“Well…I guess I’ll just pray.”
We’ve exhausted our human efforts so in a half-hearted expression of hope we commit that issue to prayer…as a last resort.
I heard people say, “Oh prayer is powerful,” but my prayer life didn’t feel powerful. I don’t think I really understood the value or purpose of prayer and as a result I didn’t spend time seeking to nurture my prayer life.
But, God impressed upon me the need to take prayer seriously and He afforded me with insight as to why…
1. Prayer provides us with an ability to respond to the burdens, stress, and cares of others. It’s our responsibility as children of God to pray for one another—it’s considered a sin NOT to pray.
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should SIN against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.”
1 Samuel 12:23 (NLT)
2. Prayer allows us to partner with God and call His will to life on Earth. God works through people. He’s waiting for His people to rise up in prayer and speak the change they want to see.
3. Prayer eliminates discontentment and worry as it provides us with an outlet to release our cares.
4. Prayer is our greatest tool for spiritual warfare. We cannot combat attacks that are happening in the spiritual realm with our natural efforts, but with prayer we can.
5. Prayer is our link to God. It’s our direct connect. When we fail to pray it’s like a kink in the water hose. The flow of water is disrupted and we’re only afforded spurts of water. But, when we free the kink in our hose by nurturing our prayer life we experience the full flow of His Spirit in our life.
6. Prayer is a priority. Jesus demonstrated this importance by choosing prayer and communing with God over many things …
“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” Luke 6:12 (NLT)
“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16 (NLT)
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35 (NLT)
“After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.” Matthew 14:23 (NLT)
“…where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.” Luke 4:2 (NLT)
We cannot afford to slack in our prayer life especially if we expect to minister and help other people. Our ability to minister to others stems from the overflow of our prayer life. The things that we learn in our time alone with Christ afford us with the things we need to pour into the lives of those around us. We can’t give something we don’t have. I must frequently remind myself that I can’t get so busy doing stuff for God that I miss out on the opportunities to just spend time with God.
Recognize the importance of prayer. Ask God to show you how to pray. I did….so He did…and tomorrow I’ll share the “how,” but for now just decide that you aren’t going to approach prayer as just some religious activity and make a commitment to nurture your prayer life. It’s a big deal.
It’s the second semester of classes and I’m really excited because it’s designed to accommodate individuals with busy lifestyles. I have access to the entire semester of assignments so I can fit this program into my lifestyle with ease.
I was talking with God yesterday and I mentioned how it would be nice if He gave me the topics He wanted me to write on in advance. I expressed how it would make me a lot more efficient and I would have more peace of mind.
That’s when He laughed and posed the following question:
“Why would I do that?”
It was more of a rhetorical question because He instantly flooded me with insight. His words…
“I’m not about your comfort. I’m about your growth. I will not feed your flesh by succumbing to your desire to be in control. I am stretching your faith. Your peace of mind should not be jeopardized because you don’t know what’s coming next or when it’s coming. You should be able to operate in full peace with the knowledge that insight, wisdom, and revelation WILL COME. I know you. You’re prone to works of the flesh and you tend to think that your efficiency is of your own doing when you are able check it off your list, but see you can’t do this without me. It’s through me that you are able to do anything. You must remain fully submitted and dependent on me to deliver—when I see fit. You can’t force fit me into your schedule. Be patient. Remain ready to respond. I will give you what you can handle and you can practice a much needed discipline called—“Wait on God.”
I love my Daddy because that’s EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Too often we look at what God is withholding from us instead of looking to what He’s striving to develop within us. He’s already given us the greatest gift…Jesus. So, He’s not opposed to giving us good things to make life easier for us, but if He chooses to delay a desire we must seek His perspective and ask what He wants to develop in our character by keeping that “thing” just out of our reach. Is your faith being stretched? Is God striving to ensure you remain completely dependent on Him? God is calling you advanced levels of spiritual maturity on a daily basis. Go deeper. What area is God trying to work on within you by keeping ______ out of your reach? Just ask Him. He’ll let you know…He checks me ALL the time. Allow yourself to be stretched. Let your faith grow.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:3-4 (NLT)
Walking into the Edward Jones Dome this past September for the Joyce Meyer Love Life Women’s Conference was absolutely AMAZING! The place was alive with energy! As we made our way to our seats I could not wait to worship. I love every opportunity to worship. But, as the performances began I noticed that no one in our section was standing. I was confused. Why wasn’t anyone standing up, moving, and throwing their hands up to receive all the love that was so alive in that place? That’s what I felt compelled to do. More than compelled…I just NEEDED to cry out and express thanks to God for all He is to me. But, instead I neared the edge of my seat and just sat there bouncing my legs…waiting for someone…ANYONE to get up. I did not want to be the only one standing in our little section. I’m a giant so if I stood then it would make other people have to stand just to see the concert…I did not want to be rude. So, I sat there for a couple of songs, but finally nearing the end of one song I just could not stand it any longer. So, I stood up and that’s when God said…
“What took you so long? Who are you waiting on permission from?”
What DID take me so long? So, as grace would have it Joyce makes a comment that really got to me. When God blesses us we want EVERYBODY to see. We want BIG and BOLD BLESSINGS. We want God to be LOUD in our life. But, too often we sit when we should stand. We shy in the face of sharing the love we have for our God. It’s like we’re trying to sneak into the Kingdom and keep our relationship with Christ on the down low. It’s like we’ve resigned Jesus to be our “boo thang” or “side piece” versus our EVERYTHING. We do not want Jesus to sneak into our lives and bless us on the low yet that’s how we choose to worship. If we want God to be LOUD in our life then it stands to reason that we should treat Him with that same honor through all that we do. We should love God…ridiculously, loudly, and with bold confidence.
If I’m going to make a fool out of myself for anyone…it will be Jesus. If I’m going to concern myself with the opinion of anyone than it ought to be my Heavenly Big Daddy—the only one we should hold in reverential fear and awe. Not people. People can do their best to harm us, but we have the ultimate protection plan. “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who have been called to His purpose—Romans 8:28”. So, we’re covered. People do not come close to doing what our God can do.
Your worship and praise does not have to look like mine, but at least let it match your expectations. If you expect God to work in your life in GREAT, LOUD, BOLD, GENEROUS, AMAZING, and GROUNDBREAKING ways then we ought to supply Him with that same GREAT, LOUD, BOLD, GENEROUS, AMAZING, and GROUNDBREAKING worship and praise—that’s authentic to who we are. God made me a silly and energetic MOVER. I know that when I get to the Kingdom I’ll have learned how to dance (and sing) and I’ll probably pop lock, moonwalk, Dougie, and robot in, but that’s me. Refuse to hesitate. If the Spirit moves you…don’t go looking around to see what everyone else is doing…cast your eyes upward—and worship—in spirit and truth.
So, today worship FREELY. Worship LOUDLY. Worship AUTHENTICALLY. You don’t have to wait on anyone to give you permission. He made us to worship Him. Let your worship and praise match every expectation you desire of God. We are complete in Christ. We can be confident in who He designed us to be. The more hope you have the more hope you give to other people. Don’t Hesitate. Follow the Spirit.
I was starting to think I had done something wrong. I have grown accustomed to hearing a personal word from God on a daily basis, but lately it has been really quiet.
When we first enter into a relationship we maintain a significant amount of communication. We have a strong desire to learn more about one another. In the beginning, silence is often awkward. We hate the silence because it is not always clear what it represents…Are they still interested? Is something wrong? But, as the relationship matures couples are able to fall into a comfortable silence.
When we first enter into our relationship with Christ we spend a significant amount of time in communication. We have a strong desire to learn more about God. We hate when we don’t hear from God because we are not always sure what it represents…Have we done something wrong?
When we are new to our walk with Christ God meets us at our need and engages us in constant dialogue. But, as God calls our relationship to a new level of spiritual maturity He may make us endure a quiet season. Too often we misinterpret His silence and seek temporal comforts to fill that void.
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”
Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)
This quiet season is not a punishment. It is a time to draw even closer to God and rest in His peace. Our ability to rest and maintain our peace through the quiet days are the greatest display of our confidence and strength in the Lord.
So, today if you sense that God has grown quiet on you do not grow fearful or discouraged. Do not turn away from God. Stand firm in your faith. He is seeking to bring your relationship with Him to a new level of spiritual maturity. Don’t resist this growth. It may be uncomfortable, but it is in those moments of discomfort that the greatest growth can occur. Embrace those growing pains. God is still with you. Stay in the process.
It was 3:00 am and I was up again. My daughter was waking up nearly every hour on the hour calling out for me. This startling new trend had wreaked havoc on my sleep schedule for the past two weeks. I searched every nook and cranny in an effort to determine the cause of her erratic sleep schedule. There were no identifiable bumps, bruises, edema, or noticeable cause for irritation. She was well fed, bathed, and tucked in tightly amongst her vast array of doll babies. I couldn’t understand it.
I’m sleepy. Frustrated. Irritated. I’m just about ready to disown my daughter for her blatant disregard for my rest. I’ve had enough. God wants me to exhibit kindness to His people and my children, but doesn’t He know that I don’t do that well on less than 5 UNINTERRUPTED hours of sleep? I can’t be held liable for what comes out of my mouth in my sleep deprived state ;-).
The next time that Devyn woke up I noticed that the moment I picked her up she grabbed my face, screamed “Mooommmmmyy”, and gave me a huge kiss. You would’ve thought we hadn’t seen each other in years. She was so excited. That’s when I heard from God….
What if Devyn felt the wee hours of the morning were the only time she had my undivided attention? I hadn’t really thought of that, but given my hectic schedule it was plausible. I’m guilty of doing several things at once so perhaps I needed to work on the quality of my time with my children. That’s when God took me deeper…
The same holds true in our relationship with God. Sometimes God allows chaos to touch us because that’s the only time that we STOP what we’re doing and acknowledge our need for Him. It’s not always about the amount of time we spend in prayer, reading our Bible, or attending church. It’s about the quality of time spent. Prayer allows us to enter into a fellowship with God where we are able to determine His will for our life; however, if we’re prone to distractions or constantly overwhelmed with our “to-do” list we miss out on fully connecting with God.
Devyn shouldn’t have to cry out for me in the middle of the night because I’m too preoccupied during the day to meet her relational needs. I need to ensure that I’m spending QUALITY time with my children that address those areas of need that aren’t discernible to the human eye.
God shouldn’t have to allow chaos to touch us just to get our attention. We need to ensure that we’re spending quality time with God so that He can address those areas of need that WE aren’t aware of. God is gifted with foresight…He knows when we’ll need that extra boost of strength, tolerance, or compassion. He’s ready to dispense us with the tools we need to get through each day, but too often we fail to truly connect with Him and allow Him to nourish our spirit. Focus less on the amount of time you’re spending with God and more on the quality of that time. Recognize that the enemy will send distractions and unnecessary battles to deter us from our devotional time. Remember that prayer is a conversation that requires we both talk and listen. Too often we say our spill and rush back to life without ever providing God an opportunity to speak His will into our heart.
Have you made yourself accessible to God? Does He have to go through extreme measures to get your attention? Position yourself to hear from God on a daily basis. Position your spirit to receive insight, revelation, and wisdom from God. Ask God to remove anything that serves as a barrier to true fellowship with Him. And, the next time that you’re wide awake during the wee-hours of the morning…don’t fret…just cast your eyes upward and say: “Speak to my heart Father…I’m listening.”
“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6 (NIV)
We are challenged daily in our interactions with other people. We possess a desire to compassionately handle confrontation and speak the truth in love, but some people make it difficult. They aren’t easy to talk to, to love, to share with, or even be around. Sometimes we fall short in treating people appropriately because we forget to PAUSE.
“But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:19-20 NIV)
Our initial response to people usually derives from our flesh. We are quick to respond in the manner we deem fit. However, the spirit of our Father resides within each of us. We must pause and allow His spirit to dictate our response in challenging situations. It’s not always easy, but in choosing to adhere to His spirit we defuse the situation and allow our behavior to serve as an example. He will give us the words to say…Just Pause. Let His Spirit intervene.
“All we want and all we need is found in Jesus
All we ask is more of you
Nothing else can satisfy our hearts desire
All we want is more of you.”
“More and More.” I love that song…
I wish it was always true, but sometimes I want more and more…stuff, money, status, and position. Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain that delicate balance between ambition and greed. Sometimes I catch myself seeking more of what God can do for me as opposed to what I can do for Him.
This hustle, drive, and quest for “success” is innate…it’s just IN ME. I want success in all that I do. I want a 100% return on each of my investments. I don’t want a Maserati or anything ridiculous, but my hope is to provide my children with a home to call their own and experiences that take them across the globe. And, I know God didn’t necessarily call us to a comfortable life, but the parent in me wants some degree of comfort, security, and balance for my children. Am I wrong for that?
So, there are times when I get frustrated that I’m unable to do as much as I want for my kids. I find myself struggling to remain content within my current circumstances. I know my needs will be fulfilled; however, I can’t help, but wonder will there ever be a point where my wants are too? Sometimes I wonder is it OK to desire more for myself and my family? How do I ensure I’m not pursuing anything more passionately than I am my RELATIONSHIP with Christ?
It’s within these frustrating moments that we create an ideal environment for the enemy to enter and wreak havoc on our peace of mind and spiritual well-being. We can’t afford to give the enemy a playground in our life.
“And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. “ Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)
Our fellowship with God affords Him an opportunity to instill RIGHT desires in our heart. It’s not wrong for us to be ambitious, industrious, and hard-working. However, we must evaluate the “why” behind all that we do. God recognizes the true motivation behind our actions. There’s no point in striving to disguise our motives. We must ensure that obedience and service don’t take a backseat to our ambitious efforts. We must conduct a “motive check.”
Is your ambition just greed in disguise? Are you seeking power, prestige, and position for yourself or for Christ? Are you more concerned with reaching your next promotion or helping others to realize their potential? What’s driving you in your relationship with Christ? Is it what He can do for you or what you’re able to do for Him? Who are you living for? God is not going to release many of the things we want in our lives until our heart (which we can’t hide from Him) is right. Don’t try to fake the funk with God, feign humility, or dress up greed by calling it ambition. Just acknowledge you need help in that area and provide God with room to “motive check” you and make you better.
Today ask God to reveal your motives. Ask God to help you shed your body and expose the hidden pretense behind all that you do. Ask Him to help you to accurately reflect His character by ensuring your ambitious efforts align with His will for your life. Ask Him to help you establish a balance so that you aren’t seeking ANYTHING (even those God honorable things) more passionately than you are a relationship with Him. Ask Him to help you desire Him…Just Him…more and more…
I love my children. They’re an amazing bundle of personality and all my good looks ;-).
But, at 6:00 am—I’m not fond of them. It starts with Aiden. I have to literally drag him out of bed and throw him in the bathroom. Then he looks at me and says: “I don’t have to pee.” Everybody has to pee in the morning. Everybody! He’s no exception. But, he insists on having this argument with me EVERY MORNING only to pee, toilet seat down, and eyes closed—Wonderful. He makes getting dressed a true chore. It doesn’t matter how neatly I have everything arranged in a row he carelessly puts back on his pajama t-shirt instead of the shirt of choice for the day. Most days he greets me with his shirt collar flipped up, half-tucked in his pants, and socks on inside out. I scramble to get him “decent” and out the door on time to make it to the bus. Whew.
Then there’s Devyn. Sweet Devyn. We’re potty training and this girl has no issue with the potty. She loves to sit there and sit there and sit there and do nothing. It’s a big game for her. But, see at 6:00 am….I don’t have time for this foolishness. So, I bribe her off the potty with her toothbrush. Not because she likes to brush her teeth. Nope. She likes to suck all the toothpaste off and scream when I actually try to brush them. Then it’s time to get her dressed and of course she doesn’t want to take her shirt off. The only way I can convince her to let me take it off is by saying—“Ooo Devyn…look at this other shirt. It’s so preeeetttyyy.”—to which she smiles and lifts her arms. Then it’s time to do her hair. I have juice, cheerios, and that worrisome Dora to serve as a distraction. But, the entire time she tries to press her head into my chest so I can’t touch the back and I have to suppress every urge to deliver the infamous comb smack to the back of her head.
Prior to even making it to my office I’m already on my “last nerve.”
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” – John 15:1-2 (NIV)
God may not immediately deliver us from our uncomfortable situations. God uses these moments to control and direct our growth. It’s an act of pruning. Every morning He’s pruning me. He’s helping me to bear fruit. Each morning I have a choice. I can choose to snap at my kids, allow myself to become overly stressed out, and give away all the peace and joy that a relationship with Christ affords me.
Or, I can choose to operate within His spirit and allow these moments to prune the branch of patience, prune the branch of compassion, and prune the branch of self-discipline. I can be a mom who loses her mind every morning or I can embrace each challenging morning with the knowledge that He’s making me better. He’s making me fruitful. All I have to do is reject my initial reaction and respond in the Spirit.
God needs us to bear fruit…continuously. Not just one time, but again and again. God has broken off every unfruitful “branch”, but in order for us to continue to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, faithfulness, compassion, and self-control we must be pruned. God will skillfully cut and trim within limit to ensure that our branches remain prolific, but it’s not without some discomfort. So, today if you feel like God is out in your garden in a full-blown pruning session…just thank Him. Right there…amidst every single irritating challenge….thank Him. He’s increasing your supply. He’s increasing your ability to bear fruit. He’s increasing your future harvest. Then ask Him for a fresh supply of energy and strength to remain and act within His spirit as that co-worker, child, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, or client tap dances all on your “last nerve!” You can do it. As long as you stay connected to the one true vine…JESUS!
Each morning before I drop my son Aiden off at school we say a little prayer…
Thank you for today. Help me to have a great day. Help me to be a leader. Help to me make smart decisions. Help me to watch my mouth. You are awesome God. I love you.
In Jesus Name,
And, see right around that, “watch your mouth,” part I tend to get checked…a subtle prompt from God to pray over my own mouth. Some days my salvation doesn’t extend to include my mouth…
Over the past few weeks I have become THAT person. You know the complainer, mumbler, grumbler, overly critical, and excessively irritable person. I told God that if He would cast greater favor on my troublesome houses and grant my clients a little more common sense I would feel less inclined to moan, groan, and complain…
But, I know that I just need to watch my mouth. I remember listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast a few months back where she stated…
“Complain and Remain. Praise and Be Raised.”
I think about how much I’ve vented and complained about my discontentment at work and I can’t help, but think that might also lend to the duration of my time in my current situation. As long as my attitude continues to be negative I miss out on the opportunity to seize whatever it is that God is seeking to develop within me.
We must determine whether or not we are going to allow our attitude to reflect our circumstances or our relationship with God. Every person we interact with will be affected by us to some degree. We may be able to encourage them, slightly or significantly, to smile, laugh, or experience greater peace. Determine what type of affect you will have on people by ensuring that the things you say are truly necessary, valuable, and helpful. Ask God to help you watch your mouth.
It’s important to remain truthful. Some days may be frustrating, disappointing, and challenging…Admit that. Walking with Christ doesn’t mean we deny the reality of our situation. So, acknowledge the challenges you are facing. God doesn’t want you to feign artificial optimism. He knows what you’re feeling…talk to Him about it. He’s your safe place. Utilize your sisters and brothers in Christ or your accountability partners. They can afford you greater perspective and if you have good ones like mine =) shed biblical insight into your situation.
I know that I will continue to have challenging days. So, I offer up the following prayer during those challenging times…
Thank you for today. It’s been a hard day. I’m frustrated. I’m upset. But, I believe you are working in and around me. I know that Your word is true. I believe in You. Help me to maintain perspective. Help me to forgo pity parties and vent sessions. Show me how to devote my energy to something more productive than complaining. Help me to remain cognizant of how my attitude, my complaining, my venting, and my frustrations affect other people when continually articulated. Help me to watch my mouth. I appreciate You. I love you. In Jesus Name.
I’m odd. I have a hard time resting. I often express to God how tired I am and for the past few weeks He’s been emphasizing my need to rest.
“So there is a special rest still waiting for people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us all do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” — Hebrews 4:9-11 (NLT)
I read through several interpretations of this scripture and noticed the same degree of urgency. God makes it clear that we are to-—make every effort (NIV), do our best (NLT), strive (ESV), be diligent (NAS), labor (KJV), and hasten (DRB)—to enter into His rest.
This past stomach virus ridden week I was “forced” into a state of rest…uncomfortable yet quite necessary to express His point.
God has gifted us with a day of rest… a special day of rest by which we are to take a break from our day to day activities. God doesn’t say “try” to enter into this rest and if it happens that’s cool, but if it doesn’t no big deal. No! He states that we are to work to enter this rest which means we must employ pro-active action to enjoy this gift each week.
He makes it clear that if we disobey Him in this area…we will fall–drop, go down, or collapse. Our ability to remain up-right and passionately perform the work God has given us to do will lie in our willingness to acknowledge our need for renewal, relief, and rest with God. This requires we check our pride at the door and hang up our super(wo)man cape. Our strength as humans is not enough to sustain us…we need to connect and recharge with God.
The more we refuse the gift of rest that God affords us the less capable we are of withstanding the fickle ebb and flow of our life.
So, what does it mean to work to enter this rest?
As a student it means that I can’t wait until the weekend to do all of my assignments. I must prioritize during the week so that by Sunday my weekly deadlines have been met. As a Realtor it means that I block off the time on my calendar and say “no” to the money and “yes” to myself by choosing to turn off my phone and wait to read emails. As a mom it means I clean up throughout the week so I don’t have to dedicate an entire day of my weekend to cleaning. This frees me to spend quality time with my children and guilt-free time with Jesus. As a friend, sister, and daughter it means exercising personal boundaries and adhering to my convictions to enjoy a day of rest.
So, today stop complaining about how tired you are and–make every effort, do your best, strive, be diligent, labor, and hasten—to open the gift of rest that God has afforded you. You can’t appreciate the benefits of this gift if you keep it wrapped up. Take action on your part and FIGHT for your day of rest with God. Allow Him to provide you with the relief, renewal, and rest you need to passionately and enthusiastically continue to walk in His purpose for your life. You need it and the gift is already there for you. You gotta open it!