Tag Archives: Prayer
In her book Reach for the Summit, former Tennessee women’s head basketball coach Pat Summitt wrote, “There are different kinds of success. There is fame and fortune, which…is a pretty flimsy, short-lived kind of success. Then there is the more gratifying kind of success that comes from doing something you love, and doing it well. Still another kind of success results from committing to one person and raising a child with them. Yet another is finding a sustained faith in your church. But notice something about all the various forms of success. They are open-ended. They aren’t tasks that you finish. Success is a project that’s always under construction.”1
Take a moment to reflect upon this phrase: If it’s the Lord’s will…
Now ask yourself, when was the last time you included God in your decision-making, or plans?
Are we, as parents and grandparents, setting the example of praying for and discerning God’s will in our daily lives? If not, why not?
Teaching our children to diligently seek God’s will in their lives will take more than casually adding the phrase, “if it’s the Lord’s will” to our prayers.
Many of us (me included) can run around aimlessly if we are not intentional in seeking God’s will. Instead of saying: we are going to do this, or buy that, or go there, etc., we need to be sure that we are prayerfully asking God for His wisdom, His leadership, and His direction in our lives. This doesn’t come naturally, especially for those of us who are extremely independent and like to do things our own way, and in our timing.
Eight months ago we listed our house for sale by owner. Now, in my finite way of thinking, I certainly can’t understand why our house hasn’t sold, yet. After all, I prayed for it to sell. And it makes perfect sense to me for this to happen (yesterday!). And in my prayers, I did include “if it’s your will, Lord…,” but did I really mean it?
I know in my heart that God truly knows what’s best for us and I also know that His timing is often not the same as ours. God is all-knowing and all-loving.
When praying for God’s will to be done, we need to remind ourselves and our children that the outcome of our personal desires and prayers is always for His glory and for our good, no matter what the outcome.
Amazingly, I read the following Scripture this morning during my devotional time.
“In him we were made heirs, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”(Ephesians 1:11-13).
We rarely know God’s will ahead of time, nor fully understand it later. However, I’m so thankful that God does give us some absolute principles in His Word, which express His perfect will. Here are just a few (to share with your kids/grandkids).
God’s will is…
…for none to perish, but for all who believe in His one and only Son, to receive eternal life (John 3:16)
…to be set apart for His glory, by living a life that pleases Him
Living to Please God
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
…to confess and repent
“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
…to forgive as we have been forgiven
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation’”(Luke 11:4).
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
This is just a starting point for knowing God’s will for our lives. Dig into Scripture with your kids/grandkids—to know and live out God’s will. This summer set a goal as a family, to read through the entire New Testament. Take time to discuss the many ways Jesus and His disciples sought after and lived out God’s will in their lives. The Bible mini series is also available to watch through Netflix.
Living an intentional life that pleases God is what we desire. Jeff and I offer a faith-at-home ministry called Covenant Heirs to churches and their families. The ministry’s goal is to encourage and help equip parents and grandparents to intentionally pass down their faith in Christ to their children and grandchildren.
Jeff and I recently had the opportunity to spend 9 days at Anna Maria Island, on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Being in full-time pastoral ministry, we were more than ready to get away, to relax and spend quality time with each other and the Lord. During our stay in a nice condo, provided free of charge to pastors, I located two books on the shelf and began reading them. Both were on the subject of sharing one’s faith in Jesus.
Realizing my personal evangelism had waned over the past year or so, my mind and heart were easily penetrable with the timely message of these books. Reading afresh and anew this Scripture: “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32,” Jerry Whiles, the author of The Faithful Witness emphasized lifting up Jesus every day, in every encounter, as the Holy Spirit directs. First and foremost, the author stated that we are to pray (early in the morning, before beginning our day), for opportunities to share our faith with people who God will bring across our path during that day.
To make a long story short, I sensed the Holy Spirit guiding me to pray this prayer and to begin watching for opportunities–starting at the beach.
That morning, Jeff and I began searching for seashells on miracle-made sandbars, which enabled us to find some nice size shells. As Jeff proceeded up the shoreline, a young woman approached me and said, “Wow, you found some really nice shells.” As I looked up, I noticed that she was wearing a ball cap. I then responded “Yes” and we began chatting about our stay at Anna Maria Island. She quickly told me that she had just finished 5 rounds of chemotherapy treatments in Georgia where she lived, and that when she returned home, she would be facing surgery and radiation treatments. While standing next to her, I knew we were not alone–as the Holy Spirit wrapped His arms around us. Lisa opened her hand and showed me a small sand dollar that she had found. Quickened to lift up Jesus, I said, “Oh, I believe there’s some type of story that goes along with the sand dollar,” and she quickly replied, “Yes, I believe it has something to do with Jesus.” I told her that I thought she was right, and then asked her if she knew Jesus. She said with such love in her eyes, “Oh, yes, I couldn’t go through this without Him.” She went on to tell me that she and her husband (who was standing nearby), were part of a loving and supportive church family. As we said our goodbyes, I gave Lisa some of my shells and told her to hold onto them as a reminder that she had met a friend in Jesus on Anna Maria Island beach who would be praying for her.
I thank God for the opportunity to meet Lisa on the beach. She truly lifted Jesus to me that day, and through our encounter, strengthened my faith.
I forgot to mention that shortly after I met Lisa, I found my own sand dollar and I’m keeping it as a reminder to share my faith in Jesus daily, and to pray for Lisa.
After returning home from our trip, I did a little research on the meaning of John 12:32. I found and read a sermon delivered on July 5, 1857, by Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, titled “Christ Lifted Up.” It is a somber reminder that Jesus uses the word “lifted up” to express the manner of his death. For Jesus to be “lifted up” or exalted, to draw all men unto Himself, He had to be crucified on a cross. The following is a paragraph excerpted from Spurgeon’s sermon.
“Christ was glorified on the cross, we say, first, because love as always glorious. If I might prefer any glory, I should ask to be beloved by men. Surely, the greatest glory that a man can have among his fellows is not that of mere admiration, when they stare at him as he passes through the street, and throng the avenues to behold him as he rideth in his triumph; the greatest fame, the greatest glory of a patriot is the love of his country–to feel that young men and maidens, old men and sires, are prepared to fall at his feet in love, to give up all they have to serve him who has served them. Now, Christ won more love by the cross than he did ever win elsewhere. O Lord Jesus, thou wouldst never have been so much loved since thou hast stooped to death. Not cherubim and seraphim, and angels clad in light, ever could have loved with hearts so warm as thy redeemed above, or even thy redeemed below. Thou didst win love more abundantly by the nail than by thy scepter. Thine open side brought thee no emptiness of love, for thy people love thee with all their hearts. Christ won glory by his cross. He was never so lifted up as when he was cast down; and the Christian will bear witness, that though he loves his Master anywhere, yet nothing moves his heart to rapture and vehemence of love, like the story of the crucifixion and the agonies of Calvary.”
Lifting up Christ is more than using His name in prayer (although very important); it really requires a (personal) daily surrender to the Holy sinless One, who died a sinner’s death on Calvary. His name is JESUS.
Forgive me Father, for not faithfully lifting up your son’s life-giving name to those who need you so desperately. Help me to be ever mindful of those you bring across my path each day.
Door of Opportunity, DeVern Fromke, Author
The Faithful Witness, Jerry Wiles, Author
It will be Mother’s Day in a week and for many this will be a day of remembering and celebrating a mother’s love. Although my mom went to be with Jesus many years ago (when I was 7 years old), I continue to cherish the love she gave me.
I was able to revisit the memories of my mother while in a local Christian bookstore the other day. The owner inquisitively asked me the story behind my name (Charmé). So, I began to share my personal story of God’s amazing love, which really began with a mother’s love.
While pregnant with me, my mom received a letter from my father, who was stationed in France as a fighter jet pilot for the U.S. Air Force. He had heard and liked the name Charmé. Shortly afterwards, my father died when his plane crashed while attempting an emergency landing. Six months later I was born and my mom named me Charmé.
The next seven years I lived with my mother in the United States. We also traveled several times to visit my grandmother, who lived on Guernsey Island. While most of these memories were formed through the pages of a yellowed photo album, I have many others of my mom holding me in her arms and rocking me in a striped orange rocker. Funny how that 60s rocking chair holds such warm and loving memories for me. Sometime during the first grade, I remember having to stay with a kind neighbor (Mrs. Abel), while my mother began making numerous trips to the doctor. At this time, I had no idea that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer.
Within about a year or so, the yearning for my mother’s love and tender touch increased, as I experienced fear and confusion with her increasing absences. Sadly, the last memory I have of my mother, was seeing her in a wheel chair, wearing some type of turban on her head. I don’t remember ever saying “good bye” to her; with now clearly understanding why my family tried to shield me from her pain and sorrow during her final days on Earth.
My mother, Audrey Eileen Lewis, went home to be with Jesus October 15, 1964. And this is where I love telling another love story. The story of God’s amazing love for a very sad and lonely little seven-year old. Not too long after my mother’s death, I went to live with my paternal grandparents, who raised me until I married my husband, Jeff, in 1975. Another love story for another time.
God’s love became real to me while lying in my bed at night, crying myself to sleep. I still remember the warmth and calm that enveloped me during those early days of great grief in my heart and life. As I look back upon this time in my life, I am reminded of God’s steadfast love and unfailing faithfulness in my life.
Skipping forward several years into my early married years, with three young children at the time, and being a fairly new Christian, I learned more of God’s amazing love through the discovery of an old suit case. While cleaning out my grandparent’s basement, I came across my mother’s suit case. I’ll never forget this remarkable moment in time. Opening it with Jeff by my side, I discovered many special items, her jewelry box, which held her engagement ring (that I now wear), along with some handmade gifts I had given to her as a young child, and her funeral book.
As a new Christian, I had begun to wonder about my mother’s salvation. While going through my mother’s funeral book, my question was answered. Pastor Alvin W. Mueller, who officiated my mother’s funeral, had typed his sermon and eulogy and attached it to her funeral book. As I began reading through it, tears filled my eyes and the presence of Jesus filled me to overflowing as I read these words.
“Audrey Lewis, by God’s grace and mercy had learned to know this Savior, Jesus Christ. As her pastor I had frequent opportunity to remind her of this wonderful and beautiful salvation that God has provided for the children of men, through Christ God’s Son. When she was in the hospital here in Decatur, I repeatedly spoke to her about the salvation, and we prayed together, for forgiveness and for peace with God.” (There is more, but for the sake of keeping some of the text personal, I will skip ahead to the affirmation of my mother’s salvation.) “That is the Christian Faith alone saves. The message of that faith was brought to our sister, Mrs. Lewis. Thank God, with me, that she learned how to be saved. That she learned about this wonderful Savior Jesus Christ and it is this faith that we too must have, if, we want to be delivered, if, we want to be rescued from God’s wrath and damnation. That faith we must have and keep and live, if, we want to enter into heaven. This Christian faith is based upon hundreds of Bible passages.” Then, Pastor Mueller included several Scriptures, including:
‘We were redeemed not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot.’ 1 Peter 1:18
Praise God, the One who brought love and comfort to me as a frightened orphaned little seven year-old, and who gave to me this beautiful gift. To have the assurance that I will be reunited with my mom again some day, in heaven. As, I too, received the wonderful gift of our God’s salvation by receiving Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior over thirty years ago.
A mother’s love is part of God’s plan…to give His children just a glimpse of what God’s love is like. I look forward to the loving and warm embrace of God, my Heavenly Father, and also to hug my mom again.
This Mother’s Day, be sure and thank God for your mother.
The season of Lent will begin two weeks from today, on Ash Wednesday. This is a notable time for Christians–to bow their hearts before God, with true humility, repentance of sins, and a determined desire to seek God’s presence without ceasing. It is also a time to eagerly anticipate Easter Sunday, as Christians around the world celebrate our resurrected Lord. How are we doing, Christians? For me personally, I desire to spend this time (40 weekdays and 6 Sundays) by intentionally surrendering my time, talents, and thoughts to Jesus. You say, “Shouldn’t this be the norm 365 days a year?” Of course, but as we study the life of Jesus, there were “special” times set aside to pray and prepare one’s heart. Jesus knew the importance of reading and teaching God’s Word in the temple (Luke 2:41-49). And there were many times when Jesus reminded his disciples to pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1-8). One of the most touching examples of Christ’s humility, with exception of the Cross, is when he “wrapped a towel around his waist…and began to wash his disciples’ feet” (John 13:1-20). Jesus not only demonstrated a servant’s role through foot-washing, but he also illustrated the Father’s forgiveness towards others (see also Matt. 5:23-24; Eph. 4:32). There are so many other instances in Scripture where Jesus intentionally set aside specific times to show His genuine love and obedience to His Heavenly Father. The significant ones I’ve listed are just an inkling into what I believe God wants us to emulate.
Families, take some time during Lent to intentionally follow the example of Jesus. Set aside some”special” time to bow your hearts before God, in true humility, repentance, and with a desire to fully seek God’s presence.
There are endless ideas on the internet to help families prepare their hearts for Easter. Here’s a couple that you may find helpful. The most important way, however, is to spend time together as a family, reading the Gospel accounts of Holy Week. I’ve included a link to the Christian Resource Institute (CRI), where you can read more on the Season of Lent.
Instead of opting for the familiar White Elephant gift exchange, our family has a White Dove gift exchange on Christmas day. The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17). This is the first clear expression of the concept of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
The Holy Spirit is God, just as the Father and Son are. The Holy Spirit now makes His home in every believer’s life, enabling communication with God through prayer. The emphases of the White Dove gift exchange is Prayer.
White Dove Selection Each family member selects a personal item that holds special meaning. For instance, one year my husband selected a hand-written note that he had given to his mom as a young teen. He had found the note tucked away in his mother’s cherished possessions following her death. The carefully selected item becomes the White Dove. It is gift-wrapped, labeled with the giver’s name, and awaits its recipient on Christmas day. (Note: The item (White Dove) may remain the same each year, or a new item may be selected.)
We later changed our White Dove exchange from Christmas to our Family Legacy Day.
White Dove Gift Exchange Each person passes their White Dove gift around to all participating family members. This may be done by reading the Christmas story (right/left game), or by listening to a favorite Christmas song. The exchange concludes when the story or song ends and each person is holding a White Dove gift. From youngest to oldest, everyone takes a turn opening their White Dove gift and discloses the giver’s name. The owner of the White Dove then may choose to share the reason for selecting their item. After everyone has had a turn to open their White Dove gifts, a prayer is offered for each family member.
1-Year Prayer Commitment The White Dove is taken home and placed in a prominent viewing spot, where it serves as a reminder to pray daily for that particular family member throughout the new year. Family members are also encouraged to contact the person who has their White Dove when they have a specific/personal/urgent prayer request. I have found that texting or leaving a voice message about a specific prayer request works well. I often sense God’s peace, knowing that I am being prayed for by my White Dove caretaker.
Praises Prior to each year’s White Dove gift exchange, each family member has an opportunity to praise God for answered prayers. They may also choose to retell any significant times of prayer (received or offered).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7.