Really Present, Really Listening

A classmate shared today about an interview with Mother Theresa, in which she was asked about her prayer life with God. When asked what she said in prayer, she answered, “Nothing. I listen.” When asked what God said, she answered, “Nothing. He listens.”

How powerful and true. Often we are taught (though don’t necessarily “do”) to listen in prayer, but often we forget that God also listens. So often we are waiting for God to speak, but how much more comes from His listening. How amazing that the creator of the universe wants to listen to us! I also love contemplative prayer, in which we just sit with God, not even listening, but just being.

This also makes me think of how our prayer time with God is a model for how we spend time with others. Do we have conversations in which we really listen to the other person, and are fully present with the other person? So often, we are partly listening, partly thinking what we want to say, and partly thinking through our grocery list in our head.

How much more vibrant would the kingdom of God be if we learn how to listen and be present with others?

We can begin to learn this by being fully present and listening in prayer with God.

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5 Simple Moments of Blessing

Here are some simple ways to invite God into your day through blessing.

Many of us bless our meals, whether we eat at home, at a restaurant, or on the go. We may also say prayers of blessing at bedtime, and again when we send our families off to school and work in the morning.

Those are amazing times of family prayer and interactions with God. We bless our day and God’s heart.

What other simple blessings can we bring into our day, to include God in more of our daily life?

1. Pray for safety on the road, even if you are just running a quick errand.

2. When you bring groceries home from the store, pray over them, for the health and nourishment of your family.

3. Any item you bring into your home should be prayed over and blessed, as sometimes items come with spiritual attachments. It’s always a good idea to pray cleansing over everything that comes into your home. If you get in the habit of doing this each time you bring an item home, it’s a great way to bring God and blessings into your day, as well as keeping your home spiritually clean.

4. Speaking of cleaning, pray as you do your housecleaning. Even a quick touchup – wiping a counter, cleaning a mirror, scrubbing a basin – is a great opportunity to pray blessings for your family.

5. When you turn on the television, a movie, a video game, music, when you pick up your phone, turn on the computer, open a book to read – say a quick prayer asking God to bless your time and to keep yourself and your family spiritually protected. Again, this serves double duty – spiritual cleansing and blessing. It’s also a great way to interact more with God throughout your day.

What other moments of blessing do you include in your day?

Praying as God’s Child

I was reminded this week of the importance of “just” spending time in prayer with God.

Often, we get caught up in the prayer needs that surround us, including our own. We focus our prayers on the needs of others, or on the obstacles that lie in our path.

The Bible tells us, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, God is transforming us into the image of Christ. Transformation comes when we spend time with Him. He changes our hearts through our time in His presence.

We are God’s children. Prayer is an opportunity to spend time with, talk with, listen to, share our love with, and just be with God.

While God does give us people and situations to pray for, and while He does want to hear our hearts about the things we struggle with, He wants first and foremost to be in relationship with us. We are to love Him with our whole heart (Matthew 22:37-38), and that means spending time just being with Him.

Our prayer time should orient us to God. We should come to Him first as His child, and just be.

That’s where the heart change takes place. That’s where we become more like Him.

Have you spent time with God this week, just talking with Him as His child? Just being with Him? Try spending five minutes a day like this, and see what happens. You will notice a difference.

Your Daily Prayer Refreshment

I was reminded this week of how refreshing prayer can be. I was eating a slice of watermelon – who doesn’t love that wonderful summer refreshment! At the same time, I was reading about prayer. I felt so refreshed just thinking about spending time with God. I realized my time with Him is even more refreshing than eating a slice of watermelon, or running in the rain, or going for a swim. Nothing is more refreshing than our God!

If you would like to spend some refreshing time with God today, here are a few simple ways to get started. You don’t need to be overwhelmed and try to do them all. Just pick one that feels refreshing to your heart:

1. Sit with God. Just be with Him. Try this for five minutes and see how you feel.

2. Get to know God. Ask Him questions about Himself. Ask Him to share His heart with you. Look up one of the “names of God” in your Bible – the Internet has many great resources on where to find the names of God (John Paul Jackson, 365 Names of God is a great resource). Choose one name that is meaningful for you today. Reflect on who God is. Talk with Him about one of His names, and what that means to Him and to you.

3. Pray for someone. Pray for someone you know who needs prayer. Or just pray for the first person who comes to your mind, even someone you might not have seen for years. You can also ask God to give you the name of someone to pray for. He might prompt you to pray for someone you know, or He might lead you to pray for someone you have never met, who lives on the other side of the world.

4. Pray a Bible verse. Choose a favorite verse, or find one you haven’t spent much time with. Turn the verse into a simple prayer.

5. Pray for an upcoming event. Does your family have an important event coming up? Maybe an event for your children at school? Is something coming up that you are excited about, or nervous about? Does your community or church have an event coming up that could use some prayer? Spend some time with God, just talking about and praying for that event.

6. Ask God for a Bible verse you can pray for your family. Ask Him to give you a specific verse to pray. It might be one verse for your whole family, or a different verse for each person in your family. Listen quietly. See what verse He leads you to pray for each person. This is a prayer strategy, and it can become a very powerful part of your daily family prayers. Share the verses with your family. Ask them what other verses they hear.

How did your “prayer refreshment” time go today? Try the same thing again tomorrow, or pick a different way to pray. These are just a few ways to get started. See what else God inspires in you.

Start with five minutes of your day, and grow from there.

God will love this time of refreshment with you. It’s like sharing a slice of watermelon with Him. You will enjoy this time as well. You will be amazed how it will affect your day.

31 Days of Prayer Starters

If you would like to grow daily in your prayer life, here are some ways to get started.

These are simple but powerful prayers, and you can choose one each day for a month.

You can even choose just one that is meaningful to you, and repeat it each day. You can add more, from your heart, as you begin to pray. Or keep it very simple and just pray these few words.

What’s important is that you are talking with God, and allowing Him to connect with your heart. He will do the rest!

These prayer starters can also be a great way to pray together as a family. Or a powerful way for children to begin their school day.

Expect amazing things to happen as God responds to your heart. God bless you.

1. God, I love You.

2. God, I want to put You first in my life.

3. God, I want to talk with You every day.

4. God, I want to listen to You.

5. God, I want to know You better.

6. God, I want to hear Your heart.

7. God, I want to obey You.

8. God, I need Your help with everything.

9. God, I can’t do anything without You.

10. God, help me to love You more.

11. God, teach me how to pray for my family.

12. God, bless my family.

13. God, help the people in my town get closer to You.

14. God, help me get closer to You.

15. God, thank You that You are everything I will ever need.

16. God, help me trust You.

17. God, help me know how much You love me.

18. God, help me see You in a new way.

19. God, help me believe Your Word is true.

20. God, help me believe in Your promises.

21. God, thank You for Jesus.

22. God, change my heart.

23. God, help me experience Your love in a new way.

24. God, fill my heart with Your love.

25. God, grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit in me.

26. God, thank You for my life.

27. God, thank You for loving me.

28. God, help me love people with Your love.

29. God, help me talk with You every day.

30. God, fill me with Your peace.

31. God, help me shine with Your light today.

In Jesus’ name. Amen

Prayer is a Daily Refreshment

As part of a school assignment, I ran across a delightful article on prayer. I felt so refreshed upon reviewing this article that I wanted to share it. Here is the link to the article, followed by the review I wrote for class. I hope you will enjoy reading this article as much as I did, and be reminded of the daily refreshment we have through prayer:

The Importance of Personal Prayer

Review of Balducci, Rachel. (2014). The importance of personal prayer. Catholic Digest, 78, 54-57.

This is a delightful and profound article on prayer. It is profound in its simplicity: our life just goes better when we make time to pray.

Prayer cultivates Christ-likeness. Prayer is a key to our transformation, because through prayer we spend time with Jesus.

The author quotes Father Brett Brennan that we have two ways to become more like Jesus. One is through prayer, and the other is to experience the fellowship of the suffering of Christ. Wouldn’t it be preferable to make prayer a priority?

Prayer nurtures our relationship with Christ, grows us in grace, allows us to share Christ with others, and reminds us of our utter dependence on God. In other words, prayer fills us with Christ.

Prayer is not about the amount of time or a ritual. It is heart conversations with God. Even 15 minutes a day of intentional prayer is helpful.

Our biggest hindrance to prayer is that we don’t make it a priority. There will never be an ideal time for prayer; we will always be busy. We just need to do it.

No matter what is going on, prayer fills us with Jesus, who is our source of peace. We were made to be in relationship with God, and prayer is a gift that helps us grow in this relationship.

Balducci’s article also contains 5 helpful suggestions for making prayer a daily habit.

Conversation Starters with God

These conversation starters are offered to help you begin talking with God. Set aside 15 minutes of your morning or evening. Choose one of these each day that speaks to your heart … or try some ideas of your own! Enjoy your time with God.

1. Make a list of 3 things that happened today that you want to talk to God about. Take a few minutes now to talk to Him about one of those things. Then sit quietly with Him. You might feel a response from Him, or not. Either way, He is responding to your heart. The more often you do this, the more you’ll begin to notice His response, and how it changes you.

2. What is the highlight of your day that you want to share with God? Share that with Him now.

3. Take out a photo album, or pictures on your phone, or photos you have framed. Talk to God about one or two of your favorite photos.

4. Set a chair for God at your table and share a meal with Him today. Just enjoy that time with Him.

5. What is your favorite thing about YOU? Share that with God, and thank Him for it.

6. Invite God to go on an errand with you today. As you do the errand, keep remembering He is there with you. Can you feel His presence? If that’s hard, ask Him to help you be aware of His presence, and His constant love for you.

7. Go to the dollar store; pick up a coloring book and crayons. Color a picture! Smile as you realize God is watching you, and know that He is smiling too as you color. What would you like to talk to Him about?

8. Sit with God. Silently. Just enjoy each other’s presence.

How is that for starters? What other conversation starters can you try out?

Make it a plan every day to spend time talking with God, and sharing your heart with Him. He loves this time with you, and you will feel so blessed spending this time with Him.

Next, you might want to visit 31 Days of Prayer Starters, as you continue your conversation with God.

When you are ready to go deeper in your conversations with God, the 40-day Amazing Prayer Adventure is waiting for you. But don’t stop your daily conversations with God. It’s the best time in the world.

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Thank you to my friend and fellow intercessor, Karen Castleberry. We had a wonderful time praying about these conversation starters.

God Is Always with You

God is with you all the time. He loves to sit with you, walk with you, play and laugh with you. He shares your joys, and weeps with you when you’re sad. He talks to you, He even sings to you. He is always willing to guide you, to answer your questions, to listen to the cries of your heart.

Even when you don’t say a word, He loves being with you. But He also loves to hear from you. Whether you have something difficult to talk to Him about, or you just need to vent (He gets it!), or if you simply want to say, “Hi, God, how are You?” or just chat about your daily life, He loves to listen and to answer back. Spending time with you is His favorite thing to do.

This blog was created as a place to learn about talking to God, and to share experiences of talking with Him, hearing Him, seeing what happens from those amazing conversations.

Talking with God is prayer, so this blog is about prayer. Prayer is nothing more than a conversation with God. But it’s a powerful conversation with incredible results – for us, for our families, for our communities. Prayer can move mountains, and we will share about that here.

But prayer is also just sharing your heart with God. Sitting with God on an ordinary day – talking, not talking, just hanging out. Just telling Him whatever is on your mind. Or just enjoying a quiet moment with Him. All of that is prayer. And sharing about prayer reminds us that God is always with us, and it’s His favorite place to be.

Prayer Works!

Prayer works. I’m telling you. Prayer works. It works because through prayer we invite God to work.

The past few weeks have not been easy but I’ve stayed mostly encouraged. Tonight while going into a group prayer time the enemy clobbered me with discouragement. I still went for prayer out of sheer obedience. When we finished I didn’t feel any better. More prayers – heart cries, to be exact.

And then … for those who know me this is really big. The prayer leader tonight talked about how the enemy’s biggest focus is to destroy us to the point where we are ineffective. Well, yeh – he does that with me in seeking comfort in food rather than in God. This is especially big for me because I have a personal and generational history of not wanting to choose life.

So tonight as I left the prayer meeting I wanted nothing more than to go home and eat some bad “comfort” food and keep feeling discouraged about everything.

Instead, I talked to God all the way home, simply asked, “Help!!!!!!!” And by the time I got home I was ready to sit and listen to Him. I made a very healthy meal, started praying and asking for prayer, and I feel completely uplifted and my focus is back where it should be: on JESUS.

HE did all this. He grappled the enemy and dismissed him. He grappled with me and my unbelief. He got me focused on “choosing life” for the generations, got me focused on Him … and kept that self-destruction our prayer leader had just talked about from happening.

GOD is so awesome, so real, so powerful, so faithful, so good, and there is nothing He can’t do.

And PRAYER WORKS.

Go God!!!!!

Praying God’s Best for Your Loved Ones

It breaks your heart when someone you love believes lies – about themselves, about others, about God.

How do you pray for them?

Always remember when praying for others that you want to pray God’s best for them … His will (not yours) … by His power and Spirit (not yours) … and that God honors each person’s free will, and so must we.

The Bible tells us in Romans 8:26-27 that the Holy Spirit leads us in intercession when we don’t know what or how to pray (which is all of the time!). We don’t pray our “flesh” for others (nor should we pray that for ourselves). We want to pray as the Holy Spirit leads, because He knows best.

So … always start your prayers for your loved ones by inviting the Holy Spirit to intercede and to lead and guide your prayers. Invite Him to take over!

Stay mindful of His Spirit as you pray … and learn to recognize what is the voice of the Holy Spirit versus your own voice (your own fears, heart break, confusion, your own lies) and versus the enemy’s taunts and suggestions.

When in doubt, pray, “Holy Spirit, please go to [name of loved one] and be with them and help them. You know their needs. Please meet them where they are and meet their needs in the ways You know best.”

You can pray that all day and night for your loved one and it is as powerful a prayer as you need to pray! God will answer.

But the Lord, out of His love for us also gives us keys in scripture for how to pray for our loved ones, in ways that will honor and uphold God’s plan for their lives.

One example is Galatians 5:22-23 – the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. That is God’s best for each person, and this fruit is what the presence of Christ produces in our hearts. When you see a Christian struggling in any of these areas, there is a bad root producing bad fruit that is choking out the good fruit. You can pray that God grows His good fruit in this person’s heart. That is always in line with God’s will for your loved one.

Resist the (very human) urge to pray against the bad fruit, or you will be in danger of manipulating and practicing spiritual witchcraft and judging/condemning the person (Matthew 7:1), not to mention interfering with God’s work in the person’s life. You don’t want to do that!

Pray for the good fruit. Pray that all day long. God will answer those prayers.

Another way to pray God’s best is to consider the lies your loved one believes. What lies do they believe about themselves? What lies do they believe about others? What lies do they believe about God? What lies do they believe about God’s purpose for their lives? About God’s love for them?

We all get tangled up in believing lies. It starts from conception and the web of deceit continues to grow, until we invite Jesus to come speak His truth into our hearts about those lies. (That is the process of sanctification.)

If you listen carefully to what your loved ones say, and how they behave, you will hear and see the lies they believe. That is a great place to start your intercessory prayers for them. For every lie, there is Christ’s truth. Pray that He will show them His truth, that He will speak His truth to their heart.

If they believe, “I am not loved,” ask God to speak directly to their hearts to tell them His truth, that they are loved. Search the scriptures for where God tells us this truth (John 3:16 is a great one, and there are many others). Turn those scripture verses into prayers: “God, please show [name of loved one] that you love [him/her] so much that You sent Your Son Jesus for [him/her].”

Pray also for God to use His people and to create tangible ways for your loved one to feel and experience the truth of His love. Again, remember not to pray your will or try to “fix it” or find your own answers and tell God what He should do. Just lob your prayers into God’s court and leave them with Him. Let Him decide how to answer them.

“God, show my loved one that YOU love them.” You can pray that all day long and God will delight to respond.

Take a few minutes now to start hearing God’s heart for your loved one, so you can pray effectively:

  • Write your loved one’s name on a piece of paper and place it before God.
  • Sit quietly with God, just being in His presence.
  • Then begin to listen for His heart for your loved one.
  • With His guidance, write down a few simple prayers you can pray each day for your loved one.
  • Read over them first, to be sure they reflect only His heart, His will, His best for them … and to be sure they honor your loved one’s free will.
  • Make any changes needed.
  • Then keep those simple but powerful prayers in a place where you can pick them up each time God prompts you to pray.

As you do this more, you will begin to hear God’s heart for others and let His Holy Spirit guide you in prayer.

Have a blessed day!