The Exclamation Point!
The exclamation point. I’m not sure, so don’t quote me on this, but I have a feeling that this skinny little marking with a dot on the bottom has never been used so much in it’s life. Something to do with the rise of texting, Facebook messaging, and other experiments in social media.
I, for one, am guilty. I have been caught red handed sending texts like…
I mean, right there in that short little exchange there are nine exclamation points. NINE. Is it really necessary? Am I really that excited about each of those separate statements that they would warrant nine exclamation points?
Tell me I’m not the only one that’s been convicted of fatiguing poor Mr. Exclamation Point?
Here’s a question to ponder. Have you ever tried putting an exclamation point at the end of a statement that really doesn’t warrant it?
Participate in this little activity with me, won’t you? Try saying each of these statements out loud with an excited and emphatic tone. The kind you would use when exclaiming something like, “I just won the lottery!!!!!!!” And, if you happen to be in the middle of the crowd, I give you full permission to just think of how you might say in your head without speaking it audibly as to avoid unnecessary embarrassment.
Ready? Set. Go
I have to brush my teeth!!!!
I need to pick up bananas from the store!!!
I think I need to do the dishes!!!
Not as easy as you might think, am I right?
So what is the point to all of this exclamation point discussion? Recently, I’ve been evaluating my prayer life. I’m going through a season of transition. To be more accurate, I am in total and complete limbo, waiting for the looming and imminent transition to really dig it’s heels in and kick up some dust. Which is sort of a strange and almost twilight zone-like place to be. The silver lining of it all is that it’s forced me to my knees. There is a lot that is out of my control right now and I don’t have a plethora of other options other than entrusting God with everything. And what I mean by everything is literally handing over control of everything which, of course, was always under His care in the first place anyway. Nothing like a season of impending upheaval to remind you aren’t really in the drivers seat no matter how many times you try to grab the wheel.
In a moment of epiphany the other day. I realized that I tend to pray like I place commas. I am terrible at knowing where comas should go. I must have been writing notes to my boyfriend or something during this section of grammar 101 because I just can’t seem to get it right. Either, I place them everywhere, you know, where they, aren’t even, necessary, just in case one is required. (see what I did there?) Or I fail to use them at all hoping the reader will just automatically know where to pause and take a breath. (See what I did there?)
I’ve realized recently, I’ve been praying that way. Sort of haphazard and unintentional. A little bit of airy fairy mixed in with a splash of doubt.
“God, I would really like you to do this in my life. But, if you don’t want to, I totally get it. I don’t want to bother you with this petty stuff.”
“Please help so and so. Of course, it would take a miracle for such and such to happen under the circumstances. But, I guess you are in the business of doing miracles, right?”
I don’t sound very convincing, do I?
I felt the Spirit gently nudge me, what if you quit praying like you place commas and start praying with exclamation points? What if you prayed like you meant it? What if you prayed like you believed that what your were praying for would actually happen? Wouldn’t it change everything if you trusted that the One you were praying to was listening and ABLE to do what you asked?
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
It doesn’t say it might be yours. Or someday it could be yours, if and only if. It says BELIEVE and you have received it. I wish I could add an exclamation point to the text right there.
It’s a simple truth, nothing too difficult to understand in theory. But the practice of it is an entirely different story.
Lately, I’ve been struggling a bit. I have this bible study coming out in October, as some of you may already know. I’m in the process now of trying to promote and market it. This part has left me feeling a little uncomfortable, somewhat out of my comfort zone. I feel at home teaching, and right in my sweet spot writing. But the whole “brand yourself” thing is just a bit weird, if I’m being honest. So I wrested with reaching out to family, friends, and acquaintances asking for help. Who likes the feeling of burdening others by adding one more thing to their to-do list. I worried that despite every effort not to, I might come across as arrogant and self absorbed. The absolute, last two words you would want in a sentence with your name in it.
God put a stop to that right away.
“Christy, do you believe that this message, these words, I have given you to write and speak are mine? Do you believe that they will be good news to the world?
“Yes God” I answer back. And I cannot deny all those hours I poured over my computer, the room saturated with His Spirit in a way I can’t really describe. “Yes, I do!” I added with an exclamation point.
“Okay then. You’re not promoting yourself, are you? You’re promoting me.”
You really can’t argue with God. I’ve tried, but it never gets me anywhere.
So I’ve started praying Acts 1:8 over the whole thing.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
It sounds a bit like this, “God may this study be a witness in Scottsdale, in Arizona, In the United States, and all over the world.”
I’m doing my very best to pray this with an exclamation point. I’m going to believe that He is capable of changing the lives of women all over the world. I’m going to believe it, receive it, and wait in expectation for it to happen.
And besides, it really can’t hurt to pray Scripture. There’s no doubting you are praying within the will of God when His word said it first.
Not only that, I’ve decided to pray BOLD prayers with exclamation points not just over the big stuff but the little stuff too. Maybe what I think is petty and unworthy of God’s attention, isn’t really how He feels about it at all. Perhaps, I’m projecting my own insecurities on a God who is actually very interested in the “small stuff.” You don’t have to look very far for proof that our God is detail oriented. “He determines the numbers of stars and counts them by name.” (Psalm 147:4 NIV)
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, Luke writes, “And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” (Luke 10:30)
So when my daughter went to bed too late and woke up too early resulting in a hot tantrum throwing mess of a little girl, and it s only 8AM. I started praying. “Lord, help me survive the morning. And let the number of hairs on my head, that you so meticulously counted, be the same right now as it is at bedtime tonight. And, if possible, could you keep those hairs from turning prematurely grey.”
When her head hits the pillow at nap time, I sigh a huge sigh of relief. “Lord, two hours. Two hours of sleep and two hours of quiet.” I pray with an exclamation point.
She wakes two hours later, almost on the dot.
Sure, it could be a coincidence. It could be just happenstance.
Or it’s modern day proof He is equally as invested in the small stuff as the big stuff. And it’s a reminder that every prayer uttered, whether about world peace or lost rings, nap times or the AIDS epidemic in Africa, it all matters. And, even more comforting, it’s all heard.
ASK. BELIEVE. RECEIVE.
I have determined to repeat these three words over and over again so I can stop praying like I place commas and start praying with exclamation points. LOTS of them!!!!!!