Do you know how to pray?
I’m confessing my faults here.
It doesn’t always come easy for me.
I’m not a morning person at all,
and I’m not a social butterfly. Two things that really seem to hinder my prayer life at times.
I’ve written articles on this before but even after 54 years, I can’t say I’ve got it down.
I don’t wake up and automatically talk to God. I’m one of those “don’t talk to me for 2 hours” kind of non-morning people.
I wish when that alarm went off I was praising Jesus instead of grumbling all the way to the coffee maker.
From the moment I wake up, a thousand thoughts run through my head. The first ten or twenty are usually “I want to go back to sleep”, but then I start thinking ahead about my day and my schedule.
I have a hard time just sitting and being still. My hands are always doing something. My mind is always thinking ahead. For me, bible reading comes easy. It’s a task that I am physically doing.
Prayer not so much.
I am an introvert, a quiet thinker but not a big talker.
For some reason I dread even talking on the phone. I’ve heard that women talk way more than men, but in my case my husband must say three times the words I do in a day.
And then, as soon as I do start talking to God, my mind begins to wander and I’m thinking of everything I want to accomplish that day.
I know that’s not God, that’s Satan trying to limit my prayer life. He knows what our weaknesses are and he knows how to use them against us.
When I think of goals, I often think about the account of Moses shining so brightly after he talked to God. Deep down that is my desire. To just shine for Jesus. To just talk to Him so big and so often that everyone knows He is my Jesus. He is my everything.
Listening to sermons and reading devotions and going to church can all motivate but having a personal one on one time with Jesus is the only thing that will truly help us get to know God and learn what it means to talk to Him as a Father and Friend.
To shine from the inside out.
You might be completely different than I am. Prayer might come easy to you but Bible reading is harder. Either way, I hope these next tips can challenge you as you talk to God on a day to day basis.
1. First and foremost, I want you to ask yourself~am I a child of God? I know that I mentioned in my last article that my first tip will always be to ask God for help, but before you can
do that~ Do you know if you are
truly His child? We are not all
“good”. All of us have sinned.
We are born sinners. Romans
3:12,23. From that tiny white lie
that you told to the murderers
on death row. We were all born
with a sin nature and can never
be good enough or do enough
good deeds to somehow make it
to heaven when we die.
That’s why Jesus had to come
and die for our sins. He paid the
debt we owed to God for all the
wrong we’ve ever done. We
have to believe in Him, repent
and receive Him to be
permanently forgiven of our sins
and become God’s child.
Romans 10:9&10. This isn’t a
“get out of jail free” card or a
ticket you hand to God when
you die that says “I said a
prayer, so I get one free pass to
heaven”. This is a true prayer of
repentance and forgiveness
from the heart that leads to a
beautiful relationship with God
for all of eternity. John 3:16. If
you don’t have a relationship
with God, the rest of this article
will be of no help to you. If this is
something you have questions
about, please message me. With
all my heart I would love to talk
to you further about this.
~So, with that being said~
2. ASK God for help. If you don’t know where to start, if you don’t know what to say. If you feel like you are talking to a wall and you can’t feel His presence. KEEP asking for help. Every single day. All day. Keep asking. God wants a relationship with you. He wants you to communicate with Him all day long and He wants to help you with this. Pursue Him and don’t give up. Romans 8:26
3. Get to know God better by reading His words. I wrote a post about this that you can read here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/read-through-the-bible
A big part of the problem many
people have with prayer is that
they don’t really know God. You
might know about Him but until
you open His word and read
about His tremendous love for
you, prayer will not become
real to you.
4. Make it a habit to talk to Him all day long. Prayer doesn’t have to be a special time set aside. Prayer is simply talking to God. Talk to Him, cry with Him, sing with Him. Sit in silence and listen to Him. Thank Him. Prayers of thanksgiving can change everything about your prayer life. I encourage you to read my post about that here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/a-prayer-that-can-change-your-life#comments
All of these things are a part of
prayer. His presence is ALWAYS
with you, so why not talk to Him
5. Once you are a child of God, nothing can separate you from His love. Romans 8:39, John 10:28&29. You will always be His child but if you know deep down that you have sin in your life, make sure you ask Him to forgive you and restore your relationship. Psalm 66:18.
Just like in any relationship, if
you have wronged someone,
that relationship can’t move
forward and flourish until you
ask for forgiveness.
Now that we got past some basics, here are a few new things God showed me this week about my own prayer life.
1. Quit viewing it as a job, a duty or a mandate and start viewing it as an expression of love. I don’t know how many sermons I’ve heard on the importance of bible reading and prayer. ~You need to read and pray~ has been ingrained into me since junior high. It seemed as if it was almost portrayed as a command and if that command was not followed, punishment would ensue. As the years went by, I didn’t realize I began to view prayer as a duty to God. A job. Something every Christian is “supposed” to do. Prayer can too easily become mechanical. This is not what God intended at all. Think about the person you love most on this earth. Do you ever think about talking to them as a duty? No, that’s ridiculous. We WANT to talk to them. It comes natural because we love them so much. That is how it should be with God. We should wake up excited to speak to Him. We should want to share everything with Him about our day, we should lay all our burdens and anxieties at His feet. He should be the first person we want to go to when problems arise and when overwhelming happiness floods our souls. All because we love Him and all because He loves us.
2. I’ve heard women say that it’s too hard to talk to someone who is not physically there with with them, yet we talk to ourselves all the time. Think about that. Let it sink in.
Our inner thoughts command
our steps without us even
realizing it. Women have
thousand of thoughts running
through their minds at once. It’s
how we were created. Not all our
thoughts are good. Not all our
thoughts are uplifting. We can
beat ourselves up with negative
thinking. We listen to our
criticizing inner voices and we
believe them. Isaiah 55:8&9,
Jeremiah 17:9. Why is it so easy
to talk to ourselves and to listen
to those inner voices, yet
convince ourselves that we can’t
talk to God or hear from Him?
Whenever my inner thoughts
start getting the best of me, I
have tried to make it a habit to
stop listening to them and bring
all those thoughts to God. 2
Corinthians 10:5. I talk to Him
about everything going through
my mind. It’s so much easier to
give the burdens to Him. I Peter
5:7. Try this practice the next
time your inner thoughts are
gaining a negative control on
your life. Romans 12:2
3. I’ve read a lot of helpful tips on what to do if your mind wanders like mine does. Things like praying out loud, praying in a room with no distractions, kneeling when you pray etc. What has helped me most is to first ask the Holy Spirit for help, and second to remind myself that Jesus is literally right there with me. I can talk to him so much easier when I picture Him there with me. I can laugh and I can allow Him to hold me as I sob tears of heartache or shame. Because He is right there. Once your mind gets a hold of this truth, prayer is life changing.
We are all created different. God knows this. He understands this. Our prayer lives will all look different. There isn’t a magic cookie cutter mold that God expects us to master. God loves you just the way you are and He will love your conversations with Him, because He will know that’s you. He knows everything about you. He knows the deepest thoughts and feelings of our hearts. Nothing is hid from Him, so why not be real and raw when you talk to Him?
Don’t try to pray like someone else.
Let your prayers be the words your heart speaks.
You pray you.
And it will change your life.
This was very hard for me to write. I prayed and read and dug deep into scripture. Then I prayed and prayed some more because no matter what I came up with, I couldn’t even convince myself~ so, how could I convince you?
I don’t need to tell you this but I’m going to anyway~
Comparison is the thief of Joy.
Deep down, you already know that.
Sadly, so do I.
There’s so much I could write on this subject. 54 years of comparison stealing away joy. I’m not necessarily talking about possessions here (that’s another topic for another post). I’m talking about genetic personality traits that we are unhappy with. Our DNA. Ways we wish we were physically different than how God created us.
It all started one night when I was washing my face.
I was slathering wrinkle cream all over my neck and wondering why I waited until my 50’s to start doing this. I wished my mom had warned me, so I picked up my phone and jokingly sent a text to my daughters~
“Mom tip #54- start putting wrinkle cream on your neck right now, not just on your face”
My daughter Kathryn responded ~”thanks mom, but I’d like to know the other 53 tips too 😂😂😂”
I laughed at her response, but it sort of stuck with me. I’m 54. What tips could I leave with my daughters that could help them? Tips that might change their lives?
So, I started thinking about putting together a list of mom advice. 54 tips to help my kids. Add one each year.
But here’s what I kept thinking about~
All the mistakes I made and regrets I had. The very things I didn’t want my own daughters to experience.
One major regret was comparison. Why have I wasted 54 years wishing I could be like someone else? I can remember being this way since grade school. Wishing I wasn’t such a “girly” girl. Wishing I was stronger, more athletic, wishing I was more outgoing, wishing for a different body, hair, face. Thinking I wasn’t cool enough. Wishing I wasn’t so shy. Wishing I was more confident. Wishing I was like someone else.
Wishing I was like her...
So girls, here you go. Here are some things God has shown me this week, tips that have helped me to work on viewing myself through God’s lens instead of my own.
⁃ This will always be my #1 tip in every situation, no matter what~ ASK GOD FOR HELP.
⁃ Get in God’s word. Comparison has been around since the beginning of time. The story unfolds with Satan tempting Eve by comparing her to God, her son comparing himself to his brother, Rachel and Leah, Saul with David, Gideon, Moses and the list goes on. We can learn so much from reading their accounts. Some went through tremendous heartache because of comparison, but many were great men and women of God in the Bible. They felt lacking. They didn’t feel good enough or qualified enough to do the job, yet God always used them in mighty ways. He showed many of them that their comparison issues weren’t an issue at all, because it was never about them. It was, and always will be all about God.
He used them to fulfill the gospel.
This was such a comfort to me.
II Corinthians 10:12, Exodus 4:11
⁃ See myself as God sees me and be thankful. I don’t want to live the remainder of the time I have left comparing myself to other women and putting down God’s creation. God thought about every tiny detail of me and of you, and then He said~this is what I want her to be like. This is how I want her to look and this is the personality I want her to have. She will be mine, she will be marvelous and wonderful. She will be precious to me. Isaiah 64:8, Luke 12:7, Psalm 139:1-16 (read it, it’s true!!)
⁃ Every day write down one thing about yourself that makes you happy. Jot down those scriptures from Psalm 139. Stick them everywhere as a reminder of God’s love for you. Shove them in your purse. The next time you’re standing in line at Target and you see that super friendly, outgoing, beautiful lady in front of you and you start to compare and forget~you can reach for your wallet and pull out that card instead. Then smile, because God reminded you how beautiful you are to Him. I know as Christians we can view this as being prideful~but done in the right spirit, it is a heart of thankfulness to God. At times we can be critical regarding the fine line between pride and thankfulness. You know, the whole Pharisee/Sadducee argument (and let me just add, if you’re talking to others about how humble you are, that’s probably your pride finding it’s voice, but if you’re talking to God about how thankful you are, that’s your heart glorifying God). Everything about you is a gift from God. A gift you should be thankful for. If you think about it, when we dwell on the things we dislike about ourselves we are telling God that He made a mistake because we are viewing our opinions higher than His. We are telling God~I don’t believe what Your word says about me. I don’t believe You. But, if we view the things about ourselves that we are happy with and we thank God for them, we are actually glorifying Him through that thanksgiving. I Thessalonians 5:18, Philippians 4:11
⁃ Realize your mind is your enemy, she is not. She probably has issues deep down inside just like you do. Learn to renew your mind daily by feeding it with Gods word. (Which goes back to tip #2) Romans 12:2. If we don’t love ourselves exactly the way God made us, how can we possibly love others like Christ does? Like we’re supposed to? Resentment, jealousy and comparison will continually steal our joy. Matthew 22:39. Tell the “her” in your life how awesome she is. Tell her how much you appreciate her attributes. Stop that lady in front of you in line and let her know how beautiful she looks today. This is another way you can not only glorify God, but lift up another sister who might be going through a hard time just like you. You will be amazed at how much this will not only bless her, but bless you as well.
Ephesians 2:10, Isaiah 52:7
⁃ Realize social media, television and other people’s opinions are not what defines you. God is Who defines you. When God looks at us He sees His image. He sees the blood of His Son and the redemption it brings. He gives glorious liberty to help us get past that comparison. He sees a precious soul He loves. He knows everything about you. He knows every thought you have and He understands. He knows every word you will speak. He’s aware of every single one of your ways. And He loves you. Not the you that you wish you could be, the you that is reading this right now. Psalm 139:1-4, Genesis 1:27, Ecc 3:11, Psalm 90:17, Romans 8:21, 27, 29
Obviously I’m not talking about things that God has given us the ability to work on and change ie~
“well God made me a liar, so I’m going to perfect it and be thankful for that attribute.” Or “God made me lazy, so I’ll just lay here rejoicing in that.” “God created me to love junk food so I don’t have to listen to my doctor’s warnings about my health.” Etc.
I’m talking about comparison in areas that God intricately designed us to be.
Our ultimate goal~Be holy as God is holy. Not~ be like Sandy or Becky, Amy or Julie.
Just Jesus. Period.
You know what all those comparison wishes are? They’re whispers from Satan. They hit you when you least expect it and can change your entire day. You lose all joy and end up feeling defeated instead of praising God for the person He created you to be. The person you are.
You are a living gospel message.
You are you.
Fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.
Do you know what the word fearfully means in Psalm 139?
It means~ “in a manner to impress admiration”. 🥰
You are you. A child of the most high God. His perfect blueprint.
Marvelous and precious.
Don’t ever forget that, it will change your life.
Even though it’s scary, I’m going to be an open book here.
Back in March when this virus gripped our nation, I experienced something I never have before. I’ve had my fair share of depression, stress and even a bit of anxiety from time to time~ especially in situations involving my loved ones. It was always something God helped me get through quickly and easily.
But this, this was something new.
Fear and fearful anxiety, and I couldn’t shake it. It seemed to control me despite everything I tried. I would wake up out of a sound sleep with my heart racing for no apparent reason.
It seemed to consume me.
I felt alone.
I felt ashamed that I was afraid.
I knew that my mind was getting the better of me. My thoughts were controlling me instead of Christ and I couldn’t seem to make it stop.
Some days I would read His words and they would be like a familiar friend. I would feel so close to Him.
But then I left my bedroom~
my safe Jesus and me space.
Sadly, without even realizing it I had allowed myself to believe that Jesus was back chilling out on my bed while I was fighting continual battles. My mind allowed myself to forget that He was right there with me through every step and every breath that I took.
As I went about my day, the cares of this world bombarded me and pushed away all the beauty I held in my heart from earlier in the day. I would fall into bed at night feeling very far from Him and wonder what happened.
Why am I like this?
There are seasons where my inner thoughts are a continual enemy, fighting against me.
⁃ I’m so scared.
⁃ I’m so messed up inside.
⁃ If anyone knew what I was really like, they’d wonder how I could even be a pastor’s wife.
⁃ I have to appear to have it all together, even though I feel like a disaster.
⁃ I wish I could be like her. She’s so strong, confident, fearless, friendly....
⁃ God must be so angry/disappointed with me.
⁃ I can’t even tell my own husband some of the crazy things that go through my head, he’d think I was nuts.
⁃ Why am I so anxious? Why am I so scared?
- I’ve got to snap out of this.
- How can I possibly help others when my mind is in such chaos?
⁃ I shouldn’t be so scared.
⁃ I need help.
These inner thoughts can create a deep loneliness and when my thoughts start to control me, it’s a battle.
My heart fighting with my mind.
In March my mind was winning.
It was a long battle.
Whatever battle you are facing, realize you cannot fight it in your own strength. No amount of positive thinking, meditating, self help devotionals or even sermons can safe-step you through this battlefield. It is only through God’s redeeming love~ in the death of Christ on the cross~that you will have the power to defeat your inner thoughts, depression, stress or anxiety. It is only your relationship with Christ that can give you that power. His power.
Christ is the only One Who can carry you across your personal battlefield.
So today I want to share some tips with you on what has helped me get past that fear and anxiety and what has helped me get through depression and stress in the past. If you don’t remember anything else from this post, I urge you to remember this
Each one of these tips involve fighting words.
⁃ Every day, no matter how afraid or messed up I felt, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me. Day after day after day. I did not give up asking, even when I felt like it wasn’t working.
These were my fighting words.
John 14:16-18,26, 15:26, 16:13-15,
I Cor. 2:10
⁃ I started a bible plan with an accountability partner where large amounts of scripture were read daily. You can read about that post here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/read-through-the-bible
These were God’s fighting words.
Psalm 1:2, 119:15-16, 148, Romans 10:17
⁃ I took one day a week to sit in God’s presence and simply thank Him without asking for a thing. Even when my heart was scared and didn’t feel thankful. You can read about that experience here~ https://www.cbcofcaseville.org/blog/a-prayer-that-can-change-your-life
These were my fighting words. Ephesians 5:20
⁃ I wrote down uplifting promises from God’s word and placed them all over my house. God’s fighting words. Deuteronomy 6:6,9
⁃ I downloaded the app Dwell https://apps.apple.com/us/app/dwell-audio-bible/id1343917374 (I highly recommend this app) Whenever I am able, I listen to this all day long. It’s a beautiful way to listen to God speaking His words directly to me. It creates a place of safety, comfort and peace no matter where you are.
Again~ God’s fighting words. Deuteronomy 11:18a, John 15:11
⁃ I listen to uplifting music. Music that is centered around Christ and glorifies Him can change your heart in ways nothing else can. Here is an album that brought me much comfort back in March. https://music.apple.com/us/album/hidden-in-my-heart-a-lullaby-journey-through-scripture/464465132 Fighting words. Psalms 104:33-34, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16
⁃ And for those times when nothing seemed to help, I literally sat in bed and cried. I imagined that I was curled up in my Savior’s arms, because deep down I knew that I truly was, and I cried and cried. No words came, but I knew that God knew the words of my heart. These were the Holy Spirit’s fighting words. Romans 8:26,27, Psalm 16:11, 56:8-13, 63:6, 91:1-16
If you are trying to do life in your own strength, if you are scared or anxious, sad or stressed, if you are trying to be like someone else instead of who God made you to be, if you are trying to work your way into God’s good graces, if you are fooling yourself into thinking that you are too screwed up for God to love you or help you, if you’ve convinced yourself that He is angry or disappointed with you~ then you are basing your relationship with Him on works instead of His redemption.
I know because I have lived all of those scenarios. The last time I was feeling this way, going through some hard moments, God pricked my heart to look up the word redeemed and He showed me something that really stuck~
the very definition of redemption.
“Redemption refers to the deliverance of Christians from sin. It assumes an important position in salvation because the transgressions in question form part of a great system against which human power is helpless”.
Human power is helpless.
I can’t get past that fear or stress, anxiety or depression because I alone am helpless.
BUT CHRIST IN ME!
Those are fighting words.
I am redeemed. He is my power. He will fight for me. He will carry me through that battlefield of my mind right over to the other side. And He will carry you too my friend. Exodus 15:13
And guys, it will change your life.
Last week I shared with you something that really, truly changed my life. Reading through the Bible in 60 days. Yep. The WHOLE bible in only 60 days.
Click here to read that post~
And here is the link to the plan I followed~
I'm reading the @YouVersion plan 'Power Read The Bible In 60 Days With Jeff Anderson'. Check it out here:
I highly recommend it for everyone!
One thing that stood out to me was how often I read the words~
glorify, praise and thanksgiving.
This was something I knew I had read before, but after reading large amounts of scripture every day~ it really stuck with me. It was a continual theme.
I was reading it over and over and over.
And my heart was convicted.
This was something I wasn’t doing enough of. I did plenty of asking but I wasn’t glorifying, praising and thanking God enough. I had made the majority of my prayer life all about petitions instead of taking the time to fall on my knees in thankfulness.
So today I want to share something else that truly changed my life.
Instead of petitioning God, I simply sat and thanked Him.
I was amazed at the many things that came to mind. I probably could’ve sat all day praising and thanking Him~
and it changed me.
After thanking Him over and over for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon me, my heart knew without a shadow of a doubt that He would take care of my usual requests and burdens.
My heart was joyful. It was light. It was free from stress and anxiety. It was free from burdens. I knew He was in complete control and I could let go.
I could simply say thank you with a peace that passed all understanding.
And so, I want to give you some tips that helped me on my new journey of thankfulness and release.
⁃ Find a quiet place that is free from distractions. A place for just you and Jesus. (For me this is my bedroom)
⁃ The first thing I always do is ask the Holy Spirit for help. I ask the Holy Spirit to speak deeply to my soul. To clear my heart and mind of distractions and help me to focus only on Jesus.
⁃ Next, I talk to Jesus as if He is sitting right next to me, because He is! The Bible tells me He will never leave me and I truly believe He is with me every moment of every day.
⁃ I then start thanking God. At first it was hard because I immediately wanted to petition Him on behalf of loved ones, friends and circumstances. So, I continued to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. Even if you find yourself distracted or disconnected, don’t stop. Keep thanking Him.
⁃ I started with things that were right in the room with me, things that we so easily take for granted. My bed, clothing, a closet for those clothes, a warm comforter etc. then my home and all that He provides for me inside that home. By focusing on what’s right in front of you, God will open your eyes to a world of thankfulness.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that as I looked outside. The sunshine, the blue skies and cotton candy clouds. The birds singing. The rooftop of our precious church.
⁃ I then moved my focus beyond that to my wonderful hometown. My neighbors, our farms and beaches, rivers and lake.
⁃ I then thanked God for my sweet family. My husband, children and grandchildren. My dad and brothers. My in-laws and cousins. My aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
⁃ Make this a habit you practice at least once a week.
⁃ The more I thanked God, the deeper my soul felt that thankfulness. I found myself weeping as I thanked Him for each thing, but especially for His Son dying for me on the cross. For giving me the gift of eternal life at such a cost. For loving me despite myself.
Some of you might not know where to start when it comes to prayer and others might feel like this is too simple. These are just a few of the tips that helped me. I hope you get the idea. Something completely different might work better for you.
You might be reading this and thinking that it’s easy for me to be thankful because of how many blessings I have, but you find yourself in a dark, lonely place filled with heartache.
Can I tell you my friend that even there you can find the light. You can find your way out of the dark if you give Jesus your hand.
Take it one step at a time.
Thank Him for being there with you. In your quiet place. Just you and Jesus. You are not alone. Thank Him for dying for you. Thank Him that no matter how dark things seem right now, His gift of salvation has given you light and peace for all eternity.
If His redeeming love and forgiveness is something you have never experienced, I urge you to reach out to me. I would love to share the gospel with you. I would love for you to know my Jesus and the thankfulness my heart feels.
There is no doubt that as you go about your day, loved ones and friends, burdens or circumstances will come to the forefront of your heart. Choose to remain thankful each time. Thank God for the burdens He places upon your heart, for the circumstances He placed you in, for that person He gave you to love. Thank Him all day long as you go about each task.
The more you say thank you, the more thankful you become.
Guys, I promise it will change your life!