Back to Basics: Prayer

When It Seems God is Not Listening

Ever been praying and it felt like your prayer wasn’t getting any higher than the ceiling? Most of us have had that feeling at some point in our lives. We are not alone. In the Old Testament book of Lamentations, we see the author experienced this same sort of feeling when he says, “Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer,” and then again, “You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through.” (3:8, 44)

If we had our “druthers” as my grandmama used to say, we’d rather this not happen. Our hearts long to go into every prayer encounter with God with an assurance in our heart that He hears every word we speak to Him and a confident expectation that He will act on our behalf in response to our prayers. But when we depend on how we feel, it can affect our faith. We may begin to feel that our prayers are hitting that invisible ceiling and wonder what we’re doing wrong that they aren’t getting through. Or we may feel that God isn’t listening, He’s ignoring us. We sometimes feel he’s not acting fast enough, and wonder if that means He’s abandoned us. We could even buy into Satan’s tactics and feel that we’ve been so sinful, so bad, that He won’t ever listen to us. In fact, how many times have we asked someone else to pray for us, because (although we do not consciously admit this) we wonder if maybe God would answer them, when He seems to be stalling on us? Do you ever feel that need to bring in the big guns for the battle, so you call the holiest friend you have at the time and ask them to pray? There’s nothing wrong with doing that, in fact, there is power in multiplied prayer. But there is a problem at the core of our belief if we fall into these ways of thinking.

When we depend on how we feel, it can affect our faith.

So how do we counteract these feelings? How do we strengthen our faith? The same way we counter any of Satan’s other attacks, with God’s Word! According to scripture, are there requirements to prayer? Things that make us able to communicate with God better? Are there things that block or hinder our prayers? Just what is prayer anyway? And what about a “No” answer, is that an answer or is it God not responding to us? What about when we wait for years for an answer? Many of you aren’t bothered by these questions; your faith carries you through. But there are others out there, like me, who have fought this spiritual battle many times, as Satan has used our feelings as mortars to bombard our faith and to try to make us back down and doubt ourselves and our effectiveness in prayer.

Let’s take a look at some of those scriptures, so that we can effectively wield our sword of the Spirit and destroy those incoming missiles directed at our faith. (For a more comprehensive look at prayer than we have time, space here, or the theological genius to depart to you, check out the prayer resource links at the end of this article.)

girl-praying-hands-eyelashes-41942When should we pray?

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

How are we to pray?

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Colossians 4:12

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:

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‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come, your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matthew 6:5-13

 

Our prayers will get results.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11

For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. Philippians 1:19

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. Colossians 1:9

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Colossians 4:3-4

Our prayers are fruitful even when we don’t know what to pray.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

Our prayers can be hindered by our behavior.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3:12

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt. 6:14-15

The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29

Our prayers are eternal, ever before the Lord.

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8

In Conclusion

Ladies, we can walk forth with an assurance in our heart that He hears every word we speak to Him. But we must believe His Word and NOT trust our feelings.

Most all of you are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11. You could probably quote it. But are you familiar with Jeremiah 29:12-14? It states, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” You can call on Him. He will listen to you when you pray. He hears. He is not playing Hide and Seek with you – He wants to be found by you. Are you seeking Him with your whole heart Dear One? Then you will find Him and the answers to your prayers. You can have a confident expectation that He will act on your behalf in response to your prayers. Isaiah tells us, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4) Don’t become weary with waiting. Lack of an answer today does not mean “No,” and it does not mean God is not listening. Every word you pray rises to God’s ear. Be faithful in Waiting on Him – be it a week, a month, a year, 10 years, or a lifetime!

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RESOURCES:
Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent
Evelyn Christenson books including Lord Change Me
Sylvia Gunter’s Prayer Portions (and check out her blog)
Stormie O’Martian books
Kay Arthur’s Lord Teach Me to Pray
War Room movie and Bible study

Back to Basics: Discipling

Disciple.

Interesting word. We’ve heard it. We know of Jesus’ twelve disciples. But it’s a word many Christians don’t connect with in everyday life. We should.

So what is a disciple? Dictionary.com defines it as “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; a follower.” And the Greek word mathetes translated as “disciple” in the new testament means “a learner, pupil, disciple.” And although our very modern dictionary.com considers the verb forms “disciple, discipled, discipling” obsolete and archaic, the meaning is still in frequent use among Christians: to convert into a disciple” or “to teach; train.”

A buzz word of the last few years has been mentorMy Google definition for mentor is “an experienced and trusted adviser” (noun) or “advise or train someone, especially a younger colleague” (verb). The term mentor seems to be the more secular term, but crosses over easily into use in the Christian realm.  For this article I will use the terms mentoring and discipling interchangeably.

As Christian women studying God’s Word and seeking to live out the commands of Christ, we quickly come upon the term “disciple” and have to decide whether to ignore it or to move forward in obedience. At the end of the gospel of Matthew we are confronted with these words from Jesus, “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (28:19-20) But what do we do with His words?

Common responses to that verse are either:
1) to assume it only means to lead people to Christ
2) to believe that verse is only for certain, mature Christians or pastors, but not for me
3) to realize what it means, but avoid living it out in my life

But when I come upon a Christian who actually grasps the full meaning and lives out this verse, my senses are immediately aware and conviction wells up within me – Am I living out the fullness of this scripture?

For true disciples of Jesus, these verses, referred to as the Great Commission, are not just a random suggestion; they are a mandate that sears their heart and spurs them to an action – making disciples themselves. Those who have sat at Jesus’ feet as learners (disciples) soon realize that they are called upon to not just sit there and soak it in, but to share it and spread what they’ve learned to others – to disciple, to teach and use Jesus’ words “make disciples.”

alexis-brown-82988But what goes into making a disciple? What is needed to find a Christian mentor or to be one? What is the cost of discipleship? How do we do it? What are the things we need to focus on? How do we carry it out in real life? What areas of growth do we focus on? These are the questions that leave us in a gray fog of doubt. Today we’ll approach a few of these questions, and then hit the rest in follow-up articles. So let’s break it down question by question.

1) How can I, a Christian woman, find a mentor or disciple?

  • Ask God to send you a disciple/mentor or to put on your heart who to ask. Prayer is so underestimated! If you take this need to God with a sincere heart He will reveal the person and make a way for you.
  • Ask someone to mentor you. Consider a godly woman you know from church and approach them at church or invite them out for coffee and ask them straight out to mentor/disciple you.
  • Ask a women’s ministry leader or Sunday School teacher for a recommendation. Tell them of your desire to be discipled and ask for help in finding one.
  • Plan a mentor/mentee luncheon where several women who are interested in discipling or being discipled can come together and allow match-ups to happen. Or invite several women to your home for a small group prayer or discussion time in hopes of developing relationships. Consider sending out invitations or putting a notice in your church bulletin inviting all those who are interested.

2) And am I ready to become a discipler/mentor – I’m not “perfect”?

  • Yes, you are ready! A simple word picture (gleaned from Anne Ortlund’s writing I believe) may help us grasp this. Imagine you are on a vertical ladder. At any time you will be on one of the rungs. The person above you will be reaching down to help you grow and learn and move to the next higher rung, while at the same time you will be reaching behind you to disciple someone coming along in the Christian walk who is “younger” spiritually than you are. So if you accepted Christ as your Savior and have been digging in His word and growing, guess what? You have the potential to take someone “younger” under your wing and share with them what you’ve learned!
  • If we had to “be perfect” to disciple others, no one ever would! Because guess what? Only Jesus was a perfect human. If you can say to another, “I can tell you what I’ve learned,” “Read your Bible each day,” “Pray each day,” “I’ll pray for you,” “Let’s dig through scripture and find out!” or “I’ll walk through this hard time with you,” then you have what it takes.

3) How do I become a discipler?

  • Pray and ask. If you see a younger woman (spiritually) who seems to desire to grow in the Lord, or who has verbally expressed a need or desire to be discipled, pray diligently about it and then approach her and offer to disciple her. Yes, this takes courage! Yes, it can be a bit awkward if she declines your offer! I’ve walked through this. She’s not rejecting you. That is simply not the right person or time God has for you. This is not about you, this is about obeying God’s command to make disciples.
  • Print up a handout and invite a group to your home. I’ve done this too.
    • Be specific in the flier. Tell the “5 W’s and an H – who, what, when, where, why, and how. Type up a succinct yet appealing flier that lists day & time you plan to meet, duration (i.e. 1 1/2 hours, once a week for the next year), who you’re reaching out to (moms of littles, caregivers of aging parents, brand new Christians,…), what you plan to do (prayer, Bible study, worship, accountability, a mix of several of these,…), why you feel led to, and if you have a Bible study book or topic, list that too.
    • Print more than you think you’ll need. I probably handed out 20, when all I desired was a group of 3-5. I ended up with 4 wonderful young women and myself. It was an awesome year. (I still love you gals – Kelly, Christy, Jennie, and Michele!)
    • Give them out to everyone God allows you to. I gave some out sure that the person would come – they didn’t. And one I gave out very reluctantly, sure that she was too busy and too spiritually mature to even want to come to my house – and she came! Go figure. God will surprise you.
  • Evaluate relationships you already have that God is trying to turn into an “undeclared” discipling relationship. Sometimes God allows a relationship to develop of gentle teaching, guiding, and praying for a person who has been a friend for a long time. You are not there to “Lord it over” or “fix” your friend, but to humbly teach what the Holy Spirit is teaching you.
  • Alert your small group leader, women’s ministry leader, or pastor at church that you would be willing to mentor new Christian women (women only mentor women) who come into the class or church and need/want to be discipled. Some churches even offer training programs on how to disciple/mentor.

Realize that you are most likely already discipling and being discipled. In our worship service, Bible study, small group, women’s meetings, etc., we are all unofficially teaching one another and learning from one another. We are growing from simply watching how our Sunday School teacher digs in the Word and how she prays and how she ministers to hurting people in our class. We are becoming more mature disciples when we take notes on the pastor’s sermon and go home and seek to apply it to our lives. We are casually discipling (teaching) other Christians when we share what we learned and how God grew us as we walked through a trying life experience. “You are My Disciples,” Jesus says, “if you love one another,” and “if you hold to my teaching.” (John 13:35, John 8:31) We ARE His disciples, let’s begin to obey scripture and make disciples!

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Back to Basics: Fasting

We recently had a  wonderful breakthrough in something we had been praying about for many years – in fact, for over 30 years in general, and very specifically for the last 7 years. Before Easter our pastor called our church to a time of corporate prayer and fasting. My husband and I both felt led to participate. We told each other, and as a couple supported each other with 3 specific goals in mind: 1) to support our pastor and church body, 2) to be obedient to Christ, and 3) to pray specifically for the salvation of someone very close to us whom we had been interceding for the last several years. At the end of our time of fasting, God acted on our behalf and this dear one accepted Christ! It was a glory day for us! A day that sprung out of faith in scriptural truth and obedience to that scripture. Specifically these scriptures:

“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:17-18 ESV

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”
Isaiah 64:4 NIV

So what is fasting? According to dictionary.com fasting is “to abstain from all food” or “to eat only sparingly or of certain kinds of food, especially as a religious observance.” The fasting we are talking about here is not abstaining from food before a medical procedure or to lose weight. No, we’re going with the second definition here, abstaining “as a religious observance.”

Now why in the world would we do that?

Here are a few reasons.

  1. Jesus fasted. Matthew 4:2 says about Jesus, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” As Jesus began his 3 years of ministry on earth, He started it off with a time of intense fasting and focusing on His heavenly Father. If Jesus set this example for us, we should follow this example.
  1. Scripture assumes that a Christ-follower will fast. Notice in Matthew 6:17 above the underlined phrase. It says “when you fast.” Fasting is a given. There is no waffling in scripture about “if you think you want to do this… .” It is expected of those who walk with God.
  1. Scripture offers examples of people of God fasting and praying and receiving answers to their prayers.
    In the Old Testament when Ezra was on his mission to rebuild the temple, he made this statement, “I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:22-23 NIV) And in the New Testament we see the sweet picture of Anna, waiting faithfully in the temple for years for THAT day when she finally got to see her Savior, the baby Jesus, whom Mary and Joseph brought to the temple to dedicate. “There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38 NIV)

     Fasting and praying yields an answer from the Lord.

  1. Fasting brings instruction from the Lord. When we are wandering or wondering in our Christian walk, not knowing what to do or which choice to make, fasting turns God’s ear to us and opens the way for Him to bring instruction or direction. Acts 13:2 reveals a vivid example of this. It states, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ ” The Holy Spirit spoke to the body of Christ with specific instructions in response to their worship and fasting.

Ladies, we are a needy people. We need God to act on behalf of people we know –  of us even. And we desperately need direction, instruction, and wisdom from the Lord. So I encourage you, whether you are setting out to fast out of simple obedience to God or from a place of emotional desperation, needing the Father to intervene immediately for someone you love, it’s time to do it. We need to quit treating fasting as a habit of God’s elite followers and begin to see what it really is. Fasting is a spiritual discipline we are expected to do in our Christian walk just as much as we are expected to pray, read the scriptures, love our fellow-man and spread the gospel.

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Let’s allow the Lord to set a table before us, and let us feast on His Word as we make fasting a regular part of our Christian discipline.

Celebrate Women!

Celebrate the Women i Your Life Today!-2Mother’s Day is a mixed bag, sheer joy for some, loneliness for others, downright depressing for many.

pexels-photo-265996The new mom is ecstatic.

The woman with empty arms is dreading going to church.

The mom of the senior in high school is beginning to mourn (or celebrate) depending on her personality.

pexels-photo-144433The lady with kids far away is wondering if she’ll hear from them.

The single woman with no children feels awkward when the moms are acknowledged in the church service. This day is all about women – but where does she fit in?

The frail frame of the one in the nursing home bed longs for a family touch and conversation.

pexels-photo.jpegThe single mom may be struggling to make ends meet and to be both dad and mom, while feeling abandoned and longing for more.

The wife with a house full of kids is thrilled to have a day that Dad and the kids will cook and clean where she can put her feet up.

The pregnant woman is waiting with anticipation for the day she will have that babe in her arms, or else she’s living in fear of another miscarriage.

people-mother-family-fatherThe single CEO is proud of what she’s accomplished, but reminded again of what she doesn’t have.

The empty-nester is looking back wistfully on those precious memories.

The first time grandma’s are some of the most thrilled of all.

On this gorgeous Lord’s Day, may we women encourage one another wherever we are and whoever the women are around us. Hug someone today! Love unconditionally! See every woman you meet as one in need of your blessing today!

 

 

V.B.S. – Very Busy Season

2014 Randolph vacation Bible schoolIt’s that time of year again! You know what I mean. School is winding down, but the kid’s ministry at church is gearing up. The Big Week is just around the corner – that life-changing time for kids in our communities. Crafts are being dreamed up and inflatables reserved. What is it?

VBS!

You are most likely familiar with these letters. VBSVacation Bible School, that focused week of Bible teaching and fun for elementary kids that many churches offer each summer. Maybe yours is the first week of June, or maybe it’s mid-summer. Whichever it is, plans are being made, supplies are being gathered, decorations purchased, cookies and Kool-aid donated, and folks in your church have begun praying for the salvation of the children that will attend.

pexels-photo-83761But possibly when you see those letters, VBS, all you can see is a Very Busy Season. You think of all there is to do before the end of the school year, and you just want to rest when it’s over. Or you think of the challenge ahead this summer – keeping the kids entertained so you don’t hear continuous whining and fighting. Perhaps you’re in the heat of planning a family trip, getting ready for a wedding celebration, or transitioning a graduating senior to college. Even if it is something more constant like a demanding job, being a caregiver, or fighting a terminal disease, many of us can only see the busy-ness at this time of year.

1000w_q95Whatever season you are in at the moment, I challenge you to get a VBS mindset! VBS is the Vital Business of our Savior! This concentrated time of teaching, prayer, and fun, is crucial for the spiritual life of our children. Those who are in lonely and broken situations will be able to experience the love and acceptance of the Father through the hands of those VBS workers. The hurt and wounded will hear stories of God’s healing and redemption of any situation. Hope is given to the heart of many a child during VBS.

pexels-photo-261895But most importantly, this is an opportunity for each child to come into a saving relationship with his/her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How are we to know but what this may be their only exposure to the Gospel. It’s time for us to jump in on this Vital Business of the Savior: teaching, praying, giving, setting up, baby-sitting for the leaders as they prepare, donating supplies, making things, studying the lessons to teach, planning the fun!

How will you jump in and get involved?

VBS rings out with beautiful children’s Voices Blended in Singing.

It offers Vital Bible Study to teach these little ones the ways of Christ.

It plants Victory-Bearing Scripture in each child, a seed that will grow in their little hearts like a plant and bear fruit in a future season. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

And it gives a View of our Beautiful Savior that they will carry with them throughout their entire lives.

VBSVow to Be Serving these little ones in whatever way you can, no matter how busy the season is. And remember, no matter how small or how large a part we play, we are all needed.

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16

Back to Basics: Scripture Memory 2

“Mary had a little lamb… ”

“Thirty days hath September… ”

“O beautiful for spacious skies…”

I bet you could quote the rest of each of those! You probably learned them by first or second grade, but you’ll never forget them. I imagine that those, along with “Jesus Loves Me” and John 3:16, will be some of the things I will still be able to recall even if I live to be a hundred and have failing memory.

God created us with this amazing brain that has a huge memory. It still baffles scientists, and no computer created by man has been able to come close to doing all our brain does. Yet we tend to shortchange and doubt the capability of our brain’s memory. Especially when it comes to scripture memory.

We remember all the lyrics to songs on the radio. We can quote scenes from movies with our friends. We remember word for word the argument we had with our husband. (Yikes! Am I hitting too close to home?) But we cast off this great potential we possess when it comes to memorizing scripture with statements like, “I’m not good at memorizing things,” “I’ve tried. I never can remember scriptures,” or “I guess I’m getting too old to memorize scripture.”

Allow me to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

Those are just excuses! Granted some people seem to have a greater capacity for recall, and yes, remembering things does become more challenging as we age. But it’s not impossible. What we’re saying with our excuses is “It’s not a priority for me,” “I have other things I’d rather invest my time in,” or “I’m too spiritually lazy to try.”

Paul tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) If we truly believe this, it should drive us to fill our minds with God’s Word. We need teaching and training. And though we don’t like it, we also need rebuking and correcting. And I believe each of you would say you want to be thoroughly equipped for everything God has for you to do.

So let’s get serious. Are you willing to put the time in to make a change? Are you ready to take on the challenge of hiding God’s word in your heart?

If you haven’t already read it, go back and check out Joy’s article on scripture memory first. Then come back here and check out these tips that will help as you get into high gear memorizing scripture. I’ve used all of these myself, so I know they work. 2017-04-19 08.28.39

    1. Write your verse out by hand. (The more senses we include in memorizing the better it will stick. This also applies to #2 and #3.)
    2. Read the verse several times a day. Reading it out loud is even better! You’re tripling the reinforcement by letting your brain see, speak, and hear it at the same time.
    3. Listen to the verse repeated over and over. Simply record it on an app and let it play over and over as you’re working out, cleaning house, driving to work, whatever!
    4. Keep the verse in front of you in any way possible:
      • Write it on your calendar.
      • Use Post-it notes and put it in places you look frequently (computer screen, kitchen cabinet, dash of your car, etc.).
      • Use a spiral or ring index card holder to keep in your purse for review in any spare time. Put one verse per card. This way you can easily review old ones.
      • 2017-04-19 08.35.06Set it as your screen saver or lock screen on your computer or phone.
      • Write it on you bathroom mirror with permanent marker. You’ll see it and can work on it as you get ready and brush your teeth every day. (Don’t worry, it comes off easily with fingernail polish remover and a cotton ball.)
    5. Sing the verse. Just to reinforce what Joy already suggested… Set your verse to a tune you already know, or google scripture memory songs and find a composition that works for you.
    6. Make a game of it. (See examples below.)
      • Make a chart with the verse repeated over and over several times. In each repetition underline the next key word or phrase. Read each repetition aloud emphasizing the underlined word. This helps you see the deeper meaning in what you’re memorizing.
      • Type the same verse out several times on one page. Randomly leave out 3-5 words on each subsequent repetition. Print this out and keep it in a handy place. Work on reading the verse in its entirety first. After a couple of days, fold the lines of the entire verse over and try to say the verse while looking at the next entry with a few words missing. Can you recall the words? After a couple of days more, fold that over and go to the next repetition that has 6-10 words missing. Try saying the verse looking at this. Are you recalling everything? Keep doing this process until you reach the bottom of the page and do not need to look at it at all to recite the verse.
      • Print out a chapter of the Bible one verse at a time, leaving space beside it and draw pictures depicting each verse. (This is similar to the idea of a doodling or journaling Bible. The difference is the purpose; you draw pictures verse by verse to help you with recall, not for the artistic value.)
      • Check out these Word document samples: Scripture Memory helps

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Back to the Basics: Prayer

So do you have your coffee, tea, or cocoa? Ready to chat? We as women love to talk. We are relational. We thrive on deep communication, being known. With that in mind, let’s jump right in!

Prayer is one of the most important things in the Christian walk. Prayer coupled with the Word of God forms our conversation with the Lord. Communication. He speaks to us through His word; we speak back to Him through prayer. Then we listen…. I personally like to listen with a pen and journal. That way when He impresses something on my heart I can write it down, contemplate it, pray more about it, and obey when He calls for action.

Would you agree that prayer is very important in the Christian walk? Most Christians will agree with that, I believe. Then why do we treat it so casually? Why do we not pray frequently, boldly, and confidently to our Father who loves us? And if we pray intentionally and frequently, daily even, in our quiet time at least, why do our prayers often end up sounding like a child’s Christmas wish list to Santa? Why do few Christians practice walking in the “praying without ceasing” mindset we are instructed to in 1 Thessalonians 5:17? Why do we not have the “peace that passes understanding” that we are promised in Philippians 4:7 after we pray? Why do we pray and then find ourselves surprised when something miraculous happens in answer to our prayers? Please hear my heart here, I’m not asking in an accusing way! I’m asking myself why I do these things too?

A photo by Ben White. unsplash.com/photos/BtNxJsFOjtQI believe prayer is one of the simplest yet most profound and powerful parts of our life with Christ. It is beyond our understanding in many ways. Prayer is so simple that a little child can do it, yet so powerful and profound that it intimidates lawyers and doctors. It can be sporadic or a disciplined pursuit. Prayer is earthly words spoken that are then acted on by all the power of our Omnipotent Creator. It is at the same time practical and mystical, in that it is a practical action we are instructed to do by scripture, yet it has spiritual ramifications that are beyond our comprehension. Prayer sets in action the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms and is eternal. When we pray a prayer it is never lost floating around in space. Revelation 5:8 tells us “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people” and they are there in heaven eternally before the Father.

Whole books have been written on prayer. So of course I cannot touch on every facet of prayer in one short blog post. I will mention a few resources I love at the end of this post. So for the rest of the article I will focus on carrying through with prayer in your daily life. I’ll offer some ideas for being intentional and organized in prayer.

Tips for a flourishing prayer life:

1. Make prayer and Bible study a priority.

If prayer coupled with Bible study is a conversation with God, then we need to make it a daily activity, and many times a day. We women would not be pleased if our husband, boyfriend, or best friend, only had a conversation with us on Sunday! So why would we think a relationship with God can be sustained without intimate conversation on a regular basis? God speaks through His Word, and we respond to Him through prayer – that’s the conversation. I love the Navigator’s “Wheel” illustration. It refers to prayer and the Word as the vertical spokes of a wheel – us reaching up to God and Him speaking to us. (I’ll include it at the bottom of this article, and we’ll discuss the 2 horizontal spokes of the wheel in other articles.)  And without these spokes our wheel of life becomes a flat tire to drive on.

2.Start the day off with prayer.

Make it a habit to go to God first thing in the morning. Start your day talking with Him. Set the clock for 15 minutes earlier than you would normally rise, then gradually increase the time you spend. It’s worth every moment.

3.Pray scripture.

One of the most powerful ways to pray is to speak God’s words back to Him. There is power in the Word of God! As Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Just personalize verses that speak to the issue you are praying over.

Example. Praying scripture using Hebrews 12:1-3 might go something like this:“Lord, As I’m facing tough times ahead and since I’m surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, help me throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles me. And let me run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on you, Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. For the joy set before you, you endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Father God, remind me to consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinners, so that I won’t grow weary and lose heart. In my struggle against sin, I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood as Jesus did! Amen.”

4.Have a plan for your personal prayer time. 

Don’t just give your wish list to God every time you meet (supplication). Spend time in praise, adoration, thanksgiving as well as confessing sins, interceding for others, and listening to Him. I’ve seen the acrostic ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. It reminds us to do more than just ask, ask, ask. In reality, my prayers are very much like a human conversation with a rich flow of comments & questions, speaking & listening, ideas, and appreciation all mixed together.

5.Write out your prayers.

One thing I’ve found very helpful is to write out my prayers. It gives me a glimpse of my motives and what I’m really saying. I use my simple lined journal and write stream-of-consciousness style as my thoughts flow. Many times I will be drawn to my knees when I see my prideful, selfish attitude on paper. And equally as many times I find the resolution to my situation spilling out of my pen as I write. I often write out verses in my prayers and even find myself moved by God in a new direction. It’s shockingly revealing. My prayer journal has taken many forms over the years. My recommendation to you is to Start Journaling! Start with whatever you have. If you aren’t satisfied, research so you can refine or change your format. Check out this article on ideas for a prayer journal.

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Here are a few other important things to consider about your prayer life:

A. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) All day, every day keep the conversation open with Him as you go about you daily life. You’ll love it and be surprised at the things the Lord has you pray and do as you go about your job or daily errands.

B. Pray for others on the spot when they ask for prayer.This is a form of interceding. Dictionary.com defines interceding as – to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition. But basically interceding is a big word that means praying for others (or yourself). You plead their case to God and ask Him to act on their behalf. And here I am challenging you to do it out loud, in the moment, in their presence! I can see your reaction in my mind. You’re sitting there like, “Oh that makes me really uncomfortable. Won’t it be awkward?” It’s worth it!

So why pray for someone right there on the spot in the church hallway, in the aisle at Wal-Mart, or sitting in the bleachers at the ball park? Three great reasons to pray aloud, on the spot with a person:

1) You won’t forget to pray for them. You are doing it right then. And guess what. When you’ve done it once you’re more apt to remember to pray for them again later when they’re not around.
2) There is power in the spoken word. Having someone pray aloud for you touches the heart. It brings peace, comfort and hope. It lets the person being prayed for know that you actually prayed (and didn’t just say that) and what scriptural promises you prayed over them. 

3) Your personal prayer life will ramp up when you are unafraid to risk or to be awkward or to be vulnerable enough to pray with them in public.

C. Be a part of a prayer group with like-minded people. I’m part of a prayer group for moms of teens and young adults. We come together knowing we are loved and never judged, and that we’re prayed for in our darkest moments. We text each other during the week when a crisis or a praise comes! We cry or celebrate together. I call us Stretcher-Bearers because we are like the lame man whose friends had to carry Him to Jesus; sometimes we are broken moms, and the hurts are so difficult we can’t even get the words out to pray for ourselves and our situation, but our stretcher-bearers take us to the throne. We have prayed each other through major ups and downs.

So find you a group. Start a group. I guarantee someone else is wishing someone would. Your prayer group could focus on praying for: spouses, children, schools, grandchildren, missionaries on the field, the team, the band, the workplace, the pastor… whatever your need is.

D. Remember, the Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know what to pray. Romans 8:26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” So don’t let not knowing what to say stop you from praying!

E. An Emergency prayer: “Help me, Jesus!” God knows. You don’t have to explain. When those moments come just shout out His name.

Remember James 5:16 (NIV) “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

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The Navigator’s Wheel Illustration

wheel

Resources on prayer:

“Be Devoted to Prayer” a wonderful article by John Piper

Lord, Teach Me to Pray – Kay Arthur  Kay’s Arthur’s website

Prayer Portions – Sylvia Gunter

Sylvia’s website has devotionals, a blog, and a place to order the book.

The Power of a Praying Parent – Stormie O’Martian  She also has resources on praying for your spouse, grandchildren, adult child, etc. Stormie’s website.

Sola Scriptura: Romans 8

No dialog. No frills. No personal annotations. Simply truths from Romans 8 which can guide us through this path of life. Pray, read, and allow God to speak to your heart.

  • There is now no condemnation in Christ.
  • The law of the Spirit of Life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
  • We do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
  • The mind set on the flesh is death but on the Spirit is Life and Peace.
  • Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
  • All who are being led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God.
  • You are not slaves to fear, you are adopted daughters of God.
  • Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.
  • The Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray.
  • All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
  • If God is for us who can be against us?! (Rhetorical Question! Answer: no one!)
  • What can separate us from the love of Christ?! (Rhetorical Question! Answer: nothing!)
  • We are more than conquerors in Christ. I am. You are.

Bible Gateway – Romans 8

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