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The Fear of Man

You know when you are at Bible study early (some of you don’t know anything about this) and everyone is just hanging around, fellowshipping? There’s usually food, lots of stories to tell, and loads of laughter. Finally someone will call the group to order to start the study. Plates of snacks and cups of drinks are gathered along with Bibles and notebooks. You all sit down and the room-echoing, inevitable question comes: “Does someone want to open us in prayer?” Silence. The atmosphere that just a minute ago was teeming with life is now dead.

Dear Church, why don’t we love to pray?

Some person, (probably one of the same 2 or 3 that usually do) will eventually volunteer to pray and study begins. Maybe you have a study guide you are following or maybe you all simply read through part of God’s Word and have gathered to discuss it. “What did you all think of this week’s reading?” Silence. Deafening Silence.

Beloved Church, why don’t we LOVE and LONG to talk about our Savior?

Why is Christ not our favorite topic? Why are our conversations around God’s Word not as passionate and robust as those we have about food, news, sports, music, taxes, politics, books, etc? Why does it feel like we have to drag people kicking and screaming to have a full conversation?

I think a lot of it has to do with fear. Specifically, fear of man. We are so concerned about how our prayers sound to those listening that we forget about the God we are praying to. We forget that we really should be mindful of what he thinks and remember that he not only hears us but sees our heart attitudes and motives. Our friends don’t even compare.

We don’t answer questions in Bible study because what if our answer is wrong? What will people think if they find out we don’t know it all? So we sit with our mouths shut and agree with the other people talking instead. I can say with honesty that some of the best discussions I’ve had in studies are when people didn’t know the answer to something. It means we all had to look at the text deeper and think harder. And some of the most genuine prayers have come from broken hearts that stumble through their words.

Fear of man has paralyzed people. Not just in Bible study but that’s the area I’m focusing on today. Proverbs 29:25 says:

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Do you see how this kind of fear is a snare? It’s a trust issue. Have you made people bigger than God in your mind? Do their opinions matter more than his? Are you all caught up in pleasing people or are you trusting in the only One who can keep you safe?

The bigger our view of God is, the smaller man looks.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2020 in Bible

 

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A Martha Attitude

Guys, I had a total Martha moment on Sunday. Do you know what I mean if I say that? You know when Jesus is at Mary and Martha’s house in Luke 10 and Martha is flying about, trying to get everything ready and Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet? Jesus says that, although Martha’s efforts are commedable, Mary has chosen the better thing.

Usually, I’m a Martha/Mary combo. A common thing in women’s Bible studies on this passage is to say which one you are more like and I’m never sure where to put myself. I work SUPER hard to prepare for people coming to my house so that when they arrive, I can just enjoy their company. I try to get business talk out of the way before Sundays so that at church, my mind is clear and I can worship and learn without hindrances.

Not so this Sunday. To set the stage (not give excuses), I feel like I haven’t slept since April. For. Real. So I’m tired but that’s not new. What’s new is that all the stores in the area have suddenly run OUT OF MY COFFEE. I drink half-caff (yeah, it’s gross) because regular makes me jittery. But for a couple weeks now, every time I went to get coffee, it’s been out of stock. What day did I actually run out of my coffee? Sunday. So I used regular. No big deal, I thought. I was also signing for out service on Sunday so I was excited for worship, my head was buzzing from coffee, and I was shaking all over.

It was before service when I saw a friend and walked up to say hi. We had some friendly talk and then I suddenly saw a lot of people coming in that I needed to catch. That’s when my friend said, “So how is your spiritual life going?” Normally, these are the kinds of conversations that I LIVE for but at that particular moment I couldn’t concentrate. “It’s great!” I said. (Which is true, but what a dumb, vague answer!)

I asked about his and he started to share several prayer requests with me. When he finished, I asked if we could pray right then and we did. Now to you this may look like a very productive conversation, but let me tell you, I felt like Martha. Let’s see what Jesus has to say about her:

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

That was me! My brain was all over the place and I did not take the time to sit with this friend. I was distracted with serving, with fellowship, with worship, but those were not the better things! The better thing would have been to focus my attention on the friend who needed care and compassion in that moment. The better thing would have been to listen and share gospel truth with the person in front of me instead of having a fly-by prayer.

Maybe this story sounds familiar to you. Maybe you often have fly-by conversations with your neighbors as you go on walks instead of stopping that FitBit and really getting to know them. Maybe you have given quick prayers that make you feel better but your heart wasn’t in it. Maybe you also need to ask someone to forgive you next Sunday.

If so, praise God! He is teaching and convicting! He is working on you and me to refine us into his image! It’s not fun to see the ugly sin in your life but it does mean that the Holy Spirit is at work and that’s something to be thankful for!

(P.S. I found some half-caff.)

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2020 in encouragment

 

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Before I Say Yes

Guys, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Totally. In fact, the wagon is so far ahead of me that I’m now running behind trying to catch up, gasping for breath. What wagon, you ask? The NO wagon.

I don’t know about you but opportunities to serve and help out are like flies on a hot day. They are swarming around me. And by nature I’m very much a YES! person. That word jumps into my mouth before I can choke it down. But over the past couple of years, I’ve had to watch it. My body and brain have been through a lot and I’ve had to step away from a lot of commitments. I learned to say NO.

Until recently, that is. Christmas came around and suddenly I found myself doing all these things. New Year and my schedule is packed. How did this happen? I ask myself. Ah, I fell off the NO bandwagon. Let me be clear that all of these are GOOD things! All of them! Some of them were asked of me, some I volunteered for, and some nobody volunteered for so I…ummm… volunteered for.

An idea that’s pretty popular in my church (and I think a lot of others too) right now is to “say YES before God asks you.” I first heard this phrase in relation to missions. And I get it- really, I do. I understand the heart attitude it’s driving at. The attitude that gives up what you desire in order to obey the Lord. The attitude that made Isaiah say, “Here I am! Send me.”

But sometimes, the RIGHT answer is NO. This is a rarely taught concept in the church. I was telling my schedule to someone the other day and he said to me, “You know you don’t have to save the world every month, right?” That really stuck with me. It is okay and sometimes RIGHT to say NO to good things. I would rather do a few things excellently than all things half way. Or more accurately, I would rather do a few things excellently and not have to take a week to recover every month because I’ve drained myself of everything I have.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought it would be wise to have a plan. A decision-making plan. So I literally wrote one up the other morning. It’s pretty simple:

Before saying YES:

  1. Have I prayed about it?
  2. Does this honor and glorify God?
  3. Does this move me towards my life goals for this year?
  4. Does this conflict with any previous commitments and/or work schedule?
  5. Is the THOUGHT of this already stressing me out?

This has been SO helpful for me already! Freeing really! The first two are musts, the third is almost a must. That fourth is negotiable. My schedule is flexible but I want to stay committed to the things I’ve said YES to first. The Bible actually has a lot to say on following through on your word. (Eccl. 5:5, Matt. 5:33-37, Num. 30:1-2) So that’s important to me. That last one is a big one for me. Stress is a huge thing for someone with epilepsy and constant headaches. If just thinking about committing to something is giving me more stress, it’s probably not a good idea to do it. I’ve found the stress doesn’t go away, but usually increases. 🙂

I want to be wise with the time and energy that’s been given to me. It’s not endless (believe me, I KNOW.) So if I say NO to something you ask me to do, you can know that I’ve thought it through and prayed about it and it’s almost NEVER because I don’t want to do it. I just can’t always say YES.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in growing

 

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Pointing to the Cross

Well, happy 2019 folks! I’ve been seeing tons of posts about New Year’s Resolutions, year-end recaps, and goals for the next 365 days. It’s funny how one tick of the clock changes how people perceive the world and makes them want to live differently.

Speaking of which, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear my 2019 prayer request so I won’t keep you sitting there much longer. It’s a little…different.

I want to learn how to evangelize better. Maybe this sounds really weird to you. Here’s the thing. I think most people walk away from interactions with me thinking that I’m a really sweet, responsible girl and I HATE that. I want people to walk away from talking to me having heard about Christ. I want the smallest of conversations to point to him and his incredible work on the cross.

I’m not talking here about going on a huge mission trip or anything like that. I mean everyday life. I’m talking about my neighbors, the guy who owns the gas station down the street, my co-workers. These are people I encounter all the time and know that I’m a quote (emphasis on the quote) “good person” but have I actually shared the GOSPEL with them??

To be honest, sometimes I clam up. Either out of fear that I will sound preachy, superior, or unsympathetic, I don’t mention Christ when that’s really what I’m thinking. I’m tired of overthinking things and not letting what he has done flow out of me.

And here’s what I know: We are commanded to be ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) But I was also thinking this week of the verse that says:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48b

I think most times that verse is used in relation to money but as I thought about it I realized that the most precious thing I have been entrusted with is the gospel. How will I use what has been given to me?? I want to be like the faithful and wise steward. We don’t know when Christ is returning and I want to be burdened for those that don’t know him and make the most of the time I have.

That’s my heart’s cry for this year. I know practice will make it more natural. I’ve got some other things up my sleeve too. 🙂

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Do you have anything specific you are praying for this year?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in evangelism

 

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The Contentment Prayer

Is there some kind of award for posting so much in December? Because there definitely should be. Pretty sure this is a record for me. I usually get so busy and posts go out the window. I guess I’ve just been inspired! (People who have been reading the December posts scoff…)

Anyway, if you have read this post or maybe this one…you know that I do something at the beginning of every year. I don’t really make New Years’ resolutions but I pray for a specific thing for God to teach me each year. And I pray for it all year long. Usually it’s an area of weakness that I know I have and I want to work on it through the year.

This year, I was praying for contentment. My life has changed a lot in the past couple years and I knew I wasn’t really happy with it. I felt restless in my walk with the Lord and what he wanted me to be doing with my life. And so on January 1st, I prayed. And I didn’t stop. I also did some studying on contentment and talked with mentors.

*sigh* I had grand plans for this post. I keep a pretty thorough journal and I wanted to go back through it and see how God has worked this year. There have been times when I was going through something and I would be frustrated and suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh! This is about contentment!” And my whole perspective would flip because I could SEE God teaching me. So I picked up my journal to read through it (which is something I never do.) Wanna know how far I made it? January 7th. Sometimes God’s lessons are hard, people. And even though I’m beyond grateful for them, it was painful to read back over it so soon.

I learned a lot about Paul this year. I wanted to know more about this guy who could be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) so I studied him a lot. And one phrase continually stuck in my head. Paul says that he had learned to be content. I think I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t what I thought it was. Contentment isn’t something you ARRIVE at, it’s a continual process of learning. Your situation changes and you learn to be content over and over again and the reason you (and I) can do that is because

Christ. Doesn’t. Change.

There it is. I’ve preached the gospel to myself more this year than any other and even though my life has drastically changed, funny thing, God hasn’t. He is still the same as he was three years ago, ten years ago, 2 thousand years ago. Knowing I can rely on that is a HUGE source of contentment.

I’m SO thankful for the way that God has answered my prayers this year. I do have mine for 2019 but you’ll have to wait for my next post to read about it. 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in contentment

 

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Pressuring Missionaries

Almost every week at my church we have what we call a Ministry Minute. They can be about all sorts of things like missionary updates, outreach opportunities, community events we are helping with, etc. It’s to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on and how they can be involved. But recently we’ve started doing something really cool: we’ve been able to Skype our overseas missionaries during that time and get their updates directly from them. It’s super neat. Way to go, Tech Team!

A couple of Sundays ago, we were Skyping a couple in Spain (ok, just how awesome is that?) and a thought occurred to me as they were telling us ways that God was working through them.

We expect a lot from our missionaries. I was sitting listening with this huge smile on my face and suddenly I felt how much pressure these people must feel from us. (My smile probably whipped right off as I worked this out in my head.)

But think about it. Missionaries come back to the States to either raise support or they may be on a break but everyone everywhere wants to know what God is doing and how he’s working. You know what? What if they are in a spiritual desert?? What if they feel like they are preaching to stones and NO ONE is responding? Would they feel like they could be honest with us?

Also, do we ask people in our own church those questions with the same earnestness? Do you want to know what the Lord is doing in your friends’ lives just as much or are you only interested in the far away?

I’ve been thinking this over and been feeling a little bit more compassionate towards the missionaries I know this week. The more I thought about it, I realized it really applies to anyone working in ministry! They aren’t Jesus. They are people who need to be loved and encouraged just as much as you and I and are often far away from everyone they know. Maybe pray a little more for them as Christmas comes next week.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2018 in church

 

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To Coffee or Not to Coffee?

Growing up our family never drank coffee. My Dad hated the taste of it and my Mom didn’t like any sort of hot drink so I never even tasted coffee until I was an adult. Although we did have a coffee maker we would dust off for guests occasionally and pull our can of years-old coffee out of the freezer to make for them. I actually felt hugely bewildered and almost betrayed the last time I went home and watched as my Dad got coffee at church and found out my Mom drinks it every day. I was in shock. Apparently it’s a thing for them now.

Which I’m okay with because I love coffee. When I moved away from home, my world opened up to the wonderful smell of it in the morning and I grew to enjoy it. It wasn’t the caffeine (a little bit of caffeine makes me pretty shaky), I just loved the taste and the boldness in the morning. I didn’t drink it every day (also a HUGE tea fan…) but a lot of days.

You are probably wondering if I actually have a point with these ramblings or not. Guess you’ll have to wait and find out, huh? Fast forward to 2016. When I started having seizures, I was told that caffeine is a big trigger for most people. I did a little testing with myself and found that to be true. I figured that would be the case since I was already sensitive to caffeine. So I veerrryy sadly cut coffee (uh, because every sane person knows decaf is gross) and my favorite black teas out of my diet to prevent seizures.

Fast forward again (boy, we are just flying through time today, aren’t we?) to about 3 months ago. I was REALLY struggling. A major side effect of my meds is depression. They actually monitor you for it and ask you about it at every appointment. People, it’s a really hard place to be in. To force yourself to take medication that is (finally!) working for one thing but really hurting you emotionally. The meds were also making me SO tired and foggy that I was struggling to do anything. Every day was a battle. As weird as this sounds though, my relationship with the Lord was close. I was learning and growing in Him but struggling at the same time. It’s hard to explain.

And one day, I had had enough. I wanted some coffee and by golly I was going to have some. I did use a small amount of wisdom and got half-caff. It didn’t taste good at all but within a few minutes I could feel my brain becoming clear. The fog was dissipating some. And while I felt a little what I call “seizury” (I think I made that word up), nothing happened and my day ran better.

I have drank half-caff coffee pretty much every day since then. One cup. Actually using the amount they recommend. (Which is new for me. I was always dark roast all the way.) I have a little more energy, and my thoughts are better and more focused. I don’t live in that darkness that was hanging over me before. As best I can put it, the coffee is fighting the depression in some way. I absolutely DO NOT want to be put on medication for it because I know of side effects from those. (Can I mention here that I’m not recommending coffee as medication and if you and your doctor decide anti-depressants are needed, I’m not saying it’s wrong at all! I just don’t want to go that way.)

And the reason I’m telling you all this is because people keep mentioning that I look better and seem like I have more energy. Sometimes I’m at a loss of how to respond to that because for me, it feels fake. I know it’s simply the coffee. And if I were to take that away, things would go right back to how they were before. Back to foggy Kimmy, unable to accomplish or understand what she needs to do for the day. Is that who I am or is Coffee-Kimmy who I am? (Oh thank goodness, I’m just redeemed-Kimmy!)

So I contemplate and pray about this often. Does that seem ridiculous? Praying about coffee? Maybe it is and maybe I’m overthinking it. Anyway, in the interest of being transparent, I wanted to share and get your thoughts on the topic.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Forced to Rest

It’s no real secret that I am tired all the time. Literally. I wake up tired and with a headache and that’s how it is all day long. I’m learning to be content with that. But what most people don’t know is that I have a really hard time resting. I can’t remember the last time I took a nap. My friends tell me all the time, “Oh honey, why don’t you just go curl up with a blanket and take a nap?” And I will smile and say that sounds like a wonderful idea. Because it really does.

I’m on three strong medications that CAUSE sleepiness and wear me out but the one also has a side effect of insomnia that really works. No naps for me. Sad day. I have been known to be so tired that I tell my friends I wish they would just knock me out so my body could get some rest!

Which actually brings me to the point of this post. (Don’t worry, I was getting there.) A month or so ago, I was in a Sunday School class on prayer. And it was a wonderful class. One of the lessons was on praying Scripture and we were talking about Psalm 23. As an example, my teacher asked if someone would be willing to pray that passage and an older lady at my church volunteered.

But as she prayed, something new struck me. Verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Hmmm makes me? Like forces me to lie down, to rest? If I’m honest, there have been many times in my life when I don’t want to rest. When I get so crazy busy and I have seen God slow me down. And if I’m totally honest, I didn’t like it. I wanted to do things my way at my speed. But now that physical rest is SO desirable and out of reach for me, I recognize the importance of it.

But of even greater importance is spiritual rest. Verse 3: “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Whenever I read this I’m reminded of how utterly thankful I am for soul-restoration! How when I’m worn out and tired, my SOUL can still be at rest because of Jesus Christ! How when I can’t find the energy to do anything, somehow I find energy in talking about my Savior and his incredible love! What a thing to praise the Lord for.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in blessing

 

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Lonely in a Crowd

I can’t say that I EVER remember being lonely as a kid. In fact, I’m pretty sure until I moved away from home I still had the idea that usually lonely people were elderly ones who couldn’t get out of the house and sat by themselves for days on end. I had 5 siblings so there was always someone to talk to. And if you got tired of one person, you just went and found another. 🙂

But I’ve grown up a little since then and I know the pain of loneliness. But I also know that most people don’t admit that they are lonely. My friend’s mom has this saying, “If all the lonely people in the world would turn on their porch lights at night then everyone would be a lot less lonely.” Oh, that just makes me laugh. Lonely people don’t TELL others they are lonely! And, from experience, I think I’ve figured out at least one reason why.

There are different types of loneliness. There’s the kind where you actually are alone. When your spouse is out of town for the week on business or when your kids grow up and leave home. I live by myself so I know that every night when I get off work, I will come home to an empty apartment. I will be alone. How about when you are alone in your convictions? When those around you don’t share your faith? That can set you apart and make you feel like an outsider too.

But there’s another kind of loneliness and I actually think it’s worse. When you are surrounded by people and still feel alone. I have often felt this way and it’s taken me a long time to figure it out. How can I be surrounded by my friends and family and STILL FEEL SO LONELY?? Finally a light bulb came on and I realized that (at least for me), while everyone else is present and accounted for, I’M the one not there. My body may be there but my heart and mind feel trapped somewhere else. Somewhere that makes it hard (practically impossible) for others to get there or me to get to where they are.

Maybe this sounds crazy to you. There is a good possibility that I am crazy so just go with it. Or maybe you haven’t experienced this kind of loneliness before. And this is the reason people are afraid to admit they are lonely. They don’t want to make their friends feel bad. And they have found that more “social gatherings” doesn’t help with anything. There doesn’t seem to be an answer.

At this point maybe you were expecting some incredible cure for loneliness? I’m going to have to disappoint. I really don’t have anything to cure but here’s what I know: I KNOW our loving Father never leaves us so we are never truly alone. Talk to him more than ever if you are lonely. Even if you don’t feel like it’s helping: just keep praying and reading his Word. Also, keep in fellowship with his body. Let others know even though YOU. WON’T. LIKE. IT.

I’ll leave you with this quote I read the other day by Paul Matthies on loneliness. As you and I talk with the Lord this week, let’s ask for a deeper joy in Him.

“In Philippians 3:10, Paul uses the phrase, ‘the fellowship of his sufferings.’ So many of us love to enter into the fellowship of God’s joy, but Scripture also calls us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. And sometimes, we don’t need to avoid the pain or numb the pain; we need to look at that pain and ask God for a deeper joy.”

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2018 in contentment

 

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Praying When You’re Crazy Busy

Do you ever feel like you’re crazy busy? Or maybe just crazy? (Either one works for me.) I think when I ask my friends how they are doing or how their week was, one of the most common answers is, “Busy.”

For me, I don’t feel like I have a lot of events or activities going on, my brain feels busy. Like it’s overloaded all the time and trying to catch up. I’m sure others feel that way. So maybe you can relate to this: You sit down to do your devotions in the morning (or whenever is best for you.) What I usually do is open my Bible, ask the Lord to clear my head and focus on what I’m about to read, and then I read a little. Then I spend some time in prayer. And here’s what happens:

“Ah, Lord, you are SO good to us and we totally don’t deserve it…(text comes in, looks at it and puts phone across room to avoid further distractions)…I love how you used Gideon in that story even though he wasn’t strong, it showed your strength and pla…(Geez, the cars are loud today. I wish they would change the  traffic lights back to how they were before.)…Father, please help Natalie today at work to be a light for…(Light bulbs! I forgot to pick up light bulbs at the store! And toilet paper! And toothpaste! Where’s my phone?? I need to make a list before I forget all this!)”

Yeah…anyone relate? I’ve always struggled with the verse that tells us to pray constantly because all I could think of is the amount of focus that would take! BUT I recently read a book that really helped me. It’s very fittingly titled “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung. How can you not like a book with a tag line that reads, “A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem?” I highly recommend it.

Anyway, in one part of the book, Kevin is talking about prayer. Sorry you aren’t going to get any direct quotes but I loaned my copy out so you’re stuck with my memory for today- buy the book. He talks about a concept that has really helped him. The idea is whenever you hear or think of something you should pray for, you do it RIGHT THEN. Pray right then. And then put it out of your mind and trust that God has it.

Maybe this isn’t a mind-blowing concept for some people but it was for me. For some reason, I had the idea that praying constantly meant keeping every single thing I was currently praying about on my mind ALL. THE. TIME. and trying to remember it all. Do you know how exhausting that is?? This idea took such a load off my mind. Now, whenever something comes to my mind that I should pray for, I do, and then I trust that God has it handled (duh), and that he will bring it to my mind as often as I need to remember it. I’ve actually been praying MORE this way. You see, instead of using my brain power to remember my prayer requests, it’s actually being used to pray for them! Who knew?

And in some way, this method has also helped my morning focused prayer time too. Because I pray more through the day, I don’t feel like I have a giant list of things to get through every day and I can just spend time talking to the Lord.

But seriously guys, get the book. It’s full of wisdom AND it’s a short, easy read. You won’t regret it.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2018 in prayer

 

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