Purposeful Faith

Category - prayer

Falling In & Out of Prayer

prayer

Post By: Angela Parlin

It doesn’t sound super spiritual, but you guys–prayer is hard.

Stillness is hard. Hard stops in a busy life are hard.

Do you agree? Tell me it isn’t just me.

In early January, I thought I had picked a word for the year. But instead, God led me to focus on prayer, and not to only toss Him my cares and needs.

I needed to grow in prayer as worship. To take my sin seriously and regularly confess it. To sit in the silence and listen for His whispers.

So I set out to spend time away from the world each day in prayer, to learn to pray without multitasking.

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Psalm 27:8, NIV

Sometimes, my prayer life was amazing. I was learning so much about God. But the truth? It wasn’t all glitter and rainbows, and I didn’t always show up.

Sometimes I really struggled to sit still before the Lord.

When I got caught up in so much busyness, concentrated prayer was the first thing I let go of. I put it off for later, and another day went by.

At the same time, I enjoyed mountaintop views this year, and they were unbelievable. But there were also valleys.

The mountaintop often didn’t appear when I was on my best behavior. It didn’t show up when I was the most faithful, or the most consistent.

Instead, I’d come to this place with hard corners in my heart, with a terrible attitude, having been away from Him for days. Even my kids could tell the difference. I’d be having one of those weeks when I didn’t like myself very much.

Having fallen out of prayer, I’d fall on my knees again.

And just when I knew I was a mess and didn’t deserve it, I’d see that view again. He’d bring me around to the mountaintop. He’d fill me with His grace and lift me up.

Then I’d walk around the house, humming “Love Lifted Me.” Knowing Love lifts us once for eternal salvation and continues to lift us every time we fall, whether in ways that measure large or small.

Sometimes in this world, we’re sinking in sins and distractions. Love is always near to lift us, when we come back to Him.

Jesus doesn’t stand there, pointing His finger and saying, You know better. You should be more consistent. You should be more… He doesn’t call us those names that float around our heads.

Jesus stays near. His arms are open wide. Whether it’s been a week or 20 years, His desire is that we seek Him. That we come and talk with Him.

He didn’t come to rescue us because we’d be star performers or at least consistent.
He didn’t save us because we earned it.
He saved us because He is Love and He longs to lift us.

And He’s already everything we’re not.

Jesus is an unending welcome-back, a Love who lifts us up again.

May we settle in before the Lord this year. May we worship Him and know Him more and let His kindness to change the course of our days.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8, NLT

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is Dan’s wife and Mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her each week at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty in All This Chaos.

For Bad Moms

For Bad Moms

Car screamers.
Table screamers.
Mommy blamers.
Head shakers.
Mess makers.
Leg holders.
Peace breakers.
Early wakers.
Distraction forgers.
Time takers.
Kids.

Sometimes, the days feel more like I am stuck in an epic disaster than a classic romance story. I battle to push away wars not bubbles, tears not swing seats and fears not frozen stances of awe. Often, I feel like I am a baby entering a battlefield unprepared, rather than a soldier entering in with the arsenal of the Pinterest mommy.

Then, I feel guilty for being bad.
I feel the burden of being the deadbeat mom.
I feel shaken by the small blowups regarding small circles of cereal.

Before you say things to me, my mom friends. I know stuff.

I know stuff like:

Even though my heart longs for the quiet tenderness of God’s arms, God’s arms extend to the disheveled mayhem of my day.

and

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

and

A moms job is her highest calling.

Got it. And thank you for that.

Now that we have that out of the way, can I be honest with you for a second? Can I ask you one honest, woman-to-woman question?

Why did God take woman and tell her to be still with him,
only to throw her to the wolves of toddlerism?

Why does he seemingly remove peace with God
to replace it with war with kids?

My heart has taken these questions, ripped them apart, shred by shred, and sat with the fragments of ugly reality. The shards, torn even more apart by my apparent inability.

And, I realize…

Sitting in the center of shards – is just where God wants me.
Sitting in the center of shards – is where God’s repair is found.
Sitting in the center of shards – is sitting in the center of needy,
the place where he knows first-aid is crucial.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Is. 40:29

God doesn’t tell me to buck up and press on,
he tells me to hunker down and cry out like a child.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 18:3

He whispers, “Hand me the shards.
I will knit together a house called holy.”

“Hurry up and tantrum before me,
and I will calm your worst fears.”

“You don’t have to look like a Christmas portrait of excellence,
because I am your excellence.”

I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10

God doesn’t leave the mess, their mess, our mess and call it an abomination to all his white-laced glory. He looks at it to say, “Dear child, don’t miss it, you are standing in the midst of my glory. And I love how you run to receive my help.”

Carry on, friends, carry on.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 

 

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

How Jesus Prayed

Last night, as I was booting down the day in prayer, I realized something. Something kind of significant. I figured what it said about me just as important as what I actually believed about prayer.

It struck me that while I often pray to stop worrying, I always pray mid-struggle – in the heat of a thought that has run haywire, like a wire with far too much current and no outlet.  Now, I won’t say by that point it is too late, but I just wonder, why do I wait until that point, rather than getting out in front of it defensively?

Why don’t I build an action plan, a game plan and an attack
to beat down worry before it runs wild?

When we fail to prepare with big preemptive prayers, we prepare like paupers. 

But, when we prepare in advance, not fearing to ask for massive deliverance,
God prepares our hearts in the unimaginable.

Why is it we are afraid to ask for the enormous, the unthinkable and the life-changing?

1. We are scared that our big God will only deliver us small answers and thereby disappoint us.
2. We feel guilty for not praying righteous prayers, so we pray empty prayers.
3. We wonder what we will end up believing about God, if we end up seeing him not come through.
4. We figure that we are somehow supposed to conquer, what God stands ready to.

Yet, Jesus, he teaches us to pray unrestrained, unbelievable and uncensored prayers. Let’s take a look.

10 Bible Verses: How Jesus Prayed

1. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu. 5:16

Getting alone gives our mind the white space it needs to conceptualize life-transforming spiritual needs.

2. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Mt 26:39

Jesus was not afraid to ask for big deliverance. Our big God can handle big prayers. In fact, he loves a heart that believes by faith he can do all things. Just ask it!

3. My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. Mt 26:42 

Jesus knew God’s will takes precedence over earthly will. When we pray, we should let our heart convey needs, yet trust that God ultimately knows what we best need.

4. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark. Mk. 1:35

Jesus knew that seeing God first in his day, sets the foundation of a day – in God. When we place our morning eyes on God, he gives our eyes sight on great strength in our day.

5. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Mt. 6:9 

Jesus knew who he was talking to, do we? God tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous can run into it and are safe (Prov 18:10). Do we believe this?

6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Mt. 6:13

Praying to be delivered from what has not already hit, prevents your feet from getting swept out from under. Jesus teaches us to pray preemptively, and for good reason.

7. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Mt. 11:25-26

Jesus praised God for what man could easily find fault with. Praise God for the things you can’t understand. When we know that a good God is over our bad problems, we find calm waters.

8. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Lu. 22:32

Jesus knew the value in praying on behalf of faith. May we ask for more faith, so we can walk into the unseen with power, authority and courage, just like Jesus.

9. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. Jo. 17:9

Jesus prayed for his beloved children. Let’s pray that our heart, and the heart of all God’s children, will endure, stay pure and persevere together until the end, for this is God’s will for us.

10. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Lu. 23:34

Jesus forgave when he could have cursed the world for his breath labored pain and agony. He didn’t. Let’s forgive those who cause us pain and agony, for what we will find is that forgiveness is what ends up causing us far less pain in the long run.

Prayer.

It is our power.
It is our strength.
It is our direct connection to the greatest ruler of this earth.
It is our cosmic shift from selfish plans to God’s plans.
It is our ability to be an influencer, a pleader and a worker in a kingdom that counts.
It is our ticket to our greatest needs being met in awe inspiring ways.
It is our hope that confirms to our heart we have a hope.
It is our peace that the creator is still creating. 
It is our power found in uplifted hands and in the quietness of a solitary room.
It is our ability to call the Great Physician to a family member in need.
It is our emergency exit door for what the devil has already cooked up to destroy us.
It is our greatest weapon in a world that is building bigger and bigger weapons.
It is our lifeline when we feel we have lost all life.

It was one of Jesus’ greatest tools,
shouldn’t it be ours too?

New! Easy Subscribe. Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts via email – click here.

6 Ways to Talk Like Jesus, Not Yourself

Talk Like Jesus

Like an inspector, I spot the clues that lead to wrong. I can see the details of the injury and I must find out who did it. I must know the who’s, what, why’s and when’s. If I know, it will add up to a greater picture to create a greater plan.  Then, I can really put my thinking cap on, add up the details and get busy with repairing what went wrong.

Ever been there?

Ever nodded your head yes to your inner inspector
believing your top cap holds all the rights to another’s wrongs?

Ever become the investigator,
the mediator
(and eventually the intimidator),

rather than the relater to pain?

Jesus models an image of perfect communication; while he never came across as a Mr. Fix it, fixing was naturally accomplished.

6 Ways to Effectively Communicate like Jesus:

1. Know who you are talking to, what they need and how to listen.

He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. Jo. 2:25
Know what is inside, outside, around and under a person, so you can see how to sit with, not preach to, a heart in need.

2. Understand that you could stand where that person stands.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Heb 4:15
There, but for the grace of God, go I.

3. Let the Spirit be the orchestrator of your words. Speak from God’s righteousness, verses your Godly righteousness.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Cor. 2:4-6
When leader, the confirmer and the sealer of Christ’s work, the Spirit, guides your words, your words become meaningful.

4. Believe in your words and your words will become believable.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29).
All the authority of Jesus Christ has been handed you to you for present day purposes – act like it.

5. Encourage others in life application of their faith – so they figure it out, without you figuring it out.

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. Lu. 8:32
You might be sending someone into a monsoon, but soon they’ll likely find God.

6. Ask questions and then ask more(from the depths of love). Questions lead people to their own answers.

Where is your faith?” Luke 8:25
When a person comes up with their own answer, they come up with their own plan of action, which will always work one hundred times better than ours. 

Rather than relying on our inspector and fixer habits, we can rely on the Savior’s and healer’s habits. In the end, our mouths will speak not answers and solutions, but a glorious “Amen”, “God is working” and “Yes, yes yes!”

Yes to a calm heart that understands the Master is the master over all problems.

Yes to a deeper faith that trusts God’s needed working space between the major problem and a hurting person.

Yes to insightful prayer that go to the altar, before going to the table of action plans, contracts and how-to’s.

Yes to expectancy at how God may show up to Shalom, or welcome, one into his family, his truth and his love.

Yes to truth, wild truth, spoken with wild belief that seems to test the yes intention of our own heart to all Godly intentions.

What happens is glorious and marvelous – we see the Lord at work. We see his ways prevail in another’s heart a million times better than our policies, procedures and programs could have ever reigned.

We see his glory fall – and one who sees glory – sees God.

And, what we find, oftentimes, is the other one with stronger faith in the end – is us.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here. 

Linking with #LiveFreeThursday, #FiveMinuteFriday and #DanceWithJesus.

When Prayer Gets Hard

When Prayer Gets Hard

Guest post by: Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Praying for YOU is easy.

If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you:
All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.

I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.

Absolutely.

It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.

But for me?

Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:

You are not enough.
You don’t deserve what you want.
You haven’t been faithful enough.
You haven’t trusted Him enough.
He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.

It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.

It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.

A few months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.

Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.

Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.

As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.

I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.

So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…

And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.

It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.

No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.

Felt it. Rested in it.

After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.

But the situation got me thinking.

I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.

What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?

Everything that we think He is or should be?

 What if we prayed full of belief?

What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?

What if God shows up?

What if this is the moment when everything will change?

What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?

What miracles do you suppose we’d see?

                                                                                                                       Let’s find out.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.02.22 AM

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside
Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging
from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes
even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening
all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying
in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.02.46 AM

Purchase links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
*Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others

Join Kelly on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.