Prayer

Praying Scripture

Could you use a little change up in your prayer routine?

Sometimes, when I’ve been praying for months on end about certain situations – a loved one’s salvation, a stagnant circumstance that just won’t resolve itself, a need that God hasn’t yet provided – I feel like my daily time of prayer is stuck in a rut. Like I’m praying all the exact same things every day.

That doesn’t bother God, of course, and we are to be persistent and fervent with our requests, but every now and then I need a break from petitioning to focus on another aspect of prayer. And one of the ways I like to do that is to pray Scripture back to God.

Occasionally, I’ll sit down with my Bible and pray through a Psalm, but I usually have my prayer time while I’m out walking, so I have to rely on the Scriptures that are hidden in my heart. I was praying this way the other day, and it occurred to me that maybe you’d like to pray Scripture too. So I thought I’d share with you some of the Scriptures I pray and how I pray them.

and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:10

Lord, help me today to discern what is pleasing to You, and do it.

 

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3

Father, help me to keep my mouth shut when it needs to be shut, and to speak up when I need to speak up.

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Let everything I think, say, and do bring  honor and glory to You.

 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Please show me how to obey your Word, Lord, not just hear it.

 

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

Father, would you please answer Jesus’ prayer to sanctify me in the truth of Your Word.

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12

Please cleanse me and forgive me for my sin, and give me a fresh start with a clean heart and a right spirit. Thank You that because of the blood of Christ and the seal of the Holy Spirit, You will never cast me out or take Your Spirit from me. Thank You for giving me back the joy of unhindered fellowship with You.

 

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Proverbs 4:7

Father thank You that You generously give wisdom to those who ask. Please give me wisdom and help me to pursue wisdom and understanding.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

Lord, help me to trust You with all my heart – over and above what I can see with my eyes and understand with my mind. Let everything I think, say, and do bring glory and honor to You. Smooth my path before me. Let me not trust in my own wisdom and understanding, but grow in me a godly fear of You that turns me away from evil.

 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Father, remind me that my life is a vapor. Help me to honor You with my time and steward my time well. Help me to get everything done today that You want me to get done.

 

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! Psalm 139:1

Thank You that You know me inside and out. That I can come to You in prayer, and I don’t have to explain everything, and make sure You understand correctly, because You already know. That You know everything about me and You still choose to love me.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Thank You for creating me. I stand in awe at the magnificence of Your creation in the human body: You can read every strand of DNA in my body. You not only understand the difference between meiosis and mitosis (which I was never able to master in biology class), You created each of those processes. You keep my heart beating, my cells reproducing, my lungs filled with air, my synapses synapsing.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24

Examine my heart, God, and whatever is in me that is displeasing to You, get rid of it.

 

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die for me while I was still Your enemy. Thank You, Jesus for being willing to die for me, a sinner. Thank You for turning me from Your enemy into Your friend.

 

In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, Ephesians 1:4b-5

Lord, I will never understand why You would choose someone like me to be Your child, because there is nothing good in me, but I’m so glad and so grateful that You did.

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Father, thank You that You are smarter than I am, that You know the best way to handle every situation, and that You are powerful enough to work everything out for Your glory and my good. Thank You for the comfort and rest it brings me to know that You have everything under control.

 

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Lord, help me to truly delight myself in You- so much so that You are putting Your desires into my heart. I want to want what You want.

 

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13

God, thank You that You see me – that You haven’t forgotten or forsaken me. Thank You that You are a God who sees and rewards our good works done in secret. Thank You that because You are a God of seeing, there are no unsolved crimes or unpunished evil with You. Nothing escapes Your notice, and no one gets away with anything. Thank You that when earthly justice systems fail, You bring ultimate justice. Thank You that You will one day vindicate Your servants.

 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1, 3b-4

Lord God, thank You that the sin, pain, and separation of this life is temporary. Thank You that one day You will make everything right. Thank You that, through Christ, You have made a way for me to live with You forever.

 

As you’re choosing Scriptures to pray back to God, it’s a good idea to study those passages in context and make sure you’re understanding and handling His Word correctly as you pray. Claiming biblical promises that don’t apply to you, for example, will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. And you certainly don’t need that standing in the way of your prayer time or hindering your fellowship with the Lord.

If your prayer life needs a breath of fresh air, I encourage you to try praying God’s own words back to Him. There’s no better way to be sure your prayer is pleasing to Him and that you’re praying within His will.

What are some of your favorite
Scriptures to pray back to God?

Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ Six Ways to Leave Your First Love

Originally published April 29, 2016

6 ways first love

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB)

Love…exciting and new….

If you’re a child of the 80s, you probably recognize those few words as the opening line of the theme song from the TV show, The Love Boat. It was all about romance, attraction, and the first blush of new love. Perfect strangers met, fell for each other in a matter of days and walked off the ship arm in arm when it sailed back into port. (There was also a lot of fornication, so that’s not an endorsement of the show.)

Anyone who’s ever fallen in love before remembers that excitement, the nearly illicit drug-like rush of those first days and weeks of romance. Your heart and mind are consumed with him 24/7. You can’t wait to see him again. Just having a conversation with him sets your toes a-tingle. You start realizing your friends are constantly changing the subject because he’s all you can talk about.

I remember those days when I first met my husband. After twenty-three years of marriage, that initial seedling of obsessive infatuation has grown into a sturdy, sedate, deeply rooted California redwood of love and trust. Our love for each other may not look like it did when we first started dating, but it’s still there. In fact, that love is bigger and stronger now than it ever has been.

It saddens me that it’s not that way for every couple. Sometimes, instead of puppy love growing into mature love, it’s more like a Fourth of July sparkler that burns brightly at first, and then fizzles down to a smoking ember as time goes by. Couples let things get in the way of their relationship. They pull away from each other instead of toward each other. They stop talking. They stop spending time together. Outwardly, they can be going through all the right motions, but, behind closed doors, their love has died.

And that’s where we find Christ’s bride, the church of Ephesus, in Revelation 2.

This is not a bad church where sin is running rampant and false doctrine is being taught. This is basically a good church. Christ commends the Ephesian church for their good deeds, hard work, endurance, and, especially, their discernment. Outwardly, they were doing all the right things, and doing them well.

But that wasn’t enough for Christ. Just like it wouldn’t be enough for a husband whose wife is simply a good cook, a good mother, and a good housekeeper.

Christ doesn’t just want the good deeds and doctrine of His bride. He wants her heart, too. Not just her labor, but her love. And because you and I are the church, He wants that from us as individuals as well. He wants our love for Him to steadily grow from that first spark to deep maturity, not to burn down to a smoldering wick.

Have you, like the church at Ephesus, left your first love for Christ? It can be so easy for our affection toward Him and our enjoyment of Him to slip away that sometimes we don’t even realize it’s happening. Maybe it’s time for a little evaluation? Got any of these dynamics playing out in your walk?

1. You spend a lot of time hanging out in one particular area of the faith.

It’s no secret that I hang out in Discernment Land a lot. Maybe that’s why this passage in Revelation hits me so hard. First Church of Ephesus spent a lot of time there, too. Discernment and contending for the faith are good things. Christ praised this church for standing strong against false doctrine and comparing every teaching to Scripture.

There are a lot of other wonderful areas of Christianity to explore and grow in, too. Studying theology is a good thing. So are prayer, worship, serving, giving, hospitality, evangelism, Bible study, and so on. But too much of one good thing can squeeze out time and desire for other good things. It can be challenging, but we’ve got to maintain a balance of all the good stuff in order to have a healthy relationship with Christ.

2. You’re in a “perseverance” season of life.

Life as a first century Christian was no picnic. People’s families turned against them, many lost their livelihoods, there was the constant threat of torture and persecution nearly inconceivable to us today, and false doctrine continued to creep into the church and had to be fought off. We get a little hint of this when, in the first three verses of this passage, Christ uses the words “endurance,” “grown weary,” and “perseverance” (twice).

When God is allowing or causing circumstances to occur in your life that put you through the wringer, you can slip into survival mode. But it’s not really survival without regularly communing with Christ. It’s vital that you spend time with Christ during these difficult periods of your life so your relationship with Him doesn’t grow cold.

3. Good works are overwhelming your schedule.

The good works God has called you to are a good thing. Just as Christ recognized the “deeds and toil” of the Ephesian church, He has prepared good works for you to do and wants you to do them. But there are those good works that God has prepared for you to do and will provide the time for: serving your family, serving your church, being a faithful employee; and then there can be additional good works you over-extend yourself for. When you are so busy serving – even at church or in ministry activities – that your personal relationship with Christ suffers or your primary area of service to your family suffers, you are too busy. It’s time to reevaluate and cut back somewhere.

4. You’re not faithfully attending church.

If you’re regularly choosing travel, ballgames, birthday parties, sleeping in, shopping, visiting family, or any other non-essential, non-emergency activity over faithfully attending church, you are sinning, and you need to stop it and get your heiney back in the pew every week. When Scripture says gathering for worship with other Christians is your first priority, you need to obey that.

But it’s more than just adhering to some arbitrary rule. God doesn’t make arbitrary rules. His commands are always for our good. When you miss church, you’re missing out on the teaching and proclamation of God’s word, the celebration of Christ with your brothers and sisters, the opportunity to fellowship with and help bear the burdens of other believers, the encouragement and sharpening of running the race with your teammates, and the chance to serve the body of Christ. All of these things direct our focus to Christ, His beauty and His love for us, which, in turn, grows our love for Him.

5. You’re neglecting personal time in the Word and prayer.

I spend a lot of time in and around the Word. I’m normally at church, Sunday school, and Wednesday night Bible study every week. I teach my children the Bible every morning. My husband leads us in family worship. I write about biblical topics, which requires study of the Word. I listen to sermons and Christian podcasts all the time. But even with all that, when I don’t get up and start the day alone with God in prayer and in His word, I can feel myself slipping away from Him. And I know from experience that if I let that go on long enough, there’s going to be a rift between us, I’m going to keep pulling away from Him, and I’m not only going to miss out on that intimate, loving communion with Him, I’m going to leave myself wide open to temptation to sin.

Neglecting your Bible study and prayer time has a similar effect on your relationship with Christ as refusing to talk to or spend time with your husband would have on your marriage. Don’t give Christ the silent treatment. Stay in close fellowship with Him through His word and prayer.

6. You’re cherishing sin.

It’s a sin. You know it because the Bible clearly says so. You do it anyway. You keep doing it because you like it. Maybe it’s something “big” like pornography or embezzlement. Maybe it’s something “small” like coveting or gossip. But every step you take toward that sin is a step away from Christ and your love for Him. Every time you commit that act, you’re saying, “I love my sin more than I love Christ.”

 

Have you left your first love? Are you going through all the right motions outwardly, but inwardly your heart is far from God? Are you committing spiritual adultery with sin, letting busyness crowd out your relationship with the Lord, neglecting time in the Word and prayer? Do you long for that intimate communion with Christ you once had? Great news! He wants that for you, too.

…remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.

God is gracious and merciful, and He wants your heart, not just your right actions. He stands ready to forgive you, reconcile you to Himself, and restore that sweet love and fellowship.

Bible Study

Nine Helps for Starting and Sticking to Daily Bible Study

We’ll be getting started on our new Bible study next week.
In the meantime, I thought this might be helpful.

Originally published March 31, 2015

9 helps daily bible study

It seems to be a common dilemma among new Christians, Christians who have never developed the habit of daily Bible study, and even those whose current Bible study methods or materials just don’t seem to be “working.” You know you need to be studying God’s word efficiently and effectively every day, but you aren’t quite sure how to get the ball rolling.

Let me just say right off the bat that getting over that ginormous hurdle between knowing you ought to study your Bible today and actually doing it is normal. Every Christian goes through that at least occasionally. So don’t worry that your flesh balking initially when it’s time to open your Bible means you aren’t saved or you don’t have enough faith, or whatever. But don’t let it stop you either. There are some things you can do to get off to a good start with setting up and sticking to a daily Bible study time. What can you do to set yourself up for success?

Prioritize It

Take a little time to get alone with the Lord, and be honest with Him and yourself. Is daily Bible study actually important to you – something you want to do? Why or why not? Do you feel like you should be studying, but you don’t really have a desire to? Ask God to help you understand your motivations and submit them to Him. Ask him to give you a passion for His word. Ask Him to help you to be obedient to Him in making His word a priority in your life.

Pair It

Pair your study time with something you already do faithfully, and at roughly the same time, every day. Study while you’re eating lunch, during the baby’s nap time, right after you exercise, as soon as you get up in the morning, etc. Piggybacking onto something that’s already built in to your schedule helps you stay faithful and keeps you from forgetting.

Plan for It

Do your best to block off your schedule for your Bible study time and guard that time from interruptions. Turn your phone off and get away from social media. Don’t schedule other appointments or activities that might run long and impinge on your study time. Take care of any possible contingencies that could come up before you get started.

Be Purposeful About It

The Bible should be studied in an orderly way so you can understand and apply it properly. I usually recommend simply picking up the Bible and studying it rather than using Bible study books and workbooks, and having a systematic plan of study is essential, not only to proper understanding and application of God’s word, but also to keep you from wasting time trying to figure out what to study each day. Choose a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and work your way through it, or choose a plan for working your way through the New Testament, Old Testament, or whole Bible.

Pare It

Bible reading plans are great, but some of them can simply require so much daily reading that you don’t have time to slow down, take it all in, and linger over what you need to linger over. You don’t have to read the whole Bible in a year, but if a plan interests you, you could tweak the timing of it or pare it down in some way so you’re not biting off more than you can chew. Go for quality rather than an overwhelming quantity. Many beginners find that a chapter a day (unless it’s Psalm 119!) is just about right.

Partner with Someone

Check in regularly with a friend or your husband and discuss what each of you is learning from God’s word and how He’s using what you’re studying to make you more like Christ. It’s great fellowship and will help keep you both accountable to staying in the Word.

Positively Reinforce It

It’s true that studying God’s word is its own reward, but sometimes disciplining yourself to stick to a schedule needs a little extra boost of incentive, especially when you’re just starting out. How about making a deal with yourself that you can get on social media, watch TV, have dessert, etc., only after you’ve had your Bible study time? Or that if you don’t miss any days of studying your Bible for a whole week, you’ll reward yourself with an ice cream cone, a bubble bath or some other small treat?

Pursue It

Realize from the get go that there are going to be some days when you’re going to forget to study your Bible, or oversleep, or have an emergency, or just plain old give into temptation to skip it. Take a breath. It’s OK. If there was sin involved, repent and ask God’s forgiveness. If there’s still time left in the day, and you’re able, go ahead and pull your Bible out, even if it’s not your regularly scheduled time. If not, just get back up on that horse tomorrow. God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Prize It

Above all, whether it’s a day when you’ve had a fantastic time in God’s word or a day when you’ve messed up royally, keep your eyes on the prize and see the long term value in spending time in the Scriptures each day. God is using His word to grow you in holiness and make you more Christlike.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Movies

Movie Tuesday: The Riot and the Dance- Earth

The Riot and the Dance- Earth (2018)

Join in the glorious uproar of creation with The Riot and the Dance- Earth, a boisterous new nature documentary featuring a biologist who was once told he would never succeed if he kept blabbing about all that silly Creator-creature nonsense. But now you can follow along with Dr. Gordon Wilson as he traverses our planet, basking in God’s masterpieces whether he’s catching wildlife in his own back yard or in the jungles of Sri Lanka. (Yeah, he did get bitten, but not by the cobra.)

Showstopping footage and powerful narration will open your eyes to the extraordinary glory found all over the animal kingdom. From leopards and langurs to vipers and elephants and beyond, The Riot and the Dance is a cinematic exploration that you won’t want to miss.

Normally, I post Movie Tuesday movies you can watch for free right here on the blog, but The Riot and the Dance- Earth is only available free in some venues (more about that in a sec), and I didn’t want you to miss it – it’s that good. The cinematography is beautiful, and so is the theology. And it’s only part 1 of this creation documentary series! The Riot and the Dance- Water releases on March 6.

You can watch The Riot and the Dance- Earth at the following venues (and others – check your favorite video venue):

Amazon Prime Video:

Free for Subscribers
Rent for $3.99

Hulu

YouTube:

Rent for $2.99

Uncategorized

New Year, New Look (and where’s that search bar?)

 

By now (hopefully!), you’ve noticed that the blog has a bit of a new look to it. I like to “redecorate” every now and then. Many of you have offered kind words of encouragement on the new look. Thank you!

Just a couple of things to know as you’re cruising around…

•In addition to the new design, I upgraded from a free hosting plan to a hosting plan that removes those pesky ads you’re used to seeing if you don’t have an ad blocker. And that plan ain’t cheap. If you’d like to kick in a little spare change through PayPal or Patreon to help defray that cost, I’d be most grateful. (Just as a reminder, I don’t make any income from blogging, I don’t sell books or other resources, and I don’t put resources behind a paywall.)

•Are you searching for the search bar? My apologies if you haven’t been able to find it. The configuration of the blog is different if you’re using a desktop/laptop than if you’re using a tablet or phone.

On the desktop/laptop layout, there’s a handy little sidebar with all kinds of helpful links running down the right side of the page. The search bar is at the very top of that sidebar:

On the tablet and phone layout, they have taken that sidebar and moved the whole thing (including the search bar) from the side of the page to the bottom of the page. Here’s what that looks like if you’re looking for the search bar:

But I thought that might be a little cumbersome to find, so I added a second search bar to hopefully make things a little easier. On all layouts, the second search bar is at the very bottom of the page, right above the social media icons:

So just to recap, there are now two search bars on the blog for your searching convenience. For desktop/laptop users, there’s one at the top and one at the bottom. For phone/tablet users there’s one at the bottom and one almost at the bottom. And, in case you forget, I’ve added a search bar link in the blue menu bar at the top of this page to remind you:

Hope this helps solve the mystery of the missing search bar! :0)