Summer delivers sunshine and sweet tea but it can also present specific prayer needs.
Children are out of school, parents are working from their homes with children who are happy to be out of school (which is a whole different kind of happy!), and the hustle and bustle of summer life is cranking up.
Unexpected blessings catapult our faith into high gear and steady our walk of faith.
I didn’t realize how much so until last week when I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. As I’ve done over the past nine years, I showed up eager to fellowship with friends, meet new ones, and hone my craft.
But this year was different. And it had nothing to do with Covid.
At registration, I planned to attend everything the conference had to offer. But soon after arriving, I sensed God might be calling me to something unexpected. My southern-fried raising tried its best to guilt me into doing what I always did because, well, it was the expected, “right” thing to do.
I’m learning, however, the only thing right thing to do is to follow God’s plans.
So, instead of attending the a-mazing large group meetings and classes, I took a seat in the Clouds coffee shop and simply made myself available, with a lavender latte in hand.
During my time in the coffee shop, God:
brought dozens of attendees by, making it possible for me to share wholehearted smiles and hellos. (We had a lot of new attendees!)
allowed me to pray with others right there on the spot.
let me be a listening ear to several who were carrying heavy burdens. More than once, someone said, “I’m so thankful you were here.” And in return, I echoed the same sentiment to God.
enjoyed the laughter that surrounded the shellacked table.
blessed me with friendships with the volunteers working behind the counter.
Looking back, I see how a few specific prayers prepared me to follow God’s leading, resulting in unexpected blessings:
Three Prayerful Ways to Prepare for Unexpected Blessings:
Pray for God’s agenda, period. In the weeks prior to the conference, I prayed for various things like staying healthy, the removal of any pride or selfishness from this ol’ heart, and being available for however He might want to use me as a conduit of His love and kindness.
Pray for bravery. Because we can all agree that following God’s agenda and not ours (or anyone else’s) isn’t for wimps.
Expect the Unexpected. I admit that when I first sensed the Holy Spirit pointing me to the cafe, I bristled a bit, knowing it might disappoint some people I love and respect. (My name is Cathy Baker and I am a recovering people pleaser.)
On the final day of the conference, a friend put this “Office of Cathy Baker” sign on the cafe table. Here’s one of fourteen pictures taken in my “office” *smile*. It’s a favorite because it includes Pepper Basham, along with her latest release, Hope Within the Pages (Doors to the Past).
(I’m sharing my various visitors to the “office” on Facebook over the next week or two. I’d love for you to stop by and say hello!)
Do you sense God might be calling you to serve Him in an unexpected, possibly out-of-the-norm kind of way? We’d love to know!
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Whether they know it or not, today’s teenagers face a formidable enemy.
They always have. After all, it’s during the teen years we form friendships, notice every pimple, start dating, and unfortunately, come face-to-face with the mean girls. But our culture has never been as anti-Christian as it is today, dismissing (even ridiculing) truth and accepting happiness as its “holy grail”.
Teenagers need us to stand in the gap on their behalf. If not us, then who?
Having reflected on my own teen years and the damage left behind in my twenties, I had no wisdom to offer my own two sons. So when I became a Christ-follower at twenty-seven (they were two and six), one of the first things I did was to begin prayer journaling. In it, I prayed a variety of prayers for them, many of which have come to fruition, now decades later, thanks be to Jesus alone.
It’s never too soon to start praying for our children, and it’s also never too late.
The enemy aims for the mind because if he captures it, the rest is gravy. We can pray for a hedge of protection around their minds ⏤ what they see and listen to.
See: That they’ll have no desire to view pornography, and will be protected from seeing it or encouraged to view it. And if/when they view harmful things, that they’ll repent quickly and not believe the lie that it’s who they’ve become. May they “see” and believe in God’s nearness instead.
Listen: That he/she will have the desire to fill their ears with godly influences ⏤ people, music, podcasts, etc.
2. To know and believe they are loved by parents
Rebellion has been around since the first piece of fruit was plucked from the tree. Similarly, the enemy whispers in our teenager’s ears, does your mom/dad really love you, care for you, and have your best interest in mind? When praying for our teens, we join forces with the One who created them and knows how to fight this battle. We can pray for the truth they’ve been taught to penetrate the lies, for the Lord to surround them with godly people who will speak truth into their lives, and for them to see us as we are ⏤ broken and scarred, but relentless in our love for them. If we need to ask for their forgiveness or make a wrong right, then we humbly do this, demonstrating what love is truly about ⏤ not being right, but humble.
I wish I’d known as a teenager that remaining sexually pure was God’s way of protecting me, not depriving me. It’s why I fervently prayed for my boys to remain pure so they could enjoy all the benefits and blessings that naturally flow from obedience. We pray specifically for God to lead our sons and daughters to dates/spouses with the same desire to remain pure before they are married. That both would have a greater desire to honor God than temporary pleasure.
Yes, for our teens, but mostly for us ⏤ parents, grandparents, and influencers. For wisdom to know how to discipline, when to speak and when to remain silent, and utter dependence on God for it. (“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5)
5. To hunger and thirst for God
Because we know that if this happens, all else falls into place. (“Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33)
I’ve enjoyed family vacations at Garden City, SC my whole life, so imagine my surprise (and shame 😉) when visiting Brookgreen Gardens for the first time this week. The grounds are breathtaking! Some things were closed due to Covid but that will just give us something new to visit next time. 😉☺️
And trust me, there will be a next time, Lord willin’. 💕...
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are ...
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