Prayers That Aren't Boring

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Have you ever wanted to pray powerful prayers, but you don't know how? You've heard people tell you to pray scriptures, but you don't know which ones? Or maybe you've tried to establish a regular prayer time and you think, "Bored. I'm bored. This is boring." It's ok, you can be honest. And hey, if that's you, you're not alone! Praying can be a little overwhelming. We get hung up on: Where do I start? What do I say? Should I use big words? So, I wanted to give you some tips to make prayer, well...fun! 

First of all, prayer isn't designed to change circumstances as much as it's designed to change people. Us. Them. All the people. So a good way to approach prayer is to understand that we're asking for things that are pretty big. Way bigger than us. We're asking for our hearts to be changed, the presence of God to come near and a deeper understanding of Him. Prayer brings us closer to our creator. The point is nearness. We can pray: Lord, help my child do well in school today. Or, we can pray: Lord, give my child a desire to learn. Help me see what peeks their interests and excites them. Help me find ways to show them that 'those who work hard will prosper. ' (Proverbs 13:4) We can pray for circumstances or we can pray for the character He wants to develop in the circumstances. 

Praying scripture always connects us with the person/situation we are praying for. So here are some scriptures that have helped me pray for people:

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Wisdom

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

Luke 12:12  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.

Peace

Isaiah 26:3  You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Comfort

Hebrews 13:5  The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be frightened. The Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.

Psalm 27:13-14 I have sure faith that I will experience the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Hope in the Lord! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the Lord!

Hope

Romans 8:28  We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

Faith

Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

Grace

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

John 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Lord, make us people of your word. May we read it, understand it and pray to become more like it. 

Facing Your Fears And Such

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Fear of pain. Death. Loneliness. Missing out. Rejection. Failure. Being disappointed. Being a disappointment. 

Fear is not foreign to any human who has a breath and a pulse. Yeah, we all face it, like daily. And the temptation to be a big ole scaredy cat is massive…because it would be so much easier not to face what we fear. My friend, Jill, just wrote a book called Freedom Coach Model (releasing Nov. 1). She describes fear like this: “the opposite of what you fear is what you put too much hope in.”

Those words sucker punched me in the gut because my greatest fear is not belonging, being cast aside or overlooked. You know what that tells me? I put way too much stock in myself. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So when a situation arises that makes me feel like I could lose something dear to me, I do one of two things: latch on or let go. I either hold too tightly or just go ahead a push away so I don’t have to experience the pain that loss brings. It’s probably because I believed the lie that relationships can make me happy. Not so. Sure, they can bring happiness, but only the Lord can bring my happy. 

Fear rises up in the lies the enemy hurls at us. And I’ll tell you, he’s pretty good at it. I mean, he’s been doing this since the beginning of time. Guess that’s why he’s called the father of lies. But can I let you in on a little secret? He has a strategy. And if we can get a hold of his battle plan, we shut down his mission. 

I caught something the other day in 1 Samuel 17. It’s a story we all know: David & Goliath. Only, there was a small detail I always thought was just “boys being boys.” David faced his fear, his Goliath and used the resources that God had trained him in to defeat his foe. (Oh man, I could preach on that…well, I have…but I could do it again!) Then he does something interesting: 

1 Samuel 17:51 (NLT) “Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.”

Ummm David, dude, you already killed him. Why do you need to be so dramatic with the whole cutting off the head thing? 

Well, this is an interesting study and although we don’t have time to break it all down, I can tell you that some commentaries state that David did this just in case there was any life left in him. Others note how it was a cultural practice at that time and was proof of death. Either way, there’s a lot we can learn here. It’s one thing to slay your fears. It’s another to sever them. 

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I’m a visual learner, so let’s envision. 

Say I have a fear of failure and am terrified to step out of my comfort zone and into what God is asking me to do. I can face a fear of failure and boldly do what God is asking of me anyways. Ok, Lord. I’m gonna do it afraid. And I do. Baam! Fear slaying! We generally stop there, right?

Slingshot. Fallen Giant. Stick a fork in me, I won. I’m done. 

Not so fast. What if I ran up to the lie that was birthed in that fear and sever it with the truth? I need to ask the Lord: Why am I afraid to fail? What if the thing I see as a failure isn’t a failure at all? What if I trust God enough to know that if He asks me to do it, there is a purpose, regardless if it turns out the way I think it should. What if I slay the fear and sever the lies that it brought into my life? Just in case there is any life left. 

We have an enemy and his strategy is to lie. After that, he really doesn’t have many tricks in his hat. If you struggle with the lies he throws at you, I get you. I’ve been there…like an hour ago. Seriously.

I wrote a devotional to help us Jesus girls sever these lies, forever. I’d love for you to join me in this battle of slay and sever. I know you have it in you. You are a warrior. 

Bare Naked Truths: Stripping Away The Lies That Derail Your Destiny, coming November 2nd. And I can’t wait!

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You need peace? Yeah, me too.

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I don’t like admitting fault or failure, but there’s this one thing I’ve had to repeat multiple times because I just can’t get it right. It’s like God is sitting up in heaven saying, “You can do this! I know you’ve got it in you. Just take this test one more time.”

It’s the test of first choice. God is working on me to turn to Him before I turn to anyone else. Anyone. Any one person or any one thing. 

I have this temptation- yes, temptation- to find affirmation in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others before I find them in Him. And do you know what that does to a Jesus girls heart? It makes it weary, discouraged, anxious and sometimes a little snarky. Just saying. Basically, it makes me full of pessimism when I should be full of peace. It’s the temptation to push Jesus aside and push through something myself and I can tell you, it always ends awful. 

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Mark 4:35-41 (NLT)

 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

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The first words that Jesus said should have been enough: Let’s cross to the other side of the lake. Simple, right? They had a plan: a starting point, a destination and the in between. He clearly told them where they were going and they confidently got into the boat. It’s what took place on the way there that became anything but simple. A storm came. And with that storm came all the tensions that a storm can bring: fear, anxiety, hopelessness, fault finding, and the reminder that the elements were out of their hands. I don’t know what’s scarier, the actual storm or the thought that they weren’t in control. 

Sometimes storms are from the enemy. They are meant to destroy our hopes, dreams, faith or even our lives. We get on the boat and expect smooth sailing. After all, the plan is to get from here to there, right? The enemy loves to work through expectations. It's his jam. But...

Sometimes storms are strategic. God uses them to show us where our heart goes first when we hit choppy waters. Not only was Jesus on the boat, but so were some very skilled sailors. Sailors know how to read the weather when a storm is coming. They see it in the clouds, feel it in the winds and a storm of this magnitude builds. Do you know what that means?

Jesus wasn’t their first choice.

  • He wasn’t their first choice when the clouds rolled in and grew dark.
  • He wasn’t their first choice when the winds picked up and the boat started rocking.
  • He wasn’t their first choice when the rain started to fall. 

They leaned into each other, they leaned into their equipment, they leaned into their own knowledge, but they didn’t turn to Jesus until it became a raging storm. 

And I just have to pause here and say: yeah, me too. I do that too. I’m so guilty.

I phone a friend, send a text, ask for prayer and even dig up a scripture before I simply go to Him and say, “Hey Jesus. I’m really afraid right now. Can you speak to that?”

And do you know what happens? Anxiety floods my soul when He’s not my first choice.  

I become afraid of failing. I become afraid of being a failure. I become afraid of not making it to my destination. I become afraid I’m not enough. I forget who's in my boat. 

Confidence and peace are not dependent on my circumstances, they’re dependent on my choices. When He’s my first choice, peace abounds. He reminds me that we are going to get to the other side. And here’s the crazy thing: when He’s my first choice, I learn to appreciate the thunder, lightning and all the in between. In fact, I even see where the strong winds and rising waters can actually get me where I’m going, faster. They tend to give me a little push that still waters can’t accomplish. 

What’s that saying? A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. 

He’s my first choice.

 

Ok God, Why?

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When the new year rolled in, I joked with a group of friends that we were going to get shirts made that said, “I survived 2016.” We were joking about the shirts, but serious about our summary of 2016. It. Was. Awful. 

Is that true for you? Maybe. Maybe not. 

  • One of my friends had a serious health scare with her oldest daughter. Like, serious. 
  • Another went through the worst year of her marriage, had tried everything she possibly could and nothing was working. Nothing was enough. 
  • Another endured year three of trying to have a baby and month after month, she found out she wasn’t pregnant…over and over again. 
  • A lost job.
  • A church torn apart. 
  • A dream shattered.
  • Prayers that weren't answered the way we wanted them. 

2016- we hated you. Everywhere we looked, we saw devastation. And we're a positive, life-loving bunch of gals. So, can we catch a break?

We kept saying, “Can this year please end? PUH-LEASE?”

Now, here we are in 2017 (oh, we’re Houston girls by the way) and we just endured Harvey. Everywhere our eyes can see is devastation.

  • Flooded homes. 
  • Flooded roads.
  • Destroyed furniture, heirlooms, precious possessions- all gone, spread across South Texas. And I turned on the news to hear about Irma and the wildfires (the list could go on). Oh my. 

I had to ask. I just had to: Ok God, why? I know He didn’t smite us and He didn’t cause this. We do our own thing. We live in a fallen world, with fallen people on a planet that does it’s own thing too. I get it. But I had to ask. 

He didn’t answer, but He did open my eyes. And do you know what I saw in every single devastation? The emergence of a pure, unfiltered devotion towards mankind. It’s the kind that notices the heartache, fear, pain, and loss and says, “I’ll stand with you. I’ll pray for you. You are not alone.” In other words, with devastation comes devotion. From God and from each other. 

Last week I was helping clean out several homes that were flooded by Harvey. We ripped out baseboards, carpet, sheetrock, threw away water damaged things…it was hard work, physically and emotionally. Things like that cause you to think deep thoughts. I paused for lunch with a friend. 

As we sat down, I asked her how her (devastated) marriage situation was going. She proceeded to tell me how God was beginning to restore and answer the prayers that she had prayed for years. I know it should have been a beautiful moment. We should have clapped, danced and toasted our Dr. Peppers, but she shared her feelings about emerging from devastation. She said: I’m standing in the middle of my victory, surrounded by defeat. It’s like winning the battle you’ve been fighting for so long, but you have to make the long walk off the field of casualties. I know that feeling! I’ve felt it. I painfully understand. Yet, the beautiful thing about that victory walk is we don’t walk it alone. 

He puts His arm around us.

He sends reinforcements.

He teaches us as we go.

He works all things together for good. 

Yes, with devastation comes devotion. I’ll toast my Dr. Pepper to that!

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Romans 12:21 ESV

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Psalm 145:17 ESV

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

Romans 12:12 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.