Are You Stuck in Your Prayer Life?

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{Please help me welcome Kim to the blog!}

Did you ever feel stuck in you prayer life? I did. I remember sitting in the prayer room (yea, we are the directors of a 24/7 prayer room) praying, and God asked me “when was the last time you prayed?” I was shocked!  “God I am sitting here in the prayer room praying!” Ever so gently He asked or maybe even told me “what are you praying?”  So if you can imagine me sitting there, being asked by God what I was praying, thinking well, you’re God didn’t you just hear me?

This was a defining moment in my life. It has changed me forever, and God has me in ‘The School of Prayer’ ever learning.

I began to remind God what I was praying for, that I was in the prayer room, praying for all the things I wanted, wanted Him to take care of and do, the bless this and that and them prayer, and a whole 10 minutes of my 2 hour set had passed. What are you praying? I could not shake the question and since I could not seem to answer, He asked another question. “What does my Word say?”

It was this moment that I began to cry. Not because I knew that God was right, but I didn’t or couldn’t answer. Why? My bible remained shut, but my prayer list lay open.  I lay down my list, my pen and my pride, opened my bible to Matthew (because aren’t you to start in the beginning of the New Testament?)  Anyway – I was drawn to the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer. So I prayed that. But still had that nagging question over me “What does my Word say”, so I kept going until I came to verse 33. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.

My mind began to explode with questions and thoughts. Seek first. My first prayer at any moment is to seek God first and these things are added. How easily we say “Dear God” and think that is the seeking, and then we begin to pray for the things. I hear that commercial in my head “that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works”  How many times have we prayed and not even acknowledged God?

I am not sure how much time Candace has for me here so let me get to what I learned. Our prayer life is to seek God, His Kingdom, acknowledge His righteousness, (Our Father in Heaven, Holy be your name), then “these things” that are added, aren’t new clothes, cars or husbands. They are the things above that verse, the life of the Kingdom. He already knows what we need physically, but we are very slow to realize what we need spiritually is priority.  My job isn’t to tell God what is needed, or send him my pinterest items so he knows what to get me. My prayer life is to look like that of Jesus, who was about His Father’s business, all the time. My prayer life is to be this constant communion in thought and words to my Father. Can you imagine if with your earthly dad or mom, you only ever talked to them when you wanted new shoes?

I know, right? We think we have this right to demand things of God without even seeking God, knowing him, what is His desire? Or think of Jesus. If  he is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding, it would be wise to know what he is praying and join him. (John 17 is what he is praying)

So that day in the prayer room, God began to take me on this amazing journey of living a life that is spent in prayer. Not for things, but seeking God.

My passion is to help people learn to love and pray the Word, and begin to seek God first.  God showed me that what I read in the bible is prayer.  So I wrote a little bible reading journal to help you discover and journey like I did. Document your spiritual journey as you learn about our Father God, His Son and The Holy Spirit.

Reading the Bible is like reading a relationship in prayer with our Father. But let’s face it we all struggle to find time to read or keep up with journaling and praying. Where do we start? How do we enter into a praying life with the Word? So my resource combines study and reading of the word with personal journal reflections as prayer, using the acrostic P.R.A.Y.  It’s called One Day Legacy, because each day we are creating a legacy for ourselves and for others.

My prayer is “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…”(Colossians 3:16)

One Day Legacy can be purchased on Amazon

More Resources for Praying God’s Word

Learn more about what it means to pray God’s Word

Free monthly calendars for praying God’s Word

14494603_1227703307250024_2787897893365176489_nKim and her husband, Brian live in Lititz, PA. Together they pastor a Micro Church Network under DOVE USA. They started City Gate Lancaster in 2007 and have expanded to other cities. Kim leads Her Legacy, a regional women’s movement that teaches and empowers women with the Word of God. Kim has led worship for over 20 years and written many worship songs. Sharing insights in spirituality with others has been her passion since a young age. Kim and Brian have two daughters and one son-in-law. Follow Kim on Facebook and follow her blog here!

 

3 Ways to Apply a Psalm to Your Life

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The words of old are still applicable for us today. God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet, a light to our path. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. If we say that His Word can’t still speak to us today, we are saying that God Himself can no longer speak to us.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still in need of God to be my Shepherd, to lead me beside quiet waters, to restore my soul, to guide me in paths of righteousness.

God has given us the book of Psalms to show us the humanity of the Psalmist and to remind us of where our hope must be placed. The Psalms remind us that even David, a man after God’s own heart, had failures and was cleansed, worshiped freely, had many times where he didn’t know what to do, and proclaimed his trust in His God despite the scary circumstances around him.

Read the 3 Ways to Apply a Psalm to Your Life over at Crosswalk…

{Free resources for Praying & Writing God’s Word! }

 

The Power of Scripture Memory & Gratitude

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“I will hide Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You…” Psalm 119

Our minds are powerful tools. We can let the negative thoughts destroy our days or we can replace those negative thoughts with the power of God’s Word.

“You cannot eliminate a thought directly; only exchanges are permitted.” Tommy Newberry

How exactly do we go about EXCHANGING thoughts?

In his book, 40 Days to a Joy Filled Life, Tommy Newberry talks about the solution to negative thinking. “The solution is to transfer your attention to something else completely.”

And this is what we do when we practice the 4:8 principle. We are learning how to take every thought captive to Christ. We are replacing the lies with truth.

Where do we find the truth? In God’s Word!

“When you preoccupy your mind with God’s Word, you go a long way toward shutting out temptation. By committing Scripture verses to memory, you begin the process of forcing out negative, limiting thoughts and replacing them with the marvelous power of God’s promises. Remember, the Word of God does not lie dormant once internalized.” Tommy Newberry

“The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12, NLT

Friends, we must put on the armor of God! Every single day. Every hour. We must fill our hearts and minds with the TRUTH of God’s Word to replace all the lies of the enemy and the negativity that our flesh is prone to.

{Armor of God Bible Study. Praying the Armor of God.} 

Replacing the Lies

We must fill our minds with truth. Here are some suggestions for memorization and various topics:

If you struggle with FEAR: 31 Verses to Battle our Fears with the Power of God’s Word

If you’re brokenhearted: Psalm 34

If you’re in a season of waiting: 40 Days of Waiting on God

If you’re feeling hopeless: 30 verses for finding hope 

More Verses of Encouragement to Memorize

  • Psalm 27:1
  • Psalm 46:1
  • Psalm 73:24
  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • Matthew 11:28
  • John 8:32
  • John 10:10
  • John 14:27
  • Philippians 3:13-14
  • Philippians 4:13
  • 2 Timothy 1:7

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

A Proclamation

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I came across this proclamation which was put into effect during the Civil War, 1863. I found myself in awe of these words and was prompted to share them and pray these same words and sentiments over our country at this time.

A Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

Finding Gratitude in the Midst of Healing & Forgiveness

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{Please help me welcome Christa of ChristaSterken.com to the blog today. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your story, Christa.}

Blame comes easily.

I know all about it. I blamed someone for decades and now he is dying. Far away across the world.  Separated by continents and catastrophic damage inflicted by words and neglect.

My biological father was my hero when I was young; I couldn’t wait for visits and would run down the stairs with joy into his arms. Sometimes he showed up, or he didn’t. Things came up and a little girl sat dejected on the step. I hadn’t heard yet about a God who loved me and would never forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8).

The adoration didn’t last forever. He made some mistakes and I never forgave him. 

Each mistake built a wall between us, he put the bricks and I filled the gaps with anger so strong that wall was impenetrable. Other times I stacked the bricks as high as I could, while he tried to poke through and whisper to me. I quickly plugged those holes to protect my heart.

You see, I was never good enough. Love was not unconditional. I wasn’t as pretty as my sister. My attitude stank. Because I didn’t know the Lord yet, it was easy to believe his lies my entire life.

Through his mistakes, I learned to hate him.

So many days which turned into years, into decades, carefully reminding myself of the offenses, so as not to forget. And why? Because I loved him and I feared him.

In spite of wonderful times, mere seconds of harmful words or actions separated us with a chasm so deep it was never crossed again.

He walked out of my life over 20 years ago: I slammed the door.

Locked it. Barricaded myself in where he would never again enter without my permission.

For five years before that, I’d already built the foundation of this barrier. Deep posts buried to protect my heart. I dug a moat and filled it with my tears of acid. What I didn’t know yet, is that our loving God was collecting all those tears into a bottle (Psalm 56:8)

That week he left, a few days before my wedding, he had business to attend to. Business. In my heart I believe he couldn’t face me, didn’t have the courage to come up against his rebellious and angry daughter.

I can’t blame him. I shouldn’t. But of course, I did. Because he never came home. Ever.

He created a new life on the other side of the world and I wasn’t able to forgive him for it. He replaced his life here; traded in the old beater model for a shiny new dream. And in a way, I was

glad. At least that is what I convinced myself each year, as I feared he would show up at my door. Yet, I begrudged him for not trying.

In my early 20’s God wooed me into his arms. I began a very long, difficult road toward healing. Toward trusting. Toward forgiving him, and even more? Learned to forgive myself for harboring this deep anger. I began to learn about concepts completely opposite to everything I’d ever been taught. It had never even occurred to me that this consuming anger hurt me, my husband, my family who loved me and felt bad they couldn’t save me from the pain.

Forgiveness, in general, wasn’t taught in my family. Grace was a foreign custom completely unfamiliar to me. The amazing thing, truly, about Grace is that as I learned to accept it from God? I was able to start giving it away.

Even, and especially, to my father.

Over the years and decades, I kept a small door open. Casual communication at best, but it was something. A step toward healing.

Then came the call; news that he was dying. I would never see him again. I couldn’t go to the funeral continents away, nor comfort his loved ones I’ve never held. And I felt angry. Furious. Heartbroken. Relieved. Self-righteous. Empty and full, sorrow and rage.

He stole our life together; I was convinced.

I was convinced; He hadn’t changed at all.

Then God gently whispered to me, “How do you know that?”

I don’t, of course. I am making assumptions based on limited facts. Truth seeps in that perhaps his current choices, are to protect the innocent in his “new” role as Father. Husband.

Not to hurt me; but to protect themOh Jesus, be near me now I prayed. My heart softens. I don’t want to forgive him. He doesn’t deserve it. I recognize that is the easy way, the comfortable way to feel.

It is familiar and feels safe.  But I remember things, important things.

He sometimes tried to apologize when he made mistakes, I refused them. He tried to call those years before he left, to regain a position in my good graces. I dug my heels in harder and refused them. He remained jovial and tried to be positive, it felt like a slap. A denial of my feelings.

I had no understanding that he perhaps felt helpless to know what to do.

From across oceans we had heated discussions. Letters and words that could not be reversed. All angry from my side, accusing. All denial from his side, flippant.  A shallow truce was called and years went by.

Then the message came. His time was here. I broke down and called, to hear his voice for the first time in two full decades. I was terrified. What would I say? Who would answer the phone? How do you call someone that is dying, to say goodbye, when there is nothing settled. None of the things you waited a lifetime for.

The penetrating sorrow at not being able to understand his words as cancer had destroyed his mouth, his illness stealing from me any comfort I might have gained. It was as if he was talking underwater, so unintelligible were his words. But, I knew that my words were bringing him great joy; that tone was clear.

I cried, “Dad…I love you. Please, tell me you know Jesus so I can hope to see you again one day.”  Unintelligible words tumbled from his mouth. No promises, no guarantee. An impossibly, that had to be it. I had to hang up the phone.

Here I am with a void only he could have filled. A unique puzzle piece designed for him. And he had one for me. The puzzle was not put together on earth; I pray it will be beautiful in Heaven.

For I see now, it was easy to blame him. He was the adult, yes- but I did not soften.  I would not let him in because he would not apologize.

What did that gain me? Self-righteousness is little comfort to a hurting heart. I hold part of the responsibility for this break, not for the fissures that began, not even for the cracks that splintered in every direction. I was a child, after all. But as I grew into an adult, a woman of God, I could have built a stronger bridge perhaps.

Today, I choose compassion. For a man out of time, for those he left behind. For the family that is by his side, suffering deeply. Each family grieving for different reasons, and ultimately, for a different man. I will not blame him any longer. I can’t know what is in his heart, and I won’t waste another minute of my life believing lies. That I am right, he is wrong.

Nothing is that simple. It’s a tragic love story gone wrong. No fairytale ending, but hopefully a peace in his heart. I am humbled with gratitude for a God that would help me continue to learn, to understand more about the human condition. For grace, not only for him- whom He loves as His own son- but for me, his lost child. We both lost in this fight. There are no winners between us.

My story does have a happy ending, in a different sense. My life is rich and blessed with love. Each year my heart heals, the cracks covered with softness. One day, God will complete my puzzle. I pray we will see each other again. With no pain between us.

I’ve learned so much through this journey. These days I choose not to allow any negative memory of my father invade my thoughts. God is teaching me to replace them immediately with the happier memories. That is where healing comes. Letting go of the pain we have held on to for so long. That isn’t the plan for us as His children. Harboring a non-forgiving heart leaks out and destroys so many other areas. We can’t know true peace until we give it up, and let it go.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 

I share the story on my blog of how this tragedy ended. A mysterious letter came one day from that far away land. From my father’s wife of 20 years, whom I’d never had contact with. She told me he loved me. That he cried when he’d hear from me. That he went to the airport once to come back and visit, but was too scared of what he’d find. That he read his Bible.

Nothing could have prepared me for this; a healing that surely God orchestrated to provide something good from something beautiful. A few months after he passed, I was in an antique mall, flipping through old postcards. There were 2 random, dusty ones from a state far away. The places I had the best memories with my father.

I purchased them, and determined to make a scrapbook page with them. Celebrating what I liked about being with my dad. Recording some of our happy times. And for the rest of my life? I will choose those. That is where God wants me to live.

In the rest of His arms as my true father.

Finally, finally, I am ready to climb in with an understanding of Abba, Father. To live in deep gratitude for his healing gift of forgiveness.

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Christa Sterken is passionate encouraging woman to pursue a life well lived. You can join her in the journey at christasterken.com, a fluff free place to talk about real issues.

 

 

 

 

Join our Facebook Group of Encouragement

If you’d like to discuss this series, encourage others and receive encouragement along the journey, come to our closed group of encouragement and join us! You will need to request to join, I will click on your profile and as long as you look like a real person {grin} I will accept your request to join us!

I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources