Conversations in Prayer

Hello Friends! I hope this finds you all well, and that you are finding staying at home has been good among the challenges of it. Challenge means we are changing in some way. May God help you to do just that for His glory. Let’s take a few minutes together over some coffee or tea! Got it?? Let’s dig in!

Sometimes, we have to get our heart right in order to be able to help others. But it is also good for you to know that we ALL have those times, and it’s ok. I have especially been called to study prayer during these last few months. So my online study group has been looking at prayer. I thought I would share some thoughts on prayer with you here on the blog.

Our emphasis on prayer should not be about how eloquent we are, or that we can recite recitation scripture, but instead it should be the heart behind the prayer. There is no formula or right or wrong way to pray. BUT there are some things we need to consider BEFORE we pray. In the last few years, God has changed my approach to prayer, in that, I come to Him asking for forgiveness first. I know, some say Praise first. Nope. I come to Him asking for forgiveness. Why? Because the Holy Spirit it convicting me through out my life of areas that I need to change, come up higher in, orchange my thought life, attitudes, anger, critical spirit…whatever it is. God also tells me if I have issues with something or someone, I am to take care of that first and then come to prayer. Why? Because our prayers can be hindered by those very things. When I pray in my quiet time, I ask for forgiveness so my prayers aren’t hindered. I don’t have to do that every time I pray because I pray all the time, but I want a clean heart before God as I bring my requests and those of others, to God in my quiet time. Another point God makes is that we are not to think we are “heard for [our] much speaking.” We are not fill our prayer with lots of extra words, or repeating words. Simple words to God in prayer. It can be called fluffy prayers so we sound more spiritual. Not necessary. Enjoy being in God’s presence and hearing His quiet voice in your spirit. Prayer is a dialogue with God, not a monologue of only you talking to God. Listen for His whisper.

In prayer times we can, and we need to:

  • pause for reflection
  • think about what was said
  • ask what God may be speaking to us
  • listening to God’s Holy Spirit
  • worshiping Him in our own way
  • seeking to experience God’s presence.

Why not spend time opening your soul and spirit to listening to God, to experience His presence, and to hear what the Spirit says. Yes indeed… prayer is a dialogue. God wants to hear from you. However, it is also important for you to hear from Him. Be open and honest with Him. Honesty with God is so important to our growth. I had a dear friend that was a pastor’s wife. Wow! I learned a lot from her about prayer. That lady could pray about anything and it was like she had a hot line to heaven. As I have gotten older, I understand that she had established such a personal and deep relationship with God, that she lived it out, where she could ask God for anything, and she would get answers. I understand that relationship now. I remember thinking I wish I had that kind of prayer life. But she kept telling me it is all about relationship. Then, you trust Him with more and more. She prayed down to specifics of the homes they would move to when they would relocate. She would pray for a ride from town back home and I would “happen” to come along. She would get in the car and say that I had just answered God’s prayer for her. There was no happenstance with her.

THAT is what I want, and I want that for you. Trust Him with everything! Know that He loves you so much more than you know and nothing pleases Him more than to hear your voice, crying out, yelling out, whispering, or pleading with Him. Come before Him with a clean heart. Growing up I would sing this liturgy: “Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit it from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with your free Spirit.” I pray that each time I come to God in prayer.

Let me ask you a question I asked the study gals. What kind of father figure do you think about when you think about your Heavenly Father? Was your father figure growing up one that had no time for you? Detached? Overly strict? Loved you only when you were good or did good? Manipulative? You see, that matters how you see God. So your experience with God may come from a place of distrust. You may have to escavate your thoughts and heart to see how you are seeing God. Are you willing to give up everything to have relationship with Jesus? Weed out what is keeping you from an exciting time with Him in prayer? Let it be so in our hearts. The longer our acquaintance is with Him, the closer our fellowship is with Him. Our spiritual health depends on our pursuing the Lord and His presence. “He says, ‘Come to Me to stay with Me’.” (Andrew Murray)

We can make real messes at times in our lives when we try to control things instead of trusting God with it. Our pride can get in the way. Evaluate your heart. Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Ps. 34:

Describe which phrases below would best describe how you view God’s goodness.

  • I always trust that God is good.
  • I believe that God is good when life is good.
  • I have a hard time trusting that God is good.
  • It’s easier to believe that God is good to other people than to me.
  • I say, “God is good”, but my thoughts and actions don’t always reflect that.

I have had some great opportunities to practice better thinking and approaches to circumstances, while learning more about myself. Such things as times when I have counted on something, desired something, dealt with frustration, and even a “I don’t want to hear that”, response. And then, I have to go back and apologize to a friend who was trying to be an encouragement to me, but instead my response was, “I really don’t want to hear that”. So what do I know? I know and have learned that I process things by talking about them. It helps me work through them, even if I’m mad. I do that with God in prayer. But then the Holy Spirit convicts me of my attitude and I have to deal with that in myself, or with the person I may have been less than kind to. The Holy Spirit reminds me that God’s thoughts are NOT my thoughts. I have to leave it all in God’s lap…all of it. Then, I trust that He has taken care of me in the past and he will take care of me in the future. Jesus overcame the world so that I have peace and courage no matter what I may be going through. I have to rest in Him…abide in Him. STAY with Him. When I acted like I did above, I certainly wasn’t resting in Him. I acted more like a little kid trying to wrestle myself free of His will and the encouragement He was trying to give me through my friend. So…He dealt with me, and He set me on higher ground to boost my courage to face it all. He renewed my trust that He knows where I am to be and how it will play out.

Your view of God will change as you learn and let God chip off those areas that may be keeping you from God’s best for your life. What chips are you needing to have trimmed off? There is a great quote I heard the other day, “We have the privilege of trusting God.”  ~Joyce Meyer

Maybe sometimes as we think about prayer, we have this idea of God as our buddy, a friend, a feel good sense in our life, all makes sense kind of person, a giver, provider, and all of those feel good feelings toward God. But what happens as we grow in our life and other things happen that don’t make sense to us? It might be the loss of a child, someone you love getting this virus, or death from the virus, or an accident that leaves someone with serious life challenges, or things aren’t turning out the way you thought they would? Then who is God to you? Has He changed because of something that has happened in our life? He is a different God than before?

You see, we can lose sight of who God is, by what we think He is now after we have questioned God about these difficult occurrences in our life. We lose out on that closeness we could have because we are kind of stuck with who we think He is in difficult times. Maybe before you thought God fit in to your life really well and you even talked about what He has done in your life to others. But things happened, and you can’t quite fit Him into the same vision as God was before this happened. So in essence, we are trying to fit God into what He has or hasn’t done before. He was good before this happened. Now THIS, whatever it is, happened and you think differently about God. Before, He was all cool like that. He did for you what you expected, like the fun giver, the helper, provider…all of that. But all of a sudden, you aren’t thinking about Him like that anymore. So our relationship suffers because our prayer has suffered. We lose confidence and less prayer = less relationship.

 It is like when we take a trip, we use a map or maybe we use our phones, but we use those tools to help make our trip easier. So if that is the case, our map is the Bible, and our Compass is God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we use our spiritual guidance through God, his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then we are assured that we can accurately reach our destination; the life that God has promised us. It may not look like you thought, but it IS God’s best for you. It will be the most important gift we receive.

Could this true of you? If so, then you might need to hit the prayer chair or prayer floor, and ask God to begin to show you who He is right now in your life and renew that “right spirit” with in you. BECAUSE…He IS the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means just because things happen, and the devil gets his digs in, that He is still the same powerful all-knowing God who gave up His Son, so that you could always have God just a prayer away. Ask today for God to direct your thoughts, actions, and reactions. Get your tools working for you. Look up, and then look at your map so God can show you the way. Stop and ask directions.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

 

 

What’s In Store for You In 2020?

Are you ready for 2020? When you think about the new year, what thoughts come to mind? Are you thinking, “THIS year HAS to be a better year!” Or maybe you are thinking, “I can’t wait to see what this year will bring!” It may even bring sadness to think of a new year because of what you have lost this year, and that feels like if you are happy for a new year, then you are leaving that behind and you relive the lost all over again. You might also find that thinking of the new year also means that you have made it through this season and feel proud that you have hung in there!

From this…
to this in 10 weeks

For me, I can say that this year has been fantastic in so many ways! I have seen God provide, answer BIG prayers, settle us, and guide us on some rocky roads. But you know what? I have also had some real hard times. I have lost life time friends, I have lost relatives, and have watched several leave this world for heaven because of cancer and other health problems. I have dealt with skin cancer myself at the beginning of October, and still dealing with the aftermath of three total surgeries to my face. I didn’t have much time to process that, it was like one step after another and then here I am with scars to my face. My scars can be seen by everyone. But many of you have scars that can’t be seen from the outside, but you carry them with you every day. I have the emotional ones of looking at myself in the mirror everyday, but I also see how God is slowly healing my face. I can see Him working. I have learned that God is with me during these times. Just because I am going through something tough, doesn’t mean God has changed and isn’t still there for me. It may be hard, I may have some strong feelings about my situation, but God is there none the less, and He hasn’t changed because of my circumtances. He is there no matter what we are going through! He never leaves us. That should give us great comfort. I may hurt, but God loves me and He is there to comfort me and bring healing to my mind, body and soul.

Here’s my take…I could have had the surgery (and yes my surgeon was great), but I could have just gone about my daily life and washed my face, put some moisturizer on it and called it done. I know what he told me to do, but hey, its a hassle and I don’t feel like it. And I’m kind of mad that I even have to do this because God let cancer come to my body. Here’s the point: He didn’t make it come to me. My body, my genetics, my life style, and many other factors played into getting skin cancer. Difficult things happen in our lives. That doesn’t mean that He isn’t there with us IN the hard times. So yes, I could have just done the minimum of daily care because I didn’t FEEL like doing the rest.  Would my outcome be as good as it has been? Would I see the healing that is taking place because I take care of the regime every day two times a day and sometimes in between?  I don’t think so. I can even cover a lot of it up with make up that makes it easier to go out and not have people stare or wonder…but it is still there in the mirror when I wash me face at night. You see, we will live with our scars every day if we don’t allow God to do the healing. God helped me to see that I have to trust it Him with it all. I can’t give him part of me. I have to surrender it all; even the most difficult parts of my life. Every time I look in the mirror, I tell myself what God has kept me from, and what He is bringing into my life.

It is like that in our walk with the Lord. We can believe there is a God and go about our life, but we don’t allow Him in because we are really upset about the fact that things didn’t go how we wanted them to go according to what we thought God should do.  I don’t feel like reading the Bible. I can’t seem to get myself to pray. Even going to church seems difficult.  Because really, I may be upset with my plans not going as I thought my life would.  Here is the kicker…God has His plans for our life. He knows what will happen in your life from the beginning to the end. It is what we choose to do with what happens in our life that makes it all worth while. We can go on in our life living in black and white, but there sure is a lot more joy when we begin seeing in color again as we allow God to direct us in His plan for our lives. We have to learn again to be in the present moment. That is one of my goals for the new year. I am still working on my list. I can’t believe how many of my goals God has graciously allowed to come to fruition this year. Live in gratitude my friends…it changes everything.

I’m looking forward to a new year with great expectation. But…I’m taking some scars I didn’t previously have, into the new year. What?!?!?? Are you thinking we should leave them behind because its a new year? We can’t. Not without Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help us. If we try to heal on our own, we will be frustrated to no end. It doesn’t work. Instead, I asked Him,  “What is Your purpose in this, and what are You trying to teach me through it?” If I can turn it over to Him, THEN He can begin to work. I have seen Him answer so many prayers in my life since October! He has given me support in ways I would never have expected. Do I get discouraged and sick of not breathing correctly and getting colds on top of everything else going on with my nose? Of course! But then the Holy Spirit reminds me of what God HAS DONE, and I can’t help but thank Him. It took a year and a half of asking doctors about my concern for my nose to finally get someone to listen. And listen she did, and so did the next one and the next one, and the next one. God ordered the steps and just in time to catch it all. It meant a big changes, dealing with the shock of it, but I got clear margins. And…it may not be done. I may have to have a scraping done on the other side yet. I will know in January. I will trust Him in that also because again, it is about what He is possibly keeping me from.

You too, can step into the New Year with clear margins. Surrender. Less of a busy life. Quiet time. Relationship with God. Family time. Less social media. Ask Him to help with that. My word for the year 2020 is wisdom. I got this as I went into my third surgery. I believe because God knew I would need it to walk this out. I wanted to be an example of how to walk a tough road. I have had many, many of them, but this one was way different. It was going show up on the outside. No hiding this one. And…it was a bit scary. So when He gave me this word, I knew that it was right for me. I pray for wisdom, but I know I am to seek it on a deeper level than ever before.  We make the mistake of trying to operate with our own wisdom. God tells us our ways are not His ways. We need to accept that as truth if we believe God’s Word is truth. Just to remind me, for my birthday I was in a Scandinavian Shop and saw a necklace that I really liked. It’s name? It meant Wisdom. I have a great reminder. I have the word in scrabble letters as I do each year and put it in my studio.  Here is a scripture to go with the word:

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without critizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting.” James 1:5

Our lives may have broken places like broken pottery, but it can be made beautiful by the experience, which is the gold that gives it new beauty.

You see, if I am asking God for something, I need to ask in faith and believe! No room for doubt. When I feel weak, God is Who I turn to and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring the scripture to mind or a person to encourage me. He answers when we give it to Him first. God is just waiting for us to ask. Surrender is a beautiful thing and it certainly takes away the weight of the world off our shoulders. Don’t carry it with you. Turn it over this next year. In fact, just start again and hit the Reset Button in your life. Make the change with God’s help. Don’t try it on your own. Don’t just know about it, go to church on Sunday, hear a pastor speak, and then not seek relationship the rest of the week. Don’t just put it out there on social media, begin living it out! Take action!

I and my scars on going into 2020 with Jesus healing me like gold holding pottery together to make something beautiful from something that has been broken. You don’t know how God wants to use that in your life or in the life of others. I’m leading an online study on Hitting the Reset Button that will start in January and that is just what we are going to do. We are going back to the basics of what God tells us to do and live by, and then by the grace of God, we live it out. It’s online and you can come in at any time. Join me if you would like. Just leave your interest in the comments below. If we aren’t Facebook friends, you would have to request that in order for me to invite you because its a closed group.

May God give you the desires of your heart this next year. But be willing to go where He asks you to go, deal with what He asks you to deal with, and be obedient to His calling. You won’t believe the difference it can make in your life! That is the best testimony you can share with anyone…a life with joy and well-lived for the Lord. That is my prayer for each of you in 2020! Blessings…

Until next time,

~JoAnn