a deeper Prayer life

When I was getting ready this morning and realized it was the National Day of Prayer, I couldn’t stop thinking about the prayers my Mom has prayed for me all my life.

“When you were born,” she would say… “I started praying that God would bring you a godly husband.”

Now almost five years into marriage, I can see why she prayed that. The decision to marry Jeremiah has profoundly impacted my life. He has been right there with my mom when it comes to the most influential person in my life and faith.

I’m not sure what my life would look like today without my mom’s prayers. I credit so much to them.

Then I started to think about my own prayer life. Who am I praying for and with on a regular basis? How am I doing in humbling myself and truly depending on Christ for every need I have? Why am I such a slacker at it?

Prayer has never come easy for me. I know that it’s the essence of my faith in Christ. It’s knowing him more and allowing him to change me, not just circumstances. It’s getting rid of self, to pray for others. But a lot of my prayers are on the go, in the car, or with Jeremiah at night. And I want more than that.

And I know it’s up to me to discipline myself in it, not because of duty, but because I delight in all that Christ is.

Whose prayers are you grateful for? Are you reminded of anything on this National Day of Prayer?

How Pride Kills Prayer

Untitled-1In thinking further on yesterday’s post If God is sovereign, why pray? I thought about a few more things when it comes to prayer inspired from Matt Chandler’s message The Art of Prayer.

I’ve heard lots of sermons preached that have given me a step by step outline on how to pray that include acronyms to follow and certain disciplines to have a better prayer life. I’m not saying they aren’t effective or that I haven’t used them- some of them have really helped me stay disciplined. But most of the time my prayer issues are not because of the how-to’s but deal more with the state of my heart.

Pride says, “I’ve got it figured out. I can handle it all on my own. When I really need God, that’s when I’ll start leaning on him…” These are the kind of control issues I have to battle.

And the reality is that pride kills prayer, making me useless in building God’s kingdom and being about his work. Pride is dealt with when I confess. Repent. Humble myself. Beg for a changed heart. Ask God to help me with any guilt or shame I might feel that would keep me from coming to him.

I love how Hebrews says to approach the throne of grace. It’s all about grace. Jesus gives us grace and mercy to help us in our time of need because he’s been there. He can sympathize with our struggles and pain because he was tempted in every way, but was without sin. He knows we need grace and mercy- we are just so weak without him. There is nothing that he doesn’t understand.

He wants to take my pride and replace it with something greater. He wants a heart that is humble. Humility is what breathes life back into prayer again. And I know it’s something I have to pray for every day.

Has pride ever effected your prayers? How so? Why do you think it’s so hard sometimes to have a humble heart?

If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights.

Every night we put our son John down for bed, Jeremiah and I pray that he will come to know the Lord at an early age. We think about the responsibility that’s on our shoulders to raise him in a loving home, display a loving marriage, teach him God’s word, live a life that does not say “do as I say, not as I do…” And to do this by leaning on God’s grace and not our human effort.

A truth that we acknowledge is that we can’t force John to love God in the future. That’s a decision he must come to on his own. We also know that God is sovereign over his life. And sometimes it’s easy to say well, “Why pray for his salvation if God already knows?”

As you know, a question like this is a great debate in lots of hearts today. And it often keeps us from approaching God or even giving him the time of day.

I was encouraged to hear Matt Chandler hit on the topic of prayer yesterday. A few points he made out of Scripture have given me great hope today.

We know that God listens to his people and has changed his mind based on a request (Moses in Exodus). We know in Luke that we’re to ask, and it will be given to us. To seek and we will find.

But what we miss out on is the act of praying in faith.

Having the faith that he will do what we ask because we’re seeking him. Having faith to lean on his grace for every moment in our lives. We pray in faith because we’ve been commanded to and prayer is really for us, more than it is for God. It changes us and it’s about participating in what He is doing.

As Jeremiah and I continue to pray for John’s salvation, we’re praying in faith that God will answer our prayers. As imperfect parents, we’re trusting that God will use us as his  tool to help lead John to the cross.

When we believe that God will do something, I think that changes everything and gives us great hope in his future grace.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).

What are you praying for today, hoping that God will answer? Do you have the faith that He will do it?

Video: Bethany Allen- Outrunning Breast Cancer

Just a few years ago one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ll never forget the day she called me telling me the news. I remember sobbing with her on the phone and doing all I could to lift everything up in prayer with her. She told me on the phone that she was still going to run her marathon she’d been training for. It was only in a few weeks at Disney World.

I booked a flight and headed to Florida to surprise her. I’ll never forget her face! I watched her finish her race strong, and not only that but finish her last year of law school while enduring multiple surgeries, taking shots every day, and battling the pain of chemotherapy and radiation.

Last year, I asked Bethany if she would share her story for an upcoming series we were working on that dealt with prayer. The series is called The Sacred Echo with author and speaker Margaret Feinberg. When Bethany flew out for my baby shower last Septermber, in one tightly packed weekend, our team at Bluefish shot her story.

The link to Bethany’s story is here. I hope it encourages you in whatever trials you’re facing today and that ultimately you’ll put your hope, faith, and trust in God alone.

Orange Air & Anxious Thoughts

APW_orangeA lot of mornings in Dallas, there are what you call “orange air pollution” watches. I saw one on the marquees driving down the interstate this morning. I was also notified via radio. I can’t quite figure out what action they want me to take when they tell me about this orange air. Do they want me to turn around and carpool with someone last minute? Am I supposed to hide inside all day, in hopes that my respiratory system won’t be exposed? Do I need to text all my friends and tell them to stay inside? If anything, all these watches do is make me worry instead of take caution.

I got an email from a friend yesterday. She shared some of her struggles with having a “controlling, anxious personality.” I struck a chord with that. I battle anxious thoughts every day: Will I get sleep tonight? Will my brother in law be okay when he deploys to Afghanistan in a few months? Am I communicating well in my marriage? Is America going to recover from the current condition we’re in and are we really protecting ourselves well from terrorism?  And then it’s the more simple things like What will I eat next? Am I staying healthy? Will I survive my 15k tomorrow? Will I make it to that appointment on time?

God knew that we would be people of worry and he knew it would be one of my main struggles. He knew that I would have to refer back to this verse 10,000 times to remind myself: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-8).

So what’s the solution to worry and anxious thoughts? PRAY. Petition. Be thankful. Present all your concerns to God- yes that means your laundry list. But make sure you LISTEN. Complain to him. Talk to him. Believe in him. Depend on him. Have faith that he will answer. Rely on truth that he deeply cares about what you think. Stand firm in his power to give you strength to endure this life. SURRENDER.

Then what? His peace will consume you and guard your life. You won’t be able to explain it because it transcends human comprehension. Your anxious thoughts will be turned into thoughts of trusting in someone Greater.

So, what do you need to give Him today? Do you trust that he will carry whatever burdens you have?

Well I guess the next time I see “Air Pollution: Orange” I’ll be reminded that God is in control, even when we do stupid things to our environment.

To Get on My Knees

Today is a special day because it’s the National Day of Prayer. It is designated by the U.S. Congress as a day when Americans come together in prayer. This morning, I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of prayer. The greatest definition I’ve heard of on prayer comes from Oswald Chambers: Prayer is to Know God.

Prayer aligns my selfish will to God’s will. It focuses my heart and attention upon my Savior. I believe prayer changes things. It changes me. Prayer is humbling ourselves and saying we are not in control. Prayer leads us away from sin and closer to the cross. Prayer is the only way I know how to live this Christian life, but I definitely have a long way to go in being the woman of prayer I long to be. Most of all, prayer needs to be about others and not just myself.

In thinking of a person of prayer. My mom is the godliest woman I know. She is a woman of prayer and it’s all behind the scenes. I only hope to have the discipline to be in prayer as she does.

For the next 24 hours, we are reminded to pray for our families, country, nation, military, missionaries, church, schools, work-place, government, the President, and people and things that are near to our heart. What a privilege to live in a country with this freedom.

Here are some must see videos on prayer:

Joshua- Fighting on their Knees with teaching by Todd Phillips (inspiring true story, patriotic)

Prayer: Live Richly (an off-the-wall parady on prayer)

The Star Spangled Banner (explains itself)

Stormie O’Martian- The Power of Prayer (encouraging)

Stormie O’Martian- Struggling to Pray (a reality we all face)

Amena Brown- You (just plain powerful)

Amena Brown- Psalm 139 (a reminder of God’s love for us)

 

 

 

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