What do you do regularly? What are your habits? Sometimes we joke about them and give each other a hard time about them. For instance, I make my bed every morning, even at a hotel. Yeah, I know.
Often we underestimate habits. The good ones we call mundane: brushing teeth and hair, sweeping, cooking, laundry. We forget their value and significance. The bad ones we either hide or deny or try to overcome, but even those we tend to minimize in an effort to alleviate the guilt we feel about them.
Habits make all the difference.
Habits communicate our principles, reveal our character and establish our integrity. Habits are those activities we do no matter what, when your back is up against the wall, when no one is watching, when you’re desperate and alone, when you’re confused or lost. It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining or the rain is falling, your habits get done.
Habits give comfort to us when storms rage and tragedy smacks and the lights go out. See when someone dies there are still towels to be folded, dishes to wash a child read to and a dog to walk. The more drastic the change, the more desperate we become to establish to some kind of normality, some order, some routine. Thank goodness for habits.
Habits, good or bad become our best friends. They define us. We depend on them whether we want to or not. That is why it is so difficult to break a bad habit and so imperative that we establish good ones. And the best news-it’s always a good time to start a good habit!
Spending time with God on your knees, in His word and with hands uplifted in prayer are three important habits worth practicing. All three of them take time, but the investment has an eternal return.
Spending time on your knees.
Over and over in Scripture we admonished to pray. Pray without ceasing, on all occasions, giving thanks and praising God. In Hebrews we are encouraged to ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence’. Peter encourages us to ‘cast all our cares on Him for He cares for us.’ The Psalmist writes over and over about how he cries out and how God hears and answers. Praying is our opportunity to lay it all down and out. To humbly acknowledge we can’t and our need for Him. We have so many worries and concerns. Jesus said, “Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” We need only go to Him in prayer and lay it at His feet in prayer. He invites us to tell Him all about it, not because He doesn’t know, but because it is good for us to tell Him. In doing so we are reminded of His goodness and faithfulness.
Time in the Word.
God speaks to us through His word. ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,’ Psalms says. Taking the time to read His word and study its truths actually transforms our minds. Through it we learn how to think. Paul writes in Philippians, ‘think on these things.’ He also tells us how to live when he writes, ‘be imitators of God’. We come to know who Christ is as we study his life here through the gospel accounts. The message of God’s love for us is clear from Genesis to Revelation. God’s word is unchanging, but through it He molds us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Studying His word changes us, who we are as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, friends, and neighbors. It changes us from the inside out.
Hands raised in Worship.
Acknowledging God as Master of the universe, as Creator of all things, as the King of kings and the Lord of lords puts all of life in its proper perspective. As we praise Him, recognizing Him as the Great I Am, the Great Redeemer, the Great Physician, reminds us that He is in control. We have no reason to worry or stress or even panic. He is sovereign. He has a plan for His glory and our good. We were made by Him to worship.
Worshiping Him, keeping Him squarely on the throne of our hearts safeguards us from idolatry. Further when we lift our hands in worship our open hands represent that we come with nothing, we hold nothing, we lift our hands in submission to His perfect will, in surrender. It is a beautiful posture.
What if we were known to spend time in the word, on our knees and in open-handed worship?
What if no matter what, we spent time with Him acknowledging Who He is and our need for Him, His wisdom, direction and strength?
What would it change?
The way we respect our husbands?
The way we serve our families?
The way we talk to our friends?
The way we minister?
“The heart is the wellspring of life.”
I bet these habits would change us from the inside out. I bet it would strengthen our marriages and our families and our friendships. I’m betting these 3 habits could change the world?
How about we start a revolution?
Prayer. The Master of the universe invites us to come into His presence, to bring our worries and concerns, to bring our longings, to bring our brokenness, to bring our questions, our frustrations, our hopes and dreams.
He welcomes us to approach the foot of the throne, the throne where He sits on high, the Sovereign of all creation, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. He welcomes us to come boldly as His children, knowing He listens and cares and loves and acts.
Many have twisted prayer into a kind of cosmic, mystical, God-on-demand, ask-what-you-want, He’s-obliged-to-deliver, call-in-process. Some say (and even go so far as to teach) that God can be manipulated through prayer—what we say, how we say it, and how often we say it. Follow that theology and He’s no ‘God’ at all. With this thinking, their god is only one of their own construction without any power and really only part of their imagination.
No. That’s not prayer. And that’s not God. Prayer is a conversation, an ongoing conversation. It’s between the Creator and His created ones, His people, the sheep of His pasture, His beloved. Prayer is our fellowship with Him. It’s where we tell Him all He already knows. Prayer is about bowing our knees and laying it down and out.
What is Prayer?
Through prayer God offers us a place to lay our burdens, those things that weigh us down, those things that distract us, those things that overwhelm us, those things that confuse us. It’s a place where we can lay it all out—our plans and strategies, our hopes and dreams, our fears and challenges. At the foot of the throne we can lay it all down, lay it all out. Humbly kneel at His feet and ask Him for His wisdom, His discernment, His strength, His will.
Prayer is not magical or mystical. It’s not a formula or a fancy. Prayer is not a waste of time or a mere ritual. It is humble communication with God. It means we realize His authority, His position, His power, His glory. It is an acknowledgment of our need for Him, our realization that we can’t and it’s okay. It’s the place where we trade in our wants for His will, our pursuits for His praise, our goals for His glory.
We don’t come merely to ask His blessing for what we want to do, but for His direction regarding all that He wants us to do. We come seeking Him.
The one true God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of David, the God of the prophets, He is able. He is big enough to allow us to wrestle through it. He knows our understanding is limited, He knows we cannot fully comprehend. He realizes our perspectives are obstructed. He can handle our questions, our doubting, out pain.
It’s how we come to Him that matters. Coming to Him in humility is key. He knows our hearts. He knows if we are coming with a broken and contrite heart. We cannot fool Him. Prayer is an avenue He offers us to come and know Him.
Here are six ways to engage in prayer:
1. The ACTS method.
Using an acrostic to order your prayers is a tried and true way to pray. One of my favorites employs the word ACTS, where each letter stands for a different aspect of prayer:
C-Confession=admitting my sin
T-Thankfulness=expressing gratitude to Him
S-Supplication=laying it all out before Him
This method of prayer helps to keep first things first and helps set the proper context for prayer. It is a simple and memorable way to organize your prayer time. It is a great way to help children develop their prayer time because even though it is simple, it is powerful. Beginning our time of prayer praising and confessing, then moving to thankfulness and requests helps our hearts to stay focused on the right object in prayer: God.
2. Be still and know.
David wrote about this discipline in Psalm 46:10. This is not an easy habit to practice in our busy, rushing culture, but it is a necessary one. Being still and knowing means we stop and sit in silence before Him. It means that we unplug and unwind and unload.
3. Prayers in the Bible.
Depending on your definition, there are over 600 prayers in the Bible. Some of them are only a single verse. Others are an entire chapter. Throughout Scripture, the prayers of God’s people have been recorded for our encouragement. Noah, Abraham, David, Hannah, Elijah, Anna, Mary, and Paul prayed. When the disciples asked, Jesus Himself taught them saying: “Pray then in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
4. Written prayers.
There are several denominational traditions regarding prayer. Some do not practice reading prayers, but others recognize the depth and power in written and recited prayers. There are several books filled with such prayers for our encouragement. One of my favorites is Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers, which were written in worship of the King and are meant to bring the worshiper into close, focused communion with God. Here is an example:
Longings after God
“My dear Lord, I can but tell You that You know I long for nothing but Yourself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Your will.
You have given me these desires, and You alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with You, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride.
How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like You as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator! Lord, give me more of Your likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for You.
Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do.
Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to You, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with You, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its beloved.
Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring You, always humble and resigned to Your will, more fixed on Yourself, that I may be more fitted for doing and-suffering.”
Other prayer books for your edification include: The Prayer that Changes Everything, Prayers that Avail Much, and The Book of Common Prayer. As you read these prayers allow them to wash over your heart, soul, and mind. Allow them to penetrate your thoughts. Meditate on their truths. Allow them to sink down into your bones, to change you from the inside out. These prayers will grant you peace and comfort. They will challenge you and affirm you.
5. Prayer cards.
This is something I have done for years. I posted about them a while back. Prayer cards are a way to help you organize your prayers for each day. It is hard to get everything prayed for in a day. Although we must continue to remember that prayer isn’t a formula, it is an ongoing conversation. Sometimes we allow little issues to rattle around in our minds, which just continually distract or discourage us. Sometimes it’s bigger issues, things like jobs, or relationships, or money, or disease.
We carry things around that God invites us to set at His feet and prayer cards give us a way to organize our prayers each day so that we can pray it all through. They are handy to keep with you in your Bible, on a cork board, on a counter tip, or in your purse. They are an excellent way to ‘set your mind on things above.’
This is a tool which can be incorporated no matter what other resources or approaches you might use. Whether you prefer the written prayers, the prayer cards, the ACTS method, or something else, make sure you record what God is doing by keeping a prayer journal.
This doesn’t have to be fancy or neat or artsy, it’s just for you! A prayer journal is where you record His goodness to you, His answered prayers, His praises. In your prayer journal you can write about how He wows and amazes you, how He does ‘beyond what we can ask or imagine’, how His ways are ‘higher than our ways.’
Your prayer journal is intensely personal. It’s like a secret diary full of both tear-stained pages and praise pages. When you start one, write in it often. No one checks grammar, spelling, or the frequency. It’s all for your personal encouragement. Make it yours—plain, colorful, chronological, or random, big, small, ruled, or not.
Pray for Him to show off and glorify Himself. That is what He is always doing—glorifying Himself. Ask Him to open your eyes so you can see what He is doing all around you. Then take it all in, write it down, and marvel at Him who alone is Worthy!
Is there anyone out there?
Anyone? Anyone at all?
Ever think that you’re all alone?
Shhh? Do you hear it?
The breeze in the leaves. The buzzing of the bee? The croaking of the frogs?
Shhh. Bend an ear, concentrate, listen.
Now do you hear it? The babble of the brook. The flapping wings of the geese overhead. The sigh of a child.
Shhh. Your tears falling on your shirt. The deep sobs of your soul. The breaking of your heart.
There are sounds going on around you everyday. The alarm clock, the shower, the tea kettle, the fireplace wood crackling, the hairdryer, the washer and dryer. The microwave, the toaster, the dishes, the silverware. The early morning yawns and stretches. And a whispered “I love you.”
What is the cry of your heart?
What would you love to say to God if you knew He would hear and pay attention?
What would you like to hear back from Him?
What are some things that you have heard from Him in the past?
What would you like to hear again?
What is the question, life situation, problem on which you would like His advice?
With whom would you like to reconcile?
Let us dare to persist in prayer. Let us pray throughout the day, crying out to Him who alone is Able. Let us seek the Lord while He may be found. Let us approach the throne of Grace with confidence. Let us pray without ceasing. Let us not grow weary.
Let us pray for each other. Let us hold each other up, have each other’s back, and stand in the gap. Let us intercede with the Father on behalf of each other. Let us pray for each other’s marriages that they will be strong, that we will respect our husbands. Let us pray for each other as mothers, that we will raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Let us be attentive to His voice alone. Let us ignore the whispers of the enemy. Let us worship Him alone. Let us spend time in His word, reading and meditating on its truth. Let us practice being still and knowing. Let us be quiet and just listen.
Know this: He is listening. He knows. He cares. He is acting on your behalf.
I sat in my car with tears streaming down my face and hands gripping the steering wheel. My thoughts were filled with pleading and accusations against the Lord. Where are you, Lord? Everything is falling apart and I don’t see you anywhere in this mess. Why aren’t you with me?
Thankfully, God is unendingly patient with me. Once I had gotten over my mini-meltdown, He met me right there in my car with four simple words that changed me. Four words that I still hang onto when trouble comes.
I am for you.
When He said those words, Bible verses I had read for years came flooding back.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. (Romans 8:34)
Yes, God is for me. And He’s also for you. Jesus himself is advocating for you right now in heaven. God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and help us. (John 14:16)
Take heart, friend. When the whole world feels against you, God is still for you. He has not abandoned you. Even if your troubles and sorrow are a result of your own sin, Jesus is still your advocate. (1 John 2:1) There’s no other champion I’d rather have!
So, when I find myself weary by the troubles of this life, I quickly remind myself that the God of all creation is on my side. My job is not to worry, but to rest in Him.
The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14
What do you think? Do we pray against God’s will? I believe we do. Without realizing it.
We ask God to bless us or someone else, to meet our needs or someone else’s, to give us wisdom to make a decision, or to cause certain events to occur.
But sometimes, God is not obligated to answer…with a yes answer. Why? Because we ask amiss. James said, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:3 NLT) We ask, by definition, badly, evilly, miserably, or grievously.
Aren’t our motives mostly centered on selfish desires: what we want, when we want it, and how we want it? Do we ever truly say, “Not my will but Yours, Lord”?
What about the events taking place around the world or in our own country? Are these things happening in accordance with God’s plan, maybe even to usher in Jesus’ return? So, then, do we pray for peace or other things that may not be God’s purpose?
What did Jesus teach about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount?
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
(Matt. 6:9-10 NLT)
What were the first three priorities in Jesus’ model prayer? God the Father’s name being kept holy, His kingdom, and His will.
Before any petitions are made…
1) we are to hallow His name.
To venerate, to declare sacred, to honor His holy name. As the Lord told Moses, “You must not treat Me as common and ordinary. Revere Me and hallow Me.” (Lev. 22:32a TLB)
We celebrate Him in our worship, for He is worthy “to receive glory and honor” (Rev. 4:11), to be held in reverence and praised. David said, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” (Ps. 18:3 NKJV)
2) we are to invoke His kingdom to come.
Where is the kingdom? Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7 NKJV) At hand, where? “The kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” (Luke 17:21 Amp)
We pray not just for His kingdom at hand on earth now but also for His heavenly kingdom to come to earth again. We pray that earth will be made more like heaven through the observance of God’s will.
3) we are to ask that His will be done. The observance of His will is that it should be obeyed. On earth as it is in heaven.
God’s will is what He desires, purposes, and has determined to be done on earth. It is His established kingdom rule in heaven being accomplished on earth by, for, and through His people.
Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33 NKJV) What things? The things Jesus mentioned right before that, the things we eat, drink, and wear. Those things necessary to living.
The three things listed above should be first in our hearts before petitions are presented at the throne of grace.
Then, petitions can be made for all that sustains life.
Prayer is not just a list of one’s requests for God to do something. It is time spent in the presence of His holiness, at the foot of the throne of heaven. Sitting. Listening. Communing. Presenting our requests in faith. And relinquishing our hold on them.
All prayers should be wrapped in faith’s envelope and sealed with the kiss of thanksgiving.
All our prayers should end with the thought of the words Eli spoke to Samuel, “It is the Lord’s will…Let him do what he thinks best.” (1 Sam. 3:18 NLT)
Lord, Your will be done. Do what You think is best.
So, what do you think: do we pray against God’s will?
Have you ever prayed for something and God gives you the opposite? It makes me wonder if God is even listening. There are some prayers that I’m pretty sure I’ve taken the command to “pray without ceasing” to an expert level.
I’ve analyzed, quite possibly over-analyzed, those requests. I’ve wondered if like the clothes dryer, where socks go to part ways, is there an intake box where certain prayers get lost, and just what do I need to do to ensure their safe arrival? I’ve praised Him in the storms, I know that His love for me doesn’t mean saying yes to each of my requests, but must He always say “no!” to these few and noble requests that have weighed heavy on my heart for years?
I’ve not only analyzed certain prayer requests, I’ve run them through experts, and by experts I mean my besties and my Bible study group. As a matter of fact, I’ve even done a blind test using complete strangers and they too are perplexed about these “socks without partners” also known as “prayers without answers.”
What’s a girl to do?!
After 20+ years of “praying without ceasing” regarding certain issues in my life. I’ve confessed, my sin, removed doubt, asked in humility, collected mustard seeds, etc. If there was a checklist I’ve checked every box, and yet this mountain does not even flinch.
Then I came across the Apostle Paul, who also had an unanswered prayer, GASP! The Apostle Paul, the man who practically wrote the entire New Testament, and God didn’t answer his prayer. Mind.blown!
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
How many times have I, in exasperation with tears flowing, asked God about His promise to take care of my every need? Too many too count. And in that same spirit, how many times have I failed to see that my needs have never been left behind. How foolish of me to let my human expectations rob me of JOY!
I’ve realized that I must heed my own advice to be grateful. Hyper-focusing on the prayers without answers has worn me down. It has made my heart heavy and taken my eyes off the way God has answered my prayers. When you allow unanswered prayers to take residence in your heart in an unhealthy way, it robs you of your joy in Christ. Lay those unanswered prayers at the foot of His throne and thank Him for His perfect provision.
I’ve had to humbly come to the cross and realize that just because my expectation looks significantly different than His answer, my needs are being met and my heart is being tended to. He is a God who keeps His promise and it is I who have failed to see it because it arrived in a different package.
In my humanity and limited vision, I can confidently say, “let there be prayers without answers!
I’m traditionally not a very methodical person on the outside. My home is beautiful, neat, clean, but also well lived in and full of loved and semi-ordered chaos. Drawings, papers and unused books cover my shelves (I may have a hard time parting with them). Mail, homeschool reading, and flyers from my last conference or travel initiative are in neatly stacked piles all around (I’m working on this, but just being real).
Many of us may have systems and methods for doing everything: our meal planners, our homeschool calendars, the scope & sequence of our years educating our children, and hopefully our Bible reading and budgets. I’m working on some new methods and systems to get my piles in order, not just ordered chaos.
The truth is, anything that is successful is systematic. God has spoken order to systems, even the universe around us. Genesis 1:14-15 says,
“Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.”
He had a system to His creation, and it’s His systems which keep our planets revolving in order. The solar system, right? I learned an amazing piece of science this summer at the Creation Museum: if the sun was just one foot closer to Earth, we’d all burn up. But if it was one foot father away, we’d all freeze. God’s systems work.
God sending Jesus to take our sins and redeem the first Adam as the last was methodical. And, Jesus himself taught us a method of praying with the Lord’s prayer.
There are so many prayers needed right now. So many things in our world are not right and need to change. So many health issues, crises of terror, hate, racism, war, economy, politics, and basic needs. I’m sure God’s ears are full of the cries of His people. We see it all over social media, and the more time we spend there, the less time we spend with God. Do we need to hit a reset button?
I know as a busy mom, my time is short. Yours is, too. Let’s face it, everyone in society has a resounding answer to the question, “how are you?” Busy. Do we forget God knew we’d get to a season so busy, so inundated, that we need Him now more than ever? What if we became systematic, not rote, but methodical in our prayers? What if we could get to a place where our collective prayers were truly effective on a global scale? What if we asked people how we could pray for them and then prayed effective prayers? Would more people meet Jesus in a time where He is so needed?
Our pastor said this past week, “You can’t be who you’re going to be and who you used to be at the same time. Be willing to change.” I pray to let the new things come alive in me (2 Corinthians 5:17). But I know, if I want to grow, I have to become more effective in my methods of prayer.
For our prayers to be effective, especially in our overly busy lives, let me propose a couple things:
1. Our prayers don’t end.
Let’s pray without ceasing, forgetting the morning AMEN. Keep the lines of communication open and moving throughout our days. Let’s set reminders to our phones and take a minute every hour to keep our relationship with God growing.
Time with Him = deeper relationship = more effective prayers.
We’ve all heard James 5:16: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Passionate prayers from a mama right with God are effective!
Listen to it this way from The Voice translation, “So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life.”
We need to be morally right before God and others for our prayers to be effective. Rooted in righteousness. I love that, especially here for this Rooted devotional series. Let’s model the method of quick confession, apologizing, and forgiving, then praying, and teaching this to our children.
2. Our prayers model Jesus’ method.
What? Jesus had a method for praying?
Yes, He did. Reread and break apart, not just recite, the Lord’s prayer and you’ll discover it again, too.
Years ago, I heard an acronym for a method of prayer that has always resonated with me. One of my dear mentors says this is a surefire way to get into His presence anytime, anywhere.
-Acknowledge Him (Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name…)
-Confess to Him
-Supplicate before Him (ask for your requests)
A: Let’s acknowledge WHO He Is. What if our prayers didn’t start with what we need and want but who God is.
Holy. Majestic. Mighty. Full of Power, Awestruck Wonder and Glory, displayed over all the Earth and in the Heavens. We just had a clear example of that with the total solar eclipse, right? If we get to know our Heavenly Father better, we have a better understanding of whose we are and therefore, who we are!
C: Confess Now, “if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will cleanse our sins and heal us from all unrighteousness.” Those are big words spoken in every church service I attended as a kid that come to mind from simple memory. Until we unpack what that means, they’re just words. As we confess, we become righteous, and then our prayers become effective. It’s God’s method.
Isn’t this our goal?
Think about a time you’ve had a really deep and moving conversation with a spouse, loved one, or friend. A hard situation approached in love and a humble spirit will most likely end in a peaceful resolution. Saying I’m sorry, I’ve been angry, jealous, prideful, short-tempered (and you know, mamas, the list goes on) these words spoken work! Jesus is our friend, so let’s treat Him as our best one, confessing quickly before Him and those we’ve wronged, and show our children and others the same.
T: Thanksgiving- we have SO much in our lives to be grateful for, and yet we can easily end up focusing on the negativity from the media. Let’s cast our cares aside and keep on living in gratitude and perpetual thanksgiving. You know what you’re thankful for, and if you don’t, take a missions trip to have your eyes opened and spirit broken.
S: Supplicate. It’s not a word we use too often, but it has a deep definition: “to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly.” It comes from the Latin word supplicat, meaning implored. Let’s go deeper with our asking by using this simple ACTS method.
I’m methodical in the prayers I speak when I put my boys to bed at night. I always quote a scripture, Numbers 6:25.
That the Lord will bless & keep them, keep His face shining on them and be gracious to them, to look upon them with great favor and grant them peace. Then, I add my own methodical prayer, to include all three parts of God’s trinity:
“That the Holy Spirit will go before you and guide the way. That Jesus will always be beside you as your best friend. That Papa God would be behind you, always having your back.”
And I pray the same for you, friend, as you live and pray your effective prayers, then mobilizing boldly and confidently as His hands and feet through great ACTS. Let’s let the fruit of our prayers be ACTS(ions) that speak louder than words.
If you’ve read much of my writing this year, you know it’s been one of “those” years. There is a lot that has happened — a lot to lift to the Father in prayer. Good and bad.
One of the things that this year has contained is medical bills. Various times for various reasons. Our health insurance is a sharing ministry. It is very, very excellent. We love it. We send our bills in and 2-3 months later we get reimbursed. People send us checks. Along with the check they sometimes send a note.
Most of the time these believers say they are praying for us. Praying for complete healing or for God peace during times of illness. Sometimes they tell us stories of their own experiences with a similar illness or injury.
This time, months after the doctor and hospital visits. Weeks after the symptoms were over. We began getting the checks. And with it prayers of people who loved God.
It was months laters, so we had healed from the injuries weeks prior. We had gotten over our illnesses. But our hearts were burdened. Our wallets very thin. And our stress was quite high.
Our van was on its last leg, but we had fixed it anyway because we didn’t have money to replace it. That van was then totaled. We were in an accident involving a semi truck. The vehicle that caused the accident ran. Meaning no one else’s insurance was going to be paying this bill.
Things were looking pretty dim. Yet God knew all that and He had a plan. When we got home with our van there were notes waiting for us. People writing that they were praying for us. People sending love and financial help.
Every couple days there were more letters. More checks. More prayers sent our way.
Some said they were praying for our healing. Some said they were praying for us to have peace. But some said “Praying for FULL financial provision.”
These people didn’t know us. These people had NO idea. At all. They didn’t know we were down to our last dollars in our emergency fund. They had no idea that we needed a van. They had no idea. Yet, just at the right time, right when we needed it, people were praying.
God used that rough time of ER visits, doctor appointments, treatments, and more ER visits, for a way bigger purpose. God knew we were going to be needing those prayers months later. He knew we would need the notes of encouragement to fill our mailbox right that week.
These precious people prayed for us. They thought it was for our health. But oh, oh it was more than all that.
Friends, sometimes things look bleak. Sometimes we don’t know how to even form a prayer for ourself.
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 through wordless groans. Romans 8:26 NIV
It’s in those times when the prayers of others can help to carry us through.
In our case, this time, people were praying and they didn’t know the whole story. Sometimes we need to share the whole story with someone. We need to open up with our struggle, our need for prayer. We need to let others carry us to the Lord in prayer.
That is not natural for me. I don’t like to share my struggles. I don’t like to be a pain or annoying to anyone. I’m not the first to ask others for prayers. Yet, I’m learning I need to ask. I need to be open and share my need for prayers.
A couple weeks ago, Satan was really attacking me. Attacking me with lies, doubts and fears. I opened up to these verses.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should. Ephesians 6:18-20
Against my normal tendency, I texted a couple people and asked them to pray for me. With the power of their prayers, I was able to take the next step on a big project.
There is power in prayer, my friends.
Maybe you are the one that needs prayers today… I would love to utter a prayer on your behalf. Leave me a comment here, or email me.
When I pray
At your feet
Where we meet
Heart to heart.
And I start
To cry out,
“Remove my doubt!
Help me trust
That you are just;
Take my pain,
And send the rain
To quench my
When I pray
I didn’t see
Until I threw
My cares on you.
Could I see
Your plans for me:
To prosper, not harm;
To be led arm in arm
Into the wild
As a child
With you by my side.
When I pray
I feel your light
Warming my soul,
Making me whole,
Renewing my hope,
Helping me cope
With what lies ahead.
The trials I dread:
More bills to pay;
My hair turning grey;
The ups and the downs
The smiles and frowns
Of my blessed life.
When I pray
You give peace
And never cease
I give you praise,
O, Holy LORD.
Your Word=My Sword.
Guide me now.
Show me how
To live for you.
in my life.
Remove all strife.
And so I pray
For ears to hear
Your words so clear;
And eyes to see
Your work in me;
A heart of grace
Toward every face
You bring my way;
My bias, slay,
That I might be
Salt and light
In this fight
All this I pray.
In Jesus’ Name
“I’m asking for prayer today.”
“On our way to the hospital – please pray.”
“Feeling frustrated this morning…”
Have you ever seen these types of posts on Facebook or Twitter? The comments that follow are filled with intentions to pray (And, yes, there is even an emoji for that!). In-person conversations with friends can involve constant prayer requests, too. Indeed, we are surrounded by prayer requests.
Yet, that should be expected.
James 5:13a says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.”
We are instructed to pray with and for one another. But, why? What can we expect when we pray? Why are there difficulties in the world? Why is their pain? Why is there loss?
For His Glory
Well, I am not going to get into all the theological issues that address those questions, but these all are a part of the Fall – a result of sin entering the world. Yet, God uses these difficult experiences for His glory.
You see, pain and hurting can be for good.
First and foremost, we meet God in our pain in ways we wouldn’t if we didn’t have any trials. Why is it that when things are going well, we tend to spend less time with God, but when things are difficult, we are more often on our knees? Well, one reason is that going through trials forces us to draw closer to Jesus. It continually reminds us that our Lord is the one who upholds all things. We so easily forget that, don’t we?
Additionally, by going through trials, we can minister to others in ways we otherwise couldn’t. I experienced terrible morning sickness during each of my pregnancies (7 months of continual sickness – “morning” was a misnomer!). So now, I am particularly sensitive to those who are going through the same thing. I have walked through that difficulty and can better understand those challenges. I am more likely to specifically pray with and for women who are going through what I went through. And by walking along with them, it deepens those friendships.
You see, praying for one another is something that brings the body of believers closer together. We come alongside others and experience the challenges they are going through. And when we see God answer those prayers, we rejoice along with them.
How Can I Pray for You?
There is such a sweetness that comes when you ask someone, “How can I pray for you?”. Sincere prayer for others shows them you are concerned for them. It opens up relationships.
Have you ever thought to ask your children how you can pray for them? Believe me, they will think of something for you to pray for (even if it is that squashed butterfly outside). And if you purpose to pray and then follow up, you will be surprised to see how much deeper your relationship can be.
Prayer builds relationships with others as well as with God.
That’s because when we pray, the ultimate goal is not necessarily for healing, but for growth in grace and building relationships.
So pray first for your relationship with God. Ask others to pray for you so they may share in what God is doing. They are working as the body of Christ should.
And again, as God answers prayers, you can rejoice with one another like the rest of James 5:13 says:
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”