Prepare My Heart for the Holidays


From my heart to yours, WELCOME to 8 days of refreshing prayer for YOU! Below you will find 8 consecutive blog posts to boost your heart just in time for Christmas! 

A Holy Pause {Day 1}

What if, at the very brink of the Christmas crazy, before we even think about setting the Thanksgiving table, and before we drag out boxes of tangled lights, sift through glittery decor, and tenderly unpack nativity sets, we allow ourselves the luxury of a holy pause? What if instead of allowing the briskness of the season to scoot us forward on its endless current, we stopped and bowed our hearts before the One who stepped out of heaven, in awe and wonder of all He has done?  

What if we allowed our hearts to marvel at His unfathomable journey from eternity into an unassuming, most unroyal manger? What if we pondered the miracle of His birth and the reason behind it? What if we asked Him to fill our hearts to overflowing with the reality of the priceless gift of His presence?

And what if that made all the difference? What if making time to be with the One Christmas is all about changed the very atmosphere of our hearts? 

Here’s the challenge: let’s make the decision to engage in a holy pause each day this holiday season. A simple pause. An exquisite shift of perspective. An abiding heart transformation. 

{Let’s Pray}

Lord,

You are awesome and mighty. Right now I stop and bow my heart before You. Lord, I always long to connect with You in a meaningful way, but I especially long to experience meaningful moments with You now, before the holidays sweep in. 

Please help me to make time for a daily holy pause all throughout the holidays, so that my heart can relax and focus on You…so that I am not overwhelmed, stressed, scowling, or cranky. Lord, shift my perspective. Change the atmosphere of my heart and fill me with Your peace and joy.



Help me to ponder Your willingness to step out of heaven to walk on earth, recognizing that You don’t always do things the way we might expect, as Your humble birth proves. Thank you for filling my heart with Your abundant, overflowing love, Your grace, and Your peace. Help me to turn my heart toward You daily. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.




Refresh My Heart {Day 2}

Fact: Most women are nurturers and caretakers. We help, we see to details, we pinch-hit, we encourage. We’re always there for the ones we love. And that’s good. It’s how God designed us. But high levels of doing can lead to high levels of exhaustion. And it’s frequently where we find ourselves as the holidays approach our radar. 

We’re tired. Stressed. Frazzled. 

It’s no way to enter the holiday season.

Yet drained is often our reality. Today, we’re going to pray that God will begin to refresh our hearts. That He will revive us and stir our hearts.

{Let’s Pray}

Father,

You are worthy of all adoration and praise. You are good and faithful and You always hear my prayers.

God I confess that my heart and brain and even my emotions are stressed and overloaded. I truly love caring for my family and friends, but I feel depleted, and I don’t want to face the upcoming holidays in this state. Will you please refresh my weary heart? Pour into every depleted place. Revive me. Pour out Your supernatural strength and stamina as I spend time with You.

God, Your word says that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Thank you, God for refreshing me as I care for those You have placed into my life. Today, when I begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed, I will turn my heart toward You, breathe in Your sweet presence, and allow You to refresh and revive me. Give me wisdom and grace to rest in You. Thank you for preparing my heart so I can enter the holiday season supernaturally refreshed, rested, relaxed, and equipped by You. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen. 

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25) (NLT)






His Restful Waters Beckon 

{Day 3}

It was a crazy day. Nonstop tasks. Nonstop appointments. I raced from place to place, from task to task, and by evening my shoulders were hunched up around my ears. Though my accomplishment list was long, I was so seriously wound up from nonstop rushing that my jangled nerves had a hard time settling down. Every taught muscle ached. 

Warp speed days. Sound familiar? Though that particular day was not typical for me, for many women our days can frequently be nonstop. We rush, we undertake, we accomplish. And then we collapse. 

May I give you permission to slow down, exhale, close your eyes, and just breathe? Steal away for a quiet moment and let your heart connect to God’s. Let Him breathe fresh strength into your weary soul today. 

{Let’s Pray}

Father,

You are my awesome King. I love and adore You, Lord. And I come to You, weary. Please give me great grace smack in the middle of my nonstop days. Right now I pause and allow my weary heart and body to focus on You. You are so good. You are faithful and mighty. You are gracious and You know my every need. Will you please infuse me with Your revitalizing strength? 

Give me wisdom and help me not to overload my schedule during the upcoming hectic season, and to schedule down time for myself. When I’m faced with an unavoidable nonstop day, equip my heart throughout the day and, as I look to You, please ease and relieve and refresh my soul. Thank you for leading me beside Your beautiful still, restful waters. I will allow my soul to dwell there. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen. 

 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); (Psalm 23:2-3a) (AMPC)





Embracing Simple {Day 4}


While I really enjoy holiday baking and creating a pretty Christmas atmosphere in my home, I’ve come to realize that killing myself for unrealistic, unattainable, and unnecessary holiday décor (or spectacular cookies) is not a necessary thing. In fact, all my doing coupled with unrealistic holiday expectations set me up for intense stress levels. And exhaustion. 

So I am learning to embrace simplicity. Less is more. Meaning over dazzling.

I’m learning to do what I can and not stress about what I cannot. And I am especially learning to take time to sit at His feet during the hap-happiest time of the year. The truth is no one will notice that we didn’t exquisitely hand-decorate every single cookie. Because at the end of the day, it’s really not about the sparkle in our home, but the atmosphere of our hearts. 

The gospel is simple. This year, let’s ask the Lord to help us embrace simple, and to be concerned about what really matters. 

{Let’s Pray}

Father,

You are good, and You are worthy of all my adoration and praise! TodayI lift my holiday expectations up to You, and I surrender my unrealistic goals. Will You please help me to embrace simplicity, and to gladly do what I can and not to allow myself to stress about the unimportant things. Help me cultivate a peaceful, joyful, grateful atmosphere in both my heart and my home. 

Though I desire pretty décor and fragrant smells in my home, I’d much rather possess an exquisite heart that honors You and blesses my family and those around me. I realize I can only do that if I relinquish unrealistic ideas and embrace wisdom and reality. I so want a grateful, joyful, peaceful heart that far outshines my Christmas décor or baking. Help me to make time for You, to make room not only in my crazy schedule but in my heart of hearts. I pause right now and turn my heart to You. Please change the atmosphere of my heart and home. Thank you for all You are doing in my life, and for making this season meaningful in a deeper way. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen. 

There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42) (NLT)





Realistic Expectations 

{Day 5}


Ahh, the holidays. The time of year when all the extra time we need simply materializes into our schedules, every single thing goes according to plan, all our relatives are happy with not a bicker in sight, and there is peace on earth (and in our homes). 

Not.

No other time of the year places more stress on more people. Yet the majority of the stress we experience is due to our own unrealistic expectations. We assume everything will go off without a hitch. We wrongly anticipate a golden glow around our festivities—around our lives—that simply isn’t realistic. 

Somehow our holiday expectations (and perhaps one too many Hallmark Christmas movies) prevent us from enjoying what is while we’re busy yearning for if only. The only thing that we really have the power to change during the holidays is us. When we realize that everything can change dramatically by letting go of our expectations, we displace stress while making room for authentic peace and joy, and most importantly, gratitude for what we do have. 

{Let’s Pray}

Father,

You are holy and awesome and mighty! God, I don’t want my holiday expectations to become a barrier that prevents me from enjoying my reality. I don’t want to experience untold stress because of my unrealistic expectations. And I don’t want to yearn for what will never be, or assume everything will always go smoothly simply because it’s Christmas time.

Right now I choose to let go of my expectations, Lord. I even surrender my yearnings for everyone to be happy and for the things I’d love to happen that most likely will not. Thank you for lifting every ounce of stress from my heart and shoulders and filing me with Your authentic peace and joy. Give me grace for the inevitable hard moments. Help me to cultivate realistic expectations and deep gratitude. May my eyes be open to the many ways You do bless me, so my heart will overflow with gratitude. In the awesome name of Jesus, Amen. 


Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) (NLT)





The Mirage of Perfection 

{Day 6}


My hope:  Complete holiday flawlessness: cozy candles, Christmas music we all agree on, delicious, festive smells wafting from my kitchen, beaming people gathered around, gifts bought and beautifully wrapped ahead of time, and joy. Lots of joy. 

Pure holiday bliss. 

My reality: Pure holiday crazy: forget to even light the candles, family members complaining about the Christmas music, baking only once in December because frankly, there’s no time, cranky people galore, and half a stack of unwrapped gifts shoved into my closet (the other half yet to be purchased), and stress. 

Reaaaally far from perfect. THIS is why I pray, why WE pray. Because it is HERE, in the far from perfect, that He meets us.
When our holiday expectations dissolve before us like a shimmery mirage on hot pavement, we can panic or we can surrender our expectations, which actually set us up for disappointment. We can embrace our reality while breathing in God’s grace, which recalibrates our hearts and helps us lean on Him. And the beautiful truth is when we relinquish our expectations we can then choose joy; we can choose to be in high spirits by allowing more of His Spirit to dwell in us all throughout the season. 

{Let’s Pray}

Lord,

Forgive my ridiculous expectations of perfection. I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment, so I willingly relinquish to You my desires for perfection. You are the only perfect thing in my life! Help me to let go of idealism and my goal of the perfect Christmas season, and instead cheerfully accept my current reality, doing my part and trusting You for the rest.

Please give me grace to be authentically joyful, peaceful, and gracious not because everything is going smoothly, but in spite of all the inevitable glitches and stress. Let the richness of Your Spirit dwell in me so that my heart emanates authentic holiday joy to my family and all those around me. Thank you for filling my heart with Your joy. Give me a merry heart that doesn’t demand perfection and rejoices in You always. Right now I am choosing to be in high spirits and sing praise to Your name, all holiday season long. In Jesus's name, Amen.

I will rejoice in You and be in high spirits; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High! (Psalm 9:2) (AMPC)





Has Anyone Seen My 

Peace? {Day 7}


If there’s anything I could use LOTS more of during the holidays, it’s peace. Decking the halls, after all, comes at a price. Someone must do the actual decking (hello? that would be me), and then there is the fact that problems don’t simply vanish because the calendar flips to December. Trials still bombard us; sickness of some sort often hits; and let’s face it, attitudes can bounce off the walls with enough force to cause injury.

It’s enough to yank your peace right out the back door. 

But here’s a Christmas gift we don’t have to wait to open and use: His peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and if we will yield to His authority as Prince over every situation, we can walk in peace. We mustn’t forfeit our peace but hold tight to it by holding tight to Him. Even while we’re busy decking the halls. My daily goal is to bring the peace of Christ with me everywhere I go. But first His peace must reside within me. 

{Let’s Pray}

Lord,

You are perfect in all of Your ways. You are the Prince of Peace! Your peace is such a precious gift to me, one that I especially need during the holidays when so many demands are placed on me. God You never leave me or forsake me, so help me remember that I can cling to Your very real, very near presence and peace now, at the start of the holidays. Help me to allow myself the pleasure of basking in Your peace that passes all understanding, not because everything is perfect, but because You are.

Please teach me by Your Spirit to continually walk in Your peace. Help me not to relinquish it over situations and circumstances, but enable me to choose peace now and throughout the season. Help me to bring Your peace to every holiday gathering, every party, every baking session, every family meal. May others sense this holy peace and be drawn to You because it is so real.

According to Your Word, I lift up the things that do concern me, and thank You for all You have done for me. I’m grateful that when I do this, Your peace guards my heart and mind. I choose to hold tight to You, Lord. Anchor me in Your peace. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) (NLT)





Authentic Joy {Day 8}

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but I confess that sometimes during this season joy eludes me. Between my many obligations, my long to-do list, and physical exhaustion, I can feel anything but joyful.  And here’s the thing. I don’t want fabricated joy; I want authentic joy. Joy that helps my heart to be merry even when my plate overflows. 

What I’ve discovered is that sometimes joy is a matter of perspective. And it’s always a choice.
We can cultivate authentic joy by cultivating precious time with our God and King. His joy is our strength and He is our shield. Through His Spirit our hearts can be filled with joy. Through His Spirit we can not only experience joy, but radiate His authentic joy to our families and those around us. And that is the gift that keeps on giving.

{Let’s Pray}

Lord,

You are faithful and loving and good. You are my glory and the lifter of my head. You are the giver of every good and perfect gift, including the beautiful gift of joy. Lord, I want to experience the holidays equipped with Your authentic joy. Will you please give me divine perspective, especially in the difficult moments? Will you please help me to choose joy?

Your joy is my strength and I desperately need it. I ask for You to help me create good memories by blessing me with times of great joy with You, with my family, and with my friends. Lord, You are my strength and shield. I trust You and I am so grateful that as You help me, my heart is filled with joy. I want Your joy bubbling and radiating out of me. Now and throughout the season. In Jesus’s wonderful name, Amen.


The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:7) (NLT)







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