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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

 

The most important thing I learned to do as a single mom was to pray. Prayer has changed my life! There are other disciplines that are important to our lives as Christians, but prayer is the main component to an intimate relationship with God. In my 18 years as a single mom, prayer has been my lifeline. The one thing in my life that has allowed me to feel that presence of God. It has been in my crying out that I have felt His arms wrapped around me. In these often tough years, I have learned some things about prayer and I want to share these lessons with you:

  1. Prayer is a constant conversation with God. Yes, there will be times when we need to go and spend some time alone in prayer. Having a dedicated prayer time is very important, but we don’t have to wait until that dedicated time to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually. As we go about our day, we can pray. We can praise when things are going right. We can ask for help when things are going wrong. We can pray when someone or a circumstance needs our immediate prayer. I have gotten to the point that I pray all day. There are times when God will point out a character flaw and I immediately need to repent (shocking I know!) It has brought me so much closer to my heavenly Father. God is with us wherever we go and hears us no matter where we are.
  2. Prayer is praying God’s Word back to Him. There are times when I will come across a Bible verse that really speaks to me and I will rewrite the verse as a prayer back to God. Praying God’s Word back to Him can be very powerful. Not that God ever needs to be reminded of what He has written, but He invites us to remind Him of His Word. He invites us to remind Him of His promises. Praying scripture can be a powerful tool in partnering with God in bringing His will on earth.
  3. Prayer is a partnership with God. The one thing that I have been humbled by is that God invites us to partner with Him in His will. We can change things in this world, when we pray for God’s will on earth. When we pray for God to intervene in situations where evil reigns or where healing is needed, we are partnering with God in bringing His will into our lives and in this world. We can pray for God’s intervention in another part of the world and God will move mountains. Things CAN change when we partner with God through prayer! That is so cool!
  4. God sometimes says NO! This is one of the hard things about prayer. When we are praying for what we feel is God’s will for someone or a situation and God says NO! it can be devastating. When we are praying for the best possible outcome and God says NO! It can be frustrating and it can be a blow to our faith, but here’s the thing: God does not always have to say YES! God is the only one who has the ability to see the whole picture and He answers our prayers based on what is best for us. He doesn’t owe us any explanation in answering the way He does. He only asks us to trust Him.
  5. The Holy Spirit will intervene for us. Romans 8:26-27 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. There have been times when I don’t have any more words to pray and I have to ask the Holy Spirit to intervene and pray on my behalf. There are other times when I have been to exhausted or overwhelmed to pray and my prayer is a simple, “Jesus, don’t let me go.” I know at those times that the Holy Spirit is praying on my behalf and that my prayers will continue to be lifted up to Heaven. 
  6. There is power in numbers. Matthew 18:20 tells us that where 2 or 3 gather in His name that He is there in the midst of them. When we gather together to pray for a situation, strongholds WILL be torn down, chains WILL be broken, prison doors WILL come crashing down. When God’s people join together in unity to pray over a situation EVIL WILL FLEE! When God’s people can get passed the things that keep us apart and really join together in God’s will GOD WILL WORK MIRACLES!!!
  7. Prayer is listening to God. Just as in any other conversation, we have our chance to talk, but we also need to listen to what the other person is saying. This isn’t any different with prayer. We need to take the time to LISTEN to what God has to say to us. God will usually speak through a whispering to the spirit or in some other gentle, subtle way, so we really need to take the time to be still and listen with our hearts. God will give us direction, He will comfort us, He will give us wisdom…IF we quiet the noise around and in us and sit at His feet and listen.
  8. Prayer is NOT one size fits all. Prayer can take many different forms. We can pray with scripture, we can pray with prayer beads, we can pray form prayers, we can pray through song, you get the point. There are as many ways to pray as there are prayers. We can pray standing, kneeling, with hands raised or prostrate on the ground. We can pray in any way that God leads us. There is no right or wrong, as long, as we are putting God at the center of our prayers.
  9. God acts in answer to our prayers. I have learned in my 25 years as a mom that God will act according to my prayers. I am not saying that He is a puppet on a string. I am saying that He loves us as any parent loves their child and will honor our requests, as long as, they are in accordance to His will. I have prayed for the protection and provision of my kids their entire lives and God has kept them safe when they have faced uncertain circumstances. I have trusted that God would bring them out whole and He has.

I have been blessed to have had the best prayer instructor ever: the Holy Spirit. Prayer does not have to be difficult. You learn by doing. I know that as much as I have learned about prayer, it doesn’t even scratch the surface to what I still need to learn. As in all things God, prayer is a journey. Some things will work for us and other things won’t. Take the time to experiment and find what fits you best. The most important thing I can say, is simply, START! You just need to start the conversation and be open to where God leads. Keep your heart open and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. A life in prayer is one of the most humbling, satisfying, world changing things we can ever do. Take it from me, a single mom of 18 years. I never could have raised five kids without prayer and knowing that God protects, provides, and transforms because I pray.

 

 

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After months of gathering documentation, attorney meetings and court appearances, our prayers were answered, but not in the way we wanted or expected. My daughter, Cherokee and Son-in-law, Chris were fighting for permanent custody of Chris’s two sons; 9 year old Haydon and 4 year old Keaton. He shares 50/50 custody with his ex-wife and the arrangement has been stressful and is not in the best interest of the boys. Cherokee and Chris were given the news this past Thursday that permanent custody would NOT be granted. We were all disappointed, sad and angry at the judge’s decision.

I then found myself asking God, “WHY?” I prayed! Others prayed! This was not some attempt to get back at an ex. This was sincerely for the health and well-being of the boys. Why would God not give Chris custody of his sons? Why would justice and safety for the boys not be God’s will? Why would God leave these young children in an unsafe situation when we love them so much and can make sure they are safe and cared for?

All questions I may never have answers for. I have come to understand that God doesn’t owe us any explanations on anything He does. We may never know the ultimate reasoning for this decision. Sometimes we pray and are still heartbroken by the outcome.

THEN WHY DO WE PRAY?

I’m not even going to pretend to know why prayers that seem to be reasonable and appropriate are answered with a resounding NO! I am just as confused by God’s actions as everyone else. However, I can say this:

I will NEVER stop praying!

and

I will NEVER stop believing!

Why do I continue to pray? Why do I continue to believe? It’s simple really. Even in a life of struggle, I have seen the manifestation of the goodness of God. I have seen the answers to unspoken prayers and the protection of my children when the only answer could be: THAT WAS GOD! He continues to work good into my life even when He answers no. Without God, there is no hope. No hope in the goodness of people. No hope that all things will work out for the better. No hope that death was defeated and the enemy crushed forever.

When we stop praying the enemy laughs. When we stop believing the enemy wins. Did God answer NO! to your prayer? Are you confused? Are you angry? I urge you to keep praying. We can only see what’s in front of us. God can see the whole picture. He knows what is coming and He knows what is best for us. I know that God loves Haydon and Keaton even more than we ever could. He has every hair on their heads numbered and He will protect them and keep them safe. We have to choose to believe. I WILL continue to pray that God reveals His will in this situation. I choose to believe that this is not over. He is still at work and will bring good where we only see injustice and sadness.

If God has NO! to your prayer and you are struggling to make sense of it, please contact me. I don’t know all the answers, but maybe together we can continue to pray and find the hope that is buried underneath the confusion, anger and sadness. God IS good and He continues to have our best interest at heart. NEVER STOP PRAYING! NEVER STOP BELIEVING!

 

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holy-place

 

Psalm 24:3-4

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

Holy Father,

create in me a pure heart,

a heart that longs for you and you alone.

Help me to keep my hands clean,

free of the stain of greed and unforgiveness.

I want to break free of the idol of judgement and fear.

My trust is in you and you alone.

I want to break free of my dependence on man and money,

they are false gods,

and there is only ONE God.

Give me a burning desire to ascend YOUR mountain,

give me a passion to stand in YOUR holy place.

Convict my heart of anything that keeps me from this,

my one true goal.

I want to grow ever closer to YOU, Lord.

I want to abide in YOU, heavenly Father.

I want to see YOUR face.

Purify my heart until

I am a reflection of you in this world.

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teach me to pray

 

 

Matthew 6:9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I couldn’t recite the Lord’s Prayer word for word. I don’t remember ever attending a church where it wasn’t recited on a regular basis. Over the years, it became rote and meaningless. This was not the way Jesus intended it to be. Jesus never intended this passage to be a prayer in and of itself. He gave it as an outline to use as a guide in your prayer life. To recite the Lord’s Prayer in the mechanical way that we have become accustomed to does not do it justice and we learn nothing from it. There are 5 parts to this outline:

The first 2 parts are all about God and His will:

1. Praise and WorshipOur Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. We acknowledge who God is to us by praying, Our Father in heaven. This establishes our relationship with God. According to http://www.merriam-webster.com the definition of hallowed is holy, consecrated, sacred, or revered. This tells us that God’s name is holy, sacred, and to be revered. We don’t have to use these exact words in our prayers, but we do have to give praise and spend a moment in worship of our heavenly Father. Jesus put this part of the prayer first, because it is the most important part. To give praise and worship to our God is the most important thing.

2. God’s WillYour kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We are to pray for God’s will in ALL things. I know how easy it is to slip into self-satisfying prayers, or prayers that push our own agendas instead of God’s. Jesus lived His life doing God’s will, seeking God’s will and obeying God’s commands. We need to do the same. It is okay for us to want things, but God knows what is best for us and we need to seek His will in ALL things.

In these days of unrest and evilness, it is important for us to be in prayer that God’s kingdom will come and we will live as God intended, in peace and harmony with each other. There is an urgency and we need to pray for an end to injustice, oppression, and hate. We need to be in prayer that all people will know God’s heart and that this world will be transformed by the love of God.

The last 3 parts are about us and what we need:

3.Our Daily Bread– Give us today our daily bread. Jesus is telling us to pray only for what we need today. This is consistent with God’s command not to worry about tomorrow, as found in Matthew 6:34.

For Ourselves- What needs do you have TODAY? Don’t waste your time on worrying about tomorrow, focus your prayer on your immediate needs for today.

For Others- What needs do family and friends have TODAY? If you know someone or a situation that needs immediate prayer than pray for that person or situation. I’m sure that Jesus prayed for the disciples and God wants us to pray for each other and events in our lives.

4. Forgiveness– And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. If there is anything on your heart that you need to confess and ask forgiveness for, then you better do it. Nothing keeps us separated from God more than unconfessed sin. Confession is good for the soul! So is forgiving others when they have wronged you. I admit that I have a tendency to hold a grudge. It is hard for me to forgive people who have hurt me. Sometimes the words, “I forgive you” is said between clenched teeth and God has to give me an attitude adjustment. We have to forgive others. Hanging on to the hurts of the past will only hurt us in the future. Let it go, give it to God and live the life you were meant to live. 

5. Temptation and Evil- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. This is so important and Jesus knew how much we would need protection from Satan. Temptations hit us from every side and we need to be prepared. We can not face them alone. Only with God, can we face down temptations, before they take us down. This part of the passage shows just how much God loves us. He knows that there is no way in the natural realm, that we will ever be able to face the evil one on our own. He will deliver us, if we ask Him to. 

Remember that Jesus intended this passage to be an outline to guide us in our own prayer time. Expand on each part as God leads and see where God will take you in your prayer life. Prayer is how we communicate with God and He has shown us how to do that in His Word. Our journey in prayer is an ongoing process and always evolving, so don’t give up. Keep pressing in and God will bless you abundantly!

 

 

 

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Pray Always

 

 

I have recently read 2 passages of scripture that are very similar in context. I believe there may be more than these 2, but I decided to focus on these 2 passages for this post.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I was struck by the similarities in these 2 passages and realized that if God is repeating himself, then it must be important. These passages had 3 common instructions for every day living:

1. Rejoice– According to http://www.vocabulary.com, rejoicing is celebration or festivity. In Thessalonians 5:16 we are told to Rejoice always. I know that this is not easy in this day and age. On a daily basis, we are dealing with the demands of work and kids, all while trying to get everything done on a to- do list that’s a mile long. Believe me, I understand. As I was thinking about this concept, I realized that if “to rejoice” means “to celebrate” than rejoicing is simply a celebration of life. I don’t have to like some of the aspects of being a single mom. I don’t have to like when my kids act up or the car breaks down, but I will continue to rejoice and celebrate this life God has given me.

2. Pray– Philippians 4:6 tells us that in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, we should present our requests to God. We are also told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to pray continually. How often do you pray when you are at work or running errands? Do you remember to pray for that annoying co-worker, the guy that cuts you off in traffic, or that cross cashier? Do you remember to pray when you are in a traffic jam or when things aren’t turning out the way you expected? Honestly, I forget to pray for the people that irritate me. I forget to pray for patience while standing in a check out line. I forget to pray for God to use frustrating situations to mold my character, so that I can be the woman He wants me to be. I have found that I have to be intentional about praying in every situation. The question I ask myself is, “Why is it so easy for me to run to my kids to complain about so and so or this and that, but not communicate with a God who wants to hear about every aspect of my day?” It is something I need to pray about and change so that I am in obedience to God.

3. Give Thanks– Philippians 4:6 tells us that by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we should present our requests to God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in ALL circumstances. I have to admit that sometimes I find God’s commands downright hard to obey! Give thanks when my kids are screaming at each other? Give thanks when my car has a flat and I am flat broke? Give thanks when the roadways are iced over and I have to go to work? Are you kidding me, God? You expect me to give thanks? Yes, He does. Honestly, I would much rather complain about my circumstances, but where does that get me? Feeling miserable, negative and toxic. I don’t like feeling like that. I give thanks that I have 5 kids with healthy lungs. I give thanks that I have a car in the first place. I give thanks that I serve a God of unlimited resources. I give thanks that I serve a God that has a legion of angels that protect me on the roadways when the roads are one slick sheet of ice. I am so thankful that I serve a God that is in control of all things!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that these 3 commands are God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. We live our lives seeking God’s will for us, but never bother to look in the one place where He actually tells us what His will is: the Bible. I’m guilty of this myself, so I’m not pointing fingers. If you want to know God’s will, read the Bible!

In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul, also gives us 2 other principles to apply to our daily christian walk:

1. Be Gentle– Philippians 4:5 tells us to let our gentleness be evident to all. I have always tried to teach my kids to be gentle with their belongings, with animals, and with their younger siblings. As a mom, have I been that model of gentleness that I want them to see? I hope so. I know there are times when I have failed miserably, but I try. Knowing that God gives us a direct command to be gentle, I will try harder to be that role model of gentleness that not only my kids and grand kids need to see, but the world as well. We live in a world of harsh words, hate crimes, and evil intentions; we need some gentleness in our lives.

2. Do Not Be Anxious– Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything in Philippians 4:6. Living in a world of terrorism, war and evil, it is hard not to be anxious. My kids are growing up and going out into the world and I worry about them. At the end of the day, I know that there isn’t anything going on in the world that God doesn’t know about. My worrying isn’t going to help anything. I have to let God be God and live my life knowing that He is in control. I can hear Him telling me, “Go on about your day, I’ve got this.”

When we obey God’s commands, He has promised certain things:

1. He Is Near– Philippians 4:5 tells us that the Lord is near. In every situation and circumstance that we find ourselves in, the Lord is near. He knows intimately our heartaches and our joys. He is near when our children leave home for the first time. He is near when we find ourselves broke and homeless. He is near when our loved ones pass away and we are drowning in our grief. He is near. He knows what we go through on a daily basis and He wants to walk through this life with us.

2. We Will Have Peace- Philippians 4:7 tells us that when we obey the commands that God has given that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. When we rejoice; when we pray; when we give thanks; when we practice gentleness; when we give our worries to God: God promises that we will have a such a peace that we will never understand it and this peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. I know there are days when I could use some peace, how about you?

I hope I have given you some food for thought, as you discern who God is to you. We each have our own unique relationship with Him and He relates to each of us differently, as I relate to each of my 5 kids differently. In this relationship, our heavenly Father does have certain commands that He wants each of us to follow for our own benefit. He loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer needlessly. We make rules for our children, because we love them and want to protect them and God makes rules to protect us from the harshness of the world.

He never expects us to walk out His will alone. He is always with us and He gives us others to help us up when we fall. If you need a hand up today, let me know. I am here for you as you seek God’s will for your life. I am here for you as you start to implement God’s commands into your life. You never have to walk alone. How can I help you? How can I pray for you?

Remember always, that God loves you and so do I!

 

 

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He equips the called

 

 

Hebrews 13:20-21

20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him,through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

All my life I have struggled with insecurities. I have never believed that I was good enough. I have never believed that I could do the job I was given to do. The truth is that I can’t do anything on my own. I don’t have the ability to succeed in anything in my own power. Without God in my life, I am completely powerless. I know that God is working behind the scenes to bring me into His full purpose for my life. I am scared because, on my own, I know I will fail. I will never be able to use my talents to glorify Him on my own.

I am so thankful for a Father, who wants us to communicate with Him and gives us the Bible to use as a guide when we don’t have the words. Sometimes, I simply don’t know what to pray and I find a verse or two in scripture to pray back to Him. Today, my prayer is from Hebrews 13:20-21:

Hear my prayer, God of peace and listen to the heart of your servant. I want more than anything else in this world to do your will and to serve full-time. Often, I don’t feel equipped for this calling on my life and I am terrified that I will fail and bring shame and disgrace to you, my heavenly Father. I only want to do YOUR will. I ask that you will equip me with everything good for doing YOUR will. Give me the skills needed to serve you through serving others. Give me the heart to look beneath the skin and see the heart of the person you love. Give me the patience and the strength to persevere when the going gets tough. Fill me with your love when I am called to wash the feet of one of your children. Use me. Send me. expand my territory. Work in me what is pleasing to you, that I may always seek to glorify your name. I ask this all in the name of my precious Savior Jesus. Amen.

I long for more of Jesus in my life. I long to be fully consumed by the Holy Spirit. Filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus. I surrender all I am, everything I have, my past, my present and my future to Him. I completely trust Him with my life. I am totally sold out and want nothing more than to live for my Jesus forever.

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