prayer

Lessons From A Prayer failure

 

Today I sat down to pray. My prayer started off something like this, “Dear Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to come into you presence again today… Did I get that load of laundry started yet today? (No, no! Back to business!) As I was saying, I am in awe that You called me to Yourself and that I get to call you Father…  I really need to get this floor vacuumed. (No, no!)

Does this ever happen to you or am I the only Christian who has a problem with my mind drifting during prayer? Why is it so hard to focus when we pray?

While I have not found any great way to quit daydreaming, there are a few ways I’ve found to focus my mind better during prayer. In fact the reason I’m writing this today is because I need to be reminded of them myself.

The first and most simple way is to vocalize your prayers. I’m not saying that you have to shout them from your roof top or even say them loud enough another person could hear you, but simply moving your lips can help keep your mind focused. Even the amount of energy you will spend putting your thoughts into words and sentences will often be enough to discipline your mind and keep it from drifting.

One of my favorite things to do is to pray over the Scriptures. That means that you are connecting your prayers to your Bible reading. There are a lot of great strategies out there like the One Year Bibles. Just find whatever works for you but always read it slowly and carefully. The truths you will encounter could very well be the basis of reflective praying. You can also do this with some of the better hymns. I have prayed over “It Is Well” thousands of times. (Please know that hymns are NOT a replacement for the Scriptures but can be helpful in prayer life).

Another variation of this is to look through the Scriptures to find verses that support your prayers then pray those Scriptures back to the Lord. When I was petitioning the Lord for my youngest son, I remember praying a prayer that went something like this, “Lord, we desperately want another child. Your Word tells us that Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and several other women were barren. Yet, you opened their womb and gave them children.” Then I would read the Scriptures that told the story of each of these women and end with asking Him to add me to the list with these ladies.

Something else that may be helpful, and my husband uses regularly, is to develop a prayer list. It can be quite difficult and daunting to pray faithfully for a large number of people and concerns without some sort of prayer list. Our church puts out a prayer list weekly as many churches do. This can be a great beginning place but certainly you will want to add to it other people and concerns of our own acquaintance. This is sure to be updated weekly as your church’s prayer list is updated.

Another excellent discipline in praying is to enlist a prayer-partner. That is someone that you meet with regularly, say once a week, go over prayer concerns together and then pray together. This will most likely prove to be a very intimate time with you and the other person. And intimacy in one area can very easily lead to intimacy in another area. So always make sure that if your prayer-partner is not your spouse, that it is someone of the same sex.

I have been fortunate in the way that I have been able to be pray-partners with a couple different ladies in my life. The first was when I was a freshman in college. Another young lady, who was a senior, invited me to pray with her. This quickly became a weekly meeting and continued on through the rest of the semester. I learned much more from her discipleship than words can express. We still remain very close friends today.

Prayer can be hard and frustrating. Still, a wandering mind is no excuse to not do it. How are we to have a relationship with the Lord if we never communicate with Him? I do hope that I am the only Christian that has a problem with a drifting mind, but I really don’t believe that I am. I have practiced each of these methods at different times and they each been of great help. I do pray that they will be of some help to you too.

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How God Used a Wedding To Remind Me To Pray

 

I have two brothers that are much younger than me. I was twelve years old when one of them was born, and a year and a half later, the baby of the family came. The scary thing was that about a week after my baby brother was born, my mom came down with a horrible case of pneumonia. She was hospitalized for nearly a week.

My stepfather was a farmer and it was late spring. (If you don’t know much about farming, this is a very busy time for farmers. Most work more than twelve hours a day). Add to that the time he spent with my mom in the hospital, and time he spent driving there and back home again (about a forty minute drive). He helped with the boys when he was able but realistically, that wasn’t much.

That meant that my sister (sixteen years old) and I (thirteen years old) were in charge of not only the upkeep of the house, meals, laundry, etc, but also taking care of our brothers. And did I mention that one of them was only a week old?

A month ago that baby brother got married. When you watch such an event, floods of memories come pouring back. I remember him playing Batman, riding his tricycle, his love for cookies, favorite stories that I read to him. And as he grew, watching him play sports all the way through school. His high school and college graduation. And the first time I met his Bride.

But most of all, I remember that week. That absolutely horrifically terrifying, yet precious week. I remember cuddling him, rocking him, changing his diapers, feeding him, singing to him, loving on him. As he stood before us on the altar, taking vows to be the husband God has called him to be, I couldn’t help but to wonder how he’s still even here. How is it that two teenage girls that don’t even know what they’re doing, can not only take care of, but also keep healthy, a week old baby and an eighteen month old toddler? How did we keep them both alive and healthy?

I really don’t know the answer to this question but I’m going to take a stab at it… It is possible that we did have an idea of what to do because of the older of the two brothers, the eighteen month old. We had been under our Mother’s feet the whole time and learned from watching and helping her. Yes, I do suppose that played a part in it.

But I believe there is greater reason why, prayer!

James 4:2 tells us, “You do not have because you do not ask.” He is saying that our failure to ask denies us of what God would otherwise give to us. When we pray, God responds. Jesus also says, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). He is making a connection between asking and receiving.

We see this happening several times in the Old Testament. We know that Hannah desperately wants a baby. And she specifically wants a baby boy. She prays to the Lord, asking for a baby boy. And guess what? God gives her Samuel (1 Samuel 1).  Another time, God is so frustrated with the children of Israel that He was going to destroy them for their sin. But Moses prayed and God relented (Exodus 32: 10-14). And the Gospels are so filled with people making request of Jesus and He granting their request that I cannot even begin to mention them all here. The list could go on and on. I encourage you to search through Scripture looking for times when someone made a request of God and He answered. You may be blown away.

So what does all this prayer stuff have to do with two teenage girls trying to take care of two small children while their mother was deathly ill? Well, I believe many people were praying for us. They were praying for my mother’s health to be restored. They prayed for wisdom for my sister and me. They prayed for stability and good health for my brothers. And they probably also prayed for wisdom, patience, rest, and peace for my step father. Really, the whole ordeal was probably the hardest on him. But that’s a post for another time.

I believe sincere prayers were lifted up by friends, family, people we went to church with, and even some people that we didn’t even know on our behalf. I really hope that I prayed, but I don’t remember praying. And even if I wasn’t obedient in my prayer life at that time, other people interceded for us. They were honest. They were sincere. They asked for what was needed, not frivolous nonsense.

And God answered.

Thank You, God, that You answered!

I am convinced that if we really believed that God can do remarkable things through our prayer life, then we would all be much more diligent to pray.

And don’t forget that when we pray, we are communicating with God. So if we pray little, what are we telling God? That we want little communication with Him? Or that we don’t believe He will do much from our prayers? Or possibly that our prayers are ineffective, thus making our relationship with Him have no purpose?

I don’t want that sort of relationship with Him and you probably don’t either. He may not always give you everything you want, but let’s not limit His ability to show us His power by watching our outrageous request be given to us. Let’s get blown away!

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I Ask Of The Lord

 

I received a phone call today from a friend.  When I heard her voice on the other end, I knew something was wrong. When I asked, she burst into tears telling me all about a very unpleasant situation that her family is going through.

I sat and listened.

My heart broke for her and her family. It’s just awful. Her feelings are hurt. Her husband’s feelings are hurt. Their children are hurt because they know how much their parents are hurting. But even worse is the unknown of what tomorrow is going to bring.  What if this happens? Or what if that happens?

After she was done telling me about the ordeal I asked her, “Have you prayed today?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“Tell me,” I said, “When you pray, what do you pray for?”

“Well,” she began, “I thank Him. I have been so blessed in my life. I just want Him to know that I am thankful that He called me to Himself. I want Him to know that I am thankful that He has provided a wonderful husband to me and two healthy children. I have received so many blessings in my life. Really, I just want Him to know that I’m thankful.”

“Do you ever ask Him for anything?”

“No. I really don’t think I should.”

“You are a parent aren’t you?”

“Yes, of course. You know that.”

“When one of your children gets hurt, don’t you want them to come to you for comforting?”

After a thoughtful moment or two she responded, “Of course I would. I love them.”

Our heavenly Father is just that, a Father. He loves us. He cares for us. Why do you think we should not ask Him for things? It is never wrong to pray for things that we need. He has more riches than we can possible imagine. Everything belongs to Him.

Jesus even spoke about this, “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:9-11).

Even in the most famous prayer of all times, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is asking for things. He asks for His Father’s will to be done (Matt 6:10), He asks for the Lord to provide us daily bread (Matt 6:11), He asks for forgiveness and for us to be able to forgive others (Matt 6:12), and He asks for help with temptation (Matt 6:13).

I do feel it is important that I point out that we must be careful to never use Him as a genie in a bottle. It is not wrong to ask Him for material things because we certainly do need them. We need food to eat and clothes to wear. But we don’t need a steak dinner every night or our closets to be filled with only designer clothing.

If we ask Him for something, we should expect a response. He will reply in one of three ways, He will say “yes, no, or not right now”. While the “no” or “not right now” may be hard to take or understand, remember that He is all knowing. Perhaps we are not ready yet even though we think we are.

My three year old wants to drive our car badly and even though he thinks I’m being unreasonable by saying “No,” it is for his safety, the safety of others, and the preservation of our car. It would not even be loving for me to allow him to drive it even though he thinks he’s ready. So my answer for him is “Not right now.”

There are also other times God says “No” because He has something better for us. I recall a time when my husband and I were searching for a house. We found one that we liked and made an offer. But the Lord shut that door. We were discouraged and did not understand why until a couple months later. At that time, the Lord provided a house that was exactly what we wanted in the school district that we wanted, in good proximity to our families, and was at an excellent price. It was much, much better than the other house we had made an offer on. We were so thankful for His “No” answer to the first house.

And of course we like the “Yes” answers. One of my favorite things to ask for is wisdom. I like to ask for it because I know He will give it to me. In James 1:5 He says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” In many different circumstances, almost every day, I need more wisdom on how to deal with a certain situation. God is so good! He always provides.

Before I got off the phone that day I was able to pray with my friend. We put Philippians 4:6 to practice “Let your requests be known to God.” We asked for strength to get through the next few days. We asked for grace to be able to except the outcome, whatever it may be, and peace to be able to live with it. We prayed for the Lord to fill her and her family with compassion and love for the people who had wronged them. We asked for comfort.

 

 

 

It has been several weeks since I wrote this blog. My friend called me two days after this conservation completely overwhelmed by how the Lord had answered her prayers. She has since commented on the fact that since she had not previously asked Him for things, she felt like she was somewhat limiting His work in her life. I had not thought of that but I suppose she’s right. If you never make any requests to the Lord, how are you going to see Him answer them? How are you going to ever be blown away by His power and might while watching His sovereign will?

 

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Lessons From A Prayer Failure

Today I sat down to pray. My prayer started off something like this, “Dear Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to come into you presence again today… Did I get that load of laundry started yet today? (No, no! Back to business!) As I was saying, I am in awe that You called me to Yourself and that I get to call you Father…  I really need to get this floor vacuumed. (No, no!)

Does this ever happen to you or am I the only Christian who has a problem with my mind drifting during prayer? Why is it so hard to focus when we pray?

While I have not found any great way to quit daydreaming, there are a few ways I’ve found to focus my mind better during prayer. In fact the reason I’m writing this today is because I need to be reminded of them myself.

The first and most simple way is to vocalize your prayers. I’m not saying that you have to shout them from your roof top or even say them loud enough another person could hear you, but simply moving your lips can help keep your mind focused. Even the amount of energy you will spend putting your thoughts into words and sentences will often be enough to discipline your mind and keep it from drifting.

One of my favorite things to do is to pray over the Scriptures. That means that you are connecting your prayers to your Bible reading. There are a lot of great strategies out there like the One Year Bibles. Just find whatever works for you but always read it slowly and carefully. The truths you will encounter could very well be the basis of reflective praying. You can also do this with some of the better hymns. I have prayed over “It Is Well” thousands of times. (Please know that hymns are NOT a replacement for the Scriptures but can be helpful in prayer life).

Another variation of this is to look through the Scriptures to find verses that support your prayers then pray those Scriptures back to the Lord. When I was petitioning the Lord for my youngest son, I remember praying a prayer that went something like this, “Lord, we desperately want another child. Your Word tells us that Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and several other women were barren. Yet, you opened their womb and gave them children.” Then I would read the Scriptures that told the story of each of these women and end with asking Him to add me to the list with these ladies.

Something else that may be helpful, and my husband uses regularly, is to develop a prayer list. It can be quite difficult and daunting to pray faithfully for a large number of people and concerns without some sort of prayer list. Our church puts out a prayer list weekly as many churches do. This can be a great beginning place but certainly you will want to add to it other people and concerns of our own acquaintance. This is sure to be updated weekly as your church’s prayer list is updated.

Another excellent discipline in praying is to enlist a prayer-partner. That is someone that you meet with regularly, say once a week, go over prayer concerns together and then pray together. This will most likely prove to be a very intimate time with you and the other person. And intimacy in one area can very easily lead to intimacy in another area. So always make sure that if your prayer-partner is not your spouse, that it is someone of the same sex.

I have been fortunate in the way that I have been able to be pray-partners with a couple different ladies in my life. The first was when I was a freshman in college. Another young lady, who was a senior, invited me to pray with her. This quickly became a weekly meeting and continued on through the rest of the semester. I learned much more from her discipleship than words can express. We still remain very close friends today.

Prayer can be hard and frustrating. Still, a wandering mind is no excuse to not do it. How are we to have a relationship with the Lord if we never communicate with Him? I do hope that I am the only Christian that has a problem with a drifting mind, but I really don’t believe that I am. I have practiced each of these methods at different times and they each been of great help. I do pray that they will be of some help to you too.

Categories: prayer | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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