Monday, January 11, 2016

PRAY



I'll be honest, I was never one for setting New Year's Resolutions.  I might have made an attempt when I was younger, but would usually fail within the first week or two...  I'm sure there are many who successfully set reasonable, achievable goals at the beginning of the new year, keeping them throughout the year, growing as individuals.  I admire that kind of focus and determination.

I believe those who are successful at achieving their goals have a true passion for what they are seeking to accomplish; something they truly want deep down to their core...


As Believers, we have Spirit-given, God-glorifying goals written on our hearts; goals that were prepared in advance for us to accomplish...

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
 goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
Galations 5:22-23

This side of Heaven, we will continually battle sin, temptation and SELF, which certainly can make it hard to walk in obedience.  Our fruit basket falling short...

Those God-given goals are surely the desire of our hearts to live out, yet we can miss the mark almost on a daily basis, as we succumb to SELF.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what
 I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 
Romans 7:14-15

As I ponder these things, I think of the many blog posts I have read where fellow bloggers have chosen their "word for the year".  I had never heard of this before until I began blogging.  

I find this approach appealing as it seeks the Holy Spirit for this very word to focus on throughout the year; a word that ultimately cultivates an area of our spiritual walk; bringing into daily practice one, a few or even all of those God-glorifying goals written on our hearts.

So I set out to pray, asking the Lord what word I should focus on this year.  (In the back of my mind, before I even prayed about it, I was thinking the word was going to be "obey".)  But I still wanted to pray about it to be sure...

The next morning I received an email from a dear sister-in-the-Lord which contained a devotional about prayer.  Later that day, my Iphone alerted me that Beth Moore was on Periscope.  I was so excited to watch Beth Moore on Periscope, live and in the moment! Beth's subject for that session - prayer.

It was then that I knew that between my sweet friend's email to me earlier in the day and Beth Moore's Periscope session, that the Lord had answered my prayer and provided my word for 2016 - PRAY.

"Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God."

- Oswald Chambers

The action of prayer fills us with the grace of God which moves in us to accomplish the goals He has already written on our hearts...

My prayer life had been sorely lacking in the last year or so... resulting in a spiritual life that was not fully operating through the grace of God, but was sputtering...

I was faithfully in the Word and would indeed pray for guidance and insight as I composed my blog posts, but that is where my prayer life ended.  Yes, I would grab moments here and there to pray, but they were rushed and I confess, not as heart-felt as they should have been...  I was not dedicating time for prayer; only Bible reading...

The thing is, we can spend time in the Word, but without prayer, it's like having a car without any gas in the tank.  Without gas in the tank, the car sputters and then dies; it can't be driven.  Without prayer to fill us with the grace of God, we can't move forward in the knowledge we have gained through His Word to walk in obedience; our spiritual lives become stagnant.



During my Christian life, I have indeed had rich seasons of prayer.  One of my first approaches was to have a topic of prayer for each day of the week, ie. Monday - family, Tuesday - Missions, Wednesday - Church, etc., etc.  In another season of prayer, I created Scripture prayers for my family members and myself.  This was a wonderful season, life having slowed down considerably, hours devoted to prayer.

And then there were seasons when dedicated, consistent prayer were virtually non-existent...

Having recently come out of such a season, the Lord has shown me great mercy,  not only did He answer my prayer for a word for 2016, He used Beth Moore's Periscope session to provide valuable tools to revive my prayer life.

I was certainly weak in the discipline of prayer,  and when I did pray, I rarely prayed for my own spiritual walk, for help to obey, nor did I consistently pray for needs that fell outside of my own family...  My prayer life needed a serious overhaul.  The wisdom of Beth Moore  just so happened to address all of these areas.

God is so good!  He knows exactly what we need to accomplish all that He calls us to do!

So, starting on January 1st, I began to make prayer a priority, once again.

Rather than go through step by step what Beth Moore shared, I will tell you about how it looks in my life and the benefits I am already reaping, in the hopes that it might help any of you who are struggling to make time for prayer or to even pray.

I have tried all different times of prayer, morning, afternoon, before bed; all of them worked for that season, but I have found, now that I have returned to morning prayer, that when I pray and do Bible time before I get out of bed in the morning, that is the absolute best time for me,  setting my day off filled with God's grace through prayer and His Word moving me to walk in obedience throughout the day.

So, every morning I begin with confession and move on to thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.

I then set out to read through a chapter of the Bible, in the sequence I am currently reading in, first asking the Holy Spirit to help me pray through the chapter.  I begin to read the verses, and as the Holy Spirit leads, I write out in a prayer journal prayers prompted by God's Word.  The amazing thing is I have found that those prompted prayers, have led me to pray for my own spiritual walk, and not only the needs of my family, but I am finding myself praying for issues outside of my own personal sphere, for those suffering with addiction, abuse, to world issues, missions, the church, the spread of the Gospel, etc., etc.!  The two areas of prayer I was the most weak in, I am now finding so much to pray about in tandem with reading God's Word!

I want to stop here to speak a bit more about prayer journaling.

I have tried to journal my prayers in the past, but it never lasted more than a week.  Added to my lack of dedication, I was concerned about having very personal prayer requests written down for confidentiality reasons of those who I was praying for and even for my own privacy.  But when Beth shared about how she journaled her prayers prompted by Bible reading, I LOVED that idea!  And it has already proven to be so edifying and helpful!  I have actually stopped using a devotional to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me personally through chapter and verse.  That is not to say I will never use a devotional again or that there is anything wrong with using devotionals.  Other writers insights to chapters of the Bible are incredibly edifying and helpful to spiritual development.  This is more to allow myself to hear from God as I start out praying through chapters of the Bible.

I also want to stop and speak about how this approach has changed how I assimilate knowledge from the Bible.

Journaling prayers prompted by chapter and verse has enriched my Bible reading time incredibly!  I am gaining so much more insight into what I have read than I feel I ever did before! As I go about my day, these insights directly help me in areas of obedience that I need to work on.  I am more intentional about serving God rather than self .

After writing prayers in my prayer journal, I lift up those requests that are very personal to me.   I will walk around the house and stop at different rooms to pray specific requests for the ones who reside in those rooms.   For those prayers that I am most passionate about, my walking pace seems to increase, showing the fervency of the prayer.  These approaches have really helped me to focus.

I can't even express adequately how much my prayer life and spiritual walk have changed for the better in just the ten days I have been practicing this manner of praying.   I find myself looking forward, with anticipation, to my time in prayer with the Lord every morning!  The Lord is blessing me with grace upon grace through prayer.

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.
Hebrews 4:16 

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


I am so thankful that my first year of choosing a word happened to be PRAY.  (But as you all have now seen, for me it was a most necessary word at this point in time.)  For from prayer, the fruits of the spirit grow, obedience flourishes, and God is glorified.

I am hopeful that 2016's word will create a lifelong habit of focused, consistent prayer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You might be wondering how long it takes for me to pray using the approach I described.  It seems to consistently be a half hour.  But that half hour is full of quality, focused prayer.  (In the past, I would set out to pray, but then have an "ooo shiny" moment and get easily distracted so that my prayers ended up being a lot of words, taking a lot of time, but lacking sincerity.)  

I know that many of you are in a season where it is hard to find even a half hour to pray, but be encouraged that any prayer, that is lifted up in all earnestness, no matter how little time it takes, is received as a sweet smelling aroma to our God.

The Lord meets us where we are at
"You may pray for an hour and still not pray.
You may meet God for a moment and then
be in touch with Him all day."

- Fredrik Wisloff

May we all devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2 

I'd love to hear what type of prayer approach works for you!


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential Fridays

28 comments:

  1. Hello there! You have a very pretty blog and I love the song playing as I read. Prayer is a huge part of my life and I agree we should always make it out number 1 priority daily. I don't know about you, but if I don't talk with God, I feel all out of sorts. Some days its hard to sit and look within the Word, but if you can pray as you go about your day, I think that is huge!

    I love all the scriptures you wrote down and the Oswald Chambers quote is perfect for the season we are in.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a wonderfully blessed day!

    In His Grace,
    Amy

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    1. Amy, Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement.

      I agree. We certainly are out of sorts.

      I love when God meets me in those times when I find it hard to read the Bible, yet He will use just one verse and speak volumes to me.

      I'm so glad you were encouraged! Praise God!

      Same to you Amy! :-)

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  2. What a lovely oasis in the cyberspace jungle! Thank you for sharing the process of finding your word for the year. I love that you're already reaping such tremendous benefits. May you know God's peace and wisdom as you continue to bless others with your insights! (And I noticed by your blog address that you may be Canadian? Me, too - originally from NB, currently in Edmonton, AB :) )

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    1. Your words have blessed me so much! Thank you!

      I look forward to sharing in the future, but I have been amazed at the answers to prayer I am receiving in stunning ways since the beginning of the year!

      Hmm, I'm not sure why my blog address would come across as looking like a Canadian address. :-) I am actually from the United States living in New England. :-) I've always wanted to visit Edmonton. I had a childhood friend who was originally from there and the countryside seems absolutely beautiful!

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate it so much!

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  3. What a great word for the year. I too have been focusing more on prayer this year, especially after seeing the movie "War Room". It was such a powerful statement about the power and importance of prayer.
    Blessings to you as you seek Him more.

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    1. Rashel, Thanks so much for sharing about how the movie War Room effected you. I haven't seen it yet, but plan on it.

      So glad you stopped by! :-)

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  4. This is a wonderful word for 2016! Oh, how we do need to pray during these trying times! God help us to be the faithful prayer warriors He is calling us to be and to pray without ceasing while walking through our busy days. :) So thankful for you, sweet friend.

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    1. Cheryl, Indeed we do! And oh how wonderful that one of my prayers (really so many Christians prayers) were answered today with the release of Pastor Sayeed!! Praise God!

      Thank you for sharing your heart on prayer. Blessings to you too!

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  5. What a Great word and focus for the year. I'm really encouraged by this post Karen. Reading through your prayer process reminds me of something I began last year but stopped because I felt it wasn't working or somewhat off my regular methods (speaking of writing/journalling prayers). Now I'm going to have to look at it again.

    Thanks for encouraging us at #EncourageMeLinkup and I hope you will be coming around next week.

    God Bless you.

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    1. Grace, Thank you so much for your kind words.

      I'm so glad you found encouragement here. Praising God for His leading as I write.

      Blessings to you!

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  6. Prayer is a wonderful focus for the year!
    I used to journal my prayers a lot, and it was very helpful (especially when I was distracted). I haven't done this as much recently, but you've got me thinking that perhaps I should do more of it again.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Shannon, It really has helped me to stay focused. For me anyway that is an understatement. I truly amazed at the "quality" of my prayers since I've been journaling, and the extent the Lord is leading me to pray.

      Thanks for sharing your own heart on prayer, and thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  7. Thank you, Karen, for sharing your struggles and successes in your prayer life. I'm glad you mentioned that different approaches to prayer work best in different seasons of life and that we can always try something new.
    your neighbor at Lyli's

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    1. Constance, Thank you so much for your kind comment. I really appreciate it!

      So happy you stopped by. :-)

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  8. This was an encouragement to me to seek the Lord more continually and watchfully in prayer--I have found such strength and deep joy throughout the day when I constantly talk to the Lord about everything that I'm facing--it helps me also to pray with my children whenever we come up against a difficulty--just to bring our needs, etc. to Him and to thank Him as we see His hand. I love you, Karen; the Lord bless you and give you great grace.

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    1. Bekki, Thank you for sharing your sweet encouragement of how prayer positively impacts your day.

      I always feel so blessed to have you visit here.

      I love you too Dear Bekki. :-)

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  9. Your post was very encouraging for me today. The holidays left me out of my prayer routine and your post has got me excited to get back into it.

    So much beautiful wisdom here. Glad I stopped by. : )

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    1. Cathy, Praising God that you found encouragement here.

      Your kind words blessed me.

      I too am glad you stopped by! :)

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  10. Karen, what a wonderful post! I just love that your word to focus on is prayer. I believe that GOD is going to reveal HIMSELF to you is a powerful way as you spend time in HIS PRESENCE. Thank you so much for sharing this great message of encouragement! GOD bless you, beautiful friend! :-)

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    1. Tai, I always appreciate so much your very encouraging comments.

      He already has! I am astounded at the way He is answering prayer since I began praying in this manner. I definitely sense His presence and encouragement spurring me on to continue to pray boldly.

      Blessings to you too sweet friend!

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  11. Our awesome God knows exactly what we need and when! Thrilled that you heard your word! Blessings!

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    1. Carrie, Indeed He does! :-)

      Thank you so much!

      And thank you for taking the time to share your kind comments. :-)

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  12. Early in the post I felt like you could be describing me. I do read the Scriptures and I do pray throughout the day, but I really want to establish certain times during the day specifically for prayer along with Bible reading and journaling my prayers. What I need is more consistency in doing it because when I have it's such a blessing and God gives me peace. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm visiting from #GiveMeGrace. Have a blessed week!

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    1. Gayl, Thank you so much for sharing your heart and desire to seek more consistency in prayer.

      Indeed, He truly does meet us when we call out to Him, and He delights to give us the desires of our hearts as we seek His will. Oh what a blessing it is to spend time in His presence through prayer.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. :-)

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing at Waiting on...Wednesday! I just had to come over when I saw the pic attached - that very picture hung over my grandparents' dining room table for as long as I can remember!

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    1. Holly, You are very welcome! I enjoy the fellowship there. :-)

      Awe, thank you for sharing such a sweet memory.

      Glad you stopped by! :-)

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  14. Karen, thanks for giving us a peek into your devotional time. I saw that same Beth Moore Periscope and was very encouraged to make some adjustments, too. Love her!

    I'm using an app on my fancy dancy phone to organize my prayer requests. This way, I can carry them with me whereever I go, and if a pocket of time opens up in the day, I can spend a few minutes praying for my friends and family. You can never pray enough, in my opinion.

    Hugs

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    1. Lyli, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on prayer. How awesome that there is an app to organize prayer requests!

      I'm so glad you stopped by! :-)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment.