Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When Your Prayers Seem to Echo

Unanswered prayer for those we love. It’s one of the hardest things to cope with as believers. If God always hears (See John 11:41-42) then why, oh why, doesn’t He always answer?

Why do our prayers sometimes seem to echo? Why do they feel like they’re accomplishing nothing at all?

The truth is when we pray for others, another person’s will is involved. And though God is sovereign and able, He desires willing hearts. The reality is we cannot surrender for someone else. And our prayers never trump a person’s freedom to choose.

So what are we supposed to do? Just give up? Tear out our hair and die of frustration? Quit praying because the pain of seemingly unanswered prayers is too much to bear?

In a word: Nevah!

Instead of despairing {which is exactly what the enemy wants}, we can shift our focus onto God’s word, which will revive our hearts and enable us to pray without ceasing. When we hold tightly to God’s word our faith expands, our determination grows, and our prayers will accomplish the very thing He desires. We can then entrust our loved ones to the Lord and release them entirely into His hands.

Here are some powerful verses that inspire me to keep praying even when things look bleak. {And girl, you know we need truth when things look bleak!} Breathe them in. Let them sink deep into your weary heart. Allow them to strengthen you and your determination to pray.
  • I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted. (Job 42:2)
  • Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
  • For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
  • The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16)
Remember, when it seems like your prayers are echoing: Breathe in God’s word. Entrust your loved one to Him Who is able. Release them entirely into his hands. And keep praying.

Breathe. Entrust. Release. Pray. {Repeat as necessary.}

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Voice That Punctures Confusion

It started out as slight uncertainty. 

A befuddling dream where I was driving the wrong way on a one-way street startled me awake. Groggy, my first thought was, Lord, am I headed the wrong way? Though the dream left me slightly shaken, a full day kept me from thinking much about it. But a small cloud of uncertainty formed right over my head.

The very next night, another dream: I was stepping out to cross the street and was nearly hit by a speeding car. That sure woke me up fast. Again, an odd sense that I was headed in the wrong direction hovered. I prayed, Lord, do I need to stop going forward? This time I took time to think and pray.

For many weeks prior to the dreams I had been praying about decisions, and as a result I was currently stepping out into areas I felt certain the Lord had specifically spoken to me about. I had prayed long and hard about each step, asking Him for wisdom and following after peace.

And now these dreams made me second-guess myself. That small cloud of uncertainty over my head grew into full out confusion.

So I asked the Lord to speak to my heart. To bring clarity and enable me to understand if I was to continue moving forward or stop.

Later that afternoon as I mopped my kitchen floor, the beautiful simplicity of truth dawned on me. This is not how my Father speaks to me! Even when I’m headed in the wrong direction, His voice is gentle and peace-filled and brings wisdom and clarity. His voice does not bring confusion.
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33) (ESV)

Knowing our Father’s voice helps us recognize the lies of the enemy. His voice punctures right through confusion, stops lies, and brings peace.

The truth is:
  • The enemy speaks lie. When he lies, he speaks his native language. (See John 8:44) And lies bring confusion.
  • The enemy opposes the plans and purposes of God and tempts us not to trust God. (See Matthew 4:1-11) 
  • The enemy wants us to doubt what God has spoken to our hearts so we become confused and then go off track. (See Genesis 3)
But knowing and recognizing our Father’s voice protects us. It enables us to walk in confidence, knowing He goes before us and guides us.
After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:4)

 As soon as I realized that the enemy had infringed on my dreams, the confusion they had brought disappeared, and I continued moving forward. Honestly, I am not sorry I had the dreams; God used those dreams to help increase my discernment and show me how vastly different His voice is from the voice of the enemy.

It’s something we must all continually strive toward: knowing His voice more intimately. 
…progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. (Philippians 3:8b) (AMP)
Lord, help me, help us all, to know You more deeply and more intimately, and to hear and recognize Your voice. May Your awesome voice always puncture confusion and bring truth in our lives. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Heart That Doesn't Sink

I couldn’t believe we’d done it.

Wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into, I tossed and turned all night. My sleep deprived brain rolled worst-case scenarios before my eyes—all of which ended in horrible catastrophe.

That’s right. We had booked our first cruise.

My husband desperately needed rest and fun; he had always wanted to go. I was the hold up. I struggled with cruise-fear, severe motion sickness, and not being a fan of huge crowds.

Yet after finding a great deal, my fate was sealed. So I did what any desperate woman would do. I prayed. I asked God for simple things—that He would help me not be afraid and not throw up. {Do you sometimes pray super-spiritual prayers like that, too?}

No sooner had I said Amen than I sensed God calming my fears. As I sat in my prayer chair and breathed in His presence, supernatural peace buoyed my heart. Deep down, I sensed that everything was going to be fine.

Then I had to actually step onto the ship. Without wailing, fainting, or throwing up. Hyper aware that the only thing between me and certain death was a hull of steel (why ships do not sink is beyond me…) my faith was put to the test. Especially the night a major storm hit.

Tossed awake at 3am by the ship’s severe rocking, I struggled to get to the bathroom without slamming into our cabin walls. Our bath towels defied gravity, bizarrely swaying straight out against my arms. 50 M.P.H. winds beat 20 foot seas against the ship. And fear hammered against my heart.

Sometimes, like Peter stepping out of the boat, we step out in courage. We absolutely know we can do this. Then the winds pick up. The whitecaps swell. And even though the Lord is right in front of us, our focus bounces between Him and the waves.

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (NLT)

Gusts of fear blow our faith like so much sea foam; we lose our focus, and our hearts sink. Sometimes all we can see are the waves.

Waves of opposition.

Waves of confusion.

Waves of uncertainty.

Waves of fear.

That’s when, like Peter, we cry out, “Save me, Lord!” And Jesus, who is always there, answers us: “Why did you doubt me?”

Why do we doubt Jesus?

Why do we take our eyes off of Him? Why do we allow our hearts to sink? Why do the waves seem more massive than the One who controls the earth’s tides?

God never promised our lives would be storm-free. But He did promise to be with us and help us.

Fear not, there is nothing to fear, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness. (Isaiah 41:10)

That terrifying night, God’s grace trumped fear. It trumped 50 mph winds. And it trumped all-out panic. I locked eyes with Jesus instead of the waves. And I said No to fear. Out loud. Because sometimes that’s what a woman has to do to prevent her heart from sinking.

We can say No to fear and Yes to the Prince of Peace. And then Jesus does this supernatural thing—He fills us with amazing peace—even in the middle of 20-foot waves.

That night I actually snuggled back into our little cabin bed and slept soundly.

The truth is His presence, grace and peace gives us hearts that don’t sink. It's then that we realize winds of opposition, confusion, uncertainty and fear are never bigger than our King. And we never, ever face them alone.
Lord, I’m grateful that I never faces stormy seas alone, and that You are bigger than every storm. Help me to lock eyes with You instead of focusing on the waves around me. Help me never to doubt you. Strengthen me and be with me through every storm. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Perfect Prayer for Your Family

I love praying God’s word over my family. It’s powerful, living and active (see Hebrews 4:12). Not only that, but God actually watches over His Word to perform it (see Jeremiah 1:12)

I don’t know about you, but the idea of praying words that are alive with power, words that God Himself watches over and tends to, is irresistible.

So at the beginning of this year, when I read a couple of verses that described exactly what I desperately want for my family, poof! a family prayer was born. I printed these scriptures out on a 3x5 card and turned it into a prayer.

These scriptures focus on knowing God’s will, spiritual wisdom and understanding, and living lives that honor and please God. They speak of knowing God better and better and being strengthened with His glorious power so we’ll have all the endurance and patience we need.

Doesn’t that sound like a perfect family prayer? 

Here are the verses:
We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. (Colossians 1:9b-12a)

And here is how I personalized it and turned it into the perfect prayer for my family: 
{You can click on this and print it out, if you'd like!}

I am convinced that praying God’s word is one of the wisest, most strategic prayer choices we can ever make. If our prayers were darts, praying scripture would cause us to hit the bullseye every time.

I hope you print out this prayer (or write it out on your own 3x5 card) and pray it often over your family, like I do.

Lord, thank you for Your amazing Word. It’s life-giving and life-changing, and I pray You will help us to know Your Word well and pray it often. Help us to regularly pray this over our families this year. Please bring authentic change in the hearts and lives of our family members that only You can. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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