Tag Archives: Prayer

Trusting God for the Outcome: A Mother’s Prayers

I’ve been reminded that a mother is only as happy as her happiest child. We’d rather experience illness or unhappiness ourselves than to see our children struggle. I’m learning to trust God has a plan as we walk alongside our son in his battle with anxiety, panic and depersonalization. I share this very personal story on my friend Amelia Rhodes’ blog today.

I will never forget the first time I sat with my son while he was experiencing a panic attack. Everything in me wanted to hold him and make it stop. All I could do was pray and wait for it to pass.

When he was in his early 20s, our adventurous, confident, athletic and creative son had his first collision with anxiety and panic. It came out of nowhere. He had moved from Indiana to Nashville, TN, and was enjoying the city with all its new experiences and friendships. Though he’d had periods of mild depression in the past, anxiety and panic were something new. The first time he experienced anxiety was confusing and frightening, but it passed and he lived mostly anxiety-free for the next five years………(read more)

While visiting Amelia’s website, check out her beautiful new book “Pray A to Z”. Amelia has taken her own desire to be intentional as she prays and developed a useful and inspiring tool to guide us in our prayers. My blog post today is one in a series on topics covered in her book.

 

Pray A to Z: Purposeful Prayer in the New Year and a Book Give-Away

It’s a new year and because I love fresh starts, I’ve been known to make a resolution or two. (I won’t share the statistics on my success at keeping them.) Recently, our pastor challenged us to make commitments instead of resolutions — more importantly, to commit to God an action, attitude, habit or sacrifice that we’re willing to take up in the new year.

Mine is prayer. Just that — conversation with God. No more spiritual “tweets” or text messages sent up in the midst of other things, but deep, personal prayer. Intentional solicitations, thoughtful praises, heartfelt gratitude. With a new prayer journal in hand, I’m off to a good start.

One of the tools I know will guide me toward a habit of more intentional prayer is a new book by my friend, Amelia Rhodes, entitled Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community. Amelia is a writer, author and speaker who lives in Lowell, Michigan, with her family. Her book grew out of a personal desire to cultivate an organized prayer life. From Amelia:

“Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community features 5 topics for each letter. Three of those are prayers of petition, and two are prayers of praise. Each topic has a verse, a prompt, and a short prayer to get you started.

Pray A to Z can be used in many ways, including your personal quiet time, as a part of a small prayer group, during family devotions or in Sunday school classes. You can pray all the way through one letter each day, completing the entire alphabet in a month, or imply lift up one topic per day, or utilize any other order or schedule that suits your needs at the time. I’ve often camped out on one topic when there’s been something heavy on my heart.

My hope and prayer is that this book will help you experience a renewed excitement about prayer and enjoy a closer relationship with God. I also pray God will open your eyes to the struggles others are facing and show you how you can be His hands and feet of love to your community.”

I am giving a copy of this book to one reader who responds here with his or her request for prayer. I promise not only to send you the book (through Amazon), but to pray specifically for your request. I’ll choose the winner in a drawing.

The beautiful thing about writing out prayers is that we have a record which can make us aware of the answers to our prayers. I asked Amelia to share a personal story about answered prayer in her life:

Author Amelia Rhodes

A year ago at this time my family and I were settling into a cozy 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. We had sold our house, believing that God was calling us to a simpler way of life, one that long term would allow us to be more generous with our time and our money. Yet, when our house sold, there was nothing for sale in our little town. However, there was this small rental that we were able to snag for six months, and it happened to be in the exact location we wanted to live. It was a perfect way to “try out” this part of town we believed we were supposed to move to. And by spring, there would be plenty of houses for sale.

Or so we thought.

Spring came and there weren’t any houses for sale. Week after week we searched. Houses were selling before they were even listed. And a fixer-upper house in the price range and location we felt called to just wasn’t happening.

Every day for six months, I looked out the back window of that rental and prayed, asking God to guide our steps to obey this call on our life and show us the right place to live.

With weeks left before our lease was up, and still no houses for sale, we figured we would have to sign a one year lease and continue waiting. Another year in the rental would be challenging, but we were content to be patient until the right house showed up that would allow us to live the way we believed God was asking us to.

Then the landlord called. It turned out that due to health challenges, they were looking to sell all their rental homes. She hoped we had found a place to buy. When I told her we hadn’t, she asked what specifically we were looking for. I gave her our simple wish list and she replied, “We own the house behind where you are living, and we need to sell it too. I think it might be exactly what you’re looking for. Do you want to walk through it tomorrow?”

A few weeks later, we signed the papers to buy the house behind the rental. It also happened to be the house that filled my view for six months as I stared out the window asking God to show us where we were supposed to live. I’m sure God got a chuckle out of that. I can imagine Him thinking, “My dear, the answer is right in front of you. It’s just not time to show you yet.”

Sometimes the answer is right in front of us, but it’s not time for God to reveal it yet. And sometimes we have to wait, not because we aren’t ready, but because the other parties involved aren’t ready yet. Prayer and patience go together, and God gives us the patience we need to wait for HIs timing when we ask.

Amelia’s new book is available online at all major booksellers. You can also connect with her online at www.ameliarhodes.com, on Twitter @amrhodes, Facebook @ameliarhodeswriter and Instagram @ameliamrhodes.

When Family Trumps Blogging: Writing for 31 Days

http://write31days.com/The “God-Spot” for Day 15 just didn’t happen. Not that I didn’t see God in my day. He was all over it –at my coffee date with a dear friend, in the conversations with fellow ministry workers, in my Beth Moore Bible study. But the blog post I had started for Day 15 wasn’t at the top of my list by the end of the day. Family needs were. So, I shut down all electronic devices but my phone. I needed to focus on relationship without distraction. It turns out, the blog post I had planned and begun to write showed up in my real world. Now that’s a “God-Spot”.

Praying Circles Around My Children

There were those nights I slipped into my son’s room, knelt by his bed and prayed, my urgent whispers begging God to take up residence in his heart, in his mind. To turn him back to us.

And there have been mornings I rose early, turned on just the one light by my chair and pulled my Bible into my lap. Before the crazy rush of pancakes, chores, school books, piano lessons, basketball. Before the onslaught of laundry and errands. In those quiet early morning moments, in the thick of our child-rearing season, I sought wisdom from God and I prayed. It was the best thing I knew to do.photo (21)

The days of over-flowing bedrooms, Lego cities strewn across the carpet, drums and guitar rhythms pulsing from our basement — in the quiet of our empty nest, those days are sweet memories. And the four boys who were the target of all the prayers are leading lives in far-flung cities.

And still I pray.

Last night, for a dear one in turmoil, I prayed this…..

“May you grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

And this morning, before my eyes even opened, this…..

“I claim your promises, Lord. My children are yours. I believe in YOUR BEST for them.”

We never stop being “Mom”, do we? They can be 30 with a wife and a career and we still see them as the babes we held in our arms. Wasn’t it just yesterday?

I’ve been praying circles around my boys for years and I don’t expect it to stop now. If you’ve read the legend of Honi the Circle Maker, you know what I’m talking about. Like Honi, I’ve drawn circles and knelt in them, determined not to stop until God answers. Even more so, the prayers I offer up for my children.

Prayers for protection, good health, character, success, relationships.

Though our sons are grown men, I find I’m still drawing the same circles.

“Drawing circles is a metaphor that simply means ‘to pray without ceasing.’ It’s praying until God answers. It’s praying with more intensity, more tenacity. It’s not just praying for, it’s praying through.” Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson

So, I can’t do their laundry any more (well, I could, but I won’t), I’m not making them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or shuttling them to play dates and piano lessons. I’m not doing all those “mom” things that defined me for so many years. But I’m still doing the most important Mom Thing. I’m praying. And I won’t get up until God answers.

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)

 

 

Saints Among Us: Living Out Her Faith

GETTING (5)I am honored to welcome a dear friend, Brenda Yoder of Beyond the Picket Fence Ministries, as she shares her tribute to her mother-in-law for the series Saints Among Us. Enjoy her reflections here and visit her blog, Life Beyond the Picket Fence at brendayoder.com.

When I think of a saint that’s among us, one who’s influenced my life, I think of my mother-in-law. Recently I was reminded of her quiet, powerful life when a piece of paper fell out of a devotional she gave me several years ago. On the paper the words “My Daily Prayer” was written on it.  It read:

My Daily Prayer
If I can do some good today,
If I can serve along life’s way,
If I can something helpful say,
Lord, show me how.

If I can right a human wrong,
If I can help to make one strong,
If I can cheer with smile or song,
Lord, show me the how.

If I can aid one in distress,
If I can make a burden less,
If I can spread more happiness,
Lord show me how.

The significance of this prayer is that my mother-in-law lived these words.  The power of who she was as a wife, mother, friend, sister, church member, is that she lived these words daily without calling significance to herself. As a farmer’s wife, she simply lived and loved well.  Not only did she come along side me as a young mom, gently teaching me the ways of motherhood and housekeeping, but she came alongside many others to which she ministered.  When you were with her, you felt as though time stopped, that you were the only person on the earth at that moment, even though her busy life went on around her.  She lived this prayer, which made her unexpected death at age sixty-seven so painful, yet okay.  She lived with no regrets — that’s the legacy she left behind.

My daughter was eight when my mother-in-law died, the seventh of twelve grandchildren who knew they had the most special place in their grandma’s heart. For a writing assignment in 4th grade, my daughter wrote:

The Person I Admire

My Grandma’s name is Lois Yoder. She would’ve been 68 years old. Her birthday is December 10, 1934. She was very kind and nice. I admire grandma for her kindness.

Many people told stories about her kindness. One story was that grandma helped a woman feel comfortable when she became English from Amish. She was kind to us grandkids by alway being “there.” She always there for me.

She was kind to animals. She raised a deer from birth. Grandma even raised a raccoon!

One gentleman from our church said, “We, on earth have lost a saint, but heaven has gained one.”

My mother-in-law died on August 17, 2000.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded by her life that the most important things we do in life are what we do when no one’s looking, both for our family and others.  It’s how my mother-in-law lived day in and day out.  Perhaps she really prayed this prayer to her Lord every day.

Help me be kind.  Lord, show me the way.

A simple, yet most profound statement, lived by a woman I consider a saint, exemplifying true humility and an authentic love for God.

Who shows you authentic love and kindness?

I’ll Take This Christmas Miracle

In this season of Miracles, would God do less than deliver when asked?

Even on a day when life is spinning wild with errands, with that mad rush toward a day for Celebration.

Even when it’s only a worried mother asking that the search for what is lost might have a good ending.

An afternoon romp in the melting snow for the Pup seemed like a good idea. Snow is new to him and his winter coat hasn’t thickened, but he is silly with the excitement over this new world. He stays near the barn at first, following the family dog to trace crazy circles across the yard while a foggy mist draws the day toward dusk. But soon the family dog is waiting at the front door and the pup is not at her side. We call. He doesn’t come.

Darkness is falling and the fog lays heavy on the doorstep. We wrap ourselves in coats, pull on the boots and grab flashlights. We fan out across the farm, into the hills behind the house, calling out for the Pup. Husband takes the car to drive slowly down our country road, hoping he won’t find what he is looking for in the grassy ditches. Turning into a field, he drives along the fence, shining his lights, window rolled down in the cold mist, whistling but hearing no bark in return.

Son venture131216_0002s deep into the barns, shining his light into corners filled with sawdust, hoping he’ll see the brown mound of fur, hunkered down for a nap. We holler and whistle, leaving our own crazy circles in the sloppy snow.

For an hour the three of us search, coming back together to ask……

“Did you check there, in the shed?”

“Didn’t I hear barking at the neighbors?”

We keep our phones with us, calling to report with anxious voices. Nothing yet.

We join forces and drive into a far field, along a creek bank, following what can only be seen in our headlights. Tracks — not deer or possum, possibly dog tracks? Into the woods and out again, across the field and back. More crazy circles in the snow.

Another 15 minutes pass. Another field and more tracks. Son jumps out of the car again and again to inspect new tracks. He hops out a final time, determined to follow them. Into tall grasses, under low bushes, he shines his light. Our hunt is futile, I fear, and think to ask that we turn back. But Son persists, calling as he swings his flashlight toward the creek.

So I pray, as I’ve been praying through this long evening.

“Please, God,” I say again. “Please show us where he is.”

I’m as worried for the Son who won’t give up the search as I am for the one who is lost. This search, I can see, it holds meaning for him. Searching for what is lost. He can’t let it go.

And I whisper again. “Please, God. A miracle. A Christmas miracle.”

I pray believing. God wants this. He wants a good ending.

Suddenly, I hear Son laugh, hear him say the pup’s name, crouching low, calling softly to the lost one who is shivering with fear and cold. Son coaxes him from under the tree, scoops him into his arms, tucks him under his coat. He is speaking to the bundle, voice full with emotion. “I’m sorry,” he says. “You’re okay. I’m sorry.”

And my tears flow because God has answered.

Yes, I’ll take this Christmas miracle.

Real Conversations with a Friend

Have you ever tried to hold a good, heartfelt conversation in a busy restaurant or coffee shop? All the distractions — the noise, movement, other faces — they keep that conversation from going deep, and often you miss what’s said, what’s behind the words that are said.

The best conversations happen when it’s quiet. On a front porch, in the woods, at the oceanfront, on a mountaintop, on bended knee in a darkened room.

Have you conversed with God lately? I mean, has He talked to you? Just YOU?

A friend found himself at a crossroads some years ago and tells of his two-way conversation with God.

“Let’s go for a walk,” God whispered to my friend on a day when he was calling out for answers.

This man of God speaks fondly of his “Abba Father.” He knows his Father’s voice. He obeyed.

“What’s on your mind?”  God asked.

And on the walk, he conversed with Abba, like a son with his earthly father.

Do you have those conversations with God? Real ones, where you talk, He listens. He talks and YOU listen.

Too often my conversations with God sound more like placing a meal order with a waitress.

“I’ll take good health and safe travels, please. With a little sunshine and blessings for my family on the side.”

A nice little chat, those conversations. A minute from my day.

“Do you hear me God? Good. You’re wonderful. I read a Psalm this morning, listened to some worship music. Now, here’s what I need today.”

A minute. Not 40 days — 57,600 minutes — like Moses on Mount Sinai.mountaintop

In Exodus 34, when Moses obeyed God and went for that walk up the mountain, I wonder if he knew he’d be there a week, a month, 40 long days. God had a lot to say to His messenger, Moses, on the mountaintop, a lot he wanted Moses to tell his fellow travelers who waited below.

So Moses went and he listened, because he’d been there before.  He’d had this conversation with the Lord and had carried God’s handwritten message to His people, only to see the message destroyed by willful disobedience. When God called him a second time, Moses went again, because of the bush, the tent meetings and the pillar of cloud.

“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Exodus 33:11a.

Moses went when he was called again, and because of those conversations, Moses was emboldened. He asked questions, he sought promises. He moved closer to his  Lord.

“Show me your glory, I pray.”  And with Moses hidden in the cleft of a rock, God’s glory passed by.

In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy it is recorded that God continued carrying on conversations with His messenger, Moses. “The Lord spoke to Moses…..” again and again. Because he went when God called him.

My friend went when God called him. He took the walk and conversed with his Father. He sought promises and he asked questions about what to choose at this crossroads. To move or to stay?

“What would this answer look like?” God asked my friend. “What can I do to show you?”

“Mushrooms,” my friend answered. “We haven’t seen mushrooms in this woods for a couple of years. If I find mushrooms, we’ll stay.”

My friend walked on, talked on. And there they were. Big, black morel mushrooms. Just a couple, off the path. Then he looked further, hiked to the spot where they’d last found bounty. Once there, he stood disbelieving…..surrounded by mushrooms. He counted ninety in all, more than they’d ever harvested.

He implored God. God sought him out. My friend listened. God answered.

Have you asked God expectantly? Closed your mouth and waited. Listened for that “still, small voice.” For a minute, for 40 days?