Fighting for our Kids Through Prayer

Fighting for our Kids Through Prayer

There’s nothing that causes a momma’s heart to ache more and spurs a desire to fight for our kids through prayer.

It doesn’t matter how old her children become, they will always be “babes” to their momma. When they encounter various trials, it will always affect us deeply. When they hurt, our momma’s hearts throb with every beat. There’s no deeper ache.

With grown kids approaching their 30’s, we’ve experienced overwhelming joy as well as excruciating pain in their lives.  Some pain was utterly devastating, stemming from events that remain too difficult to put into words. Together as a family, we’ve survived victimization, the tragic deaths of friends, gut-wrenching losses of cherished relationships, and worse. We credit our survival to fighting through prayer.

Nothing has proved more agonizing than knowing I couldn’t physically help my kids during times when they needed me most. But I have always had the ability to fight for them through prayer.

Praying for Small Children and Simple Troubles

When kids are small, their problems are often simple. Easier to solve.

Our momma’s hearts delight in helping them reach their toothbrush or providing a stool. They can’t balance a bicycle so we jog alongside, steadying the wheels until they learn. They fear of failing a test at school so we stay up with them past bedtime, helping them study. When it’s time to learn to drive a car, we send them out to learn with dad—or some other brave soul—while we hide in our closets and pray. (That’s how the driver’s training years looked in our home.)

Growing More Complicated

As our kids mature, the complexity of their problems increase. All too soon, our children’s problems begin to stem from their own decisions. Enforcing punishment breaks our hearts, but we do it because we must. Because of our love.

Occasionally our babes suffer because of the decisions of others. Their pain might involve victimization or abandonment. Unforeseen tragedies bring a life-changing level of pain. Loved ones unintentionally hurt their hearts through selfish actions. The ugliness of our fallen world becomes real in their lives.

Our hearts break along with theirs, and we often feel like we’d give our very lives to help them avoid the anguish. Instead, we fight through prayer.

The Lioness Within

I don’t believe there’s anything the heart of a mom wants more desperately than the ability to protect her children. When danger threatens to cause harm—physically, emotionally, or spiritually—the lioness inside of us comes out with teeth bared and we’re prepared to fight to the death. Our reflexes often kick in.

God’s love and sovereignty are not often our first thoughts when the unexpected happens. But soon, we revert to our go-to weapon of fervent prayer.

God’s Sovereign Love

We may never understand why the Lord allows some things, but we can find comfort in knowing that God’s purposes stem from His nature of love. He loves us, and He loves our kids with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). He knit our children together in our wombs (Psalm 139:13) and all their days were written in His book and planned before a single one of them began (Psalm 139:16).

From the depths of His love, God desires a relationship with our kids. As their moms, we desire that for them too.

Praying Away Pain

Frequently, however, we try to pray away any discomfort, pain, or sorrow that the Lord may choose to allow in their lives. While meaningful and heartfelt, these prayers can be considered empty—void of substance, power, or purpose. Please know that I pray daily for the safety and comfort of my kids, even now that they are adults. But our prayers should go to a deeper level as we seek God’s purpose in their lives.

God uses every single moment for His glory and for the good of His children. Each time our children face hardships, it brings endurance that makes them mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:3-4).

Growing Testimonies

Consider how our personal trials have shaped our own testimonies. Most of us have experienced profound victories that come out of the deepest pain. So too, the trials of our children are part of their own personal testimonies, used by God to strengthen them and draw them to Himself. He promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him, those whom He called according to His purpose.

I find great peace in Isaiah 43:2 and the Holy Spirit’s reminder that we cannot avoid hardships.  Neither, by the way, can our children.  The Lord said, “I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you” (HCSB, emphasis mine).

Fight for our Kids through Prayer

When the lioness inside of us comes out to fight for our children, one of our strongest weapons we possess is a more intense posture of prayer on their behalf. Rather than praying, “spare them from pain,” we can begin to ask the Lord to strengthen them for what He’ll allow in their lives and to grow them in Christ during trials.

Let’s begin to ask for victory over the schemes of the evil one and pray that the Lord will keep our kids fully armed with spiritual armor.  Let’s petition Him to use every trial they experience to further the Kingdom and to strengthen the faith of those precious offspring we hold so dear.

In the 1800’s, Phillips Brooks said it this way:  “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.”[1]

The Beauty of Surrender in Prayer

I have a dear friend who lost her very young daughter to an illness several decades ago. This is a mom who knows the immeasurable pain and the beauty of surrender to the Lord’s will in the lives of her children. From a place of healing, in spite of her loss, she encourages me to pray that the Lord do “whatever it takes” to draw my children to Himself. That is an extremely difficult prayer and honestly, it can be hard to imagine even uttering such words. But it’s a prayer that the Lord honors with His tender mercies.

The bottom line is this:  Do we want our children free from pain and any discomfort or suffering? Or do we want our children to know the steadfast faithfulness of the God they serve?  Is our hope that they’ll grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do we trust the Lord with the lives of our children enough to surrender every moment to Him? Do we trust Him enough to pray, “Do whatever it takes, Lord”?

One of the most comforting truths I’ve heard is that God loves our children greater than we have the capacity to love them. Accepting it brought the comfort that He will always watch over them, even when I can’t. He will use every situation in their lives for their good and for His glory. I can trust Jesus with the hearts and lives of my children knowing that He does not err, He never looks away, and His plan will not be thwarted. Come what may, I can trust that the Lord is building strong, Kingdom-minded testimonies in the lives of my children.

Such truth has transformed my prayers for them and when trials erupt, I ask for His growth and mercy through each one.

May you be strengthened today, in His Word.

Blessings,

 

 

 

fighting through prayer

[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Phillips_Brooks

 

fight for kids through prayer

Using the Sword of the Spirit

Using the Sword of the Spirit

 

If you knew of an effective, spiritual weapon that would flawlessly protect you from the schemes of the enemy, would you use it?

Jesus did.

He was hungry, hadn’t likely slept well for weeks, and was far from what might have felt comfortable. 40 days of fasting in the wilderness will do that. During this time of weakness, Jesus faced the temptation of Satan (see Luke 4:1-13), fought a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons, and walked away victorious.

What Jesus’s Temptation Teaches Us About our Enemy

The Lord’s interaction with the enemy exposes the schemes of the evil one. It’s good to know our enemy and through this event, and we learn much about his destructive tactics:

  • Satan comes after us in times of weakness. While we hope that he may leave us alone during difficult periods, the opposite is true. He knows the perfect times to move in and attack – and it’s not while we’re strong.
  • He knows exactly how to pull each of us off track. He may come after me with lies about my identity in Christ while assaulting you with temptation toward laziness. He knows just where and how to strike and he executes with precision.
  • The efforts of the enemy are relentless. Satan knows we may withstand one wave of temptation, so he’s prepared to move in with additional assaults if necessary.
  • Tactics of the enemy are to accuse, tempt, and deceive. Watch the progression:
    1. Accusation: Luke 4:3 – “If you are the Son of God…” Can’t you just hear that hiss? The whisper to our Savior saying, you’re not really the son of God.
    2. Temptation: Luke 4:6-7 – “I will give you all this domain and its glory… if You worship before me.” He tried to tempt Jesus with kingdoms of this world.
    3. Deception: Luke 4:9-11 – Our enemy knows God’s Word and twists it with the intent to deceive: Just jump, he dared. God will send His angels to protect you.

Jesus battled each tactic with one weapon: the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Scripture worked against each of the enemy’s schemes. Talk about powerful and effective!

Using the Sword – Praying God’s Word

Satan tried to control Jesus through temptation, accusation, and deception. Our own vulnerabilities look different, but for each of us, the enemy attempts to open a dangerous pit of control and mastery that we must fight hard to avoid.

Beth Moore authored a tremendous book titled Praying God’s Word. It seemed as if I highlighted nearly every word I read. In this book, she refers to the practice of praying God’s Word as: “… one of the most effective approaches to the liberated life in Christ that God has ever taught me.”[1]

When we use God’s Word relentlessly in prayer:

  • We know we are praying His will, and using His perfect words to intercede.
  • We’re using the most powerful tool in our arsenal.
  • Truth begins to fill our minds so that we can ward off the lies of the enemy.
  • Eventually, we’ll learn the verses by heart so that the Holy Spirit can call them to mind when we need them most.

Victory in Jesus

It’s imperative to recognize that you and I have all the same weapons that Jesus had to fight the spiritual battle.

  • The Word of God is at our disposal. If we find we’re too busy to read and meditate on the Bible, we forfeit the most potent tool in our toolbox. You’ll notice that Jesus first response was Scripture. He didn’t need to stop and look up a verse – He knew the Word of God.
  • Our loving, heavenly Father remains in full authority over Satan. God never tempts us. He does not allow us to undergo temptation without reason – for our strengthening and betterment. “Temptation is Satan’s weapon to defeat us, but it can become God’s tool to build us.”[2]
  • We have God-given power and authority over the enemy. Do you find yourself questioning this? Look at these Scriptures and embrace them as God’s truth: Luke 10:19, Colossians 2:10, 1 John 4:4.
  • The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. I’ve had moments – and I bet you have too – where I feel I’m walking into a battle without prayer support. Sometimes battles come upon us in a surprising fashion, without time to ask for prayer from our sisters and support teams. But here’s a truth to cling to: “In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness… the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. … He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 HCSB).

 [ctt template=”5″ link=”x2wed” via=”yes” ]Temptation is Satan’s weapon to defeat us, but it can become God’s tool to build us. ~ Wiersbe[/ctt]

It’s time.

It’s time to let the Word of God penetrate our minds, hearts, and spirits so that we can use it as the powerful and effective weapon that it’s intended to be. Here are a few challenges to help us get started:

  • Choose one verse to learn by heart. Read it, write it on an index card, say it, sing it, and by all means, use it to battle our enemy. Pick a verse that specifically speaks to your biggest weakness, your area of vulnerability. (Use openbible.info for help).
  • Pray the Scriptures over your family. As you read through daily devotions you’re sure to read Bible verses that make you shout, “I wish my ___ knew that!” Well, pray it for them! Insert their name into it. Ask God to fill them with it. Refer to pages 86-91 of Fervent by Priscilla Shirer for additional help. As you start to pray the Scriptures, pay attention to how God moves. Prepare to be astonished, then be sure to thank the Lord!
  • Read a Psalm – just one – each day for an entire week. Read it silently and out loud. Paste it into the notes section of your phone so you can read it at the doctor’s office or in the drive-through. The more you read, the more familiar it becomes and the more it starts to sink into the portion of your brain that memorizes. It becomes like that product jingle that you can’t get out of your head – only you want this one!

With Practice Comes Progression

We’re not seeking perfection here, but we are looking to move forward, to equip ourselves for battle, to prepare our hearts and minds to honor God above all else.

We have the power – and the authority – to say “No, Satan. Not today. I will not believe your lies because I know the truth and here it is!”

And then, we walk away from the battle in freedom and victory. How fun is that?

Have a blessed day in the Lord, my friend.

Love,

 

 

Praying God's Word

 

 

[1] Moore, Beth. Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds (p. 2). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 182). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

Zechariah’s Lost Hope – Lessons in Prayer from the Book of Luke

Zechariah’s Lost Hope – Lessons in Prayer from the Book of Luke

What can we learn from a spiritual leader who loses hope after fervent prayer?

More than we can even imagine.

When I began to plan for this short blog series, my aim was to highlight examples of prayer provided by Jesus while He walked the earth. We will get to that. But in the initial verses of the book of Luke prayer is emphasized in the events leading to our Savior’s birth. We’d be wise to examine the fervent prayer of spiritual giants like Zechariah and Mary. We can also learn much from commoners who sought the Lord for miracles and healing.

Hope in God – on Display

Let’s begin with a look at Zechariah and Elizabeth – a barren couple who spent their lives in service to God. Zachariah and Elizabeth, both born from a priestly lineage, lived righteously and blameless before God. They weren’t barren because of something they did or didn’t do. They were barren so that God could display His work through them. (Please see John 9:1-3 and the example of the blind man.)

This is an important point. Our trials are not punishment, and they’re not rejection. They’re part of God’s perfect plan and He will use them for good.

We know this couple had prayed for children – and I’d venture to guess they offered frequent, fervent prayer. With a daughter of my own who struggles with infertility, I know well the fervency and frequency of prayers for children. It’s not a “one and done” sort of prayer, but one that pours forth without ceasing.

Gabriel, the angel who appeared to Zechariah stated words we’ve desperately wished to hear: “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you will name him John.”

Zechariah and Elizabeth were “well along in years” (Luke 1:7 HCSB) and when Zechariah heard the glorious news from Gabriel, he jumped with joy, rushed out and purchased a new car seat and crib for the baby.

No – that’s not how the story goes at all.

When Hope Runs Cold

The fact is, Zechariah doubted and questioned, “How can I know this?”

Gabriel replied (in Cathy’s paraphrase) “Open your eyes! There is an angel standing before you with a Word from God! THAT’s how you can know this, Zechariah.”

The priest and his wife spent years praying to conceive until their days of childbearing had passed. And then, apparently, they gave up.

I can honestly see myself doing the same thing. Zechariah and Elizabeth allowed their hope to run cold, forgetting what God had done for Abraham and Sarah by bringing children in their 90s.

As Pastor Warren Wiesrbe states, “Faith is blessed, but unbelief is judged.” [1] Indeed, the angel Gabriel decreed a sentence upon Zechariah for his unbelief. (Luke 1:20).

[ctt template=”5″ link=”4MY9v” via=”yes” ]Faith is blessed, but unbelief is judged – Wiersbe [/ctt]

Lessons of Hope

Here are 5 points to ponder as we strive to hold fast to hope:

  1. God’s timing is perfect, while ours is selfish. He has the full plan in view, while we can only see our own circumstance. The Lord’s ways and thoughts are far above our own. (See Isaiah 55:8-9)
  2. When we pray, we can trust that God always answers – sometimes yes, sometimes no (especially when we’ve prayed something contrary to His will or character), sometimes wait (even beyond our own lifetimes). Waiting can feel like denial but we must never forget that all things are possible with God. All. Things.
  3. God’s plan is good. His aim is always for our good and His glory. (See Romans 8:28).
  4. God wants to display His work. Refer back to John 9:1-3 and also see Jeremiah 29:11-14.
  5. Like the father who recognized his lack of faith, we too can cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief!” (See Mark 9:14-24).

As we move into a discussion (and I hope there is a lot of engagement in this, especially on our Lord, Teach Us to Pray Facebook Group), please consider the following:

  • What prayer(s) do you feel are “unanswered” by the Lord?
  • Have you stopped hoping for the answer you seek?
  • What is the largest obstacle you face in receiving your answer?
  • If you’re honest with yourself before the Lord, are you in a season of unbelief?
  • What can you learn from Zechariah and Elizabeth?
  • How will this affect your prayer life today?

 

I heard a true story on the radio several weeks ago. There was a man who was fervent in prayer. Someone asked him, “Is there a prayer for which you still await an answer?”

“Yes,” the man replied. “One. Friends of mind have a wayward son and I’ve prayed for his salvation. But I’m still praying, and God will answer.”

It was later reported that at the funeral for the prayerful man, the wayward son accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.”

[ctt template=”5″ link=”5R7i2″ via=”yes” ]Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful – Hebrews 10:23 (HCSB). [/ctt]

[1]  Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 171). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

 

Recap of Week 3 – Lord, Teach Us To Pray – Identity in Christ

Recap of Week 3 – Lord, Teach Us To Pray – Identity in Christ

The Lord threw me a curveball this week and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d me way out of my comfort zone.

I say that to let you know that I, too, am choosing courage over comfort as we move through this study. Do you remember that was one of our introductory phrases?

I fear that my nerves, trepidation, uneasiness, may not translate well inside a blog post. You’ll have to trust me that my knees were quaking as I did my best to walk in obedience.

I admit I wasn’t fully on my game, but this study has never been about me. It’s about HIM and I took a deep breath and handed Him the reins last night. Yes, I try to do that each time we gather, but there was an air of unfamiliarity last night. New territory. I’m still praying that there was some benefit to those who attended and that the benefit will reach out to our online friends as well.

Enough intro – let’s dive in, shall we?

Celebrations and Challenges

We opened our evening by sharing struggles and victories that we’ve experienced since our study began. Some generalized comments follow:

  • It’s difficult to persist with all the distractions of life – alongside spiritual opposition who does not want us to engage in prayer. However, we’ve made the study a priority and are determined that we won’t let the enemy win!
  • We’ve seen specific answers to specific prayer! Praise the Lord!
  • Some of the women are participating in other Bible studies alongside this one. We spent some time marveling how God brings lessons and Scripture verses together. It seems random, but it’s too specific to be a coincidence. He is sovereign and we see His hand at work!
  • Praying out loud is a struggle and finding opportunities to practice is a challenge. One mom encouraged us to pray out loud with our kids or in the car.
  • We’re building habits and establishing routines. Some of us pray in the morning, others in the evening. Collectively, we see that we’re offering more prayer! Praise the Lord!
  • Scriptures are hitting our hearts. They are answering questions, encouraging, blessing, and strengthening us.

One of my favorite comments from last night was this:  We need prayer more than our next breath. Amen and amen!

I hope that our online group will chime in too. What challenges and successes have you experienced?

Praise and Thanks – what’s the difference?

There are no hard, fast rules here, but in general, praises involve our adoration of God for who He is – His character, His nature. We’re ascribing to Him glory and honor by way of recognizing His greatness and splendor.

Our thanks often acknowledge what He’s done, answered prayer, ways that we see Him moving in our lives.

The lines between praise and thanks often blur, however. Here’s an example:  We can praise God as our provider. Perhaps we use Philippians 4:19 in our praise: “God, I praise you as provider knowing that You supply all of our needs according to Your riches in Christ Jesus.”

It’s natural, at the same time, to thank him for answering a specific prayer for the provision of a new job. The praise portion is God is Provider. The thanks part is for a new job and answered prayer. But you can easily see how they blend together.

Don’t get hung up on trying to keep them separate. It’s more important that you’re giving praise and sharing gratitude, even if they come out in the same exact sentence. There were several mentions last evening of endless things for which to praise the Lord. There are also endless reasons to give Him praise. Just let them flow! 🙂

Why We Should Embrace Our Identity in Christ

This was the focus of our discussion, based on Strategy 3 of Fervent. First, we identified reasons why it’s important that we all have a firm grip on who we are in Christ:

 

  • Our identity gives us strength in the spiritual realm. It also gives us strength as we live out our lives.
  • When we know who we are we can better discern where we’re going.
  • Our identity provides victory.
  • Knowing who we are in Christ prevents us from believing that our identity comes from our job, our marital status, our tasks, or roles.
  • Having a firm grip on who we are in Christ keeps the emphasis off our own inadequacies and helps us focus on all He is in and through us.
  • When the enemy tries to convince us that we have no value, he’s ultimately trying to convince us that the Word of God is untrue.
  • When we agree with the enemy, when we believe that we’re ______ (fill in the blank with a negative term), we are aligning ourselves with him, which is NOT our aim.
  • Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to approach the throne of grace with bold confidence. When we’re unsure of our identity in Christ, we’re not likely to enter God’s presence with confidence.
  • Our identity helps us walk in obedience because we know our strength lies in Jesus.

There are many, many reasons why we should know our identity in Christ. Yet, when we spend time drilling down to embrace our identity, we believe we’re selfish – spending too much time on internal focus. Isn’t that just like the enemy to deceive us in that way.

It’s not selfish.

We must know our identity. There is too much at stake if we neglect to acknowledge who we are in Jesus. It’s worthy of our time, our focus, our learning the truth so we can recite it by heart. As Priscilla says, “That’s where the light comes on.”

Embracing Our Identity in Christ

After a watching a worship video that focuses on God’s love (you can watch the video here), our in-person group read Scripture verses that remind us who we are in Christ. A list of the verses is below for your reference.

Next, we spent time in quiet meditation. This is the part where the Lord stretched me. I’m thankful that He filled the room with grace and with patient sisters!

Meditation is a Biblical practice that’s far different from new-age type meditation. Instead of emptying our minds and allowing outside “forces” the ability to influence, we, as Christ Ones, fill our minds with the truth of God. We ponder His Word. We reflect on His truth. We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit – knowing full well that nothing the Spirit offers will ever contradict the Word of God. God has provided a way of accurate discernment that goes beyond our experience. The Bible is our plumb line.

I’ve never led a group in meditation before – especially those to whom this may be a new idea. I hope and trust the Lord used this time for His glory and didn’t leave our group wondering, “What was that all about, anyway?”

Our aim through the meditation was to ask the Lord to help us understand His love for us. To climb into the lap of our Abba Father and feel His delight. Through the Scriptures we’d just shared, we asked that He help us receive His love, and then we quieted our hearts and minds to listen.  It’s not something I could explain easily or model. But I was positive the Lord prompted me to lead the activity.

My Stretch

I come from a very conservative Christian background mixed with generational exposure to (and delight in) spirit-filled living. It’s quite a mix, let me tell you. I will never apologize for something I believe the Lord prompted, but at the same time, I am often consumed with doubt wondering “Is this too weird? Will this push them (meaning all of you) away?”  Perhaps, again, this is the whisper of the enemy that I need to resist.

As I prayed throughout the afternoon in preparation for out time together, the Lord reminded me that He wants us to know Him. He desires that we understand His love. He does not set us up for failure, but encourages us to take risks for His glory. And so I pressed forward with all my might.

I had no idea how this room of diverse women would receive this exercise and placed ALL my trust in God, leaving the outcome fully in His hands. I trust that His will is, and continues to be, fully accomplished despite my shortcomings, my nerves, my lack of confidence. To Him alone be the glory.

Scriptures About Our Identity in Christ

Here it is – the list of verses that we read before our time of meditation. We read them in random order. I encourage you to visit them in your own quiet time. There are scores of other verses on the topic – this is but a tiny collection.

Isaiah 54:10
Ephesians 1:3-6
Ephesians 2:4-7
Romans 8:1
Colossians 1:22
2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Peter 1:3
1 Peter 1:3-4
Psalm 139:13-14
Psalm 139:17-18
John 3:16-17
Romans 8:16
Isaiah 41:8-10

A Final Personal Story

As we closed, I felt the Lord’s nod to share a personal story (another risk of weirdness and potential scaring away):

Over a year ago, stuck in a personal spiritual pit, I visited a church north of our community for prayer counsel. Two women led me in prayer. Before we began, they asked that I let them know when I felt the Lord’s presence, then they helped me seek the Lord for answers to specific questions.

Instructions were simple: The leader would ask me to ask God a specific question. I’d ask Him, then needed to let her know what the Holy Spirit revealed.

“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,” I recall saying. “I don’t know if I can trust what I believe the Spirit says.” (Please know I wasn’t lacking in trust toward the Spirit, but questioning my own discernment.) The leader counseled, “Don’t think about it or try to evaluate your answers. Just share with us the first thought, vision, idea, etc. that you receive.”

The process was beautiful and as we progressed, I had no doubt of the accuracy of what I discerned.

Not long into the prayer, the leader asked that I climb up and sit on the Father’s lap. Every once in a while, she’d ask me, “Are you still in His lap?” And I’d realized I’d wriggled away. She’d encourage me to return to that position as I sought His answers. This happened several times.

I left that prayer session knowing the Lord had set me free from many things – particularly from a bondage to fear. As a side note – ever since that prayer appointment, I’ve said a hearty YES to things that scare me. Like standing on the glass floor in the Calgary Tower, like White Water Rafting (I’m on the left in the grey cap), and like leading a group of women in quiet meditation for the very first time. Maybe you’ve heard the song lyrics, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.” That’s my story in a nutshell.

 

Let’s fast forward now to August of this year – more than 12 months after my prayer appointment. Mike and I were out of town, headed to church and engaged in an argument (if you’re going to argue, there’s no better time than Sunday morning, right?). He said words that hit my heart like a well-placed arrow: “You need to let yourself be loved.” I knew he was right.

The worship at church that morning was profoundly Spirit-led. All the music pointed to God’s love for us. I started to tear up, then I cried, then I wept, and finally I could no longer stand and melted. Mike kept his cool, continued to worship and rubbed my back like this happens every week. 🙂

I felt the Lord whisper to my spirit, “The reason you couldn’t stay in my lap is because you haven’t received my love.” I knew, just as Mike said, I need to let myself be loved – by God.

Last night’s gathering was this weak sister encouraging all of you to let yourselves be loved. His love is great and more fully-satisfying than we can ever imagine.

Please, meditate on the Scriptures and accept them truth of a loving, Heavenly Father. It will change everything about your prayer life.

Remember, I’m praying for you through this journey.

Love,

 

Building a Prayer Strategy

Building a Prayer Strategy

 

I won’t say building a prayer strategy is easy, but it’s certainly important.

We’re learning to pray fervently, with a specific prayer strategy, using Priscilla Shirer’s book Fervent as a tool. This is all part of our in-person and online Bible study called Lord, Teach Us to Pray. If you’re just joining us, I hope you’ll review the first post in the series and subsequent articles as well.

In multiple instances in Fervent, Priscilla instructs readers to take what she’s given and use it to “build a prayer strategy.” She provides a wealth of information, yet someone new to prayer may struggle to put that information into practice. Now that I think about it, seasoned people of prayer may have never developed a specific strategy and need a little help, too.

As we continue to learn together I thought I’d provide a specific, personal example of building a prayer strategy.

 

Step 1 in Building a Prayer Strategy

Open your Bible.

One of our study participants reviewed the plethora of Scripture verses included in Fervent. I can’t find a better way to emphasize our need to soak in the God’s Word than the comment she shared:

“I am noting the disconnect in my own life where I’ve not really thought about these (Scriptures) or BELIEVED them with the current challenges in my life. There’s still a huge GAP in what the Word says and how I believe, but I’m determined to PRESS IN.”

Amen, my sister. Her statement underscores our vital need to incorporate the Word of God into our prayer life. Our aim is to eliminate any of these gaps and function in the truth of God’s Word

Step 2 in Building a Prayer Strategy

Use our Tools.

The Lord provides numerous tools, some of which fall into the category of the armor of God detailed in Ephesians 6. In this section of our reading, Priscilla emphasizes the belt of truth and the way it holds other pieces of armor in place.

Jesus said in John 17:17 (HCSB), “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”

His Word serves as the truth – the belt (Ephesians 6:14) – the tool that holds our armor in place. It sanctifies us (John 17). It also serves as our only offensive weapon as the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

Another tool for our use is prayer acronyms. Evidence of the acronyms (a.k.a. “steps of prayer”) is scattered throughout the Word of God, even though they aren’t found verbatim in Scripture. Earlier in our study, we covered a few useful acronyms and their benefits (to review, click here). Please understand, these acronyms are tools – not mandatory routines of prayer. We use acronyms as a learning instrument – a way to develop a rhythm as we grow in a discipline of prayer. Acronyms are useful in defining a process through which we cover key elements of strategic intercession.

When we take the Word of God and apply it to a prayer acronym, beautiful things happen.

A Personal Example of Prayer Strategy

In the example I’m about to share, I’ve utilized my newly published prayer journal, available for purchase here (Amazon) and here (my ministry e-store). PLEASE NOTE: If you are participating in our study, I have offered a time-sensitive 30% off coupon code toward the prayer journal in our Facebook Group. 🙂

I commonly struggle with my identity in Christ. The deeper I’ve moved into ministry, the bigger my struggle – for obvious reasons, wouldn’t you say? The enemy wants to keep us blinded to the truth of who God created us to be.

Using Scriptures provided in Fervent (Strategy 3, Your Identity) and incorporating them into the acronym P.O.W.E.R. (Praise, Offer Thanks, Warfare, Embracing God’s Instruction and Repent) as delineated in My Prayer Journal, I created a powerful weapon against the lies that the enemy whispers (and sometimes shouts) on a daily basis.

Here’s a picture of how I mapped out the acronym inside the prayer journal. So you don’t have to use a telescope, or zoom way in to see the words, OR try to read my handwriting, I offer it as an easier-to-read document here.

Borrowing a Prayer Strategy

One of the most intimidating aspects of prayer is sometimes finding words to express your heart. When we can’t find a way to say something, we can borrow the words – the prayer strategy – of a friend, or mentor. I don’t advocate plagiarism, but sharing words of others in prayer – as genuine expressions of our own hearts – is an acceptable practice.

Most of the words I use in my example are straight from Scripture. Some come from past experiences. Some were inspired by Priscilla Shirer in the teaching she provides in Fervent. Each word is a genuine expression of my heart.

Praying them is my way of pressing in and narrowing the gap between what God’s Word says about who I am in Christ and what I’ve allowed myself to believe. For me, believing the lies of the accuser stops here. I’m determined to not only believe in God but also believe what He says, and take Him at His Word.

Using a Prayer Strategy

It’s one thing to pray this strategy for myself, but I also find it immensely useful in praying it for those I love. I wish that they, too, would believe all the Lord says about them and find their true identity in Christ. I’ve prayed similar prayers for my children, my kids-in-law, my husband, pastors, school teachers, and others.

A New Challenge

The next strategy in Fervent pertains to our families. I challenge you to use an acronym of your choice to build a prayer strategy for your family using Strategy 4 of Fervent. You’re welcome to use the sample I’ve provided as a springboard.

As I said above, building a prayer strategy isn’t necessarily easy, but it is an essential and effective tool in our prayer arsenals. Remember, prayer isn’t a time of rest, but a time of battle. The more preparation we engage in, the more impactful our prayers become. I pray that seeing an example of building a prayer strategy will make it easier to formulate your own battle plan.

If you’re interested in the books I regularly recommend to help strengthen your prayer life, you’ll love this post!

Love,

Learning How, When & Where to Pray

Learning How, When & Where to Pray

 

I remember the significant day when I knew I needed to begin learning to pray. I’ll bet you remember that day, too.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, just as my children were getting ready for school, I watched the morning news and witnessed the second airplane collide with the World Trade Center.

I recall sitting outside of my son’s middle school, waiting to pick him up at the end of the day while considering that our small community was as susceptible to tragedy as anywhere else in the country.

You see, September 11th happened just 2 years after the nation’s eyes fell on Columbine High School – just thirty miles from our home. My husband Mike was a member of one of the many Denver metro area law enforcement agencies called to assist at the crime scene after the terrible massacre that occurred at the hands of two students.

Mike personally searched inside the school, specifically the library where the most bloodshed took place. He was tasked with the unimaginable duty of counting victims and searching for additional students who may remain hidden from their assailant. All this took place inside a public-school building where children felt safe. A public-school building, like the one directly in my gaze as I waited for my son.

That day, the horrors of Columbine still echoed in my mind, along with the sobering realization of my inability to protect my children. Overcome with my own insignificance, and with a real, present need for God, I knew in my heart of hearts that the only weapon I could forge against evil was prayer.

Taking Steps: Learning to Pray

Within weeks, I was involved with a group that was then called Moms In Touch (now Moms in Prayer www.momsinprayer.org). Within the safety of that prayer group, I met with other moms who held similar concerns and together we poured out our hearts before the Lord. It was my first time of participation in a corporate prayer gathering and through the structure and leadership within the group, I found it surprisingly easy to take part. The women who gathered helped me feel safe. Some were obviously comfortable in their prayer. Others, like me, were just beginning.

Through the rest of this post, I’d like to share what I learned through this group of praying moms. I trust it will encourage you as you work to deepen your prayer life.

Learning How to Pray

Moms In Touch followed a format that they called the “4 Steps of Prayer.” These included praise, silent confession, thanks, and intercession.

Each week the leader of the group prepared a prayer sheet with a designated Scripture for each of the 4 steps of prayer. An example prayer sheet (created from memory all these years later, and not one we used for the group) is available for you here. We covered each step of prayer together before moving on to the next and we prayed in agreement with one another.

Also included on the sample prayer sheet is a glimpse of how the groups functioned.

The routine may seem a bit too structured for some, but believe me, it worked. To this day I can see ways that God continues to move through those hours of heartfelt intercession. Another accomplishment of the structure was keeping us on a time schedule. Each group met for one hour and no more. After all, we were moms with dozens of things on our to-do lists and school schedules to follow. We promised each other one hour and that’s what we gave. There was very little time for conversation and fellowship within that hour. When those blessings did take place, it was before or after our time of prayer, and we somehow managed to develop a close connection with one another.

While we never want prayer to become a ritual, there are a variety of other “steps of prayer” and acronyms to use as tools during our communion with the Lord. I find them very helpful, especially in the beginning stages of learning to pray. They serve as a framework which offers specific areas of prayer to move through. There is no right or wrong order in which to pray, although there is a Biblical precedence.

Praise, for example, helps us connect with and identify the presence of the Lord. The Bible says that the Lord is enthroned on the praises of Israel. He comes and dwells with us during our praise (you’ve likely experienced that during musical worship at church).

Our sin separates us from God, therefore confession allows for reconciliation with Him. When we seek forgiveness, He is faithful to give it. (1 John 1:9).

Other Helpful Prayer Acronyms:

As I said, it’s not which acronym you use or even if you use an acronym at all, but the intentional time you set aside for prayer (be sure to see “When to Pray”, below). Here are a few acronyms you may find helpful:

P.R.A.Y.:  Praise, Repent, Ask, Yes (praying God’s Word and His promises).

A.C.T.S.:  Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication

I’m excited to share that I’m in the final proofing stages of a prayer journal that will release soon! In it, I use a different acronym:

P.O.W.E.R:  Praise, Offer thanks, Warfare, Embrace God’s instruction, Repentance.

This wonderful (and dare I say beautiful) tool is available here. It not only provides prayer prompts but allows room to record answers from the Lord as well.

By introducing an acronym of prayer into our marriage, it helped Mike and I begin to feel more comfortable praying together. It was a simple tool that brought untold blessing into our home, our marriage, and the lives of our family.

Learning When to Pray:

Our mom prayer group met at a certain time each week. Just as when we establish a set routine of prayer in our homes, this scheduled prayer time accomplished some great things:

  • Having a set schedule helped me remember.
  • It helped me prioritize.
  • It helped me develop a habit and a routine that I rarely missed.

In our homes, we can decide to devote time in the morning to pray. Or before bed. Perhaps during our commute (with eyes open if we’re driving, please). Better yet, all three.  There is much precedent established in the Psalms for both morning and evening prayer. We’d do well to follow suit.

Having said that, we’re also to pray at various times throughout the day. When . . .

  • needs come up,
  • the Lord stirs our hearts,
  • we begin tasks,
  • we see God’s hand move in our lives and want to give thanks,
  • crisis strikes,
  • we feel prone to worry,
  • we battle temptation,
  • and every moment in between.

The Apostle Paul encourages us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Learning Where to Pray

Our group met at a specific location each week. Having that designated spot of prayer helped me:

  • Begin to prepare my heart to go before the Lord as I approached that place
  • Reminded me of my dedication to prayer when I passed by the location, even aside from prayer times
  • I noticed I began to feel the presence of the Lord in that place more readily each time I entered. It seemed as if the room somehow “warmed” to communion with Him.

This wasn’t the only place I prayed. I also conversed with the Lord at home, in my car, at church, and other places. But in our designated place of praying together as moms, the only activity in which I engaged with was prayer.

Let’s designate a similar place in our homes: a particular place where we can get on our knees (I keep a rolled towel near my bed for my wimpy knees that don’t care for the hardwood floor), a special chair in a quiet corner, a closet or established war room in your home. Maybe it’s outdoors on a familiar walking path. There are countless places to pray, but when we find a place we can designate as “our own,” we can begin to reap the benefits, above.

I learned much from that first prayer experience – heart attitudes, tools, and practices that I continue to use. Eventually, I began to lead the prayer groups. This stretched me further out of my comfort zone and into a deeper level of discipline.

The most important thing I learned is this: Begin to pray, whether you feel comfortable and adept, or not. When we learn a new skill, we don’t wait until we feel competent before we begin practice. Instead, we practice until we begin to feel competent. And then we practice more. So it is with prayer.

Begin today, do it again tomorrow and the day after that. It will gradually become easier, more comfortable, more fulfilling, and more powerful. But if you don’t begin, your next step of progress may as well be a million miles away.

I love this quote by Donald S. Whitney which encourages me to step into prayer, even when I feel I don’t know what to say:

He will hear every prayer of His children,
even when our prayers are weaker than a snowflake.

[ctt template=”5″ link=”FAUDb” via=”yes” ]He will hear every prayer of His children, even when our prayers are weaker than a snowflake.[/ctt]

May you find rich blessing today as you practice the discipline of prayer.

 

learning to pray

 

How to Pray

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