Managing Life Through Prayer

Sometimes a single line in a book is transformative.

"I’m actually managing my life through my daily prayer time," writes Paul Miller in his excellent book A Praying Life:  Connecting With God In A Distracting World. I've thought of prayer in a number of ways before, but never as the way in which I'm managing my life. Here's the sentence in its context:

PRAYER IS WHERE I do my best work as a husband, dad, worker, and friend. I’m aware of the weeds of unbelief in me and the struggles in others’ lives. The Holy Spirit puts his finger on issues that only he can solve.

I’m actually managing my life through my daily prayer time. I’m shaping my heart, my work, my family—in fact, everything that is dear to me—through prayer in fellowship with my heavenly Father. I’m doing that because I don’t have control over my heart and life or the hearts and lives of those around me. But God does.

Since reading this, I've begun to think of prayer as the best way to deal with pretty much any challenge I'm facing. It means that I'm praying about more things than before. It doesn't mean that prayer is all that I do; there's obviously still a role for action. But I'm taking that action more prayerfully, and there are times when there is no clear path to solving a problem except through prayer. No problem, though. When you manage your life through prayer, then prayer isn't the last resort. It's the first.

I'm grateful for A Praying Life. The whole book is excellent. But this one sentence alone is worth the price of the book for me. It's changing the way that I look at prayer, and the way that I live my life.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Samson Society

When I first heard about Samson and the Pirate Monks through Tim Challies, I didn't pay much attention. When I finally read the book, though, I wondered why I'd waited so long. It's the story of Nate Larkin, a pastor who got enmeshed in sexual sin, but it's more than that. It's a call to authentic Christian brotherhood, and creating space for men to be honest and to apply the gospel to their struggles.

As the book recommends, we started a Samson Society. It's "a fellowship of Christian men who are serious about authenticity, community, humility, and recovery. We meet every Wednesday morning from 7 to 8. There's a format that we follow, although not rigidly, and each week we cover a topic that applies to men and speak about how we're doing in that area.

I'm cynical about new initiatives and programs, and wondered how long something like this would work. I've been surprised at how well it works because it's not a program, and because it's just structured enough to allow us to get real about our lives. I've been part of many men's groups, but I've never experienced anything like this.

Once a week, I know I'll be in a room with other men. I know a topic will come up, but I don't know what topic it will be. I will be presented with an opportunity to speak honestly about how I'm doing in that area, although there's no pressure to say anything if I don't want to. And I'll have the opportunity to talk about any other issue that I'm facing in my life. I'll also have the opportunity to connect with someone else during the week with whom I can also share.

It doesn't sound like much, but it is. Men need this, and as a pastor, I haven't always known how to provide it.

If you haven't read Samson and the Pirate Monks, it's worth reading. SamsonSociety.com also has some helpful resources on how to run a meeting. If you're a man, you need something like this, and the men around you need it too.

Difficult-Difficult

I learned a term from Precision Nutrition that they stole from someone else: difficult-difficult. Here's how it works.

  • Difficult-easy: This is about hard work that gets you nowhere. It's working hard at stuff that doesn't matter. It's annoying, doesn't result in much, and is usually within your comfort zone.
  • Difficult-difficult: This is work that's scary, meaningful, and that requires growth. It's hard, but it's the right kind of hard.

Most of us work hard. The problem: many of us work hard at things that are difficult-easy because it's safer. Difficult-difficult is where the growth is.

I thought of this when a couple of people commented on how hard church planting has been for us. They're right, but when they said this I'd just been thinking about how fun and rewarding it's been. It's simultaneously the hardest and the most rewarding thing I've done. It's difficult-difficult.

So much of what God calls us to is difficult-difficult. I'm grateful for people who don't settle for difficult-easy, but press into obedience that requires them to grow and God to show up. As God gives me grace, I want to be in their number.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Small Prayers

Late into November, I learned that our church plant was seriously short of money. I knew that things were tight, but I didn't know we'd gotten so far behind.

One night in our small group, I asked for prayer. "I don't expect that we'll get all of the money in," I said, "but please pray that we'll make up part of the deficit."

My wife, Charlene, smiled. "Why would we pray that God would provide only part of our need?" she asked. She was polite. She could have said, "I don't know who you're praying to, but my God can handle big needs."

We did start praying that God would provide our entire need. Over the next weeks, we saw God provide in some amazing ways.

As I write this, I don't know for sure if we got all the money we needed. There are still some donations that are making their way to us. I do know we made major progress, far more than I thought possible. But that's not the point. God is not obligated to answer big prayers just because we pray them.

But I'm grateful for my wife's correction. Why settle for praying prayers that don't require God to do much? There's a much better way to pray. I need to learn to come to God with much bigger prayers.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Thanks When Times Are Tough

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 )

The past four years have been some of the most rewarding years of my life, but they've also been some of the hardest. We've experienced some hardships that I hadn't expected. We've been forging a theology of suffering in the middle of suffering.

I love the realism of Scripture. It never whitewashes suffering, nor does it provide easy answers. It does, however, point us to the bigger picture, which is especially important when all we can see is our circumstances.

"Give thanks in all circumstances." It's easy to give thanks in good circumstances, but I've found it much harder to do when things are tough. It's not because we are called to deny reality. It's because Paul wants us to see that God is sovereign, and that his purposes for us remain good. He can turn any situation for our good, and he causes us to triumph even in the face of tragedy.

I wouldn't believe that such a thing is possible if it hadn't come from the pen of one who was no stranger to suffering. In small ways, I'm learning this too.

"Thankfulness is pleasing to God, not only in good days, but in bad," wrote William Cooper. Paul points us to a good God who is for us even in the hardest of times. I need to be reminded of this, and it's one of the reasons to be thankful even when the reasons seem few.

For my American friends: Have a great Thanksgiving.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.