Prayer was never meant to stay within four walls, or spoken from a well-worn chair, or coupled with coffee.
Don’t get me wrong, praying in my favorite spot with coffee in hand is a delight. But when I look at Jesus, I see how He prayed in the wilderness, solitary places, on a mountain, in crowds, gardens, and with children.
Jesus prayed with the same ease as His next breath, making the most of every opportunity.
As I look around, I see spring everywhere — in outdoor activities, flowers, trees, and on the labels of my sinus meds. The struggle is real. But every season offers its own unique opportunities for prayer, and spring is no exception.
So, where are some places we can make the most of every opportunity to pray this season? I’ll get the ball rolling with eight ideas:
Depending on the time we visit, we might see women running, children climbing on playsets, or couples circling it hand-in-hand.
We can pray God will bless the efforts of those taking the time to exercise. Are children climbing monkey bars? Pray they’ll come to know Jesus at an early age, for their protection (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), and for their parents. Also, seeing couples enjoying time together is a reminder to pray that they’ll be a good and godly influence on other couples (and we will too). So, let’s get to dusting off the devilish yellowish-green powder covering the park bench and take our seats!
Walks in Our Community
We walk in our neighborhood and pray for various families as we pass by their homes. So let’s stretch our prayer muscles and find other places in our community to pray. We can circle our children/grandchildren’s school in prayer or a small business that’s struggling. Let’s circle our church, praying for the pastoral staff and their families. We can also pray as we pass by the police station, fire department, and other places where dedicated men and women serve our community and country.
In the Garden
You know the old saying that we’re closer to God in a garden? Maybe it’s older than we think. After all, life began in a garden and the union with God was perfect before fruit was plucked and eaten.
As we dig into the earth, let’s consider those who need a holy heart tilling ⏤ for the Holy Spirit to begin preparing their heart for His Word, and that truth will sink deeply in their heart and mind. Pulling weeds? What a beautiful reminder to pray that we ourselves will also have a well-tilled heart.
At the Beach
Many southerners make their way to the beach during spring break, weekend trips, and early vacations. I have a feeling we’re not alone. (I hope we’re not!) While sitting on the beach, scoop up a handful of sand. Notice the number of granules, even in one pinched finger’s worth. Psalm 139 says God’s thoughts toward us outnumber the grains of sand. Do you, or someone you know, need to be reminded of God’s goodness, care, and attention? Pray and if you want to give them a tangible reminder, scoop sand in a Ziploc bag. Also, watching the mighty waves curl, crash and ease their way to the shore reminds us of God’s power and strength. Let’s pray for this power to move in our present circumstances, as well as others. A week’s worth of similar ideas is included in my devotional guide for the beach. (Not an affiliate link.)
The Farmer’s Market
We see a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables, flowers, jams, honey, and jellies⏤the fruition of hard work behind the scenes. It’s a great opportunity to pray for those who plant, water, fumigate, and can fruity goodness. Pray for their health, blessings on their work, and success.
At the Zoo
Who doesn’t enjoy a visit to the zoo, especially before the double-whammy hits ⏤ humidity and mosquitoes! Kids and kids-at-heart marvel at God’s creativity — the colors, habits, shapes, and their innate ability to survive. There’s no better place to praise God for surrounding us in His handcrafted beauty.
Maybe it’s hard to imagine being able to pray while whipping around curves and stopping for lunch at our favorite mom and pop cafe but thanks to breath prayers, it’s possible.
Intentionally “taking” our prayer life wherever we go opens our eyes to spiritual truths and opportunities we would miss otherwise. And no greater example of this is Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
I’d heard great things about the author so I moved the book from the back porch to the vintage ice-cream parlor table. It’s where my Bible, journals, and current studies call home.
I expected a devotional. Instead, I got a well-crafted guide into my own heart, as well as practical help when helping others.
I’ve walked with Jesus for thirty years and I’ve never read a better book that untangles and lays the truth out flat for all to understand.
“Every time you love your enemy, you are resting in the sovereignty of God. Every time you speak lovingly and softly in the face of someone else’s anger, you are choosing to rest in the sovereignty of God. Every time you resist the temptation to win an argument at all costs, you are resting in God’s sovereignty. Because he rules, nothing you do in obedience to him is ever futile. Your life has meaning and purpose because you are included not only in the plan of the One who rules it all, but also in his family!”
The above paragraph is soaked in orange and double-underlined in my book. Maybe it’s because loving my enemy, speaking softly in the face of anger, and resisting the temptation to win an argument does not come naturally. Or maybe it’s because God placed this paragraph in front of me on the very week I needed it most. (Don’t you love it when God does this?)
To know that our seemingly small actions of obedience matter encourage us to make the right choices.
“Any agenda for change must focus on the thoughts and desires of the heart. Therefore, the heart is our target in personal growth and ministry. Our prayer is that God will work heart change in us and use us to produce heart change in others that results in new words, choices, and actions.”
The above excerpt reflects why I believe every believer would benefit from reading *Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. In shining the light on our own hearts, truth can’t help but also penetrate those God brings across our path.
Is there anything more exciting than knowing God uses ordinary people for extraordinary purposes? No degree required!
“Since the central character of the great story of Scripture is Christ, a central theme of the story is grace. It must be the central theme of our personal ministry, biblical counseling, and discipleship as well. We point people to a God who not only sets the goal for their lives but who enables them to do what they have never done before. His grace results in reconciliation, restoration, and peace. The impossibility of sinners becoming godly becomes possible through his grace.” One more time.
“The impossibility of sinners becoming godly becomes possible through his grace.”
This book is for pastors, ministries, Bible study leaders, and for women like me who simply want to stay alert to the people God calls me to come alongside for a season. If you appreciate a well-written, not too simple nor too deep kind of book that helps us and others, *Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand, by Paul David Tripp is a keeper.
“He is the only answer, so we must never offer a message that is less than good news. We don’t offer people a system; we point them to a Redeemer. He is hope.”
During this season of great hope, we’re offering a daily guide to walk with Jesus throughout this week leading up to Easter.
(Members, you’ll find your copy in the monthly letter that was delivered last Tuesday.)
What’s one way you’re reaching out to others? Share in the comment section below to be entered in the giveaway for your own copy of *Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp. A random winner will be notified on Friday.
*This is an affiliate link. It adds no cost to the purchase of your book. See policy in the sidebar for more information. Thank you!
We’re often quick to offer kindness to others, but what about ourselves?
The fact that I winced when the idea for this post popped up is just one indicator that I have a lot of growing to do in this area. Maybe it’s because I was raised not to talk about myself. Just try bragging about how groovy that blue eyeshadow looked (hey, it was the 70’s!) and any southerner knew what was coming next⏤the ol’ side glance with a “bless her heart, she knows better” expression.
The silent “rule” of never speaking about one’s self in a positive light was engrained in my culture as deeply as cornbread and buttermilk. And that’s doggone deep!
These days, I show myself a little kindness by swinging by Starbucks for a brown sugar espresso after a long day of writing. But when it comes to offering myself kindness after repenting from something I said, or not doing something “normal” women do, like keeping everything tidy, kindness often stops short.
Like a bully, I beat myself up and rattle off a string of names I’d never call anyone else.
Recently, when talking with a friend who had a few “bruises” of her own, I suggested she be kind to herself. Those words were not meant for her ears only. I needed them, and maybe you do too. Be kind to yourself.
So, how can we offer ourselves kindness?
I think it begins, as does every part of life, with remembering who we are in Christ.
Receive God’s grace. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) A high cost was paid for the privilege of receiving God’s unmerited favor. I’m learning how to sit still until God’s grace settles in the soul to the point of peace. Then, I thank God and move on!
Practice what we preach. How would we help another woman who continues to beat herself up even after she’s repented and received God’s forgiveness for a particular action?
Align our expectations with God’s Word. Does God call us to be a perfect wife, mom, grandmother, or friend? Thankfully, no, but He does come alongside us, full of mercy and compassion, and shows us how to be who we can’t be without Him. If God doesn’t place the burden of perfection on us in these roles, why do we?
Discover the “why” behind the action that leaves us feeling less-than, and don’t shy away from it. Does my upbringing play a part in why I’m so hard on myself? Have I set unrealistic expectations on myself based on the culture? Am I giving others the power to determine how I feel about myself? Some of these may require biblical counseling, or maybe just some time set apart for prayer, asking God for wisdom. (James 1:5)
Love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:31 (emphasis mine)
Being kind to ourselves paves the way for us to be even kinder to others.
And kindness never goes out of style.
A fun way to remember to be kind to ourselves is to carry or display a scripture card…so I’m giving you four. Enjoy your PDF download!
Another way to embed the message of kindness into our hearts is to pause for two minutes and soak in this song by Andrew Peterson. Oh, to know and receive the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father!
So, how do you show yourself kindness? Please share in the comment section below!
I inherited my paternal grandmother’s Bible. The feather-light pages crinkle with every turn, weighed down only by the ink from her handwritten notes.
It is evidence of what I already know to be true of both grandmothers⏤they were prayer warriors.
I also have my great-grandfather’s bible. Tucked inside is a torn piece of an envelope, darkened by age but lit with Zephaniah 3:17, written out in his handwriting. Not ever having met him, the asterisks and notes tell a story for which I’m eternally grateful.
Both bibles remind me of the blessing that is ours today because of those who prayed for us yesterday.
When I came to know Christ at 27, I was a single mom with two young boys. My heart ached over the sinful choices I’d made and their effect on my sons. Unfortunately, no one knew those better than me, also having come from a divided home.
I pleaded with God to allow the cycle of divorce in our family to end with me.
My prayers focused on asking God to give the boys a love for Him that trumped all others, for sexual purity, and for their future spouses. I had little to offer as an example and let’s face it, that kind of heart work can only be cultivated by the loving hands of a Heavenly Father.
Years later, those same hands brought two more-than-I-could-ever-ask-for daughters-in-law into our family. During the rehearsal dinner for our oldest son’s wedding, pictures from each of their childhoods, along with their dating years, slid across the screen. Toward the end, one image without faces fell into place. On the left side was a page from my daughter-in-law’s mother’s prayer journal where she prayed for Megan’s future husband. On the right was mine, praying for his future wife. God’s faithfulness brought both of us to tears. All those years we were praying for our children’s spouses.
We didn’t know their names but God did.
Last year, I began a prayer journal for each of our six grandchildren. The journals were purchased months prior but I kept waiting for the “right” time, the “right” words, the “right” way to do it. Ugh!
Perfectionism is a perfected tool in the enemy’s pocket.
So I set aside the need to have it right and began writing specific prayers and promises. I’m sure there’s a better and prettier way to do it but I’m not journaling for the sake of better or pretty. I’m writing down prayers for heaven’s sake…literally.
Here are five prayers I pray for them, ages 9 and under:
Salvation at an early age. I imagine to love and serve Him for a lifetime would be a glorious gift.
Their protection⏤spiritually, physically, and emotionally. There’s never been a greater need for praying spiritual protection over our children and grandchildren. With the child’s name in place of the blank space, this is written: Colossians 2:8: “Protect _____ from the captivity of hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
A robust faith with roots that deepen and strengthen over time. “…just as you received Jesus Christ as LORD, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6,7
A vibrant prayer life throughout their lives. “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence.” Psalm 16:11 You and I know that a consistent prayer life rarely comes easy.
Godly friendships. Forming healthy friendships help to create solid relationships that often carry into adulthood. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
There are a couple of reasons I journal prayers:
It helps me stay focused. My brain scatters as quickly as a squirrel dodging cars. I need to write most of my prayers down.
Journaling leaves a record for future generations to see how they were prayed over.
Having said that, the common question, “What would you save if there was a fire in your home?” recently arose. I immediately thought of the kid’s prayer journals. What if I couldn’t save them? All the time that’s been taken for writing out the prayers would…
“Would what?” I sensed the Lord asking. I paused, looked heavenward, and smiled. Those prayers aren’t going anywhere. They are in His safekeeping.
In the end, the power lies in act of prayer, not in journaling them.
And that’s what matters most.
What’s one way you pray for children, grandchildren, or others? Join the conversation and share in the comment section below!
Engaging our five senses opens us to moments of wonder we might otherwise miss.
“God has strewn our paths with wonders and we certainly should not go through life without seeing them.” Alexander Graham Bell
An eight-foot-long window on the north side of the tiny house faces mountain ranges skirted in native trees. Just a glimpse of the majestic peaks stirs this heart to wonder.
And then there’s the joyful chirping heard from nearby Robins as they swoop down in search of late-bearing fruit. Birds, in general, remind me of God’s care.
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26
But to hear their chirping praises to the Lord reminds me to be joyful and content with His provisions.
Pausing to celebrate even the tiniest of God’s wonders, prompts our heart to worship throughout the day.
Perhaps winter is the ideal season to cultivate the art of slowing down long enough to take note of God at work around us?
It begins with prayer.
And heightening our awareness of God’s wonders may also require practice.
“Great are the works of the LORD, they are pondered by all who delight in them.” Psalm 111:2
Below is a list of fun observations made over the past couple of weeks. It’s a simple way to train the brain in becoming more intentional to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste the wonders of God. What will you notice this week?
Red cardinals on bare branches. Bright spots among the bleak.
Forgotten homes, abandoned buildings, and barns normally hidden behind foliage. What stories did they once hold?
Here in the south, the blessing comes in what we don’t see…mosquitoes. That reason alone is cause for praise!
Words, sentences, and paragraphs. Reading while curled up beneath a chunky knit blanket and hugging a warm cup of tea = a perfect winter oasis. (Here’s what I’m reading now. And let’s just say she’s found a life-long fan in me.)
Squeals of joy from nearby slopes as children slide on sleds.
The hefty crunch of boots when stepping on frozen ground.
Zipping up heavy coats.
Puzzle pieces snapping into place.
Snow-fall silence. A glorious deafening indeed.
Tiny crackles of static when removing toboggans.
A whistling tea kettle, assuring us of a soon-to-be pause.
Thumps of wood being tossed into the fireplace.
Blankets – heavy but soft, combining to bring warmth and comfort.
Heated car seats. Need I say more?
Smoother hair – fewer frizzies thanks to the lower humidity.
Snow – a wintry delight (for those of us in the south), possessing the power to transform grown adults into giddy ten-year-olds.
Propane (gas logs).
The sharp scent of cedar when split for kindling.
Candles with the rich fragrances of fir, evergreens, and spices.
Lemon, frankincense, and eucalyptus essential oils misting the room to help keep everyone healthy.
Freshly-washed flannel sheets that hold a hint of Downy.
Snow cream! Fresh snow, pure vanilla, and cane sugar (blended with memories of my grandmother making it for me) creates the sweetest of concoctions.
of Spring…when bright crocuses emerge and ole-timey Witch Hazel shrubs blossom the color of sunshine.
Hot cocoa made with whole milk, topped with puffs of chalky white goodness.
What winter observation sparks your spirit to praise the wonders of God?
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