Tag Archive | prayer

Jesus Intercedes

“The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. We do not even know how we ought to pray, but through our inarticulate groans the Spirit himself is pleading for us, and God who searches our inmost being knows what the Spirit means, because he pleads for God’s own people in God’s own way.” Romans 8:26-27 (NEB)

My husband I went through a season of life that lasted approximately four and a half years. It stared when my father developed a throat-clearing cough. Ten months later he passed away from complications associated with lung cancer. Fast forward another ten months and my husband’s mother was diagnosed with bronchitis. Except it wasn’t really bronchitis. It was lung cancer. Following six months of treatment, one week before Easter, she passed away as well. We spent the following Easter with Craig’s grandmother, his mother’s mother. Within a few weeks of the visit, the next call came. They had found a cancerous lump on her shoulder. The original source? Lung cancer. Six months later, three years after my father went in to the hospital, we buried her in her home town.

It was during the six months of his grandmother’s illness that the full weight of these verses hit me. We had been making the five hour trek to see her regularly and visit while her condition changed and eventually landed her in hospice. I had been reading Come Thirsty by Max Lucado and during one of these road trips, I read out loud to my husband while he drove. As I read, a lump rose in my throat. I struggled to get the words out as the tears began to well. (I am a cryer so it’s not surprising. However, at this point in my walk, Scripture didn’t always move me to tears. I was just learning to grasp the truth of it all and so much of it was still difficult for me to understand.)

My husband didn’t quite get what was going on inside of me as I continued to read.

“It’s not up to you to pray your prayers. None of us pray as much as we should, but all of us pray more than we think, because the Holy Spirit turns our sighs into petitions and tears in entreaties. He speaks for you and protects you. He makes sure you get heard. He makes sure you get home.” Max Lucado, Come Thirsty

After three years of wanting “normal” back, of feeling frustrated and tired, hopeful and sad, encouraged and defeated all at the same time, I realized that even though I didn’t know what to do with all that was going on inside me, God did. He knew exactly what I was thinking and feeling, what I needed in order to keep going and not only that, but what I need so that I could come out of it all in a better place. The normal I thought I wanted wasn’t God’s best for me. My new normal was going to bring me to a place of greater dependence on and a deeper intimacy with Jesus.

When I cried because I didn’t have words, the Spirit of Jesus turned my words into the perfect prayers. I still get choked up when I think of it. Not because He does or can, but because He wants to. In His great love of me, for each of us, He takes our uncertainty, confusion and questions and places them before the throne of God, the One who knows completely, understands thoroughly and has every answer. And there is a gratitude beyond words.

While everything on the outside seemed to be falling apart, everything on the inside was being made whole. I’m not happy that my family members are gone, but I am glad that He worked out the difficulties I was having for my good. And while He was using these for my good, He was working in the way each of them needed as well. Every seemingly good or bad situation has a multitude of purposes. Every individual touched by a single event has the opportunity to experience the overwhelming love of Jesus as He knows exactly what and how to plead for us personally.

When you don’t have the words, Jesus does. When you’re not sure, He’s positive. And it’s all for the good of those who love Him. It’s all in accordance with His good and perfect purpose and will: That though our circumstances, we would be transformed into His image as we continue to draw near to Him.

Something to Consider:

In what situations do words fail you? Are you sad, angry, hurting? As you come before Jesus, be honest with your emotions – He knows them anyway – and trust Him with your needs. He knows who’s involved and what’s happened, even the things you don’t know.

Is something eating at you, but you think it shouldn’t be a big deal? Is it something you should be able to let go of or “get over”, and yet you find yourself dwelling on it time and time again? As you lay it before Him, as His Spirit intercedes on your behalf, even in the small things, be open to what He reveals to you.

As we come to Him without words, without a full understanding of why something is happening, His prayers are complete. His prayers may have less to do with what you think is wrong around you and more to do with what needs to change inside of you. Your answers may only come through your own transformation.

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Prayers for a Mother and Her Son

I saw the news this morning: 9 killed in church shooting.

Not in the middle east. Not in Africa. Not across the world in some remote village. But right here in the United States.

I heard report after report on the news and read posts of prayers going out to Charleston.

And yet, I felt distant from it all.

Aren’t I supposed to break down with compassion and empathy? As a Christian, aren’t I supposed to mourn with those who mourn? And here I was, feeling some what empty. What was wrong with me?

And then … the flood gates opened.

I started thinking of a mother seeing an image of her son on the television, recognizing him, knowing it was her son who did this thing. And my heart broke for her. My heart breaks for him, his future, who he was meant to be. My heart breaks for each person whose life was cut short because of the decision of this one man.

As Christians, we can’t be surprised when this type of thing happens. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean we don’t hurt and cry and mourn the loss of precious life. But we can’t be surprised. We’ve been told this will happen again and again.

Our battle isn’t with flesh and blood. We have an enemy who does not rest. We have an enemy who will use whatever means necessary to bring about his evil.

But we also serve a God who has already won the battle. His strength, compassion, love, mercy, grace and joy will carry those in that church. As they trust in His faithfulness and sovereignty, they can know that what we see in this world is not the end product. He has the final say in the outcome of this situation. He has the final say in the eternal lives of their loved ones.

In the final words of Jesus, He prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

May this man know, confess, repent and be forgiven. May God’s justice be served and grace and love be known.

And I pray that just as Paul, persecutor and murder, came to know the loving mercy of the Savior, so will this man. That the hope that does not disappoint will be realized. That our judgments which are sure to come will not overshadow the grace and forgiveness of our loving God.

I pray that the enemy of our souls will not be able to use this opportunity to disprove the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior. That as we walk in this world as His ambassadors, as we face tragedy and loss, chaos and confusion, we will love one another and pray for our enemies.

I pray each mother’s heart would be healed and made whole. I pray this man would be set free from the darkness he’s walked in and come to see and know the Light of Christ. Jesus will have the final say in this man’s life, not us. And I pray that those in Charleston who suffered such great loss would know and be comforted by the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.

In Jesus name. Amen.

Why I Don’t Like Fast Food Restaurants

© Depositphotos.com/menz11

© Depositphotos.com/menz11

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'” Luke 10:38-40

My husband, daughter and I were out to eat the other week at a fast food restaurant. We were almost done with our meal and my husband could tell I was a bit dissatisfied. As I wrinkled my nose, he knew my issue. He said it before I could. “You don’t like how fast everything is going and wish we had talked more.”

YES! Of course I do. That’s why I go out to eat!

I don’t go out to eat to get out of cooking. I love to cook. I love the event of cooking and serving my family a meal they will enjoy.

I go out to eat to spend time with my family: intentional, uninterrupted, undistracted time connecting with those I care about. We are going different directions all day, maybe all night and once in a while we have time to be together. The last thing I want to do is rush through any of it.

Truth be told, I love fast food restaurants. I enjoy the food, the convenience and the price. If you want to win my heart, give me the perfectly prepared French fry and a thick, creamy ice cream treat.

So with all of this said, what’s the real point of this post? What does this have to do with my faith?

As I think about my dissatisfaction with our recent dining experience, I realize that it applies to how I spend time with God as well. Am I rushing at convenient times to get my quick fix of prayer or worship music just so I can check it off my list and get on to the next thing, the next distraction? Or do I take time to sit down with God and wait, savoring every minute with Him?

As I enter my time with Him, here are two things I want to consider in my time with Him.

  1. Am I making an effort to unplug and rest?

Just like my family relationships, I need to take time to unplug from the world and settle into my time with God. If I approach God with a timer so I can easily check Him of a to-do list, I’ve missed the point of my time with Him. In Christ, I find rest.

Do you get run-down and weary from your busy schedule? Do you create space in your schedule to refocus your mind on Christ? The more time we spend distracted by the world, the less time we have to simply rest in the presence of God.

  1. Am I making an effort to connect and invest?

So once I settle in God’s presence with the distractions of the world somewhere in the distance, I can let Him fill the places left by those distractions and offer me something of true value. He may bring to mind something He’s placed on my heart and He wants to encourage me to move forward in it. He may show me an area of struggle or sin in my life and He wants to help me get rid of it. He also wants to hear about my cares and concerns and comfort me through the challenges I’m facing. This all takes a bit of time.

Can it be done here and there throughout your day? Yes, God is always available and we are to be praying, in communication with God, without ceasing. But something happens when we take time to not just acknowledge a relationship but savor it. Do you feel like you’re an acquaintance of God or are you in a deeply committed relationship with Him? How do you know? Do you do all the talking or do you take time to listen? Do you simply agree with God or do you want to understand why it matters to Him? Do you like to see and hear about what He’s doing or do you want to participate in what He’s doing?

“’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'” Luke 10:41-42

He can’t be a quick stop on the way to the next thing. He has to be the focus. He is the only One who matters.

Let’s Go!

Bobo What's up (2)“‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.’” Luke 5:5 (CEV)

I am on a health kick struggle. Some call it a journey, but for me it’s a constant battle of the will to even decide how I’m going to tackle the food and exercise choices each day. Is variety the answer or a consistent planned out routine?

The other day, I chose to walk my dog. He needs to get out more often so it was a twofer. The best part of taking him for a walk is the moment I tell him we are going. Actually, I ask with excitement and anticipation in my voice, “Do you want to go for a walk?”

His head lifts and tilts, his ears perk and his body is at attention. I ask again, “Do you want to go for a walk?”

He turns, stops, and looks at me as if to ask, “Now?”

And then the moment he’s been waiting for, “Let’s go!” He bolts for the door, tail wagging while pacing back and forth as he waits for me to catch up. I love every minute of it!

And if there’s anything he loves, it’s taking a walk. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, he drops everything for this one thing…even though he’s on a leash and never more than four feet from me. Even though he never gets to stay and check out a scent for too long. Even though he doesn’t get to choose the direction or the pace, he joyfully comes with me whenever I call.

His excitement, energy and joy made me wonder. What call do I willingly, joyfully drop everything to answer and follow? Is it an activity, a person, or a purpose? Does it matter if I get to choose the destination or the route to get there? Does it matter how fast or slow we go? Do my desires get in my way of being able to stay close, stay focused or continue in excitement? Do I see it as a burden rather than a gift – a gift of spending intentional time with another for a specific reason because I’ve been asked to join in and be part of what’s going on, take part in what this other person is doing?

I love the way Luke 5 tells the story of Jesus calling Peter to come and follow. Other versions simply say he dropped everything and followed. But here in this version we see the real thoughts and emotions of a person who is going about his day, tired from his work, and struggling to follow instructions that seem from his perspective and experience a waste of time.

 “They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart. Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink.” Luke 5:6-7 (CEV)

After, out of obedience, doing the very thing he didn’t want to do, Peter sees the results that come when working with Jesus.

God is at work in this world. He is everywhere at all times and while He could go alone, He doesn’t. He calls to us to come with, to follow Him and to be part of what He’s doing.

God has made me an offer better than anything I or anyone else could imagine. I know who He is, I know what He’s done, and I know who I’ve been, as does He, which makes the offer all that much more incredible. He wants me to see what He’s doing, listen for His call, and be ready to act when He says, “Let’s go!”

That is my prayer today: that I would be aware of what God is doing, in tune with and listening for His voice above all others and in that moment when He calls I would willingly, joyfully and with great anticipation drop everything in response to His invitation to join Him in His work.

Something to Consider…

How has Jesus called to you and invited you to join Him in what He’s doing? What activities do you struggle to drop so you can follow Him fully?

What results have you seen in your work with Him? What actions do you hesitate to take because you don’t understand how it will play out?

How does knowing God doesn’t need you, but wants you to join Him encourage you to follow Him in whatever way He calls?

Thankful for the Battle

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17

This past Sunday, my husband and I were home from our morning at church and we had a bit of time before we needed to get going on dinner to be ready for our evening event with a group of friends. As my husband and I talked, he asked me if I wanted to take a nap.

I’m sure to him it was a simple question. But as I thought about it, I felt a tensing and tightening of my insides. I finally admitted to him I didn’t want to do anything.

At first, he kind of shrugged it off and asked another simple, clarifying question.

I said, “No, I don’t want to do anything! I don’t want to do anything that I know I should do!”

Right away he says, “Isn’t that like Paul in the ‘I don’t know why I do what I don’t want to and don’t do what I want to’ passage?”

My initial thought was no, it’s nothing like that. But it was exactly that.

I had often thought of this rant of Paul’s as one where he doesn’t realize until after the fact that he did the wrong thing. Why? Because if he knew the right thing from the beginning, he would do it, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes, we know exactly what we should or shouldn’t do and we don’t do or do exactly that. We do it with full knowledge and full compliance. And then we feel horrible and remorseful. At least, hopefully we do.

After I listed off all the things I didn’t want to do, my husband said he was taking a nap. No convincing me of anything, no advice, only him stepping away. And once he did, I picked something from my list and did it knowing it was good.

And it felt good.

I felt relaxed and peaceful in my decision and I enjoyed my time and activity. In the end, I felt accomplished.

On Monday morning, during my quiet time, I thought about the events of the day before. I thanked God for the battle I had experienced. It wasn’t pleasant but it was good because it was proof of God’s Spirit at work in me showing me the wrong attitudes of my heart and the right ways to move forward with Him.

Lord, I thank you for the battle between my spirit and Yours. I thank you for your work within me. I long for your correction, instruction and guidance in your unconditional love. Thank you for showing me when what I want is not what you want for me. I pray the battle lessens and I am willingly able to follow You in all things. In Jesus name, Amen.

Something to Consider…

Do you find yourself in a battle between doing what you shouldn’t or not doing what you should?

Ask God to show you any wrong attitudes or thoughts that keep you from His right ways. Be willing to allow His Spirit to work in your life. Choose to follow His Spirit in your decisions.

“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18

Pray for Your Leaders

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1 (NIV)

I admit, I have not prayed for my leaders as I should. I have not been diligent in seeking God’s guidance, understanding or wisdom for leaders in government offices, whether elected or appointed. I have not prayed regularly that those who do not know Jesus would not only come to know Him, but would seek to follow Him in their role of leading others. I have prayed my will, my understanding, and my desires but even as I seek God, there are things I do not understand and I sometimes desire things outside of God’s will.

I have prayed for my husband, my children and myself watching God answer prayer after prayer in His time, in His way. Maybe my distance from the political office keeps me from believing my prayers make a difference. Maybe I’m just so critical and judgmental I don’t really believe they can change. Two issues arise in my own life when this is my mindset:

1) I give myself authority to judge what is only meant for God to judge. I don’t really know their heart. While I may not agree with or understand their position, only God can judge the true motives and intentions of their heart.

2) I limit what I believe God can do. It is not by the power of my will in prayer, but the power of our God that hearts are changed and emboldened for Him.

Why should we pray?

It takes strength, boldness and courage to follow the Lord. In Joshua 1, Joshua knows the Lord. He has been faithful from the beginning. He is the new leader raised up to take the place of Moses after His death. God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. To remember and obey all that God has told Him through the Book of the Law. Even though Joshua already has a heart set on the Lord, He needs encouragement to stand firm. Times will get tough. People will want to go their own way. They may come up against his leadership out of fear or pride.

As we pray for our leaders to be strengthened and filled with courage and boldness for God, we are as filled as well. God meet us when we pray for others.

What should we pray?

There are many things we can pray based on the person and the specific needs of a country, community, business or organization but here are just a couple that cover some basic ideas.

1) Our leaders who do not know Jesus would come to know Him. If we are to follow God, it is best that those we submit to would be leading us His way. In surrendering to His authority, they understand the limits of their own authority.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV)

2) Our leaders would create laws that are fair and impartial. They would not be swayed by public opinion just to be elected. They would not use circumstances as an excuse or justification for wrong doing. And they would not allow wealth to keep someone from a consequence nor would they use it as a reason to have a heavy hand and take more than due. When laws are applied fairly, mercy prevails.

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Leviticus 19:15 (NIV)

3) Our leaders would be peacemakers seeking to reconcile and move forward with the necessary business they are in office to carry out. One key role for leaders is conflict management. As peacemakers, they are to help settle disputes between parties that disagree, quarrel and fight. Leaders should be unifying not divisive with their words and actions.

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 (NIV)

God’s perfect plan does not always play out the way we think is fair or just, but in knowing Him, we can trust that He is faithful. He is and always will be in control.

Something to Consider…

What attitudes, criticisms, or judgments have you held against your leaders? How does your attitude add fuel to the fire or help others move forward in solutions? How do your criticisms and judgments move you closer to or further away from Gods heart.

In your own role as a leader, whether at work, volunteering or at home, what attitudes, criticisms and judgments do you find others hold against you? What would you want others to see in you as a leader?

As you seek to be resolved as a leader who you would willingly follow, ask God to not only help you bring glory and honor to Him, but that those you submit to would also seek His glory and honor in all they do.

Shining His Light

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

I’m sitting here feeling like I’m frittering away my time. I’m enjoy some mindless activities but I know I have things to do today and people who are expecting me to be where I need to be when I need to be there. It feels like it should be a “pajama day”. You know those days when you just wear your comfy clothes all day, don’t worry about your hair or make-up and watch movies or read all day long. Yeah, that’s today.

But, then reality hits. I need to exercise. I have been hit and miss with this activity for way too long. And if I exercise, I definitely need a shower. I can’t even be around myself without cleaning up after a run. I do need to go grocery shopping which also includes checking my calendar, making a menu and organizing my shopping list…which is done by aisle so I can be efficient.

Once I’m home and groceries are put away, it’s out to dinner with my mom, daughters and friends for some food, fun and fellowship. Eating is considered a fun activity which is why I do need the exercise. And to finish off the night, we are doing a little summer clothes shopping. I will probably not be able to keep my eyes open at the end of the night for a movie or a book.

As I look at the day ahead, I wonder what else I’ll be doing. Who will I run into? What unexpected things will come my way? How will I handle the challenges and potential problems I may face? Will I reach out to someone, be willing to adjust and trust that all that needs to get done will get done?

Before I go or do anything, I quiet myself and spend some time with God.

Lord, what are your plans for my day? Who do you want me to talk to? How will I be able to shine your light to someone who needs to see it? What words of encouragement will you have me speak to someone who is wanting to hear it? Lord, this day is not my own. I give it to you. I pray I will let your light shine for all to see. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Something to Consider…

Our fellowship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit takes place in His light. Our joy is made complete when we shine His light and share in His fellowship with others.

Who are the people you see and do life with day in and day out? Is there somewhere you spend time that is dark in attitude and heavy in atmosphere? Consider how you can shine the light of Jesus in this place and with these people so they may also have fellowship with us.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,  so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3 (NIV)