Posts Tagged Prayer
The following is from my personal Facebook status tonight. It’s just my thoughts about an amazing day I thought I’d share. It’s really nothing other than me just thinking from the heart out loud…
After my day today in this community, and praise and worship in community tonight, well, I am just beside myself with few words, because I sit in awe of God. I love community. All communities. But I love this community with a passion, because of the relationships built with the people in this community. All of them. Rich, poor, it doesn’t matter. But, I do have to say that I LOVE getting hugged by the homeless person that knows my name and asks for prayer. I don’t mind that the person wanting to join hands for prayer reeks of body odor and is filthy. I love having a conversation with the person picking up cigarette butts to roll whatever they can get out of them because it’s all they’ve got. They just want to have a friend. And I am blessed these same people will confide HUGE, massive, and scary things (they used to scare me and I’d tell God I wasn’t ready to help pray for such intense things) but I thank God that they feel comfortable enough now to ask for prayer, and I no longer fret, because God shows up every time!
It’s not about preaching in a church building or having church between four walls. It’s being the church wherever you are! The body can pump life into the world when it reaches out into the community and doesn’t try to change people, but rather just love them. It’s loving people enough to be the Light, speak the Truth, and build real relationships. That is church to me. It’s community. Inside the church AND out. Those relationships matter so much. And I am so FREAKIN’ blessed because of them. (I normally don’t use that word, because I feel it is almost too strong, but it fits here in strength!) God doesn’t bless them with us, but rather He blesses us with them!
I believe that we build up the church when we build up the people outside of it. And that is how community erases the line between them. The church exists in the community. And the community exists in the church. That’s when they become one. I’d say I need to turn off my brain and stop thinking, but that’s not what this is about. It’s not my brain or smarts at work here. It’s all heart. And if the heart stops beating…well, we don’t want that! GET involved in community. It’s not hard. And everyone has time. Could be why I am so passionate about life management. We ALL have time to do something and do it well. Time, Talents, and Resources. You’ve got them! Don’t be afraid to give them! Live a life of faith in action. Go. Do. Be the Light. 🙂
My daughter was walking around the house looking for the remote control this morning, because it’s nowhere to be found. Apparently, we have a remote monster that picks it up when no one is looking, and deposits it in a place that would make it difficult for us to find it. All it really means is that someone walked to the kitchen with it and set it down, took it into their room and left it, or walked outside to check the mail leaving it on top of the mail box as if to let our mail person know that we are really that absent-minded. The remote-monsters are not real, nor do any exist in this household. But the forgetful people who don’t like accepting the responsibility of moving them are real and do exist. So, we have a search party organized from time to time to locate the lost item.
So………this made me think for a minute. If we were looking for the answers to prayers, direction, life challenges, and various situations, where would we look? And to take the question further, how HARD would we look? Would we run to God first? Or would we find that we’d be looking at another resource if we thought it would be easier? After all, if we want an answer right now, we should just search for the remote control. In fact, how long should a person look for a remote? But, if all it took was prayer, why wouldn’t we pray right then and there? Would we spend all day looking for a remote, or a book, or a person whom we felt qualified to answer our questions, sort our issues, or tell us what to do? How long would we look? How hard would we look? And if we ran to another resource such as television, a book, or other item, would we forget to run to God or His word first? If we always ran to something other than God and spent our time looking for answers in other things, what would we find we would run to?
The truth is, in coaching I see people run to all sorts of things in a frantic state of “fix it now, and get me out of this mess”. People search longer and harder for remote controls or devices created to entertain themselves harder than they search for the truth. And yet the truth is not hard to find. It’s readily available through prayer and The Bible.
But, we’d rather find the remote and turn on the TV. Why? Because it’s painless and it probably involves less change. Instead of making changes, we can just stare and watch, and find entertainment in the idea of change, without actually having the discomforts of making change. Sometimes the remote feels safer. The book is less invasive. A stranger is easier to agree with my rationale. But does it really help when things get sticky?
And then I imagined of all things a sticky note. Would God leave a sticky note on our remote control that says, “I’m here!”? Would He leave a note on our laptop or Ipad that says, “I have what you need!”? Would he leave a note on our cell phone that says, “Please consult me first!”? Where would God leave a sticky note reminding us to seek Him first? What item or person or thing do we usually run to first if there is something we run to before God? Oooooooooh, that’s a sticky question!
Next time we do this, or think about consulting something before God, it would be a good reminder to think of a brightly colored sticky note from God stuck to it with a simply worded and “to the point” reminder from Him, reminding us to seek Him first.
What do we run to when we need answers or solutions? What do we run to when we have free time? Are we missing the notes that God has left for us in the midst of our daily lives? We don’t have to look hard. We just need to open our eyes to Him and pay attention, and then MAKE THE TIME and prioritize Him. We tithe money. But do we tithe our time? Do we ever see the sticky notes? Do we stop and take it to Him? What notes is He leaving us these days? And in what locations?
What if God left us a sticky note that simply said, “See me.” How long would it take for us to seek Him? Would we go right away? Would we take it to him in a day? Would we notice it in a week? A year? What if we never saw it? That made me stop and think about all the things I might search for in my lifetime. And I want Him to be such a priority that I seek Him first on my own, and especially if He should leave me a “See me” note, that I would be aware of His tug and take it to Him immediately. There are so many things that can take our time, energy, and focus.
The sticky note is a good way to think about where and how we spend our time, and what WE stick to in our lives. Would we find a sticky note on a remote? At the office? On our mp3 player? On our sports jerseys?
And I pray God stick his notes to us with a God strength glue to remind us to focus on Him and not just when life gets sticky. But that we would stick to God, because He is the glue that holds us together, bonds what is broken, and speaks truth into our lives that we need not just when life gets complicated, but rather every single day.
It’s not an easy thing for me be this transparent. But, this post like many of my personal testimonies and life happenings is something I must share, because part of what I am called to do is exactly this. I believe that God calls me to share my personal experiences whether victory, struggle, triumph, imperfection, or mistake, as to be a reminder of how He is still alive, active, and at work in our lives today. So, I find I live more and more transparent each day, to help make Him a priority and the center of people’s lives by giving Him the glory of what happens in my life just as an example. And since I focus so much on life management and faith-based prioritization in my coaching practice, I couldn’t help but to title this entry, Occupy Your Prayer Life. With all the Occupy Wall Street and political things going on, it seemed a natural fit to remind even myself not to preoccupy myself with the matters of this world and instead focus and preoccupy myself with prayer to the only One who has the power to fix everything.
Lately it seems that we all want to know something. We want to know what the economy is going to do. We want to know what the future looks like for our parents, ourselves, and even our children. We ask for opinions and help with tasks that we have to complete, run around, and we occupy every bit of time we have with this thing we call life. And it’s no secret. No one is immune. We all run the risk of running out of time and not completing what it is we wanted or needed to do. There’s not enough time for us to occupy everything we want to. And if we’re not careful, our prayer lives can take the back seat, yet it’s one of the things we need the most. And that to me is scary.
Prayer is communication with God. Direct communication. Prayer can be asking for things of course, but it can also be an amazing communication mode in worship, thanksgiving, counting our blessings, and just reveling in the presence and beauty of a loving and Holy God who adores His children. Prayer is powerful. And it’s a conversation. God hears those He knows and responds according to what He knows is best for us. He works ALL things together for our good.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a]have been called according to his purpose.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Wow. To know that God hears our prayers. And He responds with the best response possible (which by the way may not be what we think is the best response. God truly knows best and through our faith we trust Him.)
I got up this morning and took my daughter to school like every other morning. Only when I got home, I sat in my car as I parked it in the driveway. As fast as lightning strikes, I realized that God had answered a prayer I prayed yesterday. See, yesterday, I spent the day in prayer to seek God’s confirmation for a vision I have for my life, a few opportunities, and my next steps. So I again surrendered my plans, placed my life at His feet, and asked Him for confirmation so clear I wouldn’t miss it. (I am an Extra Guidance Required type of person, which is sort of a laughing matter between God and myself. That is a good thing and I believe we enjoy this part of our relationship. It’s just me being me with God!)
I also prayed that I would listen and be watchful as not to miss His confirmation in my busy days. And while laying in bed last night after everything settled and my mind began to rest, I opened the book I am reading to the next chapter that without a doubt was the confirmation I had sought. And I read it word for word. In fact, I had to make sure I was not asleep, because I had to make absolutely certain I was really reading this as clear as it was. I was awake alright! I shrieked in delight! It’s amazing anyone in this house hasn’t called the loony bin. When it comes to God, I just cannot contain myself, and I always have good news to share! So, if you’re around me…look out! I will shriek in the middle of the night! 🙂
For everyone to understand why this matters: A few weeks ago, I taught at our Wednesday evening service. The message was about Testimonies, and how our testimonies are like a plow. Each testimony is plowing the fields that the seed will be planted in and take root in. However, at this point in time, the soil is sometimes SO HARDENED, that the seed is not taking root. In fact, it is sitting on top of the soil. If we hammer it to try to get it to take root and grow, or push it into the ground by repeated force, we destroy the seed. However, each time one of us gives a testimony as to how God is working in our lives today, answering prayers, being the One who saves, who provides our hope, and provides our daily bread, our testimonies begin to work as a plow does to break up the hardened soil. Each testimony is a pass by a plow that is breaking up the hardened soil. Then as the power of our testimonies breaks up the soil, the seed as it is scattered can make decent contact and start to grow!
Part of the message I gave was to explain how and why our testimonies are so important. It’s because people can’t deny what they witness with their own eyes, much the same as I sat in bed to make sure I was really reading what I as in fact reading. It’s harder to believe something that happened to a neighbor’s, uncle’s, first cousin’s, friend’s, son who had a ….you get the idea. Sure…maybe it happened. Maybe God answered a prayer or worked a miracle. Or maybe it will be shrugged off by those hearing as merely coincidence. After all, they didn’t see it. But let me tell you, if you live a life of testimony and others SEE how God works in your life, if they SEE and EXPERIENCE the change and metamorphosis God makes in OUR lives directly and first hand, it becomes much harder for them to deny! So, the message was based upon Living a Life Of Testimony-Why live a little when you can live a LOT (Life Of Testimony)? Wow!
The book I opened last night is called “Why Won’t They Listen?” The Power of Creation Evangelism, by Ken Ham. It’s a book about being a pioneer in evangelism. I kid you not, on the page in one of the chapters that I read was almost the message I spoke-verbatim about tilling up the hardened soil, but it applied specifically to where I feel called. On page 60, “Christians need to become familiar with the fact that it is becoming increasingly necessary to be involved in plowing first, then sowing, and finally reaping.” Those pages, along with the text I read about being an Evangelistic Pioneer, answered more of my prayers and confirmed everything I had been asking with an understanding which helps me understand the directions I am to take. That calling which scares me because I feel SO inadequate and intimidated by? Yep, that’s the one I need to run to, because that’s where I am called. (I can tell you what I was feeling and thinking: Excitement! Fear! How am I gonna? Me? Are you NUTS? Stop! Remember, Christine…You can’t do it on your own. And I know that. But I can rest that I can do it in Him who calls me and gives me what I need to do the task. And that just creates more testimonies! Ah, YES!!! That mountain? It’s not high enough to keep me away! Deep breath…Here am I, Lord…SEND ME!!!!!!!! Fear, Excitement…all over again!)
W.O.W. Thank you, Lord for the unmistakably clear confirmation! Oh, how I needed that!
When I pulled in my driveway and that lightning bolt hit my brain, I was excited and stunned at the same time. I was excited about the confirmation God gave me. But I was OUCHED and stunned at the fact that I had forgotten that He also answered my prayer directly. I prayed yesterday morning and ASKED him for this confirmation. Yet, I had already taken the confirmation but had forgotten to remember that prayer and realize and acknowledge that He answered it. Double ouch. Ugh.
Busyness got in the way, and I stopped to sit in awe in my driveway and 1. realize that God DID answer my prayer and 2. thank Him for providing the confirmation I had asked Him for by acknowledging that answer and praising Him for it. How quickly we can forget what it is that we prayed for. Ugh, I felt like a slug. It was a truly humbling moment, and I will be more careful to acknowledge my prayers that He answers before the busyness whisks me away again.
All of this just encouraged me to slow down and occupy not just my prayer life, but my praise life. Sometimes we get so hung up on one thing, that we forget to be grateful and full of praises. Our prayer lives are our direct line to The Father, not just for our needs, but also for our thanks. As I contemplate my day ahead, I see my 7 Day Sermon Workbook underneath my Bible. As soon as I finish writing this entry, I will grab it and journal my answered prayer and praises (I need all the help I can get to keep my focus and priorities straight!). In our lives we tend to occupy so many things, that it’s all too easy for us to forego prayer, praises, and time to develop our relationship with our Savior.
And I know that as I continue to take steps in this life, with every pass of the daily testimonies I rejoice over publicly, the soil will be plowed and His Will will be done. As I continue on this journey the vision becomes clearer as the message of life management plows the hardened ground, coaching and teaching people how to focus on priorities by creating time for God and His word helps to create an environment ripe for planting and growing the seeds, and through prayer our lives become occupied with Him and He harvests the seeds!
It’s time that life not occupy us. It’s time we occupy our prayer lives. That’s where our testimonies become of God and not of us. And He is the focus in all we do.
Today as I open my day in prayer and contemplate how I feel in this season of growth, I began to think of myself as a wet blob of clay. Before clay can be molded and shaped into it’s proper form and serve it’s essential functions based on the purpose it will be given, it must be ripe for shaping. It can’t be too dry. It can’t be too wet. The consistency must be ripe for shaping. Suddenly, that’s where I saw myself.
I know without a doubt that I am sitting on the Potter’s table in this season of growth I am entering. I know that God is working in my life to now take a ready piece of clay to begin refining me into the vessel that He will use to pour out everything He pours into my life into other people. I’m so excited, I can hardly stop smiling and standing on my head! Needless to say, I am ready and more than willing!
I am overwhelmed with an absolute joy. This season of learning, this season of molding, this season of reshaping, firing, and refining is a welcome one. My entire being has been yearning for this moment. And it is here. It is here indeed!
It’s not every day that I post a prayer on my blog. But today I am: Father, my prayer today and every day is that you take this wet chunk of clay that I am, that is now ready to be refined, and shape me to fit your purpose. Everything I have is yours, and everything I am and am to become is for YOUR glory. And yes, Father, I am THIS EXCITED to serve on this journey and anticipate and witness miracles that only you can do! Where I am going is not important. That I be shaped by you and go where you destin I go is. I pray for today to begin the journey in this new season, the season a wet piece of clay gets refined to fill your purpose and to be used to pour everything you bless me with into other lives.-Amen.
Today is a very important anniversary for me. Two years ago today was a day that a specific prayer was answered, and my life changed forever. How?
Here’s a quick recap:
I used to be a smoker. I started smoking at age 16 and smoked off and on until just two years ago. I really wanted to quit. Not just so I’d be healthy, but because I wanted God to use me. I wanted Him to use the gifts He’d given me and the purpose He’d designed me for, but if I kept smoking and was clinging to that addiction mastering me, I felt that I’d be a hypocrite. So, I started talking to God about it. I prayed.
In my prayers, I really began to feel that I’d be able to quit if I could get away from my normal routine and away from people who smoked to give up the habit for a few days. I felt that once I had two or three days away without smoking, I’d be ok and be able to come home without picking up the habit again.
The only problem was, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t smoke. Everyone I knew that I could go out of town with smoked, so that was not going to do me any good. It would be all too easy to give in and smoke just one more cigarette. So, I prayed. And I explained how I really felt to God. And again, I wanted to be used by Him for Kingdom purposes, so I wanted to quit smoking more than anything. And then came those other reasons: my health, my kids, etc.
God answers prayers:
A few days later, I received an email from my pastor asking if I’d like to attend the C3, (Creative Church Conference) in Dallas, TX with a group of pastors and other leaders from our church. And as soon as I got the email (and after dancing with excitement) I knew it was the prayer I had prayed being answered. It was my opportunity to get out of town for a few days, change my routine, quit smoking, and travel with other non-smokers. And I was so happy, yet terrified.
See, I wanted the prayer answered. I really did. But I thought I’d like it answered in six months or so, so I could keep smoking and have that comfort! But, oh, no! God answered it, and He didn’t give me much time! I would be leaving for the trip in about ten days! And I knew at that point, there was no turning back.
I prayed for a way out. And God provided it. I was either going to rely on His strength, power, and provision and go through with it, or I would rely on me and not take the opportunity that he had provided for me to actually quit and succeed.
The lesson: God answers prayers. And sometimes it’s scary, but we still have to take those scary steps to be successful. He didn’t magically make me wake up never craving another cigarette. No, I had to rely on His power and strength (and a ton of suckers, gum, and beef jerky) to get through those first three days. What’s more, I made it through the first day without a soda of any kind, since the only caffeine at the conference was in the form of coffee, which at the time I didn’t drink! Wow, talk about a miracle! I survived! (And so did everyone else, ha, ha!) We eventually got some Dr. Pepper, and I made it one minute, one hour, one smoke-free day at a time.
Once I got home, I knew I could stop and buy a pack of smokes easily if I wanted to. But somehow, knowing that God had answered my prayer and given me this way out, I never did. I never cheated or smoked at all. Instead, I prayed and thanked Him for His provision. Even today when things get stressful, I don’t have the urge to smoke. But so many times I am reminded of His power, how he does answer prayers, and my responsibility to respond to His provision.
The biggest lesson of all:
I am constantly reminded that even when God provides the answer to prayers that we have prayed for or sought, we still have a role to play in what we do with the provision and His resources he provides. He will give us what we need. But we have a responsibility to use it, believe it, and rely upon it. It’s not just about receiving what we’ve asked for. We have to use what He gives us. I think that the use is where our faith comes in. We have to trust Him and show our faith in using what He’s provided us with in response to our prayer and petitions.
If He did everything for us, would that really require faith and belief in His power? I know first-hand that His provision was there, but my faith was deepened when I, myself, had to use what He gave me.
Today I celebrate TWO YEARS smoke free. I celebrate my answered prayer from God himself. And I celebrate my courage to use His provision, because it deepened my faith in Him, and has provided an incredible testimony I can share with others…
Don’t be afraid to trust in God’s provision in response to your prayers.
He will answer your prayers. But you have to trust Him and do the hard part. Take that first step and give Him room to show you His power. Be courageous in Jesus’ name!
Philippians 4:13 (New King James Version)
13 I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.
On several occasions now while driving long distances, my GPS unit gave me one route, but my Mapquest directions (for backup purposes) gave me a different route when it got down to the turn by turn directions . They both ended up at the same destination, but I was more afraid to rely on different the route provided by the GPS unit. Why? There was nothing available for me to tangibly hold in my hands like the Mapquest directions printed so plainly. Those papers were right in front of me. I could see them, hold them, and thus trust them. Or at least it gave me that sense of security.
Would I really trust in something I couldn’t hold? Where were those GPS directions coming from? Outer space? It felt as though they were being beamed from a world completely unknown to me. And I wasn’t so trusting with that. The backup directions I had from an alternate source for MY comfort were proof of that. After all, I wanted to not only see it but hold it for proof as well.
Unfortunately, that could have been my most direct route that I passed up. That could have been a better path to take even though I chose to chicken out in the trust department.
Today while reading my Bible In A Year, I read this passage:
Matthew 20:29-34 (New International Version, ©2011)
Two Blind Men Receive Sight
29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
This was significant to me when I read it. The two men asked for their sight. Perhaps they wanted to see where they were and where they were going. And when they asked Jesus for it they got it. The important part is that they received what they asked for and followed Him immediately.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I thought back to how many times I’d prayed and asked Jesus for direction in my lifetime. Like many others, I’d asked God to reveal my next steps, discern His will, or help me understand HOW to go forth and do what I need to do to follow Him and His call. Yet, just like when I get those precise directions on the GPS system, I didn’t trust them even though they couldn’t have been anymore visible and clear! Why did I question them over and over again? Why did I sit and change the route to fit MY level of comfort, MY time table, and MY need for tangible instructions? Bottom line it was me of little faith. Very little faith.
I can think of so many people in the Bible who were like those two blind men who rose and followed Jesus immediately. And I want to be like them. I want to be like the disciples who just left their nets immediately and became fishers of men. They got their call, saw Jesus, and immediately went. I want to be like Paul and go to where I am called to teach without the need for a “just in case” set of directions. No more Mapquest to second guess God’s guidance. No more skirting the calling. No more tangible directions to hold in my hands when my spiritual radar is directly connected to our source of wisdom in Heaven. When you see Jesus in your life, when you are called into service, when you know your direction and calling-there is only one thing left to do:
Immediately follow Jesus. Get up and go. God’s plans and directions are always right the first time. We can be sure of that.