Categories
Reflections

How to Know When You’ve Prayed Long Enough

Have you ever wondered how to know when you’ve prayed for something long enough? I do this emotional dance where I feel burdened about something and I want to just keep talking to God about it. But I know that if I were God, I’d be getting tired of hearing it. I don’t want to nag God. Can you relate with me on this?

Granted, I’ve heard sermons about how God is our loving Father and He delights in us, and of course He wants to hear what is on our minds. And I’ve believed it, but still. My mind has always asked the question, “If God knows what I’m thinking, does He really want me to continue to verbalize it? Shouldn’t I just say it once and trust Him with it?”

Lets be honest – I relate to God out of my experience. I do not appreciate when my children ask for something over and over and over again. My thought is always “I heard you the first time and I’m thinking about it. I will be much more likely to form an answer if you be quiet and let me think.” So, my instinct with God is to bite my tongue and let Him work.

This has been something I’ve dealt with for many, many years. You can imagine my relief when God finally spoke to me about it. He said,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6, 7

Did you catch that? He wants me – you – us to pray about everything. Let Him know all our requests. And His incomprehensible peace, will guard, surround, protect our hearts and minds. Friends, this is how to know when we’ve prayed about something long enough – Jesus will give us peace.

When we feel anxious and like we need to keep talking to God, our Father, about whatever it is, He wants us to do it. He wants us to talk until our anxiety gives way to peace.

The words "Pray until the peace presses in!" against a sunset sky.
Peace lets you know you’ve prayed long enough!

If you’re not there yet, friend, keep talking. Keep praying. The peace will come. And that is how you will know you’ve prayed long enough.

Categories
Reflections

My New Year’s Handle Verse is One to Hold On To for 2022

It was before dawn, Friday morning, New Year’s Eve. All was quiet around me, but not inside me. I sat in the dark, thinking about what has transpired in 2021 and feeling off balance, heading into 2022.

My habit is to consume a bottle of water first thing in the morning, and I often browse WordPress Reader while I drink it. I follow Cindy Dawson’s blog, on which she posts a ‘verse of the day’. That day, December 31, it was as if God had her share one just for me. The words sunk deep into my soul and the tears flowed as I felt my equilibrium return.

The text of Luke 1:45 against the background of trees and the ocean.
My handle verse:
one to hold on to for 2022

I have been holding tight to some specific promises God made. I have been repeating them and defending them and believing them, even though they seem further from being fulfilled now than they did when God made them. I think I was growing weary. I was yearning for the moment when I would see the reward of my fervent belief. And this verse clearly states that I am already blessed, simply because I believe.

I know the Bible is full of verses to ‘mankind’ which apply to women equally. But when I come across one that uses female pronouns, it really hits home. I clicked over to my Bible app and looked up the verse in context. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist was talking to her cousin Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus.

“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’”

Luke 1:40b-45

I read it twice and I ‘heard’ a voice in my spirit say, “This is your handle verse”. “My handle verse? What does that mean?”, I challenged. The answer came immediately, “It is one to hold on to.”

I don’t know what 2022 will bring but God does. I don’t know if He will answer my questions or resolve my concerns. But I do know He wants me to rest in the knowledge that I am blessed for simply believing that He will do what He has said He will do. With that, I can be at peace.

I made a new lock screen photo for my phone. In case anyone else feels like this is a handle verse they want to hold on to for 2022, here it is in the format that works with my device. Maybe it will fit for yours too.

My New Years handle verse - one to hold on to for 2022
Handle verse for phone wallpaper

Do you have a handle verse? If not, I encourage you to pray for one. Of course, the entire Word of God is of utmost value, and I hope you will find yourself deeply immersed in it this year.

God was faithful to give me a New Year’s handle verse – one I will hold on to for 2022. Nothing which has happened or is happening, in my life or in the world, changes what God said. He knew all of it when He made the promises He did. There is blessing in simply taking Him at His Word!

“Standing on the promises I cannot fall,

listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,

resting in my Savior as my all in all,

standing on the promises of God.”

A stanza from the hymn “Standing on the Promises”, written by Russell Kelso Carter in 1886.

I own the photos in this post. I give you permission to use them, if you like, and would appreciate a link back if you do. Also, please visit Cindy Dawson’s Real Christian Women blog and follow her, if you don’t already. I think you’ll be glad you did, I know I certainly am!

Categories
Devotions

How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires

Have you ever wondered what God wants from you? Sometimes I get caught in that rut. As the saying goes, a rut is formed in the mud. I don’t want to be thinking in the mud. I want my mind and focus to be clear.

How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires

Pigs with faces in the mud: How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Photo by Samira on Pexels.com
If we’re going to clear our heads, we have to get out of the mud!

Overthinking is the enemy of simplicity, and the gospel is simple. God wants a relationship with you and me. He has done everything to make that possible. But once it is established, what then?

God spoke to His people in the Old Testament through the prophet, Micah. He clearly stated what He requires.

“He has told you, O man, what is good—

    and what does the Lord require of you,

but to do justice and to love mercy,

    and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:8 (emphasis mine)

Surely, He wants more than that. He wants mission work and tithing and sacrifice, right?

He wants our hearts to be willing to act when He prompts us, yes, but so much of what we feel we must do comes from our own imagination. If we read the above verse in context, we get a clearer picture.

“With what should I come before the Lord,

    and bow down before God on high?

Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,

    with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

    with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

“He has told you, O man, what is good—

    and what does the Lord require of you,

but to do justice and to love mercy,

    and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:6-8

Fast forward to the New Testament. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of that day. They were so obsessed with pleasing God, that they turned the Ten Commandments into over 600. I’m sure anyone who observed their lives was impressed with their fervency.

Everyone, that is, except Jesus. He had some harsh words for them. He was unimpressed with all that they had set themselves on doing, because they were neglecting the things they had been told to do.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.”

Matthew 23:23 (emphasis mine)
Mud flying off a motorcycle tire: How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com
Muddy!

If I want to offer my service to God, out of the kindness of my heart – or even out of a misguided sense of duty, He will accept it. He will use it. But He will not take it in exchange for what He has already told me He requires. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with Him by faith.

As the new year rolls around, I want to make sure I’m making the main things my main things. As I think about the goals I want to accomplish and the person I want to become, I will be keeping Micah 6:8 in focus. God has told me what is good and what He requires. He has made it clear.

Vehicle spinning its wheels to get out of a muddy rut: How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Photo by Alexandra Bakhareva on Pexels.com
Stuck in a rut, wheels spinning to no avail

My friend, do you have a relationship with God? Are you stuck in a rut wondering what He requires of you? First and foremost, He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to get to know Him in a personal way.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Revelation 3:20

From there, He will show you the purpose for which you were created. He will guide you into doing justice, loving mercy, and walking with Him in humble faith.

We cannot expect that, in the end, our good will outweigh our bad and He will be pleased. He has given us His Word so we will know what He wants from us. He isn’t interested in accepting our offering in place of what He has said.

Are there things you need to get right with Him as we head into this New Year? Maybe some efforts to abandon and others to embrace? The time is now to get out of the mud and clear our heads about what God requires.

“Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother.”

Zechariah 7:9
Categories
Recommendations Reflections

The One Most Important Ingredient for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Hello, precious person! Welcome to the back porch. If I were to give you a cushy reclining chair right now, with a pillow, and a soft blanket, would you be likely to fall asleep? As much as I’d love to provide a nap for you, I’d rather talk to you about why you’re so tired. You’ve surely heard the saying:

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

Attributed to different authors

Sharing tools to help you sleep, night after night, will serve you better in the long run than giving you a few minutes to nap right now.

I’ve had some sleep issues and as I’ve worked to resolve them, I’ve discovered a few tricks. But first things first.

There is one most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep.

It is my belief that if this one thing is missing, even if the rest of the recipe is flawless, satisfying sleep will elude you. That most important ingredient is peace.

Peace is a must for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep.

Do you struggle to sleep because you feel vulnerable? Anxious? Angry? Confused? Conflicted? Helpless? Hopeless? Are you subject to every whim of the media, politicians, bosses, teachers, and other voices who can’t agree with each other, let alone impart understanding to you?

Please hear me right now. None of them created the universe. Not one of them knows what tomorrow will bring. None of them, even less all of them, will ever bring you peace.

“I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Job 3:26
Alert puppy: The One Most Important Ingredient for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Martin Dufosset
Without peace, we remain on high alert.

The only way to have true inner peace, is to be indwelt with the Prince of Peace.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

Any other suggestion is a sham. Call me simple, call me dependent, call me whatever you like. I won’t lose any sleep over it because Jesus is my peace. And I would love nothing more than to see you relaxed, able to sleep, and resting in His peace as well.

There are many counterfeit means of peace being touted out there – alcohol, drugs, relationships, wealth, notoriety, what else can you think of? People hope that when they achieve what they’re striving for, they will have peace and be able to relax. They’ll rest then. I’ve heard people say they’ll sleep when they die. But even that is an unrealistic expectation.

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…”

Hebrews 9:27

And all of this fails to mention that it is almost impossible to achieve our high hopes and gallant goals if we can’t sleep. Without rest, we lack the energy we need to reach for our dreams, let alone succeed in them. So many people are running on empty and jumping from disappointment to disappointment. Is that you? Would you like a complete reset?

Jesus is the Source of peace.

Friend, how can anyone sleep without peace? How can one have peace without forgiveness? Is there a way to forgiveness without confession and repentance? Jesus wants to wipe your slate clean. He would love to set your feet on His path to purpose. A reset from Him is the only way to have relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. And the amazing news is that He literally died to give it to you.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Colossians 1:19-20

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

If you haven’t accepted the salvation that Jesus freely gives, none of the other tricks I’ve learned will solve your sleep problems. There can be no true rest or enduring satisfaction of any kind apart from Him. I believe that to the depths of my soul.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

If you do not know this peace, but would like to – or even if only your curiosity is piqued, check out this post. It contains more detailed information on the Gospel of Peace. You can also contact me via the ‘Contact’ button on the top of the page or using the comments section below. There is a saying, which is oh-so true, which says:

No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know Peace.

With ALL of that said, even Christians have trouble sleeping. We know Jesus. We possess inner peace. We have confidence in God’s plans and the brightest hope for the future. So why are we… why am I… lying awake at 2am?

I’ve been asking myself this question and praying for wisdom about it. I’ve tried some things which did not make much difference. But there are 5 habits I’ve worked to hone that seem to really be working. Please join me back here Friday to talk about them.

In the meantime, if there is anything I can do to help you with this one, most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep, let me know. The 5 tricks I have discovered are all dependent, and built upon, a foundation of peace. It is imperative to have this piece (this peace!) firmly in place before we move on.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face towards you
and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26