Tag Archives: prayer

I am being used . . . and I’m Ok with that

1-Winter scene

I find it interesting and fascinating how God answers prayers. I am reminded that it is not always in the way we expect. What is more pleasing to me was that it was my 17-year-old son who pointed it out to me.

In the past during the Christmas season I have always purchased restaurant gift cards and when approached by someone asking for money, I would try to engage them in a conversation and ask what the money was being used for. Often times I was told it was for food. I think probably 90 percent of the time that was the response that I received. Since I don’t carry cash around (I stopped that practice many years ago) I would offer them a gift card to a restaurant. Well my sister and brother told me that many times the recipient would exchange the gift card to someone for drugs or for cash to buy drugs. So this year, I decided to provide what the recipient needed more than anything – to hear about Jesus.

So I set about putting packets together. The packets were simply sandwich bags that had small pamphlets that talk about Jesus. I had been collecting them throughout the last several months. I also put together some information on social service organizations where someone can get some help – free meals etc. And I prayed. I asked God to use me to lead someone to a closer walk with Him. I asked him to slow my pace as I scurry from in the cold blasts of winter winds so that someone looking for help might approach me. I wanted to be an instrument to guide people to Christ. But so far there has been nothing. I haven’t seen anyone seeking help. No one has approached me on my one-block walk from the parking garage to my office building. I know they are there, but I haven’t seen anyone. Was my timing off? Were my eyes open? Was I looking friendly and approachable?

In the meantime, I was asked to serve on the live-in team for the February Walk to Emmaus. I’ve talked about my Emmaus experience before. It was the best 72 hours I have ever spent. I was away from home, away from the television, cell phone and internet. I was able to sit quietly and listen to God speaking to my heart. I heard a whole lot during that weekend. And I came out with a renewed love for the Word and for service.

In the 18 months since my walk I have been busy and involved. I have been listening and asking for direction and in general involving God in my everyday decisions. I’ve been thanking him almost moment by moment and receiving the blessings and hopefully being a blessing to someone. Thinking about significance of the season, I wanted to do something this holiday season. I wanted to do something impactful. I reminded myself it wasn’t for my glory – but for His. Even though I haven’t been approached by anyone so far this holiday season, I am being given the opportunity to make a difference and to have an impact.

I was asked to be part of the February team. I wanted to say yes immediately. Actually I did say yes right away, but I asked the Lay Director to give me the weekend to pray about it to be sure. It didn’t seem like it could be a bad decision. But in my usual fashion I began to think of a million things that I needed to take care of to make it happen. I would have to make sure my teenager was someplace safe for 72 hours and the dog needed to be well taken care of also. As I pondered about these things I continued to wonder about my earlier mission. And then as I was telling my son about my little packets and he said “I’m proud of you mom for your Emmaus work. You are making such a difference in someone’s life.” Boom. There is was. I was going to be able to help make a difference is someone’s life. God was going to use me in an Emmaus Walk. I didn’t immediately see it and I am so grateful my son pointed it out to me because he realizes its impact.

So I’m being used . . . and I’m Ok with that.

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Don’t Give God a To-Do List, Give God Your Heart

Chrysanthemum

Journaling is all the rage these days. And keeping a prayer journal helps Christians keep track of pray requests. But we need to be very careful that prayer journals don’t become our ‘to-do’ for God.

I started a prayer journal about this time last year. Each morning I would have my prayer and devotional time and then commence writing in my prayer journal. It became a task for me. I wanted to have the correct sentence structure. I worried about spelling and I worried about punctuation.

Part of me thought that it could be a lasting legacy for my son and his children beyond him. My topics in my prayer journal were legitimate prayers and concerns that I brought to the Lord. But my focus in the journal was misplaced.

When I decided to just sit quietly, speak with God from my heart and listen with my heart, I heard so much more in my prayer life and saw so much more happening on my prayer list. And then there was the discussion with my son about answered prayers and even unanswered prayers. That is the lasting legacy, my spoken word about the goodness of God.

Luke 11:9-10 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Trust In The Lord

I think we can all relate to living with anxious moments from time to time. Do you ever have those moments when you feel like something is wrong? Do you ever feel something has you on edge? You can’t put your finger on it exactly, but you are anxious about something. For some anxiety is severe and can be paralyzing. But the average person can manage their anxiety by trusting in the Lord.

Palm-Tree

I can first recall that anxious feeling during college. The pressure to perform well in college was nothing I had ever experience before. The first few months out of college I would get anxious moments thinking that I needed to be doing something. I had been so used to studying. But once college was over, the studying could stop. I had to learn how to relax.

Then along came life and career and the anxious moments from college were replaced with staying on top of work assignments. Adult issues such as bills, family and children can bring out anxious moments too.

But I have learned to trust in Jesus. I literally say many times a day, “I trust you Lord.” The anxious moments disappear.

When I feel an anxious moment coming on I pray, “Lord, something has me feel anxious and upset. I don’t know what it is, but Lord I trust you to help me through it. I trust you Lord to take away this feeling. I trust you Lord to see me through whatever it is.”

Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

Stop Complaining

My workstation sits out in the open a bit. I am surrounded by people all day. I can hear conversations, I can hear coughing and sneezing and I can hear people shuffling their feet as they walk by.

All three of those are things make working in an open environment a challenge for me. I try to stay focused and mentally block it out. But I miss the days of having my own private office.

This week was the triune of the things that annoy me. I heard all three on one particular day. I cringed when I heard the cough and sneeze determining not to catch a cold. And I let out heavy sighs at loud conversations that interrupt my focus. I can remember my father always telling me to pick up my feet when I walk. And he would tell me to walk with a purpose – head up, shoulders back. He would say ‘Walk like you’re going somewhere.’

All of it got me to thinking. And that made me think about my walk – my Christian walk. I was reading one of my favorite books of devotions and that particular day was so appropriate. I have learned that those messages are always very appropriate and timely.

The devotional message was commending me for staying close to Jesus but it also reminded me that I have a tendency to complain. OUCH! Nail on the head!

My complaining spirit about my workstation is not flattering or pleasing God in any way. The passage encouraged me to take my cares to the Lord because it will temper my thoughts and help me see things from His perspective.

Philippians 2:14-15 says “Do everything without complaining or arguing. So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like the stars in the universe.”

I am thankful to have a job when so many do not. I am thankful I live in a country where health care and medical supplies are easily accessible – there are so many places in the world without adequate health care. And I am thankful I have shoes on my feet – whether they are shuffling or not – because so many do not.

Scripture stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be thankful. That should be my focus.

Be Joyful

When You Ask God For Direction . . . You Have to Listen For His Answer

proverbs-3-5-trust-the-lord

When I look back over my life and think about the number of time I asked God about his direction for me, I find that He’s been talking to me all along. I just haven’t been listening.

I can remember the first time I knew that God – without a doubt – was speaking to me. It was a long time ago and I had been dating a guy for nearly three years. I was ready to settle down. When we first started dating, we were not in the same city. But the opportunity arose where we could be closer, and the guy did not encourage me to move to be near him and he wasn’t making any moves to be nearer to me. I wasn’t playing coy. I clearly let my feelings be known. I didn’t believe in playing games. He asked me about two years into the relationship where I thought it was going. And I told him. I wanted to be married and start a family. You could hear the crickets. Exactly, he didn’t have much to say to that. But we continued to date. That was my own selfishness. I was thinking he would come around to seeing things my way.

So later in the relationship another opportunity arose. But this one would have taken me farther away from him. Again, he didn’t ask me to stay. He was pretty indifferent to where I moved. Finally, the Lord placed it so clearly on my heart that this young man was never going to commit to me. It took me another six months to finally listen and end the relationship.

Did I mention that I’m a little hard-headed?

Jump forward 24 years and I was still struggling to hear from God. I had the one experience under my belt of hearing from Him so I knew He would speak to me – but why wasn’t I hearing anything.

Again, I had some big questions about my career and moving. I started praying and asking God’s direction. And at first I didn’t think He was speaking to me. Confusion arose and frustration set in. But what I discovered is that I wasn’t listening. I was blaming God and I was convinced that He wasn’t speaking clearly to me. I even told Him that He needed to speak loud and clear because I was a little hard of hearing. But what I finally realized I wasn’t hearing him because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Again, I was feeding my own selfishness.

Jumping to the present time, I find myself asking God for direction on many given topics and choices. But I finally learned that I need to sit and listen. Sometimes it still isn’t the answer I want, but I have to remember it’s not my will but His will.

Just this week, I prayed about joining a new study at my church. It was one of the new community groups. And the books were going to be $50. I asked the Lord to show me where I was going to get $50 on my tight, tight budget. I listened and He showed me where I would find that $50.

I want to be obedient to Him. My biggest challenge these days is remove my own opinion about something and leave my mind open to hearing from the Lord. I remind myself to remove my desire and to accept His will.

There are many examples in the Bible about people not listening to God. Each one had many challenges until they submitted to God’s will.

I encourage you to listen for Him. He can speak in many different ways. It can come through scripture or it can be a small quiet knowing in your being.

Yes, ask Him but you have to be willing listen to Him.

Banned Words

There are some words I need to stop using. Now before you think something awful about me, let me explain.

I have never been one to use profanity. It never felt natural for me to say certain words. And I don’t hold myself up higher than anyone else – even the most red-blooded sailor who can cuss a blue streak. So when I say there are certain words that I need to strike from my vocabulary trust me, these aren’t words that would cause anyone to blush.

I have always felt that a smart person has an entire dictionary at their disposal and to resort to curse words isn’t very smart of them. In addition, the fact that any word said with emphasis can convey the same message of frustration that curse words do.

I’m talking about seemingly insignificant words in the English language. But still I think in using them, I as a Christian send a mixed message. They kind of get stuck in my mouth and don’t roll off my tongue easily anymore.

I have been trying to adjust my conversations and avoid these words.

The first word is luck – lucky. If I as a Christian say I faith, how can I talk about being lucky. Can a Christian be lucky? Luck means chance, happenstance or fluke. If I believe in an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God then there is no luck. Nothing is left to chance or happenstance.

The same can be said of fortunately. Again, it implies that something happens without planning or that God had no part of it. Unless you are talking about the root word – fortune – and you say that God has blessed you with a fortune. Have mercy on this poor believer.

And the word wish is another one. What is so wrong with the word wish? Is it appropriate for a Christian to wish for something? Shouldn’t I pray? If I have faith that my prayers can be answered, why would I wish for something.

Of course there is big, bad four letter word of hate. How can a Christian who is supposed to love have hate for anything? I know that Bible says God hates certain things but He is, after all, God.

I am a work in progress. I am loving and learning as I go along. I know these words aren’t going to send me to the depths of hell. But I want my conversation to match my faith walk.

What are some words that should be banned for you?

Ways to Develop a Closer Relationship with God

field-of-red-flowers

Since returning from a weekend Christian retreat I have been encouraging my son to develop his own prayer and devotional time. I realize as his mother I cannot do it for him. I can invite him to join my time but it would be most effective and have long lasting and more meaning results if he created the time himself. But let’s face it, we are time crunched. We are pressed to fit everything into our busy lives – work, kids, the kid’s activities, taking care of the house, meals and friends. There is very little time left in a day. People are even scheduling time for exercise or scheduling date night with the spouse.

So how do you develop a closer relationship with God? I have some tips. These are not the only way to do it, but for me this has worked. I am still developing and growing. I invite you to share you tips too.

Pick A Time

First you have to be dedicated to schedule regular time. I have to tell you, it took me probably a good year to get into a rhythm for my prayer and devotional time. I discovered that I am not a night owl. I can barely keep my eye open past 10 pm. My midday was just too rushed. Since I’m still among the work stiffs, I am never guaranteed a lunch and finding a quiet place in a busy office building is a challenge.

So I selected early morning. I’m talking EARLY morning. I am usually awake and reading my Bible by 4:30 or 5 a.m. (Which is probably another reason why I’m ready for bed by 10.)

I feel most refreshed at that time of day. The house is still quiet and dark, which for me feel more intimate.

Find Your Spot

You want to find a place that is free of distraction. I personally don’t have a lot of extra room in my house, so I have selected the living room. But I have disciplined myself not to turn on the TV or go to the kitchen. Once I turn the TV on or head to the kitchen to start breakfast or washing dishes from the night before, I become easily distracted.

Decide What to Read

I enjoy reading devotionals. I select just a couple but there are a host of daily devotionals that you can get online. They range from those delivered to your inbox to various apps. For me it’s important to have scripture along with the devotion. It gives a Biblical foundation – backed up by scripture is very important. My daily devotional is followed by my daily Bible reading. A companion to the Bible reading is a Bible commentary. It helps decipher what the Bible is saying. Oftentimes a commentary is written by Bible scholars – people who have had years of study in the original languages the Bible is written.

Time for Mediation and Silence

When I wrap up my devotion and study time, I always devote time to meditation. Meditation is a misunderstood period in the life of a Christian. Because many different religions use meditation, it hasn’t been associated with Christianity as much as it has been with eastern religions. But to meditate means to engage in thought or contemplation or reflection. Think about the scripture you just read – how can the scripture be applied to your life or what can be observed in scripture as a lesson for you.

Finish With Prayer

I always finish with prayer – thanking the Lord for His word, asking Him to help me apply it and of course my prayer requests for family and friends.

If you open your mind and heart to listening and receiving, your relationship with the Lord will develop.

Again, I invite you to share your tips with me.