Yesterday at MOPS Gwen Kennedy spoke. It was so powerful. I just have to share and elaborate with you. Here are my notes (Type-A personalities- sorry for the one empty blank ;)
Do you pray? If you are married and/or have kids, do you pray with your spouse and children?
Do you spend more time talking in prayer or listening?
Where did you learn how to pray? Who taught you, or what kind of model do you use?
What questions do you have about prayer?
I can honestly say I have a lot of road blocks in my prayer life. One of them is that I definitely get easily distracted. I talk to God, but many times it is quick and lacking passion and belief.
I know of and have personally seen the awesome power of prayer displayed in many lives. So I hate that I don't always utilize the full capacity of this incredible gift we have to communicate with the Maker of our Universe. Why do I do this? I realized after examining my heart as Gwen spoke, that I must not actually believe in the power of my prayers like I thought I did.
I know now that I have created this seemingly safe, cozy little space for prayer, but have in turn, boxed God in.
I have been trying to micromanage the God of the Universe! Wow, now that is stupid!
So, I prayed, and am still praying. I haven't been on my knees in a sanctuary. Actually, I have been busy and really tired. Let me give you a glimpse of the last day and a half in my life: I went to bed late two nights ago, got up early the next morning, cooked for MOPS, went to MOPS, got home and had just enough time to eat lunch and sort through some paperwork/bills stuff, dropped my girls off at my mom's, went to work for 12 hours, got home around 4am, went to sleep, woke at about 8:30am, took my girls to a make-up tumbling class, came home, ate lunch, and am now sitting here :)
Before the discussion at MOPS yesterday, I would have used my busy schedule and sleep deprived body as an excuse as to why I don't have time for prayer right now. I use to frequently give a nonchalant apology to God, excusing my behavior because I was legitimately busy, and I knew that God knew that.
Again, I had a wow moment, stunned by my stupidity. But I am also joyfully wowing at God! God is so amazingly patient. Our Heavenly Father gives us freedom and lets us figure things out on our own if we choose. But, He is always right there when we decide to turn to Him.
This reminds me of the child who hears about the danger of a hot stove, and the child who figures out the seriousness of that on there own because they got burned. The child who learned the hard way really knows what "hot" means. I am constantly learning what "hot" means in my own life. Thankfully, Jesus is always there to redirect my path and He comforts me when I am afflicted with the pains of this world.
John 16:33 (New Living Translation)
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
So, as you make your journey through life, what/who is directing you?
With what are you filling your spiritual stomach?
I feel like I am continually seeking to live a fuller and more meaningful life. Nothing wrong with that, as long as I am allowing God to be the one molding me. We should not be seeking Oprah or self-help books more than God :) We must live with eternity in mind. No amount of self-improvement, healthy living, etc will keep us from inevitably dying and facing God someday. Although taking care of the bodies God has given us is important and may ward off disease, it won't prevent a natural disaster or a fatal accident. So be ready. You never know when you'll take your last breath.
Having a birds-eye-view of this world and being involved with multiple "good" ministries is just like seeing and smelling a bunch of yummy food on your plate. Your hunger will never be completely satisfied only seeing it and smelling it. You must eat it!
Same goes for the activities we fill our lives with to convince us we are getting closer to God. Yes, these may be good things, but these things alone, apart from an intimate relationship with God, will never ultimately fill the void in our spirits. When we seek Him first, the good deeds will follow. Don't try to reverse that order. God is a passionate lover of our souls, He wants us to seek His Heart- to know Him so intimately. The second rate alternatives won't give you the satisfaction that comes from God alone. There are no exceptions.
James 2:18-19 (New International Version, ©2011)
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
So, I have realized the key to unlocking the fruits of His Spirit in our lives isn't doing more. It isn't being involved in as many church ministries as we can. It isn't enough to live outward "Christian" lives. God is not nearly as concerned with that as He is with our hearts. When we make Him our first priority, everything else will fall into alignment. The fruits of His Spirit will flow from us.
Galatians 5:22-23 (New Living Translation)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
So, coming back full circle here, we must come to know Him deeper through prayer. We must be bold and passionate to know Christ. We need to be in relationship with Him in order to impact this world for Him to the extent that only He can do. We can only be as powerful as we let ourselves be humble to God. Make prayer an everyday part of your life!
Let me tell you that despite my busy schedule and and the fatigue, or however hurt my body may feel, I am now praying, and I will continue to pray. I commit to making my conversation with God unending!
We can pray for the people in our families as we fold their laundry and pick up after them (instead of grumbling that the kids didn't do what we told them to do for the millionth time).
Gwen described praying as she works out at her gym- she painted a picture in my mind of doing "flys" and praying ,"Lord, wrap your strong arms around me. Protect me. Protect my family, etc..."
Pray as you do routine, mundane tasks. Pray for family, friends, enemies, strangers too. It is not just a coincidence- it is God! Be open to feeling nudges from the Lord. Read Beth Moore's Lesson with a Hairbrush for an example of how God really does speak to us in today's world!
Prayer walk! Pray a targeted prayer for where you are! Take a stroll through your neighborhood, and pray for your the cars that drive down your street, neighbors, etc.
Pray wherever you are for whoever is there!
Post scripture on notecards placed throughout your home.
Give yourself permission to pray differently! God enjoys all forms of communication to you- any form of communication is better than none! Cry, Sing, Write, etc...
When you pray- expect God to show up and He will!!!
I am praying for YOU!
Ephesians 6:10-18 (New Living Translation)
The Whole Armor of God
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (King James Version)
17Pray without ceasing.