When I do all the talking, I can’t hear God! That’s right. You heard me right. Do you ever have that problem? Prayer isn’t just talking. It’s listening, too.
Sometimes, in my eagerness to write, I rush ahead of God. When I don’t wait on Him, I make mistakes – not horrible mistakes, but my writing lacks something.
In other words, I can’t wait. So I write in my own strength, depending on my own abilities. That is not what God wants from me.
How do I know that I rushed ahead of God? Because I realize later that I ignored the still small voice. That’s easy to do. We hear the whisper of God’s Spirit, but do not stop long enough to consider it. We cannot wait. We have to plow on.
This quote by John Piper made an impact on me, “To wait on God means to pause and soberly consider our own inadequacy and the Lord’s all-sufficiency, and to seek counsel and help from the Lord.”
I pray that God will teach me to wait and to listen; and to know the difference between working in my own strength or wholly depending on His.
Scriptures to Ponder
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin….” Zechariah 4:10
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10 NLT
I love to write my prayers in a Prayer Journal, and I’ve noticed that doing this has many benefits including making my posts more personal and timely. As a Christian blogger, there is nothing sweeter to our ears than these four words: “I needed that today!”
Because isn’t that what we desire? – to move our blog to a higher level of ministry – to touch hearts and encourage our friends, new and old?
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.”
Benefits of a Prayer Journal
I hear God’s still small voice more easily when I’m writing in my Prayer Journal. I begin by reading my Bible. Usually, something I read sparks a specific prayer and I follow that leading. Sometimes it turns into a blog post.
2. When I write my prayers, they are more conversational and informal. They get right to what’s on my heart. For example, writing in my Prayer Journal one morning, I prayed, “Lord, I am so excited about my new Study Bible!” I wouldn’t have said that if I were speaking my prayers, which tend to be more formal and structured.
3. That intimacy sometimes leads me to understand what God wants me to write about. For example, on 7/29/19 something I read in my Bible reminded me of Barnabas (whose name means Encourager). I wrote in my Prayer Journal, “Teach me, O Lord, to be an encourager like Barnabas.” When I looked back at my blog posts today, I saw that on 7/30/19 ( the next day), I posted the blog, How To Write An Encouraging Blog. It has already moved up to #2 on my Top Ten Most Popular Posts!
4. Another day, I went outside to pray early in the morning. I don’t consider myself a poet, but watching the birds stirred my heart to write a little poem that I jotted down in my Prayer Journal. That prayer became the inspiration for my 6-29-19 post, My Morning Prayer of Thanks. I think the Lord likes it when we write Him poetry! In Psalms, it is written,
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1 NIV
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a writer, too. Do you write your prayers in a journal? If not, try it, and see if it leads to better, more personal writing. Let me know. My prayer is that we all become better writers and ministers of the Gospel, encouraging one another daily!
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you, today. Comments are welcomed and appreciated.
It all started with that wild-eyed, gray kitten. Little did I know, that kitten was about to completely change everything!
Yesterday morning I wrestled with the thought that our 30 day ‘Who’s Your One?’ prayer campaign was ending. My heart ached as I wrote down as many names as I could think of that didn’t know Jesus.
I prayed fervently, asking God to show me how to ‘carry the burden’ of all these souls. What was I to do to help these people see the truth?
I prayed that I would no longer be only a light. I asked God to make me strong enough to carry a flame . . . kind of intense, I know, but none-the-less it’s what I prayed.
On the way to church I was brought to a sudden halt in the alley by a tiny gray kitten lying in the middle of the road. I had no choice but to pull over by the piles of junk I’ve been so curious about for the past couple of years.
I couldn’t catch the kitten to save my life. He was having nothing to do with me. I was so intent on catching it, I didn’t notice that a man had walked up. “You can’t catch that kitten,” the man said, making me jump!
At first, I was frightened, but I quickly realized he was no danger.
“I live in that house right there with my wife”, he said pointing past the piled up junk. “My name’s Jake. That’s the only kitten left alive. You can’t catch him.”
“Hello, Jake,” I replied as I continued trying to catch the kitten (not sure what I would do with it if I did!)
For about 15 minutes, Jake talked on and on while I tried to catch the kitten. Then I stopped and just listened. I could see that he needed a kind person to talk to. He was broken, both physically and spiritually. He gave me permission to come back later and try to catch the kitten again.
Now very late, I headed to Sunday School. I wanted so badly to invite him to church, but I just couldn’t. For some reason, in that particular moment it didn’t seem genuine, but I intended to do it when the time was right.
As I walked into church, I was deep in thought. What was I to do? Add Jake’s name to the list in my prayer guide? Then what? My heart was heavy.
I headed for the stairs. I was 20 minutes late. Becky called to me as I passed the church office, “I’ll add your name to your Sunday School class, Christina!”
Oh no, I was intending to skip the embarrassment of my egregious lateness and head to the choir suite, but now I couldn’t cheat the numbers. I reluctantly made my way toward my Sunday School class and sat down next to my teacher. She was already deep into the lesson.
Suddenly, to my shock, my emotions began to well up. I was completely consumed with thoughts of Jake and all his junk. Tears poured down my face. I was so embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop them. The more I tried to quiet myself, the more upset I became. It wasn’t long before the whole class was staring at me bewildered, and one lady ran across the room with a package of tissues.
I blubbered on and on, through my tears, about the kitten. (I know they were probably thinking I had lost my mind.) Finally I got to the part about the man at the junk house. Eventually, I regained my composure enough to explain that my heart was heavy for the lost. All of these precious women began to chime in, encouraging me and each other. Just then, the door opened and a woman walked in.
The poor woman must have thought I was crazy. She sat down. Class was nearly over. Our teacher wrapped up, thanked the woman for joining us, and we all prayed together.
As I was heading to the bathroom to fix my makeup, that was certainly destroyed, the Holy Spirit stopped me. I looked at the woman again, more carefully this time. Wait! I know this woman! She looked different, but it was her. It was Beth.
The only reason we know one another is the result of brokenness. There are so many convoluted divorces and circumstances that make us “family” I will not even attempt to explain. I spoke to her. She remembered me, too.
I wasn’t sure why, but I was compelled to talk to her, stay by her side, and make sure she was comfortably seated in the sanctuary before going to the choir room to put on my robe. I told her I was glad she was joining us and then rushed upstairs. Little did any of us know, the Lord was about to do something wonderful!
At the end of the service, the pastor invited people to come forward to accept Jesus as their Savior. Then he did something he had never done before. Before he dismissed, he said, “I’m going to be standing right over there by the baptistry. If anyone just wants to talk or ask questions about being baptized, come on over and talk to me.” Church was dismissed.
Later that afternoon, I got a text from the pastor. “Your friend came up after the service and gave her life to Jesus! She is getting baptized tonight!”
The Holy Spirit spoke very clearly in my heart. I knew in that moment that I didn’t have a burden to carry because Jesus already carried it. I didn’t do anything at all for her to accept Christ, but I got to walk her to the sanctuary and make sure she felt comfortable and safe, the same way someone did for me when I first came to church.
The sermon that day was about the Samaritan woman at the well. The story isn’t that she ran back to Samaria and became an evangelist, giving her testimony and preaching the gospel. She simply said, “Its okay, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done! Come and meet my Savior, Jesus.” She made them feel comfortable. She invited them. That’s all we can do. The Lord will do the rest.
And now I know how important it really is, when they come, that we make them feel comfortable. Our kindness can help the Holy Spirit work in their hearts and keep them coming back so He can do even more, just like He did with me because of my church family. I can’t thank them enough for everything they do.
God used this church to rescue me, and lead me into an abundant life. I have been completely changed and I am so grateful for the opportunity to build the kingdom along side my church family.
Now, about Jake . . . I’ll let you know what happens, but I know God is up to something.
Is your heart breaking? Are you in deep despair? Is depression crushing you? Even when you think you can’t hang on, God will hang on to you. No matter what life is throwing at you, no matter how weak your faith might be right now, God will hold you fast.
How do I know? I know because He has done this for me. It has been over 60 years since I asked Jesus to be my Savior. Through many trials, through many sorrows, through all my many failings, He never let me go.
He never said, “That’s it! I’m done with her. She’s gone too far now. Enough is enough!”
When I doubted, He held me fast. When I rebelled, He held me fast. When I went astray, He held me fast. When I was in deep despair, He held me fast. When my heart was broken, He held me fast. This is why I love Him and why I praise Him unashamedly.
It is when I acknowledged my own shortcomings, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses that I grasped the depth of His great love and forgiveness and understood just how much I really need Him.
If you are searching for love, forgiveness, and mercy, come to Jesus. His love surpasses all understanding. He loves you, yes you.
Scripture for Meditation
“If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there … Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:10)
“Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
“You are not your own;you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV