Cultivate A Consistent Prayer Life in 2021 + NEW GIFT + Giveaway!

While there’s a lot I’d like to leave behind in 2020, my prayer life isn’t one of them.

For thirty years, I’ve celebrated the truth that God wants to be personally known, experienced, and trusted. But my time with Him hasn’t always reflected it. My intentions were good, but apparently, my excuses were sometimes better, widening the door for guilt to slither in and crack open the window for shame to join in the harassment.

In early 2020, I began reading Priscilla Shirer’s devotional, Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks. The title resonated with a deep desire to stop the cycle of good intentions.

 

And so I began the 90-Day journey with God.

 

I sat down with her devotional, the Bible, and my trusted journal. Within a week or two, I sensed the Lord creating a daily rhythm for our dedicated time of fellowship:

  • Slowly and prayerfully, read through the book of Psalms, one a day.
  • Read the Proverb that corresponds with the date.
  • Read one devotional from Awaken.
  • Keep my travel journal close by and jot down observations.
  • Spend a few minutes in silence.

 

In no time flat, accusations disguised as whispers began to chatter:

 

  • You should be working through a study instead of just reading your Bible.
  • Why are you only reading “x” amount of verses?
  • You call this a valid quiet time?

 

But I did it anyway. And here’s what happened.

 

You know that elated feeling you experience when spending time with someone who shares a mutual interest? You could talk about (fill in the blank) all day long, and with a little caffeine, maybe all night! You leave their presence feeling energetic, encouraged, and ready to face another day, right?

That’s what happened when I began showing up with a holy expectancy! What will my heavenly Father reveal today? Not like a little girl on Santa’s knee, but a woman who’s incredibly flawed but hungry to hear from God and join in the adventure! (Even that desire is from Him, my flesh would prefer to be eating breakfast.)

During our dedicated time of fellowship, He reveals my sins: how I overdo sweets, the way I sometimes relate to my husband, and my lack of faith in various areas of my life, just to name a few. Some revelations are painful, but they’re necessary, and even a confirmation of His love. (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6)

And

God opens my eyes to spiritual truths I wouldn’t see or receive otherwise. He provides ideas for ministry, ways to love others, words, sentences, paragraphs, and a dream Literary Agent only He could’ve provided. The list goes on!!! (Multiple exclamation points = holy excitement)

 

Still, I prayed for weeks before creating this post.

 

You see, I wanted to make sure it was God’s voice (and not mine) prompting me to share how He transformed our time together. The last thing I wanted was to give the illusion that I had anything to offer but a willing heart, or that there was a “magic” formula for drawing closer to God, or that I was discounting the vital need for studying God’s Word in-depth.

We know the simple act of reading the Word and studying it is the difference between wading in a pool and swimming in it. And if there’s ever been a time when we as Christ-followers need to know the Word for ourselves, it is today. I did, however, learn that if reading is done prayerfully, there’s much to glean and is anything but a simple read.

 

I can only testify that the plan He unfolded for a season deepened my faith and infused our time of fellowship with a deep, abiding joy that I never saw coming.

 

So, how do we begin moving toward a more consistent prayer life in 2021?

 

  1. Check the heart. What do we truly believe about our time with God? Is He present? Does He hear us? Does He respond? Am I willing to hear His conviction as well as His blessings?
  2. Create a plan. Whether or not we consider ourselves a planner is irrelevant. We plan other worthy appointments⏤the doctor, work, hair, etc. Is He worthy?
  3. Come with an expectant heart! This connects with the first point but it’s also a vital part of the adventure.
  4. Prayerfully consider what plan God might want to unfold for your time together.
  5. Equip our time with essentials beforehand: Bible, journal, “travel with God” journal, and pen.

*Bonus: Continue the engagement with God throughout the day!

Not only did God confirm that others might benefit from this post, but He also broke it down into bite-sized pieces for “(Re)Awaken Your Prayer Life.” Inside, you’ll find more information on the five considerations above (and the bonus!), along with inspiring verses and quotes in the form of coloring pages.

 

 

This free guide is a small token of my appreciation for subscribing to the “Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill” bi-weekly blog. It’s also available to current subscribers (love and appreciate y’all beyond words!).

To subscribe, simply scroll to the bottom of this post or see the top right sidebar section.

 

So, as we look forward to a new year with a fresh slate, what is one spiritual discipline you sense God is calling you to cultivate in 2021? Share in the comment section to be entered into a giveaway for your own leather “travel with God” journal!

 

 

P.S. For one week in January, an added bonus on ways to grow a more consistent prayer life will be shared each day. (And don’t be surprised if there’s a daily giveaway to help in those efforts.)

So, come on over and join hundreds of other women who find value in holy pauses inside the Creative Pauses Facebook group!

 

 

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

 

Re-Charge Your Prayer Life by Pairing Up With a Prayer Partner!

It started easy enough.

I texted one morning, asking if there were specific ways I could pray for her, and in return, she asked the same. It was a simple exchange of words.

 

But at that moment, I realized it was more than a simple swap.

 

Yes, tapping requests on the phone is simple enough, but we know the true power begins the moment we lift up the person in prayer⏤speaking their name, sharing their requests, and trusting God’s best for them.

Sometimes this kind of pairing happens organically, but when it doesn’t, intentionality is required. Both can lead to an authentic connection for God’s glory.

 

Benefits of Partnering in Prayer

 

  • “Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
  • We become more aware of what we’re praying for.
  • We gain our partner’s perspective and godly wisdom.
  • It helps us feel less anxious knowing we have at least one person praying specifically for us.
  • We need each other! It’s no coincidence the disciples were sent out in pairs. In a world that is becoming increasingly hostile toward believers, we need to encourage, inspire, and speak words of life into one another.
  • We become invested in each other’s Kingdom work.

 

What We May Want to Consider

 

  • Set expectations from the get-go. Do you want to exchange requests daily, three times a week, or weekly?
  • Partner with the intention of being paired for 1-3 months. This takes the “I-should”, “I-must” kind of pressure off the partnership, inviting joy and the sense of biblical community into the equation.
  • We’ve all been there⏤you know where⏤the times we said we’d pray but forgot. Having it in a text format keeps her words before us, but taking a moment to pray right then and there is the best way to follow through with good intentions.
  • Text the praying hand’s emoji to our partner after we pray, and every time we pray for her. It’s a quick, small signal, but one that’s sure to encourage.

 

Where to Find a Prayer Partner?

 

 

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together.

— Charles Finney

 

It’s true we can’t be everything to everybody (nor should we try), but we can offer up everything needed on another’s behalf for God’s glory.

What’s the greatest benefit you’ve experienced from partnering with someone in prayer?

 

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While You Wait Outside Hospital Doors for a Loved One

It’s a helpless feeling, isn’t it?

Leaving loved ones on the stoop of hospital doors, entrusting healthcare workers to fill in the gaps we want to fill but can’t.

Lives lost, dream weddings postponed, jobs eliminated, and the inability to enter health facilities with loved ones being admitted, are just some of the situations we find ourselves in these days.

Several weeks ago, my stepmom took dad to the ER for a high fever. Saying goodbye at the stiffly guarded steel doors only to return alone to her car and wait was one of her hardest moments.

 

“The worst part of life is waiting. The best part of life is having someone worth the wait.”

 

When Jessica Brumley penned these words, she wasn’t referring to the same kind of wait, but the words still ring true, don’t they?

Choosing to see blessings beyond our circumstances is an act of faith.

Recently, I started creating sensory-based pauses (mini-devotions) for my subscribers to enjoy while in specific spaces. One month is it was the garden. Last month, a picnic. For each of the five senses, I offered a simple prompt to help push the pause button and focus on the goodness of God that stretches far beyond a steering wheel.

 

The simple act of focusing on God turns an upside-down world right-side up.

 

Today, “A Pause While You Wait” (including an inspirational page to color) is my gift to you. Feel free to share this post with your circle of friends because sometimes we don’t know we’ll need it until we do.

 

“You will keep the mind that is dependent upon you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 

To download your copy of A Pause While You Wait, simply click here. The coloring page is included.

 

 

 

 

Is there some way I can pray for you today?

 

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Praying With Our Eyes Wide Open

Literally.

I know, I know. It goes against everything we learned growing up. Bow your heads and close your eyes. To do anything different seems awkward.

But within my four walls, I welcome the difference, always praying with my eyes wide open. When it comes to praying with others, however, I cave to tradition.

 

I don’t want to look weird or feel out of place — and my spirit groans every single time.

 

The only way I know how to describe what happens the moment I close my eyes to pray is to compare it to a Twilight Zone episode called Little Girl Lost. A child accidentally falls through an opening in the wall and enters a different dimension. She cries while floating around in the dark, trying to reach for her dog, who suffered the same fate.

Okay, so that’s a tad dramatic but it’s true. I close my eyes to pray and everything goes dark. Everything except for the distractions. They bark louder than any dog I know.

 

Is it Unbiblical to Pray with Our Eyes Open?

 

It’s not. There’s nothing in the Bible that says our eyes must be closed to communicate well with our God. When Jesus feeds the 5,000 he prays looking up to heaven. Were his eyes open? I believe so.

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” Matthew 14:17-19 [emphasis mine]

God doesn’t pay attention to what we wear, if we’ve showered, or if our hair is mussed or perfect. The tradition of closing our eyes is both understandable and honorable. We all want to be fully present, whether our eyes are open or closed. But since our conversation today is focused on the former, here are some tips for avoiding distractions:

 

How to Avoid Distractions When Praying With Eyes Wide Open

 

  • Look up! Jesus set the example. The sky is vast and full of God’s glory. Like the ocean, it reminds us of our smallness and that is good.
  • Journal prayers first. Write down the specifics first, and then pray. This way, when praying with our eyes open, the things we want to pray for surface quicker. Distractions, at least for me, tend to happen more when my heart/mind isn’t warmed up.
  • Whenever possible, pray aloud. Hearing the words help to cement them in the heart. By the same token, praying out loud also helps me to “hear” the sins that are trying to squeak in the back door of my heart. Sometimes the simple tone of my request says it all. Combining the two ⏤eyes open and aloud⏤changed my prayer life.

 

Other Times We Can {and Should} Pray with Eyes Wide Open

 

  • When driving. Or when the guy on your bumper scooches up just a little too close for comfort.
  • When we’re outside. “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” Job 37:14
  • As we go through our day. Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to be alert in prayer. Staying attuned to the beauty and heartache that surrounds us every day gives us continual reasons to walk and pray throughout our day.

Writing is often cathartic and this post is one of those moments for me. If praying with my eyes wide open isn’t unbiblical and if my spirit groans when I try to pray like everyone else because of pride, I need to confess it and move forward in faith. Because this is what we know:

Eyes open, eyes closed. It matters not, as long as the heart is engaged.

 

 

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Thank you for stopping by for a visit! I’d love for you to stay awhile. If you’d like to become a part of the Creative Pauses community, simply type your e-address in the righthand sidebar. Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy day and they automatically land in your inbox. Once a month, you’ll also receive a newsletter chock-full of helpful tidbits on drawing nearer to God and loving others well.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you! 

3 Ways to Pray More Intentionally + A Tiny Journal Giveaway!

Intentional is my “one-word” for the year.

Some think the one-word movement is hokey. I know because that was me not so long ago. And yet, in a world that tugs on us with the same fervor as a hungry toddler, embracing a word that points us to the Word offers an intentional act that can help us stay focused.

 

Many areas in life deserve more intentionality on my part, but none more than prayer.

 

Below are three ways I’m learning to re-engage the power and beauty of prayer in my own life. I’d love to know how you’re doing the same in the comment section below. We are in this together, after all. *smile*

 

1. Re-visit the Why

 

Why pray? If we were raised in the church, our whys more than likely roll off the tongue with ease. But what about today? What about prayer stirs us to set aside time on a busy morning? What do we believe about prayer that causes us to risk embarrassment by thanking God for our food in public places?

For me, this “why” surfaced first: Because I can⏤because we can. Thanks be to Christ’s sacrifice, we can converse with the One True God⏤the One who formed us, the One who redeemed us, sanctifies us, loves us beyond comprehension, quiets us, heals us, and empowers us to live more like Jesus.

It is impossible to grasp the reality of this magnificent privilege and remain the same. 

What is your “why” and how does it change your intentions for 2020?

 

2. Scribble Your Prayers

 

Scribble, you say? Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what I mean, but one of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was to scribble my rogue ideas and rough drafts in a plain spiral-bound notebook. Not fancy ones, like those Brian used to bring home from France. {I’m not sure what it says about me that I asked for paper instead of perfume, but let me just say, this was no ordinary paper. The crisp white sheets were smooth as glass, yet thick enough to resist any bleed-through.}

But this same sheet of paper sat blank because I didn’t want to waste a “good” sheet for what could be the worst paragraph ever.

And therein lies the beauty of a solid-colored spiral-bound notebook. The sheets are thin and anything but crisp⏤but they are brimming with words. There’s no concern about messing up or writing the wrong thing on a cheap piece of paper.

Sometimes when journaling our prayers, it’s easy to feel stuck, unsure of what we want to write. Or we skip a day, a week, or longer because we don’t know where to begin. So the page remains blank.

But when the imperfect spiral-bound pages make themselves available for imperfect words and sentences, there’s a freedom at work that I can’t explain.

“Scribbling” tips:

  • Write like no one else will read it but God. It’s a safe place to pour out your hurt, your dreams, your doubts–whatever is on your heart. King David paved the way in Psalms, showing us how to trust God with our honesty while never failing to recognize His majesty.
  • Try different methods. There’s no one way that’s right for everyone. Over the years, I’ve used an organized prayer notebook with tabs for praise, confession, intercession, and salvation. I also have stacks of plain notebooks, some started but never finished, and others filled with my failures and God’s faithfulness.
  • Keep a tiny journal with you at all times. Be intentional, watching for God’s goodness as you move through your day. Eventually, you will create your own pocketful of praises. {Don’t miss the tiny journal opportunity below!}

 

3. Incorporate “Touchpoints” of Prayer

 

To be clear, there’s nothing sacred about touching anything. But using everyday touches to prompt a prayer is a simple and intentional way to stay connected with God throughout our day. Such as:

  • Washing the dishes. Let the water running over your hands serve as a reminder to pray for those who are spiritually thirsty, without Christ. We pray for their salvation so that their innermost being will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
  • Steering wheel. As you take hold of the wheel, let your grip serve as a reminder of God’s closeness to you, praising God for surrounding you with His presence. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 125:1,2)
  • Feet to the floor. This “touchpoint” is mentioned in 4 “Touchpoints” to Connect with God Throughout the Day, the latest gift for current/new subscribers. The moment our feet touch either the coldness of hardwood flooring or the warmth of cozy slippers in the morning, let that touch prompt us to offer God our first thought of the day. It can be as simple as, Thank you for a new day, Thank you for fresh mercy (Lamentations 3:22, 23), or Have Your Way Today, Lord.

 

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:12

 

How would you like to become more intentional in 2020? Share in the comment section below to help cement your own intentions, encourage others, and have your name placed in a random giveaway for a pair of mini journals.

 

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As a thank you for subscribing to this blog, you’ll receive 4 Prayer “Touchpoints”: To Help Connect with God Throughout the Day, a free download to print and clip. Of course, we hope you’ll stay, but you may unsubscribe at any time.

 

The Moment Before and After You Hear the Word Cancer

“I have a little news to share.”

I knew dad was taking medicine for a recent issue but it turned out the medicine was no match for the mass occupying most of his bladder.

With the biopsy looming two weeks later, I protected my thoughts like a mama bear, refusing to allow “what if’s” to sink in and do their damage.

 

There’s a comforting thread of normalcy that hangs in the air between the moments of not knowing and knowing.

 

Two weeks following the procedure, the phone rang. The cancer was aggressive, possibly penetrating the nearby muscle. It would be another two-week wait before learning the biopsy results, answering the dreaded question about the lymph nodes.

 

“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.”  – Charles Spurgeon

 

There’s nothing fun about waiting, especially when it concerns someone you love. But it does give the heart and mind time to meld together, strengthening the muscles that bow to God’s sovereignty.

On October 11th, we learned cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes. Let’s just say my happy dance learned a few more moves and this daughter couldn’t be more thankful. He still has a ways to go with the removal of his bladder scheduled in November but it’s the first major step toward healing. (We found out yesterday that his surgery is today!)

In the weeks that have passed since dad’s initial phone call announcing “a little news” I would be lying if I didn’t confess the desire to cling to the comforting thread of normalcy where my only waiting time involves a Keurig.

 

How lovely is the mundane, the normalcy of our days.

But they are to be treasured, not idolized.

 

It’s a hard lesson I didn’t even know I needed to learn.

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Watch for the final two posts of 2019 coming up Tuesday, November 12th (Tiny House Tuesday) and Tuesday, November 19th.

Tiny House Tuesday will unveil the NEW front door color! (Yep, the chartreuse is gone and I can’t wait for you to see it on the 12th).  If you’re a part of our *tiny* kindred community you’ll find the first snapshot of the new door color in today’s Monthly Letter.

For the 19th, in addition to the post, I’ll share a special download for Christmas, KEEPING CHRISTMAS.

Depending on how things go with dad, I plan to share pictures of a decorated tiny house in December, and if you’re a subscriber, watch for your personal tour via video!

A lot of exciting things are happening up on the hill. Thank you for your prayers and for simply being here.

You are a blessing.

 

 

Image source by Pixabay.

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