How to Draw Near to God (even when He seems far away)

How to Draw Near to God (even when He seems far away)

It’s not uncommon. All followers of Jesus have seasons of life when they feel distant from Him. It’s a natural part of our spiritual journey. Knowing that, however, didn’t ease my feelings of discouragement when it happened to me.  Our family—and I suspect yours too—has seen long periods of unexpected, sometimes troubling situations. I’ll admit that amid the distractions, I wondered if I would ever be able to draw near to God again.

 

I’m thankful that when we draw near to God He draws near to us. The Bible promises this is so. Even when my efforts feel feeble—or somewhat mechanical—God responds. I’ve experienced firsthand that remaining consistent with the spiritual practices (or “holy habits”) helps me feel God’s nearness again. It helps me grow in faith and sense God’s closeness and His favor.

 

 

What does it mean to draw near to God?

 

Drawing near to God is a process of humbling myself, confessing my sins, and turning my full focus upon Him. Often that means finding a way to mute daily distractions. It requires making room in my schedule for time with Him, even when I don’t “feel” like it or when countless disruptions stare me in the face.

 

Drawing near to God means letting go of my own desires and letting God have His way in my life. This is a picture of submission to the Holy King. When I submit to Him, I affirm—day by day—His priority in my life.

 

As I draw near to God with a sincere heart (see Hebrews 10:22), I see His promises become apparent in my life. I recognize His blessings, His partnership in my efforts, and His mercy in my mistakes. I no longer feel alone or separated from Him and I can sense that He walks with me every minute.

 

 

 

 

Grow in Faith and Find Intimacy With God

 

I believe that all followers of Jesus want to draw near to Him and develop an intimate level of faith that’s unshakeable, even through the most challenging seasons of life.  Our distractions don’t have to make us feel discouraged or steal the focus we want to give God. We don’t have to feel as if we’re missing out on the blessings He has in store for us. Instead, with some intentional practice, we can grow in faith. Later in this post, I’ll share some tips on how to practice our faith daily.

 

Resist the Devil When You Draw Near to God

 

James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” When we draw near to God, we enter into His presence—a place where evil cannot dwell. The most effective way to resist the devil is to practice the holy habits that help us connect more deeply with the Lord. The following verse confirms it. James 4:8a (ESV) says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”

 

Why is it Important to Draw Near to God?

 

Our current world events seem to become more troubling every instant. It’s clear that I cannot handle every situation I face on my own. I fully understand my need for divine help, so I draw near to Him in prayer.

 

As with any relationship, intimacy with God develops when I spend quality time with Him, practicing His presence and turning to Him. The more comfortable I begin to feel with God and the more I delight in His presence when my circumstances are good, the more readily I can turn to Him and receive His partnership in everything I face.

 

Then, as I rely on God more and more and receive His blessings, I begin to reflect His love. Soon, others around me start to sense something different in me—a level of hope they may sense is missing in their own lives. This opens doors to begin conversations about Jesus and His love. Not only is my life blessed, but I can start to have an influence on others and share the hope of Christ.

I feel so strongly about the importance of drawing near to God that I created an online membership to support you as you grow in Christ. I invite you to hear more in this video.

 

 

5 Beginning Steps to Draw Near to God

 

By now I hope you’re wondering—How do I get more faith in God? How can I practice my faith daily?  Here are 5 simple beginning steps to begin the process. Keep in mind that they are simple, but unless you practice them, you will not experience the deep connection with God that you seek.

 

Read God’s Word

 

At times the Bible can be difficult to understand, but I hope you won’t let that deter you from reading it every day. I found that it becomes so much easier to understand when I ask the Holy Spirit to guide and teach me as I read. The key is simply to begin. Find a place to start—the Gospel of John, the Psalms, or even Genesis—and begin reading. Before your eyes touch the first word, ask God for wisdom and understanding. He will meet you where you are and soon you’ll be drawing near to Him.

 

Worship God

 

One way that I feel almost immediately connected to God is through worshipping Him.  Psalm 16:11 (NASB) says, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand, there are pleasures forever.”  Worship is an essential step to enter His presence and draw near to God.

 

Our worship can take on many forms, like quiet meditation, writing, speaking, or singing about who the Lord has shown Himself to be. We can worship at church, of course, but we can also praise Him while doing mundane tasks like laundry, changing diapers, driving to work, or in any task we do.

 

Pray Without Ceasing

 

The very nature of prayer suggests that we draw near to God as we begin. Prayer is much more than a wish list—it involves connection and fellowship with Him. In the Scriptures, Jesus made an ongoing habit of prayer, yet He didn’t use a ritual or repeated words as He prayed. He often shared true, raw emotion before His Father while staying fully submitted to His will. We, too, can show our real, heartfelt emotion as we draw near to God in prayer. We can imagine ourselves climbing into the lap of our Abba Father and feeling safe in His arms. Being honest and vulnerable with God is a quick way to develop intimacy with Him.

 

Engage With Other Believers

 

One often-overlooked way to draw near to God is to partner with other believers. Don’t go this journey alone. Developing strong spiritual habits that grow your faith is easier alongside like-minded friends. I almost always find greater success when I work together with others who support, encourage, and inspire me. Develop friendships with others who have similar goals. Ask them to help you press on and connect with Jesus and in deeper and more meaningful ways.

 

Practice Faith Daily

 

Alongside practicing spiritual habits, building strong character is essential to drawing near to God. I find that my intimacy with Him is more intense when I confess my sins, forgive others, practice gratitude, and live generously. Each requires that I rely on God’s strength to (as Colossians 1:10 says), walk in a manner worthy of Him.

 

 

God is always near. He is always accessible to us and will never leave us (see Hebrews 13:5). Still, we can take intentional steps to deepen our connection with Him. With a sincere heart and commitment to intimacy with God, we can draw near, receive His goodness, respond to His love, and rest in His promises. There’s no greater joy than the unshakeable faith that comes when we do.

 

 

21 Ways to Pray for Law Enforcement

21 Ways to Pray for Law Enforcement

We didn’t know it at the time, but we were about to face incredible life changes. I said “I do” to the man of my dreams more than 30 years ago. He was a construction worker and I was a student. The local Sheriff’s Office hired him just six short months later, and I began to feel the burden to pray for law enforcement.

For too long, I declared that “I didn’t marry a cop.” I wore that fact like a merit badge, feeling I earned an “out” if this newfound role as a cop’s wife became too difficult to bear.

I finally realized that whether I became a law enforcement wife by choice or not, it’s one of the callings the Lord placed on my life. My husband has a divinely appointed call to serve our community with integrity; therefore I am also divinely appointed to stand firm in the role of his supporter and prayer warrior. In the Lord’s strength, I’ve embraced that calling and recognize the honor that it brings to our family and future generations.

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement).

Supporting Law Enforcement as we Pray

It’s imperative that we lift up our country’s law enforcement officers and all of our leaders from coast to coast. For many who don’t know what the life of an officer is like, you may not know the best way to pray, so I have compiled 21 prayer prompts that are detailed below.

As you pray, consider the moral decline in our world. It makes me heartsick, but honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised to see it. Look at how the last days are described in Matthew 24:12 in a variety of Bible translations:

Because of an increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (NIV)

Sin will be rampant everywhere… (NLT)

Lawlessness will be increased… (ESV)

Iniquity shall abound… (KJV)

Lawlessness will multiply… (HCSB)

Pray for Law Enforcement: Those on the Front Lines of Lawlessness

Who stands on the front lines of lawlessness? Our law enforcement officers. Men and women who sacrifice themselves and family to keep their communities safe. When the world rises up to say, “We need no law!” our men and women in blue stand firm and say, “We will uphold law and order!”

For most officers, law enforcement is not a career or a profession. It’s a high calling that flows into their families as well. One of the best ways to say thank you to a first responder—and the families who sacrifice so much—is to pray for them.

When Families Feel the Burden

When I meet the wives of young officers, the deeply planted seed of fear that I see in their eyes touches my heart. I feel it.

Young wives often believe their fear is invisible – that no one can see that they’re afraid. Most of the time they’re right. But women who have lived in the same place of uncertainty recognize it in an instant.

One thing I’ve learned over the years – relating not only to a husband in law enforcement but to our marriage as a whole – is that we cannot fight a spiritual battle in the flesh.  We must remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).  We do not fight the government, or the criminals, or those who have developed a hatred for cops, or even our husbands.  Our battle is against the enemy of our souls who desires to steal, kill, and destroy and he must not win.

As wives of our officers, we have no choice but to stand firm in our roles and fight for our men. They need us. They need our prayer coverage and our steadfast courage in the fight. Our ONLY offensive weapon in spiritual battles is the Word of God and we are to pray at all times in the Spirit.  In a seemingly supernatural sense, praying for our husbands brings a level of peace and trust in the Lord for ourselves that we may not have expected.

If I had one piece of advice to give the wife of a law enforcement officer it would be this: Pray. At all times.

How to Pray for First Responders

The list of prayers that follows was developed for anyone with a heart to pray for our law enforcement officers, whether the wife of an officer or not. For some, this may be your first attempt at prayer.  Please know that God hears them all. For others who may be seasoned prayer warriors, this will provide some on-target ammunition for real needs that real officers face.

For simplicity, I’ve kept the prayers male-specific, but in no way wish to exclude our female officers.

Insert an officer’s name in the blanks if you know it.

21 Ways to Pray for Law Enforcement

  1. Lord, please go before our officers and be their rear guard. With you before and behind them, they will be surrounded in your great protection.  (Isaiah 52:12)
  2. You, Lord, are a shield around _______.  Be his protection, his glory, and the one who lifts his head.  (Psalm 3:3)
  3. May _______ be filled with wisdom and all spiritual discernment to walk in a manner pleasing to You, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.  (Colossians 1:9)
  4. Rescue our officers, Lord, from evil men and women. Keep them safe from those who plan evil in their hearts.  (Psalm 140:1-2)
  5. Help ______ keep his mind steadfast on You and keep him in perfect peace.  (Isaiah 26:3)   ** This is also a great prayer for the families at home!
  6. Father, our officers see far more devastation and evil than most of us can imagine. Guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus with your peace, which surpasses understanding. Protect them from replaying graphic scenes in their minds.
  7. May ______ find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.  Shift thoughts of anyone who wishes to find undeserved fault in ______.  Help his good work shine brightly for all to see.  (Proverbs 3:4)
  8. Keep _______ blameless and pure in your sight – faultless in a crooked and depraved generation.  May _____ shine among men like stars in the universe (Philippians 2:15)
  9. Help _____ live above reproach, faithful to his wife and family, temperate, self-controlled and respectable. Strengthen his heart that he will not fall into temptation.
  10. May _____ get good rest to stay healthy and alert.  When he lies down, he will not be afraid and his sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24)
  11. Lord, please help _____, a peacemaker who sows in peace, reap a harvest of righteousness.  May his good deeds be returned to him a hundredfold.  (James 3:18)
  12. May _____ devote himself to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
  13. Help ______ be vigilant at all times, alert and aware of his surroundings.  May he be on the alert, standing firm in the faith, and strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  14. Protect ______’s friendships, both inside and outside of law enforcement, so that he is not prone to isolation. Two are better than one…if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
  15. May _____ never lose hope, remembering that You, Lord, have plans for him – plans for welfare and not for evil, to give him hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)
  16. May You, the God of hope, fill _____ with all joy an peace as he trusts in You so that he will be filled with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)
  17. Make _____’s love for our community increase and overflow.  Protect him, Lord, from adopting an “us vs. them” way of thinking.  (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
  18. Guard marriages of our officers, helping them remember that their spouse is their friend and supporter, not an enemy with whom to do battle. They are no longer two but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no man separate.  (Matthew 19:6) Help him love his wife as himself and equip his wife to respect him as her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)
  19. Lord, turn the hearts of the fathers (and mothers) toward their children, and the hearts of the children toward their fathers (and mothers). Protect the family unit. Restore broken relationships and continue to strengthen those that are healthy.  (Malachi 2:6)
  20. Keep _____ from the temptation of repaying evil for evil and strengthen him to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  When possible, as far as it depends on _____, may he live in peace with everyone.  May ______ not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.   (Romans 12:17-21)
  21. May _____ walk daily in the full armor of God.

Praying The Full Armor of God

This list wouldn’t be complete without emphasizing the armor of God detailed in Ephesians.

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it, you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:10-18 (HCSB)

 

THANK YOU, for joining the battle by making the decision to pray for our law enforcement officers. Your prayers matter and encourage our officers every day.

For more prayer support, I encourage you to join my FREE 21-day Prayer Challenge. If you enjoyed this post on prayer, you’ll love the growing closer to God through the prayer challenge! I hope to see you there.

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

Pray for Law Enforcement

photo courtesy of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, 2018

 

 

how to pray for local law enforcement

 

Helpful Bible Study Tips for Beginners

Helpful Bible Study Tips for Beginners

If you’re like me, you might be feeling a bit unsettled these days, wondering how to find and embrace inner peace. There’s one thing that’s helped me immensely and that’s drawing near to God. My ultimate favorite way to do that is through Bible Study. I receive a lot of questions about how to get started, so I decided to post these helpful tips for Bible study beginners.

If this is your first step into learning God’s Word, allow me to be the first to say welcome to Bible study! Knowing some basic information will help you persevere, and will hopefully set a fire in your heart for learning more about God through the Bible. So let’s start at the beginning.

(This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure.)

Why is Bible Study Important for Beginners?

Before beginning any endeavor, it’s important to understand why you’re starting. Your “why” will help you push through when it doesn’t feel easy, or in the case of Bible study, when you’d rather press your snooze button and get a few extra minutes of sleep. Here are some compelling reasons why Bible study is important:

We learn about God.

The Bible reveals who God is and shows His character. Sometimes it seems the world portrays God as a mean judge, constantly trying to catch us making mistakes. As you open His Word, however, that’s not what you’ll find at all. You’ll begin to see His true nature as a loving Father, a helpful Guide, and a beloved friend.

The Bible is a Plumbline of Truth.

There’s a lot of noise in our society, and lots of people offering their opinions on every subject imaginable. It’s always important to have a baseline of truth from which to consider the opinions of others. God’s Word is truth (see John 17:17). When we know and understand His truth, it strengthens our daily decisions, improves our relationships, and delivers inner peace.

We discover God’s love for us.

Bible study is especially important for beginners who want to discover how God sees them as His children. Through God’s Word, I discover that I am His child, He loves me unconditionally, I never disappoint Him, and that He values me just as I am—so much that His Son willingly sacrificed His life for me. As you dig into His Word, you’ll realize He feels just the same about you

What is the Best Way for Beginners to Study the Bible?

 While there are many methods of Bible study, the best way for beginners to study the is to. . .

  • Observe the Text by slowly reading and examining what it says.
  • Interpret the Text by looking up meanings of words in the original language and taking context into consideration. Even beginners can do this easily with Bible apps like Strong’s Concordance or through websites like blueletterbible.com.
  • Apply the Text by taking what you learn to heart. Consider how it can impact your situation, your upcoming decisions, and your current needs. Then trust God’s instruction and live it out.

Bible Study Ideas

As you begin to study the Bible at home, here are some ideas to get you started.

Study the Bible by Verse

Bible apps like You Version Bible provide a verse of the day and offer a large number of translations to choose from. Using that as a starting point, you can use the Observe, Interpret, Apply method of Bible study (detailed above) to learn more about that verse.

Study the Bible by Topic

If you’re currently struggling with something specific (such as fear, worry or anxiety), you can use sites like info to search for those words and discover what the Bible says about them.

Study the Bible by Book

Many people study individual books of the Bible, like the book of Esther, for example, or John, or Matthew, or Romans. By studying a book in its entirety, you’ll discover much deeper meaning and context than studying by verse.

Bible Study Groups

It’s always nice to study with a group of friends. Having the ability to talk about what you’re learning is helpful and many times additional resources are used inside groups. Since it’s difficult to meet in groups right now, online Bible studies are becoming more popular. One I recommend is through the Facebook group for The Joyful Life Magazine. They offer online studies once a quarter or so.

Bible Study at Home

Here’s where I want to encourage you right now. Just begin today, right where you are. Pray and ask God to lead you with His wisdom, then open His Word and begin. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll reap some of His overwhelming blessings. Engage with your family members, or start off on your own. There’s no reason to fear because God will meet with you when you seek Him.  When the Bible seems confusing, look into different versions or look up the word meanings as suggested above, or consult with a friend or pastor who knows the Bible well.

Tools for Bible Study Beginners

You may wonder what you need to begin studying the Bible. What you truly need is simply a Bible (electronic or in book form), a pencil, and some paper. The more you progress, however, the more you’ll enjoy having some writing tools to use. The pages of paper Bibles are thin and a lot of the writing instruments we use every day bleed through the pages and make it hard to read. Here are some of my favorite writing tools that I use specifically for Bible study:

Bible Study Pens

I like these Micro Pens from Amazon because they come in a variety of colors, they’re fine-tipped which makes it easier to write in small spaces, and best of all, they don’t bleed through Bible pages. This set from Sakura is even higher quality but has fewer color selections.

Bible Study Highlighters

Call me crazy but my favorite Bible study highlighters aren’t highlighters at all. They’re colored pencils, but they never bleed, they’re comfortable to write with, and they come in a large variety of colors. Check out these Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils.  You can also find Bible Study Highlighters in Bible book stores or online, but I find they’re more expensive and don’t last as long.

Sticky Notes

It’s nice to have smaller, narrower sticky notes that fit into the margins of your Bible. For that reason, I like those designed for calendars like these from Erin Condren. (And they’re cute)!

Bible Reflection Worksheets

I created these printable worksheets to use over and over with any book or passage of the Bible. They’ve proved invaluable in my faith walk and I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Books I recommend for Bible Study Beginners

It’s always a good idea to start to accumulate a small library of resources. There are several books I recommend—specifically for Bible Study beginners—because they have fueled my own faith.

  • Without question, you need a Bible that’s easy to read and understand. To begin your journey, I recommend a version that’s a bit more conversational in tone, but still maintains the integrity of original Biblical texts. The CSB version is my favorite and is available in these gems: The Study Bible for Women,  She Reads Truth and (in)Courage Devotional Bible.
  • Believing God was the first book I ever read by Beth Moore and it had a profound impact on my life and ministry. It remains one of my highest recommendations, even after all these years.
  • Kay Arthur is another Bible study favorite because she teaches you to mine God’s word for truth on your own. I recommend Lord Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days.

I hope these pointers and recommendations get you off to a strong start in Bible study, especially if you’re a beginner.  As always, I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions!

To your closer connection to God,

Cathy McIntosh

 

 

The Best Christian Books on Prayer (plus 1 DVD)

The Best Christian Books on Prayer (plus 1 DVD)

Nearly every Christian can use a boost in our prayer lives, whether we’re seasoned or new to the practice. I thought I’d share what I believe are the best Christian books on prayer. Perhaps they’ll make good gifts for friends or titles to add to your own wish list. I hope they’ll eventually make it into your library because each of them will strengthen your prayer life.

Any way you look at it, this will be a good resource whenever you need it. I suggest you bookmark this post if you think you’ll refer back to it later. 🙂

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement. 

Best Christian Books on Prayer

Let’s get to it! Here are the books on prayer that I most often recommend. Be sure to read all the way through—at the end of this post, I’ll share a few of my additional favorite things.

Number One: Fervent
by Priscilla Shirer 

I had the privilege of watching this book in action and it was amazing! We used Fervent as a backdrop for our Lord, Teach Us to Pray study. Many in the group were blessed through Priscilla’s direct approach and practical wisdom. Some said it was the best book they read all year.

Purchase Fervent Here

 

 

 

 

Number Two: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
by Jim Cymbala

This book is a long-time favorite, filled with stories, testimonies, and powerful works of God that the Brooklyn Tabernacle church experienced through the prayer of the people. It provides a lot of ideas to strengthen your prayer life.

Purchase Fresh Wind Fresh Fire here

 

 

 

 

Number Three: Praying God’s Word
by Beth Moore

Beth simply speaks my language. I am always blessed by her teaching and this book is no exception. My highlighter worked overtime in this book. She shares her teaching journey and gives us a “behind the scenes look” at her ministry – while encouraging readers to dig into God’s Word and pray it right back to Him. If you’re looking for Scriptures to strengthen your prayer life, look no further.

Purchase Praying God’s Word Here

 

 

 

Number Four: The Power of a Praying Woman
by Stormie Omartian

Stormie has written extensively on the topic of prayer and you’re sure to find blessing through any (and all) of her work. In this particular edition, Stormie encourages us to pray for something we tend to neglect: ourselves. It’s not selfish, it’s not idolatry. Praying for our own needs is a BIG part of self-care that equips us to meet the needs of those around us. As women, we often pour out at work, as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter, as a sister, and as a friend. This is God’s reminder that He’s willing to pour into us. What a gem.

Purchase The Power of a Praying Woman here

 

 

 

 

Number Five: The Heart of a Woman Who Prays
by Elizabeth George

To me, this is a bare-bones basic instruction manual on how and when to pray and holds a solid position in my best Christian books on prayer. Elizabeth has a wonderful way of making things simple and easy to follow. You’ll grow spiritually as you read her work, and this book helps us all strengthen our prayer by putting it into practice.

Purchase The Heart of a Woman Who Prays here

 

 

 

Number Six: The Battle Plan for Prayer
by Steven and Alex Kendrick

Like Fervent, this book came out of the inspiration of the movie War Room. It takes beginners and seasoned prayer warriors through simple and attainable practices to engage in prayer. My favorite quote from this book is “When prayer becomes your immediate reflex instead of your last resort, the whole battlefield begins to tilt in your direction.” The Kendrick brothers show us how to use prayer as the first weapon we grab when trials strike. This will make a great gift for the men in your lives, and you’ll find encouragement in its pages as well.

Purchase The Battle Plan for Prayer here

 

 

 

Number Seven: What Happens When Women Pray
by Evelyn Christianson

Here’s a moment of transparency. I haven’t read this one. It was recommended to me by my dear friend and mentor who worked with Evelyn in her ministry. When I purchased it… I bought the wrong book. (It was by Evelyn Christiansen and it blessed me immensely – the link to that book is here.)  At any rate, I have no doubt of its excellence. Evelyn led the charge for prayer groups forming around the world in the 70’s and 80’s. We have much to glean from her wisdom.

Purchase What Happens When Women Pray here

 

 

 

 

Number Eight: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
by Donald S. Whitney

This book goes far beyond prayer and covers many different faith-building practices. I include it in this list of best Christian books on prayer for its comprehensive encouragement in both prayer and fasting, which go hand in hand. Don’t let the word “disciplines” scare you – for the most part, they’re simple ways to engage with the Lord and build a strong, foundational relationship with Him. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to deepen their walk with Christ.

Purchase Spiritual Disciplines here

 

 

 

 

Number Nine: War Room movie
(I know, it’s not a book).

If you haven’t yet viewed this movie, you must. It shares a great story of a woman who’s learning, for the first time, to pray through her trials and provides heartfelt motivation to get on your knees. Seriously, this is a must-see for anyone who follows Christ. Just do it. It’s worth owning, but you can rent it on Amazon Prime as well.

Purchase War Room here

 

 

 

 

 

Adding to the Best Christian Books on Prayer. . .

 

My Prayer Journal

I created this journal to inspire myself to record my prayers, to remember how I prayed so I can watch the Lord move through my prayers, and to remember to praise and thank Him daily. It’s a lot of fun to share personal tools with all of you. I’m giving this journal to several people on my gift list. Maybe your friends will enjoy using it too!

Purchase My Prayer Journal here

 

 

 

 

Pens Galore!

My heart thrills with a new journal and colorful pens. Many in our prayer group feel the same way, so here is a look at some of the pens I most enjoy using.  I’m going to spare you the commentary because each would say, “I love these pens so much – they’re my favorite!” Instead of sharing that redundancy, I’ll just let you know which I like. It’s all about mood for me—the type of tip my fingers happen to anticipate and the color that strikes my fancy. Yes, I have a large pen collection… scattered everywhere in the house.

EnerGel Pens

Purchase EnerGel Pens here

PaperMate Felt Tip Pens

Purchase Paper Mate Pens here

FORAY Porous-Point Pens

Purchase FORAY Pens here

Micron Pens – Inductive Bible Study Kit

Purchase Micron Pens here

There you have it—my list of top Christian books on prayer and some of my favorite tools. I hope you enjoy them all as much as I do and that they will help you begin to build your own library and collection.

Love,

 

 

 

Biblical Encouragement for Rest

Biblical Encouragement for Rest

It was a tough morning. I could barely keep my eyes open and struggled to get out of bed with any level of energy. I felt mentally ready to face the day and my spirits were high, but my body wasn’t cooperating. It just wanted more sleep!

 

Have you ever felt that way?

 

Naturally, I made my way straight to the coffee pot, which is part of my normal routine. But caffeine didn’t do the trick. I’ve noticed that it’s not always the miracle pep-provider that I hope. Fresh fruit for breakfast didn’t help, either. My time with Jesus helped a bit and I could finally start to move the wheels on this bus. Once I got moving, I started feeling a lot better. My liveliness and clarity were great through a couple of morning meetings, but then I sat down to work at my desk and my energy plummeted again.

 

Why am I so tired, I wondered.  And then it became clear. I haven’t taken a real day off for weeks. Our entire family is getting ready for some big moves and gigantic changes and we’ve all been running proverbial marathons. Several of us have been sick, fighting through colds, coughs, and sneezes just trying to stay on track. It seems we never stop. And that’s probably because, in reality, we never stop.

 

Rest in the Bible

 

There’s a little gift the Lord gave us that we tend to overlook. It’s the gift of rest. If I dig deeper into my honesty tank, I’d say we ignore the gift. On purpose. That’s not good.

 

Our family has a propensity to let our ever-increasing task list and upcoming deadlines keep us from enjoying Sabbath. Perhaps your family does too.

 

Many Scriptural encouragements remind me that the Lord provided rest for our good. Yet it is an aspect of His protection and provision that we often fail to embrace. Consider with me:

 

Mark 6:31— And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (ESV).

 

Matthew 11:29— Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (ESV).

 

Exodus 34:21— “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest (ESV).

Mark 2:27— And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (ESV).

Setting aside a day each week for rest is commanded (“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. . .” [Exodus 20:8]), and as with all Scriptural commands, it’s intended for our good and God’s glory.

 

Rest and Productivity

 

I find it remarkable that when I take true, Sabbath, I’m more productive afterward. I recognize the Lord’s hand of favor and ease over my work. It’s as if I get more done after a break than I would have without one. Then I wonder why it’s so easy to ignore rest and work straight through the week.

 

Apparently, I’m not alone in neglecting my rest. The Lord addressed it through His prophet, Isaiah. “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling. . .” Isaiah 30:15 (ESV).

 

This verse is convicting! God offers us so much in our rest, yet we are quick to turn our back, believing we can accomplish more in our own strength. He wants to do more than provide for our rest, He wants to be our rest.  By connecting and abiding in Him, thorough His Word and in prayer, we can find refreshing rest in His presence.

 

Spiritual Growth Through Rest

 

As we work to sprout our spiritual growth, let’s make a conscious effort to rest our bodies, minds, and spirits. On top of adopting some of the practices we’ve outlined in this series (time in His Word, meditation, and worship), schedule a real, actual day off and rest. Your rest can look a lot different than being a couch potato. You might decide to sleep late or take a nap, but you’ll also find rest as you get out and do something you enjoy—something that’s not part of work or a project on your “to-do” list.

 

Rest is a wonderful practice that helps us keep God as a high priority in our lives and avoid making our tasks an inadvertent idol. But rest often takes intentional focus. It certainly doesn’t flow into our lives naturally, so we must actively pursue it to enjoy it’s wonderful benefits.

 

May you embrace the joy of the Lord today,

 

 

 

Benefits of Biblical Rest

 

Benefits of Biblical Rest

Worship God Daily

Worship God Daily

Springtime brings one of my favorite things—songbirds. Their lovely melodies thrill my heart, especially the meadowlarks. It’s not a far stretch to imagine that they lift their voice to the Lord in praise. After all, Psalm 150:6 says, “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

 

If the birds can praise Him, so must we. What a lovely way to sprout our spiritual growth.

 

In today’s noisy world, it’s easy to forget that we can worship God wherever we are and in whatever we do. Of course, we can worship on Sunday, but we can also praise Him while folding laundry, changing diapers, driving to work, having a lunch meeting, or helping children with their schoolwork. Our praise can take on many forms, like quiet meditation or writing, generosity, serving, speaking, or singing about Who the Lord is and all He has done.

 

Regardless of our method, heartfelt worship is essential to sprouting our spiritual growth and deepening our connection to God. And we needn’t save our worship for Sundays.

 

What Happens When We Worship God?

 

As we lift up our voice in praise, the Bible reveals several things that happen:

  • Psalm 22:3 tells us that the Lord inhabits the praise of His people.
  • Through praise to the King, we enter His gates and courts (Psalm 100:4).
  • Exaltation of the King invites His response as He accepts our praise offering.
  • He captures and consumes our attention as our focus shifts from ourselves to the One worthy of adoration.
  • The light of the Lord casts out all darkness (Psalm 139:11-12) so that we can have uninterrupted, unhindered time with Him, enjoying the satisfaction that comes through such wondrous communion.

 

I don’t know about you, but I long for the Lord’s involvement throughout my week and praising His holy name invites His presence and power.  One of my favorite Bible events shows this perfectly.

The Power of Worship

 

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat learned that a vast number of enemies were coming to fight. He was afraid (naturally—I would be too), and verse 3 tells us that he “resolved to seek the Lord.” He and his people fasted and then declared adoration to God. In response, the Lord caused His Spirit to fall on a man named Jahaziel and said, “You do not have to fight this battle…I am with you” (vv 14-15).  Wow. Can you imagine the peace and assurance that brought?

 

In the morning when it was time to face their enemies, Jehoshaphat “appointed some to sing for the LORD and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing” (verse 21, HCSB).

 

Here’s the amazing part. When the people lifted their voices in praise, the Lord set an ambush against their enemies and defeated them. The enemies turned on one another and destroyed each other. And it happened, “The moment they began their shouts and praises” (verse 22). That’s not a coincidence. If we don’t believe that God moves through our praise, we should take a much closer look at the Scriptures and watch more intently in our own lives.

 

Let’s not save our worship on Sunday, but praise Him with all our might, in spirit, and in truth, just as Jesus instructed in John 4:24. It’s sure to sprout our spiritual growth, draw us deeper into His presence, and enrich our abiding connection with God.

 

May you embrace the Lord’s joy today –

 

 

 

Worship God Daily

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