Month: June 2019

  • Expensive Prayers

    Back in my college days, I was a part of a bible study with a few other students. About 4 years earlier, I had started learning about Jesus and what it meant to follow Him. One night, at this bible study, my college pastor gave us a challenge. He said, “Go home tonight and take some time to pray. Ask God specifically, ‘If there is anything standing in the way between us God, please take it away.’” You see, he knew that in order for each of us to grow deeper in our relationship with God, we needed to be willing to surrender anything that hindered our walk with Him.

    I’ll admit that the idea of this type of prayer was a bit intimidating. My heart eagerly wanted to please the Lord and walk in His ways, but there were things in my life that I hadn’t yet surrendered to God–things that were keeping me from living the life God wanted for me. As I walked home that night, my pastor’s question kept rolling around in my head. I knew that I needed to take it to God.

    That night, as I sat on my bed, I prayed. As I prayed those exact words my pastor had told us to pray, it was as if I reached out my hand to God with a willing heart and a closed fist. I was trying to take the first step. My heart was willing but I couldn’t quite give God what I was still holding onto with an open hand. It can be difficult to let go of the things in our lives that we have grown used to, even if they may be hindering us.

    God took my small, imperfect, but willing effort and faithfully did the rest. He was able to pry open my grip (knowing I couldn’t do it myself) helping me to let go of those things. One of those things that I was having trouble letting go of at that time was a romantic relationship that wasn’t a godly one. Within a week of praying that prayer, my 3-year relationship ended—just like that.

    God had been waiting for me to be willing to let Him take away what wasn’t best, so He could bless me with something so much better. Looking back, I can see how God wanted so much more for me. While it was a painful process at the time, it was so rewarding in the end.

    I call these types of prayers, “expensive prayers” because they are the type of prayer you pray when you are willing to lay it all on the line and surrender the outcome to God. These types of prayers involve vulnerability and risk. We pray the words not knowing the outcome or how God will work. We can pray this prayer of surrender because we are confident of who He is. He is the One that we can trust completely to always have our best interest in mind and to give us His very best.

    God was waiting for me to let go, so He could give me His best and the blessings I couldn’t have imagined yet. Right after the break-up, God led me to an amazing campus ministry retreat that I wasn’t planning to attend. He surrounded me with the most amazing people who showed me God’s love. I had not grown up in the church and I hadn’t yet known God’s unconditional love. I had relied on being in a romantic relationship to fill the need for love in my life. What I didn’t realize until that point was that I was holding on to counterfeit love instead of having the real thing.

    We hold onto the things we think are best. We are afraid to let go of them for fear God will give us something we don’t want. But God is a good and loving Father who longs to give us His very best. He is waiting for us to open our hands and to let Him take the less-than-best and give us more than we can ask or imagine.

    Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

    Luke 12:31-32

    God not only showed me that I had been settling for less than the best, He then replaced that imitation for a real, authentic love. At that retreat, I not only met friends who showed me the love of Christ, but in that very same group was a man who several years later would become my dear husband–a godly man who is more than I could have ever asked for. God filled me up with His joy and love. He has truly given me a deep relationship with Him that has made my life so rich and full. That “expensive” prayer that day may have been a simple prayer, but boy was it powerful! It was an important turning point in my life and relationship with God. Maybe a similar turning point is waiting for you too.

    Is there something in your life that you are holding on to with a tight grip? God might be waiting for you to let go so He can give you His best. Maybe it is a relationship, a job, a false belief, a habit, unforgiveness or fear–whatever it is, don’t let it stand in the way of you growing closer to God and accepting His best for your life.

    My challenge for you today is to pray the same prayer I was challenged to pray so many years ago. It’s okay if you are wanting to say the words but a little afraid of the outcome. Remember, the God you are praying to is loving, faithful, and desires to give you His very best.

    My friend, don’t settle for less than His best in your life–seek God, His Kingdom and an unhindered, full relationship with Him. Simply start with this prayer: “If there is anything standing in the way between us God, please take it away” and see the amazing things God will do in your life!

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  • A Prayer For You

    So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

    We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”

    Colossians 1:9-14

    This prayer from the book of Colossians is our prayer for you. It is our heart’s desire that you will grow in your faith, in your purpose and in wisdom and understanding of God and His word. We pray that you will hold steadfast to your identity as God’s beloved one and know without a shadow of a doubt that you are deeply loved. As His child, God has given you the Kingdom of Light. He will strengthen you and empower you so that you can live a life of purpose and love. May the world see Christ’s love through you as you allow God to work in your life.

    We would love to pray with you! Feel free to comment below and let us know how we can be praying specifically for you.

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  • Praying Confidently

    While prayer can be as simple as talking to God about the little things in our day-to-day life, sometimes we are hesitant to go to God for the big things–the things that really matter to us. There is a level of vulnerability involved in asking God to heal a broken relationship, to save a loved one, or to bring us a miracle in a difficult situation. While my instinct is to turn to God for strength during these times, I am often afraid to truly ask for what I want. There is part of me that worries what will happen if my prayer isn’t answered in the way I’m hoping for. It’s a lot easier to pray for something big when we have nothing to lose, but so much more difficult when we do.

    When we pray, we are placing everything in God’s hands–including our control over the situation. This is not always an easy thing to do. In order to do this confidently, we have to trust that God has our best interest in mind. We must believe that God’s love for us runs deep–that He delights to give us all that He has and all that He is.

    Sometimes the best way to see this truth in our lives is to look back on God’s faithfulness to us in the past. When we are in the middle of our current circumstances, it is easy to forget how God has been there for us or answered our prayers in the past. Leaning on our remembrance of God’s faithfulness to us before, helps us to trust Him again with the future unknown. We can look back on a history of His loving faithfulness and kindness to us–the ways He has gone above and beyond all we asked or imagined.

    This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

    “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6

    The power and confidence we have in prayer can only come from the power and confidence we have in Christ as God’s beloved children. We may not always feel worthy to approach God in prayer, but He has reassured us that we can do just that, simply because we are His. Our good Father delights in giving the world to His children. Nothing is too small or too big for our God. He can be trusted with our most vulnerable requests and has given you permission to ask what is on your heart and the reassurance that you can trust Him, no matter the outcome.

    And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

    Luke 11:9-13

    May God give you a deep understanding of His love for you as His daughter. May you find your confidence and power in your identity in Christ so that you may boldly come before the Throne of Grace with freedom and confidence.

    Keep on praying, my friends!

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  • Talking With God

    When I was in college, a couple families from my church would make dinner for our college ministry’s perpetually hungry group of students. Every Monday night we would get together, pray, eat, worship and hang out afterward. A newer friend to our group, Dustin, was asked to say the blessing for the food. He didn’t have a lot of experience at church or with praying, but he was up for giving it a shot. Everyone gathered around and bowed their heads and waited for Dustin to pray.

    After a thoughtful pause, he said confidently, “Hey God! How’s it going? I hope your day is going great. Thanks a lot for the people that made all this food—the burgers smell really good and..uh..we are looking forward to eating them. Ok, that’s it.”

    A smile spread around the room as we were reminded of a very important fact: prayer is an honest conversation with God. What my friend lacked in elegant, churchy verbiage, he more than made up with sincerity and a willing heart.

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God just wants us to talk to Him. Dustin’s prayer, reminds me of a quote by Dallas Willard who said, “Living prayer is simply talking to God about what we are doing together.”

    God is already by our side every moment, working in the world around us, and giving us a chance to join Him. What if we talked with God each day about what we’ll do together and where we’ll go together? What eternal perspective might be granted to the things we do both great and small, if we acknowledged our Heavenly Father walking beside us?

    “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

    James 5:13-16

    God literally invites you to talk to Him about all the things. Whether you’re sick or in trouble, or happy and content, God wants to hear from you.

    God wants to be a part of your life, to be there for you and support and encourage you. He is there to cheer with you when you get that promotion you’ve been working toward, or when your little one takes their first steps. He sees your joy and delights in it.

    When you grieve, God wants to holds you close. When you cry, He’s right there waiting to comfort you and give you strength. He wants to hear from you when you feel lost or confused, when you don’t understand where He is working or what you’re supposed to do next. God is big enough to handle our real human emotions. He is secure enough to field our questions, doubts and even our anger. It’s ok to tell Him about it.

    If you are sick, God doesn’t want you to suffer alone. You are not an inconvenience. He wants you to reach out to Him and to the church to anoint you with oil and pray with you. He works through His people to encourage you and help you get the resources and care that you need to be well.

    Even when we are sinning, God wants to be in conversation together. God never moves away or abandons us when we mess up, but often our instinct is to run and hide. We withdraw in shame or sometimes even in defiance. The first step to restoration is a conversation with God. Our Heavenly Father knows and understands that avoiding temptation and sin is difficult. He sent Jesus to redeem us and the Holy Spirit to help us, knowing that we are not strong enough on our own.

    Talking to God even when we are messing up, counteracts our human tendency to withdraw. It keeps us close to our Savior and our source of strength, so that we can live differently–to live holy. Prayer can give us the courage to reach out to a trusted friend to confess our sin, seek support and find accountability. It is safe to talk to God about sin. He even says that we will be forgiven. It is in honest relationship with our Heavenly Father and our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ that we are changed and set free from sin.

    Prayer is powerful and transformative. Prayer changes our hearts and shapes us to be more like God. You and your closest friend likely have similar wardrobes or mannerisms. It’s human nature to become a little more like the people we spend time with. In spending time with God in the conversation of prayer, we start to take on more of His characteristics and perspective. We more easily recognize His voice and begin to anticipate, by the power of the Holy Spirit, where He is leading us.

    Even Jesus, who was perfect, valued and needed prayer. Luke 5:15-17 tells us that when Jesus was doing ministry “…the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

    Jesus knew that to effectively complete His mission here on earth, He had to stay connected to the Father. He talked with God about what they were doing together and poured out His heart to Him.

    Jesus not only prayed for His own benefit, but for the benefit of those watching. He modeled a healthy relationship with God so that we too could learn and implement prayer in our lives. What is amazing, is that through Jesus, we have the same access to talk to God that He did. When you are up at 2:00 in the morning with a fussy little one, God is there and ready to hear you. When you are driving home from work and feeling anxious about balancing family time with work obligations, God wants you to share it with Him. We can have a continuous conversation with God at any time and in any place. What an awe-inspiring thing to be able to share our hearts and thoughts with the very God who created us.

    Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

    “Praying continually” doesn’t mean you have to go to church in the morning and stay there praying on your knees all day long. It simply means to keep the conversation going. Check in with God, give Him your status update before you post it on social media.

    Prayer is an impactful and a powerful part of our lives as Christians. It is necessary for building a relationship with God that continually transforms us to be more like Him.

    Anyone can do it and it doesn’t have to sound fancy to please God. He simply wants to hear your heart, and to be your steadfast source of love and comfort, wisdom and peace. You don’t have to look far to find Him. He is there already, walking right beside you, ready to listen to His beloved daughter.

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