Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Conversation Begins: Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5-18This post is the first of our discussions about the many different kinds of prayer. Considering the holiday, Thanksgiving seems like a great place to start.

An obscure childhood memory popped into my mind this week regarding this theme. I was only five- or six-years-old when this happened, so the details may or may not have happened exactly as I recall. If my mom reads this and calls to correct me, I promise to post an update. For now, here’s the story as I remember it:

My mother, little brother, and I were at the check-out stand at the grocery store. While mom was paying for our groceries, the somewhat elderly (from my point of view, at least) gentleman who was bagging the groceries leaned over to offer my brother and me some candy. (This was back in the days when this was still considered a nice thing to do, not something that should get you arrested.)

He asked me if I wanted a piece of candy. I looked at my mom. She nodded, so I said, “Yes, please.”

He started to hand over the treat, then pulled it back and asked, “What else do you say?”

What else was there to say? Confused, I said the only thing I could think of: “Yes, I want the candy, please.” [To continue reading, click here.]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Help Do We Receive to Pray?

Romans 8-26

The conversation begins . . . prayer. Have you started this conversation yet?

My hope as I write this series is that it will encourage anyone who stumbles across it to discover how easy it is to talk to God. I want people to become comfortable with prayer because I know that the thought of praying to the One and Only, Almighty Creator of the Universe intimidates some people. But God encourages us to come to Him. Anyone who sincerely wants to can talk to Him about anything on behalf of anyone at anytime, anywhere. As we do this, seeking to share our lives with the God Who loves us more than anyone else ever can while attempting to get to know Him better, we’ll begin to recognize His response.

But that’s getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. First we simply need to begin to pray. So, just in case you are still feeling a little bit intimidated about talking to God, today I want to show you the help He provides. That’s right. God will actually help us to pray; He is that serious about wanting us to come to Him.

  • Let’s look at the Holy Spirit first. Romans 8:26-27 is one of my favorite passages on prayer:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

If ever we want to pray but find ourselves at a loss for words, God’s Spirit is right there with us uttering exactly the right ones. [To continue reading, click here.]

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving and Prayer

Thanksgiving and Prayer
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people.”Colossians 1:3-4

Paul starts his letter to the Colossian church with thanksgiving and prayer. He tells them that he is thankful for them and why. He is thankful for them because he’s heard of their faith in Christ and their love for His people.

  • Who are you thankful for today and why?

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.”Colossians 1:9

Because Paul is thankful for the Colossians, he and his ministry team pray for them. [To read about their prayers, click here.]

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When Can We Pray?

The Conversation Begins
Two more W’s! That’s all I have. Two more questions starting with one of the five W’s and then we’re moving on in this series to explore as many different kinds of prayer as I can think of. (There are 23 on my list so far.) For fun, I invite you to brainstorm your own list, keep it to yourself for now, check off the kinds of prayer I write about each week, then let me know at the end if I missed anything, so I can add it to my list. I may even invite you to write a guest post about it!

Today, however, I want to talk about when. When can we pray? My short answer, of course, is anytime we want to talk to God. He’s always present. He never sleeps. He will hear our prayers whenever we want to talk to Him. One of my favorite Bible verses about prayer shows this: “But Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray” (Luke 5:16, NCV) Whenever Jesus felt the need to talk with His Father, He made Himself scarce so He could. God invites us to do the same. [To continue reading, click here.]

Friday, November 6, 2015

Who Can We Pray For?

The Conversation BeginsIf you've been following this series, you already know the answer to this question. We can pray for anyone whose name or face comes to mind. In fact, if their name or face comes to mind, we can get in the habit of considering it a call to prayer. If we're aware that God's Spirit is with us always and learn to pay attention to His prompts, He'll call us to pray for others more often than you may think. I've written about this in Parachute Prayer: the Practice of Praying Continually. I invite you read that book to learn more about this discipline.*

Here are a few ideas for now:
  1. We can pray for God. Jesus did! In The Lord's Prayer, He prayed that God's kingdom would come and His will be done.  We can ask for this, too. Does God need our prayers in order for His purposes to be accomplished? Ultimately, I don't think so. I suspect the prayer for God is really for our benefit and for the benefit of those around us. When we ask for God's kingdom to come and His will be done, we'll become more aware of ways we can participate. We'll become more willing and eager to participate. God's Spirit will work through us to draw others into the action, too.
  2. We can pray for our families.
  3. Who We Can Pray For
  4. We can pray for our friends.
  5. We can pray for ourselves.
  6. We can pray for our churches.
  7. We can pray for our communities.
  8. We can pray for people who serve our families and communities.
  9. We can pray for our nation.
  10. We can pray for our world.
  11. We can pray for strangers we encounter while out and about.
  12. We can pray about needs we see on the internet, in the paper, or on TV.
We can pray for specifics if we know them, but if we don't and sense a reason to pray, we can pray generically. God knows what's going on in other people's lives even when we don't. Going one step further, we don't even have to wait until we sense that someone needs a prayer. If we're sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight, we can talk to God about the fellow travelers who come into view. If someone treats us with unexpected kindness—or undeserved grumpiness—we can whisper a prayer for that person as we go on our way. One deserves a blessing; the other may need it desperately.

Father, please make us sensitive to Your Spirit's call to pray—for anyone, anywhere. You know the whole world's needs. Thank You for inviting us to participate as You work in our world. Thy Kingdom come, Lord. Amen.

*If you're starting to think about Christmas, Parachute Prayer even has a section on praying through the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and more. To order a copy from, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Finding the Meaning in Meaningless

I woke up early this morning. Following my usual routine, only earlier, I got my first cup of coffee, sat down with my Bible, devotional books, and journal, and started my day. I asked God to show me His message for me today. Then I opened my Bible to find this:


Our God has a sense of humor. I laughed right out loud. Thankfully, I know that life isn't meaningless and that the author of Ecclesiastes knew it, too. At least he'd learned it by the time he finished writing his book. From some of what I read today, though, I think he knew it sooner, too. [To continue reading, click here.]

Thursday, October 29, 2015

How Do We Pray?

How We PrayWelcome to the fifth installment of The Conversation Begins, my 31+ non-consecutive-day series on prayer. (If you missed the first four posts, you can click here and scroll down to read through them. The oldest posts will be at the bottom of the page.)

Today I want to talk about how. How do we pray?

We simply talk to God.

God doesn’t make prayer complicated because He loves us and He wants to hear our voices. He also wants us to learn to listen for His, but that’s a subject for another post—or two—or more. Learning to recognize God’s voice is a skill to develop over the course of a lifetime, perhaps the most worthwhile skill we can develop in the time we have on Earth.

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He didn’t tell them to bow their heads and close their eyes, to kneel or lie prostrate. He simply gave them words. We call these, The Lord’s Prayer, of course, and they model prayer perfectly! (Of course.) Many books and sermons have been written on this prayer, so I’m not going to analyze it here except to note that this prayer acknowledges God’s Fatherhood, sovereignty, and holiness, surrenders our will to God’s, asks God to meet needs, asks forgiveness and forgives others, seeks protection from temptation and evil, and ends in worship of our always-worthy God. These are elements of prayer we can strive to cover in our conversations with Him every day.

But we don’t have to cover them all every time we pray. [To continue reading, click here.]

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Praying Our Way through Fear

Not So Evil Clown
October. The month when people tend to celebrate all things scary. I don't take it too seriously. My husband and I don't decorate, but I don't mind if the neighbors do. Bats, cats, pumpkins, skeletons, evil clowns . . . wait . . . no, no, no! Our neighbor across the street has actually plastered a clown face three times the size of his front door to the front of his house - the house that is facing mine! (This morning, I'm kind of hoping that the storm melted it down. Or does that only work for witches?) Clowns are fearsome things.

So I have a new Parachute Prayer today. When we see things that frighten us, let's pray. Let's let these fearsome things remind us to ask God for courage and for protection - for ourselves, for our families, from evils seen and unseen. Then let's thank God for using these to remind us He is there. He is with us. And He is bigger than anything!

Father, thank You for watching over us. Thank You for Your presence, for Your protection, and for the courage that comes from knowing You are here. We love You, Lord! Amen.

You can find more Parachute Prayers in my book about them. Click here to order from Amazon.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We Need Him; O We Need Him

I woke up with a song in my head today. It’s one I haven’t heard in years, so I have no idea where it came from just out of the blue like this. Well, I do have some idea, and I’m thankful. It’s been playing over and over again all day, like a comforting lullaby in the midst of a tumultuous week. God knew I needed this—something I didn’t even know I needed myself. He is so good to provide.

The song? I Need Thee Every Hour. Raise your hand if you know it! If you don’t, click here to listen on YouTube. Here are the words (written by Annie S. Hawks in 1872):

Anytime Anything Anywhere
I need Thee ev’ry hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford.

I need Thee ev’ry hour;
Stay Thou Nearby.
Temptations lose their pow’r
When Thou art nigh.

I need Thee ev’ry hour,
In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
Or life is vain.

I need Thee ev’ry hour,
Most Holy One.
O make me Thine indeed,
Thou blessed Son!

I need Thee;
O I need Thee!
Ev’ry hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior;
I come to Thee!

It occurs to me that this song answers the next two prayer questions: When can we pray? and Why do we pray? [To continue reading, click here.]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Grace: The Stuff of Which Priceless Pearls are Made

Grace is The Stuff“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands.”Psalm 119:165-166

As I continue to study the topic of grace in my weekly Bible study group, I’ve been presented with many examples of people trying to find the grace to forgive the big stuff—the seemingly unforgivable, usually one-time, wrongs. At the same time, I’m trying to figure out how to come up with the grace to forgive little irritants—recurring annoyances that I must encounter again and again. Sometimes we are bound to people or circumstances that cause us much stress. How do we respond with grace? [To continue reading, click here.]