Unheard Prayers

Unheard Prayers

Do you ever feel like your prayers are pointless? Like they are just words or thoughts that get uttered into the wind to be whisked away and never be found again?

I spent many a sleepless night begging, pleading for God to make my baby fall asleep so I could finally sleep myself. “PLEASE God! Help me! She won’t sleep and I can’t sleep tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I feel like I’m losing it. PLEASE!”

I cried a lot of tears. The knowing that I wouldn’t be able to make up for lost sleep, that I would need to be present for my toddler the next day… made every cry from my baby that much more piercing. 

It felt like God didn’t hear me, or worse, that He didn’t care.

I don’t know why God chose not to gratify my every request for sleep, but looking back it is easy to see the battle that was taking place with the enemy.

The lies. Oh, those lies: “God isn’t coming through for you.” “You might as well not pray at all.” “You aren’t worth his time.” “No one sees you.”

Do you know who the enemy likes to attack? Those he deems a threat. He waits for a weak spot to appear, for a time when our pursuit of God is dwindling to make his first move. It’s a subtle move to keep us none the wiser.

Our best counter-attack is to call the lies out for what they are. To proclaim TRUTH in their stead. 

Perhaps you are in a time of pouring your heart out to God and it feels like He is silent. The enemy is whispering lies, trying to convince you that your case is hopeless and the prayers are not worth your time.

Do NOT give in. I don’t know your circumstances, I don’t know God’s reasons for saying yes, or no, or for remaining silent. But if the enemy is working this hard to dissuade you from pursuing the Almighty, then my guess is that the Almighty has some mighty plans in store for you!

Here are some things I know about prayer…

-Prayer is powerful and effective
-Prayer changes things
-God hears our prayers and He answers them
-God loves it when we pray
-The Bible tells us to pray…so, by all means, we pray

We pray our hearts out and we lay our petitions at the feet of our Lord. We surrender our lives, our circumstances, our everything to Him. He feels our pain and sees our need and He takes care of us. Just like a parent, His wisdom is better than our own. We can trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense.

It can be hard sometimes. It can be really, truly beautiful other times. So, even though we may not always understand how this prayer thing works, we are to keep going after it and after it and after it like our lives depend upon it.

“But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalm 66:19-20

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How to Ruin a Pity Party

Image was created by my sweet friend, Brett Redgate. She is so talented!

*This post was written in real time, but I’m just now publishing it several months later. I think I personally need this reminder!!*

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Truth be told, I went to bed on the wrong side and then woke up ready to gripe about all the “injustices” in my life. So, out of habit, and without any sort of desire to change my heart, I sat down to do my quiet time.

Pity party mistake #1: Have a moment of quiet to spend with God.

Pity party mistake #2: Open your YouVersion app and pull up the next day in your New Day, New You reading plan by Joyce Meyer.

This is such a bad idea when you want to start your day spewing venom.

The title of the day’s devotional content? Complain and Remain, Praise and Be Raised. I mean, really.

Then, here’s the kicker. This is where it gets really good. The main verse she references in her devotional is Ephesians 4:29. You know, the one that’s hanging up on a huge wooden sign in the middle of my living room. The one that essentially says not to spew venom but only speak words of life. Bah, humbug.

Begrudgingly, I agreed with Ms. Meyer and decided to recognize my complaining attitude as sin and I chose to praise God instead.

What freedom we find in Christ! The enemy has been defeated. We can choose to walk in freedom or let the enemy weasel his way into our lives. There is so much hope to be found when we recognize the work of the devil and call him out on it. There is so much joy to be found when we surrender our circumstances to the Lord and praise Him in every situation.

It was really hard to do this at the beginning of the day, but by the end of it I could see the hand of God working in my life. By choosing joy, I was able to encourage others instead of put a damper on their day. By choosing to focus my attention on the goodness of God, I managed to forget why I was so angry in the first place.

I’m expecting a long night tonight as the baby is working on some new teeth. But tonight, instead of complaining, I choose to praise the Name of the One who entrusted me with this precious child.

Tonight, I choose joy.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT)

21 Days and Counting…

We are wrapping up the final days of 21 days of prayer and fasting at my church. As my last post stated, I started out a bit rocky. However, in the past two weeks I feel like I am experiencing significant changes.

My main objective was to get up each morning at 6 so I could dedicate the first part of my day to the Lord. Did I do this perfectly? No. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely.

(The above creative video was made by our church’s amazing production team specifically for this period of fasting.)

Here are a few things that I have discovered in my efforts to wake up early on a consistent basis:

– Setting an alarm is a necessity. If you are awake at 5, this does not mean you will be awake at 6. Also, check the alarm setting on your phone to make sure it has a ringer. If not, you will wake up at 6:30 with a very silent “Alarm” message flashing on your phone.

– The enemy will use every tactic possible to keep you from your appointment with God. Things like, children waking up uncharacteristically throughout the night, illnesses, and extra little ones in your bed. This is a sign that God wants to do something BIG in your life. Don’t let the enemy steal this time from you!

– Find something that helps you focus. I personally find it difficult to pray for an hour straight. It has helped me to turn on my worship music, write out my prayers, or even to pray while coloring. Taking a shower right away and turning on bright lights is a great way to help your body wake up so you don’t fall back asleep while praying!

– By far, the most beneficial thing I have done during these morning prayer times is write out my prayers. I’ve had journals in the past, but this time I typed out my prayers and what I was learning on the computer. I type rather quickly, so I was less likely to lose my train of thought. I also love having the ability to look back on the things that I have prayed and see how God has answered my prayers. One morning in particular, I was praying about fear and took the opportunity to search for and write out verses on how we do not have to be afraid. This was a powerful way to start my day!

As a side note, I have been blown away by the love and encouragement I have received from friends during these 21 days. I have received texts, cards, and offers to watch my children so I could go to prayer at church. I also had several people come up to me and encourage me in some way at one of the special Wednesday night services. It has been so heartwarming to have been on the receiving end of such encouragement. This makes me want to do the same for others! Our words have such a powerful impact on those around us. Let our impact be a positive one!

Final takeaway? It’s all worth it. I am going to continue to dedicate my mornings to the Lord. There is no better way to begin my day.

“Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3; NLT)

Fast Asleep

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Every August and January, my church holds a 21 day period of fasting. The main goal is to shift our focus from what we think we need, so that we ultimately become dependent on our relationship with Christ.

Each time, when deciding what to fast, I ask myself,”What is something I am dependent upon? What is something that would allow me more time in prayer if I gave it up?” I then try to nail down some specific things I am praying for during that season.

I usually do a limited food fast and give up some or all forms of media. It’s amazing how giving up something so small can help quiet my thoughts and bring me closer to the Spirit. After doing this for several years, I’ve learned that I often get what I put into this season of fasting. I’ve even developed healthier habits.

That being said, this time around I felt led to do something a little different. I decided I would fast sleep.

Okay, not all sleep. That’s ridiculous. But let’s be real – sleep can be a huge idol for me. I talk about it a LOT. I love sleep and allow who I am to be dictated by how many hours I have procured.

At 15 months old, the baby has FINALLY started consistently sleeping through the night. It’s amazing! But the thing is, I still find it hard to get up before my girls wake up. So, my main goal during this period of fasting is to get up every morning at 6 to read my Bible, pray, listen, worship, and ultimately devote my day to Him.

Our lead pastor has been using the phrase, “Before I start my day, God has something to say!” This is such a true statement. I’ve been seeking God for a long time, and I’m much more refreshed and ready to tackle all that life throws at me when I give God the first moments of my day.

So, how’s it going?

We are almost a week in, and it has been hard. HARD. I’ve kinda failed. I’m a pastor’s wife and I’ve FAILED. Why am I telling you this? Through this failure, I am encouraged. If Satan is working so diligently to keep me away from this chunk of time with God, there must be something extra special I will find in it. I am more determined and cannot wait to see all that God has to say to me.

We have a little over two weeks left in the fast. If you happen to see me around, could you do me a favor? Please ask me how this waking up at 6 thing is going, because who I am does not depend on sleep. Who I am depends on Christ in me.

“for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, ‘Awake, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:14; NLT)

Hope in Our Contradictions

Hot spring
Cold mountain air combined with a hot spring creates steam. This picture was taken at Yellowstone National Park while we were on our honeymoon.

My youngest daughter is 13 1/2 months old and has yet to sleep an entire night without waking up. At this point, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but things were pretty touchy for a while.

For what felt like ages, her best sleep was when she slept on me. Literally, me on my back, the two of us tummy to tummy. I hated it and loved it at the same time.

At not even a week old, this girl new the best way to sleep was to hold her mommy hostage.
At not even a week old, this girl new the best way to sleep was to hold her mommy hostage.

One morning in particular, I woke up before her and drank in the snuggles. I knew that time would be short-lived and that I should enjoy the moment. But then, realizing the aches from sleeping in the same position all night, my mind wandered to a day when she would join big sister in her room and sleep in her own bed. Oh, to have my bed back. To have my room back. To be able to roll over without fear of waking the baby. I so longed for a decent night of sleep that I forgot the beauty of the little one breathing in sync with me.

And then I realized so much of my life is like that. I have good intentions, but don’t always meet them. Sometimes it seems like my life is a series of contradictions.

  • My desire is for God to be first in my life, but too often those few extra minutes of sleep win out over diving into the Word.
  • I wholeheartedly believe that I am married to the world’s greatest husband, but I never seem to be 100% satisfied with how he chooses to love me.
  • I want to speak words of life to the people around me, but feel like I’m always trying to take my foot out of my mouth.
  • I hope to get back to my pre-baby body, but happily eat a slice of cake while neglecting my exercise routine.
  • I have so many tasks and goals I wish to accomplish, but I waste those precious moments of free time aimlessly scrolling through social media.

Despite all my efforts I constantly get it wrong and mess things up. It is so good to know that my mistakes are not the end all be all. With God, these mistakes are forgotten and my slate is wiped clean. My God loves me in my mess and meets me in my needs. I am so incredibly thankful that I can lean on Him in this journey.

“I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:21-25a, NLT)