PrayerPoints ~ The Hands
PrayerPoint ~ The Eyes
Today is Ash Wednesday.
PrayerPoint ~ February 7
Have you found yourself so overwhelmed with the need to pray for others that you don’t even know where to start? Oftentimes during prayer, the most urgent rise to the top of your mind quickly but other times your mind is bouncing around from crisis to crisis.
Here is something I have started to do to help me gain a little bit of focus:
The most Inner Circle is our immediate family. I can pause there for a long time because I know a lot about this group of people and their needs. The next group is our extended family (our siblings and their families). Next is our small group families and those who may not be in our small groups but we are close to them. After that is super-extended family ~ those aunts and uncles and cousins “in the distance” but still on our hearts. As you consider this idea, don’t forget to consider co-workers, neighbors, missionaries, etc.
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Early this morning I was awake for about an hour.
**I never consider those early morning awakenings too much of a bother until about 2pm in the afternoon. :+)
When it seems like I am going to be awake for a while, I start to pray. This morning, I was able to cover a lot of ground by listing people in their family groupings. I just picture a family and name everyone in the family. This list happens to include our immediate family as well as our siblings and their spouses and kids: Don, Lauren, Landon, Elizabeth, Hannah, Ernie, Kim, Nikki, Justin, Bob, Kim, Emily, Brittany, Delilah, Charles, Nancy, Jayson, Elise, Cindy, Gary, Kassie, Michele, Carrie, Shannon, Faye, Alan, Lori, Noah, Bridget, Jonah.
Then I moved to the families I am in a small group with. I lifted up each person in the family by name. Even though I may have an inkling about their needs, I don’t technically need to know much because I trust God will fill in the blanks.
You can tweak this idea to better suit you and your situation. Maybe it can be a project you do with your kids or grandkids–you can each draw your circles on a clean piece of paper and fill in the blanks with people in your circle. You can even do it with a large piece of newsprint paper and photos of your targets!
I love how everyone’s “targets” will look different. Get creative! I think that is one of the ways God works with His people ~ He gives us eyes and hearts for different people and people groups. I have found having a target helps me focus my aim.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!” Zig Ziglar
Of course, the idea is to pray. And once you start thinking about it this way, you will see you have a lot of work to do!
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
My guess is that when God inspired these words in Philippians, He knew that whatever one dwells on, one ends up expressing. You know how it is–whatever you ponder in your heart and mind eventually makes it to your lips.
And so it is incredibly important to consider what you ponder. Do you marinate a certain frustrating encounter that ends up creating or feeding an anger and intolerance for that other person in your heart? Do you find yourself ruminating over someone’s words or actions to the point of getting really fired up about getting even or at least getting a good dig in?
I hate it when I fall into that trap!
If dwelling on false, lowly, wrong, impure, ugly, repulsive, imperfect, or unworthy things is tripping you up, make a conscientious choice to focus your thoughts on other things. Having a hard time doing this on your own? Ask God to help you and He certainly will!
And as you express yourself, consider your words and the example they set. Encouraging words in this day and age are like a precious bloom amidst some weeds–so refreshing!
Lord, Teach me to measure my words and to consider dwelling, truly dwelling, on Your Word alone!
Is it just me? Lately there seems to be so much tragedy. There is the big stuff with the weather but then there are the things that happen on a smaller scale: fatal car accidents, suicides, a deadly cancer returning, a fall down the steps that leaves someone in a coma.
How do we cope with these kinds of things?
My fear of facing the death of the ones I love ebbs and flows. My dad died when I was six so death has been a part of my earliest memories. Sometimes I fear the earthly separation that death brings. I find it challenging to balance the intense love I have for people with the knowledge that one day, I will probably be living without them.
As I considered the pain and failing body my mom was dealing with as well as knowing her faith, I felt selfish wanting to keep her here when she could be whole and with Jesus. It was important for me to release her from this earth and keep Heaven on my mind at the same time.
What early experiences have you had with death that have shaped your approach today? Is there fear? Is there pain? Is there hurt? Is there anticipation? I always have to remind myself of God’s perspective on death. We will all meet our Maker one day. Pray for those you know who are struggling with disease and decay. Offer to assist them in some way. Pray for their peaceful release. And pray for their families too.
The other day I was walking to the Post Office to check the mail for our business. It was a sunny day so I had worn my sun glasses. I was alone and so my mind wasn’t being directed, which is always refreshing because it is rare with our busy house to be alone without conversation or music.
My thoughts usually flit around quite a bit when I am in a place of quiet and that day I was thinking about the bright sun and then The Son which brought me to remember this song I love–“Give me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath– which led me to ponder how our sunglasses can filter out rays that make it challenging to see and even harmful sun rays. And can’t God do the very same thing with what we see?
Most of the time I just see life and people through my eyes and experiences. I think it is fair to say we all do this most of the time. It takes an intentional effort to see someone the way God sees them. It also takes an effort to see ourselves the way God sees us.
Forgiven. Redeemed. Renewed.
Lost. Struggling. Confused.
Spend some time this week thinking about how you look at others and how you look at yourself. Are you full of grace for others but condemn yourself regularly? Do you grant yourself loads of forgiveness but hold back with others?
How would God’s perspective help your vision? Ask God to help you see others the way He sees them. It will take practice because it certainly isn’t our natural way of doing things, but letting God transform what you see will transform your life!
Bad habits are tough to get out of. Good habits are easy to drop.
Ever find yourself battling the same ol’ same old? There are some habits that are relatively easy to change but there are others that hang on for far too long. I have fallen in and out of habits with unfortunate ease. I fall into bad ones and I fall out of good ones.
Last summer I accepted a challenge to give up diet coke for a week. I figured I could handle a week without my favorite beverage, but after a week I decided to give it up permanently. I have had diet coke on occasion since then but prior to the “challenge” I had one a day, every day. In the scheme of habits, it wasn’t the worst one to have but I figured it was something I could live without.
Here I am, approximately a year later and while I like still diet coke quite a bit, I can take or leave it and I mostly leave it alone. I was surprised at the ease that I was able to surrender this ‘vice’. And I wondered, what was it about this situation that made losing this habit relatively pain-free? And why aren’t all bad habits as easy to drop?
Conversely, why is it that good habits don’t stick like I wish they would? I have heard that 66 days of doing something will turn it into a habit. It didn’t take 66 days for me to be satisfied without my ‘beverage of choice’ so I am not sure I completely buy into that.
At any rate, you might, like me, have several habits you would like to add or drop in your life. It is so easy to come up with a long list of improvements. But just tackle ONE for seven days and get on your way. And next week you can celebrate a week of accomplishment.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
Happy Habit Forming! Pick a good one!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7 (NIV)
This is a great passage to keep in mind. I actually learned it set to a tune by Integrity Music Scripture Memory Songs. They are a great way to hide some Scripture in your heart and mind. Whether you use music or not, it is important to take the time to study and memorize Scripture!
In case you do not have enough to pray for, I am going to let you take a little peek into my list. Feel free to share your prayer concerns in the comment section. Keep it to first names and you can include the state/country if you want. Don’t be too wrapped up in explaining the story because we know God knows and sees the whole picture so a sentence or two will do. I don’t want anyone to compromise anyone else’s privacy.
Sara in Nebraska–scheduled for hip surgery today, 5/12. Pray for accuracy of the medical team, successful surgery, and speedy recovery.
Ken in Colorado–has had several major heart procedures done this Spring following a heart attack. Pray for patience and recovery.
Karolina in Hungary–needs to fix up and sell an apartment in Hungary so she can return to college in August.
Justin in Ohio–is on a great mental and physical growth spurt! Yay! Justin is 8 and has autism. Please keep his whole family lifted up in prayer.
Joe in Texas–is patiently waiting for a full-time job to fully support his family. In the meantime the entire family unit is working together to get through this long bout of underemployment.
A struggling daughter of a dear friend–recently was beat up by her live in boyfriend. Pray for her wisdom, courage, safety, and much better boundaries overall.
Emily in IN–has recently completed all chemo and radiation for breast cancer. Pray for continued cancer-free reports.
May God bless your week!
I won’t lie. I did let out a groan as I drove by all the gas stations yesterday and saw $4.19 at the pump. But if I consider, for just a moment, all of the things that have happened to others that I am not experiencing, it helps me keep my perspective.
There has been nationwide flooding; many people losing their lives and homes to tornadoes; homes lost to wildfires; earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear issues in Japan; and many lives lost in war. You surely know of other incidents of devastation that I haven’t mentioned here.
In comparison? I live in a home that has heat and air and we have an income that allows us to use these ‘extras’. We typically don’t go hungry (and we could stand to once in a while). Our family is in good health and our kids love to learn. I feel incredibly blessed.
With everything else going on in the world, I do feel like the gas prices are relatively minor–they have been this high in 2008. I certainly hope they will go down but this might be the new normal. Who knows?
You are free to complain, but when I honestly take a look around at what is happening to families I know and love, around my community and state, in the US, and across the ocean, I am compelled to do three things:
1) pray for those who are impacted by all of those devastations;
2) figure out how I can pitch in and help someone navigate through a tough time;
3) be thankful for what I have been blessed with.
What are you going to do?
Would you be willing to add someone to your prayer list? Her name is Karolina. She is from Hungary. She is 20 years old. Her dad is very ill. Her mom died several years ago. She is an only child. She has some big things to tackle in order to be able to come back to the US for school in August. Please pray the way gets paved, if that is what God wants. And pray for her dad’s health.
God’s blessings on your week!!