Tag: prayer (page 1 of 7)

What Does God Have to Say to You Today?

I’m a lake girl. I grew up learning to swim in a lake in Wisconsin that was big and deep and dark blue and often the wind whipped the waves into a frenzy. But it was a place I felt safe, treading water or diving under into the silent calm beneath the surface.

Friday I was not on a lake, but by the Pacific Ocean.

I walk along the beach wrapped the early morning air, cool and damp. The spray of crashing waves reaches out to tickle me every once in awhile. Fog shrouds the mountains encircling the bay, making them look like a watercolor painting or a dream – fuzzy in the distance.

My prayer is one common to me on my walks.

“Lord, what do you have to teach me about myself and Yourself today?”

There’s rarely an immediate answer, but rather, like an old-school photo developing in a water tray, something gradually emerges.

Usually.

I’m encouraged by this promise as I walk:

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Sometimes the picture that develops is heart-warming… encouraging. Sometimes it’s convicting.

Sometimes it feels profound, but often, like today, it’s just a series of small reminders as I reflect on the power of the ocean before me.

The Lord whispers, “You can let the waves wreck you or refine you.”

Lord, how powerful is your love!

The waves of Your grace relentlessly pour over me like the tide coming in.

Help me not to resist the waters of Your correction that smooth my rough edges like polished sea glass on the shore.

Your faithfulness teaches me I can remain safe in storms.

Do you not realize who I am? Do you not fear Me? Do you not shake in the presence of the Eternal, the Creator of all things? 

It is I who has drawn for all time the boundaries of the sea.

The waves may crash and roar against the sand, But the waters do not cross the lines I have drawn. Jeremiah 5:22 (Voice)

“God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.” Psalm 46:1-3

When we are mature – attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ – “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14 (NIV)

What are you learning about yourself and God today?

 

The Most Neglected Mandate for Troubling Times

Confession: I probably gripe  5  10  15 times for every one time I pray for our leaders. Yikes!

I’m thankful I have friends like Kathy, who remind me how neglected and how important this practice is.

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2‬:‭1-4‬ NIV)

Ouch!

What if every time we started to say something critical about our leaders, we prayed for them instead?

My friend also sent this powerful prayer, written for the inauguration by Duke Kwon. I have prayed through the whole thing a couple of times, but now am going to write out a section each day in my journal to pray ig. It was written for the inauguration, but is applicable for all leaders at all times. You can just insert other names or “our leaders” if you want. I hope this will be a helpful resource for you too.

The original post appears at the Grace Church website, which can be accessed here.

GRACIOUS GOD,

We pray on behalf of our nation this day, as Mr. Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Sovereign Lord, we “lift up our eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven” (Ps. 123:1).

We pray for our new President (1 Tim. 2:1-3). As he takes the Oath of Office, we pray he may do so with humility, a clear conscience, and due consideration of the weightiness of so solemn a responsibility (Jer. 4:2Ps. 24:4). As President Trump begins the execution of the Office, we ask that you would bless him with “the fear of the Lord” — a reverent sense of dependency and accountability that would become a well-spring of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). Please protect the President from the many seductions of power: the will to “win” at all costs (Mk. 10:42-45), retaliation towards enemies (Rom. 12:17-21), exploitation of the weak (Prov. 22:22), failures of faithfulness to one’s covenant of marriage (Mal. 2:14). In particular, we ask that you would guard the President’s marriage. May his devotion to his wife Melania grow and flourish.

We ask that you would give the President the character and skill to lead our nation effectively. Restrain all foolishness and evil in the meditations of his heart, the words on his lips, and the work of his hands (2 Thess. 2:7Eccl. 4:13Matt. 15:18-19). Pour into his heart such virtues as prudence, compassion, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Make him a lover of truth (Ps. 51:6). Grant him grace to repent of wrongdoing when needed (2 Tim. 2:25). We also ask that you surround the President with friends and advisors who are just and wise (Prov. 19:20).

Please direct and “channel” the President’s heart, guiding it according to your Word and will (Prov. 21:1). We pray that the policies of President Trump and his administration would promote human flourishing in our nation and around the world. We ask you to grant President Trump your justice and your righteousness (Ps. 72:1, 12-14). In the coming four years, please protect the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our nation, whether through this administration’s policies and priorities or in spite of them. Send your Spirit and pour out your loving-kindness upon the orphan (including the functionally parentless), the poor, the immigrant and the refugee, the unborn, the elderly, the racial minority (black and brown neighbors in particular), and many others who are too often diminished and forgotten (Deut. 27:19Ps. 139:13-16Prov. 14:31Zech. 7:10; Jas. 1:27). Indeed, we are bold to ask, by your kind providence, that by the end of the term of this Presidency, our nation would be by certain measures more equitable, more compassionate, more humble, more generous, and more alive to your great grace. Jesus, could you please do this? Not because we are righteous or because we deserve it, but because of your mercy (Dan. 9:17-19).

We pray for ourselves, too. We ask that you would “inaugurate” in our hearts a readiness to offer whatever honor that is due to his Office (Rom. 13:1-71 Pet. 2:17) — not least, for those who are followers of Christ, by praying for the President with earnest petitions and appropriate thanksgiving (1 Tim. 2:1-3). Help us to remain zealous to do good (Gal. 6:9). Keep us vigilant against evil (Rom. 12:21Gen. 4:7). Save us from both political triumphalism and apocalyptic despair. Sustain our hunger and thirst for righteousness and grace (Matt. 5:3-6).

And we continue to pray for our nation’s healing after a terribly divisive election. Yes, we pray for civic unity, particularly among Christians of divergent political persuasions (Jn. 17:20-21). But even more so, we ask for grace for the process by which unity is forged. We pray for truth-telling, charity, empathy, repentance, and mutual understanding. We pray not for a negative peace marked by an absence of tension or disagreement, but a positive peace marked by the presence of hope, equity, and a Godward regard for one another as fellow image-bearers. Heal us, O Emmanuel.

O Lord, on this Inauguration Day we place neither our ultimate trust nor our ultimate fears upon President Trump, a “mere mortal” whose heart is directed and re-directed by your sovereign will (Prov. 21:1Isa. 40:23Ps. 56:4; 146:3-4; Matt. 10:28). “Others besides you have ruled over us, but you alone do we worship” (Isa. 26:13). You are the King of the nations and the true Lord of history (Acts 17:26Ps. 22:28Isa. 40:21-24). Indeed, “you alone are God” (Ps. 86:10). So we gloat not; we despair not; we shrug not. King of kings, we place all our hope and trust in you.

In the name of Christ and for his glory alone,
AMEN.

 

Interrupting Your Busy

I’m guessing if you are reading this at all it’s on your phone and you’re scrolling through while you’re in line at Target, or waiting for your morning coffee to brew, or idling in the carpool line to pick up your kid from hockey, school, church, a friend’s house…You fill in the blank.

This season, in addition to all the everyday busy, we’ve got holiday busy thrown in and our soul cries out for “all is calm, all is bright” and a sleep filled with “heavenly peace”.  We want Jesus. We want to meet Him and talk to Him and truly step into the wonder of His birth.

This weekend we set up our Christmas tree and as I was decorating it I stumbled on a practice that was so simple and meaningful I thought I’d share it with you. It doesn’t matter if your tree is already decorated. You can still do it.

Here it is. Pray your ornaments. 

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That’s it. Simple. Choose one ornament at a time and pray for the person or place or value it represents.

When I hung an ornament from Bethlehem I prayed for all my peace-seeking friends in the Middle East.

When I hung an ornament from Amsterdam I thanked God for Maggie and the memories we shared there together, and when I hung the homemade angel Katy made I prayed for her.

When I hung an ornament that a friend had made who is very sick, I prayed for healing.

When I hung the ornament I got in memory of my brother, I prayed for comfort and joy for his family.

You get the idea. If your tree is up, maybe just take some time in the quiet glow tonight and go around praying your ornaments. If you have kids, have them each choose one to pray for.

Ok, you’re probably to the front of whatever line you’re in. Look for Jesus and joy wherever you are today!

Why We all Need an Aunt Joyce

My Aunt Joyce is 87 years old. She is my mom’s sister, 5 years her senior.

When they shared a bedroom as kids Aunt Joyce convinced my mom that at night she climbed out the window and became Wonder Woman, her tights and cape hidden in the gutter of the roof. (I don’t think she realized Wonder Woman doesn’t wear a cape).

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As much as I love Aunt Joyce, she lives thousands of miles away and until recently we weren’t in close contact.

Then two things happened. David got cancer, and she (who has never EVER owned a computer) got an iPad.

You might say Aunt Joyce is a late bloomer. She gives me hope for myself.

Aunt Joyce got her ears pierced at 84. But she won’t buy dangly earrings because she thinks it draws attention to her less-than-young-looking neck.

She was distressed after she had cataract surgery and she could see her imperfections more clearly. She asked me to pray for her pride because she said even Nancy, her Clinique girl would not be able to help her.

She stood in the background while David was in hospice, praying. Just praying. The whole time she reminded me of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Sure, steady, peace-filled. A quiet comforter.

She has a goal of having her whole church over to her apartment, a few at a time, for dinner. She asks me to pray for grace and patience when she is having the “elderly” over for coffee. They can be a bit cranky, you know.

Recently Aunt Joyce sent me this wonderful quote on prayer:

“Fall upon prayer as your only aid and help in this life. When you are weary, pray. When you are joyful, let your joy feed deeper prayer. When in hunger or thirst, open your heart to the Lord. When in exultation bind your life more firmly to God. When prayer itself if hard, pray all the more. For prayer is ascent to the heart of God who is its true and proper Master in every condition of this life.” Archimandrite Irenei

We all need an Aunt Joyce

  • to remind us, as Craig Groeschel says, “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”
  • to remind us of the value of “small things” (Zechariah 4:10)

God is great not because nothing is too big for Him. God is great because nothing is too small for Him either. Mark Batterson

  • to remind us that “A changed world begins with us … and a changed us begins when we pray.” Eugene Peterson (James 5:15b)
  • to model a quiet, godly life of faithfulness that clings to God no matter what (1 Thes. 4:11)

And, like Wonder Woman and Super Girl (or Lucy and Ethel) I just stared open-mouth last year when my mom, the other half of this dynamic duo, said she thought she and Dad (82 and 85 years old) ought to take the 2-6 a.m. shift hosting the homeless at their church on Christmas Eve.

This is the same mom who texts and sends pictures on her iPhone, and dresses so hip that her granddaughters have been known to borrow her stuff.

Who are these women??? I want to be like them when I grow up.

Fix It God

What’s your go-to when you pray? If you’re like me there are many words asking instructing God to CHANGE something! Heal, move, provide, DO something drastic to FIX things, right?

Lately I’ve been impacted by something John shared with me. He’s been preparing for an upcoming sermon series on the prayers of Paul and the other day he pointed out that Paul never prays for circumstances to be changed. 

He prays for God to be glorified. He prays for formation into the character of Christ. He prays to know more of God’s character in the situations he’s in. But he doesn’t pray “FIX IT.”

This morning in my reading I saw an example of this.

Colossians 4:2-6 Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.

Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them. 

Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech.

Paul doesn’t ask them to pray “Get me outta here!” or “Smite these Roman rascals!” He prays for an open door for the message of the gospel to be clearly proclaimed. Right. Where. He. Is.

So I’ve been thinking about the implications for you and me.

Maybe this morning we pray that God, instead of changing THINGS, would use us for His glory, His purposes, in the midst of the mess.

Lord, right where we are today, may we shine the light of Your love, may our words be gracious, may we model your non-anxious presence…

In our crappy job..

In the hospital…

In the traffic jam…

In our singleness.

In our home with rebellious kids or sticky toddlers…

In our team with the people we don’t like…

In our old age…

So that You will be glorified and others will want to know You.

And if you’re a parent, this is for you 🙂

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When You Open Your Bible

There are many mornings when I don’t feel like reading Scripture. But almost inevitably, when I do, God smacks me upside the head with something

a. relevant

b. encouraging

c. convicting

d. all of the above

I love our friend Mark Batterson’s line: “When you open your Bible God opens His mouth.”

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Today it is one line from 1 Samuel 14:36 that God speaks to me.

Saul is passionate! Charging ahead! Wanting to knock off the Philistines (for God of course). And then this…

But the priest slowed them down. “Let’s find out what God thinks about this.”

I don’t like Saul, but I am so like Saul – Fire, ready, aim!

I needed this reminder today! I think of my “to do” list – so many plans, ideas… I stop when I read this verse and think also of Nehemiah who had the wise rhythm of prayer/action/prayer/action.

I take out my journal and pray through my plans,

God, what do YOU have to say about this…?

What are my motives in this thing…really? Will this honor You?

It’s one thing to ask, but shoot…then I have to pay attention, like for more than a minute. And I’m a little spiritually ADD.

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. trying to listen.

Going There With Each Other

Two weeks ago my best friend from college called on a Sunday afternoon to tell me she has been diagnosed with ALS.

Yes, that ALS – the horrific Lou Gehrig’s disease that eats away at your muscles til you are a rag doll of your former self.

Arms and legs progressively stop functioning . It also impacts your voice and breathing; lifespan shortens as complications related to lung function intrude.

I simply could. not. deal. I couldn’t accept that my vibrant full-of-LIFE friend with the most infectious laugh on earth might have to experience this crippling horror.

Instead of leaning in, I wanted to lean out. Instead of turning towards, I wanted to turn away. Continue reading

When You Feel Like an Angry Toddler

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

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Standing in worship, it felt like I was singing through gritted teeth.

The words were there, but not the heart.

I was having a toddler moment a few weeks ago – frustrated, confused and metaphorically crossing my arms, and stamping my foot with cries of “LORD! I. DON’T. GET. IT!!” Continue reading

Three Questions to Ask When God Doesn’t Make Sense

It was January cold. I was 14-years-old and a brand new Christian, bravely bubbling over with faith and excitement about Jesus, reading my cool Bible and believing and praying.

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My friends were new to this Jesus too. Together faith was a daily adventure of new discoveries.

One frigid Friday night, we were bouncing along on a yellow school bus with our youth group down dark rural roads  heading to a ski weekend on the slopes of what pass for “mountains” in northern Wisconsin.

Jostling, laughing, gossiping, singing in the back of the bus, we were having a great time til someone bumped into me and a contact popped out of my eye onto the dark, sooty grit below our feet.

This is not a crisis except if you’re a teenage girl who wouldn’t be caught dead in glasses. (Plus, contacts all those years ago were darn expensive)

Everyone dropped to their knees, scouring the gross, wet rubber floor for the tiny piece of clear plastic.

We. Looked. Forever.

Nothing.

Still on our knees, we were ready to give up when one of my fellow newbies ventured, “You guys…What if… we pray???!!! Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”

We closed our eyes, and my friend said, “Lord we can’t find this contact. You know where it is. Please help us.”

I literally opened my eyes, looked down, and astonished, picked up the lost contact.

We were ecstatic.

The creator of the universe – God Himself! – heard and responded to a few teenage girls with a little faith.

To this day I have no doubt that God graciously intervened on our behalf.

Fast forward to last year at this time. My brother David was diagnosed with Melanoma. Continue reading

Soul Food When you Need to Be Present to Jesus, Remember ISIS, and Delight in the Season

Ok, so I really thought I was on top of things since we stayed home for Thanksgiving. All that extra time to get a running start on getting ready to get ready for Christmas I thought! Well, not so much. The blog seems to be coming especially slow, but I’m present, and being present IS a present so I’m counting it a win.

With these Soul food Fridays I try to share things that have delighted, inspired, or filled me. Where have you been present to Jesus? This week I found Jesus…

  • At a candlelight memorial service at our church in the hugs, and prayers and Word to me.  “I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you.”

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  • Over dinner with a friend, sharing heart and soul stuff, paying attention to Glory together…
  • In the immediate prayer support through texts and phone calls when I put out the word that I was wrestling and felt like the Evil one was taking me down…
  • In the rapt attention of 8 and 9 year old Hispanic students I tutor, listening to the story of Mary and Joseph making their way to Bethlehem, relating better than I can, to the hardships they faced.
  • In the surprise gift what showed up in the mail from a daughter who models Jesus’ kindness and thoughtfulness in ways that inspire me.

And I found this cool blog with printables 🙂

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And in a very different vein…this amazing organization is sending 30 days of prayer for ISIS – reflection, prayer, and often a music video – to anyone who signs up. They use insights from the life of Saul/Paul who was transformed from an enemy of Christianity to a passionate evangelist. We ask what in the world WE can do, and Jesus says “Pray for your enemies.” So let’s DO IT!! It is an awesome resource!!

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I was inspired by this video. We belong to each other!

And, I know this is late, but for anyone who has turkey leftovers throughout the holidays, here is the BEST Turkey Tetrazzini recipe from John’s mom.

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1 ts. garlic salt

1/4 ts. white pepper (I omit)

2 Cups milk

1 cup half and half

1 TB of “Better than Chicken Boullion” or granular bouillon to taste

1/3 cup Sherry

2/3 cup parmesan

1/2 package spaghetti

2 cups cooked turkey or chicken

1 package of sliced mushrooms sautéed in butter (if you want, you can use regular salt above, and sauté some minced garlic in with the mushrooms.

You know the drill from there – make the white sauce, add the stuff, cook the spaghetti, and mix it up! SO good!

Lastly, a word from God that was reassuring to me during this busy season!

IMG_2417We’re going to get our tree now. Have a great weekend!

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