The last time we were together, we talked about creating a ‘burn window’ to conduct a controlled burn of our unopened packages. I challenged you to address your triggers, and move forward taking action on how you will need to address and reclaim them, in God’s name.
In the last 16 posts, we’ve identified our packages, we’ve studied four Old Testament women and their possible packages, we have even asked our loved ones what they think our packages might be. Now we’re talking about redemption and freedom from them. I’ve introduced the idea that to make room for new growth, we need controlled fire. The Forest Service calls the process before the controlled burn the ‘burn window’ where several elements must be right for the controlled burn to be successful.
We are exploring the same idea again today. What is our burn window and how do we get to it?
So far, here’s our process:
1) Acknowledge our own unopened packages.
2) Address and reclaim our triggers.
Step 3 is new today. I know that I’ve encouraged you to be praying about your packages this entire time, but today, I want to introduce a very purposeful way for us to pray for freedom from these heavy boxes.
3) Offer up both unopened packages and triggers as prayerful petitions.
Unopened Packages versus Prayerful Petitions:
Both are our hearts’ desires, both a dream or goal for the future, both somewhat hopeful in the sense that though we cannot predict the future, we can still have dreams for it.
What, then, is the difference between a package and a petition?
Packages become ‘little g’ gods, while petitions are prayerfully delivered to the one and only God.
Petitions allow us to live out Psalm 119:32 “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (ESV) and Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
With the example of Philippians 4:6-7, our next task in the cycle of freedom arrives: Offer it up.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of praying honestly. Even though he already knows our requests before we do (Matthew 6:8, Luke 12:30) there’s something incredibly humble and poignant about coming before our God with an open heart, packages in hand, ready to give them away.
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray. If you would, please read Matthew 6:5-8 for me.
Who does Jesus tell the disciples not to be like in verse 5? Why?
In verse 6, where does Jesus want us to pray? Why?
Again and again, all throughout scripture, what matters to God is our heart; our own personal why. Why we do the things we do is so important. A package cannot turn into a prayerful petition if our heart still holds onto it. Use Psalm 139:23-24 as an example: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
If we want to find our ‘burn window,’ the elements must be just right: a humble heart that trusts the promises of God, willingness to let go, and bold obedience.
When we shift our direction from packages to prayerful petitions, we are asking God the Father for our hearts desire, then entrusting him with it, knowing that he cares, knowing that he will do with it what is BEST. When we offer up our packages, we are opening ourselves to the movement of God.
In Ephesians, where Paul writes about the Armor of God, he lists prayer as the last, and arguably most important, item of spiritual armor and strength. In Ephesians 6:18—when does Paul say that we should pray?
What other advice does Paul give in that verse?
Personally, I like the Berean Study Bible translation of that verse: “Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.”
We will need to persevere in our prayerful petitions, because like our Forest Service friends explained, controlled burns are ideally conducted every 5-15 years. So if I live to be 90, I’ll need a burn window at least another 4-12 times in my life. I wanted to bring this back up to show that even Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-20, talks about the spiritual battle as a repeated occurrence, not a one time ‘now I’m holy for life’ kinda thing. And that’s okay. Just like we are not called to be the perfect Proverbs 31 woman—we are like the forests, who need a little fire from time to time to help clear out the dead, and keep on growing.
We’ll need to keep praying over our packages. We’ll need to keep admitting to God and ourselves that certain things are more sensitive than others. We’ll need to keep addressing triggers and weak areas. We’ll need to keep turning over temptations to control and obsess over the direction of our lives.
In order to conduct our personal burn, a last thing remains before lighting the match. We must make time to enter a sacred, honest, and quiet space with the Lord where we offer very specific, very intentional prayers for each of the packages on our list.
For me, one of my unopened packages’ prayer sounds something like this:
“Father, I’ve been struggling with an unopened package that came out of miscarriage. I always hoped and prayed that my life would look like a family of two or three children, but now, I don’t know. I don’t want to be bitter over the heartache of two miscarriages, but there has been a lot of heartache, Lord. I know you love me, but I’m still sad from it all. I want more babies in my life—but I no longer feel any control or comfort over how that may or may not happen. I’m tired, scared, hurt, and looking for healing. I know that I can trust your unique plans for my life. I know that you love me and my family. Will you take this package from me? Will you take away my heart’s desire for control? I want freedom from this hurt, and I know that you are the only one who can give it. You are the only one with answers, and you are the answer. I want to burn this package, and so here I am, humble and quiet before you—offering up what has become a powerful and heavy package. Take it from me, continue to heal me, and make your will present in my life. I love you Lord.”
Thank you for allowing me to be so vulnerable with you all. I have my own very real triggers that are going to continue to need persistent prayers. I am in the middle of a burn window myself, asking for the courage to walk through it in the most real way.
Your prayers do not need to read like mine, but I wanted to share this one with you so you can see how I’m moving towards lighting the match on my own unopened packages. I am literally walking through these steps as I share them with you. This study has been incredibly meaningful to me because I’ve needed it so badly.
There have been unopened packages that have emotionally crippled me. Things that for whatever reason, I could not seem to let go of or get past were wreaking havoc in my faith, my home, and my relationships. Instead of light-hearted and gracious, I was a depressed Pharisee, critical of everyone and everything, and so opposite from the woman I wanted to be. Instead of looking forward to what might be ahead, all I could see were hurts from my past and pain in my future.
But God. God has gotten ahold of me and absolutely shown me the dangerous path I was walking down. The shaking-loose of me has not been the undoing, but the re-doing of my heart.
As Godly women, we need to be so over Satan’s schemes to annihilate us (John 10:10). We need to get fierce. We need to fight. We need to burn our boxes.
When I think about how out-of-control my unopened packages were at one time, I get sick over it. But instead of staying sick, let’s be conquerors. Let’s be humble, stay loyal to God’s calling over our lives, and let’s get bold. Because in the name of Jesus Christ, Satan has no power here. We are new creations in Christ. We are loved. We are chosen. We can be brave. We can choose for ourselves, and we can choose healing and restoration.
Sometime today—write down those prayers of petition. Create that quiet space (even if it’s 8 minutes in the carline—take it) and get with God.
Let Him prepare your heart for a burn window. You want it, and He wants it for you.
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