I lived in a world where a rock was not the symbol of the relationship I desired with God. I wanted a relationship symbolic of the burning bush, for the light that it would shine upon me, rather than God. Over time, I realized that what I desired in my relationship with God was a reflection of the status of my faith. It was quick to ignite in flames, but the roar from the crowd (or my ego) was never enough to keep the flame burning. A rock stands firm and is consistent, regardless of how things are going—it is never shaken. If I desired my relationship with God to be consistent, I needed to commit to a life of consistent prayer.
Copyright: Vlastimil Šesták / 123RF
My prayer each morning
“Heavenly father, thank you for this day, the opportunity to sit in your word, the gift of truth, a true blessing. With a prayer to the ‘Big G’ God, the leader of my life, should it be your will, I pray that my children, brothers and sisters would one day embrace such a blessing, taking refuge under your wings. Oh Lord, open our eyes, let us see the lion and the lamb, the covenant in your rainbow. May you give me the desire to do your will, leaning further into you with courage and wisdom when confronted by the temptations of the flesh, choosing my love. Patience is better than pride. Allow me to seek with all my heart and find peace in your gentle whisper, when the storm clouds roll in. May I inherit double the spirit, seeking your will in all that I do today, taking joy in the path you will show me, in both the good and the suffering.”
“Obedience is better than sacrifice. Allow me to seek with all my heart and find affirmation in the criticism before me, for the disciplined life is the one that leads to freedom. In failure, I will praise the Lord, steadfast in my belief that God is the rock to remain standing on. In success, I will praise the Lord, giving God the glory, at peace with simply being his vessel. May I be strong and courageous, guarding my heart with a mind fortified in the truth that is the word of God, for God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering. Fill me, Lord, with a wonder for you, and may I meditate on that wonder throughout the day ahead. May the manna that falls from the sky be enough for my mind that desires to chase the wind.”
“With urgency, without yeast! God is where I came from, my soul finds rest in God alone, may I not grasp at the heel of another. With urgency, without yeast! God is where I will go, for the joy of the Lord is my strength, my salvation comes from him. May the fire, that is God within me, never go out, burning with a zeal that can transform the narrative. May God be my allotment, of all his good promises, not one single word has failed. When I feel empty, I will push forward with a humble heart, knowing that God chooses to keep me securely in his treasure pouch, despite seeing and knowing what I am really like.”
I know God loves and cares for me, yet this is not a promise that nothing bad will happen to me, but a promise of how I can handle myself in such situations. I recently returned from visiting my dad and brother, in the place I grew up, the place I called home for the first 33 years of my life. A great sadness set in when I was done with this visit, which I am sure was evident during the visit itself. Home is a reminder of losing my mom to cancer, a reminder of the relationships I left behind when I moved to California. The last time I visited, in 2017, I displaced my sadness onto others, and masked my sadness in anger. I was not standing on solid ground. I was shaken to the core.
This most recent visit, I sat with the sadness, soon comforted by the thought that it was okay to be sad. The comfort turned into a courage to speak about the sadness with my family, even my dad and brother. The sadness did not turn into anger this time, because I was able to clearly see where I was about to go. For that, I have my relationship with God to thank—a relationship that has been developed over the past few years in a deliberate, prayerful manner. My prayers may not be dynamic or eloquent, but they are mine.
My prayer before work
“Heavenly father, thank you for this day, this job, the opportunity to support my family. I place my success in your hands, confirming that your will is greater than mine. Allow me to cross paths today, Lord, with those people most in need. Grant me the strength, Lord, to continue to lean into you—leaning in to soften my heart, leaning in to fall gracefully to my knees, serving those people that you put in front of me. Leaning in to remain mindful, through prayer, of all those brothers and sisters out there that may be less fortunate than myself. I do not want affirmation, Lord, for I know that I am loved by you.”
When is a rock important? Recently, the Bay Area remembered the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989, which shook the ground violently, leaving the Bay Area damaged, destroyed and broken. There are no guarantees that the earthly rock on which we stand will remain firm and solid. But the rock which Isaiah refers to, our eternal, ‘Big G’ God, will never waver beneath our feet. When I see God as the provider, the one I turn to immediately in both success and failure, then I begin to appreciate the gift of the rock, on which I am allowed to stand.
My prayer before the boys head off to school
“Heavenly father, I am thankful for this day, thankful for the gifts of my sons. I lift them each up to you today, Lord, placing them in your protective hands, asking that you keep them safe. I also pray for the presence of your spirit on each of the school campuses today, Lord, asking that any fear and darkness be replaced with light and hope. You are the healer of healers, Lord. We lift those people up to you, Lord, that are in need of healing—whether it be physical, spiritual, mental or emotional. We place them in your hands, asking that you wrap your healing arms around them, restoring their lives back to full health, a life focused on you, Lord. I lift all these prayers up humbly, in your precious son’s name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
It is only through the consistency of prayer that my feet are on the rock more today than they were yesterday, and by the grace of God, even more tomorrow.
Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. (Isa. 7:9 NLT)
Bill Wagner loves being a husband and father. He is blessed to walk side-by-side with his wife, Kristy, raising their three children, Samuel, Graeson, and Emily. Bill was born, raised, and educated in upstate New York, and relocated to the Bay Area in 2008. He is a headhunter by day, working from home and building relationships with corporate tax & finance professionals here in Silicon Valley. He took a leave of absence in 2012-13 to deepen his walk in ministry; he is now focused on bringing his faith outside the walls of the church and into his work.