Category Archives: Prayer

The long road that leads to the end of ourselves <3

The handful of comments I have received from this series – whether typed or spoken to me in passing – have got me swelled up with tears so often.

Satan likes to wield what’s known in the boxing world as a sucker punch.

And even when we are purposely wearing God’s armor, that blow can knock the wind out of us as it slams up against that shield of faith.

The armor is divine but the warrior wearing it is 100% human and we can reel and stagger when the enemy roars hard in our life.

But if, in the midst of recovery, we can gather enough breath to ask God this one prayer…

Lord, don’t waste an ounce of this season….

this is a prayer He delights to answer.

If you will fight the good fight through the ups and downs of your very human reactions and responses….through your fits and through your rants…through your breakdowns and your meltdowns…through the surrender and the temptation to retaliate…God will work in ways that not only bless you but make you a blessing to others.

But you sure don’t feel like it a lot of days.

Because as I stated yesterday and will declare til the day I am standing perfected BY HIM…before Him…

I am … you are … a WORK. IN. PROGRESS.

On the road to healing we will stumble many a time.

We will not always be gracious to the ones who have wounded us.

We will not always rejoice with our friends who are getting more while we mourn our less.

We will not always want to forgive and forget.

We will rehearse the wounding.

We will allow our minds to play out scenes that we feel should be happening if everyone had played fair.

We will struggle to find joy and contentment with what we do have because we can’t shake off what we don’t have.

And yes…we will then beat ourselves up for all of the above and we will look around at our friends and mentors and think how much better each of them would be handling this and we will sink into an even deeper level of recognizing our failures.

So we need to remember this other forgotten aspect of prayer.

Confession…recognizing before God what He has known all along…our humanity…our frailty…our tendency to think that we should be better than all of those things I just mentioned…and acknowledging that we really are not.

Repentance…saying it is not okay to be that way when we see it in ourselves…no longer excusing our bad behavior in the grief process by saying it’s just the way we are and God loves us anyway…reversing the things above, literally….

Lord, I want to be gracious towards those who have caused me pain, because YOU were gracious to me when I was apart from you

Lord, give me joy and gladness when my friends receive the blessings I have lost. Help me to be happy for them and to rejoice with them in true fellowship.

Lord, you have forgiven me much and cast my sin and iniquity into the ocean of forgetfulness and mercy. I choose to forgive and forget because of this grace you have extended to me.

Lord, help me to stop myself when I am tempted to go over the details of the whole event long after You have asked me to lay it down. Like someone pulling out old home movies and cherishing the good times and then mourning the bad, I repent of dwelling in what no longer is and I choose to live in the present. I will actively engage in today and trust you for tomorrow. You were always writing the future and You have not changed.

Lord, I will not use my vain imagination to compare myself to others and waste precious time today conjuring up images of how well they would be doing my journey. My friends and mentors are fellow travelers. By assuming they could carry my backpack better than I am, I am robbing myself and them of the camaraderie we should be sharing as we link arms and help each other along.

Forgiveness…by faith I am forgiven my gaffs and faltering steps as I progress through the season.

By faith, I find my prayer to be a cry for mercy…and in His answer, I am enveloped in peace.

I am reminded in closing of one of my favorite teachings from Beth Moore on the difference between Satan and Jesus and it is also a boxing reference.

She said once that Satan is like the boxer who targets his opponent in a place of wounding. He pounds relentlessly into the open cut under the eye. He shows no mercy and will repeatedly attack in the place of weakness.

Jesus takes a nail scarred hand to that same wound and He presses hard to stop the bleeding…to draw healing into the pain.

My friend…if we are beat up in our sorrow…it is not from God’s hand.

Oh…conviction hurts…but it leads to healing.

Guilt and condemnation are not from God.

I pray today in all areas of grief and loss and sorrow that you know the Hand of God holding you tightly throughout the process and that you will yield to His loving guidance.

Remember YOUR sucker punch, right back at the enemy of your soul, is the conviction and prayer that nothing of this season will be wasted but that all will be used one day to bring glory and honor and praise to the God who brought you through <3

 

Happy Monday <3

Hope you had a good weekend and whether you were rooting for the Patriots or the Eagles or Justin Timberlake or could care less that it was Super Bowl Sunday, can we all agree that the scene stealer of the whole event was that winning quarterback’s darling little one in her NFL denim jacket and Eagle green hair bow the size of a football perched under those headphones?

Come on.

You would have to have a heart of stone to not think that was just the most adorable trophy presentation ever.

Right down to her tiny little hand grabbing that microphone.

She could have cared less who won any game in the world…she just had her eyes on her daddy.

Which brings us nicely to our next topic on prayer during times of Deep Healing.

(See what I did there?)

PC/Rachel Maxwell <3

On Friday we talked about the role of prayer for ourselves and others who are hurting during a time of deep wounding in our own lives.

Today we turn even farther outward to the next deep level we are called to as Christ-followers.

Because it is not enough to pray for ourselves and for others wounded in the fallout or affected by our pain in some way.

No.

As followers of Christ, we look to Scripture as our guide and it is here we find an established pattern calling us to pray for the one who caused our heartache.

And just as we prayed for the circle around us, we must pray for the circle around that one.

Because no matter how much we feel we were wronged, the offender has a posse just like we do who will stand by that person and support him or her.

Let’s face it.

Seeing the one who hurt us feeling the love of people we thought were our friends is truly salt in an open wound.

And that burning can ramp up our pain, but remember…one of the properties of salt is that it helps heal wounds.

Which is why I believe that God commands us to pray for those who are hurting us.

It’s like the added aggravation to our pain can become a stimulus to remind us to pray for those who brought it on.

Or as I like to call it…one-upping the devil.

Let’s look at a few passages of Scripture to set the tone.

In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses because of his marriage to an Ethiopian woman. Miriam must have been the instigator because the Lord punishes her by turning her leprous.

Moses, wrongly accused by his siblings, is justified before God in this.

Yet he is the one who cries out in verse 13 for the Lord to heal her.

Or Job, who had three good friends who came and sat with him in his grief and sorrow and then decided to play God with their judgment and advice.

They raked over him pretty harshly and in the end convinced Job to speak up to God about how He had handled the whole situation.

After a lengthy interrogation from God to Job about who should be passing judgment on who..

(or whom or…help me sophomore class English teacher, wherever you are)…

Job acknowledges the Sovereignty of God, which is of course the correct answer…

so God turns to the three and expresses His anger with them and then tells them that Job will pray for them and they will be forgiven.

Then we have our own Lord and Savior who prayed for forgiveness for those who hung Him on the Cross…

as He hung on the Cross…

every word painfully exhaled…

Father, forgive them.

Breathing out the very lesson He had taught throughout His ministry and recorded in Matthew 5:43-48…

But I say to you….love your enemies…pray for those who mistreat you…God sends the same sun and rain on each of you…so be like your Father and pray for them as you would a friend. (my paraphrase)

So here is what I do in applying God’s Word in obedience.

When the stabs come through reminders that the one who inflicted pain is going along with life seemingly untouched by the fall out, and in this day of blessed social media we can tell by the “likes” and “comments” affirming them who is comfortable in that one’s camp, so to speak…

I attempt to use that sharp pain to prompt me to pray for any and all of them.

And let me emphasize here…I don’t do it quickly or well or easily.

But I try very hard to discipline myself to say things like this (in the most sincere and least snarky way possible in each moment):

<3 Lord, they do not owe me anything. By forgiving them, they are free and so am I.

<3 Lord, even though this hurts me and I have no affection or love or respect for these, I know that YOU love them. You love them as much as you love me. So give me your love for them.

<3 I try to list all the blessings I would desire for me and mine, and then ask for those to come to that one and theirs.

Please hear me, this is a process.

An extremely humbling, awkward and painful process.

And, most assuredly, t’s not my first response in the early stages of betrayal, but the Lord faithfully works me toward it as I keep my heart open before Him in honest prayers and tears.

Well, this is a fun start to the week, right?

But I can tell you that this prayer initiative has huge dividends down the path of your journey.

I have seen the two-fold blessing of it being answered because I have lived a fair amount of years now and gone through a lot of seasons.

The first blessing is when some evil does befall the one who wronged you and your heart fills with compassion and genuine sorrow for him or her.

Let me tell you…THAT is far sweeter than any false victory the devil would pawn off as revenge.

Don’t let worldly wisdom convince you that to see someone get what was coming to them will bring you Joy.

It is an ugly win and one that will sour in your mouth and further serve to harden your precious heart that Jesus has given His life to heal.

The second is even more a miraculous work of God and that is the day the one who wounded  you is blessed with the very thing you thought was stolen and you can celebrate in your heart for this.

On that day, you will shake your head in amazement and know that you know that it is the LORD who transformed your sorrow into a Christ-like heart.

Then you truly will know that Christ alone has healed your heart, mind, body and spirit and made you whole again.

That nothing was taken from you that He did not give back a hundred-fold.

It’s a process dear friends, and one we don’t do perfectly, but we are led through it all by the One who perfects us.

Praise His Name forever <3

 

 

 

Deep Healing…Some overlooked aspects of prayer <3

When in the throes of grief, our prayers at first can mostly center on triage.

Lord, stop the source of the insanity of this season and stop the pain.

Please.

Sooner, rather than later would be good.

As we progress through the early stages, if we continue to keep open and honest in our communications with the Lover of our souls…He begins to move us through some of the dross removal that we slogged through this past week.

The sifting and refining in the midst of the grieving and regretting can be …

sorry for all the “ing’s” but I am on a roll(ing)…

gut-wrenching, mind-blowing and best of all…

soul-cleansing.

Ok, I’m done “ing”ing for today. Hope it wasn’t too annoying…oops…

Hey, it’s Friday so thought I would throw a little levity in as we switch gears and move into…the … wait for it…

HealING 

part of this series.

I find as I cooperate with God’s work in my own heart during times of loss and grief, allowing Him to remove more of my selfish tendencies and tunnel vision, He begins to open my heart to deeper levels of prayer.

We do not experience deep loss alone.

Our lives are intricately woven into the lives of others – family, friends, associates, people who serve us and people we serve, and most importantly the Body of Christ to which we belong.

When one of us is hurting, we all hurt and so as God begins to work in us the first stages of healing, we need to look outside of our own wounded selves and begin praying for others who are also experiencing pain as a result of the circumstances.

I came across a printed copy of an email I sent a dear friend during one of these times.

While I remember very well what we were going through, I do not remember typing the words.

It was an apology for not being a very good friend to her in a time of need in her own life. I apparently was aware that she needed a level of love and comfort and support that I was unable to give in that moment.

My words assured her that I loved her dearly but my current season of loss had come quickly on top of several other seasons and I was temporarily sidelined.

I know that I would never have been aware of my negligence in offering appropriate comfort to this gentle and always-kind-to-everyone-even-the-mean-girls friend if I had not been asking God to make me aware of others around me who were hurting.

Even though I did not feel I had anything to give, at least the Lord prompted me to reach out with what little was left to share.

Our friendship today is intact because prayer led me to be honest and real with her about my distance in her time of need.

I don’t remember writing my confession to her, but I very much remember two broken women linking arms around each other and limping into some deep healing.

In seasons of pain, our human instinct is to crawl to the back of some dark cave and lick the wounds until we can emerge with the semblance of being healed.

How much better to open those wounds wide to our loving Father and ask Him to cleanse them so that they can heal properly.

Heavenly Father, You know me so well. In times when I am hurting, I tend to think only of myself and the pain of this moment. Remind me, LORD, that You died so I would could be free. Keep me from hiding in myself when I am wounded and draw me ever into Your Presence. Even when I would focus only on my current setting, constantly show me others who need Your light in their darkness. Lead me ever into greater places of intimacy with You, Lord, and as You pour into me, may the overflow splash onto others. <3

 

 

 

Best Battle Strategy Ever <3

I have on my heart to share a series with you this week. However, before we begin I do want to acknowledge this day in the history of our country.

While there are high schoolers who were not even born on that infamous day 16 years ago, I well remember the phone call from a friend asking me if I had the news on.

This was pre-smart phone days when we used wall phones to communicate and one by one, America found out that airplanes full of people had become a new form of weapon.

I remember sinking to my knees on the floor of our family room as the newscasters tried to explain how a plane had just flown into the side of a building, even as they realized another was headed to do the same to the sister tower.

In horror and with desperate prayers to God, many followed the events of that morning.

I do believe the increasingly less effective methods of destruction were in direct answer to the prayers of those around the world as this well-planned attack became exposed.

We have been told that across Maasai-land, our Kenyan brothers and sisters were in prayer for us as well.

Many around the world were interceding for us that day.

There is an enemy that seeks to destroy all that God has created.

And while we often want to put some tangible face to this foe, scripture tells us that our enemy is not flesh and blood.

Yes, the enemy works through people…through ideologies and governments and systems; through terrorists and agendas and despots; through exploitation and greed; through the exaltation of “self”…

I am reminded of the “I will’s” of pride outlined in Isaiah 14:13 – 14…

I will ascend into heaven

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God

I will also sit on the mount of the congregation

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds

I will be like the Most High

Playing God.

A dangerous game for anyone, with tragic repercussions for all.

The hallmarks of such thinking are destruction and devastation and death.

So for our nation today, I pray that we would learn well to remain humbly before the God who blessed this land with resources and with His Spirit.

I pray that we would enter into all warfare under His direction and counsel, availing ourselves of His guidance so freely given to those who seek His face.

I pray for those who still mourn the loss of lives in personal ways, for those first responders who showed true heroism and courage.

I pray for those who still suffer today from the physical and emotional sacrifice they gave to enter into a different kind of battle as they inhaled ash to find survivors.

I pray for those who are today fighting another unthinkable kind of warfare as rains and winds and fires sweep various areas of our nation.

I pray that we would be a nation that recognizes the power of prayer, not only for our own country but for the many many people who suffer around the world.

Devastations of man and nature abound around this globe and many do not have any kind of resources with which to bring aid to their people.

May God’s mercy and grace be poured out over us as we lift our hands to Him and invite Him to come and work in ways that only He can.

I hope you will come back tomorrow and each day this week as we look at what God says about winning battles His way.

Be blessed today in all that you do, as you bless others <3

 

 

Unless you become like a child…<3

Good morning to you!

I am hurrying around getting things done so I can head north and be an extra pair of hands for Rachel today.

It’s my Thursday and, even though she has a few weeks before she returns to work, I certainly don’t plan on missing out on that mess of crazy with the band of brothers and Sweet Caroline.

I will be toting some gifts with me because when they were here last week and we were downtown, they may have seen some things they wanted.

And being children, there is no filter or thought that perhaps they shouldn’t ask for them.

We had stopped in the store where I work and the owner, who is also my dear friend, gave me a jar of her husband’s new honey crop.

Graham announced that he likes honey and then asked if could they have one also.

Rachel and I scrambled to cover for his bold request, but Kim immediately said of course he could and she would bring one in so Lola could deliver it.

It might be mentioned that Emmett immediately let her know she need not bring him one as he is not a fan…

which of course embarrassed the heck out of mom and me, but Kim was unphased and laughed and said well…more honey for Graham, then.

Graham saw something good and asked for it; Kim had the capacity and willingness to meet his request at a later date.

Done and done.

We also stopped at the popcorn shop and he asked for a wax mustache and Emmett decided he needed a package of jelly beans.

Mom said no. Not today.

Request denied on this one.

Although, today, they may possibly be in a little sack with the honey waiting to be loaded in my car, but that’s another day’s story.

Again…they saw something they wanted and they asked.

They ask all the time.

When they are tired, they have meltdowns and when they are unable to do something they bring it to someone who can help.

They don’t worry that one of us will say yes to something harmful or no to something beneficial.

They just come to the one who has what they want or need or think they need and they ask.

Perhaps this was part of what Jesus was trying to tell us when He suggested we come to Him like a little child.

Perhaps we could stop overthinking what we are asking Him to do…

like deciding it is too big a task…

or too nice for us when we know who we are…

or too much in light of what we see others have…

or too little to bother God with….

or whatever other seemingly grown-up reason keeps us striving in our own strength or attempting to fill the longings in our souls out of our own puny resources…

how about we just keep going to Him…

day in and day out…

with all the flow of needs and wants.

Why not, when the God of all Creation is standing there with His hands full of good things for us….

but we are too mature, self-sufficient and independent to just ask.

This morning I have been asking for some big things from God.

Big things for our family, big things for our nation, big things for this hurting world, big things for the Body of Christ.

I don’t know how He will answer but I know He will do what is absolutely best for every request.

He is, after all, a good good Father…

and we…we are loved by Him <3