Tag Archives: prayer

Giving it to God

How many ways have we tried to solve tough situations on our own? Going through a tough situation is against our nature so when it comes upon us, we do our best to get away from it as quickly as possible. We do such things as talk to the people involved and ask others for advice. We feel such emotions as worry, anxiety, and depression. We pray too, but we are mostly just consumed with what is going on. I’m sure all of us have had these same emotions and thoughts and sometimes, more than one at a time which can get confusing.

God doesn’t want our lives to be like this though. He wants us to leave our burdens at His feet and find rest as it says in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Christ’s burden–I like that better than the burden of feeling left out because there was no room in the car or the burden of trying to convince a family member that God loves them even when nothing about their situation changes, and they keep dealing with the same fears over and over again.

Earlier in this post, I wrote a list of the things people do and the way they feel in tough situations. One of those things is beneficial–something that God wants us to do along with releasing the burden to Him. Prayer. Talk to our Lord and Savior about anything and everything. He wants that deep relationship with us, but sadly, most of us just include prayer in a list of things to do in a tough situation and don’t believe there is power in prayer only offering up a superficial prayer, at most.

There is power in prayer though, and I’m starting to think God is wanting me to take it off of the list and depend on it alone. ¬†Jesus says this in Mark 11:22-25. “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.'”

Wow! The power in these verses. The power of the words can be heard when they are said out loud. I want that power in my life. Shouldn’t all of us who are believers want that power in their lives? Now, before anyone says they have prayed and prayed to God and nothing has happened, let me offer some disclaimers. I know I’m not going to get everything I want by praying, and I know for sure that money is not going to pour out of the sky in my direction. Everyone would be a Christian if those kind of “pie in the sky” prayers worked. ūüôā

No, God wants our prayers to be honoring to Him. He wants out prayers to honor Him and to honor our faith in Him. He wants our prayers to be the “Even if” and the “Your will be done” kind of prayers. Those are the kind of prayers which have power.

Some of you might remember me speaking of the song “Even If” by Mercy Me several weeks ago, and I think the chorus of the song is the perfect way to end this post.

“I know You’re able, and I know You can

Save through the fire with Your mighty hand

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone.”

My hope is in my Lord and Savior alone, and today, I give everything in my life to Him!”

 

Praying for God’s blessings on you all!

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Comfort for a Hurting Heart

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve written in here, and I do apologize for that, but there were reasons. You might remember the last post I wrote. ¬†https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/dealing-with-a-chronic-illness-even-if/ For the last twelve days, I’ve been in a caregiver and management role. There is something wrong with my husband, but we don’t know what it is yet. We are waiting on the results of a scan and for him to go to a specialist this Friday. Waiting is hard. Harder this time than it’s been for a while. It’s even harder because he’s our sole income, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. He is working this week because he has to, but I know it’s at the back of his mind just like it’s at the back of mine.

That’s not the reason I’m writing this morning though. I’m writing because I missed an opportunity yesterday. I missed an opportunity to be ministered to by my Christian brothers and sisters. I’ll be honest here. I have been overwhelmed by all the possibilities of what might be wrong, some of them very serious, some of them requiring surgery. Between being overwhelmed, feeling like I have to pretend everything is all right, and having a natural reticence to talking about what’s going on because others are uncomfortable, it was hard for me to communicate exactly how much I was hurting. It didn’t help that yesterday was Mother’s Day which is supposed to be a wonderful holiday, but is not for me for many reasons. I didn’t feel like I could truly express my hurt because I didn’t want to spoil things for everyone else.

So, I didn’t use words like I should have used them yesterday which is why I’ve turned to writing them down. I didn’t know the words to use. There is an example in Scripture though of not being able to use words. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” That comforts me. God heard my prayers and those of the ones who did pray for me even though I didn’t communicate well.

It was also hard, I think, for the people I did speak with to understand how I was feeling because my husband was at church. And that goes back to dealing with a chronic illness. Sometimes, he is okay, and sometimes, he isn’t. When he’s okay, it’s hard to impart that something might be serious at another point, and my feelings are just considered to be feelings of worry which, of course, God has told us not to do.

From Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I acknowledge the reality of this Scripture. I do. I have prayed it a number of times in my life, and God’s peace has been there. But, when I state my concerns and they are dismissed as worry, I feel discounted by my Christian brothers and sisters. My heart hurt badly when one of them stated this exact thing yesterday and walked away from me. I quit talking then. There wasn’t a point anymore. I left church with my family, and they celebrated me well. We went to lunch, and then I went to spend the gift card they had bought me. It was a good afternoon, and God comforted my hurting heart. And isn’t that the point when we’re hurting? God is always with us, and He comforts our hurting hearts. I pray, if you are hurting, that He comforts your heart as well.

 

God’s blessings on all of you today!

 

Our Refuge and Strength

Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” I write these words and think about how true they’ve been in my own life. God has been my refuge and strength through unemployment, illness, financial stresses, and through the uncertainty of life.

With all of the noise of this world though, it’s hard for me to think past the uncertainty of the latest stressors. That’s why I think a verse that appears later in this chapter can be paired with the first verse. Verse 10 of Psalm 46 says, “He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'”

I think these verses can be paired with one another because I can feel God’s presence most when I am still. When I go down to the lake near my apartment, I can feel His presence in the wind, in the water, in the blue sky, in the trees, in the quiet of this place. I can hear His voice in a way I can’t hear it when I have noise all around me. I can hear Him speak, and I can talk to Him too.

I wonder if that’s why Jesus told us to go into our prayer closet when we want to speak to Him. Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Quiet and still–that’s how He wants it to be when we pray to Him. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with public prayer. Far from it. We need to pray to God and praise Him when we’re together.

But, when I pray to God when it’s quiet and still, I feel His presence more strongly. I know, for a fact, that He is my refuge and strength and that I can come to Him any time I need to. When He speaks to me in these moments of quiet, I hear Him more clearly and know the next steps He wants me to take in whatever situation I am praying over. He is there in the stillness, and there is no pretense in how I speak to Him.

And that’s the point. No pretense. God wants us to speak to Him honestly. There is no reason to pretend when we’re with God. He knows everything anyway. Besides, how can we trust Him to be our refuge and strength if we haven’t been honest with Him? A question for us to consider this week.

 

Praying God’s blessings for you all this week!

Prayer

Wikipedia defines prayer as “an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.” There is so much more, but quoting Wikipedia is not my purpose in writing this today. My purpose is to give you my thoughts and my feelings about prayer.

Prayer is talking to my Father, my Father in heaven. Telling Him how my day is going, telling Him when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I don’t have to pretend with God because, by the time I get done pretending with everyone else, my “pretend meter” is empty. He knows it all anyway so what would be the point of pretending.

There are many ways to pray and many types of prayers. The way I pray best is when I write my prayers down. That way I can remember all of the details and make sure I’m telling them to God through my words. God has given me this gift of words so it makes sense for me to use it when I praise Him, when I thank Him, and when I petition Him. My prayers have also been more thoughtful and complete since I’ve started writing them down.

When most people think about prayer though, they think of speaking it–either out loud or to themselves, and that intimidates them. This results in hastily mumbled prayers, to bless food, for example, or long, flowery prayers that don’t have much meaning. Praying out loud can also be intimidating to people because they don’t know what to say, they don’t think they’re saying the right thing, or they think that a church elder or staff member should be praying. Women also have the added burden of thinking that men should be leading the prayers. I confess that I’ve had some of these thoughts and feelings myself which is why I started writing my prayers down.

I know God doesn’t mind if I write my prayers down. He wants to have a relationship with me, after all. But, I would like to get better at speaking them because God doesn’t care how we speak our prayers. He wants us to talk to Him, and He wants to talk to us. No magic or formula necessary. Just a conversation. It’s important to Him, and it should be important to those of us who are people of faith.

Prayer has become important to me in the last few years because God has sometimes been the only one I could talk to. He has been with me in the pit, and He has been with me on top of the mountain. He has been with me as I’ve scribbled words in my journals, and He has been with me as I’ve said clumsy words aloud. He has been with me as people have spoken words over me even when I didn’t have the courage to speak aloud. Prayer is all of that and more. God is just waiting for us to take the first step towards Him like it says in Revelation 3:20. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

This is the relationships God wants us to have with Him. Close enough to eat and close enough to talk, i.e.,prayer. May we all know the true meaning of prayer!

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Praying for Healing (Beyond Our Walls)

I looked at this morning’s devotion (Prayers Can Heal) and thought long and hard about what to say. I don’t want to diminish what happened to the author of this devotion. She healed faster than the doctors thought she would, and she believes, as do I, that it was due to the power of prayer.

God has the ability to heal while we are here on this earth. I believe that fully and firmly. James 5:14-16 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

The language in these verses is powerful, but it can also be misunderstood. What if a person isn’t healed? Did they not pray hard enough? Were the right kinds of prayers not offered? Were their sins not forgiven? Were the people praying not righteous enough?

I’ve pondered these questions. I’m sure you probably have as well. Because, you see, I have prayed for people who I considered to be people of faith, and they weren’t healed. God brought them home to be with Him. People who were dear to me and who were dear to friends of mine went to be with their Lord and Savior. Some were taken way too soon, and others were taken after they lived what we consider a long and normal life. They were prayed for though and weren’t healed. How does that work?

What about the people who still suffer here on this earth? The people who suffer from what we would call major diseases–like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Or the people who suffer from chronic conditions like Lyme Disease or Crohn’s Disease. Or the people who suffer from chronic pain. Or the people who are unable to have children. I could name hundreds of other things, but I think I’ve made my point. These people have all prayed for healing, but haven’t been healed. Why? Something else I don’t understand.

I think my heart aches mostly for the children and the young people at the beginning of their lives who have been afflicted with some illness. It aches for my husband who had to take medicine many years ago for his chronic condition which makes him more likely to get sick now as he is today. It aches for my friends whose spouses were taken way too early. It just aches, and I don’t understand.

I think the closest I can come to understanding (until I see Jesus myself) is thinking along these lines. God can heal all who are sick, but He chooses to heal some while they are still here and others when they go to be with Him in heaven. I know this is a hard answer especially for those of you who are missing someone. It’s a hard answer for me.

The one think I do know is that God wants us to pray for healing. He wants us to pray about everything. And He promises to walk with us through it all–the happiness and the sadness.

To finish this post, I want to quote the prayer the author of this morning’s devotion wrote. I think it represents what God wants from us as we pray.

“Dear God, thank you for each day you give us. Help us to learn to pray more often, show your love to someone each day and hug more often. Thank you for answering and hearing our prayers. In Jesus name, Amen.”

God’s blessings on all of you today!

 

Living in the Moment, Trusting God for the Future

Living in this day and age requires that we be planners. No, maybe require is too strong of a word. I would have to say all the messages we receive push us to be planners. We plan our educations, plan our jobs, plan our marriages, plan for the births of our children, plan for how we’ll raise and educate our children, ¬†plan for advancement in our job, plan for college, plan for an empty nest, and plan for retirement. I probably missed a thing or two, but I think you get the idea. Everything I named requires two things that are generally in short supply. Those things are money and time. We run around like chickens with their heads cut off to achieve everything we set our hearts on, but we miss out on so much when we don’t slow down.

We especially miss out on what God wants us to do with our lives. I’ve spent the last few months learning how to trust God. Living moment to moment, even second to second sometimes. I’ve learned I’m not in control even though I might like to think I am. I’ve learned how to appreciate a sunrise. I’ve learned how to trust God for the resources we need. I’ve learned how to appreciate laughter even when I might not feel like laughing.

I’ve not been perfect with this process. God is still working with me in living in the moment during a conversation. More often than not, I still am thinking of what I want to say when someone is talking with me. I’ve said things I regret like we all do. I’ve not been the person God wants me to be.

I believe this is where God has been teaching ¬†me the most, and it’s been in preparation for something my church is about to begin in conjunction with its capital campaign. We’re calling it Forty Days of Prayer. We’re going to be praying together as a church family to be in God’s will for what He wants us to do in our community. Yes, there is a money component, but it’s deeper than that, or at least it’s going to be deeper for me. Reaching deeper into my mind, heart, and soul, and reaching past my brokenness to discover what God’s will is for me. I have always thought my brokenness impeded me from doing work for God’s kingdom. But, that’s not true, and I’m looking forward to planting that truth into the deepest recesses of my heart.

There’s one other reason I want to work on living in the moment and trusting God for the future. None of us are guaranteed a future. We don’t know when God is going to call us home. I recently heard a song that illustrates this truth and though it’s not specifically Christian, I wanted to share the lyrics as I end this post. ¬†The song is called Blink, and it’s by a group named Revive.

“Teach me to number my days
And count every moment
Before it slips away
Take in all the colors
Before they fade to grey

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

When it’s all said and done
No one remembers
How far we have run
The only thing that matters
Is how we have loved

I don’t want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink

Slow down
Slow down
Before today becomes
Our yesterday

Slow down
Slow down
Before you turn around
And it’s too late

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time
What is it I’ve done with my life?

It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink
It happens in a blink”

May we all remember to live in the moment and trust God for the future!
God’s blessings on all of you today!

 

When it seems God isn’t Listening

It’s been almost eight weeks since we lost our main form of provision and before this past week, it had been over four weeks since my husband had talked to anyone about ¬†a job. He had been doing his part by looking at the job listings every day and applying for the jobs he was qualified for, but no one had called.

We had also been doing our part by praying about our situation. Praying for God’s will to be done, but nothing had happened. I was starting to think our prayers were hitting the ceiling and was discouraged thinking God wasn’t listening.

There are no pat answers for what to think, say, or do when you think God isn’t listening. For me though, discouragement started to set in. I started to think that what we were praying for wasn’t worthy in God’s eyes; that it wasn’t good enough; that we weren’t good enough. God’s concerns were being taken up by other people who had it much worse off than we did so I thought we had been thrown to the wayside.

That’s a hard place to be in, and I wasn’t sure what to do. We had people who were praying for us and loving on us, but we became cautious and guarded like there was an element of shame of being in a waiting period. This happened despite having referenced¬†verses in Scripture about waiting and knowing it was a normal part of life having been through it several times before. As human beings, none of us like to wait, and we don’t think we should have to wait. We think that when we express a need to God that He should be ready and willing to pick up the mantle and solve it for us.

But, what if God is trying to teach us something through this time of waiting? What if He is trying to teach us about trust and about patience? And this is a big thing for me, what if He is trying to teach us to be transparent and vulnerable in front of our Christian brothers and sisters? No likes to be transparent and vulnerable either, and I had not done the best job of being transparent and vulnerable since this whole thing had started because I was…ashamed.

So, those were the thoughts that were roiling around in my brain last weekend. I felt like I was at a breaking point with everything that was going on and wondering when things were going to change for us. I think God knows when we get to breaking points. After feeling a strong urge to ask people to pray for us last Sunday, I awoke on Monday not expecting a whole lot to be different, but then my husband got a phone call for an interview–the first one in four weeks. He went to that interview on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, he got a phone call saying that the people wanted to see him again. The second interview was this past Friday. I decided to be transparent ¬†in front of people and not worry about what they thought asking for prayers for the interviews both times. And many people responded with prayers and good wishes.

If anyone was not happy with what I shared, they didn’t share it with me. I think that was the point God was trying to make with me. I have more people who will support me than not. And I need to not worry about those that don’t. Somehow, having those thoughts bolstered me, and my spirit was renewed. My faith was strengthened, and I knew what God was calling me to do during this time of waiting–to show my faithfulness and trust in Him while being real and honest about my struggles.

God wants us to be real and honest about our struggles and not be ashamed. I think this will be a lesson I will be working on until I am done with life here, but it is a lesson I am committed to learning. So thankful God doesn’t expect me to be perfect and is always willing to teach me.

God’s blessings on all of you today!