deepening the soul for justice {week 2}

Welcome, Faithful Readers-Along!! (and if you haven’t joined our Read-Along, you still can! See details here.)

Today’s Discussion is on section 1: Transforming Justice (p. 7-10–just 4 pages so easy-peasy to catch up if you’re just starting or didn’t get a chance to read for today yet!)

I love the very first sentence of the book: “Seeking justice doesn’t begin at the door of a brothel. Seeking justice begins with seeking the God of justice.” It just makes me breathe a big sigh of relief. A place to start. Seeking the God who already cares more about justice than I ever could.

And here’s where I fight the temptation to write out every other sentence in this book. SO GOOD.

I love how she talks about transformation for real people vs. little more than good intentions. And how the difference is simple. It’s our daily starting point. Are we charging ahead in our own power, or are we seeking God first in prayer?

And here’s what’s really, really cool (especially those of us who are feeling emotionally depleted right now–this is me, raising my hand): Jesus wants to make our burden light. He offers us his light, easy yoke in exchange for our heavy one. We can cast our cares on him. He’s got this. Pressure’s off.

We come to him; he brings the justice. (Sigh of relief.)

A lot of you know we came back from five weeks in Cambodia in January 2012 all fired up and ready to move there long-term. And then a lot lot lot of stuff happened to prevent us from going.

One good thing that has come of all that? Lots and lots of hours on my knees (literally and figuratively) in prayer. Everything was stripped away, and praying was all I could do. Seems like a crappy place to be (and that’s how I’ve felt a lot of the time) but also a beautiful place to invite the God of justice to have his way.

I loooooove the phrase at the top of page 8–“that deeply satisfying joy-filled tiredness that comes from the worthy battles of justice.” Oh, how I love that kind of exhaustion. Tired feels soooooo good after you’ve done something amazing (right, Brooke and Pam, my 2 crazy-runner friends?).

I want to be worn out, spent. Just like that verse in Isaiah 58 says–“pour yourself out for the hungry.” Another version says, “spend yourself on behalf of the hungry.” We want to just give our all to the point of exhaustion. And when we do it after first spending time in prayer, God fills us back up with his never-ending supply of energy. When we do things on our own, that weariness will crush us.

Every last one of us has been called to the work of justice. EVERY LAST ONE OF US.

I love Bethany’s encouragement at the end of the section: “It is my prayer that this book will serve to draw you more deeply into a daily pursuit of God that permeates every aspect of your life. And as you grow to know God more with each day, I pray that God will daily lead you to better understand the specific ways you have been created and called to act in the face of injustice in our world today.”

“You are invited.”

Are you ready to accept the invitation with me, friends?

Questions to Ponder/Answer:

1. Is prayer easy or hard for you, and why? And do you have any tips for staying focused and having meaningful prayer time?

2. What do you feel called to pray for this week (either for yourself, others, or both)?

3. “Compassion fatigue” is what we call people getting burned out by doing justice (or sometimes just by reading/seeing a lot of injustice). I think the devil loves burnout. What are some ways we can prevent it from happening?

So looking forward to hearing from you, friends! And I’ll choose one random commenter to win a free copy of a really great book called Forgotten Girls: Stories of Hope and Courage. (I’ll draw the winner next week.)



37 thoughts on “deepening the soul for justice {week 2}

  1. valerie (in TX)

    Is there a prize for being the latest one to the party? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Prayer itself isn’t so hard for me, it’s the actually getting up early to do it that is SOOO hard. I live in constant guilt (I know – that’s another issue all in itself) about how often I don’t spend quiet time with God. I do pray throughout the day, almost constantly, but I really do long for that quiet one-on-one time with God. I just don’t know how to do it. The best way I have found for staying focused is praying out loud. I don’t do well with journaling, and I sort of feel like I’m not really connecting with God when I do it that way. The hardest thing for me is being QUIET and listening. That’s when I get really distracted. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s really hard for me to pray for big, “vague” situations….like just a general prayer for God to fight human trafficking throughout the world, or poverty, or whathaveyou. It’s so hard for me to really think anything is happening. I’m doing Lysa TerKeurst’s 31 days of prayer for the A21 Campaign right now, and I admit sometimes I wonder if it really does any good for me to pray with them (just being honest). It’s so much easier for me to pray for specific people or a specific situation where I can SEE what’s going on.

    I think the key to avoiding compassion fatigue is to really press in to God and sit with Him (again, not my strong point) and let Him give you focus and direction. Let HIM be the power and the force behind your advocacy. I get so overwhelmed by seeing injustice EVERYWHERE I look, all around me, and it can just about bury me if I try to feel passionate about every single cause (and I can). We each have a part, a place – good works that God created ahead of time for each one to carry out – no one can or should try to do it all. The word that keeps coming back to my mind is FOCUS.

  2. Denise Dilley

    So, I’m a little late to the conversation. A whole week and day late… oops! Forgive me?

    Here’s the thing, I’ve been passionate about outreach for years. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking care of people. The little, practical things that I can DO. Maybe that’s why James is one of my favorite books of the Bible – because as believers we aren’t just called to sit on the sidelines and twiddle our thumbs. We’re supposed to be out there DOING stuff. Needless to say, Bethany’s first few words smacked me in the face. Confession: I’m a Martha, not a Mary. Sit at the feet of Jesus when there’s work to be done? Um, no. But that’s exactly what we (I) should be doing and reading those words are oh. so. convicting.

    And prayer? Yes, I pray. All throughout the day, little snippets of conversation with God about whatever. But direct, intercessory-like prayer where my knees are left weak and sore? Not a chance. Not for a long, long time.

    My prayer this week is to take more time to sit at His feet. To enjoy His presence and rest in His peace.

  3. Megan

    Better late than never, right?

    1. Prayer is not easy for me. And it seems strange that most of us struggle with it. It is such an easy concept. Spend time with God, talking and listening, and you will feel closer to Him (just like every other relationship we have). But the mystery of it is what keeps us from regularly participating, I think. I was encouraged this weekend by a speaker who said, “the person who goes to the gym every day no matter what, is going to reaps the benefits far more than the person who goes only when they fee like it”. And the area of prayer is where I felt convicted.

    2. I feel compelled to pray for my daughter. To be grateful at all times that I get the privilege of being her Mom. And to remind myself that this phase is fleeting.

    3. I’m not sure how to answer this questions because I am so far away from ‘Compassion fatigue’. I believe that it does happen, but I need to get moving and serve and hope it happens to me once in my life.

  4. Amanda Espinoza

    1. Praying isn’t difficult, but getting up early to do it IS difficult. I like to write out my prayer in a spiral notebook. Then I do a prayer dump for everything I said that I would pray for. Then I read a section of scripture and copy any scriptures that stand out to me. Even when I wake up late I have to tell myself “Five minutes with Jesus is better than none.” In regards to this book, I would say that praying in general terms is a struggle for me, because I am not sure it is effective. I prefer to pray for specific events and people.

    2. I feel called to pray for my 4 year old son this week. He is having some behavior issues this week. I need wisdom and I am praying for God to work in His heart. I am also praying for the sale of our house!

    3. I think compassion fatigue settles in when you choose to do something out of impulse rather than making sure that you are doing what God has for you. I love the line that says, “…we distract ourselves from the very practices that must form us if our action is to be wise, effective and sustained throughout the inevitable obstacles and distractions to come.”

    The talk about sustainable work is what stood out to me in this first section. I don’t want to do anything unless I know I can see it through to the end.

  5. Alicia

    1. I feel like prayer in and of itself isn’t hard, but having a meaningful prayer time is. I can easily talk to God throughout the day in short , 30 second prayers when something or someone pops into my head, but sitting quietly and spending time in prayer is a whole other story. I’m not very disciplined, and I have a short attention span, so unless I make a concerted effort to find a quiet time and space to spend time with the Lord it doesn’t happen. (Which means it doesn’t happen too often.) I think it’s something I just have to commit to and actually do it.
    2. I don’t have anything specific that I’m praying for on the global front this week. Personally, I’m praying for my kids (and their attitudes) and for friends and family.
    3. I think people can get compassion fatigue when they take their eyes off of God and put them on themselves, or the problem, or when they get discouraged that others aren’t as passionate about the ministry/issue. I think sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that God has a grand plan, and we get the privilege of participating. Whether or not we see results or feel like we’ve made a difference, as long as we’re relying on God and being obedient to what He wants us to do (and not running ahead and trying to do our own thing in His name) then that’s all we have to be responsible for. Results are His thing, not ours.

  6. Sharon

    1. I love to pray, but don’t ever sit around and intentionally do it for an extended period of time. I don’t feel like I have time to do that in this season of life. But, I do pray here and there throughout the day when something comes to mind and/or when I see something. For instance, I pray whenever I see someone riding a motorcycle (especially if they are not wearing a helmet), I pray when I see an ambulance of fire truck, for whatever situation is going on there. I pray when I see something that looks a bit off to me.

    This week I’m praying for a girl who works at a Medical office. I don’t know her at all, have only seen her twice in my life. The second time I saw her was Monday of this week and she mentioned something to me that sounded so unsafe. I made a comment alluding to the possible danger she could be putting herself in, but I didn’t really know what to say to her because she doesn’t know me from anyone and why would she listen to me? Anyways, her name is Mary, and I pray she is there when I go back in a couple of months.

  7. Andrea

    1. Depends. Setting aside a specific time to sit and pray is hard for me because that’s what I used to think I had to do. Then I emphasized praying throughout the day, especially as needs arise or I am extra thankful for how God has shown me something or worked something out or I even just see a lovely shadow from a tree. This has made my prayer life more meaningful but I’m wondering if it’s also made it more scattered and haphazard and perhaps I am missing out on deeper prayer or answers to big prayers because I am not being as intentional. Tricky balance.

    2. This may sound odd and is a much longer story than this but lately we have had a number of women attend our Bible study who are in their 20s. This group is supposed to be all ages, life stages, etc. One woman in mid to late 50s and I get a lot out of her being in our group. Previously when something like this has happened, the older person bows out because they do not feel able to connect with the many more younger ladies. I want to pray that she stays and also that we get several other women in this older range (have a share in the 30s and early 40s too) to balance it out so she does not feel alone.

    3. I definitely get โ€œCompassion fatigueโ€ by reading and seeing injustice. I have no idea how to prevent keeping it from happening, which is probably why I am so affected. I try to remember verses stating that God will have justice in the end (reading some about that in Daniel and Revelation), that Christ has come to strike the head of evil and overcome, that all things work together for the glory of God and to His and our good, etc. I think putting all pains and hurts in the world in this frame really helps and also encourages me instead of wears me down.

  8. Kristin

    I’m going to break format here and not go through and answer each question one at a time.

    Just wanted to be kind of transparent I guess about some things that I thought about/reflected upon after reading many of your responses. I set out to write out my own responses in my journal, but ended up writing about this….(amidst pondering some things I’ve been hearing and thinking about lately, and then reading this book and these comments) I’m realizing how shallow and selfish my faith is. I realize this may be completely unrelated to the blog here, but I guess in an effort to participate in this read-along, I thought I’d share some thoughts it spurred in me, and also that by bringing them “out in the open”, I may be more challenged by it rather than just keeping it to myself.

    I grew up in the church, in a very loving and Christ-centered home, and felt that when I reached my teen years, I “adopted” the faith I was taught to be my own. Recently, I’ve been noticing that maybe I haven’t really “made it my own” much at all. I’m realizing how little I’ve really ever had to depend on my faith. I feel that I’ve had it “so good” all my life that maybe I’ve never really even “needed” to have faith. I claimed I did. When good things happened, I’d accredit them to the Lord, or to my faith, or because I prayed…..and I’d pray when things weren’t so good either. I know this is all a bit extreme and maybe not TOTALLY true. It’s not like I don’t have faith at all, or that I suddenly feel like I have nothing to stand on. I’ve just realized how much I have relied on that faith that I was “taught”, to give the Sunday-school and cliche answers for what I do and what I stand for and what I believe, and how much I maybe haven’t actually formed for myself.

    And selfish…..unlike Melissa, I find it very easy to pray for MYSELF, to give out prayer requests for MYSELF, to wonder why the Lord isn’t responding to MY questions that seem so dire, or showing ME certain things. Why isn’t He speaking to ME??….and this situation I keep asking Him about?? I think that’s why feeling burdened by injustice is sometimes hard for me. Because it’s not about ME! Actually, I do feel like I have a heart for others…a desire and love to serve, do things that are NOT for myself. Maybe it’s just with the wrong motivations? I think I’ve always seen taking a stand against injustices as being something else to DO, which I felt I didn’t have the time, or frankly the heart, to do, to add something else….something that I SHOULD be passionate about, but am not really.

    So…unrelated as this all may be…I have been inspired by you all to work on praying for others. I am even tempted to say “pray for others MORE”….meaning, and for myself LESS. But, I think for a time, I need to just stop praying for MYSELF. Teresa put it pretty simply….”prayer keeps the focus off of ourselves and on to the Lord”. Prayer for OTHERS would certainly help keep the focus off of ME. And perhaps it will also kindle more of a REAL, CONSISTENT passion for injustices being done to others, and open my eyes to ways that I CAN be a part of acting against it without just “adding in another thing to do”.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I meant to let everyone know that breaking format is 100% acceptable, even encouraged, so way to go, Kristin! Seriously, thanks so much for sharing this. You’re not alone, I promise you. So, so excited to see how God works in your heart. For real. Love you, friend.

  9. Pam

    Prayer is not so easy for me because I often am not sure if it’s making any impact (even though I’ve been taught that it is). On rare, God-given clarity moments, I’ll realize the relationship between my prayer and something happening in my life or someone elses or the peace the overwhelms me that I know only can come from God. I try and journal my prayers and lately I have found that talking out loud even when I’m by myself helps me focus and reminds me that I’m talking to and in a relationship with the God of the universe who cares about me and is hearing my prayers.

    This week I’ve been praying for family – for peace, for safety, for others to come to know Christ, for life-changing experiences.

    I try to prevent burn-out by not always saying yes to everything and trying to be more considerate about how I can be more present rather than trying to spread myself too thin…

  10. Amanda

    Marla, Thanks for your post! Prayer is hard, hard, hard. And I feel like it shouldn’t be. I mean, what an amazing privilege to talk to the God of the Universe and know He hears us and is there! But it definitely takes energy, focus, patience, stillness, and love. I feel like I am lacking all of those right now. I feel depleted. And so a lot of my prayers recently have been one sentence prayers calling out for “help!” Music has been helping me so much as I don’t have much focused time to pray. In the midst of the craziness it helps to draw me to God.

    One thing that has helped to draw me more outward in my prayers was actually a challenge from the author when I heard her speak a few years ago. I don’t remember what she specifically said, but as an action step, my husband and I committed to praying for others before going to sleep each night. So we choose one person or family to pray for each night.

    I want to believe that prayer changes things. I want lean into God daily…not just for myself but for others as well. I need prayer. And I need God. And I am excited to continue to learn how to engage in the work of prayer as it relates to Compassion and Justice! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Marla Taviano

      Praying for you, friend. I honestly don’t know how you’re still standing right now. Praying for God to give you supernatural strength and energy to get you through these next few weeks. xoxoxo

    2. Amanda Espinoza

      Amanda, I think we all go through phases when we can only pray “help!” I went through a time when I cried out for help and it was all I could do say, “You are good and you are faithful” over and over again until I believed it my heart again. I don’t know your situation, but hang in there! Help will come and God is never too late.

  11. Teresa Henry

    I have loved this book for so many reasons. I read it during my breaks at work and it even helped me look at customers in a different way. It also gave me a different view of myself. Even though I know I a child of God…saved…redeemed…loved. I am not sure how to articulate it…I just began to understand it in a more intense way that when I am not focused on me, but try to view the world through the eyes of the Lord…the Word…everything else shifts.

    1. I love to pray. I pray all through out the day….Every year I commit to pray for 2 or more people (or families) every day for the entire year. I don’t say that to sound righteous or gain praise. I just do it because God has directed me to do this…it was not my idea…but I decided to do this 3 years ago and it has blessed me so much. God has spoken to me in ways that I can not even describe to anyone. Prayer is my life line. I have made it a habit…I am not sure how it actually started…to pray as soon as I wake up. I pray before I get out of bed. I also pray in the shower. I like to write out my prayers…mostly what God reveals to me as I pray. It is so amazing that how perspective can change when we focus on prayer…our situation may not change, but our perspective changes because we can put God above ourselves when we pray.

    2. I feel led to pray for the following: Women who do not see their worth and devalue themselves and because of that they turn to self destructive coping skills such as eating disorders or hateful self talk. Women who have been through traumas and events that they feel guilt and shame over such as abortion, affairs, rape, growing up in alcoholic homes, and abusive relationships (verbal and physical). Children who hear words of criticism over encouragement. And three unmarried girls who I know that are pregnant.

    3. At his point all I can offer to this one is prayer that keeps our focus off of ourselves and on to the Lord.

  12. Jill Foley

    I’m enjoying the book so far!

    1. Praying is hard for me….it’s not my natural default to pray. It’s usually the last thing I think of doing when I know it should be the first. A lot of times it feels insufficient because it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything… I like to be active in solving problems and prayer doesn’t seem active. But God usually reminds me that I’m wrong and that prayer is the first step to everything thing. And sometimes it’s the only step I need to take.
    I’ve definitely become more active in praying the past year or so. And I try to pray immediately when someone asks for it or a situation that would need prayer represents itself. Instead of saying “I’ll pray for you”, I try to do it right away so I can say “I am praying for you” and mean it. Sometimes I’ll do this in person, on the phone or through email.
    2. Right now I feel called to pray for my brother – I have no relationship with him because of my faith and his lack of faith. It’s hard to pray for someone to return to their faith for years on end.
    And I have a friend who is struggling in her marriage. And another friend who is struggling with depression.
    3. As a long time advocate for Compassion, I have experienced this. About 6 years ago I had a paradigm shift. Advocating for children was NOT something God asked me to DO – but it was part of who God created me to be. I asked God to weave the ministry of child sponsorship and holistic child development into the fabric of my life and He did. It’s no longer something I have to do…it’s just who I am – who God created me to be. And that’s made all the difference for me.

  13. Bethany

    1. The way I pray best is by writing out my prayers to God in my prayer journal. If I try to by myself (in my head or even praying out loud), I get distracted very easily. Also, I am faithful in praying about the things that are worrying me, but I don’t do well at all with interceding for others. Is it a selfish issue? I don’t know. I think it is. I don’t care very much about others (it sounds so awful, but it’s true). I will pray for close friends and very rarely I feel burdened by others’ burdens (it does happen though–like a friend of mine who is struggling with infertility–I pray for her a lot). My husband and I have been praying out loud before bed most nights and that has been amazing. I try to pray with my 4-year old daughter out loud as things come up. We just stop what we’re doing and I ask her if we can pray right then about a situation. So I guess if I’m alone–I do better writing down my prayers. Otherwise, I like to pray with someone else and pray out loud.

    Prayer is very important to me. I know God uses it. I am drawn to articles and books on prayer because I believe it is a powerful thing (like this HUGE untapped resource) and that it is very important and we underestimate it way too much and I want to learn more about it and what the Bible says about it and read stories of how God has used it.

    2. Things I feel called to pray for–How God wants to use me and my family to further His kingdom, how we can honor Him this Christmas, help with de-cluttering my house (wisdom on what to get rid of), not judging others, my friend who I want desperately to have a baby.

    3. I think a lot of burnout comes from “charging ahead in our own power” instead of seeking God first (what you said Marla). It can get overwhelming with all the things we can do for God. If we would pray before we say “yes” to anything, God can tell me specifically what He wants me to do. There is only one me and I believe God already has everything figured out–I don’t have to be the mastermind in figuring out how to solve all the world’s problems. God has the plan and I want to play a part and I believe He will show me what part I am to play. I need to be in His Word daily and also in prayer so that He can move in my heart and guide me.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I write out my prayers too. And do Praying in Color (have we talked about that? I think you’d love it!). And yes, I totally agree that prayer is such an untapped resource. Bethany will talk about that a lot in the book.

      I had a wonderful, beautiful, way-too-short day with you. So excited to come back and help you de-clutter. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you!!

    2. brooke

      thank you for the prayer journal reminder. its the one way I can stay focused on prayer. I feel like sometimes its an unnecessary step, so I stop. then (sooner than I would like) fall out of habitual prayer.

  14. Melissa

    1. Prayer is sometimes easy and sometimes hard. Depending on my season of life and what I’m praying about. Generally, I find it easier to pray for others than I do to pray for myself and for a long time, I wouldn’t pray for myself because I felt like the things I had to ask about were so small and insignificant compared to other people’s needs that I was praying for. Thankfully, I had some Godly counsel that helped me to come to understand that no, God wants to hear my small things too. It helps me stay focused if I write down a rough outline of what I want to pray about before I pray about it – just like one or two words or a phrase that will trigger my memory on the subject. I also, one year, for lent about two years ago, instead of giving something up, like most people do, I decided to give up time and spend time consciously praying every day for an end to abortion and healing for those who have been involved in abortion situations (something that people who know me know is very near and dear to my heart) and so on and so forth – all things have to do with that. This was a really powerful thing for me to do. I had given stuff up for lent before but I felt like I had done it for the wrong reasons – so I could be like all “Look at me, I sacrificed so much by giving x up for lent.” I’m not saying everyone’s attitude about it was that way, but mine definitely was. I definitely feel it had a much bigger lasting impact on me and I want to do that again this upcoming lent and pick a different subject to pray on for those 40 days. Sorry, I kind of got off on a tangent, I was just trying to think of times where I felt like my prayer life was really on fire!

    2. Hmmm, I have some friends who are going through a rough spot in their marriage and I really want to pray for them on that, it’s been pressing heavy on my heart because my friend and I were talking about it on Sunday and I can see the pain and the hurting there.

    3. I think balance is key. Purposefully seeking out the good stories in the world can counteract in some ways all the bad because it can remind you that good and great things still happen! And to me that helps a lot when I feel like all is hopeless. (I like the good news network: And also putting on uplifting music. Just find something good to distract yourself for the moment, because it’s doubtful you will forget the injustice that you’ve seen. And definitely retreating into God’s word, where you can read and let his goodness wash over you.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love your heart for those who have been affected by abortion, friend. What a great idea to pray more during Lent.

      And I’m with you on the hurting marriages (I know we’ve talked about this several times). Hard, hard stuff. I’m thankful your friends have you to pray for them. xoxoxo

  15. Jen

    Praying is hard for me. It always has been. It’s easier sometimes when I can write it out, but it does not come naturally or easily. And honestly, the last time I sincerely prayed about a situation, I wound up having to move away from everyone I love for God-know-what-reason. So I’m hesitant now because I’m afraid that more prayer is going to equal more hard choices and more pain. Intellectually, I know this isn’t true and that God will be with me even in the pain, but my hurting heart strongly disagrees at the moment.

    So… yeah.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Oh, Jen. Thanks so much for being real. I don’t think you’re alone by ANY STRETCH. I know in my head that God loves me and wants what’s best for me, but I also know all I’ve been through in the past two years, and yeah. I’m going to pray he gives you the courage and strength to hang in there with him. I know I’ve grown so much through the hard–and even found joy (now I’m ready for it to be over–thanks, God!). Love you much.

  16. Shannon

    1. Right now, prayer is easy. It’s a simple commitment of getting up before every one else and taking time. And during the school year, while we are on a schedule, easy peasy! I LOVE Evernote on my iPad! It keeps me organized as to who to pray for on what days. I have every day on a different note and all the people I pray for each day in those notes. Then it’s categorized by “Prayer”. So this morning, I opened up my prayer notebook and prayed for the folks that I pray for on Tuesdays. And during the week, if someone needs me to pray for them, I add them in…like I said, all this works like clock work during school. Christmas break and summer break are way more challenging! And I pray scripture for my children every day!!!!

    2. I have been compelled lately to pray for marriages. For my missionary friends and for my ministry friends and for others as well. Satan is totally attacking the sacred institute of marriage!!

    3. This is not a great question for me to answer. I have very little knowledge of compassion fatigue. When I was teaching Bible study, I’d get tired and I just had to lean on God and allow His power to work through me. And He always came through and I usually had my best classes when I succumbed to His power and His strength! But it’s so hard some days to allow Him to do that! I don’t know why…..

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love the idea of using Evernote for prayer!! (Gabe tried forever to get me to start using Evernote, and I finally did but don’t use it much.)

      I have a lot lot lot of marriages on my prayer list as well. So heartbreaking.

      Thanks for sharing all of these great thoughts, friend!

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