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?

 

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?

 

4 Ways We Can Pray for Our Adult Children

Praying for Our Adult Children

I wish they could have started sooner⏤the prayers for my children.

When I entered into a relationship with Christ at the age of twenty-seven, my boys were ages 6 and 2.  I desperately wanted the cycle of divorce to end with me and for a new legacy to begin with them⏤one that would carry on to future generations I would never know. So I began praying specifically for:

  • Their future spouses and their families.
  • Our sons and their future wives to remain sexually pure until marriage.
  • Them to know Christ at an early age —  by experience, not head knowledge.
  • Godly friends.
  • God to use them for His glory.

Years passed, the boys grew up and married two amazing young women with God-shaped hearts. They now have families of their own.

When the boys became husbands, I admit that my prayers were not as fervent for them as they once were. I don’t know why. Maybe without realizing it, I believed this momma’s prayers weren’t needed as much. And then I recalled separate conversations I had with both grandmothers when I was in my early 40’s. Each shared how they had prayed for me every day of my life. Wow, just wow.

How many can say they are prayed for daily? Let's be that person for our family! Click To Tweet

Today I’m sharing specific ways I’ve started praying for our sons and daughter-in-laws. I hope these will resonate in some way and inspire you to write out your own prayers.

I pray

Their hunger and thirst for Christ will only increase as they grow older

With a birthday just around the corner, I’m reminded how vital it is that I don’t become lazy in the faith. It’s not a realization that jumps out like a bad prank but rather one that eases in the back door of our heart with a pack of chips and a million excuses. I want to finish strong and I desire this for my children as well.

 

That they will grasp the depth of love God has for them

I want our children to be convinced of God’s love at a gut level because let’s face it, this truth is a game-changer, and one the enemy desires to keep hidden away in his slimy pocket.

I pray the following for my sons and daughter-in-laws, inserting their names in place of the pronouns. Whose name could fill in your blanks?

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen ________ with power through his Spirit in _______ inner being, so that Christ may dwell in _______ hearts through faith. And I pray that _________, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that _________ may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

 

Their protection⏤spiritually, emotionally, and physically

None of us are impervious to the sin that awaits us around the next corner. (The moment we believe we are, watch out!) I pray for my children to continue to grow deeply in love with Christ and with their spouses. For outside negative influences to stand at the gate of want with no hope of entrance into the minds and hearts of my loved ones.

 

A covering of wisdom and discernment

“Listen, I [wisdom] have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies; and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 8:6-11

Proverbs says that nothing we desire can compare to possessing wisdom. Thankfully, we need look only one direction for this wisdom: up.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

 

Linking arms in prayer

Imagine parents like you and me linking arms on the battlefield of prayer in support of our children⏤regardless of their age. If you’re not a parent, I can almost guarantee that you are influencing some young person in your circle of influence by your words and/or actions.

My arm is extended.  Wanna join me?

 

 

What to Pray When You Release Your Work Into the World

butterfly half

It all begins with an idea.

Maybe it’s a story, a blog, a song, a ministry, or simply a more productive way to accomplish a task in the office or at home. The idea percolates and begins to take shape⏤this could take minutes, months, or even years. The idea is relentless, clinging to our thoughts like a wet swimsuit. We pray over it, say no to things we’d rather say yes to, and grab every piece of chocolate in sight {okay, maybe that’s just me} in order to bring the idea to fruition.

And then it finally happens. We’re ready to release our work.

This year, I’ve learned a few things about what this means. My first book Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach released in May. My second, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains just released in September. I remember feeling physically ill when I first released the books to my critique group, beta readers, and finally, Amazon.

As I continue this journey, however, I’m learning the value of anchoring certain truths into place through prayer:

butterfly half

Stay focused on the why of the work.

 

Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” When we write, sing, counsel, teach, or whatever it is we do for God’s glory, His goodness is shared in a way that only we can tell it. Yes, the same story can be told by the multitudes but it’s how we experience God’s goodness that makes our story⏤the work of our hands and heart⏤unique and personal. If our ride-or-die why is to bring God glory then the missteps and disappointments we face along the way will not steer us off course because it’s not about us, our idea, or our atta-boys. It’s all His.

Father, You know my heart. Search it. Shine Your light to find any underlying motives residing in the nooks and crannies of my mind. If they are not of You, expose them as traitors, betraying my love and excitement for what You’ve put in my heart. Help me to stay focused on the why in order to guard against the voices in my head that will attempt to defeat and discourage me. May Your goodness emerge in everything I say and do.

 

Define success in my own heart before the world defines it for me.

 

Will the book sell more than a handful of copies? How will I react to my first bad review? If one person moves closer to the Lord as a result of reading the book, will that really be enough?

These questions ran through my mind with the same energy as a caffeinated child in a toy store. I knew it was time for a come-to-Jesus moment. There, I spilled all my expectations, desires, and hopes before the throne⏤the good, the bad, and the downright ugly⏤confident that nothing I said would catch Him off guard.

We all want our time, energy, and money to matter so when numbers in the form of books sold, clients or blog visitors don’t add up, the idea can feel like a failure⏤we can feel like a failure. That is unless we defined success for ourselves before the blog was written or the business began, or the story was told.

I personally define success as being obedient to what I feel God calls me to do. One of those things is writing this series of vacation devotional books. So if the books don’t sell as hoped, I may be disappointed, but I will rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, it is a success. When I get my first bad review, I will sob shed a tear, but I will rest. And if just one person moves closer to God as a result of anything I do, I will rejoice and rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, one person is equal to the world.

Father, show me how to measure the success of this idea by Your standards, not mine. Jesus says in John 5:30 that He doesn’t seek to please Himself, only God. Would you mold my desires in a way that mirrors that of Christ? I lay down my expectations, my desires, and dreams in submission to Your plans and purposes. Be glorified!

 

Release the results into God’s hands.

 

Flannery O’ Connor said, “When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God’s business.” (Thank you, Marcia!)

Our responsibility is to work diligently in pursuing what we feel God is calling us to do. That’s the calling. The results of that calling, however, are God’s.

We release our work into the world and the results into God's hands. Click To Tweet

Father, it’s all Yours. The idea, the energy and creativity to do the work, and the bravery required to release it. What You choose to do with my work {for Your glory} is completely up to You. I rejoice in knowing that the definition of true success is being faithful to You, for being always trumps doing.

 

Does one particular truth from today’s post resonate with where you find yourself today?

 

 

Coming to Our {Summer} Senses // Seeking A Spiritually Sweet Palate

Dogwood Cafe

On our way back from Boone NC this weekend, we made two stops. First, the Dogwood Café, where I enjoyed this beaut of a drink… Vanilla and Brown Sugar Latte.

A little further down the mountain, we stopped by a popular roadside market that was chock full of preserves, jellies, fruit, and my favorite—mountain honey, with the honeycomb⎯four to be exact. Yep, I’m a tad giddy.

honeyRarely do I gaze at a quart of spun sunshine without thinking of Psalm 119:103.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

Perhaps it’s because David’s life was tinged with the bitter flavor of sin⎯adultery, murder, and a collection of wives, to name a few⎯that he was able to fully appreciate the sweetness of God’s heart, reflected in His words. In biblical times, nothing compared to honey when it came to sweetness, which speaks volumes as to David’s spiritual palate and the relationship he shared with God.

In the current book I’m working on, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Guide to the Mountains, I share how life would’ve been much sweeter had I become a believer at an early age rather than in my late twenties. A multitude of sins could’ve been avoided, and my sons, along with innocent bystanders {because sin never affects just one person}, could have been avoided. And yet, it wasn’t until I tasted the bitterness of my sin that I craved the sweetness of heavenly-breathed scripture.

Sometimes we do not crave the sweetness of scripture until we have tasted the bitterness of sin. Click To Tweet
To taste is personal.

You can’t taste my food, and I can’t taste yours. In the same way, we taste and value scripture for ourselves.

To taste is to be near.

When we look at the original language of Psalm 119, we see that David chose to use the plural form for “word” instead of singular, suggesting that the more we read scripture⎯the more we encounter God through experience⎯the sweeter our exchange becomes over time.

In reading, meditating, memorizing, and speaking its life into others (and having it spoken into ours), we taste God’s Word. We experience it and revel in its beauty for ourselves.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18

With the quart of honey in hand, I’m reminded of those written in my prayer journal who taste and testify to the sweetness of scripture:

  • Four friends—Bruce, Josiah, Mary, and Grace—are currently under the category of “cancer/healing”. All four are not mere tasters, they are dwellers.
  • There is also a friend’s son, Elijah, in my journal. This young man experiences a level of pain that would leave most adults gulping for air from the feeling of being swallowed whole. His mom, Callie, family and friends, cry out to the LORD asking for divine answers as doctors continue to seek for the origin of Elijah’s pain. Still, they taste God’s goodness, and trust.
  • There are two young and precious widows, Leah and Tara, who exemplify scripture dwellers, leaning into the provision of Christ, revealing robust faith beneath their devastating loss. Tara’s son just left for bootcamp.
  • And there is a young California friend whose husband was recently deployed. I marvel at her strength, and the joy that exudes from her relationship with God. Her toddler son is blessed as a result.

Oh, to taste⎯to personally experience⎯the sweetness of our Father’s words for ourselves!

I still have much to learn when it comes to enriching my spiritual palate, but there are a few things I’m learning along the way.

sweets

How to Sweeten Our Spiritual Palate

 

  • Keep a journal. Recording the ways God personally reveals Himself to us through prayer and scripture reminds us of His goodness, even in the toughest of times.
  • Crank up the praise. It’s more difficult for the enemy to slither his way in when praise music is occupying the space. {This is especially helpful when we find ourselves in the waiting room of life, tempting our minds to navigate unnecessary scenarios.} Also, when we crank up the praise through our lips, testifying God’s goodness to others, our spiritual palate matures and develops, creating a joyful noise of its own.
  • Invite God into the mundane. Why? Because He cares. I struggle with traffic. I mean, really struggle. If you pass me on a busy road, you will see my lips moving. I ask for His help in the smallest of things because I know He understands and desires to help me. What good father wouldn’t? Trusting Him for the little things prepares us to trust Him for the bigger things, releasing a glorious infusion of sweetness that rises to the heavens.
  • Remain confident…in God. When scripture reads more in the form of conviction {never condemnation} or instruction, we can remain confident in God, the Author of all things good and sweet for His ultimate glory.

 

prayer journalSee this blank page in my prayer journal? I would count it a privilege to pray for you.

Please feel free to leave your request either in the comments section or message me via Facebook.

Also, as the Spirit leads, please pray for those mentioned above in my journal.

Let my prayer be accepted as sweet-smelling incense in your presence. Psalm 141:2

 

 

 

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A Prayer For Those Desiring a Teachable Spirit

A Teachable Spirit

I remember the days when my spirit was anything but teachable. I wasn’t under the tutelage of the Spirit at the time but perhaps a person can’t fully embrace the beauty of a teachable spirit until they have been broken by dirt poor wisdom.

Today’s post is for those who long to have a teachable, pliable, open heart to God. For those who want to wake up brimming with expectancy, fully confident that the same God who spoke life into existence long ago is even more excited to speak life into your soul this very day.

Psalm 25

Psalm 25:1-5

 

Show me your WAYS, O LORD

In Your
I-can’t-see-it-but-I-still-believe-it // unexpected // behind-the-scenes // life-awakening // justified // higher-than-mine // sovereign // heart-seeking // turn-the-other-cheek // love-those-who-pounce-on-you // Fatherly ways

TEACH me your paths;

Through
life-giving words that awaken the deadest of hearts // answered prayer // prayers yet to be answered // nature // words from babes // the deepest and darkest moments // abundant-life chasers // staying in step with the Spirit // humility

Guide me in the TRUTH

The truth that sets me free from
perfection // deception // grip of sin // disastrous decisions // legalism // mistaken identity // wasted time // the lie that says I must be doing in order for God to love me, accept me // the prison of my own conscience

for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.

 

Desiring a Teachable Spirit

Father,

With outstretched hands, I adore You, here and now.
Your ways soar above my own.
Your timing. It is precise, perfect. It is never one second too soon or too late.
Your presence. It is sweet and strong. It surrounds me, comforts and encourages me.
Sovereignty reigns in You alone. Nothing escapes Your attention, or care.
Even Your instruction⎯Your discipline⎯is a display of Your deep love for me. In this, I am confident for You are a good Father.

Obedience is Your love language.

Without You, I am nothing, Pappa.
Before You, I lay bare every lie I’ve ever believed that I could do anything meaningful without You.
I confess my pride — the idea that I have all of You that I need.
Though these words never leave my lips, this lie latches onto my actions. You see it when I refuse to ask questions for fear of seeming less-than. And when I choose not to listen well to wise counsel, or invest time in reading, studying, and taking notes to become more like Jesus.
I say I need You but I don’t seek You like a parched woman thirsting for water.
Please forgive me.

Father, this is my heart cry today, and every day:
Create within me a teachable spirit.
One that longs for You, thirsts for You, and finds everything I need in You.
For You alone are worthy.
Cloak me in discernment and wisdom to guard against sin and its disastrous effects,
for sin never leaves its slimy imprint on just one person’s life.
Pry open each finger of resistance to display an open hand and heart
desiring only You, Your ways, Your timing.

Amen.

 

// Your Turn //

 

Is there a word or phrase from the above prayer that you desire to make your own before the Lord? Or, what is one specific way you pray for a teachable spirit? Please share.

 

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