How Should I Pray?

prayer 2Lately, I have been wrestling with prayer. I want to be a great prayer warrior. I want my prayers to change the world. But how?

In my devotional today in Stream of the Desert by L. B. Cowman, which I highly recommend for a daily reading, there was a quote that seemed to be the missing link in my search. The answer is so simple yet so many of us miss it… we must PRAY.

The quote by Charles Spurgeon said, “Great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must go to work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have  interceded so successfully for Sodom if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God. Jacob’s all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord’s most choice and wonderful prayer with his disciples before His Passion as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.”

So when I feel close to God…pray.

When I feel far from God…pray.

When all seems wrong…pray.

When all is going right… pray.

So how do I need to pray…often and with an earnest heart.

LORD – give me a heart of prayer. Help me to seek you early in the morning, before I rest at night, and many moments in between. ~Amen

Another Year… Another Birthday

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Yesterday I turned 39. One year until I am 40. I have officially become the age where half of the people I meet will think – Wow, you’re old. While the other half think – You are still so young. And the reality is, they are both right.

Thirty nine years. Even if I live a long life, my life is almost half over. Gone are the days of staying up late or water-skiing and not paying for it for the next week. Yes, my body has seen better days, yet from here on out, it will never look better than this.

But before you think I am wallowing in the depths of mid-life depression I will add this… I am still so young and every day, whether I have one more day on earth or 60 more years, is a gift. A gift from God to accomplish His purpose in me.

What will I do with that gift? How will I spend today? Will I spend time with him? Will I strive toward the call He has laid before me? Will I do what I can to care for all that he has entrusted to me (my family, my gifts, my health)?

Would I wish to be thirty again? Honestly, no. I have grown so much in the past nine years. I am wiser. I speak less and listen more. (Think that it isn’t possible that I used to talk more? Trust me, I did.) I have learned from so many godly women that the Lord has placed in my path. I would not trade a few less wrinkles for that growth.

I am not trying to brag – after all I still have a long way to go. And I can’t wait. I hope that I will be able to look back when I turn 40, 50, and every age after and say, “Thank God for the growth. Thank God I am another year older, wiser, closer to my savior.”

I don’t want to stop time.

I don’t want to stay young.

But I do want to be purposeful. I am tired of letting time slip though and missing moments of ministry, mommy-hood, life. I am grabbing 39 with both hands and running toward 40 I don’t want to cross that line kicking and screaming. I want to cross it running full steam, filled with the joy that I have lived another year, loved another year.

That year starts now.

Advent

1482257_10151735174997191_636337141_oSunday was the first day of Advent. Did you celebrate? Advent is traditionally celebrated on the four Sundays before Christmas with five candles. One candle is lit the first Sunday, two the second, and so on until finally Christmas Eve all candles are lit. I love this tradition for several reasons but the biggest reason is because it builds a Christmas anticipation that is not surrounding gifts and goodies.

A few nights ago as we lit the first candle, my children were already in great anticipation: when would we light each one? Which part of the story we would read each week? How many days until we light the Christ Candle?

But no matter your tradition, it is important not to forget it isn’t about the candles, gifts or even a day off work to spend with family. All these are great but it is about so much more.
According to the dictionary, the word “advent” is a noun meaning the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Did you catch that? The arrival of a notable person. God in the flesh. Fully human. Fully God.

Emmanuel – God with us.

Every year when I sit and contemplate that reality, it blows me away. This isn’t just the celebration of a miracle. This was the hinge, the turning point of all history. No longer did humans have to be separate from God.

Emmanuel – God with us.

And after the ascension…He is still with us through the Holy Spirit.

Emmanuel – God with us.

So, as Christmas approaches, take time in all the hustle and bustle to celebrate Advent. You don’t have to do it with candles. You can simply do it on your knees with an open heart waiting. After all, a notable person has come. That is why we celebrate.

Emmanuel – God with us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey day is upon us: food, parades, football, family, shopping and for some Christmas decorating. But with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it is easy to offer a quick thanks before the meal and forget how thankful we are and to whom we are to thankful. So here are a few verses to read over now, maybe before your big meal. May they encourage you as well as point you to remember that all good and perfect gifts comes from above.

Psalm 136:1 O give thanks to the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.

Lamentations 3:23 They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.
John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
Ephesians 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Hebrews 12:28 Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Morning Prayer

Do you struggle with the right words to pray sometimes? I know I do and this Psalm out of The Message is one great way that I have found to focus my heart and mind to start the day. Write it on an index card and read it every morning!

Psalm 119:169-176

Let my cry come right into your presence, God;
    provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
Give my request your personal attention,
    rescue me on the terms of your promise.
Let praise cascade off my lips;
    after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life!
And let your promises ring from my tongue;
    every order you’ve given is right.
Put your hand out and steady me
    since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel.
I’m homesick, God, for your salvation;
    I love it when you show yourself!
Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,
    use your decrees to put iron in my soul.
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me!
    I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.

~Amen

Have a blessed week!

Disobetient Daughter

Obedience seems so simple when I am asking it of my children. I instruct – they listen. Right?

However, it seems a lot trickier when I am the child and God is doing the asking.

A few months ago I was really struggling with obedience to God with a particular issue. I clearly knew what he wanted me to do and I repeatedly disobeyed. During this time, I really struggled with doubt. Not doubt in God or in my faith but doubt that my God would continue to love me as I failed to obey.

One day in the midst of this on going struggle, my daughter taught me a lesson I will never forget.

I had a special surprise outing planned for my four year old daughter and I was so excited. An hour before we were supposed to leave she decided to dig in her heals and defy me at every turn. I was so frustrated. Couldn’t she see that I had her best interest at heart. I wanted to scream, “I want to do so much for you, if you just obey.”

It hit me. My daughters actions don’t effect my love for her. There is nothing she could do to make me love her less. However, I can do so much more for her when she chooses to obey. My disobedience won’t change God’s love for me but I may miss out on what he is trying to do in my life.

Like a loving parent, God really does have our best in mind. Like a stubborn four-year-old, I occasionally fight those instructions believing I know best.

Are you letting God lead in every area?

Living with Pollyanna

We can learn a lot from our kids. My daughter has a strong case of Pollyanna-ism. Not all the time – believe me when I say she can have her grumpy moments but she never ceases to amaze me with her sweet disposition and positive outlook when I think she has every right to be mad.

A few minutes ago she walked up to me with small special box in one hand, a bow in the other, and a frown on her face. “The boys ripped my bow off my box.”

I sighed and reached for the bow trying to determine if fixing was a possibility when she smiled. “That’s okay. It looks pretty without the bow and I can use the bow for the present inside.”

What? What about justice? What about fairness? What about the box being the way you originally wanted?

Nope she just pushed it all aside and accepted what she had and found the good in that.

This isn’t the first time either. A few weeks ago she brought to me one of her Polly dresses that the dog had managed to chew off an arm. She held it up to me as her eyes filled with tears. “Mom, look…”

Growing frustration without puppy boiled over in me. How could something so adorable cause so much grief? (BTW – my frustration wasn’t about the dress as much as the compiling of the dozens of thing he’d already chewed.)

Before I could react, she snatched it from my hand and smiled. “That’s okay. I have always wanted a dress with just one sleeve.”

Oh sweet girl you teach me so much about justice, fairness, and most importantly grace. May I be better about accepting the situations I am given, even if at times it doesn’t feel fair.

What about you? Are you the eternal optimist or do you struggle with the desire to be right and life to be fair?

 

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