Why we need to PRAY!


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I have really been seeking God on what He expects from me and my life with Him. What does God ask of me? How can I live in a way that really pleases Him? One thing I’ve realized is I need to spend a whole lot more time in prayer. Prayer alone with God, prayer with my husband and children, and prayer with other Christians. Prayer for me should be like drinking water. I can’t survive without it and there are noticeable side effects when it’s lacking. When I don’t drink enough water my skin gets dry, my joints get stiff, and I feel more lethargic. And of course the biggest problem… I would die after three days without it. Are many of us Christians spiritually dry, stiff, and lethargic? And even worse, headed towards spiritual death?

I’m afraid Satan gains a huge advantage when Christians don’t pray. So what’s going on here? How did we get to this point? You can hardly read a passage in the Bible without reading about prayer. Whether that’s instruction on praying or a story of someone actually praying and talking to God. I’m not saying this is a problem with everyone, but based on what I’ve seen, prayer is seriously lacking and Satan is gaining some footholds he shouldn’t have. My guess? Satan’s best bet is to keep us from praying. Why? Because we can study all day long and still have no relationship with God almighty. Sadly that’s what many Christians do. Attend bible study, do devotions, read Christian self help books, and listen to sermons, but fail to pray as they should. I’ve been guilty of this at times, have you? These things are good, but done without the same devotion to prayer they are seriously lacking.

After studying and reading what the Bible says it is so clear to me that prayer is absolutely crucial in the life of a Christian. Not just prayer before meals or a quick prayer to start your day. Continual prayer in all circumstances of life. Also, it should be expected that when you are with other Christians prayer happens. And I’m not talking about one person saying a quick prayer for the group. I’m talking about Christians gathering together to pray. Why do I say this? Because it’s what the Bible teaches and we need it to survive spiritually.

ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray at all times.                                                                  “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”

Romans 12:12 tells us to be constant in prayer.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.“

1 Thessalonians 5:17: tells us to pray without ceasing.

Colossians 4:2 tells us to Continue steadfastly in prayer.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

Jesus told us in Luke 18:1 that we ought always to pray and not lose heart.
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

Philippians 4:6 tells us in everything let our requests be known to God.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

These passages of scripture make it very clear that Christians are commanded and expected to pray at all times, constantly, without ceasing, steadfastly, always, and about everything. From what I’ve seen, God doesn’t ask us to do something without telling us why. So why is it imperative that we pray at all times, constantly, without ceasing, steadfastly, always, and about everything? The following verses provide insight into the point of prayer.

Psalm 145:18 says “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” This is so encouraging to me! The Lord is near to me when I call on him in truth. Being near God enables me to walk with Him. If this doesn’t make me want to pray and call out to God as often as I possibly can then I don’t know what will. Prayer allows me to be in the presence of Almighty God. What happens when I don’t call out to God? Is it possible to be near to Him if I’m not calling out to him in truth? Based on this verse I would guess that it’s not. Can I have a close relationship with God if He isn’t near to me? In my experience, when I’m praying like I should my relationship with God is thriving. The opposite is true when I’m neglecting prayer. 

Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Through prayer we receive Gods help and mercy. I can honestly say that this is something I need every single day. Why would I choose to neglect the very thing that enables me to receive the grace and mercy of God? Can you even believe that we can confidently approach Gods throne of grace? Do we really understand the magnitude of this truth? If we did, I think we would be at His throne more often than anything else.

Proverbs 15:8 says “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lordbut the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” Our prayers please God. How amazing that the God of the universe accepts my prayers? Dwell on this truth for a minute and let it sink in.

James 5:16: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” We are called to share our struggles with, and pray for, each other! Why? Because we find healing through the power of prayer! We also experience freedom from sin in our lives when we confess it and have other Christians pray for us. The temptation is to keep our sin secret because of shame and guilt. This is exactly what satan wants because he knows the power of confession and prayer. He knows if we don’t confess our sin and pray we will remain in darkness. The second half of this verse is amazing. A righteous person’s prayer has great power and it works! We cannot afford to neglect this. My prayers, your prayers, they are powerful! Why? Because when we pray God draws near to us, and when God draws near amazing things happen! 

Psalm 139:23-34 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” The purpose of David’s prayer in these moments was for his sin to be revealed and to be lead by God. Prayer helps us get free of sin and allows us to hear God and understand His way. We aren’t always able, or willing, to see our sin. I believe our sin becomes clear the closer we draw near to God in prayer.

Matthew 18:18-30 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Again, when we gather together in prayer Jesus is with us! Think about how amazing this truly is. Not only that, but this verse points to the fact that our prayer is powerful and does not go unheard or unanswered. God may not always answer in the way we expect, but He always hears and responds. This verse also points to the necessity of Christians gathering together to pray. We have to be doing this! And I’m not talking about more programs and entertainment. I’m talking about getting together to pray. To experience the presence of Jesus and his power through prayer. Is this still enough for us? 

If you know the story of Daniel in the lions den then you know that he prayed three times a day. Have you ever wondered why he did this? The following verse Provides a perfect explanation for his daily prayers and it was most certainly not routine or tradition that drove his prayerful actions. Daniel 10:12 says “Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” Think about this for a minute. I have come because of your words. (For the context of this passage please go read the entire chapter. It’s amazing!). What was going on here was incredible. God sent his angel to go to battle for Daniel in times of spiritual attack. Why? Because Daniel, with humility, spoke to God. Believe it or not (please believe it) there is a spiritual war going on around us and drawing near to God through prayer is crucial in battling our enemy. Satan is very real and he wants to destroy you. Gods Word and prayer are your weapons against him. In Ephesians 6:10-18 we learn about the armor of God. It’s no surprise that one of the final verses of the passage says this; “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 Lord’s people.” We are to be alert and praying on ALL occasions, not just for ourselves, but for all of the Lord’s people.

Daniel did not pray out of habit or routine. He prayed because his heart was set on understanding and humbling himself before his God! Think about this? Daniel’s understanding and humility before his God was even more valuable than his life. He was willing to be throw into a den of lions for it. Am I?

Acts 2:42 says “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The believers in Acts were devoted not only to teaching and fellowship, but also to prayer. This is repeated in Acts 6:4 when the apostles say “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The apostles knew that their ministry would not be effective without devotion to prayer. And what was their main goal? To please God and have an effective ministry. Do I want to be effective in my service and worship to Jesus Christ? Do you? If I really want this then I have to devote myself to prayer, just like they did. Not only were they devoted to prayer, they also asked other believers to pray for them as well. They needed to both pray and be prayed for.

Jesus was our greatest example of prayer. Hebrews 5:7 tells us “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” When I read this I can picture Jesus Christ crying out in prayer. Wow. If we don’t think we need to pray constantly we are deceived. Do we have the same reverence to God, the one who is able to save us from death, that Jesus our savior had?  He also, on many recorded occasions, prayed all night, for his disciples, and also for all believers. (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Matthew 26: 36-46, Luke 22: 31-32, John 17) I Can’t even begin to imagine how often Jesus actually spent time in prayer. If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was devoted to prayer, how in the world can I expect to live for him if I don’t do the same? To be a Christian is to follow Christ and walk as he walked.

There is honestly so much I could write regarding why we need to pray. I have to shorten it, otherwise this blog would be way too long and nobody would finish reading it. Take some time to search scripture for more on why it is imperative to pray as if you can’t live without it. Also seek God’s wisdom on how to pray. Personally I don’t think there is too much in the Bible on how to pray, you can find guidance here. Prayer is talking to God with pure motives. We over complicate it (as I fear we tend to over complicate everything). My advice, just starting crying out to God in truth. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will guide you on how you should pray.

How can we expect to live out our Christian life to the fullest if we aren’t praying at all times, constantly, without ceasing, steadfastly, always, and about everything? We can’t. Have you ever been afraid to pray? Have you ever thought, “I’m going to sound stupid?” or What if I don’t say the right thing?” These lies come directly from Satan because he does not want us praying. We have to throw these lies out and start praying. The truth is, as long you are calling out to God in truth with a right heart, your prayer could never sound stupid and is completely adequate before God.

How do we act on what scripture teaches us about prayer?

Start praying about everything. When you start praying to God about everything in your life amazing things happen. It truly solidifies God as Lord and you as servant. I believe God wants us to submit every single request to Him, even small ones, in prayer just like Philippians 4 tells us. Do we paint the people who pray about everything as extremists or weirdos? Claiming that a lot of things we can figure out on our own without bothering God? I’ve often done that myself. Am I saying that Philippians 4:6 is wrong? That I don’t need to in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let my requests be made known to God? God tells us to bring everything to him. Satan wants us to think we are a nuisance to God. That God doesn’t want us bothering him so much, especially about the small stuff. Guess what? Most of our days are made up of lots of small stuff. Small stuff that God truly cares about. Satan also wants us believing we are in control and don’t really need to bring things to God. Also not true. What would happen if you decided to start praying about everything? Do you think your attitudes and decisions would start to mirror those of God? Do you believe God would be near to you? I mean, have you ever stopped and thought, what does God want me to do today? What is devotion to Jesus? When you choose a life devoted to Jesus Christ it means your life is not your own. We don’t get to just do what we want when we want to. If the thought of bringing everything to God and doing what He wants sounds like a bad plan to us then we probably aren’t devoted to Jesus. Simply put, we don’t do a thing without first bringing it to God, followed by a choice to obey whatever the cost. This is true devotion. I fail so much, but my desire and goal better be to live truly devoted to Jesus or else I’m afraid I’m missing the whole point of being a Christian. I can tell you that when I have gotten this right, and I have prayed about everything, my life has never been more full and beautiful. 

Pray with your spouse if you have one. In recent months my husband has been leading us to do this a lot and it has been amazing. Sometimes we both pray multiple times, other times we both pray once. Sometimes we get on our knees, and sometimes we don’t. There is really no right way to do it apart from calling out to God together in truth. Let me warn you. It feels a little weird at first but it is a beautiful thing and it gets better and better the more you do it. Not only does it draw you closer to God and bring you into His presence, it encourages spiritual intimacy between you and your spouse. This truly requires vulnerability and humility, two things that I believe greatly strengthen your relationship with God and others.

Teach your children how to pray. I seriously cannot say this enough. Teach them how to really pray. How do we do this? First of all we have to pray for them about everything. This teaches them the valuable lesson of bringing everything to God. They will see his power at work when you do this. Instruct them on how to pray. When my little girl gets scared at night first I pray for her, then I tell her what to pray. I want my children to be comfortable talking to God without always having me do it for them. I’m constantly reminding them they can talk to God whenever they want about anything. They also know how to tell Satan to get away. I love when I hear them doing this! The other day my husband told me that my five year old randomly started punching the air and said “Satan’s mean and I’m gonna fight him! I have the power of God and I have Jesus in me. Satan can’t touch me!” One of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard! How does she know this? Cause this is what I’ve taught her to do when she feels spiritually attacked. (Which does happen to children by the way).

When my kids aren’t in the mood to pray I don’t push it. I want their faith to be their own, not something I forced on them. When they don’t want to pray I tell them that’s okay and I pray for them. Let me just tell you this, when they do want to pray, they pray some of the most amazing and convicting prayers. It often blows me away! On her first day of pre-k my daughter was super nervous. I prayed for her and helped her pray and ask God for help. Her day went great! Months later out of nowhere she randomly said to me “mommy, remember when I was nervous about school and I prayed and God helped me?” She was 4 years old and already seeing God work through prayer. Even better, she wasn’t prompted by me to remember this or bring it up, it was in her own heart and mind and came up all on its own. This will nurture her own personal relationship with her God. Children are never too young for this.

Start praying with and for other Christians. This is where God has been convicting me the most. I spend a lot of time each day praying about what’s going on in my life, for my kids, and for my husband, but I’m afraid I have often failed when it comes to praying with and for other Christians. Why? Probably because of selfishness, busyness, fear, a lack of belief in the power of prayer? What is your reason? If you have ever had the privilege to pray with your spouse or a friend over a dark spot in their hearts, that took some serious strength to even share, wow! There is serious power and healing in that prayer. You think Satan wants us Christians getting together to pray? Not just for God to do great things in our church and nation and whatnot, but for God to bring light to our darkness, to heal brokenness, to provide strength in challenges, to bring freedom. A group of Christians praying together telling God how amazing He is and thanking Him for all He Has done and will do. “The prayer of the upright person has great power as it is working”. It’s no wonder to me that praying out loud with others is the biggest challenge I face when it comes to prayer. I have a great friend who I seriously love so much. She has always encouraged prayer together. We would get together for a playdate with our kids and she would end with “hey let’s pray together.” She has always inspired me! I remember I was talking to a friend recently who means so much to me. This friend was sharing some deep deep pain and heartache with me. At the end of the call I said 5 words all of us Christians should stop saying, unless they are followed by actual prayer. “I will pray for you.” In that moment I thought of my friend, the one who inspires me with her prayer, and what she would say. I stopped myself and said “actually, can I pray right now?” What do you think she said? Yes! I was nervous and felt weird to pray on the phone, but it’s not about how I feel. Or how you feel. It’s about obeying Gods Word when it comes to prayer. I prayed over her and it was powerful for both of us. We absolutely need to pray for others in our personal prayer time, but God’s Word is clear that we need to pray with other Christians. I’m ashamed at how many times I’ve said those 5 words when I could have stopped and prayed right then. Jesus would have been with us in those moments ministering to us through prayer.

Another thought, pray and ask God for discernment to recognize when you are under spiritual attack. Once you are able to recognize this happening you can pray against it specifically. Use the authority you’ve been given as a child of God and command satan to leave! I’m telling you, he has to listen. It doesn’t always happen immediately, but if you keep battling he will eventually have to retreat. 

Some people encourage prayer journals and lists and whatnot and that works great for some. I’m not knocking that at all. But for someone like me, lists and journals discourage me a little from stuff because it starts to feel like an assignment. That just doesn’t work well for me and the way my brain functions. What I’m proposing for myself and others who maybe aren’t keen on the journals and lists is to just do it. Just make a decision that you will pray, and pray. Pray alone, pray with your spouse if you have one, pray with your children, and pray with other Christians. Don’t over complicate it or turn it into an assignment. Just start talking to God all the time, about everything.

I’m not interested in convincing anybody to do anything. To be honest, I believe this is a big problem today. So much time is spent trying to convince people to start living for Jesus rather than discipling and building up the people who already want to. So, if you want to live in the beauty of Gods presence and His plan start making prayer a priority. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing and don’t expect anything to change. The most important question to ask is do I believe everything the Bible says about prayer? If I do and I choose not to make prayer an essential part of every single day I am choosing to forfeit the fullness of Gods presence, his strength, His help, His grace and mercy, spiritual intimacy in my relationships, and His power working in amazing ways.

Writing this blog has truly convicted me and inspired me to make some changes when it comes to prayer. As I have done this I have seen so much impact in my life. I am closer to God, more passionate about reading the Bible, I have a more positive attitude (not dependent on circumstances), I have more patience and love toward my husband and children, and I have a deeper desire for the things of God in general. I truly believe that if I, and all God fearing surrendered Christians, devote ourselves to prayer, we will experience God and His power like we never could have imagined. We will also, as the body of Christ, bring God more glory and honor than ever before as we humbly surrender in prayer. I truly believe prayer is the catalyst for acting on what God teaches us in His word.

One last thought..

What if your boss gave you two big projects to complete. You gave one of the projects everything you had and did an incredible job executing every little detail. Your boss was beyond thrilled with your work. But when he asked about the second project you presented something sloppy, half done. You told him that you put so much time into the first project you just didn’t have time for the second. Not to mention, you didn’t really think the second project was totally necessary. Would he be pleased? Would you be successful in your job? This is the same when we dedicate boatloads of time attending bible studies, reading spiritual books, listening to sermon after sermon, and studying our bibles, but neglect praying with the same focus and magnitude. This just can’t happen if we expect to live in a way that pleases God and have an effective ministry. We have to start studying Gods Word and discovering what God actually tells us to do as Christians and start doing it. Don’t just do what others tell you to do, including me. Go to God in prayer and read the Bible. The Holy Spirit will direct you and teach you how to be truly devoted to Jesus.

 

Secret Faults

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Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from my secret faults.
Psalm 19:12

This verse sheds so much light on why so many of us struggle in the various relationships in our lives. All the way from our familial And professional relationships to our relationship with God. We all have secret faults that we are blind to and none of us are immune to this fact! If each of us were praying this prayer, as David did, and opening our eyes to see these faults in ourselves, don’t you think it would eliminate a lot of our relational struggles? Perhaps the biggest of which being our relationship with God. To make it worse, often our faults that are secret to us are not so secret to those around us, causing frustration and conflict. So what can we do about it?

Here are some things I’ve learned and have had to work on in order to see my faults more clearly. By the way, I’m still a work in progress!

I have had to accept that I am not immune to secret faults and I am not everybody else’s savior. Maybe you have a tendency to always see the faults in others but not in yourself. If we were more focused on our own sins and flaws and changing them maybe we wouldn’t be so bothered by the faults of others. If you always find yourself feeling the need to confront others and “help” them by sharing your thoughts on their sins it might be because you are not looking at yourself and the areas you need to change. Are there times when we need to confront the people we care about in love? Of course! but this should not be happening all the time. It is God’s job to save not yours. If you have this savior mentality it is likely hurting your relationships and blinding you to your own faults.

I have had to stop being so defensive: when someone confronts me on something I’ve done wrong, whether it’s the Holy Spirit or a person, It can be really hard to see and admit my fault. Something I’ve always kind of struggled with when confronted with faults is the tendency to become defensive. Maybe this is true for you? When someone shares a hurt with you and you make an excuse it tells the other person that you think they are crazy and that you don’t care about their feelings. There’s a pretty good chance that you have in fact done something wrong. Especially when it’s the Holy Spirit doing the confronting! Instead of defending yourself, try objectively looking at the situation to find your fault in the matter. This will enable you to not only be more caring, but to see the areas you need to work on changing. (This is a hard one for me!)

I have had to specifically pray that God would reveal my secret sin and help me make changes. This doesn’t happen naturally, it takes serious work. It
All comes down to how badly I want to change and whether or not I’m willing to do what it takes. I personally believe that Satan can really create strongholds when it comes to secret, indiscreet sin because it’s different than the BIG in your face sins. Maybe you don’t get hammered every night, cheat on your spouse, or lie on your taxes. Maybe instead you judge people who think differently than you, live with discontent, or neglect spending quality time with Jesus (all of which at times I’ve been guilty of). These are the sins satan can easily trick us into believing aren’t really sins at all. If we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to reveal them to us we are in serious spiritual and relational danger. The good news is God always comes through if your heart is willing! He continues to do so for me and desires to do the same for you.

 

My Weakness, His Endless Grace

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I’ve begun to wonder if fear is my “thorn in the flesh”, similar to whatever Paul was dealing with. For some reason I am so weak when it comes to fear. I seriously cannot even watch a slightly scary movie without being unable to sleep for at least a week. And please, whatever you do, do not even tell me a story about something bad happening to a child! I won’t leave the house for a month.. I hate having to be home alone over night when my husband travels! I am a grown woman! I know it sounds silly, but it is truly a serious struggle for me. It comes out in other ways too but I’m not going to share all of my embarrassing examples with you! I have to be on constant guard. Whenever I think I’ve beaten it, back it comes as scary and overpowering as ever. I’m left feeling discouraged and beaten down, wondering if I will ever truly conquer it. Well if this is indeed my thorn in the flesh I probably won’t. Even though I know that Gods grace is sufficient sometimes I just wish it would be gone for good.

When Paul asked God to remove his weakness God response was not what Paul was looking for. Here is what God said, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) I can’t say that I have quite reached the place that Paul did, boasting in my weaknesses, but I would like to!

So how can I embrace God’s grace like Paul did and rejoice and boast in my weakness instead of desperately try, in my own strength, to eradicate it. Below are some things I’ve learned I have to do for this to be possible!

1. I have to accept it as something I will likely struggle with forever- Recognizing and accepting that I will always need to rely on Gods sufficient grace to overcome the fears and anxieties that grip me has been a freeing experience. Paul asked three times that God remove his “thorn” but God said no. Does this mean I have to live bound by my thorn? No. What it means is that I will forever need to tap into Gods grace, as Paul did, to battle it. Honestly I can go long periods of time where it seems as though I’ve won, and then out of nowhere, I begin to lose the battle. Thoughts start to creep in, feelings emerge, and discouragement starts to take hold. Maybe you can relate? Achieving acceptance helps me go straight to the throne of grace, rather than give into the thorn and allow it to gain control.
2. I have to offer grace to others- Listen, you probably think the fears I deal with are totally crazy! And you are right. I would probably think yours are crazy too. Don’t judge others because it doesn’t make sense to you, try to be understanding and offer encouragement. Allow God’s grace to flow through you to others, this may be exactly what they need in order to overcome! We want others to be sensitive regarding our fears and weaknesses but sometimes we don’t offer the same in return. I’m still working on this..
3. I have to face it, not hide from it- I used to just avoid fear at all costs. While sometimes this is okay and possible, other times it is straight up unhealthy. Rather than flee from it I had to learn how to face it with the strength of God and His grace. This is my only hope of experiencing His strength in my weakness. If you run from your weakness you will totally miss out on this blessing. Totally still working on this one too… but getting better!
4. I have to God FIRST, not last- Now that have I accepted that I will never truly eliminate my weakness of fear I am more prone to go straight to God whenever it starts to creep in. Where in the past I would try other things first, thinking I actually had a chance, now I know I need God immediately to stand a chance at all. This has brought me closer to the Lord and has enabled me to feel his love and care more deeply. I have found that His grace truly is sufficient for my weakness. If we don’t do this we will just go through life crippled by our weaknesses, unable to reach our full potential in Christ. The enemy knows our weaknesses and will work hard to use them against us. We have to rely on the only one who has already defeated him. Through Him we have true victory.

What is a weakness you just can’t seem to defeat? Ask God for His grace and strength to help you and you will not be disappointed!

The Secret to Perfect Peace

peaceIsaiah 26: 3-4

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lordis everlasting strength

I don’t know about you but when I hear the phrase “perfect peace” I get a tad skeptical. Is it really possible to have perfect peace? According to God’s Word it is. My other question is this, Can I really keep my mind fixed on the Lord? One definition of peace describes it as freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. This was my favorite, as oppressive thoughts and emotions are almost always the culprits behind my lack of peace. Can you relate?

So what is the secret to possessing this perfect peace that God promises us? First of all I think we need to take a step back and gain some perspective on just how incredible this promise really is. Here is a personal story of a time when I found perfect and unexplainable peace despite the difficulty I faced.

My daughter was only 4 weeks old when we were told that she had a large hole in her heart that would likely require surgery. I was shocked and had no idea how in the world I would be able to handle the situation. six months of daily medications, weekly dr. apts., constant vomiting, and stress over the possibility of dehydration, the time had come for her open heart surgery. I can honestly tell you that during those six months and the next four days to come my husband and I had a peace that was so real and unexplainable. We didn’t doubt that God would keep her safe, regardless of the outcome of surgery.

Something I thought about while planning to write this blog really opened my eyes to the gravity of this verse. Living in America and being told that my child has a large hole in her heart is a lot different than living in a third world country and being told the same thing. Children are dying from this very same condition simply because they lack the medical care necessary for repairing it. This verse is just as true for these mothers as it is for me. Its not the potential outcome of a situation that determines the level of peace we can have, it is God’s mercy and goodness.

This verse is true for us when it comes to horribly tragic scenarios like the death of a loved one, and seemingly simple scenarios like a conflict with a friend. The secret to receiving this promise of peace comes through keeping our minds on Him. Below are three things that have helped me to keep my mind on God even when it seems impossible, resulting in experiencing His perfect peace.

Trusting God: Isaiah 26:3-4 points out that those who keep their minds on God do so because they trust in Him. If we don’t trust in God then we wont be able to keep our minds on Him, its as simple as that. The reason I was able to have peace while my daughter was in surgery, and even during the months leading up to it, was because I trusted in God’s love and goodness. I knew that no matter what might happen God would take care of me and would remain faithful. Honestly, there is no secret to trusting in God. In my opinion you either do or you don’t. Its all about your heart and whether or not you have made the choice to accept Jesus Christ as your savior, the choice to live for Him.

Loving God’s Law: Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have those who love your law and nothing causes them to stumble.” We have to have a love for God’s law if we expect to be able to keep our minds on Him. Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection. I don’t know about you, but the people I can focus positively on are those that I love deeply and affectionately. If you aren’t deeply in love with God and longing to please Him it will be hard to keep your mind on Him. Jesus pointed to this very thing when He said in John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” To love God’s law is to obey Him. To obey Him is to trust Him.

Praying Diligently: As I mentioned earlier disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions are steelers of peace. We can keep our mind on God by submitting our requests regarding our worries, hurts, and pain to Him (Philippians 4:6-7). Believe me, I mess this one up a lot. I often find myself ruminating on negative thoughts before I decide to go to God in prayer, resulting in a lack of peace. When I choose to go to God with my fears and worries and surrender it to Him I am able to experience His peace. Prayer helps you to shift your focus from the worries that are stealing your peace to God.

The interesting thing is, if we don’t trust in God we wont love his law and we wont seek Him through prayer. We have to remember that we can only walk in the promises of God once we have made the choice to follow Him. For me personally, I have to start with trusting in God and believing in His goodness in order to love Him and His Word enough to keep my mind on Him and experience peace. Have you ever tried this? Are you struggling to find peace in tough times? I promise you that He is there and is waiting for you to place your trust in Him. Once you do there are endless promises of peace and goodness waiting for you.

What are some other things that have helped you focus on God and experience His perfect peace? I would love to hear your insights!

 

4 Signs that Indicate I’m not Actively Believing God

bibleAm I living as though I believe God? This is a question I recently asked myself after talking to some friends about why we often fail to pray about things and instead try to figure them out on our own. Does this ever happen to you? I came to the conclusion that sometimes the reason I don’t pray or seek God on things is because I’m not really believing Him. What do I mean by this? Well, I’m certainly not saying i’m not believing IN God or that He is with me, what I’m saying is I’m not actively believing what He tells me in His Word. I hate that I do this and would love more than anything to stop forever!

So how can I know when I’m not believing God? First of all I have to take a critical look at myself to figure this out. Self-awareness is the key to being capable of noticing these kinds of things in yourself and making changes. For more on that check out my blog 7 Tips for Increasing Self-awareness here.

Here is a list of things that might indicate that I’m not believing God:

When I’m worrying about tomorrow: I despise when I do this. It does nothing but bring me down and discourage me. The Bible tells me not to worry about tomorrow, but rather to focus on today, trusting that God knows what I need and will faithfully provide it (Matthew 6:31-34). This honestly applies to worrying about all sorts of things. Thankfully this is something I have improved on substantially over the years thanks to God proving himself over and over again.. I wish I would have caught on a little bit sooner though. Whenever I start getting anxious about things like internship hours, care for my daughter, a conflict with a friend, unforeseen financial burdens, etc., and am wondering how I’m going to manage, I remind myself of what God’s Word says and that I need to actively believe it. Not worrying about this kind of stuff proves that I really do believe that God knows about it and will faithfully work it out for my good as He says He will for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). True freedom from anxiety comes from believing this truth and living it out. God will take care of it. Not always in the way we want, but even then we can know that it will all work out. All I have to worry about is doing my part today, while trusting Him for tomorrow.

When I pray without faith: Recognizing this one requires that I honestly think about my attitude and mindset while praying. Am I praying just to pray? Because I should? Or am I praying because I believe that I can enter into God’s presence, worship Him, and experience His power, knowing that He hears me and will answer my prayers in whatever way seems best to Him. This can be so hard for me. Sometimes I feel like God isn’t really listening to me and even if He is I’m not believing He will actually answer my prayers. Maybe I’m thinking that what I’m praying for is just too difficult for God. You know, like redeeming someone I love from a dark and empty life, changing their heart, or maybe giving me His wisdom and guidance to make the best decisions in life. What it all comes down to is whether or not I believe God’s Word.

Psalm 34:15: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.

Mark 11:24: Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Jamies 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Do I really believe what these verses tell me? When I’m praying without faith I’m indicating to God that I don’t. Don’t think I’m saying that this means that God will give me whatever I want and will do whatever I say. It doesn’t work this way. Praying with faith means believing that He hears and that He can answer, staying faithful to Him even if he chooses not to in the way that I hope.

When I’m hoping for, “revenge”: I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been deeply wounded by another individual. I have caught myself in the past thinking negatively and hoping for something to happen that might make me feel better, hoping they will have to “pay” for what they’ve done. When this happens I know that I’m not believing God’s word. Romans 12:19 tells me “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” I need to remember that God has my back and will take care of me. Additionally, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” This can be really hard to do, especially when you have been mistreated, but if we believe God’s Word then we can know that He will give us strength to let it go and feel love and forgiveness towards that person who hurt us.

When I’m not sharing the gospel: This is a tough one for me to admit. There have been many times where I feel so ashamed of how frequently, or infrequently for that matter, I’ve shared the truth of Jesus Christ with people. I have to ask myself why this is the case and be honest with myself in my response. First of all, do I really believe that people around me are broken and lost, in need of a savior, and secondly do I believe that through sharing the truth of Christ a person’s life can be truly changed? There have been times when I’ve struggled, convincing myself that nobody wants to hear it, or nobody will care. I’m so ashamed to admit this. If I really believe in God’s power then all I have to worry about is planting the seed of the gospel of Christ, God will do the work in the heart of the hearer.

When I’m living as though I truly believe God I’m free of worry and anxiety, praying with a bold and courageous faith, loving and forgiving those who have hurt me, and sharing Jesus Christ with the people around me. These are some signs that indicate that I’m on the right track.