Tag Archives: pray

Search Inward

Many of us are celebrating the Lenten season. It is a season of fasting and renewal, a season that reminds us that we are but dust. Life is fragile. Life is but a breath. It is a season that looks to the Cross. We spend these weeks mindful of the shortness of life, but even more mindful of the One Who poured out His blood at Calvary so that we could have new life—life in Him. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the Wilderness, so we spend this time in self-reflection, repentance, and prayer.

Some people are trying to stick diligently to the removal of some item from their life. Some people may have even publicly noted an ongoing battle with trying to stay true to a vow to give up this thing for Lent. It is important to remember some things about Lent and fasting, because many get lost on the journey to the Cross. Lent instructions are not found in the Bible—it’s something that was instituted by the Church. However, with the fasting, one should be mindful that publicly boasting or grumbling is not applauded (see Matthew 6:16). Fasting is personal. The idea of fasting during Lent is to remove something that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus, and then replace that thing with something that will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.

Remember, Lent is all about Jesus. If you are keeping yourself from drinking soda or eating sweets but that doesn’t interfere with your relationship with Jesus, and you have not supplemented these things with more time in prayer, reading God’s Word, or spending time doing something that brings you closer to Jesus, then you are missing out. This is a time to search inward, a time to repent and renew yourself in Him. Today, whether or not you celebrate the Lenten season, take time to look inward. What is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What has become a stumbling block? Pray for the removal of this from your life. Pray for a closer relationship with Jesus. Seek Him diligently today. Pray for your heart to open and spend time in the Word. Ask Him to speak to you in a new and awesome way.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1 [ESV]

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.” – Psalm 42:1 [ESV]

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]

How Quickly

One minute we seem to be all about Jesus, and the next minute we have changed our focus. Sometimes this means that we are not deeply rooted, or not rooted at all. When things are going well or when God is at the forefront of our lives, we are all about worshiping God and serving His people. We are attending church on Sunday and perhaps even interacting with a Bible study group. But then something happens. Boom. Something shakes our world and oh how quickly we do an about face. We change direction. It’s as if we are a different person. What happened to the way we were living? What happened to our focus on God?

It is important for us be deeply rooted in Christ, to have a strong foundation that will stay standing despite any circumstances that will come our way. Yes, we will falter from time to time; however, we should not sway every time to wind blows. Focus on your roots. Study the Word. Hear the Word. Spend time with fellow believers. Pray daily. Do whatever you can to be closer to God. Allow your eyes to be fixed on God. Understand that the moment will come when your world will be shaken. Hold on tight and keep pressing forward.

“At the end of the forty days and nights, the LORD handed me the two stone tablets inscribed with the words of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, ‘Get up! Go down immediately, for the people you brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted gold and made an idol for themselves!’” – Deuteronomy 9:11-12 [NLT]

Seek Most

What do you seek most? The Psalmist wrote that the thing he desired most was “to live in the house of the LORD” forever. What? That was the one thing? If you had one thing to choose, would it be the same thing?

When I consider what I seek most, it really throws me for a loop. It gets me to remember again that today is just a short moment. It’s a small nothingness when compared to eternity. And yet when we pray, we likely are not saying that the one think we desire is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of our lives. How many times is that on your prayer list?

Today, remember some of the prayers this week. What are you seeking? Are you seeking the temporary? Are you fixed on Him? Is the thing you seek most to forever live in the presence of God?

“The one thing I ask of the LORD–the thing I seek most–is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in His Temple.” – Psalm 27:4 [NLT]

My Life

The Psalmist begins Psalm 25, “O LORD, I give my life to You.” This is such a simple statement. It can be translated as “I put my trust” (NIV), or “I lift up my soul” (ESV), or “I turn to You” (HCSB), or “I’m looking to You” (MSG). As we review what this verse says, we can also review what it does not say.

In this verse, the Psalmist is saying he is coming to God. He has put his trust in God. He is lifting up his prayer to God alone. He is looking to God for everything. He has turned to God. The Psalmist continues his prayer, asking that the Lord show His ways and teach him His path (v. 4). He requests that God lead him in His truth (v. 5). He asks for his sins to be forgiven (v. 7, 12).

This passage is written by a humble servant seeking God, lifting his soul to Him. There is no mention of anyone else involved. The focus is all on the Psalmist fixing his eyes on God. The focus is completely on Him. To Him alone do we lift up our souls. To Him alone do we put our trust. To Him alone, the giver of life, do we lift up our lives.

“O LORD, I give my life to you.” – Psalm 25:1 [NLT]

The Lord Will Answer

One of the easiest things to do is pray. We make it complicated. I often consider how my prayers have changed since I was little. When I was a little child, I remember the simplicity of my prayers. I was praying what was on my heart. I was pouring out my heart to God. I believed that He heard. I believed that He would answer. I didn’t try to use grand words, nor did I think a lot to attempt to say what would be good to include in a prayer. I didn’t have instructions on how to pray. I spoke to God. It was simple. And I knew He heard.

As I got older, I started to hear people pray using such perfect words. It was like poetry. The prayers they offered seemed to be exactly what I should pray. It sounded good. So I wanted to try to pray like that—I wanted to pray the way these people prayed. I thought that was the way God wanted me to pray. Oh, how long it took to realize that my lips were speaking a different language than my heart.

I have changed the way I prayed a lot over these past years. I am starting to follow the lead of this little girl I used to know—someone who has grown, but still has a lot to unlearn about prayer. One thing that hasn’t changed is my confidence that the Lord will answer my prayers. I know that when I pray what is on my heart, when I lift my heart to Him, He will answer. He is faithful. Today, give Him your heart. Don’t pray the prayer of someone else. Pray what is on your heart. Lay everything before Him. He will hear. He will answer.

“The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer.” – Psalm 6:9 [NLT]

Inside Out

I remember the time wearing your shirt inside out was the cool thing. I am glad that style has since passed; however, I see my son continuing this fad due to lack of attention during the wee hours of the morning. The Bible talks about the need to clean the inside first and then the outside will be clean. So often, we try so hard to work on the outside appearance, but we never let ourselves truly get broken and made new. We think the church attendance, the volunteer hours, the reciting of some traditional prayers will show we are faithful Christians; however, the heart is hardened by sin. We want to have a nice outer appearance, but we’re inside out my friends.

No matter how much you try to clean up the outside, understand that your insides show. Yes, they show. Whatever is in your heart will overflow and pour out around you. So if you are dirty, you can use all the cover up available but it cannot hide the dirt. You might be part of the gang “which outwardly appear beautiful” but inside you are unclean.

Allow God to work on your heart. Pray for Him to break you. Yes, you read that right. BREAK YOU. It sounds painful. It likely will be painful. There are parts of you that are not meant to be the way they are right now. The same goes for me. God prunes. He breaks. He grows. He restores. You cannot grow without the pruning. You cannot be restored, without first being broken. Are you okay with being a whitewashed tomb, or would you like to be beautiful inside, with a beauty that will overflow and point to Jesus?

“You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” – Matthew 23:26-27 [ESV]

Falling on Your Knees

Today was the big Cross Country Invitational. The event included eighteen high school teams. I am always excited when the events are nearby so I can attend and watch my daughter run. I ran back and forth taking photos. This is something Cross Country parents can appreciate. When I stood at the finish line, I saw my daughter quickly approaching. All of the sudden she fell on her knees. I prayed quietly for her as she was on her knees with her face toward the ground. It looked like she was praying. She was pouring herself out, but not just in prayer. Only a runner or a parent of a runner can understand. I wanted to run to her, but I knew what she was doing, and I knew I couldn’t touch her or she would be disqualified.

My daughter got up from her knees and finished the race, even PRed (this means she beat her personal record). As I drove home with my camera fully loaded with photos, I considered my daughter on her knees, pouring out of herself. It reminded me of a moment of prayer from the Bible that I continue to be reminded of again and again. Hezekiah received a letter that disturbed him. He took it to the Temple of the Lord and spread it out. He spread the letter out before the Lord. What an awesome example of how we should pray. When my daughter fell down on her knees with her head facing the ground it reminded me of Hezekiah’s actions.

We don’t need to always fall on our knees. Prayer is a heart action. As I quietly prayed for my daughter while she was on her knees, that prayer was heard too. Nonetheless, there’s something special about falling on your knees. You are saying God is High. You are saying He alone is in control. You are saying you trust Him. You are fully surrendering to Him. You are worshiping Him and seeking His will in the situation. Yes, there is something special about falling on your knees.

“After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD.” – 2 Kings 19:14 [NLT]

Embrace the Timing of God

Lately I need to be even more patient than usual. That’s difficult for me. It took long enough for me to get the patience I have—and now I have to be even more patient?!? Things take longer than I ever could imagine. Things aren’t as simple as I first considered. The struggle is real. You know what I mean? I’m sure you are patiently waiting for this devotion to end (let’s hope not because I didn’t even share what God has shown me). Perhaps you are recollecting your drive home or the long line at the supermarket. A half hour ago, I waited 4 minutes for a red light. FOUR MINUTES!!

Despite my love of not waiting, I have learned to embrace God’s timing. Oftentimes, this means that I must make good use of that patience He has taught me over the years. Usually it means I will be stretched to the max, growing in patience or falling while pulling out my hair asking God what is taking so long. The truth is, I embrace God’s timing because I have realized He has the best plan. He has showed me how extra time brings everything in line the way He orchestrated. Waiting on His timing allows for people to step up that He positioned to rise. Waiting on His timing gives me the opportunity to see Him move in mighty ways. Embracing the timing of God is a walk in faith and it produces great fruit. Plus, I have proven time and time again that my timing is HORRIBLE!!

Today, you might not know what God is doing. You may even say He is silent or absent. I can promise you that He is not absent. He promises not to leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). God is always moving too, so if you think He’s silent, it’s quite possible that you aren’t listening. I have many times found myself guilty of not taking a pause in life to listen to our heavenly Father. Take the time today. Pray. Read His Word. Simply sit still. Embrace His timing. Carve out some time to rest and listen. Wait for the Lord. Wait for the Lord.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14 [NIV]

 

Disconnected

Today we had the internet installed. Everything was up and running smoothly. That is, everything but my laptop. For some reason, my stubborn laptop was not communicating well with the new router. Even though the line of communication was present, my laptop was having none of it. After ten minutes of frustration, thankfully everything was resolved.

Communication is vital in any relationship. The most vital relationship for each one of us is our relationship with God. Consider then, how vital communication is when it comes to our relationship with God. Sadly, many of us are like my disconnected laptop. God is reaching out. God wants to have a close relationship. He continues to reach out in a variety of ways, but we are disconnected from His still small voice. We are disconnected from His Word. We are disconnected from the people He is speaking through. We are disconnected from our prayer life. He is never disconnected; we often are disconnected.

Today, if you are wondering why you are not hearing from God, consider if you are truly listening for Him. Are you reading His Word daily? Are you continuously in prayer? Are you making time for Him? Spend more time with Him today. Be intentional. Read Psalm 13. Embrace Him. Drown yourself in His Word. Pour your heart out to Him.

“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.” – John 15:4a [NLT]

“I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.” – Psalm 119:15-16 [NIV]

 

Friendly Father

We never pray enough. I write and preach so often about prayer because the Spirit continues to show me that we never pray enough. I know I’m guilty of not praying enough. I consider Brother Lawrence and how he would talk to God during the day. It was so natural. Why do I, why do we, pray so unnaturally? Why do we get so caught up with trying to pray properly, instead of simply investing in our relationship with Jesus? Why do we find prayer awkward? Why do we push off prayer? It doesn’t make any sense.

The Bible tells us that God is our Father. He is the one and only Father. We can cry out to Him, “Abba Father,” just like Jesus. This is like crying out “Daddy.” But instead we put up walls. We don’t approach Him like a Father. Do we not see Him as a Father? Do we have “daddy issues” that keep us from understanding the role of a father?

The Bible also tells us that God is our friend. Our friend. Now that is hard to consider. A friend is someone you can talk to about anything. A friend is someone you can speak freely with and just have fun. You don’t hold back with your friends.

If you can grasp that God is your Father and God is your friend—that He is your friendly Father—then you are a ready for what is necessary for your relationship with God. To do life with God, you need to speak with your friendly Father. You need to open up to Him, to approach continually through the day, to include Him in your life. Speak to Him when you rise. Speak to Him as you brush your teeth. Speak to Him as you have your meal. Speak to Him as you drive your car. Speak to Him while at work. Speak freely. No need for “art” and “thou.” You can honor Him as holy as you speak freely. He wants your heart, not a fake and stuffy presentation. He wants a relationship with YOU. The real you. Pray today to your friendly Father.

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” – John 15:15 [NLT]