Hibernate in Prayer to Awaken Your Soul in 2018

Hibernate in Prayer

There once was a man who loved Jesus with his whole heart. He also loved his family, served the church faithfully, and gave sacrificially, often in secret. When an evangelist joined his family for dinner the night before a revival, this man confided in the evangelist that he felt uncomfortable praying aloud in church. So, what did the evangelist do? He called on this man to pray during the revival. The congregation closed their eyes on cue but the man stood up and politely said, “No thank you” and sat back down.

That man was my paternal grandfather and I’m quite proud of him. Proud, you say? Yep. He wasn’t a hypocrite. Sure, he could’ve stood up, put on a certain air of confidence and spurted out eloquent words in an attempt to save face, but I suppose that prayer would’ve only reached the height of the chandeliers dangling overhead.

 

Jesus has something to say about those kinds of prayers.

 

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:5-6

Jesus doesn’t deny the need for public prayer. He prayed publicly, as did the early church. And there’s nothing wrong if someone hears us pray. Jesus is simply getting to the heart of the matter: The motive.

“Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret.” Oswald Chambers

God meets us in the secret place. It’s there we hibernate⏤where we are not seen, just as God is not seen. The King James Version refers to this place as a closet.

 

I don’t know about you, but my closet isn’t the first place that comes to mind when I think of meeting God in prayer.

 

I’m more liable to get a concussion from falling debris than I am finishing my prayer. Thankfully, we’re not bound to a closet or a particular room. Maybe it’s a corner, or a desk, outside, or in an outdoor shed. It’s more about finding a place to pray that’s free from distractions and the temptation to be heard. {Party of two, please!}

But it’s not just any prayer meeting. The word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 to describe the room or closet is derived from the word tamion, which makes me a tad giddy because it describes the inner rooms of ancient Hebrew homes that were used as a storehouse or a place of protection.

 

When we hibernate in prayer, we come to a place of abundance, not scarcity.

 

God is our storehouse. We step foot into our own tamion and find He is already there. We ask for wisdom. James 1:5 says God gives it to us generously without finding fault. We ask for physical healing, financial provision, boldness to share the gospel, or the return of a wayward child.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, but you may be aware of three of them.” John Piper

God is our place of protection. Spiritual attacks, temptation, anxiety⏤whatever requires His protection this side of heaven, God stands ready to provide it from a place of abundance.

We have God’s full attention and He has ours, there in the secret place. But first, we must come.

How to Hibernate in Prayer During Every Season in Life

Jot down hibernation dates on your calendar.

The power of prayer floods the heavenlies, whether it’s done publicly, privately, or spontaneously. It’s all biblical. But hibernating in prayer requires intentionality⏤giving a hint as to its power. When we are deliberate in making time to meet with God we can testify that unexpected circumstances begin to happen. Our perspective becomes sharper, our hope takes flight, and we move through our days with deeper purpose.

Be content with a heavenly reward.

Yes, those rewards which bring immediate gratification like a slick, newly painted wall are enjoyable but they’re temporal. Those who pray “the right words” in order to impress others receive their reward right there on the spot. When we pray in secret with pure motives, God says He will reward us. I tend to believe the reward is the fact that our almighty God bends to hear the quiet desires of His children, and answers those prayers for our ultimate good. But perhaps there’s even more?

Pray aloud.

So, how do we know if we’re hibernating in the right spot? We’ll feel comfortable praying aloud. I can’t explain it, but when audible words meet the inaudible desires of my heart it feels as if a victorious tag-team is taking place in my soul. And yet, there will be days when we have no words, and that’s okay, too. Romans 8:26 says the Holy Spirit stands ready to intercede for us with groanings too deep for words. There is no right or wrong way to pray in our Father’s presence.

When we intentionally spend time with God in secret, our soul awakens to divine possibilities that surround us every day. Maybe we’ll discover that it’s possible to spontaneously pray for the weary mom behind us in the check-out line. Or to become who God created us to be, flaws and all, for His glory. Or maybe, just maybe, we find the courage to pray aloud in a church gathering.

“Awake, my soul!” Psalm 57:8

What’s one thing you are praying for yourself in 2018?

 

5 Ways to Settle the Soul Before December Begins + A Free E-book Reminder!

Settle the Soul Now

I want it to be different than the year before⏤you know, the way I go about celebrating the Christmas season.

Every December begins the mad dash to buy gifts, decorate rooms, pick out a fresh Christmas tree, make never-ending grocery lists, mail invitations, start new traditions and bake favorite foods.

And yet, one thing I’ve learned this year is that if I don’t take a few minutes each day to move me closer to necessary changes, nothing happens⏤nothing changes.

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” – Albert Einstein

So, before the hoopla of the season hijacks the days of our December, let us consider small but specific ways to settle the soul and savor the beauty of our Savior.

 

Every Day in December

Step outside for five minutes.

 

Depending on our season in life, this may mean stepping out while little ones nap or watch a favorite Christmas movie. It may require a bundling process but we can do this. Inhale and take in all God has for you. Thank Him. May we see⏤really see⏤our surroundings and remember the humble beginning of our Savior.

Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else. – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Read and meditate.

 

If possible, read from your hard copy instead of the phone. Intentionally slow down to ponder God-breathed words as you listen to crisp vellum-thin pages turn one by one. Click here to access Daily December Scripture Readings if structure is your friend (we’re BFF’s, by the way!) Obviously, longer reads are ideal but if given the choice to glaze over a chapter or indulge in a hand-full of verses, I’ll choose the latter any day, especially in December.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. -Matthew 2:10

 

Savor a favorite cup of coffee or tea.

 

What does this have to do with settling the soul? On the mornings I choose the sip over the gulp, my day begins on a calmer note. Couple that time with reading scripture, and it becomes both calming and enlightening, for nothing is sweeter than conversing with my heavenly Father over a hot cup of brew. Sometimes I even pull up a nearby chair to remind myself that yes, His presence is that real.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” -John F. MacArthur

 

Play Christ-centered Christmas music.

 

I’m a huge Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mathis fan. Tears hit the brim line when I hear these artists at Christmas. Immediately, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s house where her stereo console turned all their albums upstairs while she crafted homemade fudge in the kitchen. Nowadays, we play a variety of music during the Christmas season but mostly our music consists of a few favorites. My absolute favorite artist is Michael Card. I’ve played several of his songs from The Promise in my bible studies throughout the years. A few other favorites are: Behold the Lamb by Andrew Peterson, City on a Hill: It’s Christmas Time by various artists and Windham Hill’s Christmas Solitude, which is instrumental. Its quiet notes quiets the heart. And a quiet heart is a receptive one.

O come, let us adore Him. (Based on Luke 2:15-16)

 

Light a Candle.

 

Before bedtime, light a Christmas candle. Marvel at its glow. Reflect on the warmth and the beauty discovered in the flickering light. Inhale and enjoy its fragrance. Close out your day by quietly worshipping the Light of the World who was born on a bed of straw that we might one day walk streets of gold.

I have come into the world as light so that no one who believes me need remain in the dark. – John 12:46

 

Is there one thing you would plan to change as you move through the days of December? If so, please share!

 

Settle My Soul

 

 

Christmas PausesSubscribers! Watch for your gift scheduled to arrive in your inbox tonight. This e-book offers Christ-centered celebration tips for each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.

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How to Pocket Your Prayers

Pocket Prayers

I’m thankful the act of prayer isn’t limited to bent knees, closed eyes, or hushed silence.

Prayer is simply conversing with our heavenly Father. I use the word simply because, in the past, I’ve made it much more complicated than I believe God ever intended. Guilt whispered if my prayers weren’t long enough⏤whatever that means⏤or if I failed to use what I call “pretty” words. Let’s face it, we all know someone who prays so eloquently that we peek in the middle of her prayer in hopes of catching a glimpse of angel wings hidden beneath the “I Love Clemson” sweatshirt. (What can I say, my someone loves her tigers!)

I’m not an eloquent pray-er. After over two decades of praying aloud, I still stumble through the words, especially when I pray with others. At home, my eyes are open and my voice is loud. For some reason though, I always shut my eyes in a crowd, leading to a major distraction when my eyes start simmering from the mascara slowly melding my eyelashes together. But I digress.

As a new believer, I began to journal my prayers. My first journal was a $1.99 three-subject stark green notebook from Walmart. l still have it today, twenty-five years later. Since then, I’ve varied prayer formats. Sometimes I list out my prayers and other times I use paragraphs or even, well…doodles. These days, I use a plain ole blank steno from Barnes and Noble. I think we can agree that in the end, it’s not so much about the method of our prayers but the heart from which they are prayed.

In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. John Bunyan Click To Tweet

When I received the Giving Shawl for my birthday, prayer ideas soon began to emerge. (Maybe I should re-name it the Prayer Shawl!) One idea I’m currently giving a whirl is what I call pocket prayers. I cut small pieces of paper, and on each piece, I write the name of one person from my list. The prayed-over congregate in an owl-cloaked pencil case.

Want to give pocket prayers a try?

Prayer for my pocket

Two Ways to Pocket Your Prayers

On the mornings I mull over my prayer list and pray, the power of prayer extends for one person/group on the list by choosing a piece of paper from the case. Sometimes the Holy Spirit burdens the heart for one particular person but if not, it’s a random draw (at least on my part.) The piece of paper is then tucked in my pocket for the day.

On the hectic mull-less mornings, I open the envelope, pull out a name/group and slip it in my pocket so I can pray for him/her throughout the day.

Either way, that person or group remains with me both physically and spiritually. Most importantly, I’m reminded to pray for them each time I reach into my pocket. Maybe it’s for the keys, a grocery list, or the extra packs of Stevia stowed away for my coffee stop on the way home. Or perhaps it’s not the touch of the paper that reminds me to pray but the sound of crinkled paper in my coat pocket.

(If you’re pocket-less, try writing the name on a sticky notepad and placing it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day. If the desire is there, the ideas will follow.)

To some, an idea like this might seem so simple that it’s silly. But I venture to say there’s nothing silly about becoming more intentional in praying for another person. I just need tangible reminders and maybe I’m not alone.

“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds, Crosswalk

How can I pray for you today?