Prayer Journaling


a-prayer-journal

I’ve been keeping a prayer journal for several years now. This daily ritual helps me remain focused so my mind does not wander. It’s also a record of my requests. I can go back and look at how God has worked in my life. This is part of what I wrote this morning:

Dear Heavenly Father,

It is the dawn of a New Year and I look forward to all the possibilities it holds. But I will need Your perfect guidance in my life. Please be there to silence the lies of the enemy and remind me of whom I am in You. Help me rest in Your truth. Grant me clarity of purpose and the courage to carry out Your will in every aspect of my life.

As I was praying this morning, I was prompted to turn to the prayer I wrote January 1, 2015. Reading that prayer almost brought me to tears. Throughout the year God’s faithfulness was evident as I remembered how he answered my prayers and prepared me for the big change coming to my life.

Keeping a record of your prayers is also a record of the faithfulness of our Lord. Turn back to any date, read your prayer and remember how God has helped you face your struggles by being by your side. It reminds me of how much our Lord has blessed me and helps me feel a renewed sense of gratitude.

If you would like to start a prayer journal today would be a great day to start. You can write your prayers in Bibles created for journaling, in the margins of devotionals, decorative journals, spiral notebooks, or even electronically. (Electronic versions are easier to search, but I prefer to write to God in longhand.) After a few months, go back and review your prayers. Thank God for answering your prayers. This is a great exercise to remind you of our Lord’s faithfulness. If you don’t know what to say, listed below are a few ideas to get you started.

Prayer Prompts:

Copy the Lord’s prayer, and then expand on it. Pray a prayer of confession.
Rewrite the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, and then add to it. Pray for safety.
Pray for someone you don’t like. Pray for the nation’s leaders.
Pray the Psalms. Pray for your health.
Pray for your family. Ask God for the ability to make wise, godly choices.
Pray for your friends. Pray for the world, one country at a time.
Pray for your co-workers, and your boss. Pray for an end to terrorism.
Pray for the military and first responders. Pray for Christians where Christians are in the minority.
Pray for your schools. Thank God for the people in your life.
Pray for every family on your block. Thank God for your job.
Pray for your physicians. Thank God for your possessions.
Pray for your community leaders. (Try to) List your blessings.
Pray for peace and goodness to fill your home. Thank God for pure water and plenty of food.
Pray for your pastors and church elders. Pray for missionaries.
Pray for those who write books that explain God’s Word in more detail. Pray over your daily calendar.
Pray about your goals. Pray for our nation’s leaders.
Ask God to guide you through His Word. Pray for healing to broken relationships.
Pray for Wisdom. Pray for your future.
Pray a prayer of confession. Ask for guidance on how to serve the Lord.
Pray for safety. (Try to) List your blessings.
Pray for the nation’s leaders. Thank God for pure water and plenty of food.
Pray for your health. Pray for missionaries.
Ask God for the ability to make wise, godly choices. Pray over your daily calendar.
Pray for the world, one country at a time. Pray for our nation’s leaders.
Pray for an end to terrorism. Pray for healing to broken relationships.
Pray for Christians where Christians are in the minority. Pray for your future.
Thank God for the people in your life. Ask for guidance on how to serve the Lord.
Thank God for your job. Thank God for your possessions.

 

May you be richly blessed as you discover God’s faithfulness to you as you turn to Him in prayer.

Psalm 77:11-12

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

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A Life Road Map


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Genesis 12:1

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

Deuteronomy 31: 8

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

 

God opened up a new opportunity for my family. It was a call to move to a new place, to leave everything that was familiar. Now we’re here. In an unfamiliar city. We’re in a rental house. My children aren’t happy, and I haven’t found my purpose either. I have too much time on my hands. So what do we do now that we’re here?

For the Christian, the predictable answer is to turn to the Lord, but that’s easy to say and hard to do. During my quiet time I have found my mind wandering. I think about not having a job yet, that my children are unhappy, and I am lonely. I think about my friends back home, and the things I would be doing if I was still there. I turn to Facebook. I think about everything but God.

It occurred to me that God just wants me for Himself for a little while. I need to spend more time just loving Him. I need to let Him feed and strengthen me in preparation for what He has planned next. That “next” may be tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Now is the time to prepare. To do that I need to separate myself from the distractions of this world and focus on God. But how?

I’ve been reading a series of books by James Bryan Smith. I finished reading The Good and Beautiful God (I highly recommend this book.) I’ve just started the second book in his series, The Good and Beautiful Life. In an early chapter, Smith suggests an exercise – to write a letter to God about what you want your life to look like. This takes some thought – it’s an exercise that requires you to think about God, and His plans for you, not just your own desires. Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” So what are those heart’s desires?” I trust God will let me know.

As Smith suggested, I wanted to write a letter to God about what I want my life to look like, but it was an overwhelming thought. I avoided the exercise for several days. Finally, I realized I had to break it up into more manageable pieces. So I thought about all the aspects of my life and wrote to God about what I want in these areas: Spiritual, Family, Marriage, Friendships, Financial, Health, Work, Hobbies, and Relaxation. It was easier to focus on just one aspect of who I am, then move on to the next. As I finished my letter, a familiar verse came to mind.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

I trust that God does have a bright future in store for me, but I’m impatient. I want to know what it is. Now. Jeremiah 29:11 is a frequently quoted verse, but do we really think about it fully? The verses that follow verse 11 are perhaps more important to understanding verse the verse itself.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the Lord’s declaration.  (Emphasis mine).

So that’s the key. It’s time to search for God with my whole heart, and no preconceived ideas. It was time to rewrite my letter to God, this time praying for the Holy Spirit to guide my prayer. The end result is a more than a letter; it is a road map for my life, blessed by God. As you look at the life before you, consider talking to God about how he created you and what he created you for. You may find God has actually given you a treasure map. After all, He only wants the best for you.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Psalm 32:8

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Blessings on your day.

Image: google images

Scripture:  www. openbible.info

100 Reasons We Love Our Mom


mothersday

I’m reblogging this post from May, 2013. Enjoy.

Most of us rarely consider the influence and impact our families have on us, and in particular, our Mothers. We start to realize that when we have a child or a loved one becomes ill, or they are gone. Our Mom’s impact us more that we really know (or want to admit). We are who we are largely because of our Moms. (For brothers, moms are critically important, but in a different way, but that’s another story.) My sisters and I decided to come up with a list of all the different ways our Mom has impacted us.  We believe most women will identify with these examples and come up with more for their own Mom.

 HERE ARE A FEW OF THE REASONS WE LOVE YOU

  1. She gave birth to me.
  2. She is my sister’s mom.
  3. She loves my Dad.
  4. She always took me to church (whether I wanted to go or not).
  5. And Youth Group.
  6. She made sure I had a nice smile (braces).
  7. She made sure the Weddings were “over the top.”
  8. She was there (holding my hands) at the birth of that first grandchild (and      more).
  9. She loves all her grandchildren and treats them all “fairly”.
  10. She loves her son-in-laws
  11. She taught me to cook.
  12. She taught me manners.
  13. She told me to always act and look like a lady, and wear lipstick.
  14. There’s always a couple of dollars in every note/card she sends.
  15. She loved me even when I was a “pain in the butt” and endured my “teenage drama” years.
  16. She’s got great decorating advice.
  17. She always knew the families before I was allowed to play with the kids.
  18. When you really care about something she will also care about it.
  19. She will always tell you that you look very pretty / nice, etc.
  20. She taught me to always write thank you notes.
  21. She thinks I am creative.
  22. She still spoils us at Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, etc.
  23. She taught me to look for a bargain, or buy “on sale”.
  24. She taught us to always take a hot meal to a new neighbor and sick friend.
  25. She taught me how to entertain friends and do it well.
  26. There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal.
  27. It’s ok to have a glass of wine.
  28. She taught me to do laundry, correctly.
  29. She made me change the sheets every week and how to do “hospital”      corners.
  30. She taught me to set a pretty table for holiday meals.
  31. Having a family dinner together (almost) every night is wonderful.
  32. Say Grace.
  33. We always had handmade Easter dresses (they were usually matching).
  34. Our Easter baskets always had a Chocolate Rabbit and at least one toy.
  35. There was always a Hidden treasure in Christmas Stockings.
  36. Always save room for dessert.
  37. Fresh bread is always the best.
  38. A little prayer sure helps.
  39. Spoil your dog.
  40. She’ll send you a postcard when she goes on vacation.
  41. Wash your hands before you eat.
  42. Eat breakfast every day.
  43. Shopping is a sport.
  44. She told us to play nice with the other kids.
  45. Always told me to be nice person (period).
  46. She gave us piano & flute lessons
  47. Swimming and gymnastics lessons too.
  48. Shoes don’t have to match your purse.
  49. Wear clean underwear.
  50. You can do almost anything with a hot-glue gun.
  51. Brush and floss your teeth.
  52. Always take a jacket, and often an umbrella too.
  53. She never forgets a birthday/anniversary or other holiday.
  54. Took me to see grandparents quite often – the trip was across country.
  55. She told me to always keep a few dollars in my pocket for emergencies.
  56. She’s proud of us no matter what.
  57. Be sure to send Christmas cards.
  58. You can never have too many photos.
  59. She always made me try new foods, and made me eat my veggies.
  60. Have a hobby.
  61. Look for the good in everything and everyone.
  62. She passed down Grandma & Great Grandma keepsakes.
  63. She taught me to darn a sock and sew on a button.
  64. She taught me to share, especially ice cream cones and M & Ms.
  65. She always found ways to surprise us.
  66. A sack lunch is great.
  67. Always make the time to have lunch with friends.
  68. We always got a little gift when she returned from trips.
  69. Carry 2 pens, someone might need to borrow one.
  70. Carry lots of Kleenex, someone will need one.
  71. She cooked over an open campfire and can pitch a tent.
  72. She took me to a dermatologist.
  73. She picked great clothes and jewelry.
  74. Be sure to get your hair done, often.
  75. She still remembers my favorite dinner and dessert from childhood and still prepares it better than I do.
  76. Photos of my kids are on her fridge.
  77. Goes overboard when we come to town.
  78. She sends cards for all occasions
  79. Her fudge and pumpkin nut bread are “to die for.”
  80. She always makes my favorite pie.
  81. She always took a picture of us on the first day of school.
  82. She made me do things myself.
  83. Plan a get-away with your spouse at least once a year.
  84. Have a savings account and don’t break into it.
  85. Take care of your skin, even when you are young.
  86. Nurture your friendships; motherhood can be very lonely sometimes.
  87. Vote.
  88. She made sure we always got to see fireworks.
  89. She pumps her own gas
  90. Know what the organization really does before you donate to them.
  91. She sent really great care packages to me when I was stationed over seas.
  92. Don’t complain.
  93. She taught us how to make a decision, there are consequences to everything.
  94. You can have a good time without spending money.
  95. Use sunscreen and chap-stick.
  96. She doesn’t understand my jokes but she still laughs.
  97. She taught me to go above and beyond in my career.
  98. Visit the gravesite of loved ones when you are in town.
  99. She backed me up when I was blamed for something that I swore I didn’t do.
  100. She put up with all my childhood shenanigans and loves to tell everyone about them.

The list could go on and on, but we are stopping at 100.  Life is a constant learning experience. Some of us are fortunate enough to have our Moms with us for most of the ride. We still learn from our Mother and so do our children. We are who we are because of her. How would our lives have been different if our Mom was not a strong, compassionate and loving woman? We’re grateful that we will never know.

Blessings on your day.

Remembering God’s Faithfulness


faithfulness-2

At Tuesday Evening’s Bible Study a special sister-in-Christ gave her testimony. It was a powerful moment as she shared her life and God’s faithfulness through her difficult times.

Hearing her story resurrected memories of how God has been so faithful through my own life. There has been laughter and sorrows, gifts and emptiness, friends and the end of friendships. But through it all there was one constant – my precious Lord. All things lost didn’t matter, because I gained so much more. I gained peace. I felt His love. He took me from the valleys to the mountaintops. My life is full because of Him.

Something prompted me to write down my own testimony. Since becoming a Christian I had never shared it. I’m not sure I’m called to do that now. I think I just needed to write it down to see God’s incredible faithfulness throughout my life. It gave me such joy to remember how good God has been to me. I saw how He changed me; how He took my poor choices and used them for His glory. As I grew in my faith I saw how He prevented me from making other wrong choices and then lavished me with His better gifts. I see how the trials I have experienced shaped me and grew my faith.

Consider making a timeline of your own life, writing down your celebrations and tragedies, then go back and note where God strengthened you and pulled you through, and when He celebrated with you. Remember, with thankfulness His incredible gifts. It’s such a powerful exercise.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

May you feel His indescribable love today.

 

Image: Google Images

Pursuing Your God-Sized Dream  


CSLewis-Quote-12_31_12

 Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

A year seems to be such a long time. When the year is young, we believe we can achieve certain dreams and goals. But then the busyness of life gets in the way of our plans, and we whittle down our dreams so we don’t disappoint ourselves. Sometimes we plan to resurrect a dream or a goal that we put on the shelf years ago, then we set it aside again. There is a reason we are drawn to certain dreams. God is the author of our dreams; He’s put His dreams in our spiritual DNA.

Psalm 139:14a: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Not only does our Heavenly Father give us dreams, He enables us fulfill the dreams he has given us.

Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

  Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

A few years ago, a big dream was placed on my heart. As I pursued that dream I discovered a few things about how God works to fulfill His dreams for us.

  1. A God-sized dream is a dream God created just for you. It’s as individual and unique as you are. God is so big; He will give you a dream that’s big. It may seem unachievable, but nothing is impossible for God (Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26).
  1. A God-sized dream begins to take shape by having faith to follow God’s leading. We have to have the courage to believe God. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4
  1. God-sized dreams require we let God lead us. “The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.” Romans 8:14, and I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
  1. God-sized dreams will grow or shrink in direct proportion to your obedience to God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 and, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25.
  1. To follow your God-sized dream, you have to let go of your junk. So many people settle for the average, mediocre life. It’s easier to push dreams to the side and forge ahead with the life others expect. Perhaps this happens because we live in a dangerously busy and noisy world. It’s hard to hear God’s voice through all the wrong messages that bombard us each day. We have so much to do we get the incorrect perception that we have to keep up with it all and that leaves little time to pursue the dreams God has given us. There are also so many false messages that are coming at us, so fast, we exist on overload all the time. We always have to sacrifice something. It’s a wonder we get anything done at all. When we are so busy, we don’t stop and listen to God. We tend find security in things we are familiar with, but those things have no lasting value. We get comfortable with our difficult circumstances, or worse, we feel like we don’t deserve good things. But you are not defined by your circumstances. You are not your job loss. Or your divorce. Or your illness. You are not your regrets or failures. You are a child of the one True King. And He has a plan for you! “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,’” Isaiah 14:24 and, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 
  1. God-sized dreams start to become reality when we seek God with our whole heart. If you want to know what the God-sized dream God has waiting for you, start by spending some quality time alone with Him. Ask Him to silence the noise of this world so you can listen to Him alone. Ask Him what His plans are for you, and how you are to go about achieving them. God has a way of speaking to each one of us. He will let you know your heart’s desire, and guide you to fulfilling that dream. (1 Kings 19.)

 What is the God-sized dream our Lord has placed on your heart? I don’t know what your God-sized dream looks like. Maybe it seems scary or unattainable. Perhaps you don’t feel qualified to chase that dream. Consider this: If you don’t follow the dream God has given you are you going to look in the rear-view mirror of life and have regrets? When it comes time to stand before the Lord, what are you going to say to Him if you don’t follow the dream He has given you? 

You will never regret following your God-sized dream. After all, God created it just for you.

 Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

May the Lord richly bless your dreams.

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com; http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

The Power of a Word


power of word

 

In 2014, my good friend Gennie* challenged me to select a word (and a verse) to focus on for the year, a word God would lay on my heart. Within moments God gave me that word – perspective. I prayed and worked on having God’s perspective in all matters and I think the challenge made a difference. I repeated that challenge again this year and selected the word perseverance; Hebrews 12:1 is my verse for 2015.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

I chose the word because perseverance is more than determination. It means “a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose…especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” It also means “continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.” God is full of grace and love – He shows it constantly. Grammatically, perseverance is noun, but to me, it’s a verb. It’s a word that requires action. It means to constantly remain focused on the plan God has for me, and for me to work toward achieving that plan.

My verse for the year, Hebrews 12:1, reminds me that my brothers and sisters in Christ are available to support and encourage me, if I need it. One of the beautiful benefits of fellowship is knowing you can go to your brothers and sisters for prayer. We encourage each other.

Focusing on a theme, or word, is important and helpful because it gives us a clear purpose and direction. If we remain focused on what God has in mind for us we remember our work and trails are for God’s glory, and we don’t spin our wheels focusing on something that doesn’t matter. It also puts the focus of our life back on God and reminds us to pray (without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Focusing on what God has planned for us reminds us that we are not alone in the journey; He is constantly by our side.

Finally, focusing on a word affects your thoughts. Frank Outlaw wrote:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

 The year is still young. You can pick a word or a theme for your year, one that will bring you closer to God. It will give you spiritual refreshment, strength, and peace, and give Him glory.

*Gennie’s blog is “journey to the hills.com.” I highly recommend it.

 

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

Dealing With Writer’s Block


dealing_with_writers_block

As long as I can remember writing has been a positive outlet for me. I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a book. I write for my job. But I’ve been dealing with writer’s block for a while now. I want to blog and work on my next project but can’t seem to find any words, much less put the pen to paper. My prayer life is also becoming stagnant and often redundant. Have you ever experienced the same situation?

I ran across the solution. Some time ago I wrote a list of 50 prayer starters – conversations to have with God. It’s just a list of subjects to talk to God about. My hope is that reading and praying about a few of these topics will jump-start your creative writing. Journaling your thoughts about any of these prayer topics will lead to ideas you can blog about later. Here is that list.

  1. I am sharing the light and love of God with others.
  2. I trust God.
  3. I believe God speaks to me.
  4. How often have I been moved by faith stories but never tried to grow in my own faith?
  5. How can God use me?
  6. Am I prideful?
  7. What three biblical characters would I like to have lunch with and why?
  8. What would I ask them?
  9. My favorite verse in the Bible is __________ because _________.
  10. Do acquaintances know I am a Christian?
  11. When have I been the closest to God?
  12. When does God seem most distant?
  13. These are the miracles God has performed in my life.
  14. What changes am I willing to make to grow spiritually?
  15. How big is my God?
  16. How often do I pray?
  17. How often do I read Scripture?
  18. What impact does Scripture have on me? Does it change me?
  19. What biblical miracle speaks to me the most? Why?
  20. My favorite Bible story is __________ because ___________.
  21. What is the quality of my prayer life?
  22. What is my self-talk like?
  23. Do I honor the Sabbath?
  24. Do I break any of God’s commandments frequently?
  25. Are there idols in my life?
  26. I ask God for His wisdom.
  27. Am I thankful? Does my life show gratitude?
  28. Do I need to ask for forgiveness?
  29. Do I need to forgive others?
  30. Have I forgiven myself?
  31. Do I express love and compassion?
  32. Do I tell people how to improve? Why do I do this?
  33. Do I ask for feedback for self-improvement?
  34. Do I seek godly counsel?
  35. Do I treat my body like the temple of the Lord?
  36. What do I value?
  37. Do I tithe?
  38. Do I volunteer regularly at church or for missions to serve others in God’s name?
  39. What five blessings am I most grateful for and why?
  40. Am I now, or have I ever been, in spiritual darkness?
  41. Have I ever passed on my faith to my children?
  42. Have I ever shared Christ with anyone outside my family?
  43. I go to church because I want to, not out of a sense of duty.
  44. If faith was taken out of my life tomorrow morning, how would my life be different? Would anyone know?
  45. If I suddenly found myself in a country where I was unable to practice my faith how would I respond?
  46. How can I be certain my faith is growing? Can faith be measured?
  47. I imagine the second coming of Christ to be ___________.
  48. How has my walk with God grown in the past year?
  49. The past five years?
  50. I want God to change me in this key area:

As I prepared this post I found several websites with lists of writing prompts. If you are dealing with writer’s block, consider looking at some of these suggestions. I look forward to reading your posts.

Psalm 45: 1      My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

 May the Lord richly bless you as you share your faith with others.

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: http://www.googleimages.com