Pray Dangerously

Have you ever felt like your prayers sound “kindergarten” level compared to other people? Let me tell you, we have a youth pastor who can bring mountains down with his prayers. I used to always say that I wish I could pray with just half as much power as he does. Who am I kidding? I just said that a few weeks ago!

If you’ve seen the movie War Room, you’ve seen the type of prayer I’m talking about. It’s the kind of prayer that makes the enemy tremble and run as fast as he can in the opposite direction. I want to pray powerfully and dangerously – the kind of prayer that makes things happen. I want to tear down walls with the power of my prayers, but when I say them out loud, two things happen:

  1. I am terribly distracted by something I need to do or a spider making its way across the ceiling ore pretty much anything that can possibly distract me, or
  2. I’m focusing so much on the words I use and how I use them that my heart isn’t connecting with my words.

Maybe I’m the only one who does this, but I’m thinking surely there are more people out there who understand this struggle.

Distracted No More

I am a very tactile, hands on person. I need to DO something in order to learn and remember how to do it. I learned at an early age that if I am listening to an audiobook, I don’t hear any of it. Maybe I hear some of it, but I don’t remember it the next day. If I’m sitting in a lecture or meeting, I can assure you that I will not remember anything the minute I leave all because I’m distracted by my thoughts. But if I write what I’m hearing, I’ll be much more likely to remember it.

Knowing this about myself, I started writing my prayers in a journal back in my early 20s. When I’m writing my prayers, I don’t get distracted by the things around me because my eyes are only seeing the words on the paper. It has made a HUGE difference in how I pray.

It also helps me with my 2nd struggle because I focus less on what words come out. Instead I just write what is in my heart. I don’t worry about how it sounds, and I love going back years later to read my prayers and see how God has moved in my life.

If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to write your prayers this week. If you hear God telling you something, write it as well. You never know. That might be your new favorite way to pray!

 Shift Focus from Your Words to THE Word

You have everything you need to pray powerful prayers. The key is to stop focusing on your words!

Yes, you read that right.

Stop focusing on your words, and focus on the Word. When you pray from scripture, you know your prayers align with God’s will. And you know your prayers have power!

When you don’t feel like you know the words to pray, remember God gave you the Word, and it’s a mighty sword that speaks truth over any situation, circumstance, or thought that comes your way.

In the book Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst talks about how often we label ourselves and become imprisoned by those labels. It made me aware that I’ve done that to myself many times. Lysa also says, “Labels only stick if you let them.”

What better way to rid yourself of labels than praying THE WORD rather than your words over those labels and thoughts of yourself?

You’re not sure how to find scripture relating to your prayer topic? Google it! You’ll quickly find scriptures relating to your topic, and then you can pray them over yourself or others.

Here’s how it works:

You look in the mirror and don’t like what you see? – Psalm 139:13-15
Prayer – Thank you, God, for creating me so wonderfully. Your word says, “Your works are wonderful and marvelous,” and as one of your works, that means I am wonderful and marvelous.

You feel like you are alone? – Isaiah 41:10
Prayer – I know that it is impossible for me to be alone because you’re always with me. Thank you, God.

You feel like you aren’t special and don’t have a purpose? – Jeremiah 1:5
Prayer – Your word says you knew me and set me apart from others before I was even conceived. Thank you, Lord, for creating me with a purpose!

Sweet friend, take time this week to think about ways you’ve allowed a label to stick on you, and look through the Word to find scripture to pray over those labels. Start hiding those scriptures in your heart so you’re able to stop those thoughts as soon as they come to you whether you have your Bible nearby or not.

You know I can’t end this without adding the “War Room” Prayer.

 

Unglued – Week 1

As I go through an online study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, I will be posting our study message here every Friday. Even for those not taking part in the study, I encourage you to check it out every Friday and see how it speaks to you.do-not-conform

This week, we’ve focused on changing our thought patterns. On p.22, Lysa says, “We won’t develop new responses until we develop new thoughts.”

How many times have you prayed hard and had every intention of changing how you react to certain situations only to get angry at yourself for reacting the exact same way just minutes or days later? For me, I’ve questioned if it’s even possible for me to change how I react. I’ve asked myself, “Am I always going to be this way? What’s wrong with me that I can’t control my tongue? Why do I go from 0 to explosive in .1 second?” I’ve considered myself hopeless because I feel like I’m trying so hard to make that change, and I genuinely want that change, but it’s not happening.

The answer is that I’m not developing new thoughts. I’m not renewing my mind. Instead, I’m spending time focusing on how badly I’m failing and how angry I am about whatever just happened, and I’m not changing those thoughts. Of course, I’m going to keep reacting the same when I’m letting the anger continue to build up and when I am focusing so much on how bad I failed . . . again. I’m not speaking life into myself.

Remember how chapter 1 says we are going to have imperfect progress and that it takes slow, baby steps that sometimes make us feel like we aren’t moving? The key is that we are moving, and we are moving forward. It may take a while before we see the change, but it will happen. BUT if we take a step forward only to beat ourselves up when we don’t see the change immediately, we will be pushing ourselves back to where we were.

The progress comes first from our change in thoughts and then we will see the change in actions. Change in thought will eventually make a change in the heart, and that’s when you’ll really see the difference.

How can you renew your mind and develop your thoughts? Well, first, you have to spend time with God. There can be NO EXCUSES. One of the kids get sick and needs you – no excuses. You get hit with a deadline and more work than any one person can do – no excuses. Find time to spend with God whether it’s in the middle of the nap time that you’d like to also be a part of because you’re exhausted or during a movie that your sweet one is watching or after everyone goes to bed. You’re tired, yes. But God will renew your strength and energy if you just give him some of your time!

I’ve used all of the excuses, and they are 100% justifiable, but that doesn’t mean they are right. God did so much for you, and you’re asking him to help you in this area, so you have to give him your time. Time with God isn’t simply praying a to-do list for him. It’s a 2 way conversation and needs to have limited distractions.

You Have Control

In chapter 2, we are reminded that we can accept or refuse our thoughts. Your thought life does not have to control what you do. You have the control, whether you believe it yet or not, to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Once you take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, you can move forward and take control of your actions.

You have a choice: are you going to think destructively or constructively? Whatever consumes your thoughts is what will present itself through your actions. To remain in control and not become the “freak-out woman” mentioned at the end of Chapter 2, you must develop a constructive way of thinking. You must come to a place where you realize you can face things that are out of your control and not act out of control. All it takes is developing new thoughts through renewing your mind.

Renewing Your Mind and Developing Your Thoughts in 6 Easy Steps:

  1. Make time for God every day
  2. Read the word See My Post Don’t Forget SOAP” written on Wednesday if you need tips in this area
  3. When praying, make sure to ask God for help in this area, but don’t spend all your prayer time focused on this. Pray for other people, praise God for his truth and speak it over you – this means pray from Scripture. Praise him that he took the time to create you with such intricate detail (Ps. 139:13) and that you were chosen by God before you were even conceived (Jer. 1:5). Praise more than Request. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
  4. Throughout the day, capture those negative words you’re telling yourself. Capture those thoughts of what happened earlier in the day, and stop them in their tracks. I literally have to say, “STOP!” sometimes.
  5. Replace them with prayer for someone else, someone not related to the situation, or praise for God changing you, or speak scripture that contradicts your thought.
  6. Trust God to be working inside of you as you do this each day.

Your 21 Day Challenge

Did you know studies show it takes 21 days to make a habit? I want to challenge you to start today. Start developing new thoughts. Start renewing your mind. This is not something you do only when you’re in a heated moment. This is something you do daily, and it’s even better if you can do it more than once a day.

Give yourself 21 days. This doesn’t mean you’ll be a completely different person, but do this consistently for 21 days, and see if there’s a measurable change in your thoughts and actions. I’m willing to bet you’ll find you can capture thoughts much easier, and you may even find that you don’t have to change your thinking as often as you do today.

What do you think? Are you up to the challenge?

Don’t Forget S.O.A.P.

soap

One of the things I hear so often and with people of all ages is that they just don’t know how to read the bible. Haven’t we all been in that place? You know, the place where we read just to say we read. By the time we finish the selected scripture, we have no idea what it said, and it certainly isn’t very meaningful to our lives.

Do you find yourself losing interest if you try to study scripture, especially if you don’t have a companion study or guide in hand? I think we probably have all felt that way at one time or another.

To help make scripture more meaningful to me, I have a routine that works for me.

I first try to have different translations handy while reading. That’s not always an option, but I prefer to if I can. If I have my phone only, I use the YouVersion Bible App to go back and forth between translations, but my absolute favorite is the parallel option from BibleGateway. It allows me to see several different translations side-by-side. I like having the different translations because it allows me to take difficult scripture and see it written in several ways so I can better understand the meaning.

Before reading, I make sure to turn off all distractions – no phone (airplane mode if I’m reading from my phone), no tv, no friends, etc. I want it to be just God and me.

Then, I take the steps to enter into his presence and let the words speak to me:

  1. Pray: Pray for God to help me understand what I’m reading and to keep my mind free of distractions.
  2. Ask:
    1. What is it saying?
    2. What is it saying to me?
    3. How can I apply it to my life?
  3. One Step Further: Take it one step further and ask if there is anyone I know who might need to hear this scripture, and pray over that person. Also, ask God to reveal something I might have gone through or might still be going through that makes the scripture more relevant to me.

I always advise keeping some type of journal or notebook to take notes in.

If All Else Fails, Use SOAP

The steps I just mentioned are easy for me to remember because I’ve done it for so many years. However, many of my friends prefer to use SOAP when they read scripture. It’s the same process but easier to remember and easier to teach to others.

Always pray before you begin.

Scripture – Take one verse and write it down in its entirety. (What is it saying?)
Observation – What do you feel like this scripture is saying? Re-write it in your own words so that it makes sense to you. (What is it saying to me?)
Application – Think of how this scripture can be applied to your life right now. Maybe you’re walking through something, or maybe you’ve been praying about something in particular, or maybe there’s something that you just haven’t noticed before that makes this scripture mean something different to you today. (How can I apply it to my life?)
Prayer – Ask God what he wants you to do with this scripture. Maybe he wants you to use it in some way. Maybe there’s someone in your life who needs to hear this scripture, and God reveals that person to you. Talk to him, but be sure to listen to what he has to say in return. (Taking it one step further)

Try it!

I’m currently going through a study, and our memory verse this week is from Romans 12:2. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

If you are having trouble getting started, why not start here? Take this scripture, and dig deeper to find how meaningful and relevant it is in your life.