Tag Archives: Prayer

THE GIFT OF STILLNESS

Be still, and know that I am GOD.

Years ago during a very difficult season of my life, I remember praying desperately for God’s intervention. There were intense circumstances surrounding me that drove me to the throne of God.

In the midst of that difficult season, I read the scriptures in Psalm 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolation he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

After reading the 46th Psalm, the tenth verse practically jumped off the page.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

As I focused on those eight words, I knew that the Lord was speaking directly to me through Psalm 46:10. At the time, my circumstances seemed impossible to overcome, but I clung to the hope found in Christ.

Through the trials of life, I learned about the gift of stillness. From that low point, I discovered that God’s presence is the greatest treasure of all, and prayer became the key component of my life. My circumstances did not change instantly. In fact, it took over a decade for me to see permanent change in my life.

Step by step, Christ restored my broken life and turned it into something beautiful. It was a long process, kind of like creating a magnificent work of art. In most cases, beautiful art cannot be produced instantly. Real beauty is created through a process.

Are you waiting for God to turn something bad into something beautiful?  Keep pressing forward in faith and draw near to God.

Be still, and know that Christ will bring beauty into the broken places of your life.

As you wait on God, I pray that you will savor the gift of stillness every day.

PRAYER: BEING STILL IN GOD’S PRESENCE

Be Still, and Know That I Am God

Without hearing God’s voice or knowing His direction, life would be like a train running free without an engineer. My life looked like a train wreck during a season of busyness that pulled me away from a life of prayer. After desperation set in, I got back on the path with God; and things in my life began turning around.

In Proverbs 3: 5 and 6, it says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”

There is no better shepherd than Christ. He directs our paths perfectly, leading us to the destinies He planned for us before we were born. When we are on the path with Him, life becomes the journey we were meant to live. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. If only my mistakes will help another soul stay on the path with Jesus, it will be worth all the times I drifted off track with God.

I’m not talking about religious rituals here. I am talking about being still in the presence of God and letting His voice lead every step. This is the path that leads to the abundant life Jesus promised us.

In my eBook, I shared some of the struggles that arose when I stopped seeking God wholeheartedly.  In the following excerpt, you will see how my life got off track during a season when being still and prayer had become less of a priority in my life.

The book excerpt begins here.

As a child, it’s easier to admit weakness and bow down to God. But there’s something that happens as we grow older: our hearts change, and our way of thinking changes. It becomes harder to enter into the place of total submission to God and it seems natural to begin seeking out other ways to find comfort. This is what happened to me. By the time I was eighteen years old, I was going to my secret place with God less and less. Yet I still desired to be close to Him.

This same year, I met and fell in love with a young man who loved God. Michael and I got married when I was nineteen with the hopes and dreams of following Christ together. I wrote a prayer in 1985, the year I got married, that truly reveals the desire in my heart to live for Christ.

Dear Lord,

I need You so badly. It seems like the only time I’m desperately crying out to You is at the lowest times in my life. And I’m sorry for that. I know You want me to learn to depend on You like an infant with its mother. But oh, dear God, it’s so hard. I always think I can do it on my own. Please help me and make me what You want me to be—make me the kind of friend, daughter, and wife You want me to be.

Please give me the desire in my heart to pray more and read Your Word more. Please fill me with Your Spirit and really change my heart. Make me new inside. I know You love me more than I could ever imagine. And I couldn’t live without Your love. Thank You for loving me no matter what I do to reject You. I pray in Your name. Amen.

During the twelve years after I had written that prayer, I settled comfortably into my marriage and became complacent in my spiritual journey. I was consumed with other things—allowing my marriage to come before God, working a corporate job for a number of years, and volunteering many hours in our church. These things were all distracting me from the passionate desire I once had to wholeheartedly follow Christ. Michael and I were going through all the Christian motions by tithing and attending as many church activities as we could fit into our already full schedule. From a religious standpoint, we were doing everything right as a young, Christian couple. The most vital thing was missing though. My passion toward God had been replaced with a shallow faith. The love relationship I once had with Him was a distant memory. And it all culminated into a depressed state when my life seemed hopeless.

After that Wednesday night when I finally broke down, my eyes were opened and I could see what I had lost with the Lord. I realized my deep need for Him, and I began writing prayers more regularly in my journal. These entries reveal the desperation in my heart and spirit.

February 11, 1997

Lord, I’m really frustrated. I need to go to sleep, but I just keep thinking about everything that’s going on in my life. Please bring me rest and peace.

February 12, 1997

Lord, I really need You. It’s 3:15 a.m. and I woke up feeling uptight. I need Your peace. Now Christa is awake and she said she’s afraid. Please make her feel comfortable and able to get some rest. Please give me rest. Please help me to feel peace and comfort beyond all understanding. I know I need to trust You.

February 28, 1997

Lord, I love You and I give all my burdens to You. I surrender all to You. Please give me peace in my mind and let this struggle end.

March 5, 1997

Lord, I’m waiting for some relief. Why can’t I relax and sleep well? Are You hearing me? Please keep me well and give me the rest I need. I’m willing to do whatever it is that You want me to do. Lord, please hear my prayers.

May 22, 1997

God, do You hate me? I feel so helpless. Please show me Your love. Please make a way for me out of this.

In those desperate moments, I began to pray like I never had before. Desperation drives us to our knees like nothing else. While praying, God revealed to me that I needed to forgive my husband for some things I hadn’t been able to let go of. The words of a Scripture verse came to mind where Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21–22). Over and over, the Lord kept bringing up these Scripture verses to me, but I couldn’t locate the verses in my Bible, even though they were some of my favorite Scriptures and very familiar to me. I wrote in my journal at the beginning of February how my inability to sleep was linked with my need to forgive. It felt as though I was doing everything in my power to choose forgiveness.

About a month later, I was still struggling to sleep so I went to the altar at my church to ask for prayer. A team of prayer counselors was available to stay after the worship service for those in need of a one-on-one prayer time. A sweet woman named Cindy walked over to me and began speaking softly, saying, “Would you like to come to the counseling room for more prayer?” I’m sure she could see the sadness in my eyes.

“Yes,” I said, with a pitiful tone in my voice.

Cindy and I walked into a room, we sat down together, and she began asking me questions like: “What’s going on in your life?” I was in such a place of turmoil that I could only speak a few words.

I said, “My daughter and I are having trouble sleeping.” And that was all I felt like saying. She prayed with me, told me that she was teaching a Sunday school class about forgiveness, and handed me a piece of paper with some Scriptures she wanted me to look up when I had the chance.

Even though nothing earth-shaking seemed to happen in that moment of praying with Cindy, my spirit felt a difference. After I returned home, I opened my Bible to the Scriptures she had written down for me. As my eyes focused onto the words, I began to weep. It was Matthew 18:21–35. She had written down the exact Scriptures the Lord had already been bringing up in my prayer time. That was a pivotal moment for me and I saw the realness of Jesus in a way I had never seen Him before in my life. I couldn’t deny that the Lord was working mightily in this situation, especially since this happened in a church where the gifts of the Spirit were not prevalent or widely accepted. I knew that only God Himself could orchestrate it for someone I had never met to give me a word of knowledge straight from the heart of Christ.

Two days later, I received a note of encouragement from Cindy.

Amy,

I was praying for you and your family this morning and Psalm 4:8 is very encouraging… “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” May God grant rest and peace to you and your daughter. Stand firm in your faith. Keep praying until God answers. Wait on the Lord!

Love in Christ,
Cindy A.

I wept again as I read her words—I knew it was a direct message of hope from God for me. The very thing I had prayed for and written in my prayer journal in the weeks prior to meeting Cindy was in her note. “May God grant ‘rest and peace’ to you…” This was a sign to me that God had heard my prayers and that He would answer them. Until this day, I have kept that note tucked inside my Bible as a reminder of where I once was and how Christ redeemed my broken past.

I never saw Cindy again after our prayer time together—mainly because the church has over 14,000 members. I found her address in the church directory and wrote her a long letter thanking her for the compassion she had showed to me, and I shared how her words had strengthened my faith. It’s amazing how God can use a complete stranger in such a powerful way to bring lifelong positive effects.

That was the beginning of a new kind of faith for me. The closeness I had felt to Christ during my youth was restored as I began seeking Him more. God rekindled the flame I had as a teenage girl. He restored me to an innocent girl—one who is fully dependent on her Creator. I returned to the place I was meant to be. I returned to my first love.

My problems had not disappeared, but I began to see God working in the midst of the struggles. A defining moment for me was on a day that I heard a still, small voice in my spirit for the first time in such a distinct way. Holy Spirit goose bumps rose all over my arms as I heard God saying, “I created the universe. I can certainly fix the problems in your life.” I knew without a shadow of doubt that the voice I heard in my heart was God. In a miraculous way, my anxiety left that day as I focused on God’s Word and continued to pray.

My close friend Bonnie encouraged me to listen to worship music continually and to meditate on Bible verses every day. Bonnie’s words of encouragement were a reminder of the faith steps my mother and grandmother had already taught me. With the encouragement of my loved ones and by communing with Christ, I was able to begin walking in forgiveness toward my husband. The walls that were separating our hearts began to come down brick by brick. It was the beginning of a deep healing in our marriage that ultimately took years to complete. Our marriage is a true miracle. It’s not perfect—no marriage is flawless. But because of the redemptive power in the blood of Christ, we love and forgive each other daily, so that we may remain close to God and to one another.

In that tumultuous season, we came to realize that prayer was the only thing that could permanently change our lives. We began to pray together as a family every night. One by one, Michael, Christa, and I would take turns praying out loud with each other. It wasn’t long before the debilitating darkness began to dissipate. A few weeks after my son Thomas was born, Christa could sleep in her own bed and not feel panicked without me by her side. By the time Thomas was eight months old, I had gone from physical and mental exhaustion to training for and running my first half-marathon race. The difference prayer had made truly was miraculous.

That was a small beginning for me in the discipline of prayer. It’s amazing how, as humans, we need adversity to push us toward God and prayer. It seems that when things are going well, we think we don’t need to pray. Perhaps that’s when we need to pray the most.

I’ve discovered that a life without prayer is like taking a sailboat out to sea and dismantling the sails. Prayer is what brings God’s power into full sail in our lives. Even though I haven’t always been faithful to pray, the Lord has been faithful to guide me and show me the need for prayer in beautiful and mysterious ways.

This is the end of the book excerpt.

Every time I think about my past, I am reminded that a life without prayer is a life without real peace.

Prayer connects us to God so that we can hear His still, small voice in our hearts. His voice soothes. His voice comforts. His voice is the anchor of our souls.

Lord,

Let us be drawn to Your heart each day. Cleanse our hearts of any iniquities that could be hindering us from hearing Your voice clearly. Let us walk daily in humility and with kindness toward all people. Let us be still and know that You are God and that You have good plans for all your children. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

The Proverbs Scripture reference was taken from The Message.

THE POWER OF PRAYER

Rejoice in Hope

Sometimes it takes darkness to realize how much we need prayer in our lives. I learned this lesson during the lowest of lows in my own life.

It was springtime in 1997. It should’ve been a happy season for me as I had recently given birth to my second child, a son. But instead of feeling joy, I had an overwhelming sense of despair and a case of postpartum depression that I couldn’t shake off without a true, divine intervention. I was in a deep pita place of desperation. I remember wanting to die.

It seemed that everything good in my life had been lost. My marriage was broken, our finances were a complete mess, and my seven-year-old daughter was feeling the stress in our home. The weight of all my struggles caused hopelessness to fill my soul. Because of a busy life of church activities, working tirelessly, and striving to please people, my prayers had become last resort petitions to God instead of daily communion with Him. I felt as though I was surrounded by a thick, dark cloud. My personal journal revealed the desperation in my soul.

May 22, 1997: God, do You hate me? I feel so helpless. Please show me Your love. Please make a way for me out of this.

Deep in my heart, I knew the only answer for me was the power of the resurrected Christ to pull me up out of my desperation and awaken my soul with His healing light. Those desperate prayers were the seeds that eventually grew into a more disciplined life of prayer.

Visit crunchylibrarian.com to read the rest of the story. I’m so honored to have a guest post over at Amy Dane’s awesome blog!


 

FREE E-BOOK UNTIL 1/29/14

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I’m excited to share that my eBook Prayers of a Mother’s Heart is being offered free through January 29th. I hope you’ll grab yourself a copy at Amazon.com.

Lord,

Help us to be filled to overflowing with a desire to pray passionately for our children until we see every promise fulfilled and every prayer answered. Let Christ prepare His chosen generation, His royal priesthood to be a people for His own. Let our children bring forth the praises of the One who has brought them out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (King James 2000 Bible)

RESTING IN GOD’S PRESENCE

Rest in Christ

The rain was gently and slowly coming down. I could hear the pitter-patter on the roof over my head as I knelt down before the Lord. I was quiet and still. There was no sound around meonly the gentle, soothing sound of the raindrops. It reminded me of the softness of Christ’s Spirit, His soothing love, and gentleness.

I asked the Lord to pour out His Spirit all over me like rain. He did. A soft, gentle love came rushing over me. I was frozen in the moment. His Spirit was holding me tight. I knew He was there with me. Suddenly I knew the vastness of His being. I realized how small I am in his presence. I am nothing without Him. He is everything to me in this dark world.

Tears came over me as I thought about the many times I have bowed before Him with selfish motives. Many times I had made it about me. This was very different. It was all about Him, His power, and His strength. His love consumed me. I better understood what it means to die to myself.

In those moments, my needs were far from my thoughts. I was in the midst of the Famous One. I was in awe. I was overcome by Him. I wanted time to stop. I didn’t want to move. In His presence, I was speechless.

Lord, You are beautiful and holy and perfect. Thank You for Your never-ending love and grace. Let us rest in Your presence this Christmas season and always. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

This post was originally written in 2009.

SACRED MOMENTS SWINGING BY THE TREE

Amy's Pictures 802

As a young girl, I lived next door to my grandparents for several years. Every day, after school, I would spend my afternoons hanging out at their house. They lived on a beautiful piece of land in North Georgia surrounded by rolling cow pastures and mountains in the distance. The beauty at their house was magnified by the peace and serenity in the atmosphere.

As I grew older, I realized the peace at their home came from Christ and His presence. My grandfather, whom I called, “Poppy” was a praying man. He was left fatherless when his daddy died on his tenth birthday. Without an earthly father, he turned to his heavenly Father to fill the void in his life.

Poppy’s love for Christ influenced me.

Some of my greatest memories as a child are of the times I sat in a wooden swing that was positioned in front of a big old tree. I would sit for what seemed like hours with Poppy by my side, along with one of his cats nestled in between us. As the cat purred, and the old swing screeched in the wind, I could feel the Spirit of God and the peace that came from within Poppy’s soul.

I tasted the presence of God in those sacred moments swinging by the tree. My spirit was touched and a desire was born in my heart to seek after Christthe one and only way to find true peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Tree.” Today, it took me twenty extra minutes to write this piece. This post was written in loving memory of Alvin Harper (1916-2012).

The above photo of my grandfather’s swing was taken shortly after he passed away. I now have the swing at my house and will always be grateful for the legacy of prayer that Poppy left behind.

Five Minute Friday

RESTING IN THE TRUTH

She wiped his feet with her hair by J M Hartley

Bowing down with my head on the floor is the place where I feel the cares of this life and the memories of hurtful words spoken by others melt away. As my tears fall onto the feet of Jesus, in His gentle way, He wipes my tears away and tells me the truth, “Amy, you are my beloved one; you are precious and beautiful to Me.”

In those times of solitude, I am filled up and ready to face another day because I know the truth of who I am. I know without a shadow of doubt that I belong to Christ and nothing else matters after realizing He is all I needthat He is my truth and my everything.

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Truth.”

I invite you to listen to this heavenly worship song by Kari Jobe.

Five Minute Friday

THE STOLEN RED CAR

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I knew something was wrong when I heard my husband’s words over the telephone. “Please don’t get upset with me over what I’m about to tell you,” Michael said with a stressed tone and a sense of urgency in his voice. “My car was just stolen. I ran into the convenience store at a gas station really quickly; when I came back out, my car was gone.” I didn’t get upset with Michael, but my heart sank into my stomach with concern as I listened to his words.

Thoughts went swirling through my mind. Actually the thoughts were more like race cars speeding through my head at ninety miles per hour. What are we going to do? How can this possibly turn out good? That car is necessary for us to make it.

The little red Honda that was taken from us that day had been given to us by a sweet widow in our church. God had laid it on her heart to give it to us during a very trying season for us.  It was about seven years ago that my husband was supporting our family by delivering pizzas  six to seven days a week while I home-schooled our children and worked various side jobs like babysitting and teaching dance to young children.

At the time we were given the car we chose not to have full insurance coverage because we needed to save every little penny we could. We only had liability insurance to cover the damage done to another person’s vehicle. I questioned whether or not that was a wise decision.

After I let the shock sink in, I hurried and picked up Michael in our other vehicle which was a huge station wagon that guzzled gas. As I was driving, I continued to ponder the reality of the situation. How could Michael use our gas-guzzling station wagon to deliver pizza? The cost of the gas would eat up the measly hourly wage he was making. And his tips were almost always barely enough to make a difference for our family.

Later, when Michael and I sat down to talk about our options, we realized we really only had one option. We had to pray and trust God to return our car.

We knew it would take a miracle. I had heard of stories when cars were stolen and later found fully stripped down. I quickly shut those thoughts out of my mind and prayed, “Lord, return to us what has been stolen. We need Your help. With You all things are possible.”

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A sweet friend believed and trusted for the impossible, along with my husband and me. I was ecstatic when a few weeks later Michael received a call from a police officer. His words were sweetness to our souls, “We’ve recovered your car.” The police had found the car abandoned on the side of the road less than an hour from our house.

Amazement rose up in my spirit when we went to retrieve our car from the wrecker service lot. Not only had the car been returned. It had been upgraded. The thief had replaced our cheap hubcaps with alloy wheels.

We celebrated that day. And even though that hard season has been over now for a number of years, I’ll always remember how God used a little red Honda to show us that He truly does restore what the locusts have eaten.

“And I restore or replace for you the years that the locust have eaten…” Joel 2:25 (Amplified Bible)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Red.”  Today, I was typing as fast as I possibly could to be able to finish writing this story. It took me about fifteen minutes.

Five Minute Friday