What’s My Focus?

 

The other day I had the most vivid dream.  I’m not much of a dreamer, but for some reason, this dream was so vivid and clear.  I could remember the details and emotions elicited by the dream like I was there experiencing it first hand.  From past posts I’ve shared, I like to run.  In this dream, I had trained and prepared for a race.

I remember being in a car driving to the race, trying to get there, but something was always getting in the way–traffic, crowds, roadblocks.  I remember feeling anxious thinking I wasn’t going to make the start of the race.  Then the race started and I wasn’t at the start line.  The crowds of runners passed by me.  Feelings of disappointment and failure rummaged through my heart as I watched the runners pass me. I had prepared and trained for a race I could only watch and not participate in.  Every which way I turned, every time I tried, something got in my way to prevent me from getting to the start line.

After I awoke from my dream, I felt like I failed (nice way to start the day).  I felt the devastation of not completing the race, thinking what does all this mean?  I spent time in prayer asking God the meaning of the dream and heard his gentle response.  He asked me a very simple question, “Are you going to continue to focus on your stumbling blocks or allow me to take care of them?”  “Focus on my purpose for you, I will take care of your stumbling blocks.”

God was right.  At the time of this dream, I was a hot mess.  I was in an ugly rut of taking matters into my own hands, trying to handle things my way, amplifying the stumbling blocks that laid before me.  God was trying to show me, my struggles, my inadequacies, my unbelief will always keep me away from His purpose for me.  Focusing on my struggles making them bigger than God will always take me out of the race, not allowing me to participate and worse yet not finish.

When we live in God's purpose for us, it doesn't matter what struggles or obstacles lie in front of us, if it is His will, He will move them. Click To Tweet

At the time of my dream, I was studying the book of Nehemiah.  If you haven’t read Nehemiah, it is such a wonderful reminder of what God can do when we discover and live in His purpose.  God chose Nehemiah to carry out what He had promised to Abraham.  The Jewish people spent many years in exile and now it was time for God to come through with His promise for restoration of Jerusalem, their holy city.

Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he received news his people (The Jews) were in great trouble and the wall of Jerusalem was broken down.  Once Nehemiah heard of the turmoil, his burning desire to help his people became the sole purpose of his existence.  Two qualities I admire most in Nehemiah were his wise, decisive leadership skills to lead people in the hard work of completing the wall and his prayerful heart.

Before taking on this task of rebuilding this massive wall, Nehemiah devoted four whole months in prayer, praying and fasting before taking action!  Once the four months was over, it only took 52 days to rebuild the wall!  What is so amazing about this task, about 60 years prior Jerusalem’s wall was destroyed and rebuilt which took 20 years to rebuild!

What was the difference?

In both occurrences of the wall, there were obstacles, inward and outward oppression getting in the way of God’s purpose of rebuilding the wall.

Neh. 2:10-  There were enemies getting in the way of rebuilding the wall

Neh.  4:10-11 There was doubt, discouragement, laziness, and fear

Neh. 5:1-5-  The Jews and their families were being exploited as slaves

Neh. 6:1-8- There was an evil conspiracy plotted against Nehemiah to lure him away from the wall

Neh. 6:10-14- Lying prophets tryied to tempt Nehemiah to sin

Nehemiah 6:9 'For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands.'Click To Tweet

Nehemiah was successfully able to complete the task of finishing the wall because He stayed in prayer and focused on God’s purpose, not the obstacles.

Our obstacles will always prevent us from finishing the race.  Satan will throw obstacles in our path to prevent us from living in God’s purpose for us, to keep us from His plan because He knows God’s ways are greater and better than anything we could ever imagine.

When our focus is on what God is able to do, God will move our obstacles out of the way.Click To Tweet

We have a choice– Focus on our problems or Focus on God’s purpose.

Nehemiah never lost sight of completing the wall WITH God not FOR God.  He stayed in prayer and asked for God’s wisdom never faltering from His purpose.  Our struggles, our unbelief, our doubts, our past, and insecurities will always keep us away from God’s purpose.  We can choose to amplify our struggles or allow it to be God’s platform for what he’s able to do.

What is your focus?

Do obstacles get in the way of God’s purpose for you?

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A Prayer for Vision

 

Have you ever been so afraid of something it kept you from engaging in life?  It kept you from travel plans, going out with friends or being involved in relationships.  I’ve been there, allowing my fears to linger and build to the point of isolation.  Fear can be so crippling, not allowing us to live life, keeping us from God’s abundant plans.

Faith and fear cannot reside in the same heart.  Fear alters our vision making it difficult to see God’s plan for us.  God never intended for us to live in fear, but to live in the abundance of everything He has to offer.  Today I pray our eyes are opened to see a clearer vision for our lives, the way God sees us.

In 2 Kings 6, there was an ongoing war with the Arameans and Israel.  The king of Aram became infuriated when he learned Elisha the prophet warned the king of Israel of the plan to set his army’s camp by the border of Israel.  Once King Aram’s officials told him where Elisha was, he made plans to capture him.  He sent horses, chariots, and a strong force to surround the city of Dothan ( 2 Kings 6:8-13).

The next morning Elisha’s servant saw the army of horses and chariots surrounding them.  The servant asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”  (2 Kings 6:15).

I love this next part.  Elisha’s response wasn’t to engage in his servant’s fears but to give him encouragement and invite him in to see what he saw.

Elisha tells his servant, 'Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them' (2 Kings 6:16). Click To Tweet

Wow, I can’t imagine Elisha’s bold confidence.  His eyes saw the same thing his servant did, yet he did not waver.  His response could have only come from God Himself.  Even though Elisha saw the danger with his physical eyes, he stood firm in God’s divine power of what He is able to do.

Elisha then turned to God in prayer and said, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.”  Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).

Elisha’s prayer amazes me.  He didn’t ask God to help save them from the attacking enemy armies, instead asked God to open the eyes of his servant so he could see what Elisha saw.

I would surely think the next thing Elisha would ask God for was protection against the attacking enemy army.  Instead, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.”  God heard Elisha’s prayer and struck them with blindness, as Elisha asked (2 Kings 6:18).

The servant witnessed firsthand the power of Elisha’s prayer for vision.  His eyes were opened to see what God and Elisha saw.  Elisha’s prayer took the focus off of the enemy/fear and prayed a prayer for vision to see God’s divine power more clearly.  We may not always see God’s bigger plan, but He is always at work behind the scenes.

Our own physical vision can limit us to focus on the circumstances that surround us, but God’s vision can free us to focus on His abilities, putting our trust in Him.  We can follow Elisha’s pattern of prayer when we feel our fears caving in.

Elisha’s Vision of Prayer:

  1.  He recognized the enemy’s plan to instill fear.  Instead of being a victim of fear, He put his hope and trust in God’s abilities of what He was able to do.
  2. He turned to God in prayer.  Instead of worrying, He sought God and prayed.
  3. He stood firm in God’s promises, his faith did not waver.

Satan will always try to keep us from God’s plans by instilling fear in us.  Fear will always blind us to God’s presence.  We must recognize the tactics of the enemy, stand firm in God’s promises, seek God in prayer and trust in Him.  The closer we are to God, the more clearly we can see His vision for us and hear His voice.

Are you struggling to see past your circumstances?

Write your own prayer for vision.  Ask God to see what He sees.

Prayer-  Lord Jesus, open our eyes so we can see what you see.  We pray our vision will not blind us to your presence of voice, that we will see and hear what you want us to.  We pray we will stand firm in your promises and trust in your divine power.  You are greater.  We pray your desires will be greater than our desires.  You are our God who loves us more than anything.  We praise you and thank you for your eternal gifts.

I pray for God’s vision in your life to see more clearly what God sees.  You are loved!

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Why We Should Pray For Our Neighbors

Have you ever had one of those neighbors who were just hard to love?  Some years ago, my husband and I had a very humbling experience with one of our neighbors.  We had just moved into our new home and there was a knock at the door.  Behind the door was a woman, who didn’t introduce herself, but instead handed me an envelope and said, ‘give this to the owner’ and then walked away.

Turns out the woman who handed me the envelope was our neighbor.  Inside the envelope was a bill for a few thousand dollars stating we owed her money for our ‘shared’ fence.  We had been the fourth owners of this property and were very confused to be informed we ‘owed’ our neighbor money.  We thought by ignoring the hand-delivered letter we would avoid our neighbor’s request.  We were wrong.

As it turned out, our neighbors were lawyers.  If we didn’t address this issue they would take us to court.  Even in our debacle, I heard God’s voice whisper to me, ‘love your neighbor.’  Technically we didn’t owe them money because of the statute of limitations.  We knew if we didn’t oblige, our time would be spent arguing in court about whether or not we owed them money.

In the end, we gave them money for the fence.  But something happened in the process.  It changed our hearts.  Our decision to love our neighbor instead of arguing with them showed them kindness and softened our hearts.

'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' Matthew 5:44Click To Tweet

Maybe you don’t have an extreme neighbor situation like we had, but maybe there’s that one neighbor that rubs you the wrong way.  Maybe your neighbors’ dog poops in your yard and doesn’t clean it up.  Maybe they leave the porch lights on that shine into your house all night or maybe they’re just noisy.  We may not always like our neighbors or what they do, but we can always pray for them.

How to Pray for Your Neighbor

Pray your neighbor will know the love of Jesus.  The best way for our neighbors to know the love of Jesus is to introduce ourselves, invite them over, get to know them.  Learn their names, their stories and how you can pray for them.  As you’re driving or walking in the neighborhood pray for neighbors to know the love of Jesus and for opportunities to show them His love.  Col. 3:12, Micah 6:8

Pray for unity in the community.  Pray there will be no division in your neighborhood amongst neighbors.  Pray God’s peace and love will bind you.  Pray there will be love and acceptance even in differences.  There is unity in community.  Do something to bring your neighborhood together–host a community garage sale, organize a neighborhood clean-up, host a neighborhood chili-cookoff, do a neighborhood BBQ in a nearby park.  Practice being a good neighbor, it will bring your neighborhood closer together.  Ecc. 4:9, Rom. 16:17, Rom. 15:7, Col. 1:10

Ask God to help show your neighbor the love of Christ.  God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves in Mark 12:31. Pray Mark 12:30-31, together as a family to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Do something kind for your neighbor–bake banana bread or a meal for them, invite them over for coffee and doughnuts, offer to watch their pet, invite them to church.  No one would ever know the love of Christ if we don’t show them.

Praying for our neighbors softens and changes the attitude of our hearts to be focused on how God wants us to treat others.  Even if we don’t like our neighbors, we can pray for them.  We are meant to live in community with one another.  Being neighborly prepares our hearts to live in the best community ever for when we go to heaven.

God calls us to love those who are hard to love. If we can't love our neighbors how can we be apart of God's family? Click To Tweet

Being a good neighbor fulfills God’s greater plan, strengthens communities and destroys the enemy’s plans for division among us.  We are stronger together.

'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:31Click To Tweet

This summer, reach out to one neighbor, practice the art of neighboring by doing one action step and pray for them.

Do you know who your neighbors are?

How can you pray for your neighbor?

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The Demon Who Needed Prayer

Inner Demons.  We all have them.  They’re around every corner, behind every temptation.  We wrestle with them.  We stuff them down so we don’t have to deal with them.  We avoid them.  We lie to ourselves and pretend they don’t exist.  But they are there.  Always lurking around, waiting to take hold of us, to control our lives.  If we’re not careful these inner demons can lead us to places we don’t want to be and take us captive to the point of destruction.

One boy in the Bible, reminds me of what can happen when inner demons take control of our lives.  We don’t know his name, but we all can relate to his story.

In Mark 9, we see the desperate plea of a Father who is frantic to find help for his son.  He approaches Jesus and says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.  Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground.  He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.  I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not” (Mark 9:17-18).

Jesus then says to the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” (Mark 9:21).  The Father answers, “From childhood.”  We have no idea how old his son is or how long he’s been possessed.  But the father paints the picture of torment the boy has endured, telling Jesus the impure spirit often throws the boy into fire and water trying to kill him.  He begs Jesus, ‘if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us’ (Mark9:21-22).

“If you can?” said Jesus.  

'Everything is possible for one who believes' (Mark 9:23). Click To Tweet

How patient God is with us.  Jesus had performed many miracles upto this point.  What was it going to take for people to believe?

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!' (Mark 9:24).Click To Tweet

Jesus then rebuked the impure spirit and said, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.  The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.  Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up  (Mark 9:25-27).”

How many times have we been there, doubting God that He is able?  Everything is possible for one who believes.  When we believe, the unbelievable happens.  Everyone was amazed and shocked at this scene.  The disciples who had previously tried to cast out the demon questioned, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Mark 9:28).

Jesus replied, 'This kind can come out only by prayer' (Mark 9:29). Click To Tweet

Wait, you’re telling me the disciples forgot to pray!?!?!  We too can be guilty of trying to handle our demons in our own way by ourselves, forgetting to allow God to handle it.

This story shows me how powerful prayer really is.  Prayer is the language the deaf can hear and the mute can speak.  Back in biblical times, it was believed only the Messiah Himself could cast out mute and deaf demons.  But Jesus tells us, prayer is what the demon understood and what drove it out.

Maybe you’re wrestling with deep, dark hidden demons right now.

Maybe you struggle with finding your worth and value in status, money, external beauty and things of this world. Maybe you’re trying to fill a void by seeking attention in not so good places.  Maybe your demons are shame, doubt, guilt, keeping you in an ugly cycle of brokenness not allowing you to move forward.

We can all relate to effects the demon had on the little boy’s life.  The demon took away his ability to speak, it seized him, paralyzing him from living life.  The demon placed him in harm’s way almost destroying his life to the point of death.   

Whatever your demon is--it needs prayer to drive it out so it will never enter again.Click To Tweet

There is freedom when we release our demons to God.  I promise when we give our demons to God in prayer He will take us by the hand, lift us up, so we can stand just like he did for the boy.

Do you believe everything is possible for the one who believes?

Do you have inner demons that hold you captive from what God desires?

Spend time with God today, ask Him, ‘what are my inner demons that hold me back from what you desire?’  Ask for prayer from a friend or a pastor.  Write out your prayer to address your inner demon, give it to God so you can live the abundant life God desires for you, free from strongholds holding you captive.

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Breaking the Cycle of Prayerlessness

Over the past year, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and research about prayer.  I’ve been reading books, learning what the Bible says about prayer, I made a prayer closet (underneath my stairs), I’m involved with the prayer team and pray with prayer partners.  In all my research and time in prayer, I’ve discovered Satan desires our mouths to be kept shut and our voices to be silent to keep us in states of prayerlessness.

WHY?

Because nothing defeats the enemy more than when we are prayerful!

So How Do We Break the Cycle of Prayerlessness in Our Lives?

In the book by Beth Moore, “Breaking Free,”  she states, “What victory the enemy has in winning us over to prayerlessness!”  The enemy knows prayerful lives are powerful lives and prayerless lives are powerless lives.  We can identify what is keeping us from prayer, by asking ourselves these tough questions.

  1.  Do we depend on God for our needs?  Prayer is our lifeline to God.  No prayer, no relationship.  Maybe you’ve been praying a prayer for a long time and wondered is God listening or even care?  How long have you prayed for your request?  Do you pray for your request regularly, over a period of time?  Our prayers don’t change God’s heart, they change our hearts.  We don’t know when God will answer our prayers but don’t give up, that’s exactly what the enemy wants us to do.  Keep Praying!
  2. Do You Allow the Enemy to Keep You Silent?  The enemy would like nothing more than for us to stop praying.  When we stop praying we are fulfilling the enemy’s plan.  Satan wants to fill our minds with his lies of doubt, worry, and defeat.  These are the tactics he uses to keep us silent.  Don’t let him.  Instead of worrying, pray about it.  Give it to God.
  3. God’s will or my will?   When we pray, ask God is this your will or my will?  We have to ask ourselves, is the request we’re praying appropriate or selfish?  Am I praying with the right attitude and motive?  Is the timing right?  Just because we don’t hear God’s answer right away, God might be saying not yet.  We must be patient for HIS perfect timing.  In our patience, God grows the greatest blessings.
  4. Are there Prayer Obstacles in Your Life?  In the book Too Busy Not To Pray, Billy Hybels, talks about prayer blockers in our lives.  He challenges us to look within and ask ourselves are there problems in my life?  If the answer is yes, chances are there is a prayer obstacle present.  Maybe we don’t see God answering our prayers because he is trying to illuminate hidden areas of our hearts that are getting in the way of HIM.
  • Is there un-forgiveness or unconfessed sins in your life?  Isaiah 59:2, Micah 6:8.  Unforgiveness and unconfessed sins contaminate our hearts and prayers.  When un-forgiveness resides in our hearts and lives we will never reach the full potential of what God desires for us.  We must forgive and receive God’s forgiveness for our hearts to be clean and hear HIS voice.
  • Are we being selfish or prideful? James 4:3.  Are we asking God with the wrong motives for personal gain?  Are our prayers making God famous or ourselves?  Pride will be the death of us.  It will keep us from crying out for help from our Savior.  Pride keeps us blind to God’s presence and deaf to HIS voice.  Is there pride in your life?
  • Do we have inadequate faith?  James 1:5-8.  Do we believe in our own abilities or God’s?  Do we look for more evidence for him to prove to us the power HE already has?  Do we believe we are praying to a God who is able to do anything?
  • What is the attitude of our hearts?  Proverbs 21:13.  Do we have an uncaring attitude?  God cares about the condition of our hearts and what they are filled with.  He cares about developing our character which reflects HIM.  What is the attitude of your heart when you pray?
  • Are there broken relationships in your life?  Matthew 5:23-24, John 2:9.  Is there any unresolved conflict in your life?  Satan desires to cause division among us, fight with one another and take us away from God’s plan for unity.  Satan knows we are weaker when we are alone.  We are stronger together in numbers.  God desires us to live in community and harmony with one another, not alone and isolated.

Ephesians 4:31

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Click To Tweet

Pride, anger, malice, deceit, unforgiveness, and selfishness will always get in the way of our prayers and God’s plan for us.  Don’t allow the enemy to use his tactics against you.  Don’t let him win the victory in our prayerlessness.

Is there Prayerlessness in your life?

Are there prayer obstacles in your life?

Get rid of the prayer obstacles by identifying what they are.  Break the cycle of prayerlessness by asking yourself these tough questions above.  Prayer is a way to search and soften our hearts, get rid of sin, grow, reconcile relationships, change our attitude and get out of the ugly cycle of prayerlessness.

Once prayer obstacles are out of the way, it clears the way for God to answer our prayers in the way He desires and breaks the cycle of prayerlessness.  

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on recent posts.


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“Too Busy Not To Pray,”  by Billy Hybels
“Breaking Free” by Beth Moore

The Lord’s Prayer

 

 

If I were to ask you to recite the Lord’s Prayer whether you are a Christian or non-Christian I bet most of us could recite some lines from this prayer.  In this prayer, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes my prayer life can become dull like I’m reciting a memorized prayer.  Reciting a prayer from my lips that has no meaning in my heart is like an empty cup waiting to be filled.  An empty cup is not fulfilling its purpose unless it’s filled.  

The purpose of prayer works the same way in our lives.  The Lord’s Prayer was never meant to just be something we memorize but a pattern that we apply to our hearts and lives.  God knows better than us what we need and directs our steps in The Lord’s Prayer.  I encourage you to read this whole article today to develop a powerful pattern of prayer that God desires to bring us the most abundant life ever in Him.

 Worship

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Jesus starts His prayer off by turning to God, His Father.  His prayer begins with showing reverence, respect for our God who is sovereign, omnipotent and creator of all things.  Turning our eyes towards God focuses our attention on his abilities that nothing is too difficult for Him.  Recognizing God for everything He is to us, takes our focus off of ourselves and gives Him the glory, which is a form of worship.

Submission

Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This part of the prayer puts God’s will first ahead of our own agenda.  Allowing God’s desires to be greater than our desires gets rid of any selfishness or self-centeredness.  God is able to do anything, however, the way God works in our lives isn’t as a genie in a bottle ready to grant our every wish.  If our hearts are filled with things that get in the way of him such as greed, lust or selfishness, we limit God’s power within us.  In order to receive God’s divine power working within us, we must be in places of humbleness and surrender.  Submission prepares our hearts for the next part of the prayer.

Appropriate Requests

Give us this day our daily bread.  This is the part of the prayer is where we ask God for our requests and needs.  This is where we can ask for help for anything we need in our lives such as marriage, parenting, help with finances, provision, relationships.  God’s provision can provide us with anything.  But if our requests are inappropriate such as, ‘God please give me a million dollars,’ He will not grant our requests.  Daily bread is our daily provision of what God offers not what we desire.  When we have the daily bread He provides for us we are eternally satisfied (John 6:35).  When we are content with the daily provision in what God provides us we can forgo the rat race and make do with what He provides.

Confession

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Asking forgiveness from God purifies our hearts and makes us right before Him.  Our sin and unforgiveness separate us from God.

 Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”  (Matt. 6:14-15).

Thankfully God is in the healing and restoration business.  He cares about our eternal salvation.  Jesus paid a high price for our sins with his life.  It costs us nothing to forgive but costs us our lives if don’t forgive.  Forgiving someone who hurt you may be the hardest thing you do.  But I promise when you do forgive, you will be set free from the heavy burden of carrying around unforgiveness.  Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full, not so we can be weighed down with our sins and burdens.  Confessing our sins removes the obstacles in our hearts for God’s love to grow within us and cleans out our hearts.

Authority

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Asking God to protect us from temptation and the evil one recognizes God as the authority in our lives.  This part of the prayer is asking God who is Lord in our lives to direct our steps and keep Satan away from our hearts.  Praying for protection over our hearts is so important to keep the enemy out of our lives and allows victory over our temptations. Deliverance sets us free from our sins, temptations, and strongholds that keep us captive and away from God’s plan in our lives.

Worship

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  The Lord’s prayer not only begins with worship but ends in worship as well.  Ending our prayer by giving thanks to God for all that he does for us acknowledges that He is the God of the heaven and earth.  

The Lord's prayer is a pattern of prayer that gives us the elements of a strong, powerful prayer foundation. Click To Tweet

The Lord’s prayer isn’t meant to be rote memorization but active, alive and breathing in our lives.  We can learn so much from what Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer can be so powerful in our lives if we use it the way God intended for us.

What have you learned from The Lord’s Prayer?

Write out your own pattern of Prayer of Worship, Submission, Requests, Confession, Authority, and Worship.

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a FREE ebook and weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

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What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Have you ever sat down to pray and just didn’t know what to say? Or felt like your prayers were empty and meaningless? Or if God was even listening?

Prayer is one the most important things we can do in our lives, yet when life gets busy, its one of the first things we omit out of our daily schedules and what we give up when we do don’t see ‘our prayers working.’

Maybe one of the reasons prayer can be so difficult is because of its meaning.

In English, Pray means ‘to ask or beg.’

In Hebrew, the word for Pray Tefillah means to ‘self-examine.’ The root word for Tefillah is Tofel, which means to ‘attach, join or bind together.’

In Aramaic, the word for Pray salah means ‘to bow, worship.’

In Greek, the word for Pray proseuchomai means to ‘supplicate, to worship.’

As one can see, the definition for pray has a variety of definitions. So which definition is correct?

All of them.

Prayer is a way to worship God, it is a way to sit before God to self-examine ourselves and how we ask God to intercede on our behalf and bow before Him in His presence.

Nonetheless, prayer doesn’t have one singular definition and fit into a box. Making prayer fit one singular definition would limit God’s abundant meaning, purpose, and power for prayer. The purpose of prayer isn’t solely meant to just ask God for our own needs and personal gain, or just to ‘self-examine’ ourselves or just to worship. Prayer goes way beyond that.

Prayer is our invitation to God to open the door for His divine power to move the mountains in our lives and others. Taking our struggles to God through prayer invites Him into our lives, brings us into His presence and binds us closer together with Him.

So what do we say when we don’t know what to pray?

God doesn’t judge our prayers. They don’t have to be filled with eloquent words or with verbatim Scripture. We don’t have to be on our knees, bow our heads or even fold our hands. The prayer posture and how we pray is God’s least concern. God is more concerned about when we don’t pray and the condition of our hearts. Our prayers are a way to get our hearts right with God and communicate with Him.

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help.

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

PRAISE
If you don’t know what to say, start with the very nature of what prayer is, praise. Some of the best prayers written in the Bible are prayers of praise spoken by David in the Psalms. Start telling God everything you are thankful for. Praising God first sets our hearts and minds on our Creator and His greatness and puts us in His presence. Praise purifies and softens our hearts, so we can hear what God is saying. (James 4:6-10)

REPENT
Next comes the hard part of what prayer is—repentance. No one likes to admit their wrongs or even speak them out loud. Confessing our sins to God opens a door for His forgiveness, so we don’t allow sin to reign in our lives but allow more room for God’s truth and grace. Confession allows us to humbly come before our Lord, lay our burdens at His feet, so He can do something greater than we ever could on our own. Confession invites God in to intervene on our behalf. (Matt. 3:8, Isa. 30:15).

ASK
Next, tell God all that is troubling you. He wants to hear what is in your heart. He wants every part of you, struggles and all. Ask God for help and healing, to supply for your needs, your provision, safety, wisdom, discernment, guidance, direction. God is always bigger than our struggles and can handle anything we ask of Him. (Phil. 4:19)

YIELD
Lastly, yield to God. Submitting our ways to God to His will and way allows for God’s greater plan to happen through us. Pray for God’s desires to be your desires. At the end of the day, it’s about God’s plans, not ours. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)

We may not always know what to say, but know when we are silent that is what Satan desires for us. Click To Tweet

Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. ~Zig Ziglar

Next time you pray, don’t allow Satan to keep you silent. Cutting prayer out of our lives, cuts our direct communication and relationship off with God, which is exactly what Satan wants. Your prayers matter and make a difference to God. Never stop praying, He is listening.

What is one action step you can take today, to make prayer more meaningful and purposeful in your life?

What does prayer mean to you?

What do you pray when you don’t know what to say?

Prayer- Dear Lord, We praise you even when we don’t understand. We thank you for your greatness and power of what you are able to do. We know prayer can move mountains but can let the busyness of life to get in the way of doing what matters most—spending time with you. Forgive us, Lord, for allowing busyness and distractions get in the way of what you desire for us. Help us stay committed and devoted in prayer daily and integrate it into our lives. We praise you, in Jesus name. Amen.

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Set Me Free

Are you getting ready for Easter?  I love this time of year, for what it represents and the rich gifts that God gives us even when we don’t deserve them.

Have you ever been a given a gift, so valuable money couldn’t buy?  Or have you ever been given a second chance at something that you should have never been given in the first place?

One man in the Bible reminds me of the valuable gift of freedom he received that should have never been given.  His name was Barabbas and he was a criminal convicted of committing murder in a rebellion (Mark 15:7).

It was during the time of Passover and every year the Roman governor would release a prisoner to the people of their choice (Matt. 27:15).  Jesus had been arrested and was in custody of Roman authorities.  Barabbas was a well-known prisoner among the people.  When Pilate asked, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas or Jesus, the people knew exactly who each one was.

Pilate was convicted that he was persecuting an innocent man because Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime under Roman law.  Jesus couldn’t be prosecuted under Jewish law during Passover because the Jews couldn’t crucify anyone during that time.  So Jesus was to be prosecuted under Roman Law.

When both men were in the judgment seat, Pilate’s wife tells her husband “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man (Jesus) for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  (Matt. 27:19).

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matt. 27:20).  When Pilate asked, which one do you want me to release?  The crowd shouted, Barabbas! Then Pilate asked, what should I do with Jesus?  The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Pilate then questions their decision and asks, why, what crime has he committed?  They shouted even louder, Crucify Him!  (Matt.21-23).

Pilate felt so guilty about the outcome he took water and washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt 27:24).  “Then he released Barabbas to them” (Matt. 27:26).

Can you even imagine this scene?  A prisoner who committed murder being set free!  And Jesus a man who committed no crime under Roman law sent to be crucified!?!?!

I can’t imagine what Barabbas was thinking, I was just set free!  He merely received his freedom by default all because the crowd wanted to persecute Jesus.  I can’t help to think of the parallels in Barabbas’ story.  He was a man guilty of a crime and set free.  He was given a second chance at freedom something he didn’t even deserve!

Barabbas being set free and Jesus taking his place on the cross was a foreshadowing of our future story of what Jesus was going to accomplish for us.  Barabbas’ name actually means “Son of Abba” or father.  How coincidental the meaning of the criminal’s name who was released is the very thing that Jesus is to us, “Son of God,” our Father.

I wonder what Barabbas’s life was like after he was released.  I wonder if he was thankful for his second chance at freedom or if he just reverted back to his old criminal habits?  If I were Barabbas I would have been convicted of the new freedom granted to me.

Jesus someone who was innocent and didn't deserve to die took our place for us instead. Click To Tweet

I wonder if Barabbas was at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing at the cross thinking, this man saved my life and set me free (in more ways than we could ever imagine).  I wonder if Barabbas looked at Jesus on the cross and thought, he took my place, that could have been me.  

This whole scene sounds barbaric with the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”  In the end, we can point fingers about who was to blame for the death of Jesus.  In reality, it was all apart of God’s plan for us to be set free and forgiven. The only way for us to receive this amazing gift, was for God to sacrifice His only Son for us.

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' John 3:16Click To Tweet

Barabbas’s story is a physical representation of what God does for us every day.  How he extends us His mercy and grace, even when we don’t deserve it.  We are all criminals (sinners)  just like Barabbas.

We are all given a second chance at freedom, just like Barabbas.  

Can you relate to Barabbas’s story?

How have you been set free by God’s love?

What will you do with your second chance at freedom?

Jesus didn’t have to take our place but He did because He loves us.  You have been set free.  What an amazing and wonderful gift!  Happy Easter!

Lord, Set me Free from my burdens and the things I cannot control.  Set me free from anything weighing me down not allowing me to live how you designed me to live, in freedom.  I love you and praise you, God.  I thank you, God, for sending Jesus to take my place even when I didn’t deserve it.  Thank you for giving second chances. Forgive me of my sins.  You have set me free, Lord.  Thank you, in Jesus name.  Amen

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Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Have you ever prayed a prayer to God pleading on your behalf to please take this sorrow and suffering away?  Have you ever questioned God and asked, “God, if you’re a loving God, then why do you allow so much suffering?”

I don’t know if you have ever sat and read the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but it is filled with lots of sorrow and suffering.  Jesus knew the time was coming before he was going to be arrested.  He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, a quiet place to pray and sit with God.  He took Peter, John, and James with Him to keep watch while He prayed.

Jesus was very troubled and distressed.  He even told His three disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”  (Mark 14:34).  Jesus knew it was only hours before he was going to be arrested and persecuted.  His soul was heavy with the burden of what God was asking Him to do on behalf of everyone else–to bear the penalty of all our sins.

Jesus found a quiet spot and fell with his face to the ground praying and pleading with His Father, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from me, nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will”  (Mark 14:35-36).

Jesus knew His Father was capable of all things.  He even turned to Him in His sorrow asking Him to please take this cup from me.  A cup’s symbolism is of deep sorrow and suffering.  Jesus felt as though God was leaving Him behind and turning away from Him when He who had no sin was made to be the sin offering for us.

Jesus didn't want to suffer but in the end, submitted to God and said not what I will, but what You will.Click To Tweet

God allowed Jesus to be arrested even though he was innocent.  He even allowed Jesus to be flogged, beaten and crucified despite never sinning.  God allowed His own Son to suffer, not because he didn’t care, but for US.  God doesn’t need us, yet He chose us.  He didn’t allow His own Son to suffer for nothing, but all for His glory.

God doesn’t like it when we hurt.  He doesn’t like it when we suffer.  We are His children when we hurt, He hurts.  God doesn’t desire for us to suffer but has made a plan to carry us through to the other side of our suffering where His greatest blessings reside.

If anyone knows suffering it’s Jesus.  He suffered too.

If anyone knows scars it’s Jesus.  He has scars too.

If anyone knows heartache and burdens it’s Jesus, He had them too.

In our trials, God doesn’t leave us, He’s right there with us.  In the Bible, God let Peter fall in the water, but He didn’t let him drown.  God allowed Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den, but He didn’t allow the lions to eat him.  God allowed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be thrown into the fiery furnace but He didn’t allow them to get burned.

God’s plan for us isn’t to fail but to succeed in His plans for us.  The trials we go through may hurt a lot, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.  God is always for us not against us.  We can hold onto God’s promises of who He is.  Two promises God always keeps is He is good all the time and He loves us.  If He didn’t, He would have never sent His only son to die for us.

Are you going through a trial right now that seems hopeless?

We can learn from Jesus, that in our trials when we are filled with sorrow and suffering, we can always turn towards God, Our Father, who makes all things possible.  We can give God our sorrows and sufferings just like Jesus did so He can turn them into something so much better.  Whatever you are going through know you are not alone, God is with you.  You are loved!

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The Scars of Life

 

Everyone has a scar.  Whether it be a scar from a childhood fall or an old battle wound, we all have them.  Some scars are more visible than others, whereas some scars are not.  Some scars are intentional to mark a rite of passage into manhood, to indicate which tribe a person is from, or worn as a badge of honor.  Some of the most painful scars of those that lie deep within a person’s soul that they don’t dare let out for fear of the pain it would cause.  Whatever the origin of the scar, there always lies a story.

After trekking 3,000+ miles from Alaska crossing Canada and the United States this past summer, my son had his good share of mosquito bites from all the campgrounds we visited.  Unfortunately, my son is the type of person who has allergic reactions to mosquito bites and as a result, there are welts and scars left behind.  Many times I had to remind him to stop picking at the bites because they would leave a scar.

He said, “I like my scars because they remind me of my stories.”  He was right.  We may not always like the stories behind the scars, but they make up who we are.

Do you have scars?  What story do your scars tell? 

I will never forget a woman I met on an airplane ride on the way to a friend’s wedding.  I sat next to her and her son–in which it was obvious they had both been in some type of accident that resulted in burns on their body.  At the time, I was a nurse in a trauma/burn center so I had an idea of what burn victims went through.  As the plane ride progressed I introduced myself to the woman that I was a nurse who worked with burn victims.  She immediately seemed relieved when I told her who I was.  I asked her, ‘do you mind telling me your story of what happened?’

Behind Every Scar Lies a Story.

Her story is unimaginable one that is a living nightmare.  Her family was driving home when a person under the influence of narcotics crossed the center line of the highway and hit the driver’s side to driver’s side head-on.  Her husband had been driving, she was in the passenger seat and their two sons were sitting in the back seat.  The vehicle burst into flames immediately upon impact.  Nearby witnesses rushed to the scene. Leslie and her son got themselves out of the vehicle.  No one could even go close to the vehicle because of the flames.  Leslie walked toward a Good Samaritan on the highway and asked, “please get my husband and my other son!”  The Good Samaritan saw Leslie wearing a cross necklace and said to her, “ma’am they are in a better place.”

In an instant, she lost her husband and her son.  Because of this man’s negligence, Leslie not only had to deal with multiple surgeries and heal from her burn wounds but also deal with the grief from the loss of her loved ones.  My heart broke for Leslie as she told me her story.  When we were about to exit the plane, I noticed Leslie had a little limp.  I asked her, “Do you want me to get a wheelchair for you?”  She said, “After all my hours of physical therapy, once I was able to get out of the wheelchair, I never had any intentions of getting back into it.  I don’t care how long it takes me to get somewhere, I will never return to that wheelchair again.”  Wow!  Her response amazed me.

Leslie’s story reminds me of the man who was paralyzed for 38 years.  Jesus approached the man and asked ‘Do you want to get well?’  At first, the paralyzed man doesn’t answer yes or no, he responded that he had no one to help him get into the healing pool.

“Then Jesus said to him, “Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked”  (John 5:5-8)

Why do you think Jesus told the paralyzed man to pick up his mat first and then walk?

The mat, in this man’s story, represents a place of dysfunction which allowed him to lay paralyzed for 38 years.  Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat, so he couldn’t revisit his place of dysfunction again.  Jesus desired for the man to be fully healed not stay in a place of sickness.  It was probably hard for this man to live his new life as a healed walking man.  The only life this man knew for 38 years, was one of begging and lying paralyzed on his mat.   But then Jesus came and changed everything not only for this man but for us as well.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed”  Isaiah 53:5

Jesus desires for us to be healed wholeheartedly in Him–He was wounded for our transgressions.  Our scars tell our story.  When we hide behind our scars we omit God’s greater story.

How do you choose to present your scars?  In shame and disgrace?  Or to tell God’s story of restoration, healing, and grace?

Jesus came to heal the sick–he was bruised for our iniquities.

“When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17).  

There is healing found in the wounds of Jesus--by his stripes, we are healed. Click To Tweet

Our scars remind us of God’s story of what He is able to do in our lives.

Not every scar is visible.

Do you carry around deep scars that lie within afraid to reveal your story?

Leslie told me she was glad her scars were outwardly visible.  She said these scars were a reminder to others of the deep scars she had inside.  The scars she had outside were nothing compared to the pain of the scars she carried around inside.  I love how Leslie’s story progressed because she allowed for God’s love to progressively heal her.  It wasn’t a quick and easy process, it has been a long hard journey and continues to be hard some days.  If you can imagine she even came to the place of forgiveness to the man who took her family away from her.  Her willingness to forgive and trust in God’s plan allowed for her to stand on the path to wholehearted healing and never live in that place of brokenness again.

How do you carry your scars?  Do you allow for God’s greater story to be told?

Jesus has scars too.

The scars in life can be hard and painful.  Nobody knows our scars better than Jesus because he has scars too.  His scars tell the greatest story ever told–one of redemption, forgiveness, healing, love, restoration, and grace.  There is healing in the scars of Jesus.  He died for all of us–so we could be healed.  In verse 53 of Isaiah “by his stripes we are healed,” the Greek word healed is sózó which is translated saved, healed or rescue.  The origin of the word comes from safe or well.  Jesus came so we could be saved, healed and rescued from our iniquities and pain!

You are loved, my friend! I pray you seek Jesus for your wholehearted healing.  He has the power to heal, forgive and resurrect our circumstances into something greater!

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The reference from the Greek word sózó came from the website http://www.biblehub.com/greek/4982.htm.

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