I have found the place where God’s graciousness intersects with our defining moments.

Welcome to Powerful Prayer Tip Tuesday!

I think the most intimate picture of a conversation between God and mankind is that of God with Cain.  Even though sin had severed the direct relationship between God and mankind, this transaction comes across as one that was intimately personal.

2bNow Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  Genesis 4:2b-7


Despite the narrative, I love how this intense conversation equally displays its intimacy with God by the descriptions of the facial expressions – “The Lord looked with favor / He did not look with favor”.  Can you imagine seeing God’s delightful expression at your offering to Him?  If you hate disappointing people, as I do, then can you imagine holding out your work to Him and seeing the disfavor in His eyes?  What about Cain’s downcast look?  I can truly sense that it is a sad moment for Cain.

Even though I empathize with Cain, it is understandable why God was not impressed with his offering.  Verse 3 says that Cain brought “some of the fruits”, while it says that Able brought “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.”  From the more thorough description of Able’s offering it highlights what was lacking from Cain’s.  You get the feeling that on the way out the door to see God, Cain just grabbed some of his produce to hand over, not considering their condition or quality.

Then there is the precious “coaching session” (vs. 6-7) that takes place between God and Cain.  God reminds him of the reward for “doing what’s right” as well as cautioning him of the sin that is ready to overtake him should he not do right.  The graciousness of God warms my heart here.  It makes me want to cheer Cain on toward doing what is right – Go Cain!  Go Cain! You can do it!!!

But, we know the rest of the story, don’t we?

Prayer Tip, Prayer Closet, Prayer Journal

Prayer is the place where God checks my motives and evaluates my actions.  It is the place I lay out what I’ve done, as well as the thoughts and motives behind them.  Whenever I feel the heaviness of God’s displeasure over an area in my life, I pray I will choose to do what’s right in the future instead of stomping my feet and yelling, You are just too darn hard to please, Lord!!!

It’s a defining moment, is it not?

I believe there is a general sense in our world that God’s standards are too stringent.  And instead of striving to do what is right, we are prone to run the other way and dive headfirst into our own rebellious ways.

Today, let’s go to God in prayer to say Lord this is what I have done today, this week, at home, at work, at church, and ask Are You pleased?  Let’s get close-up with God and look for the curving lines of a smile.  Should we feel admonished in spirit, may we sense what Cain did not – God’s graciousness.  God is not that “man upstairs” looking to swat us down when we do the slightest thing wrong.  His Spirit tenderly nudges us on to do good, to operate in excellence, and not give way to sin in our lacking.

Prayer is the place where God’s graciousness intersects with our defining moments.  May we choose well.


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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mom and the Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, she is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. If you would like to schedule Gina to speak on prayer or host a prayer journaling workshop, click here for more information. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.

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  1. We really do see God as this strict teacher instead of a loving Father who wants what is best for us. I love your idea of bringing what we have done to God and asking if He is pleased. He always answers when we ask!

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