30 August 2013

Dreams

I'm a firm believer God talks to us through dreams!

I've had a few dreams over the years where I knew God was showing me something or telling me something. 

NOT all my dreams are from God. Most of them are dreams that my brain manages to piece together from different thoughts or memories. Then the brain weaves it into something that makes NO sense! Haha When I wake up, I'm more tired than I was when I went to bed. 

On occasion, I've had dreams that I knew in my heart they were from God. One of was after my cousin passed away. This cousin had issues. The most honest thief I'll ever meet! He stole my car the day Charles was born. We got it back. Several months past and word came he had past away during surgery out in California. We were given his journal and there was evidence he had surrendered his heart to God. I had a dream one night where he was asking me to forgive him. Of course I had forgiven him! There was a peace that swept over me even in my sleep, in the dream. Another time had to do with Miss Ruby. Miss Ruby is a black lady I picked up one day. Short, sweet, older lady. It was cold and she was homeless. We became friends! One day, I didn't see her any more. Everywhere I went through town, I looked for Miss Ruby. She wore a red hat (fitting!). One night I had a dream. I walked up to this house, walked right in. There was this huge family! All African-American. One of the men came to greet me, as if I were an old friend. I asked him "Are you all Miss Ruby's family? Is she safe?" "Yes, we are Ruby's family, she is safe with us, no need for you to worry any longer." When I woke up, I knew that was God telling me Miss Ruby is back with her family! 

Then there was the dream where God is calling me to join Him in freeing people! In this dream God is beating on this large, rock wall. Similar to the castle in pictures. He's hitting the wall with the butt of His sword. I ask Him "What are You doing?" He turns to me and says "I'm trying to free people from their prison. Will you join Me?" I WOKE up! First, I never saw God's face so don't ask for a description. This dream came after God's initial call on my life. It was a dream of affirmation and a dream telling me what needed to be done by me. There is a saying "Hurt people, hurt people. Free people, free people." 

There have been others! Not many more. However, it was the one last night that is prompting me to write. I won't go into details. I dreamed about two very dear friends who are getting a divorce. I thought about the dream enough today, I sent the lady friend a text telling her about the dream. After talking with her, I know God was showing me a glimpse of what they are both going thru.  It was a dream to prompt me to pray! 

How do I know when it's a dream from God or something my brain makes up? There is something different about the dream God gives. When I wake up, I feel like I've been in His Presence. There's a moving of the Holy Spirit in my spirit confirming the dream is a message.  I'm sure it is different for each person. God meets us on our level and what we are comfortable with. 

Giving Our Merciful God Praise!

O, LORD of Mercy!  I was dead in my sin.  Lost.  I lived in the way the world lives; gratifying the craving of the flesh following its desires and thoughts.  I lived in a manner that deserved Your wrath.  God, because You are rich in mercy and because of Your great love for me, You made me alive in Christ.  It is by Your grace You saved me!  It is by Your wondrous grace I am saved and this is a wonderful gift from You!  For there is nothing I could have done on my own to have made You show such mercy, love, compassion, and kindness to me!  You have made me into a new creation, Your masterpiece, created in Christ to do good works which You prepared for me to do long ago!  You pour out Your Holy Spirit on me in generous amounts through Jesus Christ washing me clean and renewing me each and every day!  You have justified me by grace making me an heir with hope.  Only YOU can do such a thing!  You are Holy!  You are Good!  You are Perfect!  May my soul hunger and thirst for You as long as I live!  May my soul rejoice and my heart leap with joy to bring You honor, glory, and praise! Amen
 
 
Ephesians 2:1-10
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
 
Titus 3:4-7
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

29 August 2013

Life Interrupted

I was 27 years old when my beautiful little girl started Kindergarten.  I never will forget the day I received the letter from school about behavioral issues.  My idea  at the time of "behavioral issues" was "acting up in class", "talking out of turn", or "running in the hallway".  It was a Wednesday because I remember taking the letter to a friend of mine at church who was a school teacher.  She assured me it wasn't about "bad behavior" but about something the school noticed about my daughter.

I went to a meeting.  I gave permission for them to test my daughter.

In October 2004, I returned to the school for another meeting ... Their discovery.  My daughter was diagnosed with Autism -- Severe.  I was alone.  Her father was at work. It was just me.  Listening to them pick a part my daughter.  I remember the school psychologist saying "We may have to bus her to Briarwood to learn the basics".  "What are the basics?" I asked .... "To learn to eat with a fork and other motor skills."

Life became VERY interrupted!

The children's father and I weren't exactly a team.  We argued A LOT! He had issues. I had issues.  In November 2004, we received a letter from Public Housing (where we lived) that if back rent for two months wasn't paid ASAP eviction process would begin.  Long story short, the kids and I went one direction (to live with my mother who so graciously allowed us to move in with her) and he went another direction that December.

Life became VERY interrupted!

What God has done over the past 9 years IS amazing!

With my daughter she did cheerleading and basketball with the Upward program.  In the 6th grade, she joined the elementary band and plays the clarinet (even today!).  This past summer she went to camp at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPac as we all it here) and fell in love with drama.  She's very social able. She likes helping in the toddler room at church.  She loves writing and drawing, especially drawing. 

God has taught me "how to over come".  He's also given me a new perspective on judging people!  Give someone a chance.  Don't always look down the nose at the mom with the wild child in McDonald's.  Don't assume the "wild child" isn't being disciplined!  Sometimes what is deemed by society as "bad behavior" is actually the child's way of communicating.

God has taught me about Himself.  My daughter has a deep faith in God!  His Holy Spirit has worked wonders in her puzzle of a mind!  I'm getting goose bumps thinking about it!  She loves to read her Bible and draws in it.  "Oh, that's sacrilege!"  No.  That's how this girl expresses love to her God!  I'm convinced God gives my daughter whatever she ask of Him!  It's amazing to watch!  She prays and it is as if Heaven gets real quiet and God stops what He's doing to listen to every word she says ... or in her case ... every word she writes!  My daughter has  a "Dear God" journal.  Its filled with her prayers and drawings.  She truly BELIEVES God will do what He says!!

That's the kind of faith God desires me to have!!

With the divorce, God has taught me to trust completely in Him.  The biggest problem is people thinking I need a husband.  Can't they see?  Can't they see God wants to be my everything?  Can't they see how happy my children are?  They don't have to worry about whether Mom's love is going to be divided or not.  Can't they see God wants credit for being my Provider?  Credit for being the kids' Provider?  No, they can't.  I can.  I don't need a man to complete me and make me whole!  No man can!  It's not even fair for a woman to place such a burden on any man.  Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can complete me and make me whole.

Yeah ... God has a way of working things out for the good and His glory!  Those little bumps in the road are just ways of getting our attention.

#stickwith in #yestoGod :) at age 36 :)

Normally, I give you one Bible version.  Either the NIV or NLT.  Today, two!  The NIV and the New Century Version.  If you are new to reading these prayers, when you reach the last paragraph, there are blanks.  Read it.  Then pray it putting a person's name in the blank!
 
-----------------
 
God, our Merciful God! You are just and You are fair!  You show mercy, compassion, and kindness to who You choose. You are in control!
 
LORD Jesus, mold my heart to be a heart for the church.  Create in me a desire to get to know and grow with my brothers and sisters in You!  And forgive me for gossip.  That one lady just irks me!  Help me to remember to show even her the kindness and love You have shown me.  May the words out of my mouth be words that encourage, not tear down.
 
Sweet Jesus, I'm so glad You show mercy to who You desire and that isn't based on what I think You should do!  If I had my way, the world would be in LOTS of trouble!  {grin}  Thank You for being in control!  I'm thankful to you that Your choices do not depend upon human desire or effort.  Thank You for being faithful and unwavering!  I'm thankful You don't change who You are based on what people want or try to do!
 
Father, we come to You in the name of our Savior, Jesus.  We lift to you _____.  Father, we pray ____ will know You are fair and just.  You see what we cannot see!  You see how tragedy will effect ALL involved, even who will come to know You as his/her God through the experience.  LORD, we know You choose who You'll show mercy to BUT we also know it's not Your desire anyone to perish.  We pray You'll show mercy to (feel free to switch to a different name here); pour out Your compassion on him/her!  You already chosen to show _____ compassion, we pray he/she will accept Your gift of love!  In Your name, Jesus, we pray the Father's will be done. Amen
 
Romans 9:14-16
 
NIV 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
 
NCV
14 So what should we say about this? Is God unfair? In no way. 15 God said to Moses, “I will show kindness to anyone to whom I want to show kindness, and I will show mercy to anyone to whom I want to show mercy.” 16 So God will choose the one to whom he decides to show mercy; his choice does not depend on what people want or try to do.

28 August 2013

Controversial Topic

Dear fellow Christians, be warned you may or may not like this post. 
----

Not long ago, we had a singing group come to our church. Enjoyed the music! At the end, the leader said something that made my spirit cringe. He was upset that a church somewhere in our region was trying to decide if homosexuals should be in church leadership. How he is against it.

First, the homosexual ACT is a sin BUT so is a man and woman having sexual relationship outside the bonds of marriage. Second, not only is the act between a man and woman outside of marriage a sin, so is lusting after the other gender! 

When God says it is wrong, it is wrong no matter how we humans color it. 

With that said, if a man is "gay" and he has accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord of his life and submits his sexuality to Christ on a daily basis and say "Vivian, please pray for me because this is a struggle but I want to live a life pleasing to God"; I'd rather have THAT man in leadership than ...

THIS man: a man who comes to church every time the doors are open, grins, praises Jesus, condemns all manner of sin, appears to live a Christlike life (serves at a soup kitchen or takes the offering on Sunday morning attends and participates in Bible Study) BUT on Friday night slips out to the bar to pick up a woman for a one night stand and never, ever confesses to a single soul this is his struggle.

Who do you really want in leadership of church? The man who admits he is weak in the flesh but desires God's Spirit to be in control OR The man who refuses to surrender to God's desires? 

You see, I am divorced. I have been single again for almost 8 years (will be September 16th). In that 8 years, I have struggled. I've done somethings I'm not proud of, with each one, God showed mercy. I was a lost, rejected woman! I was gradually slipping into some old comfortable habits. God rescued me from myself! He didn't wait 4 days either! He swept in like a hawk! Swoosh! Everyday I have to submit to Him the desires of my flesh. Over the past year, since my Emmaus Walk last September, I have felt a freeing of the lustful desires. I still get lonely at night from time to time. Back in the Winter, God asked me "Am I enough for you?" Phew! That was the BIG turning point! Everyday I feel less and less of my desire and more and more of His desire. 

Am I perfect? Lord know I'm not! haha Oh goodness ... No. I struggle and I'm free to struggle. I'm not in the struggle alone! 

Technically, since I'm divorced (a divorced woman at that!), I shouldn't be in leadership. I shouldn't be Sunday School Chairperson.  I shouldn't hold a local license in the Church of the Nazarene. I'm so glad God doesn't go by technicality! I'm glad God goes by what is in the heart!! Know what else, I'm humbled by the evidence of God's grace that my church family sees in me. They see me in a different light than I see me! God is so MERCIFUL! 

Who am I to cast a stone of judgement at a brother or sister who struggles? When God has shown me such grace! When God has shown me such mercy! 

Jesus, fill my heart with Your mercy that I may show mercy! Forgive me when I stumble in showing mercy when it is needed most. Bend my heart to break for what breaks Your heart! Amen
Father, God of Heaven and Creator of Earth, You are merciful!  While I lived in sin, separated from You, You poured out Your mercy on me!

O, Merciful God, mold my heart into a heart for people.  Help me to love my enemy, to reach out to someone who needs me to show him/her mercy as You have shown me mercy. I can only do it with You constantly filling me with Your Holy Spirit, Jesus.

(May want to change this to match your own thanks!) Father, thank You!  Thank You for the washed $3 I found in my pant pocket yesterday morning.  I wasn't sure how to make that penny stretch till Friday and that amount is EXACTLY what I needed!  You are in the small details and I am so GRATEFUL!
 
LORD, we bring before You ______.  Teach ____ to love his/her enemies, to do good to those who hate him/her.  Give _____ the strength to bless those who curse him/her and remind _____ to pray for those who mistreat him/her.  We know well it's the people closest to us who hurt us most.  People we love and cherish.  Family and friends.  Pour into ____ Your Holy Spirit to give him/her the ability to be merciful as You are merciful. We pray, Jesus, in Your holy name the Father's will be done in our lives. Amen

Luke 6:27-28, 35-36
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

27 August 2013

God's Mercy Extends to ALL Who Trust Him!

God, my Savior, Mighty One; You have performed mighty deeds! Your mercy extends to all who trust You, from generation to generation!

LORD Jesus, give me a heart for God. Create in me a deep longing to seek God and to be in His Presence each day.

Father, I am so thankful for the promise You made to Eve and Abraham!  There are many others too! You have proved Your faithfulness in the story of their lives!  You showed each mercy!  You show me the same mercy!!  Thank You for Your faithfulness! Thank You for Your mercy!

Jesus, You are the Mighty One!  You have done great things for ______!  We pray _____ will fear You and trust in You.  We pray You'll continue to show Your mercies to  _______. As we close, allow us to offer You another round of praise. May our souls glorify You, LORD! You fill the hungry with good things! May we hunger for You today and share the spiritual bread and physical bread You have so graciously given us with someone needing Your mercy. We pray in Your holy name, Jesus. Amen

Luke 1:46-55
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

26 August 2013

Scriptural Prayers to Your Inbox!

Would you like to receive short, scriptural prayers to your Inbox? Go to this link to sign up:

http://www.momsinprayer.org/news/scripture-prayer-email-sign-up

Here are a few samples of what you will receive:

Add your own name in the verse below.

May I, _____, be strong in You, Lord, and in Your mighty power. May I put on Your armor so that I will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil.
 

From Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT)



Monday-- a prayer for you
Tuesday-- a prayer for your children
Wednesday -- a prayer for other children 
Thursday-- a prayer for school staff
Friday-- a prayer for the school

God Is Merciful

Note To Those New to the Blog:

The following prayer follows the Four Steps of Prayer and focuses on praying scriptures.  For more details on The Four Steps of Prayer, click here to read a blog post about this particular prayer guide. I encourage you to read it through once silently and then read it through again out loud.  When you enter into the 4th paragraph of the prayer, think of someone you desire to pray for and insert his/her name into the provided blank.  Re-pray that section of the prayer as many times as you desire placing a different name in each time you pray it.  I do ask you to excuse typos! LOL

=======================

God, our Father, Is there a god who compares to You? A god who pardons sin and forgives transgressions? NO! You are The God of mercy there isn't another like You!

Lord Jesus, purify me.  Have compassion on me and tread my sins underfoot.  Hurl all my iniquities into the deep sea. May I live in surrender to You!

Thank You for Your faithfulness! You keep all Your promises and have never failed me.  Thank You for showing me mercy and for not staying angry with me!

Jesus, in Your name we lift up ______.  We pray You will have compassion on _______ and You will tread  _______'s sins underfoot.  We know You  love _______ and each of us; You delight in showing mercy! Jesus, we pray God's will be done today on earth as it is in heaven. Amen

Micah 7:18-20

18 Who is a God like you,
    who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
    and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
    in days long ago.

25 August 2013

Prayer 102: Praying the Scriptures

"I don't know what to pray!"

"I don't know what God's will is, how can I pray according to His will?"

Ever thought these things?  You are not alone!  I'm in the same boat with you!! (Hahaha) Before going any further, I want to restate something from "Prayer 101: The Four Steps of Prayer".

There is no "right" way to pray.  "The eloquence of your prayer is not what is important. The sincerity of your heart is what God hears." (Moms In Prayer Booklet)  This post, like the last, is a guide. ONLY a guide!

"I Don't Know God's Will. How Can I Pray According To His Will?"

The number one way to know God's will is to read God's Word.  God's Word, aka The Bible, is the source of ALL the knowledge of God's will.  Each minister turns to it. Each of our favorite Christian authors turn to it.  Our favorite worship song writers find inspiration in it.  In truth, God's Word, is the ONLY way to know God's will. (Next to prayer of course!)

"I Don't Know What To Pray!"

Ok. You are diving into God's Word.  You are reading.  You think, "I don't know what to pray!"  You see His Words. You feel the power in His Words.  You are absorbing who God is and learning more and more about Him, but you aren't sure how to pray His Words.

Make the scripture personal!  Here, let's look at Psalm 23 (I'm using the NIV; please feel free to look it up in your favorite version!):

  • The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I chose this one for a couple of reasons.  1) It's already personalized! 2) I'm going to share how Mary Southerland personalized it more!

  • Father, You are my shepherd and will meet every need in my life.  Thank You for making me stop and for making me be still and rest.  Give me the strength to walk in obedience for Your glory and honor.  When the darkness comes, I have nothing to fear because You are right there in the middle of the mess with me. You guide me through Your Word. You rescue me from danger and often from myself. I pray that even my enemies can see Your hand at work in my life.  I am so blessed, Father.  Your goodness and love make live worth living here on earth and for eternity in heaven with You.  I pray all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, my Shepherd. Amen! ~~ (Mary Southerland's "Laugh More ... Live Better's Lesson 5)
The Book of Psalms is a GREAT place to start!  David had a heart for God!!  He understood God's love and mercy really well!

Paul is another one!  His letters are filled with how he prays for the different churches and how he wants them to pray for him.  Let's take a look and make them personal!

  • Colossians 4:2-6 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
  • Father, remind me to be devoted to You; to come to You and talk to You.  Help me to be watchful for I know the enemy wishes to catch me a at my weakest moment.  May I give You thanks for everything, and create in me a thankful heart.  Father, be with those You have called to proclaim Your message here at home and abroad.  Open doors for each one to proclaim the mystery of You, Jesus.  May their voices ring clear and may each one stand in the confidence that only come from You.  As for me, may I proclaim Your news too!  I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with the right words when they are needed to be said.  Gift me with wisdom on how to act toward non-believers.  I pray for grace.  I ask for grace to bestow on the world for much grace has covered me!

  • Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
  • Jesus, in Your name, I lift up  (put a name of someone here!) to You.  Give (fill in the same name here) the strength to stand firm in all the will of God, aid him/her to mature into the servant You desire him/her to be. (Notice how Epaphras wrestles in prayer? He's not giving up on the church in Colossus!)

  • Ephesians 3:14-19  For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
  • Father, I kneel before You.  You are creator of ALL things!  I pray out of Your glorious riches that You strengthen (name someone here!) with power through Your Spirit, so that You, Lord Jesus, lives in (same name here) through faith.  I pray that (same name) will be rooted and established in love; gift him/her with power and knowledge of how wide and long and high and deep You love is; may (same name here) be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God! (Fill in you if you so desire!)
That's just a few!! As you read God's Word, take a passage and personalize it!  My blog is filled with examples.  Click on July at the right.  Or click on the titles to the right.  Each one, minus the post for Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study and a couple of random things, are the prayers being prayed by my group "The Prayer Squad".  Each one is a prayer based on scripture.  Each one follows The Four Steps of Prayer as well!  In the "Intercession" part of each prayer, there is a blank.  Put a name in the blank!

The Reason For Praying Scripture

Praying Scripture:
  1. Teaches me God's will
  2. Aligns me with God's will

Again ... God listens to the sincerity of your heart.  We can follow every pray guide.  We can pray scripture over and over.  Know what?  If we aren't sincere in our hearts, truly seeking Him, He's not going to listen.  I have some friends who have a daughter.  The girl will tell other girls "Oh, that's a pretty dress" or "I like your hair! It's so pretty!" but she'll turn to her parents and say "That dress is ugly!" or "Her hair looks terrible".  The parents then tell her she shouldn't say things to someone unless she means it because that makes her insincere.  WOW!  If I tell God how "great and mighty He is" and "I trust You" but then live as if I'm scared where the provision is going to come from, have I been honest with God?  Have I been sincere?  If I pray for a person's salvation but then say "Oh, that person is NEVER going to change!"  Have I been sincere with God?  No.  NO!  Be sincere!  Be open and honest with God!

On a personal note, I don't see how anyone can pray scripture and NOT become sincere!  God's Word changes us.

23 August 2013

Four Steps of Prayer: Prayer 101

Before I begin, I'd like to share something to help ease your mind and heart about prayer.  I desire to "bust some myths" about prayer. In Mary Southerland's 5 week study, "Laugh More ... Live Better" on Joy, she writes about pray producing joy:

  1. Let go of worry about praying a 'right' way.
  2. There is no 'right' posture or place for prayer.
  3. Prayer helps us 'tune in' to the presence of God.
Its hard to talk with God when we are anticipating how He's going to answer our prayer, when He's going to answer, or dictate instruction on how and when to answer us. When we try to use God like our "magic genie in the lamp", we become frustrated with God and say "I prayed to You and You didn't answer me!" or "You didn't do what I thought needed to be done!" When our prayer focus is on "I" and not Him, we loose some of our joy. This is the purpose of the Four Steps Of Prayer. Its a guide. Its ONLY a guide! It guides me (and hopefully you) in placing my focus on Who my focus should be on: God.

Here is the Four Steps used by Moms In Prayer International:
  1. Praise
  2. Confession
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Intercession
In Southerland's study and in the booklet people receive when attending The Emmaus Walk, both use ACTS:
  1. Adoration
  2. Confession
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Supplication
Both mean the same thing!  We'll now pick them apart one by one.

Praise/Adoration

Begin your prayer with giving God praise for who He IS!  Enter into His presence focusing on God's name(s), character, or an attribute. 

Giving God praise, "exalts God and gives Him glory", "helps us focus on God and not our situation", "brings about an awareness of God's Presence", "dispels the enemy's power".  (Taken from the Moms In Prayer Booklet).

God is: love, good, faithful, justice, light, the rock, fortress, shield, strength, joy (just to name a few)
For more praise helps, visiting Moms In Prayer website www.momsinprayer.org and click on "Leader's Corner" then click on "Prayer Sheets".  On the right side will be more links, click on "Attributes of God" and a PDF will open!  Feel free to print!

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 20:22

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. Psalm 22:3
 
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. Psalm 145:3
 
Confession

This part of the prayer allows you to clear your heart and mind before God. Confess sins, to become humbled, to ask Him to search you. It's about surrendering your will for His will. It's us realizing we ARE human with human frailties and asking God to give us the strength, to empower us with His Holy Spirit  to do what He is desiring us to do. 

Now, I hear you! "Vivian, I'm a Christian. Jesus lives in my heart. I don't sin everyday. Why do I need to this time of confession?"

Let me tell you a story. I walk the local mall. One day, I saw this lady who had come from one of the restaurants. She was loaded down with all kinds of cooking supplies. Oil, flour, eggs. Two large "trays" of eggs. I heard this voice "Offer her help in carrying the eggs." I stopped walking; a brief pause. I continued. The Voice:  Offer her help in carrying the eggs. I paused. She was closer to the door. I kept going. One more time the Voice: Offer her help in carrying the eggs. I almost went to help! Then I rationalized "She'd probably say 'no' anyway." The Voice, "It's the offer that counts." I kept going. My heart felt heavy! So I prayed "Lord, help her get to the car without breaking all those eggs." The Voice: THAT! Was YOUR task!

I cried! 

Sometimes we see sin as: adultery, lying, taking God's name in vain, murder, stealing. Sin IS disobedience! I knew in my heart I had ignored God's Spirit prompting me to offer the lady help. I kept on walking just like the people in Jesus's story "The Good Samaritan". 
 
Confession isn't always about a "sin" BUT it is always about surrender, yielding. It's about living in submission to God's perfect will! It's about asking Him to "search my heart" and being humbled before Him.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Thanksgiving

Giving God credit and thanking Him for what He has done, is doing in our lives. 

Sounds simple doesn't it? NOPE!

The most miserable people are the ones who are the most ungrateful. Ingratitude breeds resentment, jealousy. Discontent with everything God has given them! 

Stopping to count our blessings and give God an offering of thanks begins to change us! Contentment. Joy. Realizing how blessed I am inspite of how little I have. 
 
What has God blessed you with? Name family members by name, friends by name, things He has provided (home, vehicle, food, clothes, etc.). Thank Him for His ultimate gift to you! Jesus! Thank Him for paying the price Sin demanded. Thank Him for the sunshine and the rain. Thank Him for your struggles! 

What? 

You read right! Say "Lord, I don't know why I am going through this BUT I thank You for the chance to be a witness to others about Your faithfulness to me."

To be honest, I think this part of prayer has changed me more than "Confession" has changed me. It's so easy to focus on what we don't have than it is to give thanks for what we do have. I heard a joke once about the man with 6 kids and he man with 6 million dollars. The question is "Who's content, the man with 6 kids or the man with $6 million?" The answer is "The man with 6 kids because he doesn't want any more!" The point is the man is content with 6 kids for many reasons! (Hahaha) The man with $6 million isn't satisfied because he always wants MORE! 

God HAS given you GOOD gifts! Give Him thanks! (Trust me ... It takes a few days before the light bulb pops over your head IF you are a person who has mostly focused on the "I have nots".)

Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me. Psalm 50:23a
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Supplication/Intercession

Praying for others.

Intercession:
Standing in the "gap" for someone who doesn't know Christ. Standing in the "gap" for someone who is broken hearted and can't pray for him/herself. Standing in the gap for a school, community, etc.  

Supplication:
Lifting up needs of other people. Supplication "is the combination of intercession and petition" (Worship Booklet for Pilgrams; Walk to Emmaus 3rd Edition pg 46). It is "asking God to meet the needs of other people" (Laugh More study).

He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. Isaiah 59:16

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

This is a HUGE amount to take in!  If you notice, praying takes the focus off of "me" and puts it on God and others.  It is about what God desires instead of what "I" desire.  It's about what others need instead of what "I" need.  Is it ok to tell God "my" needs?  YES!

Prayer 102 will focus on "Praying the Scriptures".  Again, there is no "right" way to pray!  Just be open and honest with God!  No sense in trying to hide what is on your mind and heart because He already knows it. :)
 

God of ALL Comfort

Praise be to You, the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! You are the Father of compassion and the God of ALL comfort!
 
LORD, You have been with me through fiery troubles. You comforted me even when I didn't realize You were doing so.  Sweet Jesus, I desire to give another the same comfort You have given me.  Make me a willing giver of comfort!
 
Thank You, Father of compassion!  Thank You God of ALL comfort!  You have poured out Your gift of unconditional love onto me!  Thank You for walking this life's journey with me and for carrying me most of the way!!
 
LORD Jesus, we bring before You _______.  Hear our heart's sincere cry out to You for ____.  Comfort _____ in all his/her troubles.  We pray this in Your name, Jesus.  We pray God's will be done in each of our lives and in our church families and in our communities.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. Amen
 
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
 

22 August 2013

#AMAZED

I'm not sure where to begin!  I never thought God could use me much for anything.  Over the past few couple of years, He has #AMAZED me!

I love to journal my prayers.  This past January my church joined with Moms In Prayer International to launch a MiPi Group to be praying for the high school in our church's neighborhood.  We met each Sunday night at 5 PM until May.  As the school year ended, I was front row seat to a conversation between a police officer and a teacher from that particular high school.  The police did NOT have to respond to a single felony at that high school during the 2012-13 school year!!

I started using the Four Steps of Prayer in my daily life.  One of my friends and I shared scripture prayer text messages.  One thing led to another and I was sending out prayer text using the Four Steps of Prayer to 12 ladies, with the two youngest being the age 16!!  We titled ourselves "The Prayer Squad".  We say we are in prayer boot camp. LOL

The new school year has started.  Moms In Prayer meets each Sunday evening at 5 PM.  NO ONE has showed up but me!  I was discouraged until my dear sister in Christ and Associate Pastor shared something with me about offering of faithfulness.  She said (paraphrase) you've dedicated this time for this purpose, if no one else shows up see it as God teaching you about something, see it as an offering to Him.  There was a lot more wisdom to what she said but that was the basics.  So, I encouraged The Prayer Squad to pray for the schools!  Gave them a list of schools with kids from our church/and group attend, including the neighborhood school (which our 2 teens attend! not everyone on the Squad attend my church nor live in the same state!).

Ready for this?
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Are you sure?
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Wanna know what God is doing?
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Can I draw it out just a little bit longer?
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Are you in a hurry?
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Oh, ok. I'll tell you!!

The same teacher from paragraph 2 and I were talking this past Tuesday night.  I asked her how the school year is going.  She shared how smooth it is and how there is a peace.  She shared that several teachers have come to her all baffled about the students being so calm.  She said it is really different! Unusual!  That's when I shared with her there is a group of us praying specifically for that high school.  Her face lit up!!  She said "That's it!!"  She went on to say she's going to tell the other teachers there is a group praying for their school.

So, yeah.  I'm the only one who shows up for the Moms In Prayer meeting ... I have a feeling that will change soon.  However, there is a Squad of women praying!  I never thought  God would take my love for journaling prayers to Him and turn it into leading women in prayer through Email and text messages.   God is MOVING too!  Not just in this area about this high school, but He's moving and answering prayers left and right!  I'm so #AMAZED!  I shouldn't be!  I shouldn't expect anything less!!  What amazes me is He wanted me to be one of His tools!  I will continue to offer Him the sacrifice of faithfulness.  Will you join me in offering Him this special offering?

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Gentle Shepherd. Holy One.  Lord my God. You are my Comforter!
 
Make me a blessing to someone today. I so desire to say "yes" to You, God.  May my heart be filled with Your love and compassion. Not just filled, but overflowing.
 
Jesus, thank You for (name someone you are thankful for) because (and why).
 
Jesus, Loving Lord, we lift ______ to the Father in Your name.  You said, "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted."  Comfort ____.  No matter the reason for his/her mourning, hold ____ close to You!  Again, may we each be used by You today.  May we be the arms You choose to use to comfort someone.  We pray Your will be done in our lives. Amen
 
Matthew 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

21 August 2013

God Comforts As a Mother Comforts Her Child

Holy One, as a mother tenderly comforts her child, You comfort me!  When doubt, fear, and worry over take me; Your consolation brings me joy!
 
Father. Mother. Brother. Sister. There's no relationship status that can fully state who You are to me!  You are supportive of me even when I'm falling apart! Lord, may I make You LORD of  all the situations I find us (me and You, God) in.  You are in control!  Help me remember that!!
 
Lord, I thank You for all the things You chose NOT to give me!  I thank You for the closed doors. I thank You for the "dead" dreams.  Why? Because I know only You know what You have protected me from!  Thank You for always being in front of me, guiding me.
 
Jesus. Jesus. Your name is sweet! Your name is power!  It's in Your name we pray for ______. _____ feels like he/she is dwelling in the silence of death.  Reach down with Your unfailing love and support _____ in Your tender, compassionate arms.  Console him/her.  Comfort him/her as a mother comforts her child.  By the power of Your name, we pray God's will be done. Amen
 
Psalm 94:17-19 (NIV)
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.
 

Isaiah 66:13(NIV)
13 As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you;
    and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
 
 
 

20 August 2013

My Teacher, My Guide, My Comforter

Lord, my God, You have been with me from the moment I was born, will be with me in the years of gray hair, till the day You call me home.  You are my Teacher and Guide!  Knowing I'm not alone is a comfort to me!
 
Lord, I think about all we've been through together.  You have taught me so much about You!! I know trials wait for me.  Through each test, may my life declare who You are to those around me and those coming after me.  Empower me through the Holy Spirit to be a life that declares Your power and Your mighty acts, Jesus!
 
Jesus, I am thankful for (you fill in the blank with what you are THANKFUL for!)!  I will give You thanks with all that I have for You are faithful!
 
Sweet Lord, we bring ____ to You today.  Though You have allowed ______ to see many, bitter troubles; we pray ____ will trust You to restore his/her life.  From the depths of the earth, bring ____ up again!  May we each rejoice for the work You are doing in ____'s life!  Jesus, we pray this in Your holy name. Amen
 
Psalm 71:17-22 (NIV)
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.
22 I will praise you with the harp
 for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
 
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