Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Aids in Prayer

In light of the recent War Room movie many of us are reexamining our lives especially in the area of prayer. How often are we praying and are we praying just when we are in trouble?

I think so often we tend to use prayer as a last line of defense instead of the first line of defense and as a hedge and the first line of offense.

For those of you who have not seen War Room, it is a movie that details how prayer and strategic planning. I have come across several tools for aiding in my prayer life and I thought I would share them with you.
  • First is the use of a prayer journal. My journal has significantly changed over the years. It's went from my constant complaining and whining to me actually praying and usually when I do start to whine the Lord tends to correct my thinking and cause me to repent before I'm even done writing. I also write down people that I am praying for, usually just their name and a quick note on specifically what I am praying.
  • Mark Batterson's Draw the Circle, a 40 day Prayer Challenge. It reads like a devotional with a prompt to pray each day, specifically. The point is to "draw a circle" around the people and things that are important to you. Batterson tells of how he led prayer on a corporate level with his church based on Scripture and I think it is something that we can definitely use in our personal prayer lives. The number 40 is significant because it is the number of years the Israelites spent in the wilderness and the number of days Jesus spent in the wilderness. 
  • Jennifer White's article 9 prayers for your War Room. I've actually prayed these prayers and written them down in my prayer folder. 
  • My prayer folder. I've read of people who have said they did not have the space to create an actual prayer room or prayer closet. And I totally understand! I have no extra closets or rooms in my house. We have a three bedroom home and readying to welcome our fourth child. So that should give you an idea of the amount of extra space we actually have. Every nook and cranny is needed. So I created a prayer folder. I use it to hold the prayers that I have written that I plan to post when I do have the space for a prayer closet.. And to contain my strategy for prayer on how I pray.
  • There are also several reading plans on the YouVersion bible app that can aid in helping you see the importance of prayer in the bible. I'm doing both War Room- The Overflow Devo and Prayers of Jesus reading plans. They are short reading plans (6 days & 5 days respectively). When I'm also doing other bible studies (whether working through them or writing them) I try to keep it light and not too long on the reading plans. 

So what are your aids in prayer? Share them below!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What if Marriage was intended to be sacred?

How often do we go into marriage with the understanding of being made happy by the marriage and our spouse? How often do we hear people end marriages because they were "unhappy?"

Now what if you were to learn that God did not design our marriage with our happiness as its central focus? What if our marriage is designed to make us holy before Him? What if marriage was not designed for our happiness but to completely glorify God?

That is what Gary Thomas is answering for us and opening our eyes to see in his book Sacred Marriage.

When I got married and throughout a great portion of marriage and even at times now, I get angry because of the times when we are unhappy and it is chaotic. I am still learning that my marriage was not designed for me to be happy. Yes happiness can be a by product of marriage. But that is not the original design for marriage. 

This book is filled with examples of couples who had been going about marriage (and in some cases divorce) the wrong way. They'd been consumed with themselves and what made them happy. Yet they either forgot or were completely unaware of the fact that happiness is fleeting and that is not marriage's purpose. That is not our spouses purpose. We cannot burden our spouses with the task of making us happy all the time. Our joy must come from the Lord and when that happens we become content to let marriage be what God designed it to be.

A really good example of this is Hosea in the bible. Hosea was instructed to marry a harlot (a prostitute) who would give birth to children that may not have even been Hosea's children. Yet God had a purpose in this. He wanted to use marriage, specifically Hosea's marriage, to demonstrate His purpose for marriage. God wanted to show that there needs to be constant forgiveness and not human forgiveness but Godly forgiveness. God wanted to show His relationship with the people and how before we get married to our earthly spouses we have a heavenly spouse. And in our submission & obedience & loving to our earthly spouse, we are essentially doing that unto our heavenly spouse. The same goes for the message Paul gives us in Ephesians 5.

Gary Thomas seeks to give this knowledge to the believer. To live out marriage the way God intended for it to be. To stop being prideful and selfish in our marriages. To allow God to use our marriages to make us holy before Him.

 As a wife one of the things my husband is charged to do is to "that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,  that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:26-27 NKJV) And in response my job is to submit and allow him to do so. No matter how hard that may be or how hard my flesh wants to fight. (And trust me my flesh has been and is fighting.)
That is what I have been learning from this book.

FYI: I received this book as a member of BooklookBloggers for free in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Beginner's Bible Bedtime Collection

This is a collection of Bible Stories for Bedtime Stories. So instead of the Mother Goose rhymes or other books for bedtime stories, we...