Mean what you pray

Lord, cause my children’s actions to reflect the true state of their hearts so I know how to pray for them. Lord, open their eyes to their need for you. Cause them to grieve their sin and lead them to repentance. Lord, do whatever necessary to save them. Lord, give me patience and wisdom. Create in me an urgency to pray for my children. Do not let me fall into a slumber of false security.

Pray what you mean and mean what you pray

I meant these prayers. I meant every word. But I was in no way prepared for God’s answer. I wanted the victory without the conflict. I wanted parenthood to be a party when it’s actually a war. Raising children in the ways of the Lord is an all-in, no-holds-barred, the enemy-fights-dirty battle and eternity is at stake. Sometimes, even after suiting up in the armor, we get speared right through the heart.

raising children is an

Parenting gets HARD. Not every day. But some days. Sometimes days and days and days strung together. And you’ll have to decide what you’re going to do when God’s answers to your prayers don’t line up with your expectations.

“God’s answers frequently do not look at first like answers. They look like problems. They look like trouble. They look like loss, disappointment, affliction, conflict, sorrow, and increased selfishness. They cause deep soul wrestling and expose sins and doubts and fears. They are not what we expect, and we often do not see how they correspond to our prayers.” ~ Jon Bloom, The Unexpected Answers of God | Desiring God

Am I really ready for God to do whatever is necessary to save my child’s soul? That is a scary prayer – yet it is the one that matters more than many others that slip into its place. It matters more than health, more than physical protection, and more than happiness. It’s the kind of prayer that only God can answer. Only God can transform a heart of stone into a heart of repentance. Only God can put back together a heart broken by sin. But before the heart can be rebuilt, it has to be broken. Nothing grieves a parent more than watching her child break.

The urgency to pray for my children increases as I see the battle escalate in intensity. This too is an answered prayer. There is no false security as swords clash in the spiritual realm and the kingdom takes ground in my child’s heart.

“We can feel like we’re going backward because we are not clearly moving forward. We cry out in painful confusion and exasperation (Psalm 13:1; Job 30:20) when what’s really happening is that God is answering our prayers. We just expected the answer to look and feel different… With regard to God’s answers to prayer, expect the unexpected. Most of the greatest gifts and deepest joys that God gives us come wrapped in painful packages.” ~ Jon Bloom, The Unexpected Answers of God | Desiring God

So, tonight, I choose to praise the Lord for answered prayer. I choose to believe He is moving mightily, and as I fix my eyes on Him and redirect my child toward Him, He will have his way in our family and in our home.

I’m am praying with GREAT expectation.

 

*from the archives

Going to Haiti

Next week, I will be in Haiti celebrating with brothers and sisters in Christ as they prepare to launch a gospel-preaching, Jesus-proclaiming church in a very dark place.

I have camped out in Ephesians 6:11-18 this week, reminding myself what I must do to prepare for this trip. Would you join me in these prayers?

armor

I must fasten the belt of truth and believe the truth of the gospel has the power to transform lives. I must believe the truth of Scripture that promises my God is everywhere – in Canada with our children and in Haiti with me. I must believe the truth that God has gone before me, will stand beside me, and fight for me. I must believe that I cannot do anything of value or significance on my own strength. Without truth, I am hopelessly lost and susceptible to the lies and schemes of the enemy.

Pray that I fasten the breastplate of righteousness, firmly trusting in the righteousness Jesus purchased for me at salvation. Only Jesus can protect my heart and soul from the enemy.

Pray that I am ready to share the gospel of peace, that I firmly plant my feet in the truth of the Word of God and boldly go where the Lord leads preaching the good news.

Pray that I take up the shield of faith, believing my God can extinguish ALL the fiery darts of the evil one. I am justified by faith, and my faith in the Word of God is my defense against the enemy. It protects me from attack and is also what goes before me as I charge into enemy territory.

Pray that I put on the helmet of salvation, trusting fully in Jesus for His complete work done on my behalf. Pray that I do not fear the one who can only harm the body, but that I fear the One who can destroy both body and soul. May my reverent fear of the Lord be what drives me, not tempory circumstances, no matter how fearsome they may be.

Pray that the living and active weapon that is sharper than any two-edged sword penetrates deeply into my heart. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is my defense. Pray that I wield it with power.

I would love to know that you are praying for my husband and I as we set off January 15th for five days. Please pray for our team of six adults. I can’t wait to update you all upon our return.

Go, Lord!

 

Pray What you Mean and Mean What you Pray

Lord, cause my children’s actions to reflect the true state of their hearts so I know how to pray for them. Lord, open their eyes to their need for you. Cause them to grieve their sin and lead them to repentance. Lord, do whatever necessary to save them. Lord, give me patience and wisdom. Create in me an urgency to pray for my children. Do not let me fall into a slumber of false security.

Pray what you mean and mean what you pray

I meant these prayers. I meant every word. But I was in no way prepared for God’s answer. I wanted the victory without the conflict. I wanted motherhood to be a party when it’s actually a war. Raising children in the ways of the Lord is an all-in, no-holds-barred, the enemy-fights-dirty battle and eternity is at stake. Sometimes, even after suiting up in the armor, we get speared right through the heart.

Eventually, parenting gets HARD. Not every day. But some days. Sometimes days and days and days strung together. And you’ll have to decide what you’re going to do when God’s answers to your prayers don’t line up with your expectations.

“God’s answers frequently do not look at first like answers. They look like problems. They look like trouble. They look like loss, disappointment, affliction, conflict, sorrow, and increased selfishness. They cause deep soul wrestling and expose sins and doubts and fears. They are not what we expect, and we often do not see how they correspond to our prayers.” ~ Jon Bloom, The Unexpected Answers of God | Desiring God

Am I really ready for God to do whatever is necessary to save my child’s soul? That is a scary prayer – yet it is the one that matters more than many others that slip into its place. It matters more than health, more than physical protection, and more than happiness. It’s the kind of prayer that only God can answer. Only God can transform a heart of stone into a heart of repentance. Only God can put back together a heart broken by sin. But before the heart can be rebuilt, it has to be broken. Nothing grieves a mother more than watching her child break.

The urgency to pray for my children increases as I see the battle escalate in intensity. This too is an answered prayer. There is no false security as swords clash in the spiritual realm and the kingdom takes ground in my child’s heart.

“We can feel like we’re going backward because we are not clearly moving forward. We cry out in painful confusion and exasperation (Psalm 13:1; Job 30:20) when what’s really happening is that God is answering our prayers. We just expected the answer to look and feel different… With regard to God’s answers to prayer, expect the unexpected. Most of the greatest gifts and deepest joys that God gives us come wrapped in painful packages.” ~ Jon Bloom, The Unexpected Answers of God | Desiring God

So, tonight, I choose to praise the Lord for answered prayer. I choose to believe He is moving mightily, and as I fix my eyes on Him and redirect my child toward Him, He will have his way in our family and in our home.

I’m am praying with GREAT expectation.

Conditional Blessings

Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple to the Lord  1 King’s 8:22-53 is full of requests for conditional blessings.  He prays: “If we pray, acknowledge, and turn from sin, THEN God hears and forgives.” “If we turn our hearts, repent with all our minds, and pray, THEN God hears, forgives and grants compassion.” Solomon made it abundantly clear in verse 46 that every person sins against the Lord.

“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—”(46)

Solomon didn’t just ask for blessings but made repentance a precursor to the blessing.

There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no repentance without a desire to replace sinful habits and actions with God-honouring ones. And nothing changes until God grants the desire to pursue Him and the Holy Spirit transforms a heart.

How often do we pray for blessing and rescue but are unwilling to address our heart issues and repent? How often do we ask God for things, perhaps even good things—but still fail to repent of the actions, thoughts, and sin that prevent his blessing? I don’t know about you, but these questions are a timely heart check for me.

Oh, how I need to repent of the sin that prevents God’s power in my life! Oh, how I need to examine my choices.

  • What hobby or activity do I pursue more than Him?
  • What desire do I long for more than time in the Word?
  • What television program or novel pulls me from prayer?
  • What action do I KNOW I am called to act upon but have put off because of laziness, fear, or simple disobedience?

Oh God, open our eyes to hidden sin and misplaced priorities.I desire a closeness between us that will not tolerate sin or give it an opportunity to root. I want a soft heart so that as You reveal areas in need of surrender I will willingly release them.

It is not comfortable or easy to invite the Holy Spirit to expose our continual need for the gospel. But, it is good.

3 things that should never take a holiday

Summer sun, holidays and leisure. We are smack in the middle of beach days, poolside parties and BBQ’s. The kids are off school. Set bedtimes and alarm clocks are fading memories, traded for sand-between-the-toes, popsicle-filled adventure.

Summer is a causal existence. It’s tropical, island-style living within the city limits. But, when taken too far, the freedom of summer can usher in a wintery faith.

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3 things that should never take a holiday

Time in the Word.

I’m all for a break from daily living, but I’m absolutely against a break from your daily bread. Be flexible. If your summer schedule has changed, your time in the Word can change. The point is to be purposeful. If you don’t plan time to study and meditate on Scripture, it’s unlikely to happen.

Prayer

Box the electronic games and get outside to play real ones. Turn off the television and go for a walk, swim, or bike ride. Yes, unplug, but never unplug from prayer. It’s your lifeline.

There is no holiday from needing the Lord. How can you respond with wisdom, discern the moment, or produce the fruits of the Spirit if you’re not connected to the vine? You can’t. They are Holy Spirit powered.

If prayer takes a holiday, it won’t be long before love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control take a hike along with it.

You need prayer because you need the Lord.

Fellowship

We need each other. We need to sit under biblically sound teaching, be held accountable, and offer and receive encouragement. I need the godly women in my life to show-up because iron sharpens iron. I’m counting on them.

Distractions will arise. Temptations to check-out rather than check-in are huge. So, purposefully focus on what matters—fixing your heart and mind on the things of God and encouraging your brothers and sisters to do the same. They are counting on you to show-up.

It’s never routine with God

Yesterday, a friend reminded me that routines and habits are great, but what the Lord teaches us through His Word, in prayer, and through each other, is never routine.

His Mercies are new every morning, Great is His Faithfulness!

The heritage of the servants of the Lord

I need not fear, but instead, be encouraged because the Lord is with me. His power is perfect in weakness—and I am weak. I do not create life, heal brokenness, or redeem tragedy, but God can. My inability showcases His great ability. He calls me closer to Him. He refreshes me when I call on Him.

This suffering will produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And that hope does not put me to shame because God has poured his love into my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is my light and salvation. He is the stronghold of life. My confidence is in Him. I cry out now, and I know that He hears me because He is close to the brokenhearted and He saves those crushed in spirit.

I may be hard pressed on every side, but I am not crushed. I may be perplexed, but I do not despair. I may feel persecuted, but I am not abandoned. I might get struck down, but I will not be destroyed because He is my God. He is with me. He strengthens me and upholds me in His righteous hand.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord – and for that, I praise you, God!

 

Joshua 1:9, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Romans 5:3-5, Psalm 27:1-3, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 34:17-18, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

Hear our prayers, O Lord

It’s been the kind of week that didn’t allow for writing because it required more praying. What joy is found in praying Scripture and depending on the words of God.

Hear our prayers, O Lord. Give ear to our pleas for mercy. In your faithfulness, answer us. The enemy is pursuing us, distracting us, and trying to crush life to the ground. He is trying to force us to sit in darkness like those long dead. He wants our spirit faint. He wants us to forget Your goodness and be fearful.
But, we remember. We remember what You have done before and know You can do it again. You created us. You have brought us from death to life. We meditate on Your provision and ponder the works of Your hands. We stretch out our hands to You asking, begging for Your mercy on our families, our church, and our lives. Answer us quickly, O Lord. Hide not Your face from us. For Your name’s sake, provide for our needs and teach us to let go of our wants. Go before us. Remain beside us. Be our God in such a powerful way we will know You are with us and, as a result, we will turn toward You in our time of need, trusting in You.

Hear our prayers, O Lord. Let our cry come to You. Do not hide your face from us in the day of distress. Incline Your ear to us and answer us speedily. Nothing is impossible for You. You set the earth on its foundations so it should never be moved. The waters stood above the mountains and at Your rebuke they fled; at the sound of Your thunder they took flight. The mountains rose and the valleys sank down to the place that You appointed for them. You made springs gush forth. The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and Your outstretched arm. O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, You are great in counsel and mighty in deed. Your eyes are open to our deeds. We know we are not worthy to ask anything of You, but because of Christ, we can boldly approach Your throne and plead for grace and mercy. Show Your power and might in marvellous ways.

In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

 

Getting Personal

True to my British roots, I love a good cup of tea. During difficultly I go on autopilot  and put the kettle on the stove. I often don’t even want the tea, just the act of making it calms my nerves.

The other thing I do during difficulty is pray through Scripture. It calms me like nothing else can. I insert my name into the Word of God and drink in the warmth of personal message. Sometimes I insert the names of my children or loved ones as I pray verses that speak to my heart.

I not only pray through Scripture, I often write it down. The act of writing it down gathers my scattered thoughts revealing the true condition of my heart.

I love to go back and reread my prayers often shocked at the beauty of God’s Word. Praying through His Word is a beautiful thing.

Below are a handful of paraphrased verses I treasure. Maybe you can share some favorites of yours?

I am afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed because of the treasure that lives in me (2 Corinthians 4:8).

May I walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May I be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy giving thanks to the Father who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me into the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossian 1:9-14).

I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, according to the riches of his glory he may grant my children to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith. Being rooted and grounded in love, may they have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

God’s grace is sufficient for me; His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

I have nothing to fear, God has redeemed me. He has called me by name, I am His. When I pass through the waters He will be with me, when I go through the rivers they will not overwhelm me, when I walk through the fire I will not be burned. The flames will not consume me. For He is the Lord my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior (Isaiah 43:1-4).

He was wounded for my transgressions; he was crushed for my iniquities. The punishment that bought me peace was laid upon Him. By His wounds I am healed. Like sheep I have gone astray. I have turned to my own way. The Lord has laid on Christ my sins (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Here is a trustworthy statement. If I have died with Him, I will also live with Him. If I endure, I will also reign with Him. If I deny Him, he will also deny me. If I am faithless He is faithful for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2 11-13).

You are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name (Psalm 86:10-11).