The Power of Prayer

One of the most important and effective things we can do is to pray for someone. But what do we pray? Sometimes I feel like I pray to little and other times I feel like I pray too much. I want to pray with purpose and focus but how do we do that?

Matthew West is one of my favorite worship singers. I call him that because his songs are worship. I read these lyrics from his song “The Power of a Prayer” and it blew me away. The words are familiar to me as I struggled not too long ago with a spouse who just refused to listen to anyone who opposed his “correct” thinking.

“The Power Of A Prayer”

Dear God, it’s me
Calling out to You
Tonight I’m on my knees
Hoping You’ll come through
This one’s for my dad
Can You help him please
The world’s made him mad
At mom and me
And I’m asking you to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Mom is all I have
But she’s alone again tonight
They always used to laugh
Now all they do is fight
You know she loves that man
But he’s so far from You
She’s done all she can
But she can’t break through
And she’s begging You to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Just a whisper in the dark
Spoken from a broken heart
Holding on to one last strand of faith
Somewhere in the world right now
A desperate soul is crying out
Hoping Jesus really hears us when we pray
Dear God, do You
Recognize my voice
I haven’t talked to You
Since I was a little boy
But tonight I heard my son
Pray for his old man
It made me come undone
Made me understand
That only You can bring my heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer.

My son would be described as a good man even by someone who doesn’t know him very well. So it isn’t that I think he is a bad person who needs a serious change of heart. But I also know that the world can damage our hearts unless we take an active role is keeping it healthy. I am hoping this analogy will help.

Pray for a softened heart to replace the one the world created. Over time, our hearts take a beating. If we don’t give this treatment over to God, our hearts will suffer. Ezekiel 36:26 reads “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Pray for a clean heart. This world is full of garbage and behaviors it says are OK. Well, it isn’t OK and can make your heart suffer great sorrow because of it. Psalm 51:10 reads “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Pray they have true desire for God. When we focus on our own desires, they become what is most important to us. If we make God our only true and passionate desire, life in Him is complete. Psalm 27:4 reads “One thing I have desired of the Lord,That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.

Pray they find their strength and manhood in God. So many people boast to be great examples of how to live or act or build wealth etc. But no one can honestly boast a better example of strength and manhood than Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reads “‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Here is a sample prayer: Father, give name a new heart and a new spirit created from your own flesh and blood. Teach name to continually cleanse his heart with Your love and forgiveness. May name’s desire be to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Teach name to completely rely on God in all areas of his life and that God’s strength is made perfect in his weakness.

Of course the first step in any relationship is commitment. We can’t be a fan of Christ and get by. We have to be followers who desire His heart, His joy, His guidance if we are to receive them.

God bless and stay safe…

I Love Fruit!

I really do. It doesn’t matter what kind, I love it all. I am especially fond of grapefruit. Growing up we had three grapefruit trees and two navel orange trees. My grandmother, two doors down, had a small grove behind and beside her. It was awesome. We ate the ones on the trees and threw the ones on the ground…lol. They made for fun grove fights with cousins, siblings and neighborhood friends. Of course our mothers weren’t thrilled but we had fun.

For nine weeks our pastor has been teaching us the aspects of the Fruits of the Spirit. On http://www.dictionary.com, it is described as “The fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; James 3:17, 18) are those gracious dispositions and habits which the Spirit produces in those in whom he dwells and works.” The New King James Bible for Galatians 5:22-23 reads “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

I made a point to write down several things I wanted to remember over the course of these several weeks. 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “By this token, since we are made in God’s likeness, we can be known by how we exhibit love. There have been many occasions where my family and I would be at a restaurant or in a store and someone would start talking to us about church or some deep moral issue. I believe we can know other Christians by how we act. We can also know who is not at least exhibiting Christ-like behavior as well. I often watch and listen to people as they interact with each other. When someone chooses to be mean or loud when being gentle and pleasant isn’t that hard, I often want to say something to them. But I figure I’d get shot so I pray it up instead and keep my mouth shut. Our goal should be to love like Jesus.

This joy has it’s source in religion, not so much elsewhere. A relationship with Jesus is necessary to feel real joy. This joy produces a burning desire to share Jesus with other people. If we show true joy, other people will want what makes our joy.

Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a choice and has to begin with us. Isaiah used the phrase “Prince of Peace” to describe Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 which reads “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Peace be still comes from Christ and is triggered by our trust in Him.

True patience is completely supernatural. It is not something we are naturally born with. It is infused into us when we love Jesus and love like He does. In 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter; God is love, love is patient, therefore God is patient or He would contradict himself. Patience is perfected in our perfect love for Jesus. It is knowing that He is in control of everything that provides the trust we need to cultivate patience.

Kindness is one of those behaviors you have to work at. Many people who are kind hearted do not speak with kindness. Some come across harsh or even mean because they do not acknowledge their abrupt manner. Kindness and forgiveness also run hand in hand as we see in Colossians 3:12-13 which reads “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

God is good…All the time! It stands to reason that goodness is one of these fruits.  In John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus declares that He is “the Good Shepard”. If we are to bear fruit and witness to the world, we have to be consistent in our behavior. This is a serious mandate if we are to attempt to mirror Jesus.

God was faithful when he provided the Holy Spirit. He always keeps His promises. He is always faithful. Fear should immobilize us to serve God, not make us run from Him. Adversity and fear (just to name a few) should draw us closer to God, should make us run to the Father, just as a little child will run to their parent’s side. We possess this quality because our God does but He is a jealous God. Our grace comes at the expensive cost of Jesus’ life.

The Greek word for gentleness is prautes. Prautes as defined by the ancient Greeks has several meanings and examples. According to www.ExecutableOutlines,com, Prautes is defined as:

1. To describe persons or things which have in them a certain soothing quality… — E.g, having a humble and kind demeanor which calms another’s anger

2. To describe gentleness of conduct, especially on the part of people who had it in their power to act otherwise… a. E.g., a king forgiving a servant who failed a particular task 1) The king has the authority and power to render punishment 2) But chooses instead to show kindness and forgiveness b. Such a king would be praised for his gentle and meek behavior

3. To describe the ability to take unkind remarks with good nature… a. E.g., as when embroiled in controversy b. Being able to discuss things without losing one’s temper because of unkind and unfair personal remarks

4. Most often, to describe the character in which strength and gentleness are perfectly combined… a. E.g., a horse obedient to the reins, a watchdog friendly to the family owning him b. There is great strength present, but it is tempered by a gentle spirit.

It can also be described as being submissive, teachable and considerate. Again, God is our perfect example. He is able to show gentleness when needed and not when needed.

Self-control is difficult to master. By nature, we want things our way or the easy way. Having self-control is not natural or easy. Without this virtue, the other fruits will not be evident. Without it the works of the flesh cannot be overcome. Self-control starts with the choice to have and execute it. It is easy to run to fear when we are afraid or run to anger when someone wrongs someone. Having self-control propels the other fruits which would remain hidden and undeveloped with out it.

Seeing the big picture of these fruits has given me more understanding of how weaved together they really are. We tend to compartmentalize bits and pieces of ourselves, whether it is memories or behaviors. Seeing how these virtues work together makes making them work together easier.

Did I do that?

Considering my son’s fathers’ behavior while he was growing up, I understand that my son has issues making decisions but WOW! Everyday he changes his mind about his job. He has a great career working for a well paying fire department. He has a job offer at another fire department from a former chief. The chief sought out my son because of his reputation and integrity. They have worked together for years and share a mutual respect. The inspector job, however, would be a traditional 8-5 job except for on call time which is shared over the course of the month. Weekends off, vacation days, better family insurance but a lot less money than he is making now.

The problem, my son can’t make a decision. Everyday he changes his mind. My daughter-in-law wants to be a good wife and listen to his concerns etc, but he is spinning in circles between the two opportunities and staying where he is. I feel so badly for her because his father was the same way. I am a fixer and I can’t fix this. I am an exhorter, and I don’t know what to say to him to be of help. I feel defeated and useless. He is lacking a life skill and I feel responsible.

I paused to pray and got an idea. I told him he needed to put all three options on a piece of paper. Chart it out with pros and cons for each so they can discuss and decide on something they can actually see. Figure out the money differences, the hours, etc. and see what happens from there.

Father, I know You know what the future holds for their family and I trust you with their future. Please help them make the decisions You want them to make. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was she thinking?

Behavior is a tremendously deep subject and science. I shake my head at people all the time. I like trying to figure out what motivates someone to kindness or deceit and everything in between. Were their actions a result of learned behavior? Was it a defensive mechanism? Was it just plain meanness? Or was it something else.

My daughter-in-law is a beautiful young woman inside and out. She has a heart of gold and loves her profession. She is a CNA and also takes care of her elderly grand parents. She is the mother of my newest grandson. She does tend to be brutally honest and seldom has a filter on her mouth; which is very refreshing unless you happen to be the person she is talking to. Although she tells it like it is, she is learning how to do that with grace. Something that her journey to getting closer to God is producing.

Her cousin’s girlfriend has been keeping the grand baby for three hours a day for a few months now. Today she didn’t show up or call. She isn’t answering texts and is avoiding her completely. She spoke to her cousin, concerned since his girlfriend was expected, and he asked “didn’t she call you Saturday, she said she did and she told you that she quit”. Well, she didn’t. So now everyone is wondering what is going on.

It would have been easier to just quit. Call and say she couldn’t make it. Things happen. That is understandable. But to lie and avoid someone who had, up until now considered her a friend, is hard to take. She is digging, whatever hole this is about, making it worse than it needs to be.

Now my daughter-in-law is bewildered, upset, and hurt to say the least. It isn’t that there is a problem, it is how the girl went about it. She left her hanging knowing she had to be at work.

This behavior tells me several things about this girl. She is immature, a coward, has no self respect, is a liar, is selfish just to name a few. Now that she has made this so much worse than it needs to be, how does she come back from that? More over, why would you do that to someone?

Father, You know what the problem is with this situation. I pray that we remember to forgive, to support and to shine Your love to everyone. Especially to those who have questionable behaviors. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Scowl!

I’m not sure where it came from. I was busy doing my thing when suddenly I realized it was there. Sitting pretty as though it was accustomed to perching like a majestic male bird showing off his manhood for a lucky female bird. But nay, it was there. Somewhere where I find it all too often.

You know it is there because you can feel your eye brows narrowing at the top of your nose. And the usual smile has turned drastically upside down. But where did it come from? Why did it show up today, this moment?

As I write, it is still there. It doesn’t have a name. It is something which cannot be readily identified. I don’t like it. It makes me feel controlled. I am not that person. I am happy. I am joyous. I am grateful. I am content. So what is this scowl and where did it comes from?

It could be that some people say things that are condescending regardless of their knowledge of the subject. Whether right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. They just have to have their say, welcomed or not. Or that people are generally rude to each other in unimaginable ways. More than mere words, but by how they treat each other.

I didn’t watch the news today because I just don’t feel like hearing all of the bad news. It won’t make this scowl go away, that’s for sure. I haven’t said much to anyone today because, sure enough, I’ll get in the middle of something and I just don’t feel like defending anything or anyone.

I think I need a soul revival. To spend time with other believers who are on fire like I am. I’m not around enough believers to feel the fire that builds and grows, like when a group of people who are on fire for Jesus get together.

I use to go on retreats several times a year before I moved to Florida. I have friends from several churches and they would invite me to go with them no matter where my church home was. We would learn, laugh, cry and hug to our hearts content while shedding the garbage the world was throwing at us. It was a time of renewal, release and regeneration. I miss those times a great deal. I miss what it felt like to pray with a group of ladies who could all relate to each others challenges. We actually felt each others pains and joys. There is something liberating when you pray with someone going through something familiar and you are able to provide comfort and understanding that ultimately helps you to heal too.

After my walk and a cool shower I noticed the scowl is gone. It has been replaced by a slight smile. Just thinking about going on a retreat has renewed me a little bit. Given me hope. Now I am looking forward to getting together with some of my friends when I visit Carolina in a few months. Time to catch up with everyone and recharge our batteries.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” —James 5:16

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” —1 Thessalonians 5:11

Father, Thank you that you love and forgive us unconditionally when we believe and trust You. Help us to keep the smiles on our faces despite the pain and longing in our hearts. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Still living the Journey!

This life is so fragile. One misstep and so many people can be impacted. A car accident, a fall from a ladder or a fight of words with someone can change our world in a matter of seconds. We sometimes seem to have blinders on as we trudge through our stressful and time limited days. It is easy to overlook the miraculous creations that surround us. The ones that are insignificant until we make them significant on purpose.

One of my favorite things to do, to bring me back to a level place in my head, is to look at nature. To silence the voices in my head, to quiet my anxious heart, to ignore the pain, just for a moment, to ponder the bloom on a rose. Simply breathe and look at the pedals, their ends, their stems, their thorns. I sometimes wonder how nature knows what to do and when to do it. Without a brain for thought, they simply exist. Something that would be utterly magnificent to be able to do. Just be! Think about it for a moment. What does that look like for you?

Father, Help me see Your miraculous creations in this world knowing that I am one too. In Jesus name, Amen.

Stay safe and God bless.

Image courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope, titled “Butterfly Nebula NGC 6302”.

The Vanishing Door

Co-dependency was a joke to me. I didn’t understand it completely so I thought it was a controllable state of mind. Little did I know that it was a conditioned state of mind not of my own doing. I learned this in therapy. For almost three years my therapist tried to tell me my husband was not going to change and I couldn’t change him. She hoped I could completely heal by someday leaving him. Whether it ended in divorce or not she didn’t really care, only that it would provide a way and the only way for me to completely heal. I had to get away from my abuser…the one that made me co-dependent. I was stubborn and would not leave him…yet.

During therapy she would play relaxing music and I would drift into a deep relaxed state where she revealed to me the things that were keeping me caged and bound in the place I was in. We would transition from one topic to another and enter and leave the session by closing my eyes and reaching for the door to open into a safe peace of mind, away from the abuse and fear.

Long after therapy, I started opening a door in my mind as a way to enter into my nightly prayer time. I would lay down, relax, take a deep breath and open the door. I wanted to enter into the peaceful place where God was. I wanted to imagine myself walking into a Garden so I could be close to God when I prayed. I did this for months and each time felt closer and closer to God as I went along. My prayers were more like conversations and my inner feelings were starting to come out more.

Until one night everything changed. I don’t remember the day being any different from any other. I was still dealing with the unexpected anger issues from my husband that had plagued our marriage almost from the very beginning. The Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde author must have been psychic because it was exactly what I was going thru on a daily basis as I saw my husband express his anger in ways that would make you cringe.

This night as I started to relax and look for the door, it was as though the non-room where the door was had changed. I felt myself walk around the room looking for the door but could not find one. After several minutes of looking for this imaginative door, I began to cry. At first I could not understand what was keeping me from entering the presence of God and then why. I went thru the last few days thinking I had sin I needed to confess and I couldn’t think of anything major so I prayed quickly to have God reveal any to me so I could confess it and give it to Him. But nothing came to mind. As I cried harder and harder I suddenly felt a very strong warm hug flow throughout my body. My crying stopped. I sat straight up in bed and was afraid that someone had grabbed me, It felt that real. I soon realized it was God although a hot flash did cross my mind.

My fears were met with a stern voice from God. He simply said “Child, why do you look for a door?. Do you not remember I AM with you always?” At first I was mesmerized and confused. I didn’t understand what He meant by there not being a door. I had been opening that door for some time now and I wanted to continue to open it. I thought it was the barrier that kept me safe. Again God told me “There is no door”! This time I understood it. It was a “Duh” moment. God was telling me there is nothing between Him and me at any time. Real or imaginary. I was mad at myself for placing a barrier between God and myself. There are so many uncontrolled barriers we face and I had put one there on purpose. I felt dumb and elated all at the same time. Now the barrier is gone, my Father is only a voice away and as I get closer and closer to him, He reveals silly things like this to me all the time. God is Awesome…Let Him be the Awesome God He wants to be for you too.

Overcoming Regret

A friend of mine recently lost her son, who became a quadriplegic after a car accident several years ago. When I visited her about a week later, she was noticeably still shaken and upset. Often during our conversation she would drift and I asked her if she was OK. She admitted to me she had regretted not being able to see him more over the time since she, herself, became dependent on a wheelchair. As I watched her reminisce I recalled the regret I use to feel about the loss of my marriage. I consider it a loss and I may put that on paper one day.

There was a time when I too would regret when I allowed my ex to act out the way he did in front of our children. I realized later that I did not have the power to stop him. I considered myself a bad mother for allowing them to be exposed to such a horrible example of a father. I often wondered when they would come to me, in the future and ream me over for my part in that mess. But they have been nothing but loving and supportive. Of course not unscaved. My daughter has father issues and my son carries a lot of anger. I feel blessed that although their father pulled them away from God, they are both saved and attending church with their families. Hope abounds.

Talking with my friend and remembering my own regret reminded me of a few truths. Most importantly, Jesus died to save us. He tosses away our sin once we confess, so according to Him, it never happened.  Next it is in the past and we cannot change the past. We can only learn from it. Regret steals our joy and Jesus calls us to be joyful. Pray up whatever is stealing your joy and let Jesus take care of it. I guarantee He will do a much better job anyway.

I love the lyrics to Matthew West song “Hello my name is”. The first issue the song addresses is regret.

“Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget”

That little voice in your head is the devil robbing you of your joy. It took me a long time to realize what that voice was and the story Matthew West tells as the inspiration for this song is what really helped me to finally recognize those lies the devil is trying to rob my joy with. The fact that we are the children of the one true king is more than amazing and He loves us like no other.

Thank you, Goodnight and God bless.

Why am I so annoyed now?

Well, let’s see. I have been trying to find other blogs to follow because I love studying people and what makes them tick. But it doesn’t take long for me to come across a foul word or three, then I move on to the next one. This cycle repeats itself for what seems like hours on end. I get frustrated and tired and finally give up. I will never understand the appeal that using foul language gives people. It adds nothing to the subject. It doesn’t create good drama. It’s just plain nasty and turns me off instantly.

My ex drove for a famous rock band back in the 80’s. When they were at family venues, they were polite and avoided the foul language. We could talk one on one with them and they were also polite. But get them at a bar or related venue and the four letter words fly better than the birds do, no pun intended, lol. After speaking to the lead singer a few years ago outside a bar venue, he noticed us leave as soon as he started spouting the bad language. I received an email later asking if everything was OK. I told him exactly like it was as politely as I could. I thought it might make a difference considering he had asked me how we had kept our 26 year marriage going without killing each other. I was honest again and gave that glory to God. It didn’t make a lick of difference. They are still in love with the foul language. So we don’t bother going to see them anymore.

I will avoid writing about the other annoyances I had on the tip of my tongue because I have no doubt it will offend someone. It isn’t because I don’t care about them, I don’t want to turn them away from the God that first said those things are wrong. They still are.

I have been writing prayers on paper. I write one every day like a continuing book. Each day, either in the morning or before going to bed, I read the book from beginning to current. I am finding that I am having a longer conversation with God each time and repeating my thoughts is benefiting me in a way I cannot explain. But it seems to be helping. I don’t feel so aggravated at mom  with her negative remarks about everything and my high pain days don’t feel less but they seem to be easier to tolerate.

I love quoting the famous and brilliant Bruce Lee. He said “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” There is so much truth in that statement. People have free will so God won’t rob us of that privilege. He does allow certain things to happen in our lives but it is always in an effort to make us stronger. There is a song out and I can’t remember who sings it but the words go something like “He must think I am strong…” That line always makes me smile because I know I am strong only by the grace of God.

You would think with all of this faith that I would be the happiest most grounded person there is. Yes, when I get a flat tire I look up to God and tell Him, “I can’t do this but I know You can.” I get thru it but only because of Him. That faith isn’t what keeps me going, pushing through the pain, it is His love for me that runs my energy. My illness robs me of energy but God provides more when I think there isn’t any possible way to even stand up. His love for me is the key, not my faith. I think this is because I don’t need faith to know who God is and why He loves us. I am such a part of Him on a normal basis that I never have to feel left out or behind about anything. It’s hard to put into words, I know I say that a lot, but His love, once you understand it, is incredible.

This is a good place to say “good day”.