Why Do We Pray? (Part 5 – What Do Our Prayers Do for Others?)

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We’ve all had those moments in our prayer lives…We’ve been praying for a specific person for what seems like forever and nothing has changed.  Their healing hasn’t come; their marriage hasn’t been mended; their children haven’t been saved; their financial break through hasn’t happened.  It’s frustrating.  We sometimes may even question if we should continue to pray.  Perhaps God has other plans for this person’s life?  Perhaps we should focus on the other names on our prayer list?

In this situation, we are missing a vital point – our prayers for others aren’t about US.  They are being offered up in intercession for OTHERS.  To stop praying for another person before their needs are met would be an unwise decision.  We need the prayers of others especially when we aren’t visibly seeing God’s hand move in our lives.  It is during those times we will need the most faith, strength, and hope.

My daughter had a recurrent tumor for over three years.  For more than three years, people prayed for her to be healed.  They prayed for us to have courage and strength.  They prayed for our needs to be provided.  They prayed for us to stand strong in our faith.  Without those long years of intercessory prayer, I don’t know where my family would be today.  Yet, because of those intercessory prayers, I can tell you that my daughter is healed, our needs are met, and our faith is strong!

Three years was a long time for us and a long time for our prayer warriors to lift us up day after day after day, but thank God they did!  I can assure you there are those who have waited longer for their answer.  Many are still waiting.  Please don’t give up on them because God’s perfect will seems to be taking a little longer.

Intercessory prayer is vital in our Christian walk.  James 5:16 tells us to “pray for each other so that you might be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  God wants us to pray for one another.  He even tells us that it is effective.  How can we give up when He tells us it makes a difference?

I know for a fact my mother has prayed over me and my brothers since before we were ever born.  She still prays for us each day.  I pray for my daughter and always will.  Sometimes certain intercessory prayers are an essential part of our prayer life.  They don’t change.  We continuously pray for certain people or situations (e.g. our pastor, our nation, our spouse, etc…) because we want God’s constant presence, protection, and blessings over them.

Scripture

1 Timothy 2:1 NIV

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”

Prayer

Father God, help us to always remember to lift up others in our prayers.  There are so many around us in need.  We can help meet their needs by covering them in prayer.  So often we may get busy or forgetful of the requests of others.  Please lay them on our hearts and our minds.  The Holy Spirit intercedes for us daily.  Thank you for the privilege of allowing us to do the same for others.  Give us servant’s hearts who seek to fulfill the needs of others before our own.  Help us be a blessing to someone each day,  Help us be the prayer warrior you created us to be.  Let us show Your love to others more and more.  We love You, and we ask these things in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen.

Action

A couple of years ago on New Year’s Day, I made a pledge to pray for specific people every day for a whole year.  I asked God to help me choose the people for my list.  He gave me four names.  I prayed earnestly for those people for an entire year.  The next New Year’s I did the same and created a new list of names.  I have witnessed healings, blessings, and restorations as I followed the lives of these individuals.  I never told them they were on a “special” list.  Some of them were not even people I spoke to very often.  Yet, I would keep up via social media or through mutual friends or family.

I pray for others as well, but these people are at the heart of my prayer list.  I intend to always keep a “list” like this for prayer.  It helps me to remember to pray for others, and it also allows me to see God working in their lives.  I can see at the end of the year where He has brought them and the difference He is making in their lives.

Would all this happen without my prayers?  Maybe.  Yet, I would miss out on the blessing of interceding for others and witnessing His hand at work.

How do you remember to pray for others?  What have  you witnessed as a result that of intercessory prayer that serves as a testament to God’s faithfulness?

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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

What Is Prayer? (Part 1 – What the Bible says v. What we do)

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I watched a movie recently about a woman who was trapped in outer space.  She had little knowledge of how to operate the equipment that could save her life.  She finally made radio contact with someone and asked this person to pray for her.  She said, “I would pray for myself, but I don’t know how.  No one ever taught me.” She was desperate.  She was certain that she was going to die.  She felt lost and hopeless.  It was heart wrenching.  That scene stayed with me.  I began to wonder how many other people all around me might feel that way.

It left me feeling so saddened.  How hopeless people must feel when they want or need to pray, but believe they can’t because they don’t know how…They think their only hope is just beyond their grasp.  That they must rely on someone else to pray for them and offer them hope.  This is simply not true.  You can pray, and God will hear you.  Prayer is not a special practice reserved only for those in ministry or who appear to be devout Christians.

Prayer is something that has taken a top priority in my life over the years.  It went from being my back up plan to being a way of life.  I read somewhere that prayer should be your steering wheel not your spare tire.  So true.  I’d like for us to talk about prayer.  What is it?  What does God say about it?  Are we doing it right?

(Disclaimer – I am not a Bible scholar.  I’m just a wife and a mother who has seen the power of prayer at work and want to share it with others.)

So, what is prayer?  Simply put, prayer is a conversation with God.  I can come to Him anytime, anywhere, and just talk to Him.  I talk to God just as I would talk to a dear friend or family member – after all, He is my Abba Father, my Daddy God.  I think some people are scared or intimidated to pray.  They don’t feel they are doing it “right”. They worry about using fancy words or worry about kneeling down.  The truth is there is no “right” way to pray as long as you are coming before God with a spirit that is seeking Him.  “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13, NIV

He is much more concerned with the condition of our heart as we come before Him than any big words we might use.  Our vocabulary does not impress God.  He wants our faith, our hope, our trust, and our love.  So, kneel, stand, lie down, drive your car, peel potatoes, or go for a run – you can pray while doing any of the above.  In the Bible, there are instances where people prayed bowing, standing, kneeling, and on their faces.  Eyes open or eyes closed, silently or out loud – He hears you.

As for your language, I do believe God wants us to be completely transparent before Him as we pray.  He knows what we are thinking and feeling anyway.  Why try to hide behind flowery words?  Yes, I agree there is a certain level of respect and honor we should use in our words to God, but we can let go of the need for propriety and just be humble before Him. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again.” Matthew 6:7, NLT

If you are mad at God, tell Him.  If you are heartbroken, tell Him.  If you are totally confused, tell Him.  If your heart is full of joy, tell Him!  We don’t have to hide anything from Him!  He already knows and He loves us anyway.  He wants you more than anything.  Present yourself to Him through prayer.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV

Another key principle prayer is to listen as well as speak.  God wants to let you know His will.  God wants to comfort your heart and flood your spirit with peace and joy.  Be still before Him.  Let Him and the Holy Spirit move within you.  I’m not saying God will always audibly speak to you (although I definitely believe He can if He chooses).  He does speak to us through His word, through our thoughts, through songs, and through other people.  Be open and alert to what God is trying to say to you.  Listen and you will hear.  “I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.  Bend down and listen as I pray.”  Psalms 17:6, NLT 

Imagine what your relationship would be like with your spouse, your co-workers, your close friends, etc…if you never talked to them!  You would completely lose touch of what is going on in their lives.  You would grow distant and detached.  Your relationship would suffer.  It’s the same thing with God.  When we don’t talk to Him, we are missing out on so much!  He longs for you to come to Him.  He’s waiting patiently with a heart full of love for you to simply come just as you are in prayer.

Scripture

“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'”  Zechariah 13:9, NLT

Prayer

Father God, thank you for the gift of prayer.  Thank you that we have the privilege of coming to You at any time, any place, and any where to praise You, thank You, and make our requests known to You.  Thank you for listening and for answering our prayers.  Help us to remember to spend time with You in prayer.  Help our hearts yearn for Your presence.  Help us put aside our busyness and our distractions to concentrate on You.  Bless our prayer lives God, and help us grow in You.  We love You and are honored to be in Your presence.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Action

What keeps you from having an active prayer life?  Is it time?  Do you forget?  Are you intimidated?  I created a special area in my home just for my prayer and Bible study time.  I call this my “Jesus chair”.  I keep my Bibles, journal, pens, etc…right beside my chair.  I also have a lamp, a special prayer shawl, and a scented wax warmer by my chair.  It makes the space cozy and inviting.  Everything I need is at hand, so I’m not up looking for a pen that works when I could be reading or praying.

Would a “Jesus chair” help you?  Maybe you need a different space.  Whatever your situation, I pray you can find a place in your life to make room for prayer.  Please share when, where, and how you like to pray.  We’ll talk more soon about why we pray and different ways we can pray.  Let’s grow together in Christ.

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My “Jesus chair”

 

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.

 

What Does God Require of Me?

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Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in a new place.  An uncertain place.  A place that makes us stop and scratch our heads and ask, “Okay, God, where do I go from here?”  It’s a little scary, a little uncomfortable, but also a little exciting.  This is where I am right now.

My daughter has been in treatment for a recurrent tumor for over three years.  We’ve had a couple of times when we thought the fight was behind us only to be put back in the ring.  THIS time she underwent a stem cell transplant.  She’s all new from the inside out – I think we all are in some ways.  So, for over three years our lives have revolved around appointments, hospital stays, and keeping our daughter happy and healthy.  Now, what?

We aren’t the same people we were three years ago.  We’ve grown and matured.  We’ve changed a lot.  Jumping right back in to the same “old” life doesn’t seem like the right fit.  The square peg in a round hole problem…In addition to the changes, there is some fear as well.  We’ve tried going back to our same jobs and school only to have the rug pulled out from in under us.  Maybe we are supposed to go right back to the same old same old, but it seems a little surreal.  Can we just snap our fingers and go right back to “normal”?  Maybe we can, or maybe we’re supposed to change our course.  I don’t know.

When I am at a loss and not sure what to do, I go to the one source of truth that I know I can trust – God.  He is so faithful and never changes despite our fleeting emotions.  I have been in earnest prayer about our path.  I’ve also consulted His word.  A big truth jumped out at me from the book of Leviticus.  (Yes, another OT book!)

In Leviticus 5, God is outlining the various sins and what sacrifices they require for atonement.  This was typically a bloody, messy business.  It also required a LOT of animals.  What about those who had no animals to sacrifice?  What about those so poor they didn’t even have doves or pigeons to sacrifice?  In verse 11, God says that individual can bring fine flour.  Flour?  Didn’t sacrifice require blood?  Yes, typically, but God doesn’t need the animals.  The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him.

He just wants us.  He made a way for even the poorest of the children of Israel to come with a repentant heart and be forgiven.  Bring fine flour, bring a pigeon, bring your aching heart. Just bring what you do have and God will do the rest.  Sometimes we feel wrung out, spun out…We feel we have nothing to offer and don’t know what to do or where to go.  God says, “Just bring me what you have.  Yourself.  Sit and rest.  Let me fill you with My Love.  I will show you My Path.”  And He does.

So, we pray.  We ask God to open the doors that are to be opened and close the ones that are to be kept closed.  We ask for His guidance and direction.  We lift up our open hearts and our open hands and we wait…Now, when my mind races ahead of my heart, I think of the children of Israel and their fine flour sacrifices.  I think how God must have smiled upon them.  He saw them bringing all they had – things He didn’t need…but they were making a sacrifice.  They were seeking Him with all they had to offer (just like the widow offering her mites).  Can we do that today?  Can you offer Him your life?  Your heart?  He’s waiting with arms open wide.  He’s waiting to show you the abundant life He has designed for you and your family.

Scripture

“You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.  Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand – you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings. Then I said, “Look, I have come.  As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”  Psalm 40: 6 – 8 (NLT)

Our Prayer

Father God, we know that our works and sacrifices are no substitute for our obedient hearts and genuine commitment to your will.  Help us seek it.  Help us come to you with what we have and offer it up to You.  No fear, no hesitations, no holding back.  Just open hearts and hands.  We are coming in readiness and are prepared to do what You are calling us to do in Your name.  We love You.  We trust You.  We want to draw nearer to You.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Action

This may seems like a bit of a stretch, but I’m going to give you my favorite way to use “fine flour”.  What does this have to do with God’s will for your life?  Not a whole lot, I know, but as you mix them up, think of those children of Israel.  Pray and ask God to show you your gifts and talents.  What can you bring to the kingdom?  And when you bring these brownies to your family and friends, you will see perhaps a glimpse of what He sees when He sees you – love.

These brownies are a family favorite.  So much better than a box mix – cheaper and healthier too!  I can guarantee you have the ingredients in your cupboard right now.  Take what you have and create something beautiful – and yummy 🙂

G’s Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the oil and cocoa until smooth.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, vanilla, and cocoa mixture.  Stir in flour and salt.  Fold in nuts if adding.

Pour into a greased 8 X 8 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool and enjoy.

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No Ephod Required

Standard

I have a confession. (actually, I probably have many, but we’ll take it slowly for now…)  I’ve never read the Bible cover to cover.  Ever.  I’ve started plans and abandoned plans usually before I got out of Genesis.  I have read and studied my Bible daily for some time now, but never front to back.  This year, I made a commitment to actually start and finish it this time.  With the help of an awesome reading plan, I am happy to report that I am right on track!

It’s usually those OT books that bog you down – all those “begats” and descriptions of how to sacrifice different animals.  It can seems like none of it is relevant to us.  Give me some promises!  Give me some miracles!  Give me some stories I remember from Sunday School!  You can imagine my delight when something very relevant was revealed to me in the book of Exodus.

It hit me while I was out running one day.  I live in a very rural area.  When I run, it’s usually me and an assorted pack of dogs trucking it down some back roads near our farm.  I pray and worship a lot while I run.  If you live in a busy area, you should probably be a bit more cautious about this.  Thankfully, where I live the only traffic I see (besides the dogs) are typically tractors and an occasional farm truck.  I pretty much have free reign of the road.  I highly recommend it.

I was thinking of my morning’s reading about Aaron and the painstakingly elaborate details he and his sons had to follow to access God for the children of Israel.  Let me tell you – it was very specific.  The color of the thread used in their robes, the ephod, the lampstand, the ark – so many verses dedicated solely to the preparation of the Tabernacle, the priestly garments, and the preparation of the sacrifices.

Yet, here I am in sweaty old running clothes with a pack of dogs on a country backroad, talking to God!  Whoa!  I wasn’t running in an ephod!  I was free of all those requirements.  How?  By the blood of Jesus.  The veil has been torn.  We can freely enter in to His presence at any time and anywhere we choose. Thank you, God, for making it so easy for us!

So…why don’t we talk to Him more often?  If He is so accessible to us now, why don’t we make more time for Him?  I could understand if we had to kill an animal first.  That would take up a little more time, (plus, you might want to shower afterwards…) but we don’t have to do that…So, I challenge us all to put down whatever it is that is taking up your time (your electronic devices, your remote control, maybe even your child) and speak to Him.

I talk to God quite a bit more now than ever, but I don’t always go to a special place and kneel.  I pray when I wash dishes, fold laundry, drive, and shower.  I listen to my worship music and just talk to Him.  Sometimes I have specific requests, sometimes I am asking for guidance, and sometimes I am just thanking Him for being who He is.  He just wants us to want Him.  I can’t go without Him.  I need Him.  He wants you to need Him too.  Talk to Him.  He is your Father and longs to hear from you.

Scripture
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every ocassion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers…” Ephesians 6:18, NLT

Our Prayer

God, help us to be mindful of our time and to be more aware of Your presence. We want to spend more time in prayer lifting up others and seeking You. Open our hearts and minds to things we can let go so that we can make more time for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Actions
I’ve got an awesome website/app to share with you today that will totally simplify your time with God even more!  It is totally free and can be accessed on your computer or other device.  Wait!  Wasn’t I just asking you to put those things down???  Yes, I was, but this will enhance your time with Him not distract from it and save you some money too! You can crush candy and update your status later…

It’s called Freegal. It’s through your public library. All you need is a library card and you can access thousands of songs for free! It’s totally legal to download them and save them on your phone or computer. Just visit http://www.freegalmusic.com or download the app in the App store. I have tons of songs on my phone that I can listen to anytime for free! Music is a great part of my prayer time. Make it part of yours too!

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