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Has this happened to you? Suddenly, without warning...POOF, the problem is gone. A need has been met in ways no one could have dreamed up in a human mind. A simple thanks just doesn't seem to match the gift.


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When a Simple Thanks Doesn’t Match the Gift

Here is my dilemma y’all.  I have labored in prayer over a need.  My mind has been occupied by this trouble for months now.  It starts in the morning, and ends as my eyes close.  It’s always there as I go about my day.  It is a constant petition on behalf of my loved one.

So then, suddenly, without warning…POOF, the problem is gone.  The need has been met in ways no one could have dreamed up in a human mind.  I am stunned.  I am thankful.

 

But mere thanks just doesn’t seem enough after the amount of time I have suffered in prayer.  Shouldn’t the thanks be equal or greater than the petition? But oftentimes the only thing I have to offer Him comes from my mouth, “Thank you.”  But, y’all, those words just don’t seem enough.

Has this happened to you? Suddenly, without warning...POOF, the problem is gone. A need has been met in ways no one could have dreamed up in a human mind. A simple thanks just doesn't seem to match the gift.

In scripture, the children of Israel were finally heading to the Promise Land after many distractions and delays.  God recreated the crossing of the Red Sea for this new generation of Israelites as they set out across the Jordan River.  I’ll bet as their feet kicked up dust in that river bed…wide-eyed at the wall of commanded water on the right and on the left, they remembered the history of their fathers.    Read the story here.   Joshua commanded that twelve stones to be set up in the middle of the river.  The purpose?  Family discussions. This moment in time will live because children will ask and someone will answer.  Remembering is prolonged thankfulness.

And this is what I want to offer Jesus.  A remembrance of a difficult prayer answered.  Something created by me so that those who weren’t there might ask and I might tell.  For God is GOOD.  And He loves mightily.

I haven’t put my idea into action yet, but I have plans for my own memorial “stones.”  They involve a blank area of my dining room, PicMonkey graphics and Walgreen’s photo shop.  I will be creating colorful signs that I will order in various sizes to create a space of refection, questions and thankfulness.  This will be a summer project and I will post pictures once it is completed.  I can just see it now…   Ziva will ask, “Granna, what is that for?”  and drawing her close I will say,  “Come let me tell you about the times God was so good…”  She will ask and I will tell.

Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life,so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone. 2 Peter 1:12-15 NLT

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Couldn't fasting be any pleasure we voluntarily abstain from in order to pray? How about unpainted toenails? Free printable with out of the box fasting ideas.


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Unpainted Toes and Other Ways to Suffer in Prayer

Did you click on my post because of the title?  Give me a minute and I’ll explain.

Couldn't fasting be any pleasure we voluntarily abstain from in order to pray? How about unpainted toenails? Free printable with out of the box fasting ideas.

Fasting is a Spiritual discipline that I am interested in but am NOT an expert on.  From what I understand in scripture, people withheld food from themselves in order to pray.  I guess there is something about suffering that focuses the mind, and lets Jesus know that you are serious.

But couldn’t fasting be any pleasure we voluntarily abstain from in order to pray?  Does it have to be just food?  Several years ago a beloved uncle was in the throws of cancer.  He was riddled with it,  and there was nothing left to do but pray.  I found myself forgetting to remember him on certain days that I was consumed with my job and life. I DIDN’T WANT TO FORGET!   So I devised a plan.  I stopped painting my toenails.  Hear me out y’all.  In my part of Texas we wear sandals all the way up until winter.  When I look at my toes, it makes me happy to see shiny, bright colors staring back at me.  When they are not painted I cringe.  (I know some of you are laughing…me too)  These unpolished toes reminded me to pray.  Not only that, but it reminded me that while I was living a perfectly healthy life, someone I loved was in agony.

Couldn't fasting be any pleasure we voluntarily abstain from in order to pray? How about unpainted toenails? Free printable with out of the box fasting ideas.

 

And now, another person I love is in agony over an ongoing job situation.   I should be praying for him daily, but I became frustrated when my prayers seemed tiny and brief.  I wanted my prayers to be as big, and bold as my love.  So I devised another fast,  especially for this situation.  I will continue this fast until a conclusion is reached.  Since this fast is current, I will keep it private for now.

Jesus gave specific  instructions for fasting.

 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.  Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.   Matthew 6:16-18 NLT

Did you notice that Jesus says WHEN YOU FAST.  Not IF you fast.

Other ideas for long term fasting are:  television, computer, phone activity (you could use it just to take calls),  coffee (taking it black when you don’t usually would be a great fast), sodas,  makeup, jeans, earrings, nail polish, even taking a different out of the way route home from work would be a great reminder to pray.  Anything that could purposely cause you inconvenience.   And by the way, if you recoiled when you read one of these ideas, and said to yourself you could never give up that particular item…I hate to tell you, but THAT’S the one you should go for first!  It’s all about suffering y’all.  Click here for Long Term Fasting Ideas printable PDF.

All of the above are long term fasts.  There are times when immediate abstaining from food fasts are more appropriate.  Big decisions, upcoming surgeries, safe travels, marriages are a few examples.  In scripture there were times when fasting was done with a group.  Once my sister and I fasted and prayed for a immediate need in her family.  And on a side note, EVERY time I have abstained from food to pray I have received deep, powerful insights from the Holy Spirit.  He is working with you, n sync with you while you suffer in prayer…bringing your groans to the Father.  (Romans 8)

Be creative with your fasting y’all.  Think outside of the box and become powerful prayer warriors.  Blessings!

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It is important to know that Jesus is not a genie ready to deliver hearts and rainbows just because I rubbed the lamp. Look y'all, if you are like me, and I'm betting you are, you spend most of your time in prayer presenting your requests. Here are some ideas to make your prayer time into more of a partnership...more of a love fest...more of an expression of trust.


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How I Stopped Rubbing a Useless Magic Lamp When I Prayed

Spiritual Disciplines Series:  Prayer

It is important to know that Jesus is not a genie ready to deliver hearts and rainbows just because I rubbed the lamp. Look y'all, if you are like me, and I'm betting you are, you spend most of your time in prayer presenting your requests. Here are some ideas to make your prayer time into more of a partnership...more of a love fest...more of an expression of trust.

Prayers often don’t work out quite like we imagine them.    A divorce might divide a family.  A child might die.  The innocent might suffer.  Life is difficult.  It is important to know that Jesus is not a genie ready to deliver hearts and rainbows just because I rubbed the lamp.

It is important to know that Jesus is not a genie ready to deliver hearts and rainbows just because I rubbed the lamp. Look y'all, if you are like me, and I'm betting you are, you spend most of your time in prayer presenting your requests. Here are some ideas to make your prayer time into more of a partnership...more of a love fest...more of an expression of trust.

Look y’all,  if you are like me, and I’m betting you are, you spend most of your time in prayer presenting your requests.  Here are some ideas to make your prayer time into more of  a partnership…more of a love fest…more of an expression of trust.

Remove Yourself

I found this great verse in 1 Peter 4:7, and I have included several different versions below.  I wonder if Peter was recalling the time he and his friends fell asleep while waiting in the garden with Jesus when he wrote this?

The end of the world is near. You must be the boss over your mind. Keep awake so you can pray. NLV

Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. HCSB

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. NIV

First of all, I suggest that you set aside time to pray…not the praying you constantly do in your mind as you go about your day…and not the nightly prayer you say while falling to sleep on your pillow.  Jesus often removed Himself from the crowds to spend time with His Father.  We too should remove ourselves from the crowds and become disciplined about our time with God.  I found a place behind my closet door where I can go to have private time with my Lord.  Click here to read How I Found a Space to Pray in my Small House.

Seek Synchronization

There are two wills at play when I pray, mine and God’s.  My will seeks comfort and escape from suffering.  God’s will is more mysterious.  God’s will incorporates parenting and His immeasurable imagination.  And sometimes it requires prolonged suffering.  I am so glad the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to include his trouble with the thorn of Satan in 2 Corinthians.  It gives us a glimpse of the mind of Christ when He reminds the tormented Paul that:

“My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

The suffering obviously came from the enemy, but the suffering was prolonged by Jesus to keep Paul from becoming conceited. (read the whole passage here)  Who can understand the mind of God?  Not me.  But what should my reaction be to chronic difficulty and trouble?  How should I respond in prayer?  Should I shake my fist at the One who knows all?  Should I feel forgotten and discouraged?  This was Paul’s reaction:

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

To be able to pray for pleasure in weaknesses, to be able to ask that His grace be enough is my idea of a partnership of wills.  I may not feel it, but I can ask for Him to help me feel it.  Strength in the middle of pain.  My ongoing prayer for myself and for others on my prayer list is to be able to withstand God’s will, to be able to trust Him when things look bleak, and to have His grace be enough.  But mainly I pray this from Ephesians 3:14-19

For His unlimited resources

For power with inner strength through the Spirit

That I learn to trust Him so Jesus will make His home in  my heart

That the root of God’s love will keep me strong

That I will be given the power to understand how wide, how strong, how deep His love is

That I will be made complete with all the life and power that comes from God

 

It is important to know that Jesus is not a genie ready to deliver hearts and rainbows just because I rubbed the lamp. Look y'all, if you are like me, and I'm betting you are, you spend most of your time in prayer presenting your requests. Here are some ideas to make your prayer time into more of a partnership...more of a love fest...more of an expression of trust.

Diversify

In the past, my prayer time has been B-O-R-I-N-G!  Why in the world would I want to linger in prayer if I am distracted or uninterested?

One way I  solved this dilemma was by gathering together the latest in worship music on my Pinterest page so I have it available as I pray.   For example, I particularly love the song “Come Alive (Dry Bones)” by Lauren Daigle as I pray over the  lost and distracted people on my prayer list.  On some days I just put on instrumental meditation music, close my eyes, breath deeply and just BE with Jesus.

On other days if I am particularly stressed about something I will use a passage like Psalm 23 to remind myself through the scripture that God is my Shepherd while using my prayer journal to write it down.  My journal then becomes encouragement for me when I reread past entries.

If I run out of words to use in praise, I go to the Psalms.

Some days I try to just be thankful and not ask anything of Him.  I post pictures of my family and feel my heart swell with thankfulness as I look at their faces and know the Holy Spirit is bringing words I cannot say straight to my Father.

Be Ready

A couple of years ago something unexpected and scary happened to one of my children.  I got obsessed and worried and discovered I was not as strong as I thought.  I begged and pleaded and I was NOT filled with peace.   There was no syncing up with God’s will AT ALL.  There was no partnership. I was a total disappointment to myself.  The fiery arrows from the enemy were burning me.  Where was that genie when I needed him?   The only way I survived spiritually was because three people I loved reminded me of the things I forgotten. They prayed with me and read scriptures to me.

Then I remembered.

It was obvious that I needed more military training. More discipline in prayer.  I needed to learn to be the boss over my mind.   I pray that in the moment when your world seems to fall apart, you won’t fall apart like I did…that the discipline of prayer and Bible study will sustain you.  Be ready… because our enemy is prowling like a lion.

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You might like these other posts in the Spiritual Disciplines Series.  Click on the pictures.

 

Spiritual disciplines will clothe you with depth, suitable clothes for the wedding banquet. Find out what these disciplines are, and battle the enemy as he tries to steal your time from you.Do you sometimes forget you have no power over the weaknesses in the one you love? It's time to capture every rebellious thought about your spouse and focus on the battle in prayer.I want to show you how I found a space to pray in my small house after watching The War Room. See how I created a space on the back of a door and sign up for free printables of the prayer banner, labels, and prayer cards that I use in my time with God.So really, if I want to fight like a boss, like Jesus, I need to chose my words like Jesus did, quoting scriptures to the enemy. Pulling out the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.Now here's where those pesky distractions come y'all, at least for me. In order to swing the sword, I must train. Not only do I need military training and discipline to fight distractions, but my kids need to learn to fight with scripture too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.


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Five Ways to Protect Against the Surprise of Evil

 

I will come right out and say it, Evil is scary. My good friend and her family live in another country.  Evil surprised her last week, really dark forces kind of evil that involved the love of money and guns.  The bad guys were foiled by the good guys and all ended well, but afterwards the breeze of that narrow escape blows across the heart, and chills the soul.

Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.

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If you read my blog about the day my father was murdered you will know that I have experience with evil surprises.  Look y’all, you can’t just go around in panic mode, waiting for something bad to happen.  Looking around every corner, bracing yourself for the bogyman to startle you  That’s called anxiety, and you were not meant to live like that.  God wants you full of His peace.

To be honest y’all, I struggle with this one.  Here are five ways scripture tells us to protect from the surprise of evil.


Pray.

Christ showed His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6.

Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.

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This one line from the Lord’s prayer is a weapon against the unseen forces that swoop in to kill you daily.  And yes, you are being stalked.  You are prey.  Walking alone without the deliverer is not smart. He is the one who fights, He is the one who protects, He is the one who yanks you out of the way when the attack comes.  Deliver me from the evil one in the name of Jesus.


Be Alert.

Alertness is different than nervousness.  Alertness suggests being aware of your surroundings.   Watching, listening…ready to snap into Spiritual action when you hear the lion leap.  And he will leap.

Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.

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Use Your Sword.

We are only given one offensive weapon in the armor Paul describes in Ephesians 6.  The sword of God’s word.  The scriptures.  The very thing Jesus used against Satan when He was being tempted.  He whipped out His Sword and made quick work of the enemy.

Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.

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Gather an Army.

In a battle, wouldn’t you rather face the enemy with a whole bunch of people wielding swords, carrying shields, and lifting their voices in a war shout?  Cultivate your companions.  Diligently search for people who are dedicated to Jesus.  Y’all, this is me being blunt…Friends who never even say Jesus’ name out loud around you are useless in a battle.  I’m just saying…

Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.

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Speak out loud to the enemy in the name of Jesus.

Do you believe Satan can read your mind?  I don’t.   Force him to hear the name of Jesus spoken out loud.  Subject him to the power of the Holy Spirit pushing Him back as you breathe out the word of God, as you tell him to leave you alone.

Usually evil surprises us in the worst possible way so it is a good idea to be prepared with these five ways of protection...with free printable bookmark.

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Five Ways to Protect Against the Surprise of Evil Bookmark PDF

Pictures:  +taken in a Cambodia museum where prisoners of Pol Pot were housed and tortured, ++I posterized a sunset and discovered all these cool layers, +++a walk in a Texas woods looking up through the trees.  The original picture is full of greens and blues and is anything but ominous, ++++a really cool gate I found on a visit to Key West that I tinted green, +++++I posterized these purple flowers that I found on a walk with my sister in Little Rock.    I use PicMonkey free graphics with my pictures.

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