Purposeful Faith

Tag - 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

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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.

How to Fly Above Daily Problems

Fly Above Daily Problems

Kids fight back my words of instruction. I get anxious.
The car won’t start. I get anxious.
Relational conflict brews. I get anxious.
The day looks difficult ahead. I get anxious.
It looks like I am going to be late. I get anxious.
The schedule appears too much to manage. I get anxious.
Traffic sits. I get anxious.
Temper tantrums of toddlers ensue. I get anxious.
An unexpected bill arrives. I get anxious.
Home issues pop up. I get anxious.

Do you ever feel like me? So busy preparing for tsunami problems that your heart is unprepared for the small ruptures?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Ps. 139:23) 

God is testing me to know my anxious thoughts.

I can’t help but wonder, when he does, if he likes –
not my biblical, spiritual and theological heart –
but my moment-by-moment heart?  

And why such a clean one want to see such anxious filth?

After much time treading through the waters of wonder, I arrived at these points:

God tests us, because he wants to bless us. 

He wants to know us, because he loves us.

He still thinks of us, in precious terms, even if he knows our most ugly terms (Ps. 139:17).

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Ja. 1:2-4

He gives us baby tests, to applaud our baby steps of trust.
He sends us exams, in hopes that we walk across his graduation stage of peace.
He prepares us, because he truly is preparing us.
He is not trying to wear us, because he doesn’t care for us.
But loving us, because he wants love – in us.

Don’t doubt that your trials are building triumph!

Trials are higher education learning opportunities that build the brain power of perseverance and endurance that deliver us to the grade of “complete” in Christ Jesus.

Why would I run from these opportunities? Why would I fear the establishment that is meant to establish me?

Shouldn’t I be looking at trials not as crying grounds, but as blessing grounds? Not as fearing rooms, but as giving rooms? Not in doubt, but in faith – of the mighty work that God is about to do in me?

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Ja. 1:12

So, may we descend on “scary” like falcons,
driving into them at speeds of 200 miles per hour,
not tremoring, but trusting,
not resisting, but persisting,
not fighting, but flying.
Soaring high above the worldly,
beyond the grime of life,
on the horizon of God’s great opportunity.
To see the glory of his test,
giving permission for him to be our rest.
And suddenly, a great shift persists,
for on our plains we must see a new way,
from spiritual eyes – and not earthly,
from godly plains and not normal.
And we do.
We go with God.
We go to beauty, peace and power –
to heights unseen
and places unknown,
and lands untraversed,
in the completion of his will,
in the fullness of his grace,
in the lightness of his wind.
We find ourselves powerful not our powerless,
trusting the sacred – in the sticks of the mess –
for here, it’s the place, the power place – and the resting place – all the same,
the place where God weaves holiness into the very fabric of our being.
​We rest down and continue to fly on his triumphant ways.

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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?

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The Peace Found in Release

peace-in-release

Post by: Katie M. Reid

They had been carrying him for awhile.

He was heavy. His sickness weighed them down—not just physically, but emotionally as well.

They took his suffering seriously and they longed for a different outcome. They wanted to see their friend healed.

But what could they do?

If they could take away his pain, they would.
If they could fix him, they would.
If they could heal him, they would.

But they couldn’t.

So they got together—worked as a committed team—and decided to take him to a renowned physician who was growing in popularity. He was more of an non-traditional doctor—but they were desperate for a cure and open to trying unconventional methods.

So they took their friend, by faith, to go and see this peculiar man.

They hoped for a miracle.

When they reached their destination there were crowds gathered, blocking the door. But these determined friends removed a part of the roof and let down the pallet on which their friend, the paralytic, was lying (see Mark 2:4).

They made sure their friend made it to Jesus.

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ Mark 2:5, NASB

But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—He said to the paralytic—’I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.’ Mark 2:10-11, NASB

Obviously I took a little liberty in the retelling of this familiar bible story, but I wanted to share it to explain a work that God did in my heart a few weeks ago.

The Heavy Load

I had been carrying around a heavy burden. I was dragging around a dead-weight mummy, wrapped tightly in burial clothes. I had a few friends who were sick spiritually and I was trying to shoulder their choices by carrying them around.

This effort was weighing me down, both physically and emotionally. I was discouraged and unsure if I would see their healing.

I was weary.

Then God reminded me of the account of the friends who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus. They carried him, but only so they could lift him to Jesus and trust Him to heal him.

They did what they could do from a human standpoint and believed that Jesus would do what they could not.

I wept with relief as God asked me to let down what I had been carrying all this time.

It wasn’t my place to be my friends’ savior. It wasn’t my job to try and carry them. My part was to lift them up to Jesus and let Him take it from there.

As I raised my arms to reflect what He was showing me I felt the weight lift.

He took me from a place of pain and enabled me to rise up—crippled no longer.

I am not responsible for the outcome of my friends’ decisions. My part is to be a good friend and lift them up in prayer, to the One who can make all the difference.

He Stoops to Save

Sweet peace floods our soul as we release our weighty burdens to the Lord.

The Burden Lifter reaches down and comforts His daughters.

He stoops down to help us walk free.
He speaks clear, gentle wisdom that realigns our thoughts to His truth.
He removes our poor attempts at bandaging others and works His healing salve into the cracked places.

My friends:

  • Are you carrying around something that is not yours to bear?
  • Are you trying to be a savior instead of lifting up your loved one to the Savior, the Great Physician?
  • Do your shoulders ache from taking on responsibility that is not actually yours to carry?

Let’s stop, kneel and ask God to help us release that which belongs to Him.

Dear God:
Thank You for the sweet peace that is ours in You. Help us to release all that is weighing us down and holding us back from connecting with You. Thank You that You are Mighty Savior, Great Healer and Faithful Friend. Forgive us for trying to take on things that our shoulders weren’t meant to carry. Thank You that no problem is too heavy for You. Thank You that in You freedom, hope, healing and joy are found. Thank You that You tore off the roof of earth to come down and connect us to the Father again. We praise You Jesus. Help us to walk with You each day, as You lead the way Home.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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Katie M. Reid Writer

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Katie is a contributing writer here at Purposeful Faith and also over at God-sized Dreams. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com

 

Help Me Catch My Breath

Catch My Breath

Post by: Katie M. Reid

I am running. Panting hard, unsteady breath—not effective.

I need air. I need to breathe deep and steady or I’ll double over from exhaustion.

I am covering ground but I am losing it at the same time.

I’m exerting an excessive amount of energy and depleting my reserves as I take shallow breaths. I am flying past the scenery and missing out on the depth of beauty found on these country roads.

As I mentioned before, I am training for a half-marathon. The task is beyond me. I can’t do it without the help of the One who put this body together and is able to sustain me when I reach my limits.

In just a little over a month, I’ll come face to face with cold November air and more than a dozen miles stretching before me.

I have been living as if life is a 100 meter dash, not a marathon. I need to grasp a marathon mindset or be injured or maybe even taken out of the race.

But I’m not just talking about this literal race.

Covering Ground

Have you been training? Have you been doing time on your knees? Have you been stretching your faith muscles through prayer, so that you are prepared for what’s to come?

Are you giving your body a rest?

Have you been taking time to slow so that your body can be repaired?

Are you caring for those in your charge or are you pushing them to the limits as you race ahead?

Are you relying on your strengths to push forward or are you receiving His grace for your lack?

I am not proficient in prayer or rest—in fact sometimes I’m a downright pathetic pray-er and a restless rester. I want this to change. It has to change for the sake of my health, family and spiritual life.

For the next 31 days I am focusing on this dynamic duo—prayer and rest—and asking God to help me grow.

I like to plan my course, but I want God to lead these days instead.
I like to know what the outcome will be, but I want Jesus to overcome me instead.
I like to avoid pain, but I want the Holy Spirit to burn through my weaknesses instead.

Are you following His pace for your path? Are you leaving space for grace?

As we settle into our stride may we keep in step with the Spirit. May we not lag behind nor run ahead. May we stop running ourselves ragged and run instead to that old rugged cross—wrapping ourselves around His love.

May we enjoy the route that He has ordained for us—even when it’s uphill, even when it’s muddy, even when there are detours.

We will likely stumble on this journey, but instead of throwing in the towel, let’s receive and extend His grace for ourselves and those around us.

There is beauty to be found at our feet, let’s not miss it. Let’s embrace His pace for each of our lives.

Let’s Pray

Dear God:

Help us to catch our breath and wake up to Your Presence. We are not able to breathe without you. May we not take the next breath for granted but “breathe in Your grace and breathe out Your praise*.”

May You recharge us as we go down the road that You have laid. Help us to drink in Your grace as You set the pace. Help us to lay down our hurry and scurry and grab hold of Your Body and Blood, broken for us.

We repent of wimpy prayer lives and ask You to strengthen our resolve to cry out to you, often, and with great faith. Help us to unwind in Your Presence, through prayer and rest, as we grow in trust that You will be with us each step of the way. Help us to run the race set before us, faithfully.

Thank You that You are able to take our frazzled and harried days and transform us—free and healed.

Amen.

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*adapted from Your Grace Finds Me lyrics by Matt Redman

Katie M. Reid Headshot by Adopting Natinos

Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Katie is a contributing writer here at Purposeful Faith and also over at God-sized Dreams. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com

The Object of Our Confidence

confidence

Post By: Angela Parlin

I started this year reading through Psalms slowly. I was learning to sit alone with God to pray, making it a practice to adore God each day. I quickly understood it wasn’t coincidence at all that I had begun this reading plan along with the desire to grow in prayer.

The Psalms filled my mind with ideas and images about who God is and what He does.

God is the One enthroned in heaven, Most High, maker of all, majestic, righteous ruler & judge, our Rock, our refuge, our strength, the One who sees, and these are only the beginning.

As for His actions, in the first few chapters alone, God surrounds the righteous with His favor like a shield. He watches over them and leads them. He blesses all who take refuge in Him. He listens to their prayers and answers them. He delivers, gives relief, disciplines, and judges evil. He fills hearts with joy and peace and brings prosperity.

God is King of kings, who made the world and owns the world and rules the world and sustains it.

So then, what does all this mean about us?

God chooses to be involved in the details of our lives, we learn in Psalms. And also?

He is worthy of our confidence and trust.  

David, who wrote many of the Psalms, had such deep and abiding confidence in God. I’m convicted by it, in the area of belief.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t usually struggle with doubting God. But sometimes I struggle with doubting me. Deep down, that’s an issue of confidence in God—that He is who He says He is, that He does what He says He’ll do, and especially, that He does it for me.

I do believe; Lord, help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)

I don’t think we need more confidence in ourselves. Because at some point in life, even the most self-confident among us will experience their confidence shaken. We are human, and in this state, we are dependent on God, whether we admit that or not. It doesn’t matter how much confidence you were born with or how much you developed through the circumstances of your life.

What matters is that we hope and trust in God.

At the beginning of our school day one morning, I asked my kids what they think it means to have confidence in God.

One of them said, “You just trust Him, because you know He’s God.”

Another said, “It’s like Hope. You have confidence because you hope in God.”

Doing a quick word study using confidence, I found the Greek word parresia, and the Hebrew word, mibtach. 

Parresia allows us to look ahead with confidence–because we know Who is in control. With parresia, we have freedom and boldness, but only because of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Mibtach carries the idea of security, trust, hope, and certainty.

Mibtah assumes our confidence is based on the object of our confidence.

It’s the word King David used when he prayed in Psalm 71~

Lord, You have been my hope, my confidence since my youth.

That was David’s beautiful confession, and his story. Because of what Jesus has done for you and me, this can also become the story of our lives.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. Jeremiah 17:7

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Angela Parlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Parlin is a 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 at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

 

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.

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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.

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

Join Kelly on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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My will or Thy will?

My wil or thy will

Post by: Christy Mobley

1 Samuel 8:6, “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all they say to you,  for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.'”

The Israelites were always whining and complaining wanting their own way. Their own will. They were never satisfied. They didn’t trust God to do what was best for them. They always wanted something else.  I’m sorry to say I can relate.  For most of my life I’ve been no different. Oh, I would have told you I trusted God, but still, I always thought I knew what was best.  I knew a better ending to the story. My story.

About 15 years ago (in my guesstimation) my pastor sent out an email to the members of our church. I don’t remember the exact purpose of the email but I do remember reading a few lines on prayer and God’s will that stuck in my craw. Mostly because at the time the words bewildered me.  Those words read something like this:

If you want healing, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you want safety, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you need a job, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you need financial help, pray for God’s will to be done.

If you are looking for peace, pray for God’s will to be done.

I recall thinking,  what about my will? What if God’s will and my will aren’t the same? What if His ending doesn’t look like mine? Doesn’t God care about what I want? 

It wasn’t long after, I decided my husband was bored with his job. (Notice, I said I decided.)  I felt he needed something more challenging, a promotion perhaps. And I circled it in prayer.  A lot of prayer.  I thought I knew what was best for him, for us. Never mind what God thought.  Not once did I pray honestly about my feelings and my struggles, or what was in my heart. Nope, instead I forged on, telling God my agenda, and asking Him to oblige with an answer.

And He did.

But it was not the answer I contrived in my mind. Nope, God loves me more than that.

Have you heard the saying, “Be careful what you pray for?”

God answered my selfish prayer.

He gave me what I wanted to show me what I didn’t. 

He gave me my own way to show me how His way is better.

The next  seven years were challenging to say the least.  But God used everything that took place within those seven years to mold me for His purposes. Though God did indeed answer my prayer, the path He led me down would not have been one of my choosing. I can see now that it was necessary and it gave me a clear and personal understanding of Romans 8:28, “God  works everything for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”  Because it was during this trying time God showed me –

A way out of my spiritual desert.

How to be totally honest in prayer.

How to depend on Him and not on myself.

How to be joyful in all circumstances.

How His will is better than mine.

And how He is always faithful.

In the key passage from 1 Samuel, the Israelites weren’t satisfied with God and His way. They wanted human kings like all the other nations. And God gave them their human kings. He gave them what they wanted to show them what they didn’t need.

I believe it is important to lay our hearts open to our Heavenly Father and honestly tell Him our wants and desires. He wants that, but He also wants our surrender. Because at the end of the day He knows what ‘s best.  And today I know that full well.

Jesus gave us the perfect example when he prayed “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….”

Thy will not my will. Amen

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Pray Without Multitasking

By: Angela Parlin

We are two weeks into the new year, and I’m ready now to declare my word.

Near the end of last year, I thought it might be strength—as in living in God’s strength and not my own. I wrote it on the front page of a new journal, but it didn’t feel like “the one”.

As I studied strength, it took a backseat to prayer.

Because there’s no living in God’s strength without wholehearted, earnest prayer.

So this year my commitment is simply to Pray–in a consistent, intentional, wholehearted way.

I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but I think some prayers are easy. Many years ago, I read about practicing the presence of God, and started a habit of talking to Him throughout the day, believing He’s near.

I whisper lines of thanks or requests for help to God throughout the day. I ask Him regularly for wisdom, especially as a Mom. I keep a list of family and friends’ needs, knowing He waits for us to come to Him, and He listens.

I trust that God is able to do more than all we ask or imagine. 

We have needs, and God is able to meet them. Furthermore, we are busy, so these throughout-the-day, on-the-go prayers work for us.

But other times, prayer feels hard, even unnatural. Other times, prayer requires us to put down everything else we’d like to do at the same time.

That’s the kind of prayer I struggle with. To put that more honestly–that’s the prayer I often don’t pray. The one where I close the door to my world, and enter the presence of God, with only God and nothing else.

What about you? Do you regularly slow down to be with God alone?

I don’t think it comes naturally to most of us, to make a full stop in our lives and stay with Him a while.

We tend to do everything in our power, first.

We rely on ourselves instead of relying on God.

We value self-sufficiency, and pride ourselves on independence.

Or we’re rarely alone, and when we are, we turn on something noisy, so we don’t feel alone.

In my quiet times, I love studying books of the Bible. But the hard part? Pouring out my heart to God and listening for Him through the silence. Which is to say–I like to learn about God, to get to know Him through His Word, but I struggle to just sit with Him.

Back in December, I wrote down a few goals for this year. Since then, I’ve realized my goal above all goals for 2015 is to spend time each day, praying without multitasking.

I commit to daily adore God, thank Him, confess my sins, and lay my requests before Him. And then to wait in the silence for His Holy fire to fall upon my heart.

At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart. Psalm 5:3, Passion Translation

Will you join me? If the Spirit is calling you to spend time daily, praying without multitasking, let me know and I’ll be praying for YOU. Come, Holy Fire…

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a 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 at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.