Posts Tagged With: prayer

Are You In The Habit of Daily Bible Reading?

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Instead of focusing on one particular Scripture passage I want to talk, in general, about reading a daily devotion. In the past I wanted to read a chapter or a few verses every day, but life always seemed to get in the way. Weeks would go by and I wouldn’t open my Bible except on Sunday morning at church.

That all changed for me with a gift I received from my daughter this past Christmas. For something a little extra she gave me one of those desk calendars where each daily page has something written on it to think about that day. Well, the one she gave me has daily Bible verses. This was perfect for me.

I tried using the quarterly devotional booklets, but I’d read the verse, then read what the writer wrote about it. That was OK, however, I was not really digging into it deep enough.  With this new calendar I had my answer.

Every day starting January 1, 2017 I’ve read not only the verse on the calendar, but the whole chapter where it’s found. Since there is no one else’s interpretation of the passage written with the verse I can form my own. Before I read I pray, asking God to show me which verse or verses I should focus on that day. It’s not always the verse on the calendar that jumps out at me. I’ll read the chapter and then go back and re-read the verses that popped out. I’ve added an extra dimension to my daily reading. I write in a journal each day what the focused verses are telling me, personally. This has given me a whole new perspective to the daily reading.

There have been some days where nothing grabs me, but those days are extremely few. That’s OK. I’ve still read my Bible that day.

Since I began this daily journey, my relationship with the Lord has grown. I feel His presence more. I’m chatting with Him more throughout the day. And my detailed prayer time has blossomed.

If you want to develop the habit of daily Bible reading there are numerous resources out there to use as a trigger to get you into the habit. I just wanted to share with you today the resource that has helped me a lot.

Developing a heart-felt habit of reading Scripture daily will take a desire to want to do it. It’s not an easy habit to get into, but the initial effort it takes is worth it. After a while you will begin to feel uneasy if you don’t read your Bible each day. Daily Bible reading will change how you approach God. I have never felt closer to Him than I do now since traveling on this daily journey with Him.

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A Prayer For Christian Writers

IM000106.JPG“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”   Psalm 19:14

The pastor of the church I attended as a child always recited these words before giving his sermon every Sunday. He was asking not only for God’s blessing on what he was about to preach, but also for God’s leading in what he was about to share with the congregation. The pastor wanted his message to be God’s message.

As Christian writers we have taken on the obligation to present various Godly messages through our writing. Some of these messages are meant to hit our readers in the face to invoke thoughts of change in their lives. Other messages are to be more subtle, such as showing Christian values in a romance novel without actually saying they’re Christian values.

No matter what message we are conveying in our writing we want it to be pleasing to God. We want it to be His message coming through our written words. As we write, our hearts and minds should be open and meditating on God. Then He will show through the words we put on paper.

Our writing is going out into the world faster these days and reaching more people than ever due to computers and social media. If we profess to be Christian writers we need to be careful what we write, even if it’s just posting on Facebook what we did today. The pagan world is watching, just waiting for any slip up so they can attack and mock Christianity. We don’t want our writing to be fuel for their fire.

Starting today we need to pray the words of Psalm 19:14 every time we sit down to write. Commit this verse to memory. That way we’ll know the focus of our writing, no matter what we’re writing about, will be on God. Our minds and our hands will be guided by Him and our written words will be for His glory.

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Joyful-Patient-Faithful

05-09-13 4“Never be lacking in zeal,but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”    Romans 12:11-12

Be joyful, patient, and faithful – there are many times in our lives when following these three commands can seem to be almost impossible.

JOYFUL IN HOPE – We may be in situations or circumstances in our lives when we try desperately to be joyful, hoping there is a way out and things can get back to normal again, but that hope is a dim light far in the distance. How can joy enter the scene when hope appears to be fading? The answer can be found in this question – On what are you placing your hope? If all our energy is focused on hope based on human terms we will become discouraged, as that kind of hope falters. However, if our hope is on God and what He has in store for us joy will abound. He has a life waiting for us that we can never imagine. We can be joyful in the hope of the eternal life promised by God through His son Jesus Christ. Joyful hope in Jesus or despair found in hope of the world?

PATIENT IN AFFLICTION – I don’t know about you, but patience is not a strong virtue for me. Look around. Our society is not based on patience. We want everything now, especially if we are in adversity, illness, or grief. We want the pain to end immediately. Having patience while dealing with the pain is the last thing on our minds. But God wants us to be patient. Why? He wants us to slow down, really look at what’s going on, and turn to Him. We must place our worries and anxieties on Him. Then He will give us the peace and patience to let Him work things out in His timing, lifting the burden off our shoulders.

Which leads us to FAITHFUL IN PRAYER – Why is it that people remember to pray when things are horrible? A disaster strikes and people flock to churches to pray. Life gets back to normal and churches are empty again. God does not want to hear from us only in difficult times. He wants to hear our praise and thanksgiving when things are going well, too. Being faithful in prayer means conversing with God daily, not just when we want something from Him. God wants a loving, close relationship with us. Just like family members love to hear the good things happening in our lives as well as the struggles, God wants to hear about them.

Think about this – if we pray often and build a strong, positive relationship with God it will be easier to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction because our trust for all things will automatically be in Him.

Joyful, patient, and faithful – to what degree are you following these commands? Every one of them is possible if we put God ahead of our human understanding.

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Pray

armor-of-godAnd pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

I’ve spent several weeks sharing with you the power and protection God provides through His armor. Each piece has a purpose in our battle with evil. After Paul described each component of the armor in Ephesians he ended with instructions to pray.

Prayer is powerful. In Live A Praying Life author Jennifer Kennedy Dean talks about the power which is released when we pray in Jesus’ name, “When we use the Name in prayer it has two effects. First, it gives us access to the Father. Because Jesus has given us permission to use His name, we are received in the Father’s presence as Jesus is. Second, when you use the name of Jesus you immediately have authority in the spiritual realm. . . . Your prayers in Jesus’ name – which means that you are speaking His desires – direct the will of God into the circumstances of earth.”

Our prayers open up pathways for God’s will to take shape. That is forceful stuff. Author O. Hallesby wrote, “This power is so rich and so mobile that all we have to do when we pray is to point to the persons or things to which we desire to have this power applied and He, the Lord of this power, will direct the necessary power to the desired place at once.”

We need to remember the power released is God’s will. The answers we receive may not be what we expect. Our prayers need to be directed toward what God’s will is.

How can we know the will of God and therefore unleash this power? He will reveal bits and pieces of it to us through Bible study and during those times we spend in quiet, hearing God’s voice. Through the Holy Spirit God’s will is revealed.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean goes on to say in her book, “All prayer is spiritual warfare. Every prayer that gains ground for God’s kingdom loses ground for the enemy. To pray is to be locked in combat with spiritual forces. Spiritual warfare is not a single type of praying; prayer is warfare. There is no reason for this to be an intimidating thought. The two opposing sides in this warfare are not equal. Satan’s army is pitifully weak and small compared to God’s.”

The name of Jesus holds unimaginable power and authority. By praying in His name that power and authority flows through us.

Unleash this power. Pray, pray, pray. We are strong and mighty. With the armor, the sword, and prayer every battle with evil we face will be won through Jesus Christ.

The battle is upon us. Continue to fight with courage and confidence knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is fighting by your side every step of the way.

APPLICATION:  Commit to spending a dedicated time each day to sit in God’s presence listening and talking to Him. Become knowledgeable of His will and then pray for His will to be done.

(This is my final post on the topic of the armor of God. I am going to explore the possibility of putting these together in an ebook. I’ll keep you informed. Next week I will begin a new series of devotionals on what I haven’t decided yet. If you have some suggestions please let me know. I am also going to start a mid-week devotional geared toward writers.)

 

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Constantly In Prayer

armor-of-godThey (the disciples) all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. Acts 1:14

How can we be constantly in prayer? We all have daily responsibilities. We can’t be praying all the time. Or can we? Being constantly in prayer does not necessarily mean being on our knees praying 24/7. What it does mean is having a praying heart and when things happen our first thoughts are to pray.

Throughout the day I will lift up short prayers to God. I ask Him to get me safely to and from work. Then when I’m back home I thank Him for the safe travel He provided. A lot of these prayers I offer are prayers of thanksgiving; for the beautiful day, for no major complications at work, or just for what He’s given me to survive day after day. Being in constant prayer is keeping our focus on God at all times as we live in this mixed-up world.

As we fight spiritual battles we know we have the full armor God has given us. We learn how to effectively use each piece of it as our faith in Him grows. However, a very important companion to having the availability of the armor is prayer.

Prayer keeps us in communication with the Father. Prayer opens the gates for God’s mighty power to rush through. It is a conduit through which we can experience the inner peace during times of turmoil that only God can provide. From the doorway opened by prayer flows the strength and wisdom we need to utilize the armor as we fight Satan’s attacks.

Throughout His ministry Jesus prayed. After He ascended into heaven His disciples continued to pray as they traveled and spread the Gospel. If they knew the importance of constant prayer in order to combat the devil’s ploys why should we think it would be any different today?

We still are battling against Satan’s deceptions and temptations. We still need the power of God working in us, through us, and for us. Prayer is just as significant as it’s ever been.

Use the armor, but don’t forget the power prayer also provides. Having open hearts in constant communication with God goes hand-in-hand with putting on the armor when fighting the spiritual battles that surround us.

APPLICATION: Are you praying at only specific times during the day, such as at meals or bedtime? Make a conscious effort to lift up prayers often throughout the day. You will begin to feel a stronger connection with the heavenly Father.

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The Spirit Intercedes (Prayer)

armor-of-god “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27

Can you think of a time something really fantastic or really awful happened and you couldn’t find the words to describe it to someone else? There are times when no words truly express our emotions. We just can’t explain how we feel.

There are also times this happens when we are praying to God. We become frustrated when we can’t put into words how we are feeling or what we genuinely want to say. It’s OK to have times like that. That’s one of the reasons God gave us the Holy Spirit.

During prayer time when words don’t seem to be enough, we can just sit quietly before God and let the Holy Spirit take over. The Spirit knows our thoughts and feelings. There is no need for us to become anxious when we can’t seem to speak what’s on our minds and in our hearts. We are coming to God when we pray. That’s all He wants. He is waiting for us to stop trying to do everything ourselves. He’s happy when we lean on Him. Our action of kneeling before God is what He desires from us. We can be silent and let the Holy Spirit do the communicating on our behalf.

“The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

God knows how we feel and what we are trying to tell Him. Relax, feel the peace of God come over you. Turn the actual communicating over to the Holy Spirit and just sit quietly basking in the love of God. The Spirit is more than capable of conveying what you cannot find the words to say.

APPLICATION: Don’t feel you always have to do all the talking during prayer. Practice just sitting in silence before God and let the Holy Spirit do the talking for you.

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Do Not Let Anxiety Take Over (Prayer)

armor-of-god“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Beverly has a big exam coming up in order to receive the certification needed to do her job. She has studied for days all the material she could get her hands on. She’s memorized facts and worked through all possible scenarios for given situations. The day of the exam is approaching and Beverly’s anxiety is rising.

We have all experienced times of great anxiety. Maybe a loved one is in the hospital with a serious condition. Perhaps you are in charge of planning an important event. Or, it’s past curfew and your teenage son or daughter is not home yet. We all get anxious and worry. But anxiety is not an emotion God wants to have taking over our lives.

Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27

In today’s Scripture passage Paul is telling the Philippians there is a way to deal with anxiety and worry. Take all concerns to God in PRAYER.

Satan loves to add turmoil to our lives and an easy way for him to do it is by planting seeds of doubt in our minds. We get all shook up and repeatedly go through lists in our heads. “Did I remember to call the caterer?” “Is there more I should be studying before the test?” “Are these the best doctors to be helping by mother?” “Did I turn the coffee pot off?”

God doesn’t want us to live that way. We are to turn everything over to Him through PRAYER. If we do this, God promises to give us His peace. He will prevent Satan from getting into our heads and causing anxiety. God will provide us with an inner peace instead of anxiety and worry.

APPLICATION: How much time do you spend in prayer? Drop to your knees and talk to God.

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How To Pray

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”   Matthew  6:5-8

Most of us were taught the prayer “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” when we were children. It was good for us to say that prayer every night to get into the habit of praying. But as we grew older that prayer became childish. We needed to pray more maturely, but how? Maybe you were taught the ACTS formula for prayer – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.

The people following Jesus, including His disciples, didn’t really know how to pray to God. The priests did most of the praying. The Pharisees usually made a big show of praying as if to say, “Look all you people, I’m praying to God.” Jesus tells us how to pray in His Sermon on the Mount. He calls the Pharisees “hypocrites”. They just wanted to show off, have the people admire and praise them for their devotion.

This is not what God wants. He wants us to be sincere when we pray. Our prayer time is to be a time of solitude, just us and God. There is nothing wrong with public prayer. It happens in churches and other places all the time. The difference from the Pharisees is that the prayers are genuine communication with God and not for putting on a show. But we also need quiet time talking one-on-one with God.

Before Jesus the people had to go through the priests to talk to God. After Jesus that barrier was taken down. We can go directly to God with our thoughts, questions, sorrows, and joys. Everything can be taken to God in prayer.

Jesus tells us not to babble. More words don’t make the prayer more important or effective. God doesn’t want to hear meaningless jabbering. God desires for us to speak from the heart. If we don’t have the words that’s OK. God knows what we need before we tell Him.

The important thing is to keep the line of communication with God open, to keep it personal and genuine.

APPLICATION:  Make sure to spend some time everyday in quiet, personal communication with God.

(I also write a weekly devotional on Thursdays on www.thewritingshow.com for Christian writers)

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PRAYER AND WRITING

I am a Christian and a writer.

If you are not a Christian today’s blog might not make a lot of sense to you. However, I hope you will continue reading anyway. Something may just touch your soul.

I am currently reading a book titled “Why Pray?  40 days – from words to relationship”  by John DeVries.  Not only have I gotten some insights for my life in general, but also for my writing life.

The author tells a story of a young boy with a kite. The boy is runnng like crazy with the kite flying behind him. However, when he stops running the kite falls to the ground. The problem is there’s no wind.

Look at your writing. Are you writing like crazy, but when you stop and look at it there’s no substance, just idle words?

John DeVries goes on to say what we are lacking is the “wind” of the Holy Spirit to keep our kite up in the air. How do we get that wind?

Here’s another analogy from the book: When we are walking we must use both feet. If one foot is planted on the ground and only the other foot is moving we’ll just go around in circles, not going anywhere.

Our two feet represent two things we need. One foot is work. The other foot is prayer. Both feet are needed. Which foot should come first? Do you write your article, short story, or book and then pray a publisher will want it?  Or do you pray for guidance and the words before you even start to write?

The second option is what we should be doing. We need to be “yoked” to Jesus. When a team of oxen or horses are yoked or tied together they work in unison. When we are yoked to Jesus through prayer we are in step with Him. With that connection Jesus can then work through us into our writing.

Our writing is work. We want to be productive and get our writing out there for others to read. Are we relying on ourselves to get this done or are we teamed up with Jesus letting Him direct us in our writing?

I currently am writing another blog which is daily. I made this commitment to take a photograph and connect it with a Biblical principle every day in 2012. There have been many times I didn’t have a clue what I’d photograph or write about. I would go to the Lord in prayer. Then, while traveling around for my job, ideas would pop into my head. Some days I’d end up taking 3 or 4 different photos and have ideas for several days of blogging.

Teaming up with Jesus is not only beneficial for our lives, it’s also support and partnership in our writing.

I just had to write this blog today. I hope I did not offend anyone. I welcome any and all comments.

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