Fancy Prayer Not Required

Do you ever stumble over your words when you pray? You hear other people offer eloquent prayers. You hear these well-crafted masterpieces and compare your own prayers which you believe are anything but well-crafted masterpieces.

“I’m not eloquent enough,” you and I think. We tell ourselves, “My prayers are just not good enough.” The Bible says differently though.

Jesus, in teaching his disciples about prayer, shows us prayers do not have to be fancy. Eloquent words are not necessary. Well-crafted masterpieces are not required. We can just be ourselves in the conversation of prayer.

We Can Be Ourselves

Prayer is a conversation between our dad and us.

Luke 11:2 says, “When you pray, say, ‘Father….”

It is impossible to realize the full potential of our prayer life unless we understand who God is and who we are before him. Understanding this can relieve the fear of not being fancy enough in our prayers.

Who is God?

God is our father, our dad, our daddy. He has our best interests at heart and wants to provide for us. He is a caring, loving dad who has already given us his son. This shows you and I how deeply he cares for us.

Who are we?

We are God’s children.

Romans 8 says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Being God’s kids means he is going to look out for us. He will open doors needing opened, and close doors needing closed. He will take care of us.

So What?

Since God is our dad and we are his kids, we do not have to worry about the words we use when we pray. Dad doesn’t mind if we stumble a little. He doesn’t mind if our sentences are not always cohesive. Daddy doesn’t mind if we do not pronounce every word correctly. He doesn’t require eloquence.

God is thrilled when we talk with him. We do not have to let of how well we do it stop us. He just wants to talk with us.

Acting

Try praying as if you are having a conversation. Don’t worry about being well-spoken. Just talk. Share how it helps your prayers in the comments below.

Know someone who would benefit from this post? Please share it with him or her.

Want an Additional Resource?

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado is a great resource on prayer.

 

woman in a praying pose

No Need to be Overwhelmed by Prayer

“Lord, teach us to pray,” was the request of the disciples. They understood the importance of prayer, and how powerful of a tool prayer is for the Christian. So, they wanted Jesus to help them develop a better prayer life.

I too would like to have a better prayer life. Prayer is important and powerful but can be overwhelming especially if our faith is new to us. I’m glad the disciples asked Jesus for this lesson, so you and I have his answer to help teach us.

Here are some tips Jesus gives us in his prayer lesson, assurance God hears us, and 3 reasons why we should pray.

Why should we pray?

We should pray because…

It gives us a chance to talk with our dad.

Prayer is just a conversation with the Lord. It gives us a chance to talk with him about everything. The Bible says God is our Dad and he desires to hear from us. We love talking with our children, so why wouldn’t the Lord love to hear from us?

It gives us a chance to request what we need and want.

Matthew 7:7 says, keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.”

It is a powerful tool for us.

James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Does God really answer our prayers?

Yes, we are assured the Lord answers us.

Matthew 7:8 says, “For everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks, finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The Lord hears our prayers, and he does answer us. Sometimes, the answer is no, but God does always answer us.

An Answer Model to Follow

Here is a model which helps us understand how our prayers are always answered.

  • If our request is not best for us or its not time, God says, “No.”
  • If the request is right for us, but the timing is wrong, God says, “Wait.”
  • If we are not ready for the request, God says, “Grow.”
  • When the timing is right, the request is right, and we are ready, God says, “Go.”

Like a caring parent, God will always give us what is best.

Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

A Lesson in Prayer

A young boy asked his parents for a baby brother, and seeing a perfect opportunity to teach their son a valuable lesson on prayer, the parents said, “Alex, if you pray each morning and evening for one month, you will get a baby brother.”

Alex was all in for a couple weeks. He didn’t miss a prayer time. Each morning and evening he prayed for a baby brother. About the third week, Alex was tired of praying and stopped, but he didn’t say anything to his parents.

The month ended, and Alex’s mom left for a few days. When she came home, she called Alex into her bedroom. Alex entered the room to see his mom sitting on the bed holding her newborn sons. The couple had twins.

“Look at your baby brothers,” mom said. “Aren’t you glad you prayed for one month?”

Alex thought for a moment and responded, “Aren’t you glad I stopped after only two weeks?”

5 Tips to Remember When Praying

Here are 5 tips to remember when praying.

Acting

Think of prayer as if you were talking to your mom or dad or friend. Have a conversation with God just like you would one of them. Share your experience in the comments below.

How has the Lord answered your prayers? Encourage us by sharing in the comments below.

Please share this post with a friend who would find it helpful or encouraging.

Want an Additional Resource?

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado is a great resource on prayer.

 

A Hopeful Promise

Feeling trapped in a hopeless situation? Please know there is always hope in this promise the Lord makes us.

The Promise

John 14:2-3 says, “My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you. And, if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

“I’m coming back for you,” Jesus promises. In a world filled with broken hearts and unkept promises, these words of Jesus give us a promise in which we can fully trust. The promise is coming from a trustworthy source.

Jesus and his disciples are having an intense conversation. Jesus is preparing the disciples for events which will soon take place. The news is unsettling. It is perplexing and frightening to the disciples, so Jesus requests their trust and assures them of his return. Jesus’ words were a familiar comfort to the disciples.

A Familiar Promise

Jesus made his promise of returning in an everyday way to his disciples. An engagement would have immediately come to mind.

Weddings were done differently in the first century as the marriage was arranged. When it was decided a bride and groom would be married, the groom would make a promise to his bride.

He would say something like, “In my father’s house are many rooms, and I’m going to prepare a place for you. When I have finished preparing the place, I will come back to get you. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Newly married couples would live in the groom’s father’s house. If there were several generations living there, it could be a large structure. Upon their engagement, the groom would return to his father’s house to prepare the necessary addition to the home. The only hitch was he did not know when the addition would be completed. His promise did not include date and time. He just promised he would return to get the bride.

While she was anticipating her groom’s return, the bride learned how to have a successful household from her mother, and at night, she would place a lamp in her window so the groom could find her if he returned. The couple would have a beautiful wedding ceremony when the groom returned.

A Hopeful Promise

Think again of Jesus’ words. “My Father’s house has many rooms….” Jesus is giving us the promise of a groom. He has gone to prepare a place for us.

Like a first century bride, our job is to prepare for his return, and just like the bride, we don’t know a date or time.

Jesus is off preparing a place for us, and he has promised us he will return. He has promised you and I he will return, and if we trust him, we can find much hope in this promise.

If you are feeling hopeless, cling to this promise. For there is always hope in Christ.

Acting

How do you find hope in this promise? Share in the comments below.

Know someone who would find this post encouraging? Please share it with him or her.

 

Jumping in Trust

Zack and his dad were hiking in the mountains of Tennessee on a sunny afternoon. Zack’s dad hears from above, “Hey dad! Catch me!”

Horrified to see Zack falling from an above cliff, the dad quickly put himself into position and successfully caught Zack. A moment passed while the dad calmed his nerves. Then he asked, “What happened?”

“I jumped,” the boy replied.

Why on earth did you jump,” the dad inquired.

Zack answered, “Because I know you are my dad and I knew you would catch me.”

Zack had complete trust in his dad because he was Zack’s father.

Trust is Foundational

Trust is the foundation for any relationship. Friends must trust each other. Parents and children must trust each other. Husbands and wives must trust each other. Our relationship with Jesus requires we trust him.

Jesus Requests Our Trust

Jesus requests in John 14:1 we trust him.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”

Jesus is having a conversation with his disciples, and he is giving them much to consider. He’s telling the disciples what is going to happen soon, but from their vantage point, there is still a great deal unknown. Jesus knows it is perplexing, maybe even frightening, for the disciples, so he makes a request that they trust him. The same request Jesus makes of us.

What’s going to happen in the future? If you could know the answer, would you want it? I wouldn’t, but the unknown is nerve-racking too. We dislike the unknown. We find it perplexing and frightening just like the disciples, so Jesus says, “Trust me.”

Jesus asks that we trust him. Trust him with our jobs and careers, our families and relationships, our money and financial health, and our lives. Jesus asks that we trust him with everything.

Why can we trust the Lord?

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. How will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

The Lord has proven himself trustworthy by giving us his son. So, the question you and I need to answer is do we trust him? Do we trust him with our jobs and careers, our families and relationships, and money and financial health, and our lives? Do we trust him with everything?

Do we have the complete trust Zack did?

Acting

Make a list of the areas of your life where you may need to trust the Lord more. Ask him to help you build that trust. Share your experience in the comments below.

Please share this post with anyone you believe would find it encouraging.

 

 

Music Monday: The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost

Welcome to Music Monday. I’m always fascinated by songs that can get us thinking about the Lord without even realizing it. The Lord’s encouragement and truth can sneak into a song and grab listeners by the heart strings. Suddenly a simple song thrusts the Lord’s encouragement and truth right before us. Music Mondays look at some of these songs.

The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost by Craig Morgan reminds us of the hope we have in Christ. Morgan wrote the song as a tribute to his late son. It reminds us in the most hopeless situations, the Lord gives hope. The last line sums up our eternal hope. “One day I’ll wake up and I’ll be home with the Father my son, and the Holy Ghost.”

Situations may seem hopeless, but in Christ, there is always hope. If nothing else, Heaven awaits.

God Won’t Leave

Will God leave me? This is a fair question, and one we may ask in a difficult time. The Bible says the Lord will not leave us, and Joseph’s story helps us see the Lord can use the difficult stuff to do some amazing work.

The Beginning of Joseph’s Story

Joseph was one of many brothers, and his father loved him the most causing strain among Joseph and his brothers. It may be safe to say his brothers hated Joseph. Not only did his father love him the most, Joseph had some dreams the family found upsetting.

Over breakfast one morning Joseph told his family he had a dream where they all bowed down to him. This angered his brothers, and Joseph’s dad told him not to speak like this again.

A few days after the breakfast incident, Joseph was sent to check on his brothers as they were tending the sheep. They saw him coming and plotted to kill him, but one brother, Reuben, convinced the boys to throw Joseph in a cistern to avoid bloodshed. They did, but later sold into slavery. Joseph found himself in Egypt where he worked. You would think Joseph had enough trouble at this point, but his troubles continue.

While in Egypt, Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and spends a few years in prison. Bad things certainly happened to Joseph.

Bad Things Happen

Joseph’s story reminds you and I bad things happen in life. We are not immune to adversity and trials, yet we can find great encouragement in God’s word. Scripture teaches God will not leave us when bad things happen.

God will not leave us.

The Lord is committed to staying with us in bad times. Paul, in Romans 8, says the Lord will stay with us when bad things happen.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.”

None of these things will cause the Lord to leave us. This is an exhaustive list, and to make sure he covers everything, Paul ends the list by saying, “…in all creation.” I hope you find this statement as encouraging as I do. The hardest of times will not drive away the Lord.

The lost job will come, but the Lord will stay. The money trouble will come, but the Lord will stay. Our hearing or eyesight may go, but the Lord will stay. The disease may infect, but the Lord will stay. The mistake may occur, but the Lord will forgive and stay. Nothing will drive the Lord away. Our relationship may be strengthened amid these seasons.

He Carried Her

One night a lady had a dream in which she went to the movies. The movie playing that night was a movie of her life. Each scene was a season of her life, and there were footprints in each scene. She noticed something odd about the footprints.

In the good scenes of her life, there were two sets of footprints. One representing her and the other representing God, but in the bad scenes, there was only one set of footprints.

At the end of the movie, the lady had an opportunity to interview God. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Sir, you promised you would never leave me or forsake me, but in all the tough scenes, there was only one set of footprints. I mean I didn’t do well in math, but if we were both present, would there not be two sets of footprints?”

God answered, “Oh, that’s easy. I had to carry you through all the rough times. You couldn’t make it on your own.”

He’ll carry us in the same way if we just hang on.

The Result of Tough Times

Romans 8 reminds us God works everything together for good. He can use the bad things currently happening to do some amazing work. Joseph’s story didn’t end with him in prison.

The Rest of Joseph’s story

Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, but he did not stay there. While in prison he interprets dreams for a couple of Pharaoh’s officials and is eventually called upon to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. Joseph says a severe famine is going to take place, and his interpretation is so impressive that Joseph is promoted to an Egyptian official. He is given the job of preparing Egypt for the famine.

Through bad things happening, the Lord put Joseph in position to save his family and help them refocus their attention on the Lord.

If Joseph had not been an Egyptian prisoner, he would have not been an Egyptian governor. The iron chains around Joseph’s feet ushered in gold chains around his neck.

Acting

Join me in thanking the Lord today for being with us. Maybe even carrying us through the hardest of times.

Please share this post with someone you think would find it encouraging.

 

10 Ways to Offer Encouragement

Has this ever happened to you? You notice someone having a difficult time and believe they could use encouragement, but you don’t know what to do. I hope I’m not the only one who has had this experience.

To spite our feeling, we have nothing to offer, we do. We can make a difference. Here are some tips and ways to offer encouragement.

4 Tips to Remember

If you are struggling to offer encouragement, here are 4 tips to remember.

Like Jesus Does

We should approach people in the same manner as Jesus. Each time Jesus approaches an individual in the Gospels, he does so compassionately. He shows concern for the situation, and the person can tell he is understanding. We should attempt to approach those around us in the same way.

Everything Counts

We know the value of encouragement, but we convince ourselves what we are going to do is not enough to help. However, every act of encouragement makes a difference. If 4 or 5 people encourage a person in small ways, it doesn’t take long before the person is standing on a mountain of encouragement.

The small things count. Smiling as you go through a cashier’s line, being positive with your waiter, and saying hi to someone as you pass in the grocery store counts. Sending a card or note to a friend who is struggling counts. Every act of encouragement counts in the sum.

Every Day Counts

As you and I go about our daily activities, it is inevitable we’ll meet someone needing encouragement. Make each day count.

Hebrews 3:13 reminds us to encourage one another daily. This verse reminds us to build each other up constantly. Discouragement never vacations, so we cannot afford to take a day off.

No One is Exempt

Everyone will need encouragement at some point. Discouragement knows how to sneak into everyone’s life, and it seems the Lord responds by placing people in our lives to encourage us, so we should always be ready to offer encouragement.

Satan’s Yard Sale

There is an old story told in which the Devil is having a yard sale. He’s ran out of room in his workshop, and he opens the doors to perspective buyers. The tools of worry, strife, anxiety and division were priced to move.

One buyer noticed a well-used, old tool lying on a corner shelf. As the man was looking at it, Satan said, “That tool is not for sale.”

“I’ll give you whatever you want for it,” the man replied, “just name your price.”

Again, the devil said, “It is not for sale.” Only this time, he offered an explanation. “All the tools for sale are useful. They help me sway people in my direction, but the tool you are holding is responsible for causing the most havoc. For people than my other tools combined.”

The man realized the label was worn and he could not read it, so he asked, “What tool is it?”

The devil answered, “It is discouragement. I could never part with it. I would give up all my other tools, but never this tool of discouragement.”

10 Ways to Offer Encouragement

It is important for us to receive encouragement, so here are 10 ways to offer encouragement.

  • Smile at a cashier as you go through his or her line.
  • Tip a waiter who is obviously having a bad day
  • Greet a person as you pass in the store.
  • Send a card or note.
  • Provide a meal to a friend you know is ill.
  • Tell a coworker “Good job.”
  • Pay for the person behind you in the coffee shop line.
  • Give a small gift.
  • Offer to pray for a friend.
  • Share your favorite passage of Scripture with a neighbor.

Acting

Offer encouragement to a coworker, friend, or neighbor in the next few days. Share your experience in the comments below. What ways do you offer encouragement? Share in the comments. Know someone who would find this post helpful? Please share it.

 

Always Here, Always Helping

Do you ever feel alone? Perhaps we all feel this way occasionally. We can be surrounded by people who we know care about us, yet we still feel alone in the moment.

The moment our boss delivers a pink slip. The moment the doctor gives us an unexpected diagnosis. The moment a loved one leaves us to enter Heaven. Life has these moments. The idea of facing them alone is unsettling; however, the Lord promises we will never be alone. He will always be with us through the Spirit.

We are encouraged in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever.”

The Spirit has been summoned to be with us. He has been called to come along side us on life’s journey, so you and I never have to face hard times alone.

Who is the Spirit?

The Spirit is…

  • Our Comforter
  • Our Encourager
  • Our Advocate
  • Our Helper

4 Ways the Spirit Helps Us

Here are 4 ways the Spirit helps us.

The Spirit prays on our behalf (Romans 8:26).

When we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit does. When we don’t know what to say, the Spirit does. The Spirit intercedes for us in ways words cannot express.

The Spirit gives us peace.

The Spirit grants us a peaceful calmness which can only be found in our confidence in God.

Jesus says in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart…so do not be troubled or afraid.”

The Spirit marks us as a member of God’s family.

Ephesians 4:30 will identify us at Christ’s return.

The Spirit teaches and strengthens.

We can find understanding and strength through the Spirit. Jesus says, in John 14:26, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative, that is the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

Acting

You and I are not alone. How have you witnessed the Lord with you Share in the comments below. Please share this post with anyone who would find it encouraging.

 

 

4 Exciting Facts about Heaven

Whether we are having the time of our life or we are going through hard times, you and I can find comfort in knowing Heaven awaits. Heaven will be an exciting place and Revelation 21 gives us a sneak peek.

“Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For the old order of things has passed away.”

Here are 4 exciting facts about Heaven.

The Lord will dwell among us.

The place Jesus is currently preparing will be finished. The Lord will be physically with us.

Perfection will be restored.

The perfection enjoyed in the Garden of Eden will return. Everything will be perfect and peaceful.

There will be no more pain or sorrow.

Everything causing pain or sorrow will be gone. Hurtful words, diseases, genetic mutations, and loss of a loved one in death will all be gone.

We will be reunited with those who proceeded us in death.

This fact alone is enough to make most anyone anticipate Heaven.

Acting

What about Heaven do you find the most exciting? Share in the comments below. If you know someone who would find this post encouraging, please share it with him or her.

 

Hard times? Here is encouragement.

Going through a hard time? You are not alone. Life’s rough times are something we all share. 2 Corinthians offers us some encouragement during these times.

We read in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “That is why we never give up. Though are bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, yet they produce a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

3 Points of Encouragement

We can find 3 points of encouragement in this passage.

Our Spirits are being Renewed

Paul says he may be wasting away physically, but spiritually, he is being renewed each day. Everything may be falling apart around us, but the Lord will still be with us. We are promised the Lord will not leave us or forsake us. As things crumble around us, we can find strength in the Lord. “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his spirit” (Ephesians 3:16).

Its Temporary

As we are overwhelmed by a rough situation, it can be hard to remember this. We are weary of the current circumstance and just want it to end. You may be amid an extremely hard time. I do not want to minimize the difficulties you have endured. You’re tired, so I hope you find encouragement in these words.

This is only a temporary time. One season of life always gives way to another. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 reminds us the present may be overwhelming, but it will not overtake us.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”

Gaze at the Future

We are encouraged to look intently and steadily on the future. Look toward eternity in the presence of the Lord. We are promised there will be no more tears, heartache, difficulty, or struggles. We are encouraged to stare at eternity, peering into its beauty, glory, and majesty.

The Best is Coming

Whether in good times or bad, we know there is a better time coming. Eternity will be the best time. As we go through hard times, we can find comfort and encouragement in this promise.

Here are 4 Exciting Facts about Heaven.

Acting

Gaze at eternity and share how it encourages you in the comments. If you know someone who would benefit from this post, please share it with them.