unremarkable that they pass by without getting our attention. We get used to the daily pace of our lives, we get used to our daily schedule, and we get used to our daily relationships and responsibilities. At some point we quit observing and we quit examining, and we settle into the routine, day piling upon day, month piling upon month, year piling upon year.

This is why we look back during one of those moments that God sends to get our attention once again, and we ask, “What happened to us? How in the world did we end up here?” It feels to us that we‘ve driven into some kind of life fog. It feels that what was once bright and sunny has suddenly gone dark. But nothing has been sudden. The changes in you and your life have taken place in progressive, little steps. In those unremarkable moments that occur in everyone's life, wrong thoughts, desires, words, and actions changed the character and direction of their living; they took place in little moments, and no one was paying attention.

We all do it. It’s not that we suddenly quit loving God and one another. No, that’s not what typically happens. Our living doesn't typically change with an explosion. Our living typically changes by the process of erosion. Even where explosions take place, they usually take place at the end of a long process of erosion. The movement of a life from an active commitment to God and an active lifestyle of unity, understanding, and love with others rarely takes place in one step. Rather, this movement takes place in ten thousand little steps. The problem is that as these changes are taking place we tend to be asleep at the wheel. What we once committed to value and protect has progressively become the thing we take for granted. What we were once deeply appreciative of, we have become used to having over the long haul. The God we once worshipped everyday becomes a formal religious icon and the people that were so much the focus of our affection and attention have morphed into little more than the people that we live with—you know, a part of our environment and daily schedule.

What does this have to do with prayer? Well, prayer not only attaches you to the wonderful resources of a God of grace, who is present, powerfully near, and willing, but prayer reminds you of what you are (needy) and what God is (gracious). Prayer awakens you from your sleep and calls you to pay attention again. Prayer is about affirming weaknesses and blessings. Prayer is about getting your identity and God’s glory right. Prayer confronts you with what is and preaches to you about what is important. Prayer is a very important part of a lifestyle of paying attention.

"This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com"

Listening to Lewis

~"Most people, if they really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise...if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

I give painful
evidence every day.
I experience it in
predictable and unpredictable
moments.
I guess I should know
better,
but I am often
caught off guard.
There is an
insatiable longing
inside of me,
a thirst that never
seems to be
quenched.
This deep hunger
doesn't go away
no matter how busy
I get
or how hard I work to be
distracted.
I long for
Justice
Love
Hope
Peace
Perfection
Satisfaction
Mercy
Contentment
Rest
Harmony
Joy
and none of these
longings
ever gets fully
satisfied.
And so in my quest
for more
I am faced with
the incontrovertible
daily evidence
that this simply is not all
that there is
and the sure truth
that I was
hardwired
for another world.

"This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com."

My Meditation

I know I should watch
my meditation.
It is important to guard
my thoughts.
It is a battle to not
be taken captive.
It's hard to think
after you.
There are so
many things that compete
for my thoughts,
so many things that call after
my desires.
It really is war, fought in the neighborhoods
of my mind.
"If only" commands too much of
my meditation.
"I wish" controls too much of
my thoughts.
"I need" fights for
control.
It is so easy in the midst
of it all to forget
the one thing I was created
to remember:
You.
I now confess
it is so easy to lose sight of
Your presence
Your power
Your kingdom
Your glory
Your plan
Your grace.
In my right mind I know that
forgetting is the
first step in losing
my way.
So, I humbly ask once again,
O, Spirit of wisdom and grace,
please empower me to
meditate on You,
please enable me to fight
distraction.
Please deliver me from the
one thing I cannot escape:
my fickle heart.
So that everything
I do would bear the mark of
remembering You.

"This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com"

~Are you building relationships of trust? Take time to look at yourself, your marriage and other relationships in the mirror of these questions.

A TRUST QUESTIONNAIRE

1) Is there more unity, understanding, and love in your marriage now than there has ever been?
2) Do you both do what you promise in the time that you have promised?
3) Are you attentive to what your spouse sees as important?
4) Do you make excuses for failures to do what you’ve promised, or are you ready to confess?
5) Do you listen well to your spouse and act on what you’ve heard?
6) Do you follow through with mutually agreed-upon plans?
7) Do you work together on planning and scheduling priorities, or do you demand that the other do it your way?
8) Do you share with your spouse your thoughts, desires, hopes, dreams, and concerns, or is it easier for you to be quiet or to share with someone else?
9) Is there any evidence that you’ve withdrawn from the other in protective distance?
10) Would your spouse say that you’re good for your word and faithful to your promises?
11) Do you carry wrongs around with you, or do you trust one another to confront and confess?
12) Do you ever wonder what the other is doing when not with you?
13) Are you conscious of editing your words and withholding your feelings because you can’t trust your spouse to deal with them properly?
14) Is your marriage partner the best friend in your life or has your dream of this kind of companionship evaporated?
15) Is your sexual relationship mutually satisfying, or is it hard for you to give yourself physically to your spouse?
16) Do you say things to other people about your spouse that you’ve not communicated to him or her?
17) Do you look forward to sharing times together, and when you have these times are they peaceful and enjoyable?
18) Are there problems between you that remain unsolved because you don’t have the bond of trust necessary to work together on a solution?
19) Are you comfortable with the vulnerability that a good marriage involves?
20) Do you ever wonder if you made a mistake in marrying the person who is your spouse?
21) Do you ever fear that you’re being manipulated or taken advantage of in any way?
22) Do you ever wonder if your spouse cares for him- or herself more than for you?

So, look over your answers. What do you think? Is trust solid in your marriage? Is it growing in your other relationships? As you commit yourself to build a sturdy bond of trust, remember you don’t do that work alone or in your own strength. The One, who defines what trust is and does, is with you and offers you every grace you need to build relationships that picture his grace and point to his glory.

"This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com."

About Paul Tripp

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. For more information, visit http://www.paultrippministries.org/store

  • Editors' Picks

    Why Is the Resurrection so Important?
    Why Is the Resurrection so Important?
  • Be Faithful in Small Things
    Be Faithful in Small Things
  • What’s So Good about Good Friday?
    What’s So Good about Good Friday?
;