I'm a visual learner therefore I journal most everything that I want to know and remember. One of the consistent little pictures that I draw every morning beside the current date on my journal page is a quick sketch of two hearts side by side, slightly overlapping, with a cross going straight through the middle of the hearts. The hearts are meant to represent Mac and me, and the cross, of course, represents Jesus. When I draw this simple picture, I pray something like this over our relationship:
Lord, may your strong love pull us together.
May your love fill us and flow through us towards one another.
Bind us together and make us move towards other people.
Use us, O Lord, however you want, and where ever we go. Amen.
Well, not too long ago, Mac and I went to Spearfish, South Dakota. We stayed at the Secret Garden, a lovely Bed and Breakfast near the bubbling Spearfish Creek. In this small historic town, our hope was to visit some young friends of ours, John Michael and Erica Elder. Mac got to fish with John Michael, and I enjoyed coffee with Erica. We saw their new home, met their adorable little a six month old JJ, and had dinner with Erica's parents. What a great weekend of new sights and new relationships!
To top it off (no put intended here), John Micael took us on an uphill hike on his in-law's property. It was quite vigorous, OR I'm quite out of shape! However, when we reached the pinnacle it was well worth every upward step. From this vantage point, the view of Spearfish was spectacular: the Black Hills were in the distance, the green valleys lay beneath us, while blue skies and cotton clouds completed the work of art.
But what caught my immediate attention were the three dark wooden crosses that stood prominently at the crest of the hill. I loved to see them there, making a strong statement without words. I asked John Michael to take a picture of Mac and me in front of it, simply because it was something I wanted to remember from our trip out west.
It wasn't until the next morning in my quiet time, when I was sketching the hearts-and-the-cross-picture that I realized that my "journal art" had become reality. God is so sweet like that. I never want to miss his intentional intimate gifts he designs just for me! (He does this for ALL his children! We just have to open our eyes.)
After making this journal/reality connection, I went one step further, which is the TRUE reason God allowed me to live out my paper-sketch:
I believe with all my heart, that God will answer the prayers that I lift up for our marriage as I draw the simple picture.
I'm mainly posting this "evidence of God at work" to encourage you, wives, to pray for your husbands, and to love them with the unshakeable love of Christ. It's vital to him, to you, and to your marriage, no matter if you're six months in or 31 years like Mac and me.
Today, Mac and I are in a new place, literally. He's had a job transition, coming out of 27 years of doing the same thing at the same office. My prayers for him and my love towards him are a key factor in this faith-filled change. I have recently added to my prayers for us: Lord, show us where to live, give, work, and play.
Remember being a wife is a divine gift. Culture may shout to you that it's not; that it's a burden even, and a second rate role. But think about it, what a powerful privilege to be someone's "wind beneath their wings". Embrace your call and pray your man into the Lord's heights, which is way higher and far greater than any position this fleeting world can give.
You may not need to draw a journal picture right now, but maybe take a minute to pray the prayer above for your marriage. And in time, with a surrendered heart, watch your prayers become reality.
Do you want to enrich your prayer life but just need some guidance to do so? I have written a devotional called Forty Day Journey of Prayer to help. Each day is meant to both encourage you in God's word and also reveal God's heart concerning his desire to hear your unique voice. Below is a sample day from the devotional in which we see Hannah pouring her soul out to the Lord...
As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk…But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:13-15
For the full story, please read 1 Samuel 1:1-20.
The story of Hannah is most likely a familiar one to all of us. She was married to Elkanah, but was unable to bear children. She longed for a baby, and waited and waited for one to come, but to no avail. So, she prayed.
Was this fervent praying that we read about in the above passage the first time Hannah had prayed over her heart’s desire? No, I don’t believe it was. Scripture says that year after year she was provoked by Peninnah, who was Elkanah’s second wife. (Imagine that situation!). This woman was able to bear children, and taunted Hannah tirelessly. Hannah had lived in this distressing environment fora long, long time. I would bet that all that time, she prayed fervently for a child.
After reading and thinking about this passage, pondering what to write, I heard the gentle whisper, Pray like Hannah. I thought of that simple sentence and realized just how powerful it was. Let’s look and visualize how she prayed:
She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10)
She was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving… (1 Samuel 1:13).
(Hannah said), “I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:15)
What if we all prayed like Hannah? Can we? One thing it requires is time. Hannah went up to the house of the Lord (v. 7). We too must make a deliberate choice to set aside time and go to the Lord. Also, Hannah was vulnerable. She wept before the Lord, pouring out her distress and her desire. She was so involved in her praying, she forgot everything around her. Unashamed and unhindered, she prayed.
This morning, once again, I felt the gentle nudging, pray like Hannah. In the quiet darkness, I stood up--not sure why; I just did. I recited my prayer list in my mind, but at the same time, I poured it out from my heart. I talked to theLord about all the things that I had committed to Him. I just kept talking with a small whisper. Lifting up my hands, I kept pouring it all out. The beautiful thing is, I know I was heard. Peace flooded in.
I cannot fully understand the mystery of prayer, but I can understand the command to doit. I will never be able to explain the reason for the “no’s”, the “wait’s”, or the “yes’s”, but I can trust His sovereign plan to answer in His right way, and in His right time. For Hannah, after years of a seeming “no”, the cry of her heart became a “yes”. Let this encourage you.
In your journal write down the name Sovereign Lord, and then write your prayer list underneath. Today, find some time and space to pray like Hannah. Take your list before the One who hears and honors your heartfelt, soul-bearing cries. Don’t give up. If He commands us to pray, there is a reason for it.
For further reading and journaling write down any words that encourage you: Exodus2:23-25; Psalm 142:1-2
ThankYou for listening to us! Hear our cries, O Lord. We lift up all our requests toYou in earnest knowing that we have been heard. We trust You to work. We thankYou for Your peace. Amen
Yesterday I was discouraged. I won't go into detail, but I cried (literally) to the Lord about some things with my writing; bottom line, technology has never been my friend. And then today... I received two random but timely texts about the same prayer found in my devotional book,The Heartbeat of God. (By the way, it's on Amazon, if you're looking for a devotional prayer book). Since this scripture-based prayer spoke to these two people, in two different states, decades apart in ages, I thought it might also encourage you:
O God, You are the One who Calms. I confess to You right now that my thoughts and emotions are in a whirlwind. I cannot rest. I want to manage and control each and every situation and make it "right." I know this is impossible in and of my own strength, but it doesn't keep me from worrying and trying! So I come to You, and I pour out my complaint before You and tell You all my trouble; for You are my safe place. Thank You for Your patience as You listen; thank You for Your lovingkindness as You work. As I pour out my issues, O God, I pray that I will be attentive enough to the peace-filled words that You long to pour in. Allow me to learn from the disciples of long ago: Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord, Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them "Receive the Holy Spirit." Dear Jesus, sweet Savior of mine, hallelujah! You are in my midst! Please breathe Your peace into me once again so that my troubled heart will be quieted. And then Lord, help me to focus on You, the One who Calms, instead of my present circumstances that only stir up unproductive strife within my soul. For You promise in Your word: You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You. Therefore, I will trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding, and I will also choose to meditate on who You are: You are all-knowing, You are able, You are strong, You are good, You are sovereign, You are at work. Ah, in remembering who You are, I can rest. Yes, I can now hear You gently whisper these words of promise into my quieted soul, Cease striving, and know that I am God. Indeed, You are the One who Calms.
Psalm 142:2; John 20:19-22; Isaiah 26:3; Proverbs 3:5; Psalm 46:10
Are you carrying an unwanted burden at the moment? Maybe you have an armful, or I should say, a heart full of worries that are weighing you down.
Because I tend to hold onto anxious thoughts, a bible verse that I revisit over and over again is this one:
...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)
And this one:
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you... (Psalm 55:22)
The word "cast" means to throw forcefully in a specified direction. In these two verses, we are given the simple instruction to throw all of our anxieties and burdens off of ourselves, into the direction of the Lord, who will then take them upon Himself for our benefit. I wish this straightforward instruction was as simple to obey. Why do I hold onto things I cannot control? Why do I think I am stronger or wiser or more able than the God who made me, knows me, and loves me?
Casting is a choice, and it takes practice. And just like everything else in life, the more you do something the better you get at it.
Let's you and I choose to develop and strengthen the healthy habit of casting. Let's name each worry that we naturally accumulate, and then hurl it in the direction of the One who can not only catch it (He never misses), but also can do something about it (He's always productive). Decide today to hurl with hope. Throw your worries faithfully and fervently into the direction of your Savior. In His hands, each troublesome pebble has the opportunity to become a precious stone.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)
I came across a great passage on prayer through my current devotional book called Forty Days of Prayer by Kit Cummings. Here are the verses and some of my thoughts:
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
"Alas, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am too young."
But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young,' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.," declares the Lord.
The the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:4-10In the above passage, God and Jeremiah are dialoging with each other. Before I write about anything else in this post, let us remember that prayer is not merely a one way conversation in which we are the only ones talking; rather, He too has something to say to us. He speaks to us every day through His word and His spirit. So, let's use the words above as His dialogue not only to Jeremiah, but also to our very own hearts today. What is the Lord saying through His living and active words? Here are a few things I "hear" that are for you and for me. God says:
We are today's Jeremiah. (We are also today's David, today's Samuel, today's Moses, today's Ruth, today's Esther...for such a time as this!) Allow God's interaction with these people of old to be the inspiration for His appointed purposes in you TODAY. What He said to them in the past, is now for our hearts in the present. Let's continue to bring all our prayers to Him, big and small, but also, let's hang around long enough to hear His words back to us. What is He asking you to do today for His name sake? Write a note to a friend? Make a meal for a neighbor? Visit a widow?
Reread the list above and walk forward in obedience with great faith. And let me remind you, God is just as pleased with a note of encouragement to one person as He is with someone speaking to the masses. Both are important callings, but He never "keeps count" of what's "more worthy" the way we humans tend to do. He sees the heart and smiles at our devotion to Him. (Think of the widow's mite found in Luke 21:1-4).
Let's all be today's Jeremiah. Dialogue with God, receive His incredible promises, and then do something for Him...today.
I have a friend who expressed how she wished that her family could somehow all be "on the same page" with each other. Oh how I want that for my family as well! I'm sure you may feel this longing about your loved ones, or your co-workers, or even the people you serve with in ministry.
One way to bring about strong unity is through consistent prayer for one another. I have written short Scripture-based prayers for this very purpose. Here are 2 of 365 examples:
Counselor. I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8). Dear Lord, You know the best path for each of us. Keep our eyes fixed on You. Give us willing hearts to trust and obey Your guidance as we step forward in faith each new day.
Peace. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid (John 14:27). Dear Lord, Your peace is truly the only real rest for our souls. Everything else is a temporary anesthetic. By your Spirit, breathe into us a divine calmness, not to sedate us to inactivity, but to inspire us to share Your incomprehensible peace with the world.
If you would like to receive these prayers in your email, then please subscribe to "Daily Prayers" on my website: http://www.RespitefortheWeary.com. Ask your family members, co-workers, or ministry partners to subscribe as well so that you and "your people" can claim the same name of God and bible verse over each other on a daily basis.
God's name and Word are powerful. Claim it together and receive His blessing.
There's no better place to be than on His Same Page.
How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Genesis 26:17
May we never forget your holiness. May we never cheapen your grace. Keep us mindful of your glorious presence so that we will whole-heartedly worship and humbly walk with you. Amen.