Gift of a Prayer

Where I See God
Journal #25: Gift of a Prayer

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32a

My meeting with the rehearsal dinner location, hadn’t gone so smoothly.  It was the first time during this wedding planning season, I had really felt nervous about the plans I’d made for the special dinner.  Then my contact with the restaurant stopped returning my calls.  My nerves amped up even more.  Wedding guests of family and friends were already invited to this particular location. I felt frustrated and nervous.

After I’d shared my fears with my future daughter-in-law, she handled me exactly the way I needed to be handled.  She offered to pray for me right in that moment.

I walked away from that conversation with a lot more than calmed nerves over a rehearsal dinner.  God gave me several other reassurances.

  1. My son’s fiancé knew where to take her problems.
  2. She wasn’t afraid to ask God boldly.
  3. God allowed me to see this amazing young woman take action with her faith. Her gift to me of prayer not only helped me breathe and surrender the moment, it also gave me a glimpse of the foundation my son’s marriage is about to be built upon.
  4. God showed me how He had been faithful to answer my prayers about my son’s future wife being someone who would love and serve Him.
  5. Since God had answered that prayer, He wasn’t about to “not answer” a prayer for strength and help through a stressful situation.

I walked away encouraged.

Today, I had another meeting with the restaurant.  It went smoothly.  Everything was back on track for the upcoming dinner.

Gratitude replaced fear.

Even though the mishap caused some stress, I’m am very thankful for the opportunity to receive such a blessing from my son’s fiancé.

A prayer answered, a blessing received.

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Prayer Meeting

Where I See God
Journal Entry #4: Prayer Meeting

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

It wasn’t were I saw God this week, but instead where I met Him.

For a few months, I have been struggling. I’ve been getting by, but a spiritually based depression has been slowly working its way in. Darkness approaching closer and closer.

Before Christmas a new prayer ministry was announced at my church. I knew I needed to call and make an appointment. My need for acceptance was growing out of control; my constant hunger for affirmation clouded my self-perception. I had stopped desiring truth from God and was seeking my friends’ words to fill that spot. A stronghold needed relinquishing.

Christmas came and went. Finally I made an appointment.

I wasn’t’ really sure what my stronghold entailed, but I knew I needed help and prayer from other believers in Christ. Believers who were trained to help.

The day came.

I arrived early eager to get started. I hit a low point two days before and did some damage to my relationships with my son and his future wife. I desired their approval for something I was working on for their rehearsal dinner. Something that didn’t really matter and had nothing to do with me as person, but for me it had mattered. My self-worth had hungered for affirmation as a sign of acceptance from my son and his soon-to-be wife. Emotions from my end sky-rocketed and feelings got hurt.

I walked into the prayer room, made myself comfortable and sat while praying. “God, I know I need help. This fog of confusion on my heart is clouding my judgement and my perception. I love my son and his fiancé. I love my family. More than anything though, I don’t want all of this need for acceptance to damage my ministry or lead others from you.”

One of the prayer leaders came into the room. She was trained in the Celebrate Recovery ministry and was very good at listening before she said anything. Listening for what I was really saying. We first prayed for guidance and for God to reveal the stronghold. Then I prayed just talking to God. I don’t even remember what I said, I just tried to humble myself and get to work.

Then the second prayer minister arrived. We talked, prayed, talked some more. About half way through the process the second of the ladies shared a story about feeling like an embarrassment growing up.

I broke.

I recognized that feeling. The constant need for praise from others so I wouldn’t experience that feeling. As though people’s praise could somehow protect me from embarrassment. Somewhere along life’s journey, I bought into the lie, that I was an embarrassment to others, not good enough to stand on my own. The compliments of others had become my proof to myself that I was not an embarrassment. Unfortunately, praise was never enough. It didn’t satisfy long term. Only God could help me handle embarrassment. Only God could give me perspective and fill me with His truth.

I sobbed.

With tears running off my cheeks, I joked, “I think we found the stronghold.”

We prayed some more. God’s word was poured over me. Truth was spoken into my spirit.

Before leaving the prayer leaders armed me with scripture to read over and over for reassurance and truth planting. So I would know that I am created in the image of God. I was created for a purpose. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I met God in that prayer room as He held me close and told me I was a treasure to Him and that fear of embarrassment stronghold in my belief system had to go. He already approved of me. I was not an embarrassment to Him.

I entered the prayer room ready for battle. Two prayer warriors joined me and with bowed heads we steadied ourselves and took our fight to the foot of the cross. The battle was swift because God met us there to strike the enemy down and break my stronghold through submission before Him. Then God did something so beautiful. He lavishly poured His truth into me to strengthen and build me up so I would understand He wanted something far more amazing for me than I had wanted for myself. I had desired the praise from others, but He gave me acceptance.

I met a fearless, mighty, and compassionate God in prayer this week.

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NLT

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

 

Testing Prayer

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. Psalm 62:1

Testing Prayer

She sits quietly with her book open, sometimes reading the material aloud so she can hear what she is reading. She makes note cards as she reviews, as well as takes practice reviews on line. She’s a way better student than I was at fifteen. But very much like me, she’s a slower test taker. Both my kids have been. They read questions thoroughly and take their time analyzing the choices. This pace is great for real life decisions, like buying cars and houses; but in our world of school test taking the timer ticks on with  anxiety building at each tick of the clock.

When I was a teen my mom gave me a prayer book by Marjorie Holmes called, “Nobody Else Will Listen.” This book contained a prayer titled, “Help Me with This Test.” Praying it helped calm my test taking anxiety through the years. I’ve pulled it out from time to time with my kids and will do so again for my daughter’s first AP Exam on this coming Friday. As exam season is upon us, I just wanted to share it with you in case there is anyone else out there who might need it. Enjoy!

Help me with this Test
A prayer by Marjorie Holmes

Oh, God, make me calm and confident before this test.
            Please take the anxiety from me. Help me to stop worrying about the questions I can’t answer, and to feel cheerful and grateful for the ones I can.
            Help me to remember just to read the whole thing swiftly through and then concentrate on what I really know. Give me correct choices and words to express myself.   Let me remember the facts I think I’ve forgotten. But even if I can’t, don’t let me sit fretting and stewing about it.
            Sit beside me, Lord. If you’re there I won’t be tempted to cheat. I won’t feel too badly if I falter or even fail. But with your  presence guiding me I’ll be able to do my best.
            That’s all that really matters, so help me to do my best.
   Walk with me now into that room, Lord.  Be with me through this test.

8:30 p.m. on Sunday

“Our Father 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:9-13

8.30.sunday

8:30 p.m. on Sundays is a special time in Thorntonville. It’s when our family meets around the kitchen table, discusses the upcoming week’s events and prays. Our family prays over meals, as we are running out the door in the morning, and when we have that sudden feeling of something being too big for us and we have to give it to God right away, but prayers on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. are different.

As my kids transitioned into Middle and Jr. High School, my husband and I felt a strong conviction put on our hearts to teach our kids how to go deeper with Christ. We added morning devotionals to our breakfast routine and encouraged them to find ways to serve at church and/or in the community; areas where their hearts held passion. We desired, though, also to train them to take the lead in prayer and value their own relationships with God.

Our weeks were busy and rushed with activities (Sunday evenings, too). Even so, we set Sunday evenings at 8:30 as our family prayer time.

I’ll be honest, teenagers can be raw and sometimes rough around the edges. In fact, even more honest, my teens can rub me the wrong way when they are having their rough around the edges moments. When we started our prayer time, the sighs of “do we really have to do this” added to playing with table décor during prayer left me anything but prayerful. But we persisted. Sometimes we still have moments that are rough, but we also have moments that are beautifully raw; like when one of my kids prays for a peer handing a difficult situation. Prayers for counseling instead of punishment, grace instead of judgement, love instead of hatefulness. I get goosebumps from these prayers. I also love it when they pray for their mentors, teachers and adults of influence in their lives.  From teachers battling cancer to mentors trying to adopt babies come prayers of God’s healing and blessing. There are prayers of victory and prayers of sorrow.

A few years ago, I bravely stepped forward and shared with my teens my struggle with depression and the counseling I was going through. I asked them to pray for me. Week after week they prayed, giving thanksgiving for the times of triumph. They also prayed over my husband when his work was trying. My husband and I have been able to pray over our kids, too. Through transition changes at school, decisions about college, patience through biopsies, losses in friendships, tests and the list goes on. We’ve also given thanksgiving for answered prayers like when my son’s partial hearing ears began to show signs of healing without surgery and when a mentor’s encouragement grew roots in my daughter’s life.

Our prayer time is really quite simple. We always begin by looking at the calendar for what the week ahead holds. Everyone gets the opportunity to share what prayer request are on their hearts. We write down those requests in a journal and then we choose a leader to guide us through the ACTS form of prayer. We learned this method when teaching children’s Sunday school. There are many other acronyms for prayer. Simply taking turns lifting requests works, too. ACTS stands for A-Adoration (words of Praise to God), C-Confession (we do silent confessions), T- Thanksgiving (Time of gratitude for God’s provision and answered prayers), S-Supplication (lifting up the concerns on our heart and intercessory prayers for others).

Sometimes our time together is limited. On those times, one person offers up a prayer and/or we all say the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) together.

This time together takes 15 to 30 minutes. It puts our hearts in God’s hands at the beginning of each week. While trials come, this time allows us the opportunity to open up to God and as a bonus, support each other not just as Thorntonville members, but also as members in Christ.

My hope is that my children see the value in prayer, even if at times they don’t on Sunday evenings.  That they will feel the presence of God working in them as they establish communication with him and trust him with their deepest desires, wishes, hurts and failures. That this will be a stepping stone in prayer and praying with confidence as they learn to build on that communication into an even more engaging relationship with Jesus that takes place moment by moment, prayer by prayer, heartbeat by heartbeat.

8:30 p.m. on Sunday is refreshing to Thorntonville. It’s not perfect, but it is sacred.

Time In Between

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Time In between

Time is at a premium these days.

At the beginning of this school year, I began trying to make the in between times count. The times waiting in the car between appointments, the ten minutes before an event, etc. I know sometimes I need a nap during those brief moments or a chance to just sit still. Taking advantage of rest is important; however, I’ve noticed, I tend to fill that space with mindless Facebook wandering, Pinterest or just plain fretting.

I’ve been wanting time to pray through out the day, think about how I can encourage those around me and meditate on scripture.

I do set a time to spend quietly away from the world at the feet of my Redeemer, but even that time has been getting cut short lately. I decided to ask God to help me use my time more wisely. That’s when the “in between” times became so relevant.

The idea came from a song Francesca Battistelli sings on her album My Paper Heart called the “Time In Between”. These lyrics in the second verse spoke directly to my heart:

“Don’t take much for this crazy world to rob me of my peace.  And the enemy of my soul says You’re holding out on me.  So I stand here lifting empty hands for You to fill me up again.

But it’s the time in between that I fall down on my knees waiting on what You’ll bring and the things that I can’t see.  I know my song’s incomplete.  Still I’ll sing in the time in between.”

Putting into practice good ideas can be challenging because sometimes old habits can get in the way. This week I got the chance to practice applying making use of an in between time.

This last Wednesday was See You at the Pole Day. Due to the earlier leaving time, I was rushed getting breakfast on the table and the kids out the door. I became anxious, as we were a bit late with the carpool trying to get the girls to school in time to pray with their peers around the flag pole. We headed onto the highway directly into backed up traffic. Since I was in a rush, I hurriedly tried taking a side road ending up in an even worse situation. As I sat in stand still traffic with two 14 year olds, I worried about being late and missing the event. Then I stopped and prayed, “God we are trying to do something good for you.” When I felt His spirit say, “Kysia, you are sitting in my presence right now. You cannot even move. Take advantage of this moment.”

Looking up through my rearview mirror at the two beauties in the backseat, I encouraged them to pray with me. We prayed over the school, teachers, peers, the school year, direction for the future and the wreck that had caused the traffic we were in. All that before I even made it to the first stop light. It was a precious moment shared with two amazing young ladies and it all took place in the time in between home and school while stuck in traffic.

God met me right where I was without a wasted moment- even in the time in between.