Give Me Words to Speak (Part 2 – What Do I Need to Say When I Pray?)

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Last week, we covered some basics of prayer – posture, location, speech, etc…This week I want us to look at our words.  Does prayer require a specific pattern of words?  Are there certain words we should always use?  Is there a “prayer format” we should follow?  Let’s talk about these questions and discuss the words we offer up to God in prayer.

Prayer is not a “magical” spell or incantation.  Putting the “right” words in the “right” order is not going ensure God will grant your requests.  As I said last week, God is not impressed with our vocabulary.  The words we use in prayer are important, but the condition of our heart when we come to God in prayer is much more important.

I spend the first part of each day reading and studying my Bible and in prayer.  Yes, I sit in my “Jesus chair”.  During this time of prayer, I tend to pray longer, offering up more intercessory prayer and also a good deal of praise.  I always begin by telling God how much I love Him.  I thank Him for not only what He has done for me, but I thank Him for who He is – for His very nature.  Yes, God knows He is sovereign, righteous, full of mercy and grace, our healer, full of compassion, and loving kindness, but don’t you think He likes to hear it?  I think He does.  It also works as a great reminder for me about who God is and that I have access to such glory!

Next, I move on to intercessory prayer for others.  This changes from day to day depending on my prayer list.  Since my daughter has been beating cancer for the past three years, there are always children and families we know from our time at the hospital that top my list.  Of course, I pray over our church prayer list as well as others I may know who need prayer.  I pray for our church and our church workers, I pray for our nation, state, and local governments, I pray for the staff and school where I worked last year.  I just pray over things that I feel led to lift up to God.

I pray hard for my family too.  I cover my husband and our marriage in prayer every day.  I pray for my daughter.  I pray she will always walk in health and wholeness.  I pray for her mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well.  I pray God would surround her with Godly friends who will be positive influences in her life.

Finally, I pray for myself.  I ask God for wisdom.  I ask God for forgiveness.  I ask God to help me become the wife, mother, and woman He designed me to be.  I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me with the words, thoughts, and actions I need to get through each day.  I pray my family be able to fully embrace and follow God’s will for our lives.

A few years ago, my prayers began to feel routine and a bit repetitive.  I asked God to help me feel alive and renewed in my prayer life.  Soon after, a lady shared with me about using scripture in her prayers.  She told me she would find specific scriptures that related to her requests and pray them to God.  I began doing it also.  Now familiar scriptures flow in and out of my prayers.

Why incorporate scripture?  For me, it totally rejuvenated my prayer life.  It helped me to incorporate my love for God’s word in to my prayer time.  Also, scripture is God’s very word and will, what more perfect words could we offer up to Him than His own?  Yes, He knows what the Bible says; He is the author.  I believe He loves to hear it lifted back up to Him.  His own words coming from a sincere heart has to be pleasing to our God.

Sometimes I open my Bible and read entire chapters aloud over my family or over a situation or a specific need.  It refocuses my mind on His promises and His truths.  It offers up my requests in a way that I just can’t do on my own.  Sometimes I use verses from Psalms to offer up praise and thanksgiving.  The words are so beautiful and precious.  They flood in my soul in a way my own words never would be able to do.

There are many beautiful prayers throughout the Bible that we can use as examples or offer up as our own prayers.  Here’s a link to Five Biblical Prayers you may want to read and incorporate in to your own prayer time http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/05/five-biblical-prayers-that-teach-us-how-to-talk-to-god/

I also offer up many, many prayers throughout each day somewhat “on the fly”.  For instance, last night I accidentally put a DVD in our DVD player without removing the DVD that was already in place.  Whoops!  Needless to say, the DVD player began making a horribly uncomfortable noise.  My sweet hubs tried in vain to open the DVD door to remove the discs.  While he was fixing our issue, I quietly and quickly prayed that the DVD player would spit out the discs and work perfectly….and it did….Did God directly intervene with my ancient DVD player?  I don’t know.  I do know that we were able to watch our movie without any further issues.

Praying in that moment was a first instinct.  Yes, it was something trivial and my prayer was not very distinguished, but I was thankful that it came as naturally as breathing for me.  I utter these types of prayers all day long.  Sometimes I have praise and worship verses or songs playing through my head.  I consider those a form of prayer as well.  They keep my mind focused.  They keep my spirit calm and renewed.  They keep me in tune with God.

Scripture

“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, NIV

Prayer

Father God, we thank You for the gift and privilege of prayer.  It is such a blessing and an honor to be able to come before You at any time to intercede, offer thanks, and lift our requests.  Thank You for hearing our prayer and for answering them.  Help us to grow in our prayer lives.  Show us how to pray so that we can grow in our faith and our love for You.  We love You and we desire to become closer to You through prayer.  In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Action

I challenge each of us to examine our prayer lives.  What can we do to grow?  What can we do to improve?  Are you lacking confidence in your prayers?  Ask God for help.  Do you need resources on prayer?  There are many wonderful books and articles; however, the best book you will ever read on prayer is the Bible.  Do a little research and you will find a wealth of scriptures devoted to prayer.  Do you have a favorite?  I do.  I’m very partial to praying Psalms 91 over my family.  Dig in and find what you need, then offer it up to God.  He’s waiting.

Psalm 91

When Nothing Makes Sense

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This past week has hit hard.  Every time I check Facebook or turn on the news, I seem to see more people suffering and hurting.  I know I was going to begin a mini-series on prayer, and I still am, but I need to process a few things first.

A portion of our state was recently devastated by killer storms.  I live in a small Southern state and in a small town.  I didn’t personally know any one who lost a loved one or a home.  However, the things about small towns and the South in general is that we all know someone who does.  We know someone who goes to church with them, or works with them, or is related to them.  We all have a connection.

I’ve read stories of a dad who died protecting his daughter, of parents who lost both of their children – at once, of a large family who is now smaller due to the horrific power of these storms.  The pictures are surreal.  It makes me want to thank God for our safety and cry for the losses of others all at once.  It makes me wonder how God can restore these losses and bring any kind of goodness and order to such tragedies.

We received word last night of a dear family who lost their daughter after her heart transplant, of another friend of our family who has a loved one battling cancer, of another friend whose tumors are growing, and the list seems to go on and on and on…My heart literally feels like it is going to break sometimes.  It gets so full that sometimes I don’t know if I can bear it.

Then…I remind myself that I don’t have to bear my burdens.  God will carry them for me, but I have to let them go.  He is waiting with arms outstretched to pick them up from my heart and hold them close to His.  Fine, that’s all well and good for me, right?  What about the others?  What about the momma that won’t get to see her baby grow up?  The momma that has to come home to that empty bed?  The parents who have to decide what to do with all of the things in their home that no one will use anymore?  What about the families who not only lost a loved one but lost their homes as well?  What about them???

I don’t know.  I do know this…somehow, some way, and at some time, they are going to have to make a choice.  They are going to have to choose to either lean hard in to the heart of God or continue to walk in the darkness of hopelessness.  Easy for me to say, right?  I’ve never had to make that choice under such devastating loss.  No, by the grace of God, I haven’t.  But, one thing I have learned over the years is that we are all one phone call, one text, one breath away from hitting our knees in desperation.  The story of your life can be rewritten in an instant.

As I prayed this morning, God reminded me yet again that He is faithful and good and sovereign.  He also reminded me that He has told us in His word that we will have sorrows, trials, and tribulations.  We don’t get to pick and choose, and God is not Santa Claus.  Sometimes in this life horrible, tragic things happen to good people.  If you think Satan isn’t delighted at this fact, you’re sorely mistaken.  He becomes even more delighted when he can use these things to further destroy people.  He relishes in making people angry, bitter, and resentful.  He loves using these events to shake their faith in God.

It’s hard to NOT be shaken.  You see these images and hear these stories, and you wonder, “Why?”  A wise woman once told me that we will never know peace until we stop asking that question.  Some things in life, we will never understand.  And when we are face to face with Jesus one day, I don’t think we are going to care to know.  But what about all of His promises?  What about all of the prayers you know these families and many others were lifting up on their behalf?  What about that???

I simply do not know.  God knows.  We have to make peace with that.  We have to believe that these children and for some their parents are sitting at the feet of Jesus right now – immune to any harm, suffering, or pain.  As for the ones left here on earth, we have to pray for God to grant them peace and comfort and strength.  We have to pray that God will help them make the choice to choose Him over the darkness.  We have to look for the good.  It may not come today, or tomorrow, or even a year from now, but it will come.  He says it will in Romans 8:28.  You either believe it or you don’t.

As for me, I have to believe.  Our world is broken; God is not.  Our circumstances change; God does not.  Satan means to harm us; God means to protect us.  I pray you can all believe in my God of Hope today.

Scripture

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13, NIV

Prayer

Father God, we come to you today broken and shaken.  If we feel so hurt, how must You feel to see Your children suffer?  Remind us, God, of Your unfailing love.  Help us to stand firm in You and in Your word.  Let us be beacons of light and hope in a world that is in desperate need of You.  Let us never take our blessings for granted.  Let us use what we have to serve others in Your name.  Show us, Lord, how we can serve.  Give us the words to speak, the hands to give, and the faith to stand firm in You.  We love you, and we know You love us.  Help us to never doubt Your goodness.  Help us to remember to always be in prayer for those who are hurting.  We ask these things in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

Action

At times like this, prayer may seem like it’s not enough.  You may feel compelled to do more.  Seek out a way you can physically help.  Donate goods, donate time, donate money.  Put yourself in a position to serve.  Trust me, there are ample opportunities.  Pray that God will put the right opportunity in your path.  We are called to love our neighbors’ as ourselves.  How can you show love to your neighbor today?  Our world needs us to be beacons of hope.  They need us to show them that there is still good, there is still love, there is still grace.  How can you show that today?

The Most Important Job in the Church

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I had the privilege of attending church this past Sunday with my older brother and his family.  He attends a church that worships in a lively and spirited style.  (I was raised in this denomination and moved my membership to a different denomination when I married my husband. I just love going to church as long as the Spirit of God is present regardless of denomination.)  His church is blessed with so much talent!  The musicians are amazing; the special songs were awesome; the new, young pastor delivered a wonderful resurrection message.  My daughter attended Children’s Church and said their service was also great!

I began to think about all of the different jobs that are needed to be filled in order for a church service to run smoothly and to carry out the order of service to allow us to worship and learn more about God.  It takes a lot of willing people.  It takes a lot of people willing to use their gifts.  It takes a lot of people making preparations during the week to be ready to go on Sunday morning.

I have no musical talent (however, my daughter is starting piano lessons; maybe I can pick up a thing or two from her).  When I sing in church, I keep my voice to that acceptable level that blends in with the rest of the congregation.  No, I really can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  I’m not a preacher by any means.  I have taught children’s classes in the past, but I don’t currently hold any job in the church.  Okay, I have volunteered to teach VBS this summer – that’s a little something I guess.

I got up from my pew feeling determined to apply my gifts (however small) to helping my local church reach our community both in and out of our church.  I felt a light tap on my shoulder and turned to see a precious elderly lady.  With a broad smile, she told me how blessed she was to see my daughter in church this morning.  (My daughter has been battling cancer for over three years.)  She told me that she has been in daily prayer for my daughter and will always continue to pray for her.  She gave me a big hug and went on to enjoy her Easter lunch.

At that moment, I was reminded what my job was in the church.  It’s what all of us should do daily.  It’s the single most important thing we can do to not only grow in our walk with Christ but to also help others as well.  The most important job in the church is to pray.  Pray frequently; pray expectantly; pray in earnest.  The scripture tells us to pray without ceasing.  This is how we impact our lives and the lives of those around us – we pray.

Yes, the praise, worship, preaching, and teaching is of vital importance.  We, as a church, need these people in our lives to help us grow closer to God.  These people need us as well.  They need us to lift them up in prayer.  They need us just as much as we need them.  What would happen in our churches today if we spent time each week lifting up our church workers and volunteers?  We would have a revival of epic proportions!

Here’s a question for you – How many times have you told someone “I’ll pray for you” only to never have it cross your mind again?  When did that phrase “You’re in my prayers” become a meaningless response?  Prayer is vitally important and it is NOT something we should take lightly or use as a rote response.

I’m going to start a mini series on prayer – why we pray, how to pray, and ways to create a more meaningful prayer life.  I hope you will join me and be encouraged and strengthened in your own prayer life.  I’m no expert, but I am a person whose life has been dramatically changed through my own prayers and the prayers of others.

Scripture

“Be joyful in hope; patient in affliction; faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12, NIV

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for the privilege and gift of being able to come to you in prayer.  The right you have given us to access your throne, your ear, and your heart through our words is indescribable.  Please help us to use this precious gift effectively.  We want to be able to help our family, our friends, and ourselves through our prayer life.  We also want to use it to give You honor and praise.  Help us grow and mature in our prayer lives.  We want them to be powerful and have a bold impact in our lives and the lives of those around us – our church, our family, and our community.  We love you so and ask these things in Jesus’ precious, holy name.  Amen.

Actions

Do you have trouble remembering to pray?  Do you often forget to pray for someone whom you told specifically you would lift up in prayer?  There are many tips and techniques you can use to make your prayer list more memorable.  I, personally, use a couple of methods.  When I hear of someone in need of prayer, I try to immediately list their name and need in my phone’s Notes app or on a piece of paper.  I then transfer their name to my journal’s prayer list.

Another method I use is to pray immediately for the person.  If I bump in to someone at the grocery store, and I tell them I will pray for them, I pray as soon as I get in my car.  If I am scrolling through Facebook and see a request, I immediately stop scrolling and pray for that person and their need.  Sometimes the best way for me to remember is to not give myself time to forget.  What are your tips and suggestions for remembering to pray for others?  Please share your thoughts and comments as we grow together in our prayer lives.