Sunday, March 29, 2020

How to pray without ceasing

Praying without Ceasing

“God’s command to ‘pray without ceasing’ is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.”

~From A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, as believed and taught by the Reverend Mr. John Wesley, from the year 1725, to the year 1777.

The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), but how do we do that? How do I do all the other things that God asks me to do and pray the entire time? It sounds like it isn't physically possible. But it is. Prayer is a practice that we can do on its own but we can also do while we are doing something else. You can go for a walk on your own or go on a walk with a friend. You can work on a puzzle alone or with a friend. You can eat by yourself or with a friend. We can do any part of life on our own but life with God is more meaningful and prayer is a means for experiencing life with God. 

If we think of prayer as communicating with God, then we need to think of all parts of the communication process. What we say, what we hear, non-verbal cues, and context are all parts of prayer. When we are fully present with God at all times, then we are experiencing "praying without ceasing." 

This is easier said than done. We don't go from being a "beginner" at prayer to "praying without ceasing" in one step. It takes practice and time.The more time we spend in focused prayer, the easier it will be to be fully present with God over time. While there are many ways to practice prayer, these three are ways that will exercise the parts of the communication process that are non-verbal on our end. The more often you do these, the easier it will be to pray without ceasing.

1) Practice Breath Prayer

In a breath prayer, a simple prayer of only one or two sentences can be said over and over until it becomes a rhythm. One breath prayer that I like to pray is:

          Breathe in slowly and deeply as you whisper or think: “The Lord is my Shepherd…”

          Hold your breath and your consciousness of God’s presence…

          And then exhale as you whisper or think: “…I shall not want.” 

Breath prayer pray without ceasing


Its that easy. Doing this type of prayer reminds us that we have the breath of God inside of us (Genesis 2:5) and that Jesus breathed on the disciples for them to receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). The more we practice this, the more we are reminded of God when we breathe. Thus we are mindful to pray without ceasing.
 

2) Practice Centering Prayer


Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. Thomas Keating is an expert on centering prayer and walks through instructions on this video. I typically spend a few seconds asking God to share with me a centering word. Then I set a timer and focus on that word and being present with God until my timer goes off.

3) Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the art of being aware of something as it is happening. Some people practice mindfulness when eating to be fully aware of the foods they are eating so that they slow down and eat in healthier ways. When we talk about Christian mindfulness, we are talking about being mindful of where God is in any situation. There are many ways to practice mindfulness. I started practicing mindfulness by setting an alarm four times a day. When the alarm went off, I took a deep breath and became aware of God's presence with me. After several days, I increased this to six times per day. Soon I discovered that I didn't need an alarm and that I was mindful of God more often than not.

how to pray without ceasing


Remember that these are ways to strengthen our prayer life. It doesn't automatically cause you to pray without ceasing. But when practiced enough, these methods will move you closer to a time when you can rejoice in all things because you see God in all things.

Until Everyone Hears,

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

How do I pray for healing?

Healing is One of the Top Things People Pray For

According to Barna research, Prayer is by far the most common spiritual practice among Americans. No matter what religion someone professes, the odds are high that they pray. We've spent a lot of time on the basics of prayer in general but there are a few things that most Americans pray for more than others. While the majority of people who pray give thanks and praise to God, they also ask for three things more than others. These three things aren't the only things people ask for but they tend to get more prayer time than other things. Everyone has doubt at some point but even when people doubt they still have hope in the power of prayer. 

Before you read on, watch this inspirational video on the power of prayer. I hope it encourages you to continue enriching your prayer life and connecting with God.




Praying for Healing

The number one thing that people ask for is healing. It's no wonder. Jesus healed a lot of people. Jesus healed every disease and sickness in Galilee (Matthew 4:23). The Bible promises healing through prayer (James 5:14-15) but we often have a linear perspective on what healing is when in fact there are many different kinds of healing:


  • Miraculous Healing: Sometimes Jesus heals us and there is no known medical explanation of why we were healed. These are similar to the types of healing we think of in scripture. They happen. Often. But when they don't, perhaps another type of healing will happen.
  • Medical Healing: This one should really be listed first. When you need healing, GO TO A DOCTOR!!! God has gifted certain people with the wisdom and abilities to diagnose and treat illness. They are part of the healing process. In my opinion, to not see a doctor is being unfaithful to the ways in which God can heal you.
  • Spiritual Healing: Sometimes our physical ailments aren't cured but we have a spiritual transformation because of our response and reaction to the illness we are going through. This is also a miracle. Don't forget that.
  • Ultimate Healing: Sometimes our time on this earth is at an end and we live our eternal life in heaven. This is not a failed healing. This is an ultimate healing. A cause for celebration that our illness is no more and we get to live with Jesus in eternity.
There is no one right way to pray for healing. I usually talk to God from the heart. But there are many scriptures that  talk about healing that would make great prayers. My favorite is from Jeremiah 17:14...

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
    save me, and I shall be saved;
    for you are my praise.

Praying when you don't have the right words...

Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Sometimes our hearts are so filled with loss or pain that we have no words. These are times when I like to practice Lectio Divina. This is the practice of Holy Listening to Scripture. The idea here is just to be with God. God will remind you that He has never left you and that although you are in grief now, this is just a season.

Lectio Divina A guide to prayer



Until Everyone Hears,

P.S. - I hope that during this time of social distancing and sheltering in place, you have had a chance to be still and know that God is God. It is the best thing you can do right now for the healing of the world. If you aren't already subscribed to my emails, you can sign up at http://eepurl.com/gWXSRP. When you sign up, I will send you a copy of my workbook "How to find your life's purpose." May you find it useful during these uncertain times.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

How to pray when you are anxious...

How do I pray in times of anxiety?

These are anxious times. We are stuck at home. The economy is unstable. The job market is uncertain. The country is polarized. The world needs healing.

People need Jesus now more than ever. That hasn't changed but people may be more open to the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We have an opportunity to lead others there. But idea of sharing the good news of Jesus is held in tension to the anxiety we are feeling. We know that we can go to God in prayer and that God can even help us where we are but it is hard to pray with certainty when things are so uncertain.

On a personal note, praying during anxious times is very different than dealing with anxiety. Chronic anxiety is best treated with prayer AND medical care and/or counseling. I have dealt with anxiety with all of the above. What I'm describing here is dealing with an anxious environment. While this is not comprehensive, these three things can help you to pray when there is anxiety in your environment.

1) Do not fear:

You may have heard it said that the Bible says "Do not fear" 365 times. While that may be dependent on the translation you use, it does say that quite often. As Jenni Cantron says in her post, "How to Overcome Fear" Fear hides, isolates, and paralyzes us. Instead we should have courage. It is easier said than done but I believe the key is to take our fears to God in prayer and ask that he grant us courage. One Biblical example of a prayer warrior is Nehemiah. I describe his story and our current context in this video.




It says in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
"Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love." One way to be courageous is to spread love. Do acts of Holy Mischief. It will strengthen you for something positive instead of reacting to something negative.

2) Speak like God speaks

In the beginning God created the universe with three simple words,  "Let there be..." These three words are simple but powerful. They are about calling forth something into creation. Jesus taught us to pray so that things on earth could be as they are in heaven. When we pray like God prays and speak like God speaks we are calling forth something that God declared "good" into the uncertainty. Prayer is less about asking for something than it is about calling forth heaven into earth. When you are feeling uncertainty around you, say "Let there be _________" as part of your prayer. Peace, healing, joy, life, abundance etc are all acceptable words to fill in the blank. You may have others that are aligned with the kingdom of God. These are powerful words. They will bring order out of chaos and transform us in ways we cannot imagine!

scripture and how to pray


3) Focus outward:

Studies show that being altruistic has physical and psychological benefits. Doing something good for someone else releases endorphins for both you and the recipient, gives you a sense of satisfaction, and distracts you from your problems long enough for you to feel grateful for what you have. While our prayers are often focused on our own environment, when we focus our prayers on others and for peace, healing, joy, life, abundance etc in their lives, we reap physical and psychological benefits as well. Follow that up with listening to God and responding with altruism and the anxiety in your life will lessen. It might not happen instantly but the benefits of  what I like to call "Holy Mischief" are multifaceted and far reaching.


Holy Mischief pray authentic activation habitize share the story

What is the history behind some of our historical prayers?

It is my personal opinion that prayer should come from the heart. But that doesn't mean your prayers have to be your own words. Most of the time for me, they are. My prayers are in my own words and I talk to God like I would talk to my best friend. But there are times when words are hard. When I don't know what to say or I need some extra guidance. During those times I find myself seeking the prayers of others. Occasionally I'll find one that I'll pick up over and over. The words of some prayers seem to resonate in any situation and when I pray them the words do come from my heart because I have taken them to heart. 

Below are three prayers that I have used many times throughout my life and my ministry. They speak to my soul. Here they are along with a bit of the history behind them and/or the authors.


Covenant Prayer

Covenant Prayer – John Wesley

This prayer and the Covenant service that it is a part of is one of Methodism distinctive contributions to Protestant liturgy. It is typically used during a Watchnight Service on New Years Eve to reinforce our faith as a covenantal relationship with Jesus.

The prayer can be used everyday to help us to remember we are to give all and be in service for God in all ways.

"I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven. Amen."


Prayer of St. Francis

Instrument of Your Peace – St. Francis of Assisi

This prayer is attributed to St. Francis but actual authorship is not known. It can be dated back to 1912 but no futher. It was widely circulated during World War I and World War II. It is meant to bring peace and hope in uncertain times. Not only is it appropriate during times of war but in times of social unrest or internal strife. Mother Teresa recited this prayer each morning and asked that it be recited when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It has been set to music by many composers and has been performed at many notable events.

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life."

serenity prayer


The Serenity Prayer – Reinhold Niebuhr

Perhaps my favorite prayer to read is this one. Nieburh wrote the prayer around 1932 or 1933 and it spread rapidly through church groups. It was adopted and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve step programs. The original prayer has evolved a bit since it first circulated. The current version was published in 1944 in a sermon by Neibuhr but was given the title "The Serenity Prayer" in publications of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

This prayer has a special meaning for me. I grew up believing in God but not attending church. Having no outlet for my questions or a place to practice my faith, I was on my own. This prayer was framed on the wall of our living room. Not knowing anything else about this prayer, it gave me comfort knowing that God sustains me in the hard times and that those hard times will eventually bring peace and happiness is possible.

"God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen."

May each of these prayers bring you comfort and fill your soul when your own words seem inadequate. May they also shape our words and give us courage to pray words of our own from the heart. May God not only answer your prayers but shape you into the courageous prayer warrior He created you to be. May your words call forth heaven into earth and transform not only your heart but others as well.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

How do I pray out loud?

How do I get over my fear of praying in front of others?

Prayer is intimate. It feels like something that is very personal. Praying with others invites them into that intimate space where you communicate with God. It leaves us vulnerable.

But praying with others out loud not only connects us with God but connects us with our neighbor as well. When we pray out loud for and with others we open our hearts and share our souls in a way that reflects the glory of God.

How to pray


How to Pray Out Loud

These are not exclusive steps and this doesn't need to be a linear process but these are what worked for me so that I got over the idea of praying out loud. I still get nervous praying in front of others. I wonder if I'm doing it right even though I know God's grace covers anything I might say or do when I pray. But I'm also excited about what God will do in that moment. I know that prayer is not about me or my words but about the connection that whoever I'm praying for or with has with God. Praying with others is a privilege and an awe inspiring exercise of grace.

Step 1: Practice Privately

You don't go from never praying out loud to praying in front of hundreds of people. I take that back. You can but I don't recommend it. It would cause too much anxiety. Instead find a spot where you've heard from God before. For me that typically involves praying near water - a lake, stream, creek, or if I'm lucky ...a beach. But it could also be a quiet but comfortable place in your home or at your church. Get comfortable. Take a few deep breaths. And speak from your heart. Repeat this daily for a few days before you move onto step 2.

Step 2: Practice in a small group

For me this was the most important step. When I was taking my first long term Bible Study (Disciple 1), the facilitator of the group told us on our first meeting that we would each be taking turns opening and closing us with prayer. She pointed out that all of us were inexperienced at leading prayer (none of us were clergy at the time) and that this was a safe place to "practice." Her saying that took away 75% of my anxiety. She gave us permission to try and to learn. It was a gift. That didn't take ALL the anxiety away. The rest fell away over time as I practiced and as I heard other people fumble as they practiced. If you don't have a group like this, form one. Most people don't know how to pray out loud and would support your effort to improve this spiritual discipline.

Step 3: Keep a Prayer Journal

There are two reasons to keep a prayer journal. The first one is that if you keep a journal you can see how God answers prayer if you forget what you prayed for three months ago. The second is that it helps you to think about what you might lift up in a prayer with others before you are called to pray in front of a group. If there is a possibility that you might have the opportunity to pray out loud in the future, journal an outline of a prayer before hand. It will help you when you pray later.

Step 4: Habitize

Making prayer a habit

When you make a habit out of a spiritual discipline, you have habitized that discipline. Prayer is a life long spiritual discipline. It isn't something to be done only at church. Continue practicing and you will get better. Make it a habit and your life will be richer for it. 


In a time where we are practicing social distancing, prayer might be the most healthy, intimate, and loving gesture you can share with a friend. Praying for all of you!

Until Everyone Hears,

P.S. - In case you missed the first two posts, you can get the first post. "Prayer Basics" and second,  "Why should we pray" by clicking on the links.

P.P.S. - If you have any prayer requests for me over the weekend, feel free to reach out to message me through my profile or social media accounts.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Prayer Basics: How to Pray and other FAQs

How to Pray

Let's get right to the question I get most often: "Is there a right way to pray?" The short answer to this is no. Prayer is our time with God. The words can be out loud, in your head, a thought of gratitude, a cry for help etc. In fact John Wesley says this, "God will do nothing but in answer to prayer. Whether we think of, or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him. Proceed with much prayer, and your way will be made plain." (“The works of the rev. John Wesley”, p.383)

what is prayer?

We can talk about "what God does in prayer" in another post but I feel like this quote answers the question about "the right way" or "wrong way" to pray. We can't pray incorrectly because prayer is a part of who we are. Prayer is our communication with God and because of that intimacy (whether it is with a group of people or an individual), each encounter is unique and precious. We may not always be attentive of our connection with God but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

Steps to Prayer

That being said, I do think there are frameworks to prayer that can help our prayer time be more
How to Pray
meaningful. I don't always practice my prayer in this way. While I like to think of God in a linear way, I know God doesn't work that way. I have, however, found this framework useful when the words are hard for me to get out and I need a place to start.

Step 1: Praise

Start by telling God all the things you love about Him. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Or at least the top three things at the moment. Studies have shown that when you write down three different things every day that you are thankful for (for at least 21 days), you change the way your brain processes the world so you begin to look for positive things in the world because you have built a habit. To learn more about the power of positivity in relation to happiness, watch Shawn Achor's TED Talk.

Step 2: Refer to Scripture

I'll be honest. Sometimes I don't know what to say. My friends who have been around me after a couple of cups of coffee may find that hard to believe but its true. Sometimes, words fail us. In those times we have the gift of Scripture to lean on and it should be one of the first places we start. The problem is that there are a lot of words in the Bible and it might overwhelm you to try and find where to start. So here are a few tips about how to find the right passage: (this is not an exhaustive list)
  • Psalms - the book of Psalms is the ancient Hebrew prayer/song book. I say prayer/song because for some the difference is minimal. Jews have a cantor that leads in worship that will sing or "cant" or "chant" the words to a Psalm. We often sing words that have a prayer-like feel to them. Pray through the Psalms for strength (Psalm 46), lament (Psalm 22), and rejoicing (Psalm 103). There are more than just those three. You'll find multiple examples of all of those types of Psalms in that book of the Bible.
  • Philippians - this book is one of the shorter ones that Paul wrote. It is also his most joyful. I use each chapter for a different kind of prayer. Chapter 1 can be used to give thanks for other people in your life and to pray for them to thrive in their faith (Phil 1:3-11). I use Chapter 2 when I desire to be more Christ-like especially when I need to practice humility (Phil 2:1-11). Chapter 3 is a helpful reminder of sacrifice, hope, and perseverance (Phil 3:7-14). Chapter 4 reminds us to rejoice and to put our faith into practice (Phil 4:4-9)
  • Ephesians - Another time that Paul prayed for a church. The prayer in Ephesians 3:14-20 shows the power and strength of God's love.
  • Jesus' words - while the Lord's Prayer might be recited more, Jesus also prayed for his disciples and for us as well. You can find that prayer in John 17.
  • More of Jesus' words - I'll spend some time in another post to specifically talk about the Lord's Prayer and why it is so powerful. You can find it in Matthew 6:9-13. Watch what Christine Caine has to say about prayer and specifically The Lord's Prayer...

Step 3: Ask

In James 4:2-3 the writer says that, "you do not have because you do not ask." We often think about prayer as asking for something. Healing, happiness, wealth, love, wisdom, etc. You name it - someone has probably asked for it. While I do believe that we should take the desires of our heart to God, we should never fool ourselves to think that this is the purpose of prayer. The purpose of prayer is about transformation. Most often the person praying is the one transformed. Answered prayer is not the proof of God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “A god who let us prove his existence would be an idol.” Instead, prayer is the proof of your belief in God. Even if you don't think your faith is strong, your prayer life is acknowledgment of belief, no matter how large or small that may be. So ask. Ask God through prayer for the deepest desires of your heart, but be prepared for God to shape and transform what those desires are.

Step 4: Listen

We often forget this step. If we ask but fail to listen, do we really believe that God will answer? I believe that God answers every prayer in God's way and in God's time. Sometimes the answer is "yes." Sometimes the answer is "no." Sometimes the answer is "not yet." And sometimes we lose the desire or need we asked for. In theory this seems simple but it gets complicated when we pray for things we truly believe to be in God's will for people we believe to be worthy. Why do thousands of people pray for a child with cancer and yet the child still dies? Why does a virus turn into a pandemic when the world was praying? I don't know. I know this is a deep and complicated question that often halts someone's prayer life. But I also know that if I knew what God knew, then I would be overwhelmed (to put it mildly). I want to be wise but I cannot handle the knowledge God has. One day perhaps. Once I've made it to heaven. Until then I must live in the uncertainty of faith and listen for the certainty of God. This "certainty" comes through other people, through walks in God's creation, through scripture, and through that "still, small voice" that nudges me to know that God is with me, leading me, and ordering my steps.


I'll close with Andy Langford's prayer from a post I did in 2011 when Hurricane Irene was wreaking havoc. I feel this could apply as a COVID-19 prayer as well.

O God, you divided the waters of chaos at creation.
In Christ you stilled storms, raised the dead,
and vanquished demonic powers.
Tame the earthquake, wind, and fire,
and all the forces that defy control or shock us by their fury.
Keep us from calling disaster your justice.
Help us, in good times and in distress,
to trust your mercy and yield to your power, this day and for ever.
Amen.

Until Everyone Hears,

The Importance of Prayer

Most Jewish prayers start the same way...

Prayer

"Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe..." They start with God in mind. Part of the reason why I think we ask the question "Why should I pray?" is because we start with ourselves in mind. We look at prayer and ask, "What we can get out of it?" This is not why we should pray. God is not a Coke machine, a bubble gum dispenser, or a vending machine. Prayer is not a transaction. Prayer is a connection. 

But why do we need to pray?


While there are infinite reasons why we need to pray, I walk us through four.


  1. Scripture tells us to. The first that comes to mind is "pray without ceasing" in 1 Thessalonians but the second one that comes to mind is in Philippians chapter 4, "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
  2. Jesus did. Jesus prayed. Often. Throughout his life. "In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed." Mark 1:35 Jesus prayed at the beginning of his ministry and at the end of his life. If Jesus needed to pray, we certainly do as well.
  3. To understand. It is a means of discerning God's will. When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Thy will be done." We want to understand the will of God so that our will aligns with God's. We want our hearts and our minds to be transformed back into the image in which we were created - that process starts with prayer.
  4. Connection - We can't get to know him if we don't spend time with him. Spending time with someone is how relationships develop. There's no quick way to do that. It takes time.


If God knows everything that is going to happen then why do I need to pray? 

quote on prayer

There is a difference between God's Will for us and the plan for our life. God's will is for us to spend eternity with Him. He won't answer prayer in anyway that will jeopardize that. The plans for your life that don't impact your salvation are fluid. God is not a micro-manager. He cares about the details of our lives but he doesn't dictate them. He gave us free will and created us in his image with the gift of dominion over our own lives and the world - how we take care of each is up to us.


Who do I pray to? 

At first this question seems a bit odd to me. But when I really thought about it I could see how it could be confusing. Do we pray to God? Or Jesus? Or the Holy Spirit? Or all three? Or the Trinity? The answer falls into the category of "there's no wrong way to pray." I've prayed to God. I've prayed to Jesus. I've prayed to the Holy Spirit. I've prayed to all three. I've prayed in the name of the blessed Trinity. In my theological tradition, none of those were heretical. I was praying to the same God, just different aspects of that God. When I praise Creation, I pray to God. When I'm thankful for salvation, I pray to Jesus. When I pray for inspiration, I pray to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I start by talking to God and end in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people call me, Shannon. Other times I'm Rev. Karafanda. Often I'm called Mom. Close friends call me Doc. No matter what you call me, I'm still me. Pray to God. Get to know Him better. You'll know what to call Him.

Why isn't it working? 

Change your mindset to view prayer as a process, and experience, a relationship and not as a means to a result. Prayer isn't about "working" its about being with. Connecting. It always works. It feels different at different times. You may say the same prayer each day and hear something different each day in response. The world changes all the time - of course you'll hear something different. But that doesn't mean its not working.

Why is it important - does He already know what I need/want?

Do you tell your spouse you love them? Don't they already know? Pray. God doesn't need to hear from you. He longs to hear from you. Reconnect.

Can we change God's mind?

This one is tricky. I would never want to think that I had the power to change God's mind but I do think God's mind can be changed. That is different from God changing His will. There is scriptural evidence of Jesus changing his mind in the story of the Syrophoenician woman's faith. She argues with Jesus and is persistent in her request and Jesus changes his mind. Jesus himself prayed in the garden for what was about to happen to not happen IF it would be within God's will for the situation to change. Jesus seemed to be telling us that God can change His mind but he won't change His will.

I hope that I have cleared a path for you to be more open about prayer. I pray that you will connect with God and change the world. But even if that doesn't happen in the way you might think I do know that if you connect with God YOU will change. And YOU are worth it.
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Monday, March 2, 2020

What are you aiming for?

finding your purpose

Finding Your Purpose

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf. The movie where Will Farrell thinks he's an elf and has to find his dad and save Christmas. I love his reaction to seeing New York City for the first time. His sense of wonder is similar to the first time I saw the city as well. At one point he sees a sign in a window that says "World's Best Coffee." He runs into the restaurant and proclaims, "Congratulations! You did it! World's Best Coffee!"

I was recently in Austin, Texas and stayed next to a coffee shop that had the sign pictured here, "The Best Coffee in Town." While I didn't try to verify, it was really good coffee and it did have a steady stream of customers while I was around.

We can't all be "the best." But we can do our best. In a world where there is pressure for perfection, doing our best doesn't feel like its enough. It feels like we are missing the mark. It feels like failure.

What if we have the wrong markers? What if what we are aiming for isn't what God wants us to aim for? The distance between where we aim and where we land is where God's grace can transform our lives. When that happens our markers are reset. Now instead of aiming for "the best" we aim for "God's best for us."

Your purpose in life is to aim at God's best for you. If you aim at someone else's best, you'll always fall short. If you aim at God's best for you, His grace will get you there. Its not always easy and it may take time but its worth to hear Him say, "Congratulations! You did it! World's best YOU."

Until Everyone Hears,

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