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Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

In March I took solitude to a whole new level.  This in turn caused an increased hunger for it.

 

When I started this journey of solitude, the desire to have more time without the distractions and noise of the world grew.  The opportunity arose in March.  I went to a silent retreat weekend led by Laura Petherbridge.

 

How would I face almost a full forty-eight hours of no phones, computer, TV and absolutely no talking?   I admit I find it difficult to talk to God in my head,  so I have to talk out loud, so for me it was not total “silence”.

 

Communication was limited to two counseling sessions.  We could not even talk at meals.  That was a little awkward when you’re at an Abby and even the monks can talk to each other and your group sits there just looking at each other or our food.

 

My goal centered on this:  no expectations.  Let God be God and listen to what He had to say.   Apparently I went in with expectations, for the first morning I felt frustrated. I desperately wanted to pick up phone, call my mentor, JoAnn, and go home.

 

My greatest fear came true: God’s voice was non – existent.  I sat in the counseling session and cried and cried.

 

Laura looked at me paused then said, “Perhaps God is not giving direction because He wants to heal some things first.  You expect the “hallelujah” moment when all He wants you to do is be still, soak Him in and heal some of the perceptions you have of yourself. You struggle with a lack of trust, fear, even hatred of self.  I feel God is wanting to heal rather than give direction.” We sat in silence for a few moments.

 

“You’re also a doer,” she continued, “ You have to do and do and do in order to be a good Christian and what you really need is to learn to be. Then balance the two.”

 

I sat there stunned, but refreshed.  I realized solitude isn’t always about what God wants me to do.  Many times it’s just to sit and be still.

 

Laura spurred me on, “Let God speak to you and tell you who you are in Him.  Find verses so that when the enemy plants seeds of self loathing, mistrust, or fear you can say ‘It is written… say the verse’, and he will flee.”

 

When I left the counseling session my first reaction was “Okay, God let’s get those verses.”  But then the thought immediately came, “No, just be.  He will show them to me in His time, in His way.”  I found a fountain outside, sat down and enjoyed the nature around me.

 

The rest of the weekend went well.  I basked in who He was, my Father.

 

I discovered in a deeper sense, that solitude centers on relationship.

 

God will tell me when He is good and ready and most importantly when He knows I’m ready to hear that “next step”.

 

One verse that stood out to me that weekend was Song of Solomon 7:10:

 “I am my beloveds and my beloved desires me.”

 

God desires me.  His desire for me, is to know Him in a deep an intimate way.

 

As much as I wanted to hear where I was headed, I needed to hear that the Creator of the Universe desires me.  He desires all of me; every strength, every weakness, every flaw, every single part of me.  He loves me that much.  He desires to make me into more than I could ever dream. But most of all He wants me to be still.

 

How about it?  Is it too big of a risk to take some time to be away, at a park, away from the distractions of the world, and be still before Him? Go without the phone, or expectations and let Him direct the time.  He may just want you to enjoy a walk through His creation.

 

Be amazed and awed in the One who desires you.

 

If you are interested in attending a silent retreat, either click on Laura’s name within the blog or go to the link below.

http://www.laurapetherbridge.com/speaking/silent-retreats/

 

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Proverbs can be a hard book for me to read in a couple ways. First, there doesn’t seem to me to be a flow.  In one chapter you can jump around in various themes.  For example, in one verse you read about the tongue, in the next money, the next laziness, and then back to the tongue. Second, sometimes it’s hard to see how a concept applies to me.

 

The latter made an impact with me recently.  In this book of wisdom, the author talks in several places about the adulterer and their ways.  Being a married woman I have never gone after someone other than my husband.  I also know like everyone else, I am susceptible to it if I am not using wisdom and discernment.

 

I went on a walk one morning and prayed.  I proceeded to tell God I have no idea how to apply chapter 5 of Proverbs to my life. Be careful what you say to God.  The Spirit spoke to my heart. “How about the idols in your life?”

 

The Old Testament is full of stories about Israel exchanging God for idols.  I’ve even mentioned it in past blogs.

 

He continued, “Lately you have consistently chosen things before Me.  You have committed adultery by running to them as if they will fix things, bring satisfaction or fill a void.  Sometimes you to go to them out of habit, and other times you make a deliberate choice.  Yet in the end the situation isn’t better or changing, and you still feel empty, just like one who is cheating on the spouse.  It satisfies in the short term but in the long run, it causes strife within you and it comes out to affect others.”

 

I realized that the things of this world can and will seduce me away from the God who loves me unconditionally, who seeks my best always, who stands by my side through struggles and heartaches. The best part is He is ready to fight for me.

 

God has a plan for me.  He desires a relationship with me that is like no other.  When I run to the arms of the world and all it offers in the way of stress relief, problem solving, comfort, peace, joy, love and the list can go on, instead of turning to God, I am committing spiritual adultery.

 

Some may say that’s far-fetched.  Is it?  I am considered the bride of Christ (Revelations 19:7) along with all those who belong to the “church body”.  If Scripture is correct and I believe it is, when I put God where He belongs at the center of my life, I’m faithful, when I don’t I’m not.

 

It’s not easy to hear.  When I realized this, it became depressing to think about.  But praise the Lord, there is reconciliation when I confess what I have done, and acknowledge it as sin.  Then turn from it and return to my first love. (Revelation 2:4-5).  Like the prophet Hosea reconciled with his prostitute wife, God will be reconciled to me and that reconnection is unlike anything else in the world.

 

“Adulteress!  Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.”

James 4:4 (HCSB)

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The church is not the block and mortar building standing on the street corner.  The church is the people.  It broke my heart when I read of an individual who lost a family member in another state and received no support from the church.  The individual felt that the church was becoming cold.  Others echoed the same sentiment.

 

Tears came to my eyes.  Now I don’t know the full story, but this is how the person was feeling.  I thought about the church I attend.  It’s not perfect, however when it comes to love and support they give it.  My first thought was where was their Sunday school or friends.  Then It turned into – was this person even connected.

 

My husband attended a teachers meeting the other week.  They told of two stories.  The first was a believer who entered the hospital suddenly and died.  When the pastor arrived there were three others from the congregation there.  The second, and individual passed and the church didn’t find out about it until months later.

 

These two individuals attended the same church.  Yet there were two drastically different responses.  When the staff researched, what they found was one was connected and involved, the other just came for services.

 

The support was two sided.  The first individual made it a point to be involved.  They attended a small group, may even was involved with a ministry.   The other didn’t.

 

I have had three family members die within the past ten years.  We have received cards from the deacons and pastoral staff, cards from the other members of the church body.  It was surprising to me how many showed up for the memorial services because these family members did not attend the church with us.

 

A friend of ours just had a celebration of life party.  She has cancer and stopped treatment.  More than two hundred showed up for the last minute potluck dinner, to pray for her.  she and her husband are greeters.  Every time there is an opportunity to serve they are at the doors.

 

I can’t tell you how surprised I was when the chapel at church was packed to overflowing at my sister’s memorial service.  People, I wasn’t expecting to see there, walked in for me and my family.

 

In order for the church to function and support as they should, each member must do their job.  Especially in a big congregation.  We aren’t gathering just to Connect with God.  At my home church we go by the C4 principle

 

C1 –  Connect to God – through teaching of the Word – service

C2 – Connect to Others – being involved in a small group Sunday School

C3 – Connect to Ministry – serving the body of believers outside of the SS

C4 –  Connect to the world – Missions – going (locally, worldwide) or                                                        supporting via financial

 

Are you connected?  Are you involved with a Sunday School?  If not, try a few out and attend the one that you can be encouragement to others as well as be encouraged.  If you aren’t finding something to get involved in – dare I say it – find a church that you can or better yet, ask your Pastoral staff to start a ministry using the talents God has given you.  My pastor has said, people have met with him and mentioned a ministry the church should have and he tells them great idea why don’t you head it up.  They need you just as much as you need them.

 

“and let us consider how to stimulate on another to love and good ; , not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

Hebrews 10:25 (NASB)

 

 

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Recently I was asked to write a 150-word blurb for my church’s Moms at Heart Newsletter on the topic of “How do we trust God, when life doesn’t make sense?”

 

I laughed.  My life doesn’t make sense. How am I to write about a topic when I don’t have the answers for my own life?

 

God impressed on my heart, “You’ve been indulging, in me and there is peace even though you don’t have the all answers.”

 

Of course He was right.  When is God ever wrong?

 

I’ve been indulging in Him a lot lately.  Some synonyms for indulge are savor, marinate, and enjoy to excess.  It’s hard to picture savoring God, or marinating in His presence.  However, that is what I’ve been learning to do.

 

I’ll give one word to describe it: chocolate.  Whoa God is like chocolate?  Well, no that would be absurd, but how we experience Him can be.

 

To say that I love chocolate is an understatement.  Unfortunately, because I like it so much, I have a tendency to scarf it down without enjoying it.  My weight can attest to it.  This is how I can act when it comes to God.

 

I get up, spend time reading, answering my study questions and then immediately start my day without any time to let it soak in.  It’s almost as if I am saying, “I’ve done my obligation; now on with my day.”  Sure I pray before starting, and the Lord shows me things, but is it really soaking in?

 

Since I didn’t really understand what savoring meant, I took a piece of chocolate from my husband’s stash, sat down and let it melt in my mouth.  I was totally surprised.  Taking the time to indulge, I tasted it, felt the texture and it was satisfying.  I didn’t need another.

 

Last year I posted about soul care – taking time every so often to go to a place without distractions to pray and listen.

 

Over the past several weeks, it has been almost an everyday occurrence.  I haven’t been on my knees just for my life, but also for my family and friends as well.  I read, pray and most importantly listen (being literally still, waiting and not speaking until the Lord directs).

 

Have the answers come? I’m seeing God work.

 

Indulging in Him also means being intentional.  I have to make the time; it’s not going to suddenly happen.  I’m trying to be deliberate every day.

 

Warning:  If we aren’t careful, even this purposeful time is in danger of becoming ritual.  The Christian life is about a relationship with the One who created us, not the “works” or rituals that we do.

 

Are there situations in your life not making sense, not “fair” or just plain anxiety – filled?  Take some time to indulge in the Lord. I can’t guarantee your situation will immediately change.  Some of the answers I’ve seen have taken months, but what I can promise is peace.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”

 Matthew 11:28-29 (NASB)

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If we were sitting face to face and I asked, “What do you think God considers idols?” My guess is that you would say things like cars, money, work, and hobbies.

You would be correct, what about affirmation, worry, significance, perfection, or children? Each one of these can take their place above God.

When I become anxious, I am putting the situation above God. In a sense, I’m telling Him “You can’t deal with this situation; if I worry enough the result will turn out better”.

I believe that many people have facebook accounts to gain as many friends as possible in order to feel popular. They check hundreds of times a day to see how many “likes” they get on a picture or comment.

How do I know? I am one, and it’s not just facebook.
Two years ago, God impressed on my heart to write a blog. Without my knowing, it too, turned into an idol

One day I checked the stats of my blog and saw there were only 1,034 hits in two years.

Depressed I called a friend.

“I guess I need to chuck it all in. Good bloggers and writers have thousands of hits monthly, not a thousand in two years.” I stated, “I know the numbers shouldn’t matter, but I guess people don’t like it, and I’m not being an encouragement to anyone except the same people over and over again.”

She responded, “Why does it matter so much to you that people like it or not?”

“Because, it’s the a way I know I’m doing what God wants of me.”

“Why?”

“Because when people like it, I know I’m loved by God.”

“Christine,” she paused, “Go deeper. Why do you have to have people’s approval more than God’s approval?”

I couldn’t answer right away. “Well, because when people affirm, to me it’s God’s way of affirming me.”

“Why?”

“I’ll have to think and pray about it.”

I pictured her grinning on the other end of phone line.

That Sunday we started a new series in our Sunday school god’s at War by Kyle Idleman. Coincidence?

Kyle’s definition of an idol:

“Anything or anyone I live for other than God is an idol.”*

So the deeper was revealed.  Subconsciously, I was saying, “God you aren’t good enough or big enough to meet these desires or needs.”

These aren’t the only things in my life that I was placing above God. My middle daughter, anxiety, and worry were all placed ahead of God. These are about situations out of my control and were taking the place of God. I trusted myself to control situations, when trust needed to be placed in the more capable hands of God.

The next morning during my devotional time, the realization of the idols in my life overwhelmed like a tidal wave crashing on shore and the tears flowed. Now that I knew the deeper issue, I desired change. I had to:

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served…” Joshua 24:15 (NIV1984)

It’s a moment by moment, situation by situation choice. I’m not going to be perfect; eventually, I will worry again. The journey to change will be long and hard.

What about you? Here are seven questions Kyle asked in his video:

1. What disappoints you? Ex: not having spouses/bosses respect.
2. What do you sacrifice money and time to?
3. What worries you? Ex: children, finances.
4. Where do you go when you need comfort? God or man?
5. What makes you angry? Ex: when someone embarrasses you.
6. What are your dreams?*

The final question he presented this way:

“God is a jealous God and will put Himself in direct competition with that idol and say to you ’_______ (insert your name) you have a choice between me or _______ (insert your idol), who do you choose?’”*

I can’t tell you how many times the last question has popped into my head during a day. I never realized how automatic it has been to go straight to the idols of affirmation or worry.

What is getting in the way of your relationship with God? Like a husband who loves his wife so much he doesn’t want another man to come between them, so God loves us so much and wants to be our one and only.

Who do you choose?

http://www.amazon.com/Gods-War-Defeating-Idols-Battle/dp/031031884X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409532167&sr=1-1&keywords=god%27s+at+war

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*Patience : to  Calmly tolerate; syn.: endurance, long suffering, forbearance

1 Corinthians 13:4 starts with, “love is patient”.  Growing up teachers taught me that the first item in a list is usually the most important.  Maybe the reason patience was listed first was because it’s the hardest virtue to exhibit. You can ask my family, patience is not a strength, but I have gotten better.

I looked up patience in a Bible Dictionary.  The entry said there are two types of patience, one for relationships and another for situations. I’m just going to deal with the relationship aspect.

While reading scripture verses, the underlining factor of God’s patience, was love and mercy.  I don’t know about you but I wonder why He puts up with me.  I make the same stupid mistakes, open mouth insert foot, doubt, become fearful and…well you get the idea.  His patience with me must wear thin sometimes.  However, the Bible states that He is the God of endurance and encouragement.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.”

Romans 15:5

Because He loves me He will not give up on me no matter what.  I want to be careful here.  It doesn’t mean He will not discipline me.  He will in order to grow me.

The question that came to my mind was, did He ever lose His patience?

In Exodus chapter thirty-two, He told Moses on the mountain “These people are so stubborn what am I going to with them. I know, wipe them out and start over with you.” (Christine’s paraphrase) But Moses who was considered God’s friend, seemed to talk Him out of it.

I decided to ask one of my pastors what he thought about this. I loved what he had to say.

 

“God is holy and just, and when His people rebelled as they did, God reacted to this.  He did not lose His patience but, reacted justly because of His holiness. Since He is sovereign and omniscient, He knew beforehand how the people would react to Moses’ absence – it did not take God by surprise.  He also knew how Moses would respond to God’s threat to destroy His people. Therefore, knowing this, we can see that God used this situation to cause Moses to intercede on behalf of the people and to impress both Moses and the people with the seriousness of rebelling against God. Due to Moses’ intercession, God “relented” (i.e., He did not change His mind but chose a course of action that was consistent with His divine will).”

When Moses went down from the mountain he told the people God’s reaction.  Most repented but 3,000 didn’t and were killed.  I believe He did this because they were unrepentant and He didn’t want them to bring down the whole nation. He loved His people enough to keep His promise but also loved them enough to hand out a punishment.

One of my daughters had sticky fingers as a child.  She wanted some books at the school book fair.  I said, no.  However, she sneeked into my purse, took a check and wrote it out for the amount due. She almost got away with it except, she wrote in pencil.

We were definitely angry. My husband decided to take drastic measures to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.  He drove her down to the local sheriffs department and talked to a deputy.  Fortunately, she got the message.  A few times after that the sticky fingers went to work again, thankfully nothing felony worthy. We handed out discipline and forgiveness and finally the behavior ended. Patience was rewarded.

Praise God, this is the same patience He has with us but on a grander scale.

How about you?  Do you fear God has lost patience with you?  Take heart, His loving patience for you means He will never give up on you.  Be honest with Him and repent of the sin and turn away from it.

If you are not part of God’s family, know He loves you, for He created you.  I would encourage you to read the  “An Invitation” and become one of His.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15 (ESV)

 

*Webster’s student Dictionary and Thesaurus

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Each of us, if we are of driving age, has a driver’s license, to identify who we are, what our age is and where we live. Even our schools provide each student with a number and ID card so the schools (here in my county it starts from elementary school up) know whose grades belong to whom and which student belong to which school.

Many people today, if not most, carry other identities, such as lawyer, accountant, manager, or even bus driver. These identities become their success, what makes them important, in the eyes of the world.

I have always struggled with my identity from the time elementary school through middle and high school into college. It didn’t help that I had to overcome a learning disability in elementary school. I had to be and do something to be important. So I tried everything. I think I changed my degree four or five times in college and then only received a two year degree.

I use to tell God “I need to go back to school to get my degree.” The reason is, if something happened to Mike the only job I could get was a minimum wage one. There is no way I can do anything without a degree. I don’t know how many times I looked at friends, even my husband, and was jealous because they got a degree. I saw myself as a failure for most of my life.

This transferred to my relationship with God. The more I did for Him, the more important I was, and the more He loved me. So I thought. My life got to the point that I was involved in four ministries at once, not to mention the one at home to my family. That was okay, because I was doing God’s work and He was going to accept me and think I was important.

In reality, I burned out. I didn’t know who I was anymore than before, due to being pulled in so many directions. I lost sight of who I truly was. Looking back, there has always been desire to find my niche. The longing to find something I really enjoyed doing, was so strong, I couldn’t say no to anything. I needed to find it.

God is patient. It took me a long time to understand where my true identity and success comes from. He had to take me out of everything to learn one simple thing; I am important, and my identity is that I am His child. I show I belong to Him by obeying His word and being an example to those around me.

Incidentally, through one of those ministries, I did find something I loved to do. I put together newsletters for our church’s MOPS (Mother of Preschools) program, writing articles to encourage those who I ministered to. I love putting words together to encourage others in their spiritual walk as well as facilitating Bible studies. But I do still have to be cautious that writing or teaching doesn’t become my sole identity. I wouldn’t be able to do this if it weren’t for God. I have also learned to take breaks and say “no” and my number one priority is my family.

Do you struggle to know who you are? Do you find that your job, hobby or even your family have become your identity? If those were taken from you today, who would you be?

If you’re one of God’s children, that is who you are. There is nothing more important than that. If the activities and “things, you use to form your identity were taken away, you would still be His child and be important to Him.

Ask Him today to make Himself real to you and to see who you really are in Him. He longs for you to know exactly that.

Place your name in the blank.

For you                       did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you                  received the Spirit of sonship/daughtership*. And by him we cry “Abba Father.  The Spirit himself testisfies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if                           is his child, then                       is an heir – an heir of God,  and co-heir with Christ…”  Romans 8: 15-17a (NIV)

*added for emphasis

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It’s that time of year again.  If you’re anything like me I have good intentions to keep my resolutions only to find myself in December making the same ones because I didn’t follow through the year before.

 

In 2013 I want to be different.  Where have I heard that before?  But this year I have only two things on my list so it should be easy.  Right?

 

First, is the number one resolution most people make, lose weight.  As I get older I am realizing the importance of eating well, exercising and keeping my weight down.

 

The second is to love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength.  When I do this everything else in my life will line up.  It will affect me as a parent, wife, individual, ministry worker, and writer.  It will literally touch every aspect of life because I will be obedient to God and recognize His voice.

 

In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses told the Israelites, that one loves the Lord completely by obeying the Law.  He told them to write it and place it on the foreheads, and arms.  Even today some sects of Judaism still tie little black boxes on their foreheads and arms that contained the law.  It was to go with them as a reminder of who they belonged to.

 

I heard Beth Moore address this very idea in her Bible study on “Deuteronomy”; I said to myself “We don’t tie little black boxes to our bodies today, so what do both of these have to do with me?”  And as if she read my mind, Beth mentioned those t-shirts or jewelry we wear with Biblical thoughts or verses.  You know the ones.  They sell in them on-line and in Christian bookstores.  They’re knock offs of the current movie, or social status pages.

 

But then she asked a pivotal question.  “Do we really believe what we wear?” Moses was telling them to take it deeper.    It wasn’t the letter of the law they were to follow (tying the boxes to the forehead or arm)  but it was the heart of the law, don’t just learn the Word but believe and live it out.   Do I really believe what one cross pendant I have says, “With God all things are possible”?  When my Father tells me to do something that seems impossible do I say “Sorry I can’t do that” or do I say, “Okay I will trust You and step out of my comfort zone.” Sadly it seems to be more of the first, than the second.

 

I’m tired of good intentions.  I want to follow through, not just to become like Christ, but to point others to Him.  Change comes by meeting with Him on a daily basis, memorizing His word, applying it and praying.  It won’t be easy, but it is doable with the Holy Spirit’s help.

 

How about you?  Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?  Are you tired of the way you life is going and want to live in a Christ like way in 2013?

 

Seek Him out.  Change starts with a relationship with Him.  Ask Him to show you what loving Him so completely looks like. Loving, trusting and being obedient to God is not a one size fits all deal. Each person is unique.

 

If you have never come into a relationship with Him, I encourage you to go to the page “An Invitation” (tap is at the top of the screen).  The page will walk you through what it means to do just that.

“Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be written upon your heart.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-6 (NIV 1984)

 

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Last year I attended the Experiencing God Bible Study at our church. I would highly recommend it to anyone. One of the exercises was to do a “God walk”.  We were to go to a park or beach and talk to Him and listen for His voice. By the way, listening is hard.

While I walked and prayed I met up with my niece and her third grade class. I had forgotten that they would be there. My niece had asked if I would go and I told her no. The leaders asked if I wanted to join them and again I said no, that I was there for a Bible Study assignment, a prayer walk. The leaders were gracious. One even said, “Tell Him I will talk to Him later.”

I didn’t get more than a few yards, and guilt overwhelmed me. I felt God prodding me back to the group. I didn’t want to. He reminded me that I had asked a few minutes prior why I was doing this. What did He want me to do or say? I gave in and turned back. In the end I apologized to my Father and the leaders for my prideful response. I also made my niece’s day.

I tried to do a “God Walk” every month. Needless to say it went by the way side.

Fast forward a year. A few months ago, I was struggling in every area of my life; my priorities, being  a mother, a wife and as a writer. I felt in my spirit I needed to take a “God Walk”. Strange how God works, the day I made the decision, I started a new Bible study entitled “The Circle Maker”. That night the assignment was to find a place, and time to pray every day for twenty-one days and pray for one situation or person (my personality won’t let me do that so there were several people/issues I chose).  Through this study we learned how to pray hard (persistence), bold (asking for the impossible) and pray for God’s sovereign will.

I chose seven in the morning and to walk around the block (less likely to be distracted). It reminded me of Genesis, and how God walked with Adam and Eve and the intimacy they had with the Father. The first time I poured my heart out. When I got back I felt renewed and excited to see how the Father would answer in unexpected ways.

The “God Walk” is becoming a new habit. When I don’t do it, I find that my day is miserable. It has provided me a new way of connecting with God. I am beginning to recognize His voice, praying scripture and trusting My Father will answer even if it is the impossible.

Do you spend time just praying and listening? He desires time with us to grow our relationship with Him.

Set up a time or place (it doesn’t have to be a walk) to just talk to the Father.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Ephesians 6:18

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For me the hardest discipline in my spiritual walk is prayer. Sitting down to read His word is easy. Of course when God uses it like a 2×4 then it’s not that easy, but to see words on the page is like sitting and reading a book. Why is prayer so hard? I think for me it’s because God is not here in flesh and blood and the “prayer programs” become, after awhile, impersonal.

Let me take you on the journey of my prayer life. I have done the prayer programs such as ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) or the prayer journal with all the different sections. Then I would get side tracked easily due to a lack of focus so I started to write my prayers out in letter form. I even had my calendar organized on what to pray for each day.
Prayer soon became meaningless to a point there was no joy. Then I read Diane Moody’s Confessions of a Prayer Slacker. She likened her prayer time to that of visiting Jesus in a father’s office to talk to Him.

Friend, I tell you I felt freed. First because I had started a year prior to write a series of pieces called The Father’s Study. These are allegories of conversations between the Christian as a child talking with their Heavenly Father as if He were in flesh and blood. I doubted that these were even “theologically” correct. She confirmed that I was on the right path.

Secondly, I became aware that the Father wants a relationship with me His child, so why not talk to Him in that way? The most important thing He desires is for me to talk to Him and share my heart and be myself. I let the Spirit lead me in what to pray for.

I like praying out loud. When I was angry or upset I found myself pacing while I prayed. There were other times I would talk to a chair just to have a focus point so I wouldn’t get distracted.
Does that mean the other tools are wrong? Absolutely not. For some, that is they way they pray everyday. Tools–like the Lord’s Prayer — are guidelines for me. God bless them who use them all the time. Others like to pray with the old English ‘Thou”, “hast”. That is not me. I would rather say “Help me, please!” I do need to be careful that my prayers are not just asking the “Divine Genie” for things but thanking and praising Him too.

But does the order matter? I don’t think so. I do confess first, because I don’t want sin standing in the way of Him answering. However, I have found that sometimes half way through my prayer time He impresses on my heart a sin I need to confess or reminds me of a blessing to thank Him for.

Do I still struggle even now that I have found a way to pray that fits me? You bet. Prayer requires intentionally taking the time. He wants to hear from me.

Do you struggle with prayer time? Are you intimidated or not sure where to start?

Tell it to your Heavenly Father allow Him to guide the conversation. In fact, let Him teach you how He wants you pray.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6 (NIV 1984)

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