If you’re anything like me, you like to make plans. You appreciate being organized and knowing what is ahead, and you love to be prepared. Maybe you’re the opposite and prefer to go with the flow, tackle what comes and enjoy the ride along the way. Regardless of which side you fall on, we can all easily be led more by things of the world than things of God. It isn’t always obvious, either. In fact, usually, it begins with subtle things and before you know it your focus is off in left field, God’s desired path for you is out of your sight, and you are left feeling stressed and defeated. Intentionally seeking what is pleasing to God helps to keep your focus on His desires for you. But how do we know what is pleasing to God, and how do we keep our focus on Him and not the distractions surrounding us?
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
The world is full of distractions. There are temptations and shiny new things all over the place. Look to the right and your neighbor seems to have greener grass and a newer car. Look to the left and there’s a shop with those new shoes you really want, but there’s just not enough after paying that pile of bills. Look behind you and there are people that look like they are having such a great time doing things you know you shouldn’t do, but they just look like they are having so much fun. Opening Twitter may seem a lot more appealing than opening your Bible right now.
It is important that we do not grow attached to things of the world or let them distract us. By being content with what we have, where we are, and what God calls us to we can find rest in God’s design and desires for our lives, and we can confidently do what is pleasing to God.
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,[a]10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you[b] to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.
We need to constantly, daily check our hearts and align our intentions with God’s design. Our life exposes our desires. If we are truly intent on honoring God, it will be evident in the way we live and the fruit we bear. If we are not, this will also be evident.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.[a]
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We need to filter all things through the Word of God in order to test what is pleasing to God – don’t test something you think might be wrong – test what is good. Bring it to scripture and to God in prayer, and lean on the promptings and reminders of God’s Holy Spirit. Then, we must obey the wisdom God reveals to us through His Word and Spirit.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light[a] consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord.11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Do you feel a tug to help someone but are not sure God is telling you to? Test that.
Think maybe you should invite that friend to church but you are worried the timing isn’t good or they’ll say no? Test that.
Have an opportunity to share your faith with someone in your favorite game, at the grocery store, at a party, at work, at Thanksgiving dinner? Test that.
Did someone make you angry, but you could forgive them and show grace? Test that.
Have an opportunity to serve someone just cuz? Test that.
8 Finally[a] brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
Satan is absolutely going to whisper to you, discourage you, tug you the other direction, convince you to stay where you are more comfortable, where it feels more convenient, that you will have another opportunity later, that someone else will come along and do that instead, that someone else is better suited to the task… the list of lies and discouragement goes on and on, and we latch on to these excuses far too easily. What we need to do, though, is do what is pleasing to the Lord, not what is convenient or comfortable for us. Don’t let Satan throw you off and steer you away from God’s desires for you. Stay watchful, diligent, and constant in your loving obedience to the Lord, doing what is pleasing to Him above all else.
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We test by doing something, not by staying still and silent when it is time to act. Testing doesn’t mean we just wait around for something to happen – there is a time for waiting, and there is a time to act. Test what is good by DOING what is good, doing what scripture says is pleasing to God.
If you are doing what is pleasing to God (with the right heart and intention), you will please God. If you test what is pleasing to God by doing nothing, you will never know, and you will miss opportunities to please God. If you test by doing what is likely or clearly unpleasing to God (again filtering through scripture), you are not testing what is pleasing – you are making an excuse to do what you want even though you know it isn’t what God wants. We must seek to learn what is pleasing to God, and then actively apply this wisdom and guidance to our lives.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.[a]2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
What do you need to correct in your life right now? Are your intentions out of alignment with God’s desires? Are you resting in what is pleasing to you over what is pleasing to God? What steps should you take to get right with God and do what is truly pleasing to Him and not the world?
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
Prayer is a powerful tool and our method of communication with God. There are so many ways to pray and lots of recommended methods, but ultimately I’ve found that the keys to a deeper prayer life with God are praying in every circumstance throughout each day, with intention, with scripture, and also to pray strategically. To pray strategically is to encompass all of these elements together within your personal relationship with the Lord and the circumstances of your life.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;
After the Apostle Paul gave the Colossians many instructions about running a Christian household, spiritual fullness and freedom in Christ, the supremacy of Christ, and doing all you do for the Lord, he closes his letter with this instruction about prayer. He goes on to name specific items the Colossians should be praying over and gives us some encouragement about how to pray for ourselves and one another.
He begins with the instruction to pray “earnestly” and to be “vigilant” with “thanksgiving”. To be vigilant is to be watchful, cautious, active, and to give “strict attention” (G1127). To be actively watchful and cautious requires a strategy to be successful. We must give strict attention to our prayers, and also to gratitude in our prayers.
How does Paul tell the Colossians to pray strategically?
3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
For me, I have begun using a strategically planned prayer journal to help me to be praying strategically in these ways. I have found great benefit and growth in my relationship with God, and my reliance on Him. While praying intentionally, all throughout my day, and also praying scripture back to Him, and I developing an even stronger and more personal prayer strategy. Each of us has our very own personal relationship with the Lord, but none of us can grow in our relationship with Him without intentional, constant and strategic prayer.
We implement strategies in our homes, in raising our kids and having a strong marriage, with being successful in our jobs, making plans with our friends, and so many other areas of our lives. Why would we not implement intentional strategy in our relationships with God?
What is your prayer strategy and how might you encourage someone else with it? How does your prayer strategy help you to obey God’s call better? How does your prayer strategy help you grow in your personal relationship with God, and therefor help others to grow in theirs as well?
I’d love to hear about how you pray strateigically below!
When I came into my faith and started to read the Bible, praying, and living a Christ-like life I had no idea how it would change me. I was familiar with crying out to God in times of pain, agony, heartbreak, and need but I had no idea there was so much more to prayer than that. I eventually learned how to pray intentionally, and this has helped me so much in my faith and relationship with Jesus.
There are many ways people explain prayer. We need, however, to filter all things through scripture, and that includes what God tells us about prayer through His Word. We have touched on how to pray without ceasing, but what does scripture tell us about how to pray intentionally?
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
While Jesus is explaining the model prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), which includes the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus begins in verse 5 by saying not to be like the hypocrites who love to show off in public, praying to be “seen by men” which in the original Greek means “to meet the eyes, strike the sight, become clear or manifest”. In other words, your prayers should never be for your own glorification.
Directly after this, Jesus tells us to “go into your room and shut the door”. An important aspect of intentional prayer is to take time to be alone with God. Clear distractions, clear time in your schedule, step away from other people and pray between you and God alone. To pray intentionally is to intentionally make time for God every day.
Even Jesus took time to pray intentionally
Jesus, God in the flesh, took time to pray intentionally and privately with God the Father. We can take from Him the example that there are times we need to intentionally separate ourselves from others, from distraction, from the everyday things, even the important life things, and focus on God alone. Jesus took time to pray in solitude while He awaited the Romans who would come to take him to be crucified. Jesus took time to step away and pray even with His impending death approaching. While a crowd gathered, desperately wanting His attention, He stepped away from them to go “to the mountain to pray”.
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Is your to-do list really more important than time with God? Are your friends, your spouse, your kids, your job more important than God in your life? To pray intentionally is to actually live like God is truly the most important part of your life. This benefits our relationship with God, and also is a signal to others that God comes first.
God wants a personal relationship with you. We know that communication and commitment are necessary for healthy relationships to grow with the people in our lives. We schedule girl’s nights with our friends, date nights with our significant other, play dates with our kids, bedtime and morning routines with our families, self-care routines, schedule me-time, and heck, we have routines at work, in serving, and in church. Why would we give any less to God? Why would we not intentionally make time for the most important Person in our lives every day, the Lord?
Make intentional time for God
Your intentional prayer time with God may look a bit different than mine, but that’s exactly as it should be. What doesn’t change is that we should be in scripture, pray to the Lord constantly, and intentionally invest in our personal relationships with God every day.
For me, I use my prayer journal in the mornings and spend time in the Word every morning. This sets my day up to be centered on Christ and helps me resist charging into my day with my to-do list as the primary goal and focus. Our goal and focus should always be to serve and honor God in all we do to draw others to Him as we also draw nearer to Him. We are here to share His Truth far and wide, and our lives should be a testimony to our living faith in Christ. But how can our lives be a living testimony if we aren’t making time for Him in our lives?
How do you spend time with God each day?
Share some ideas with us that may encourage others in how they can make time to pray intentionally and create time and space for the Lord every day.
You have likely been told at some point or another to “pray without ceasing”, or to “always be praying”. This is something that can be difficult to grasp and feel impossible to do realistically. I mean, life is busy, we have things to do… how can we ALWAYS be praying?
When I was newer in my faith I had a really hard time understanding this. I felt strange about prayer as it was and I had a hard time praying unless I was completely alone with nothing but quiet solitude. Any little distraction threw off my focus and left me feeling guilty for being distracted.
I now know that this is a really common experience not just for newer Christians, but for a lot of Christians. Prayer is tough and uncomfortable for a lot of us. So how can we pray without ceasing when prayer is such a challenge to begin with?
We have to start by asking another question first.
How can we pray better?
Exploring how to pray better is vital to improving our prayer lives. Seeking what God says about prayer is essential to a growing relationship with Him.
After this, it is up to us to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us to grow in our faith and relationship with God through our faith in Christ and by Christ.
Make it a habit
Making prayer a habit is probably one of the most challenging parts for all of us. Our lives are busy. We have things to do. We tell ourselves we will pray later, we don’t have time right now, we have other things to do. The thing is, all of these excuses are just that – excuses. This is our way of making it not seem so bad that we are putting God off and failing to prioritize God in our lives.
Making is a habit to pray doesn’t always mean scheduling time, but that is part of it too. When you create time in your day to spend with God you are telling God, yourself, and those around you that this time with God is more important than your to-do list.
It took me a while to get into a routine with God every day, but it has helped me in ways I never imagined. The other side of that is when I start my day with God I am able to focus more on Him throughout my day. This better enables me to pray all day, through all the events of my day. I pray while I do laundry, while I listen to my kiddo tell me stories, while I write, while I watch TV. I pray through all of my activities.
How does praying better help me to always pray?
I keep the line of communication with God open at all times, and I focus my attention and mind on Him. When I feel myself drift to stress, worry or selfish thoughts I discipline my mind to go back to God. I seek God’s council in every little-and-big thing I do, and I take the time to listen for His wisdom and direction.
Praying without ceasing doesn’t mean physically kneeling before God every day to focus on Him and neglect life around you. What it does mean is keeping your mind on Him and Heavenly things, even while you tackle your earthly responsibilities and entertainment.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
When we make the decision to give our lives to God believe that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins, and commit to living like we believe, we must seek God, confess our sins to Him, ask forgiveness, and receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is done through passionate prayer. Praying for strength is a beautiful way to surrender to God when we lack our own strength to keep going.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
Every relationship with God begins with prayer and shouldn’t stop there
Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we now have the Holy Spirit within us, guiding us every day. We do our best to learn and grow in God’s ways as this new person we’ve suddenly become, but how do we know when we are on the right track? How will we know what to do, how to do it, or when?
In order to hear God we must open up the lines of communication through spending time in His Word and prayer.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Prayer is not something we do to check a box for the day. Prayer is a primary and necessary means of staying connected, in tune, and in communication with God. When we pray with intention, powerfully and passionately, truly seeking God out we open ourselves up more to hearing His answers and seeing Him working in our life. We allow Him to empty us again of ourselves and fill us up with more of Him. Prayer gives us a way to seek forgiveness, help, peace, provision, and even comfort from the Lord. Prayer is having a conversation with your Heavenly Father.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Life gets tough sometimes. We will face trouble; He knows it better than we do and tells us to give Him our worries, present our requests to Him, and be faithful in prayer. God wants us to talk to Him and trust Him with our struggles. There is incredible power in passionate prayer. Seeking God out and bringing our troubles to Him is a faith practice that helps us to both act out our trust and faith in God, and also to strengthen it as we break down the barriers and let Him in.
Prayer is not only something we do for ourselves or when there is trouble. We should give thanks to God, pray for others, even including our enemies, and praise the Lord in our prayers. How we talk to our Heavenly Father has a huge impact on our attitudes and heart. When all we do is bring our wants and needs to God we tend to get stuck in despair and create the breeding grounds for selfishness.
When we are praying to check a box we let ourselves become distant from God and it becomes easier for our faith to waver. When we give Him our heart, thank Him even for the smallest things it breaks through the despair, rekindles the fire, and we begin to see and hear Him clearer. When we pray for others we help them lift their burdens and open our eyes to seeing what God is doing in the lives of others.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Every relationship with God begins with prayer and shouldn’t stop there. Pray everywhere, in all things.
Putting our heart into our prayers, truly desiring to communicate with Him and see what He will do in and around us will reap such powerful blessings. This is an essential part of our ever-growing relationship with Him and a constant faith exercise. All relationships require healthy communication and this is true of our relationship with God above all others. There is never a time, situation or place where prayer is not needed. No circumstance is ever inappropriate for prayer. You have never gone so far, so long, so bad that He will not hear your prayers and welcome them. Develop relationships with His people as well and help one another lift your burdens and praises to Him. You are not in this alone, and you don’t have to know what to say, but reach out to God from your heart and you will open yourself up to a deeper relationship with the One who is bigger than all of it.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
A – Adoration: Begin your prayer with praise. Praise God for who He is. Praise Him with a grateful heart. This aligns our heart to Him and serves as a great reminder why we pray to God – because He is who He says He is. Thank Him for who He is to you right now.
C – Confession: Open up to God about whatever you want forgiveness for. Sometimes we won’t know what we need to be forgiven of but don’t skip this – seek forgiveness anyway and ask God to work in you and open your eyes to where you need to change. Be honest with God about your confessions. He knows all that we do, think, and feel already and bringing it to Him for forgiveness has such freeing and healing powers.
T – Thanksgiving: Thank God for what He is doing in your life, as well as in the lives of others. There is always so much to be thankful for. All we have is from Him, so all we have deserves thanks to our provider. Even thanking God for waking you up today, for choosing you, for being who He is has power and let all the thanks of your heart no matter how big, small, mundane or ridiculous it may seem just flow out to Him. This helps us to open our eyes and see how He has blessed you and those around you.
S – Supplication: Pray for yourself. Bring to God whatever is on your heart for yourself, your needs, your wants, healing, guidance, help, peace. Pray for others as well, bringing their requests to Him. Whatever it is you need or want, bring it to Him. Notice this is the final step of prayer after you have set your heart on praise, forgiveness, and thanks. Submit your heart to God and accept that His will be done, not yours.
‘Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. ‘
Sometimes life does not happen the way we want it to. Occasionally there will be things we desperately want in our lives, but God has not made it happen. Now and then God grants us our desires, often times He may have something better in store for us, but sometimes God just wants us to be patient; we are not ready for it yet. God will give us time to be patient, grow in faithfulness and obedience to Him, and then He may grant us our desires as they fit into His plan.
There are certain people in scripture that are sincerely fantastic examples of faithfulness and obedience. We can seriously relate to some people in the Bible, and sometimes we long to relate to them. Hannah is one of those people for me.
Hannah is the mother of Samuel, who was the last judge of Israel and ultimately led the nation into faithfulness to God – none of which would have happened if it were not for Hannah’s faithfulness and devotion to the Lord.
‘And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” ‘
Like Hannah, for a long time I plead with God for a child. I wanted a small human of my own to love and to love me. I begged God to give me a child, and when He granted my request I disobeyed God, went my own way, and ended up losing my first child. In God’s time, though, He gave me a living child through some tragic circumstances and my life forever changed. While I was disobedient to God, Hannah was not. God remained faithful through all of it nonetheless.
‘And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. ‘
Hannah made a pact with God. She vowed that if it is His will to give her a son, she would commit the boy to the Lord for his whole life. God’s response initially was for her to be patient and faithful, waiting for His perfect timing. Then when He gave Hannah her son, Samuel, she kept her word to God even though it meant she only had her child for the first 3 or 4 years of his life. After Samuel was weaned, she committed him to the Lord for the rest of his life, leaving him in the care of Eli.
‘And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord . For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord . As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord .” And he worshiped the Lord there. ‘
The thing about Hannah is that while God was giving her time to be patient, strengthen her faith, and continue to live in obedience she was combating ridicule and bullying from those around her. Not only is it already difficult to remain faithful when we feel God is not listening, but it can be especially difficult when we have people trying to tear us down while we are struggling.
It is too easy for us to lose faith when we are not getting what we want. Our human nature is selfish and society teaches that instant gratification is necessary and deserved. But man, what God can do through our faith in Him.
‘ But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.’
God gives us every day, every breathe, every strength, and He can bring us through every trial we face. Even though Hannah was in complete despair, she remained faithful to God. Through her gratefulness and faithfulness she not only gained a son, but she also gave him to serve the Lord.
We have no idea, not even the faintest inkling, of what God can and will do in His time and His way through our faithfulness and devotion to Him. God deserves our praise every day, all the time, even in the midst of struggles because He has the power to get us through it.
And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
Have you ever felt like you just can’t catch a break? Like the whole world is against you? Like there is just too much wrong with life? Or like it is just too darn difficult to keep going?
We are all faced with difficult situations throughout life. There are times where we feel no one could possibly understand, and we cannot possibly make it through. David was no exception when he, a shepherd boy, was called upon to become king. His life was immediately put at incredible risk when God commanded he become king in place of Saul, who had become wicked and turned away from God.
‘ O Lord , how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.”
David is given a mission he never asked for or expected, and it was a massive mission. I know I can definitely relate to that. The task in and of itself to be obedient to God’s will and commands is really challenging, especially when it comes with tasks our human nature doesn’t want any part of. We by nature want to do life our own way, but when God comes calling it is our job to listen no matter how hard it is.
Sometimes what God calls on us to do puts us right in the middle of chaos. When I made the decision to follow God’s will for my life I lost all my friends, and also a relationship with most of my family. I changed completely and with that my whole life and everything and everyone in it also changed. I felt at first like I was drowning. If following God and trusting Him is the right thing, why on earth did it feel like life was falling apart?
But you, O Lord , are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord , and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
When we decide to trust God and put our faith in Him, that faith will be tested. The testing of our faith is done to strengthen and confirm our faith in Him. In Psalm 3, David was being hunted down because he chose to follow God’s will for him to become king. His prayer in Psalm 3 is an incredible example of what keeping our faith in the midst of chaos looks like.
He knew that even though he was in great danger, and that life would never be the same, he’d never have a simple shepherd life again, that God would help him along his path. David knew that God would make good on His promises, and that all David needed to do was trust God to guide and protect him.
Arise, O Lord ! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord ; your blessing be on your people!‘
When you feel like you are consumed by darkness remember that God is always there. He is faithful to the faithful, and He will never lead you astray or abandon you. God will deliver you from your enemies of any kind. Have faith that God will bring you through, and that through the struggles, sacrifices, tough choices, and suffering you can grow closer to Him by faith and obedience. Lean on Him even more in times of depression, anxiety, loss, grief, pain, and loneliness. Don’t lose faith that He will deliver you.
‘ Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord , and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.’
“In my distress I called to the Lord , and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
There have been plenty of times in my life where I felt like I’d been swallowed up, trapped in chaos, utterly overwhelmed, just like Jonah when he was swallowed up at sea. Nine years ago I moved across the country with my then fiance. I was a few weeks pregnant, in completely new territory, experienced massive culture shock, had none of my family or friends, and was completely isolated.
We had not even settled in before he started working long, crazy hours and I was left home where it was unsafe for me to walk the neighborhood alone, cooped up in the heat and humidity, where I was required to cook and clean all day for my fiance, his uncle, and his teenage cousin. After only about six weeks of this, I found myself in such excruciating pain I was brought to the emergency room where I discovered I was no longer expecting a child.
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord , and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
I felt like Jonah; banished from God’s sight, engulfed, drowning, and utterly consumed and strangled by darkness. I fell into complete despair and as I cried to God I felt like He was surely not going to help me out of the deep, monstrous cavern I’d fallen into.
I remember crying night and day, praying for God to change what had happened, to heal me, and to take me out of what turned into an absolutely horrendous experience after an already horrible loss. Not only had I lost the baby, but the man I thought loved me more than anything quickly began to hate me more than anything. While enduring every kind of abuse I kept pleading for God to bring me out of my terrible fate. I didn’t want to lose faith, and He was the only thing I could hold onto anymore.
“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord .’ ” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.’
After a couple of months, a light finally shone on my darkness. My family was flying me home. I was leaving this place I’d only experienced immeasurable pain. I was terrified but so relieved to leave. The pain was not over, but God had delivered me, moving me forward, providing an escape and refuge, and reminding me there is reason to hope and trust Him.
God, in His time, in His way, provided me with knowledge and experience that changed everything about who I was, and a way out of the sinful, hateful, painful existence I’d been living in. God vomited me out onto dry land like Jonah from the belly of the fish.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Life was not immediately easier, nor was it pain free. I have been through countless struggles even since then, but with each struggle comes another lesson of faith. During every experience of suffering I come even closer to understanding what salvation means; what it means to be saved.
This Prayer of Salvation is a beautiful prayer to thank God because, even when we are suffering, even when we are lost and hurting, even though we are so incredibly sinful and undeserving, He loves us anyway. He loves us enough to sacrifice His son, Jesus Christ, to save us from the damnation of eternal pain and separation from His mercy and love.
Even though we screw up, reject Him, walk away, curse Him, live in utter sin, and disrespect everything that He has done for us He loves us enough to chase after us and pull us out of the deepest depths of darkness and into impossible peace.
Because of His salvation, I know that my faith in God is good and right and that I can depend on Him to pick me up and deliver me to His kingdom when He says it is time. Every trial we face here on earth is another stepping stone toward God and His promise of salvation.
Don’t forget to thank God today, especially while life is especially difficult. It will change your life.
As I sat in the hospital room alone with my unconscious grandfather 10 hours before his last breath, I prayed constantly, talking to God as a friend, as someone who could bring peace to a situation where peace felt impossible. I prayed for my grandfather to be at peace, to go home and be with our Father, to find comfort, and to know that he is so loved. I prayed for my family to be at peace with his coming passing and that they would have strength.
I thanked God for all of the time I was lucky enough to spend with him, and all the memories we created. I thanked Him for taking care of my grandfather, for giving him peace in the end, and for bringing him home to live in Heaven, where I knew he would go. Prayer brought an incredible sense of peace for me as I watched every rise and fall of his chest and listened for every quiver of his breath, anticipating any one of them to be his last.
Why does prayer bring us peace? Why does prayer have such power?
Matthew 6 tells us how to reap the full blessings and benefits available through prayer, and helps us understand why we should pray this way.
‘”And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ‘
I thought for the longest time this meant that prayer was something only for me to know and hear privately, but that is actually a very common misinterpretation of this instruction. This verse tells us to not show off to other people with our prayers, to not pray empty prayers that sound nice, but to instead pray from the heart. Prayer is intended as a conversation between you and God and is not about the words of the prayer, but about the depth of your heart that it comes from.
Prayer that comes from the heart holds so much power. God already knows what is going to happen, what we need, and when we need it. We are called to pray for God to help, change, comfort, and guide us. We should pray for God to help us accept and be grateful for what He does in our lives, and pray to foster our relationship with Him and others. Prayer helps us to realign our focus to God, and remember that He is the one in control.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is an incredible example laid out to show us how we should pray. It is easy to dismiss this prayer as “old fashioned” and “irrelevant” before we understand that it is a kind of “prayer template”, each line having great significance.
What does the Lord’s Prayer mean?
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Acknowledge who God is; our Holy Father, whom we get to have a personal relationship with, and deserves our praise, worship and thankfulness for who He is.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Ask for God to work His will into our path, whatever is happening in our lives. We should be seeking God’s will rather than our own. If we are asking for something we want, we should always remember that our will should match His, and that His will may look different than our desires or what we think we need. God knows better than we do.
Someone very important to me always says “God gives 3 answers; Yes, not yet, or I have something better in store”. He doesn’t just say “no”. God knows what is best for us. He sees the whole entire picture, holds all knowledge and wisdom, and will always work everything together for “the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
Give us this day our daily bread,
Ask God to provide for our needs, with the hope and faith that He can and will, as He knows is best for us. Remember to give thanks for his provisions in your life. God will always provide and we should show appreciation to Him for all we have. We would not have or be anything without His grace.
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
We should admit that we are not perfect. It is in our nature to be sinful but through the blood of Jesus all sins are forgiven. Bringing our mistakes, imperfections, and sins to God through prayer cleanses us. God forgives us and lifts the weight of guilt and shame from us so we can move forward with peace. Because God forgives us, praying for God to help us forgive others gives us spiritual freedom, allowing us to let go of grudges, judgement, and hurt feelings.
God will never “tempt” us; the devil does that. We should pray for God to help us through the temptations we face, and to guide us through any testing He places before us, give us strength, courage and knowledge to learn and overcome.
We are called to have faith that God will always provide a way of escape from temptation. Have confidence that God can and will be your helper, even when you don’t think you need or deserve it.
‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. ‘
Prayer is a spiritual tool for us to communicate with God, to develop and foster a personal relationship with Him, to repent of our sins, and seek God above anything and anyone else. It should be done often and come from the heart.
I am a wife, mom, writer, crafter, and above all, a Child of God. I love to study the Bible, fellowship with other Christians, and serve God. I am thrilled to invite you to join me in seeking to satisfy our thirsty souls with the Living Water of Christ, which is what Water On Thirsty Land is here to do.