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I really like the entry in today’s My Utmost for His Highest.  the question of what is prayer and why do we pray is something i have been thinking about a good deal lately, and the thoughts that Oswald Chambers expresses here give me so much freedom!  for a long time in my prayer life i have emphasized that “prayer changes things”–which i absolutely believe it does!–but the result was i felt like there was this ever-growing laundry list of things i had to pray for every single day, using the exact right language, and framing the request perfectly, in order for my friend to come to christ, or this person to be healed, or whatever the thing was i was praying for.  i hated praying because it was so much work checking off each item on my list and finding the perfect words, and feeling like there was so much pressure because if i didn’t pray right then this thing wouldn’t happen.  but if prayer is PRIMARILY about being with God, knowing him, and allowing my heart to be changed by Him, that takes the pressure off.  it puts the emphasis back on God and his sovereignty, and that he is not someone to be convinced or maipulated, but He’s my father, and my greatest need is to be conformed more to his will.

The Purpose of Prayer

Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

“Ask, and you will receive . . .” ( John 16:24 ). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” ( Matthew 18:3 ). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.

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i’m 23 years old, and only wish i could be half as cool as the 70 year old ladies.

Happy Olympic Day to you!  I think the thing I am most excited about for the Olympics this year is the adorable mascots.  They were EVERYWHERE in China, and I NEVER got tired of seeing them.  🙂    I bought a coffee mug with Beibei (the blue one) on it, and I wash it out every morning, leaving half a dozen clean ones gathering dust in the cupboard, cause I love drinking from it.  🙂  I can’t wait to see them perform (I hope!) at the Opening Ceremonies tonight.

In the meantime, let’s get to know our 5 friends:

The 2008 Olympic mascots were unveiled in Beijing on November 11, 2005 – 1,000 days before the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing Games. The five “Fuwa” – one to represent each of the Olympic Rings – carry a unifying message of friendship and peace, particularly aimed at the world’s children. They were designed to convey the Olympic spirit and to express the playful qualities of a young group of close friends. Their mission is to help Beijing 2008 spread its theme (One World, One Dream) to every continent. Fuwa translates to good luck dolls or children carrying blessings.

Each of the Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name, which in China is a way of expressing affection towards children. Four of China’ most popular animals are represented, along with the Olympic Flame. The five Fuwa are Beibei (a fish), Jingjing (a panda), Huanhuan (the Olympic Flame), Yingying (a Tibetan antelope) and Nini (a swallow). When you put the five names together – Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni – the phrase means “Beijing Welcomes You.”

Bebei

Beibei, the fish, represents the blue Olympic ring, prosperity and the sea. Fish and water symbolize prosperity in traditional Chinese culture. A fish also represents surplus in harvest. The lines of the wave designs in her headdress are based on Chinese paintings of the past. Beibei, who is said to be “gentle and pure,” is strong in water sports.

 

 

 

 

 

Jingjing

Jingjing, the panda, represents the black Olympic ring, happiness and the forest. He is said to be “charmingly naïve and optimistic,” to make children smile and be noted for strength. The lotus designs in his headdress are based on paintings from the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1234) and symbolize “the lush forest and the harmonious relationship between man and nature.”

 

 

 

 

Huanhuan

Huanhuan, the Olympic Flame, represents the red ring, passion and fire. He is considered the big brother among the Fuwa and stands in the center “as the core embodiment of the Olympic spirit… He inspires all with the passion to run faster, jump higher and be stronger.” The designs on his head ornament are based on the Dunhuang murals and include aspects of traditionally lucky Chinese designs. Huanhuan, who is “outgoing and enthusiastic,” is strong at ball games.

 

 

Yingying

Yingying, the Tibetan antelope, represents the yellow ring, health and earth (particularly the vastness of China’s landscape). The species, which is unique to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, was one of the first animals put under protection in China and its selection here is meant to reflect Beijing’s commitment to a Green Olympics. Yingying’s head ornament incorporates design elements from the Qinghai-Tibet and Sinkiang cultures, as well as the traditions of Western China. He is quick-witted, fast and agile, excelling in track and field events.

 

 

Nini

Nini, the swallow, represents the green ring, good luck and the sky. The golden-winged swallow is one of the most popular designs on kites flown by Beijing’s children in spring and summer and her design is based on these kites. Swallow is also pronounced “yan” in Chinese, and Beijing was called Yanjing as an ancient capital city. Nini, who is “innocent and joyful” excels at gymnastics.