Teach Us to Pray

by Candy Arrington

Pray, then, in this way. Matthew 6:9 AMP

During the years Jesus was with his disciples, he equipped them with everything they needed to live an abundant life once he returned to his Father. In Jesus’ instructions on prayer, he taught his disciples to find a quiet, private place to be with the Father, and to present their needs to God in a straightforward, simple manner.

“And when you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose—for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8 VOICE).

Jesus also reminded the disciples that although God already knows our needs, he wants us to talk to him and spend time with him. Prayer is a way to develop a deeper relationship with God.

Sometimes when I pray, my mind wanders. I start off focused, but midway through my prayer I start thinking about something else. Later I realize I stopped praying, started daydreaming, and never finished my conversation with God. How rude!

To help stay focused in prayer, I use the A.C.T.S. acrostic. It draws on elements of the model prayer Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 6: 9-13.

ADORATION – Address God as Father. He wants to have a personal relationship with us, one in which we think of him as a loving father. Another word for adoration is praise. Praise God for who he is, for his power, and his purposes. Acknowledge his control and trust him to work things out for your good. As part of your adoration, read a Psalm aloud that names God’s good qualities, or spend time looking up some of the names of God and call Him by those names as you pray, such as Adonai, Yahweh Ro’i, El Shaddai.

CONFESSION – This is probably the hardest part of prayer but the most necessary. Sin can be a hindrance to our relationship with God. Until we admit the things in our lives that are out of step with God, he may withhold blessing. Be honest. You know what you’ve done wrong or when you’ve failed to obey. Admit your sin and ask for forgiveness. God will receive you with open arms.

THANKSGIVING – We have much for which to be thankful. Because Jesus provided a bridge to God by his death on the cross, we have fellowship with the Father. Prayer is a privilege. The opportunity to talk directly to God would not be possible without Jesus’ sacrifice. Start by thanking God for your salvation. Then think of other ways he’s blessed your life.

SUPPLICATION – This is a big word for requests. Tell God the needs in your life and ask him to work things out, even if the situation seems impossible. God is capable of more than our minds can imagine. Don’t forget to pray for others during this time. Notice the “asking” part of the prayer comes at the end—after praise, confession, and thanks. The first three set the context for what we request. We are able to ask in faith when we have reminded ourselves of who God is and how we have seen Him act in the past.  

Using the A.C.T.S. acrostic in prayer is a great tool to remind us that there is more to prayer than listing out our needs and wants.

If focusing while praying is still a problem, try writing your prayers in a private journal between you and God. Date entries, and don’t forget to later note the dates your prayers are answered, keeping a record of how God faithfully meets your needs.

Start today to give prayer a place of priority in your daily schedule. God will bless you for it.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Wellprovides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep focused in prayer?

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When I’m Old and Gray

by Crystal Bowman

I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words.I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. Psalm 71:15-16 NLT

My mother lived to be ninety-seven and a half years old. Just like young children add “a half” to their age when they reach it, some seniors do the same. A half year is important when you are young or old. What was more important to my mother, however, was not her age, but how she could continue to serve God while she still had her life on earth.

Mom was strong and healthy until she reached ninety-four and a half years. During the last three years of her life, she became weak and unable to walk without assistance. At times, she sunk into a feeling of helplessness and wondered why God hadn’t taken her home. But every morning, as she sat in her recliner with a cozy throw, she opened her Bible and met with God one-on-one. Mom talked to God, and He talked to her.

One day, as she read Psalm 71, the Holy Spirit reminded her that He still had a purpose for her life. Even with her physical limitations, she could continue to tell other about Jesus as she had done in her younger years. In that passage, the Psalmist cries out to God to be the rock he can always go to. The Psalmist praises God for being his hope since he was young. And in verses 17-18 he says, “O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me”(NLT).

My mom claimed that verse for the rest of her life. She praised God and spoke about Him to everyone—the aides who cared for her, other residents in her retirement home, the hair stylist, and friends and family who came to visit her. But her deepest desire was to pass on her legacy of faith to future generations.

Every day she prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by name. She prayed that they would know Jesus and follow Him all the days of their lives. She prayed for them to have wisdom, guidance, and good health. She prayed for good friends, future spouses, and protection from evil. She prayed for a baby to grow in my daughter-in-law’s empty womb, and God answered that prayer three times!

Mom has been in heaven now for three and a half years. Now it’s my turn to carry on the legacy she passed on to me. As I pray for my children and grandchildren by name, every day, I pray that they would know Jesus and follow Him all the days of their lives. I pray for them to have wisdom, guidance, and good health. I pray for good friends, future spouses, and protection from evil.

I do not have gray hair, and I don’t feel old, even though “old” is only a short decade away. But like the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 71, I want to proclaim God’s power to a new generation and tell of His mighty miracles to all who come after me.   

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation. What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

The Argument

by Ronda Wells

“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NLT

When hubby and I travel, we avoid chain restaurants. A small-town diner got several good reviews and had lots of cars in the lot, so we stopped. The food turned out to be decent, but the floor show was another matter.

After we were seated, a petite young woman with cerebral palsy struggled awkwardly on her hand canes to reach her seat near our table. Her companion, a man easily five times her size, cursed her out for how long she’d taken in the bathroom. His voice carried throughout our end of the restaurant. The woman argued back, but her halting speech and child-like answers indicated some degree of cognitive impairment.

He told her she could just walk home (in ninety-degree heat) or “go back to mommy and daddy.” Oddly, no one else in the diner reacted, not even the waitress. Perhaps they knew them, or sadder yet, this wasn’t unusual for the area. I determined if he made a threat to harm her, I would call the police.

Physicians are trained to look for signs of vulnerable women and domestic abuse. I’d treated many abused patients in my family practice. But this man’s verbal abuse was the worst I’d ever heard. He even made fun of her disability. If this was in public, how did he treat her at home?

If I tried to intervene, it would likely make things worse, but I’d had enough.

I normally don’t make a show of praying in public settings, but this time I put my hands together, bowed my head and prayed silently. I asked that the demons of anger and hatred surrounding this couple would be banished, and the man would stop his tirade. I prayed they both would find Jesus.

The argument lulled.

I stopped praying and studied my menu. The bully started cursing again. By now, she was crying, and he mocked her tears. I made a deliberate show of setting down my menu and prayed again. My husband gave me a puzzled glance but said nothing. He told me in the car he knew I had to have a good reason for what I was doing, being this obvious.

Three more rounds of argument ensued, followed by prayer each time. The last time, when I opened my eyes, the man looked at me with shame on his face before returning to eating. The argument stopped.

We finished our meal and left. I prayed for this couple all the hundreds of miles home. Hopefully what the man saw would impact him and be used by God even more than if I had actually spoken. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” NLT

I think soft prayers can do the same.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the Author: Doctor by day, writer by night, Dr. Ronda Wells is an award-winning author who has written inspirational fiction for over twenty-five years. She has helped numerous other Christian writers with creating authentic medical scenes for their books. A lifelong Hoosier, Ronda is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Mooresville, Indiana, and loves to travel. She writes fiction and non-fiction stories that illustrate extraordinary faith among the conflicts of ordinary life. Her contemporary inspirational novel, Harvest of Hope, is currently under consideration with a publisher. Visit her website to read a bonus chapter at www.rondawellsbooks.com or connect with her via Linktree at https://linktr.ee/rondawellsbooks.

Join the conversation: Have you ever encountered a situation like this? How did you handle it?

An Unexpected Gift

by Shadia Hrichi

How many times did you hear as a child, “It is better to give than to receive”? Perhaps from a parent or grandparent or favorite aunt or uncle. It often preceded a trip to the shopping mall to buy Christmas presents. As children, it was a challenge to resist wanting the toys for ourselves.

Even as adults, we can struggle with the temptation to seek our own interests over other’s. When it comes to giving gifts to support the work of God’s Kingdom, even as a Christian, we may struggle at times. How much should I give? What if I can’t pay the rent? Or maybe we are more than happy to give, only to find ourselves tempted to become prideful in our giving.

I am a very black and white thinker. As such, when I became a Christian as an adult, I didn’t struggle too much with the concept of giving. To me, it made sense and God commanded it. That was enough. However, one morning I was deeply moved by the unexpected gift described in 2 Corinthians 9:10-14.

In this passage, Paul is speaking of gifts given to those less fortunate, whereby the gifts did more than simply provide for their needs. They prompted a gift to be offered up in return – a gift that far outweighs what they received. Paul writes,

They [the recipients] will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you (2 Corinthians 9:14).

The needy will pray… for Me?

It never occurred to me that those whom I viewed as being in real need would turn around and pray for me. Don’t I already have everything I need? So much so that I can share some of it with others?

But that’s where they are so rich and I am so poor. Those who must depend on God for even their next meal recognize the grace, faithfulness, and compassion of God in ways we never will. Day-by-day and moment-by-moment. It’s a humbling thought when you consider that from such grateful hearts, those who have so little offer up prayers for those who have so much.

Our gifts to those in need are certainly important, but they are temporary. However, what they give us in return—sincere prayers of “deep affection”—are gifts that no amount of money can buy. What a glorious God we have! Only in God’s economy, can the gifts we give come back to bless us in ways that last for eternity.

I am well supplied, having received … the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. Philippians 4:18 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, award-winning author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies and is the author of various Bible studies, including TAMAR, HAGAR, LEGION and WORTHY OF LOVE, a Bible study for post-abortion healing. Currently residing in California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com.

Join the conversation: What blessing from God have you received after giving?

Walk With Me

by Shadia Hrichi

Let’s be honest: some days are just plain hard!

If you’re like me, serving God can be a great joy and privilege, but sometimes we make it too complicated. Imagine my surprise when God used a simple ice cream to teach me a valuable lesson.

I had been at my desk all day struggling to write the same chapter I’ve been wrestling with for weeks. I was praying, studying, confessing and crying out to God, It’s just too hard!

At one point I thought I sensed God say, “Let’s go for a walk.” However, since I wasn’t sure, I dismissed it. Besides, it was hot outside. Instead, I stayed at my desk, papers and notes and my Bible spread out everywhere. By now, I was trying to suppress the nervous energy causing my legs to bounce incessantly. Then I heard it again, “Let’s go for a walk.”

When the Spirit nudges you once and you’re not sure, God is gracious. The second time, it’s best to take notice.

So, I put on my sneakers, and just before heading out the door, I remembered that I needed eggs. I was planning to bake treats for my Bible study group on Tuesday night. There was a drug store a few blocks away. I almost never take money with me when I go for a walk. This time, I grabbed my wallet and walked out the door. I headed toward the park as I usually do, talking and walking with God. (Not talking out loud, of course, lest I scare the neighbors).

That’s when I saw it. An ice cream truck was parked up ahead at the corner by the playground. I couldn’t even remember the last time I bought an ice cream from a truck. Just the fun of actually standing in line with the kids to buy an ice cream started to lighten my mood.

As God and I continued walking and talking, me eating my ice cream, I marveled at how pausing to enjoy such a simple treat could make such a big difference in one’s day. It was then that I sensed God say, “You see; it doesn’t have to be so complicated.” And I knew exactly what He meant.

I had been wrestling with a lot of heavy theology, and in doing so, I was losing focus on the heart of the lesson: the delightful treasure; the sweet spot. Only later did I realize the added irony that the lesson I was writing begins with God’s command to Abraham, Walk with me (Genesis 17:1 ). What a simple, but profound, invitation! Though Abraham had “stumbled” 13 years earlier by using Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, to conceive a child, God knew Abraham’s heart.

To this day, for all who come to God with a humble heart, He gently nudges our spirit, “Come; walk with me.”

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103 ESV

Adapted from of HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, a Bible study by Shadia Hrichi. Copyright © 2017 by Shadia Hrichi. Published by Leafwood Publishers.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Meand Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit www.shadiahrichi.com

Join the conversation: Do you ever walk with God? What has He communicated to you?

The Still Voice Above the Noise

by Dr. Mel Tavares

 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4 NIV

God speaks to people every day and desires every one of us to hear Him. There is no magic formula to hearing His voice. He speaks in many ways, including in our mind, through chapters we read in the Bible, and through conversations with other people. Sometimes He speaks through dreams or visions. Our problem is that we live in a noisy world and are often too busy to listen, or haven’t developed the ability to recognize His voice.

God Speaks to Our Mind
God speaks to our mind, but we may interpret His voice as a thought of our own, because we don’t recognize His voice. Although some people report hearing an audible voice of God, more often it will be a ‘still, small voice’ we will hear. He desires to communicate with us throughout our days, much the same as if we were communicating with a friend or spouse. When we read the Bible or pray, thoughts will enter our mind. The more connected we are to Him, conversing throughout the day, the more easily we will recognize when He is talking to us.

God Speaks to Us Through Others
God uses other Christians to speak to us. We may have been seeking an answer from God about a specific situation and later converse with another Christian. We might bring up the situation and the other person will give wise counsel. Or we might randomly bring up a Bible verse or a life principle in conversation that supplies the exact answer you were looking for. Rest assured; it was no coincidence. It is God providing the answer for you if you have an ear to hear.

God Speaks to Us Through Circumstances
There are times when God uses dramatic means to get our attention. If we are not in close communication with Him and not listening for His voice, God might speak to us through financial insecurities, housing insecurities, employment struggles, relational problems, and other trials. How often do we cry out to God when we encounter hard times? It is during a crisis that many open their ears, desperate to hear from God if only to get the answer to “Why is this happening?”

The Importance of Hearing God Speak
The importance of recognizing God’s voice cannot be overstated. We must learn to hear God’s voice if we want answers to your questions and prayers. He can and does speak to us but we must recognize His voice and discern that it is God, not Satan, or our own thoughts, or the well-meaning input of strangers.

Just one word from God can change everything. Sometimes it is one word, sometimes it is an ongoing conversation that God has with us. The important thing is that we don’t miss His voice. The voice of God speaking can transform our marriages, give us financial direction, speak to our illness and heal our disease, or give insight into a complex situation at our jobs. 

I pray you will recognize the voice of your shepherd, and that He will give you answers, direction, and guidance each day that you need.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Mel Tavares is an accomplished writer and speaker/teacher, both in ministry and in her career. She is passionate about encouraging and teaching writers. Her target market is women who are hurting and in need of Biblical hope. In addition to ghost writing and authoring her own books, Mel is a contributing author to several books, including the recently released DaySpring “Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comfort for Grieving Hearts.”  She writes for several online Christian communities, teaches classes online, conducts Facebook Live series, and is a podcast guest as opportunities arise. She is a wife, mom to seven, and grandma to ten.

Join the conversation: Have you heard from God lately?

Just Like a Mother Bird

by Sandra Chambers

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 NIV

During my morning walk today, I saw an interesting site—a tiny bird was chasing a much larger bird in midair. It was quite a sight as the little bird darted back and forth, at times getting fearlessly close to the larger bird. Back and forth they flew, zigzagging and circling overhead.

At first I was puzzled, expecting the larger bird to turn at any moment and give chase to the smaller one. Then it dawned on me—the smaller bird might be a mother bird protecting her nest that was nearby. The larger bird was possibly perceived as a predator after the eggs or young hatchlings.

When the midair confrontation finally stopped and the larger bird flew away, I began to think about several scriptures in the Bible where God is anthropomorphically described as a bird offering His wings of protection:

  • He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 NIV
  • I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4 NIV
  • How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7 NIV
  • I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1 NIV

In the New Testament, Jesus also speaks of himself as a mother hen, longing to protect God’s chosen people:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37 NIV

We have a God who fiercely protects His own. He offers us comfort and refuge from the storms of life and from our enemies. We can do the same for those we love by pointing them to God and praying for them. As believers, God gives us the privilege and power to stand in prayer for our family members, our friends, our co-workers and church members. We can be like that mother bird who defends others because God has given us the mighty weapon of prayer to route our enemies.

When I face an enemy that seems bigger than me—whether in my life or the life of others, I want to remember that little bird’s boldness as it flew over and over again at the perpetrator. I want to remember that prayer is a mighty weapon and that God offers His wings of protection to all who would take refuge there.

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Sandra Chambers has a desire to help Christians find joy and purpose in their prayer life and has written a personal or small group study, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet—How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life. Her current writing projects include picture books and kid’s devotionals to help children find a personal relationship with God, develop godly character traits and discover their self-worth and purpose in God. Discover more about Sandra at sandrakaychambers.com.

Join the conversation: What other metaphors found in Scripture describing a characteristic of God are meaningful to you?

Red Alert

by Patti Richter

The voice of the Lord is over the waters…. –Psalm 29:3 ESV

A dark image flashed before me, waking me from a sound sleep at 2 a.m. I couldn’t ignore the internal alarm.

I left my sleeping husband, Jim, and went to our teenage son’s room. Wes was 7000 miles away from home, in China, for a semester of Mandarin language studies. The days had ticked by slowly for us, though peacefully—until this night. For the first time since he left, I climbed into his bed to pray.

Our adventurous, youngest child had visited China before with a group from our church. But this time, alone, he adjusted to classrooms with no heat in freezing temperatures and classes where neither the students nor the professor could speak any English.

When the weather began to moderate in late March, Wes felt secure enough in his surroundings to explore the city. He enjoyed using a wide-range camera with a large zoom lens he’d purchased for his trip.  Jim and I looked forward to our twice-a-day Skype calls with our son. But a 13-hour time difference meant our days and nights were reversed.

Before his return home, Wes asked us if he could travel to a city in Southeastern China that he previously visited with the church group. He had kept in touch with English-speaking students at a large university there, and his contacts would help him find a place to stay on campus.

Jim and I had misgivings about our son’s travel plan. However, with his housing arrangements assured, we agreed to let him go.

When Wes arrived in Xiamen, his expected accommodations were unavailable, so he stayed in a nearby hotel—alone.

He soon began meeting with college students at an “English Corner” group they attended to improve their language skills. Wes also enjoyed venturing out into the colorful port city with so many historic landmarks. He took a ferry boat to a small, pedestrian-only island where he could explore without road traffic. He walked along the island’s narrow brick streets past hundred-year-old buildings from China’s colonial days and climbed a rocky outcropping to capture panoramic images of the mainland.

Though he checked in with us daily, our son’s growing independence concerned us. We experienced peace by day, knowing he was sleeping. But we grew uneasy at night, knowing Wes would be sightseeing again. At bedtime, we prayed for him, and I specifically asked the Lord to wake me for any circumstance needing prayer.

So, the disturbing image that night put me on high alert. I propped two pillows against our son’s headboard and leaned back, trying not to panic. I believed the Lord woke me to pray, not to make me afraid. When peace returned, I fell asleep.

The familiar Skype-tone the next morning brought great relief! Wes sounded normal, with little to report until mentioning high winds that day.

The terrible image flashed before me again: my son in dark waters.

“Were you out in the wind?” I asked.

“Well, yes. I visited the island again. I hadn’t planned to go, or I would have asked you first. The ferry ride was rough.” 

“Did you stand at the rail?”

“Yes.”

“Were other people by the rail?”

“No. But it was fine.”

“Did you have your heavy camera around your neck?”

“Yes. I wanted to get better pictures this time.”

That’s when I told Wes about my prayer alert. And though he discounted the idea of any real danger, I believed God had spared us from a tragedy.

Days later, I watched my son stroll casually out of the airport customs area—safely home.

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15 ESV

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been awakened by an urge to pray?

A Light for Our Paths

by Christina Rose

“Let the dawning day bring me revelation of your tender, unfailing love. Give me light for my path and teach me, for I trust in you.” Psalm 143:8 TPT

Learning to hear and discern God’s voice takes time and devotion. Unless we set aside quiet time alone with God, the cries of the world may drown out what He is trying to tell us. Each day, in the early hours of dawn, I study Scripture, pray, listen, and write in my journal. Wise words from God prepare me for the day. King David also sought God’s direction in the morning just as a general would ask advice of his commanding officer.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who never gives you a chance to say anything?  I had such a friend who would call and talk at me for half an hour or more and then hang up.  She just wasn’t interested in what I had to say and only wanted to hear herself speak. We went on a road trip once and after several days I thought I would lose my mind. My head was so full of her constant chatter that it drowned out my every thought. While I tried to be patient as she obviously needed someone to talk to, it taught me the importance of being quiet long enough to let others speak.

God is ever present to listen to our prayers, but we will never hear Him if we do all the talking.  Communicating with God is a two-way street.  If we speak to Him, we must allow Him the chance to answer us. Being silent and focused on what He is saying honors Him and blesses us.  The more I have learned to hear from God, the more I understand what a privilege it is to receive a message from Him.

Abraham listened to God who told him he would be the father of many nations; Noah listened to God who told him how to build the ark; Moses listened to God who gave him the Ten Commandments and the Song of Moses to share with the people.

“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Hear, O earth, the words that I say! Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God!” Deuteronomy 32:1-3 NLT

Every summer we drove down the California coast to camp at Big Sur. This event was the highlight of the year and my daughters’ friends all clamored to join us. Preparation had taken weeks but at last the VW bus was loaded up and we were to leave first thing in the morning. I arose very early in the dawn before the drive to ask God for his protection and provision. This year as I prayed, I heard, “Call the park.” At the time California was having many wildfires but when I checked the night before there were no fires near Big Sur. Again, I heard with urgency, “Call the park.” I dialed the park service who informed us that overnight a huge fire had descended upon Big Sur, and they were evacuating everyone. 

If I had not prayed and obeyed, our day could have been a disaster of driving for hours, gridlock and roadblocks, only to be forced to turn around and return home at the end of the day. It was painful to share the disappointing news with the girls, but God provided one of the last sites at a nearby campground, which was a miracle.  We pitched the tent under the redwoods by a trickling stream and soon were happily roasting marshmallows by the fire.

Taking time to listen to God is truly a light for our paths. He is the great I AM, way maker and miracle worker.  He wants to guide us to an abundant life that is far greater than we can imagine on our own, if we will just listen and trust.

“This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. She is a DAR whose patriot ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.  

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina appeals to heaven for hope and freedom just as her patriot ancestors did hundreds of years ago. She is a contributor to the Arise to Peace Daily Devotional and a frequent blogger for Arise Daily Devos.

Join the conversation: Are you taking time to listen to God?

I Confess, I am a Hoarder

by Lori Wildenberg

This year I showed no mercy. As I packed away my Christmas decorations, I purged those I rarely display. My collection was reduced significantly. It felt great to scale back. As my give-away pile grew, God impressed upon me that I hang onto lots of things— and not just material items.

I hoard poor habits and negative characteristics.

In this new year, with God’s prompting, I am challenging myself to ditch the qualities that look more like me and less like the babe in the manger I had just celebrated.

Here’s my list of 10 characteristics to toss with 10 Prayers to accompany that list.

  1. Unforgiveness: When I’ve hurt someone, I want to be forgiven. Why would I not freely give it when another has wronged me? Lord, replace my unforgiving heart with a forgiving heart. I want to be quick to forgive (Matthew 18:21).
  2. Pride: Pride divides. It prevents family closeness. Lord, one of the six things You hate is haughty eyes. Please replace my stubbornness with humility (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  3. Conditional love: Love is a gift. Love isn’t meant to be parceled out, divided, or earned. Lord, give me the supernatural capacity to love when it is hard (Matthew 5:43-48).
  4. Selfishness:  The All About Me syndrome –my time, my resources, my feelings, my perspective. To cure this malady, I need to act more like a servant and see things from a bird’s eye view. Lord, remove my selfishness, give me eyes to see what you see and create a servant attitude in my heart (Mark 9:35).
  5. Dissatisfaction: Paul encourages us to be content in all situations. Lord, take away my dissatisfaction and replace it with contentment in the abundant blessings You have given me so a thankful and grateful heart can blossom (Philippians 4:11).
  6. Distraction: The present of presence is the most meaningful gift. Lord, I am easily distracted by my phone and my list. Remind me daily people are more important than my to-dos or cell phone (Mark 10:13-16).
  7. Criticism: Kindness is the glue that holds families together. Lord, replace my critical spirit with kindness. Nudge me to speak life by being positive and ncouraging (Ephesians 4:29).
  8. Anger, agitation, annoyance: Rather than reacting, I want to manage difficult situations with wisdom, love, and peace. Lord, help me to respond to difficult moments in a way that honors You. Teach me to address disagreements agreeably (Proverbs 12:16).
  9. Independence: An interdependent (not co-dependent) family is the type of family I want. I want my home to be one that emphasizes participation and pitching in. A place where people care so much about each other that they want to do life together. An attitude of independence creates roommates and boarders. I want to have relationships with my family members that lasts a lifetime. Lord, wipe away my spirit of independence and exchange it for a dependence on You and interdependence with my family members (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
  10. To be me: Forget being more like me. I want to be more like Jesus. Lord, I want to reflect you in all I do (Matthew 11:29).

Prayer, worship, and learning more about who Jesus is, is the way to become more like him and less like me.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation by [Lori Wildenberg]

About the author: Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families create connections that last a lifetime. Lori, licensed parent-family educator, parent coach, and national speaker, is the author of 6 parenting books with Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation being her most recently published book. Lori and Tom have four adult children plus three in-laws and three little grands. Connect with Lori on Facebook or Instagram or over at her popular Moms Together Community page or group. Go to loriwildenberg.com for more information.

Join the conversation:  What qualities do you want to ditch so you can look more like the King in the cradle?