Day 20 - “Don’t Move Around From House to House”

This is delton! We are at the half-way point!  Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! If you haven’t read Day 20 in “Why Pray?” do so now - it is an interesting read!

It flows from a section of Luke 10, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you”

So apparently Jesus didn’t want His missionaries getting meals from all over town – looking for the tastiest apple pie – but rather settling in at the home of “peace” and basing operations in the town from there.  I also find it interesting that He didn’t want them talking with people along the road but rather, I assume, being about the business of getting to the next town to find these homes and establishing these bases of missionary operation.  Evidently this basic strategy is what John Devries has witnessed in India.

When I was reading this chapter I was reminded of the stories and testimonies I heard while making a trip to India in 2011.  They were versions of this kind of strategy at work.  A church planter goes into a village, contacts each home with an offer to pray for them, waits to see how God moves in response to those prayers, when a family begins to respond favorably to what God is doing (many times it is a healing in the home) the planter shares Jesus, nurtures a relationship with that family and begins to influence the village from that home base.

How would that work in the US? Austin? Pflugerville, Round Rock, Hutto?                    Intriguing?

First, I am humbled and moved by the thought that my family and home is a place that the presence of God radiates from casting light on my whole neighborhood!  I truly want God to consider my home and family as a ‘base of missionary operation’ for His Spirit to reach my neighborhood.

Secondly, I am jazzed by the idea of your homes being “bases of missionary operation” where the light of Christ radiates to bless your neighbors and people in your circles of influence!

Thirdly, What a cool strategy for our church to move on - establishing home bases of the presence of God in subdivisions, city blocks and neighborhoods all over Greater Austin.

So these are some of my thoughts, inspirations and aspirations!   Please share yours!  What is God doing with you on this journey?  What do you think He is doing with Point of Grace though this journey?

Welcome to Day 19 - Praying, Caring, and Sharing

Read today’s devotion and see how God’s amazing transforming power can change a Brahmin community in India! I asked God to speak to me through this devotion today.  I asked Him to reveal what He wanted to touch me with.  I asked Him to give me His lenses to look through and His heart for the message that was meant for me.  I have a tendency when I’m doing these blogs to want to blog something that may help everyone else... you know, like I’m writing a Bible study or something.   But that is certainly something I’m not gifted at, nor comfortable with!  And because of it, I’ve felt pressure to come up with “something good” on my days to blog.  So today, I asked that He would show me what I am to learn from this without the pressure of it being what others needed to hear.  I think I will enjoy blogging more if I can just be me.  My worry is that my sharing will be too simple – or not deep enough -  but I’m really going to try to just share my heart on this one.  Simple, but real.  And I hope if my thoughts are all over the place – that somehow the Holy Spirit will bring it together in your heart and trigger something that God may be saying to you as well...

So here goes...  my first word that I couldn’t get past was “Untouchables”.   For some reason – I read it and I started crying.  What’s up with that?  I’m an “includer” by nature, so the thought of someone being left out or called a name or being an outcast hurts me.  So the caste system in India really got my attention.  Then I decided to go back and circle all the words in this devotion and story that really grabbed my heart and stood out to me.  Here’s the list of words/phrases in the order that I circled them:

Boundaries Out-caste Untouchables Singing Miracles Healing Untouchables told them about Jesus Became followers New Life Answer to those Prayers 200 Brahmin converts

I notice that my list begins with ugly words like boundaries (the kind that separate people), out-caste and untouchables... but then the beautiful words come like singing and miracles and answered prayers and converts!  God has no boundaries when it comes to loving people and using people.  He loves the untouchables and he can use them powerfully like He did in today’s story.  But the depth of the love that the untouchables had for the upper class was what was most beautiful to me.  God gave them a burden and love so great that they prayed for their salvation.  And even though they were considered less than the upper class and mistreated, they prayed, worshiped and sang for hours in their gatherings each night.

Do I have a trust in Jesus that leads me to an attitude of gratitude and surrender like that – no matter what my circumstances?  Do I worship and sing even when I’m being mistreated or when my life is in turmoil?  Do I see myself as special and important to God even when someone else says I’m not or makes me feel that way?  Am I willing to sacrifice time and energy praying for people that hurt me, or dislike me...and are far from God?   It’s hard to be honest here, but I have to say no to most of those questions because I’m so susceptible to “feelings”.  I get my feelings hurt or feel like an outcast or get too focused on circumstances that aren’t going my way... and the last thing I want to do is pray, worship, or share the gospel with those who hurt me!   I can only imagine what God could do if I surrendered my “feelings” to Him and just trusted Him like the untouchables did.   Then they went beyond prayer and were actually available to share Jesus with the Brahmin family and challenged them to go share Jesus as well.    That’s amazing surrender and love... and I want that!  Look what God did with their prayers and sacrifice... over 200 people came to know Jesus!

If we open our hearts to the people around us in our neighborhoods and communities and are really willing to see beyond the issues we have with them, or the pain they’ve caused us – imagine what God will do with our heart-felt prayers and love for them.  And if we have to ask God to help us love them... then lets ask!  Like Devries says, when we make our homes  Homes Of Prayer Every day, we open our doors to homes everywhere.. and we can trust that God is working!

For another story about being mistreated, praying, praising, and converts.....Read Acts 16:22-34!   It will remind you of the Untouchables!

Jesus, I want to be like the untouchables.  I want a heart for those who don’t have You in their lives.   Humble me Lord, so I can see people through your eyes.  Help me to be thankful and content in all circumstances because of the joy that comes from You, so I’m not focused on myself, but on those who need you desperately in their lives.  Give me a heart like your heart and a love beyond reason.  I trust You Lord and love You... and surrender to You now.  Amen.

Thanks for letting me share...I would love to hear your thoughts...


Welcome to Day 18 - "Random Acts of Kindness"

Please read Day 18 - “Random Acts of Kindness” in the Why Pray? Book. John DeVries writes, “The light of God’s love on a home is rather faint if all we do is pray…. In India the evangelists we train always begin by forming a prayer team or network, saturating the target area with prayer. But then they also reach out in acts of caring.”

We have been asked to make a list of families to pray for.  How is your list coming? Now we are being asked to go a step further for those on our list. We are to ask the Holy Spirit for insight of how to go beyond simply praying; but, to express our care for them with acts of love and kindness.

Oh Boy! I can’t wait to share with you what God has been up to with one of the families on my list! A few weeks ago, the School Counselor from one of the local high schools contacted Point of Grace to share about a family in great need. The Pastor took our staff to visit with the family two weeks ago. After that visit, I could not get them out of my mind and heart. Their needs were overwhelming to me – and were too great to be “solved” by just a few people at PoG.

The very next morning‘s Devotion was Day 5 - “Prayer is Being the Friend in the Middle” on page 43 of Why Pray? It was such beautiful timing from God. Yes – the needs of that family were indeed overwhelming! Our family did not personally have financial resources to help in any significant way. But, the devotion that day talked about the man in the Bible who relentlessly knocked on his friend’s door in the middle of the night asking him for a loaf of bread to feed to his unexpected visitor. Please go back and read the story for yourself.

This is too hard. How can we help? The situation was too big! “God, what are you saying?” I believe He was teaching me that I could be “A friend in the Middle.” I think He was saying, “Get up! Go knock on your friend’s doors and ask them to help! And if they don’t answer – keep knocking!”

I began telling my family and friends about this family and immediately they yearned to help. Not only did they want to help – but they began telling their relatives and their friends about this family in need – and now they want to help, too!

We prayed to God for ideas of how to help. We took the mom out for coffee – to just be her friend and ask her for ways we could make a difference. We listened. We laughed. And a wonderful relationship is blossoming.

Fast forward to today’s entry – “Random Acts of Kindness” –it is full of encouragement from the author to go beyond simply praying to actively caring. This is the part that I am so excited to share with you! I have been the “Friend in the Middle” so far in this story. But my friends ------ they have been very busy going beyond prayer to ACTs of kindness.

The family was given 4 movie tickets as a birthday gift for one of the children. But this is a family of 7. Who would get to go and who would be left at home? My friend’s mother heard the story and gave the family 3 more tickets so that they can go see the movie together as a family!

One woman is asking her friends for donations to give this family summer passes to the local swimming pool so that they can get some relief from the summer heat.

One of the biggest strains on the family is gas money to get to work. My friend told her husband the story and he has been beside himself with how to help them out in a significant way. The other night he walked in the room and declared that the hairs were standing up on his neck – that God was giving him an answer – to sell a gold necklace that they had been hanging onto for years– and to use the money for Gasoline Gift Cards for the family!  He took the necklace to 4 or 5 buyers trying to find the best price. They tried one more jeweler to see if they could get a better deal. The buyer gave them a lower bid. “The other Buyers offered us more.” He hesitated. And then he reluctantly said he would match it. “Wait until I tell you what the money is going to be used for!” She told him the story. Guess what? He not only matched the other dealer’s offers – but gave her $30 more!

I am so very proud of my friends. They heard the story. They prayed for God’s light to shine upon this family. They prayed for God to help them help this family. And they put action to their prayers. And this is all happening on the very same day as this Entry in the Why Pray Book of Random Acts of Kindness. Coincidence? No Way. It is all God. And I believe it is all in His perfect timing as He patiently teaches us a deeper understanding of prayer throughout this journey we are on together.

The Scripture Reading for today is Matthew 18:18-20. “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.”  I totally did not understand what this meant or how it tied in to today’s entry.

The Message version says, “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, My Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”      “What are You saying to me, God?”

Why is this Scripture coupled with this Devotion? A long time passed. I read it over and over. The story I wanted to share with you was indeed very exciting about people coming together and praying for a family in need – and then acting upon it. But I think there is more that God is trying to teach me tonight. As I look at that Scripture again I see that it says, “when His people come together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, My Father in heaven goes into action.” The really exciting part of this story then – is NOT what my friends did – but how our Father in heaven went into action for that family! I believe it was our Father in heaven that persuaded the jeweler to give more than all the other bids – don’t you?

“Is that what You are trying to show me tonight, Father? That when we get together on anything at all on earth – like a family or neighborhood in need – we can be sure that You will be there? The miracle is not in how we come together to help others – but how YOU spring into action – and provide more than we dared to hope for or even imagine?"

How about you?

How have you been on the receiving end of people not just praying for you – but caring for you?

What random acts of kindness have you been a part of?

How have you witnessed the Father leaping into action?


Why Pray? Day 17 -- Praise is the Doorway into Prayer

20120611-183554.jpg Awesome. My King. Beautiful. Lord of All Creation. Comforting. Lover of My Words and Praise. Giver of Amazing Gifts.

As I'm reading today's reading, I'm looking at the view you see above. My family and I are somewhere in the Ozarks and have just finished watching/listening to a fantastic thunderstorm while three generations of Josts played Mexican Train. So it's not too hard to Praise God in this moment. It's been a lovely afternoon.

My Redeemer. Patient. Source of Never Ending Forgiveness. Endless Grace. Teacher.

But it wasn't so easy earlier today. Or last night. Or in all the days since I found out this trip was pretty much planned without my input. It's been hard to be grateful, thankful, and anything but selfish, honestly.

The Ultimate Sacrifice. The Ultimate Gift. The Beginning and The End. (and the Glory of Everything in Between)

So when I read today's reading, I really thought I was going to have to text Delton to say that I couldn't write this blog entry. I'm sure I could have given him a great reason and he would have understood and had taken care of everything of. I am on vacation, after all. But my reason wasn't a good one - it was because I didn't want to let go of my control over my selfish mindset, in order to shift my mind to recognize God's glory and praise Him. See, the two just can't exist in the same place at the same time -- self-focus and adoring praise.

Holy, Holy, Holy. Son of God Almighty. Lord of Heaven and Earth.

So what changed? First, my husband prayed for me. Having someone else step in to pray, when I couldn't, was huge. The Holy Spirit, through my husband, loved me. He knew I was struggling, yet loved me right there where I was. Second, as a lover of words, I went back to an elemental activity of simply listing the names of God. I thought back to the many Alpha retreats I have attended and recalled listening to the A-Z list of names that voices around me would call out in the dark as we sat around the campfires.

Abba Father. Beyond Comprehension. Caring. Devoted. Everlasting. Friend. God.

Finally, rather than write this entry right away, I went upstairs to join the rest of the family. I didn't realize it yet, but just initializing my train of thought into praise already had begun pushing out the selfishness. I was actually fully present in the conversations and games. I wanted to get to know my young niece and nephew that I've only seen maybe 3 times in their young lives. I laughed. (I didn't want to laugh on this trip.)

Which is why I could say at the beginning of this blog entry that it wasn't too hard to praise God now.

Friends, I am not at all proud of this story. I'm sharing this and all my yuckiness with you, because if praise is the doorway to prayer and the two affected ME this profoundly in just this day alone -- how much more so will it affect the neighborhoods around me - around us. For one thing, I WAS NOT BEING LIGHT in the relationships around me, which left darkness to have a strong foothold in us and between us. I WAS NOT BEING SALT and adding in God's freshness and flavor to the atmosphere, but was really just ensuring that we all simply endured this trip and left without anything being made better.

But once I began praising and thanking my God for all He has done, all He has given, all that He Is, my whole outlook has changed - I have to say it is going to be fun now, and I pray that I will leave a different lasting impact than I was leaving before in these relationships.

And I'm not in charge anymore!


“This, then, is how you should pray:“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV84)

Before you pray today - begin by listing the glorious names of God. I've listed some of the ones that came to mind for me - use them as a start, if you need it. Then, in the midst of that praise, ask God to lead you to a neighborhood or area around you. Pray for them. And keep praising.

I would love to hear if this has affected you as much as it has affected me today!

- Lisa

Why Pray Day 16---Shining the spotlight of God’s love in the darkness

STOP!!!  Make sure you read and meditate on the Day 16 reading before you continue. The concept of prayer shining light in darkness is not a new one in ‘Why Pray’ and honestly, my wife and I have had discussions about struggling through the level of control that we have in getting God to act.  Don’t get me wrong---I firmly believe that prayer works, just struggle a little with the idea that ‘I call God’s attention to those people in a way that He would not attend if I had not prayed for them.’ (Day 7, pg. 55)  In reading that, I imagine a distant, aloof, forgetful God that ‘misplaced’ the Jones’ family until I brought them to His attention.  Oh, they were in the cul-de-sac the whole time---thanks for locating them mike!!

Sorry for the sarcasm and I know I am adding words to what the author stated, but this is where my mind went.  So, I have been wrestling with this for a week plus and it came back up again in Day 16.  I do love the empirical evidence the author gives on the Chicago housing project, mall, and the houses in the 80 and 80 example (Day 10)---hard to argue that!

In pondering the concept today, I was thinking of Ephesians 6:12, ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’  This verse helped things gel for me.  When I come on behalf of a family, neighborhood, business, school, etc., I am going to battle in the heavenly realms for them.  Jesus’ name has power in the heavenly realms and I believe His name helps push against the forces of darkness that have so blinded the family, neighborhood, etc.

2 Corinthians 4:4 came to mind while writing this…’The god (notice lower case---that’s Satan) of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’  People are spiritually blind and going through life in the dark, because of the forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  The name of Jesus’, through prayer, begins to bring light into their lives and combat these forces.

So, I don’t think John D. is saying God is aloof or loses people or neighborhoods.  Maybe it was a semantic thing or just challenged my theological box, but I do agree that praying for families, neighborhoods, etc. does make an impact that would not be present without someone praying for them.

Last thought then I am out…when my wife and I were in the process of selling our condo and moving to Pville a couple years ago, we were intentional about praying for God to lead us to the specific area/house so we could make the biggest Kingdom impact and be used by Him.  We still pray for our neighbors and neighborhood on a fairly regular basis.  We have not seen revival yet, but do have some close friends that we would not have met and have walked with them through some really challenging times, which we believe was God lead.  We firmly believe that God lead us to this house/area and is using us here to bring Jesus’ name against the forces of darkness.  We will keep praying about our area and hopefully will be available to plant seeds and share the Gospel to those He brings before us!

We should think of ourselves on mission in whatever location we spend our time---no one else has the potential to reach those within our specific circle of influence!  It is up to each of us, within the body of Christ, to answer the call and be salt and light in our areas.  I challenge you to ask God to bring someone to mind to consistently come on their behalf in the spiritual realms.  Who is He challenging you to pray for?  Family?  Neighborhoods?  Businesses?  Schools?  Countries?  I would love to hear how this concept has honestly struck you and also challenge you (and me!) to consistently pray for someone or a group of people.


Why Pray? Day 15 - The Foolishness of "Pluck and Plop" Evangelism

Welcome to Day 15! We begin a new week on this journey and a shift is occurring.  Just like when taking a road trip.  There are days when not much changes and then days when things really change quickly – the terrain, landscape, weather – etc.  I believe the advent of Week 3 beginning with Day 15 is just such a shift and I am oh – so excited!  This week’s theme gives us a hint,” Why Pray for Neighbors?”  Although Devries has hinted at this shift in several of the previous lessons,  it appears we are fully stepping into the school of “Prayer and Evangelism” – “Prayer and Kingdom Expansion”!

If you haven’t read Day 15 in the “Why Pray?” book – I suggest you do so now!  Then consider the following scripture taking special note of the highlighted verses!  It’s long so take your time with it!

Mark 5  They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.   When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet Him.  This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with Him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

One of the places this scriptural story and the Day 15 reading converge is verses 18-20.  The guy wanted to follow Jesus – physically get in the boat with Him to be close to Him – and Jesus pointed him to a higher calling.  Jesus sent him to tell all of his family and friends what had happened to him and Who had done it!  He was to reenter all those relationships he had before he knew Jesus and see those relationships as his context to be a witness for Jesus.

This is an awesome strategy!  We are all placed in relationships, neighborhoods, and workplaces with divine accuracy!  I think Devries put it this way, “People are not merely isolated individuals to be won to Christ one at a time.  A person is always part of a social fabric.  A person has a home, relatives, friends, and neighbors, all who influence each other.”  And another place he writes, “The missionaries could not get beyond the concept of ‘winning individuals to Christ one at a time’.  They did not understand that God has placed us in neighborhoods.  They did not understand that when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples to spread the Gospel by finding persons of peace in each village, He was telling them to win neighborhoods by winning individuals and not removing them from their surroundings.  They were to see these individuals as doors to the homes…”

I love this evangelism – kingdom building strategy!  A cool thought has struck me that I have never entertained before and will spend some time contemplating this today!

When God brought me to faith in Jesus and poured life into my heart by His Spirit perhaps it was not just me He was considering.  Perhaps He was also considering the people who are included in my potential for being His witness and ambassador in the myriad of relationships I would have in my life.  Perhaps “I” am His strategy for reaching tens, hundreds, thousands maybe with the goodness and greatness of the good news of His kingdom.  I have always known I am supposed to be a witness but I never saw myself as someone like that healed demoniac who Jesus more or less commissions to reach that whole region!  I never entertained that when God considers me He does not just see “me” as precious and important but when He considers me He also sees the potential people I can reach for Him – in my own context and situation!

There are so many wonderful aspects of this reading and scripture story that may have grabbed your attention!  Please share!  Your input and conversations are rich and edifying!

How about the idea of our “potential” for Christ? How about the idea of each of us being God’s “Plan A Strategy” for reaching certain people? What did you think of the “Mr. Ditt” story?  What about if Jesus saw, when bringing “Mr. Ditt” to faith, not only him as valuable and important but simultaneously saw the 300,000 people that were in his “witness potential”!

Let’s keep praying for the five or so families we listed last week.  Maybe we are discovering why those particular people were brought to our hearts and mind?

This is exciting!


Why Pray? Day 14 – The Example of the Early Church

Have you read Day 14 – The Example of the Early Church yet?  If you haven’t had a chance, please grab your book then come on back.  Thanks! Do you remember being a kid waiting for your birthday to come around?  I sure do!  It seemed to take forever – first the month…then the week…then finally the DAY arrived.  But, I had to wait until school was out for the day, wait for supper to get cooked, wait for the family to finish eating…wait, wait, WAIT, to get to the main attraction:  the gifts!

“On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command:  ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about.’” Acts 1:4

I do not like to wait.  I’m not good at it.  If I were a superhero I would likely be Impatient Girl.  So, I often run ahead as if God is going to follow me…because, clearly, I know where I’m going.  HA!  He patiently watches me as I try to speed through, impatient to “get to the gifts!”  He knows that waiting is itself a gift – a valuable opportunity for prayer, relationship, and growing.   Molding takes place in prayerful waiting that otherwise couldn’t happen.  If I’m too busy doing my own thing, when does God get to share the gifts He has for me?   I find myself really struggling with that!  He’s still God and I’m still not (thankfully!) so He can, in all reality, do anything He wants.  But Acts 1: 4 clearly tells us that what He wants is for us to wait and John Devries backs this up in an incredibly powerful way:

“In prayer, the disciples turned a key in the gates of heaven, and the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them. The Spirit did all that was promised.  He empowered Jesus’ followers with the resources of divine power and divine transformation, changing a bunch of cowards into fearless witnesses to the truth.  This ragtag bunch of poor fishermen and farmers who, like their Leader, had little earthly wealth, were recipients of the wealth of heaven, and out of them came a movement that swept the world.” Why Pray? Pg 92

Cowards.  Ragtag.  Poor.  They prayed.  Fearless.  Wealth of heaven.  Out of them came a movement that swept the world.  Hang on…what happened?  Two little words there that might get lost in between who the disciples were and who they became while they waited: They prayed.  God honored their prayerful patience with the promised Gift:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4

Does writing this blog post today mean I’m going to walk perfectly with Jesus in lock-step, praying and waiting as the patient handmaid I should be?  Doubtful – c’mon, it’s Impatient Girl writing this.  It does mean that my Father knows my impatient tendencies and will provide many opportunities to learn to wait on Him.  The waiting still won’t be easy.  I’ll still want to tear open the gifts God has set aside for me.  But, He promises the waiting will be worth it!

“But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.” Isaiah 40:31   The Message

What do you think?  Does impatience sometimes get the better of you, too?  I definitely do not have “waiting” figured out but I do have joy in the knowledge waiting produces patience and patience brings me closer to my Dad…and His gifts.

Blessings, Jennifer

Welcome to Day 13! "The Example of Christ"

Enjoy “The Example of Christ” in your Why Pray?  book, then consider the following scriptures! Luke 6 12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostle.

Hebrews 5 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Reading Day 13 in “Why Pray?” took me down a couple of thought paths – one of which I am not too proud of!  You see as I began reading and realized we were getting a review of Jesus’ need for prayer I began to shut down.  I have been down this road before – Jesus prayed before picking His disciples! – Jesus prayed before facing Satan! – Jesus prayed before going to the cross! I began to move to auto pilot as if traveling through the familiar territory of mind numbing sameness.  In fact, ( Again, let me emphasize, I am not proud of these thoughts) I was even beginning to get a little ticked at the author for relentlessly repeating this theme “Pray First?” and now bringing in Jesus’ lifestyle to support the mandate!  I was ready for some new insight or catchy illustration (which I have come to expect) and I just got stories! Stories of Jesus I have read before.

All these thoughts passed through my mind in a matter of seconds until crashing into another “voice”, “impression”, “conscience” whatever you want to call it saying to me, “You arrogant little man!  You want to be impressed and yet you are on the verge of missing the very encouragement your life cries out for!  You and those who think like you are probably why the Holy Spirit has directed John Devries to be so relentless in the call to Pray First – First – First!  You are the very guy, mr. weiser, that will so quickly leave the call to ‘pray first’ for the call to ‘figure it out’ or better yet the call to ‘just procrastinate’”!

Yes I felt like a little man – no, more like a little boy as the Holy Spirit gave me a reality check! So … … … I started over - reading the chapter again -seeking to practice what does not come naturally to me – humility! With this slightly altered lens I saw things differently.  I saw my Jesus, my fully God, Jesus, voluntarily walking the human path – the same path I walk.  Jesus, my fully human Jesus, not accessing His divine capability to get Him out of scrapes or to alleviate His own inconvenience or to be more efficient – No I saw my fully human Jesus access His Father’s will, provision, strength, wisdom, direction, etc. through prayer – the same means to the same resources that my Father has for me – prayer!  I am humbled and overwhelmed by my Jesus!  He so needed prayer because He, in the fullness of His human experience, desperately needed all His Father had for Him to face all His father planned for Him.

I so desperately need to access all my Father has for me to face all my Father  plans for me!  That is so cool! I am discovering that life is not so much me “making things happen” but rather me “discovering what God already has happening and me joyfully joining in”! Thanks John Devries for being relentless in calling us to pray and pray first!

How is the praying for the families on your list going!   I encourage you to spend some time “praying first” for whatever you face with an expectation of discovery!  Pray also for the families He has brought to your mind – focusing the spotlight of His love on them.

Thanks to all who have been commenting!  Your words are insightful, inspirational and thought provoking. I applaud your courage!  Let’s keep it up!  Please join in even if it’s your first time to comment! I can’t wait to see where the conversation takes us today!


Why Pray? Day 12 Pray First - The Father Commands It

Welcome to Thursdays Blog! Read   Psalm 2:7-12 & Exodus 17:8-13

Today’s devotion was full of challenges, wisdom and good nuggets to wrestle with.  If you haven’t read it yet – take the time to do it.  You’ll be glad you did!

I am realizing how many times I’ve forged ahead on things without even consulting God... without asking Him if He even wanted me to forge ahead!  Of course this has been our ongoing theme for this week – to PRAY FIRST... and it’s really hitting home.  There have also been times when I have prayed before hand, but haven’t stopped long enough to listen to what He’s saying.  It doesn’t do much good to ask and seek God’s heart if I’m too busy to hear what He has to say about it.   That’s just as bad as forging ahead without asking!   So I’m working on praying first and really listening and I’m asking God to teach me how to live in this every day.

I want a new perspective on how God wants me to pray.  I don’t want to be praying just because I’m supposed to pray... but out of a true love for Him and a desire to see His Kingdom come.  I love what John Devries  says about our motivation for missional praying: “Our basic drive to reach the world is not because humanity is lost, although it is.  Our drive arises out of love for Jesus and out of the knowledge that the nations of the world are His, not Satan’s.  Because we love Jesus and we are His agents appointed to claim the world for Him, we ask the Father on His behalf for the nations of the world.”  Is that as powerful for you as it is for me?  I’ve never thought of praying like this before.  I think what really excites me about praying in this way, is the authority we have as His agents to claim the world for Him!  He’s done the work, He is worthy, the nations belong to Him, and because we belong to Him – we are called to this... to fight for this... and to pray boldly for this!

The account in Exodus where Moses lifts his arms and staff in prayer so the battle being fought will be won, is powerful for me as well.  I constantly have to be reminded that prayer is divine work, prayer delivers, prayer is everything!  You see... I’m a “do-er”  and a  “take new ground”  kind of girl.  The forge ahead phrase I used above is definitely me... I would much rather be the Joshua in this story... on the battle field fighting... rather than Moses on the hill praying.  That’s just my natural bend.  It’s a perspective change for me to see prayer as the biggest and most important asset on the battle field.  But this is exactly what I’m learning and what God is teaching me through these PRAY FIRST devotions.  That’s why the statement by Devries about us being Jesus’ appointed agents in this world excites me.  It puts meat to prayer... it puts prayer on the battle field which puts me right in the middle of the action!  It’s given me a new perspective and excitement for how I look at prayer and the power that resides there! I've understood and experienced the effectiveness of prayer, but just haven't seen it as a weapon to be used on the front lines.

Maybe now, I won’t be so hesitant to pray first and won’t be so anxious to get into the battle without that power.   Oh and by the way... I went back and read Exodus 17: 8-13  and I had the whole account underlined in my Bible.   This account of Moses, Joshua, and the power of prayer, obviously grabbed my heart’s attention at another time as well.  Then in Psalm 2:8 He says, “Ask of Me AND I will.....”  So lets ask first AND see what amazing things He does!

It’s amazing how God gets our attention.  Does He have your attention yet?  Are you a Joshua or a Moses?   I would love to hear your feedback!


Why Pray? Day 11 - Prayer Begins with Praise and a Desire to Do God's Will

Welcome to Wednesday’s PoGBlog! Please read Day 11 in Why Pray.

There is so much to unpack in today’s entry. Here’s where the Spirit led me as I read Day 11.

On page 75, John Devries shares about a 2-1/2 hour meeting where three pastors explained their organizational plan to him. “The walls were covered with flowcharts and boxes. It was all very impressive. “I don’t see the gas tank,” I said. “What do you mean?” they asked. “What makes this flowchart Christian? You could use the same thing to sell fast food or life insurance…I have not heard a word about prayer! Where does prayer fit in?”

I am sad to remember numerous hours and hours in church meetings, and then at the end to actually hear the words, “Well, I guess we better close in a quick word of prayer.” Sigh. Not so good for us. However, I am very happy to say that I can remember many meetings at our church where more time was spent praying than on the actual “meeting.” Good for us!

At our Thursday Worship rehearsals we spend the first 45 minutes or so pondering the Scripture for the upcoming Sunday. We spend time in prayer. Then we begin rehearsing. I hate to admit, many times I’ve wanted to skip over the scripture and prayer section – and get on to the real reason we are here. As 10:00 p.m. approaches, sometimes the enemy sneers, “See? You should skip the prayer time – it is so late –you wasted all of your time.” After reading today’s entry I am so glad that we have agreed to keep the Scripture and Prayer first at our rehearsals, and I pray that God is honored in this decision.

“I don’t see the gas tank,” Devries recounts. The last time it was my “turn” to write the PoGBlog it was about the gas station scenario. Again? Another story about gas? OK, God.

You have my attention!

Oh, aren’t we a foolish people? We work so hard planning, talking, planning, talking, talking, talking… then possibly remember to pray. We strive so hard pushing, sweating, grunting, groaning, pushing, pushing, pushing…. right … past… the gas station. Last week, God was teaching us to stop for gas – to not be too busy to take time to pray. This week, He seems to be reminding us how foolish all of our impressive plans and pie charts are without having a gas tank in our plans as well.

Devries continues, “They assured me they intended to “bathe” it all in prayer. “That sounds like little more than good intentions….”

“Bathe it in prayer.” I can’t get this out of my mind. About 7 years ago I went to a Counselor for help. I was overwhelmed. We were starting a church. I was directing the worship team. I had four children. We were building a house. You get the picture. The first thing she asked me was, “When is the last time you took a bath?”

“Excuse me?”

“When is the last time you took a bath? Not a shower – but a bath. I bet you think you don’t have time to take a nice, warm bath, right? Do you have a nice bath tub?”

Ahem…. “Yes. A very beautiful, deep, porcelain, claw-footed bath tub.”

“Great! Here’s your homework. You must take at least 3 baths this next week before you come back to see me. You must set a timer for 30 minutes. Lock the door. I don’t care if you sleep, read, watch TV, pray, or stare at the ceiling. You must stay in the bath for 30 minutes. You must stop being in a hurry, and take time to soak. Bathe!”

This was probably the dumbest thing I ever heard of. I spent money for this? What’s wrong with taking a quick shower? It’s more efficient. But I told her I would. I didn’t like it. I didn’t have time to take a bath. But I obeyed.

She was right. I needed to take time to slow life down. To soak up the warm water. To take time to lather up the soap, relax, light a candle, and bathe my cares away. What happens when you get to take a nice, long bath? As you lower yourself into the water, the first thoughts are, “ahhh… this is nice!”

A “quick prayer” at the end of a meeting is kind of like a quick shower to save time. In and out.

More efficient. Get it done. But to “bathe” something in prayer – is a slower process that takes more time. It slows down our prayers. It forces us to focus longer on the person or situation we are praying for. It changes, “God bless so and so…” to something much deeper. It lingers on our lips. It’s a long, warm, luxurious soaking --- spending time with God, filling up our gas tank, and intentional times of praying for others.

I know there is so much more in today’s entry than the “bunny trail” I chose to travel. Please read it for yourself – the author has wonderful insights into using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for “bathing” people and our situations in prayer.

Oh, how I yearn to put Him first… in the morning when it’s time to stop and get gas. I long to really mean it when I say, “I’ll pray for you.” Not just good intentions – but to really pray – to “bathe” that person and their situations in prayer. I am determined to make sure in all my plans, preparations, and flowcharts that there is a gas tank in the plan. And, oh how I hope I never hear the words from my lips again, “Well, I guess we better close with a quick word of prayer.”

How are you coming along with your list of families? Has God placed some families on your heart to pray for? Don’t be surprised if Jesus leads you to increase the number of families for whom you are praying! Don’t worry now about details and solutions for their situations. Simply take time to bathe them in prayer this day.

- dawn

Scripture for Today – Psalm 103:1-5

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy Name! Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Why Pray? Day 10 - 80 and 80

Welcome to another day of ‘Why Pray’ and the POG Blog! Begin by reading Day 10 of ‘Why Pray’

Today’s Verse is Matthew 14:28-33 – ‘“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”'

The reading today made me think about a saying Martin Luther had. He would typically spend 1-2 hours in prayer each day, but when he was the busiest, he would say he had to immediately stop and pray for 3 hours! The point is that when we are most consumed, that’s when we need to submit and spend time coming under the authority of Jesus’ yoke (His teaching, guidance, and authority).

Spending more time in prayer, when we are busiest, is backwards to our American culture and unfortunately, many times to church work in America. We have stuff to do!!! There’s no time for prayer!! I think of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42) and Martha is so consumed by the preparations that she blindly misses who she is in the same house with. The whole time, Mary is sitting contently and humbly at the feet of Jesus. It’s not saying that we don’t ever ‘do’ anything---as John D. pointed out, ‘When prayer is first and work is second, we are in step with Jesus. With the work arising out of prayer, we shift from working in human power to working in divine power.’

I previously worked in the Accounting/Finance field and there were long hours and always lots to do. When I came on staff at POG, it was a challenging transition at times. One challenge is the idea of always trying to do something and not slowing and seeking God. It’s so easy to fall into my pattern of coming in the office, firing up the computer, checking email, working on my to-do list, and starting the day.

For years, I have read Scripture in the morn at home, but w/2 young kids, having a solid prayer time is challenging. Recently, I have begun to go into the sanctuary when I get to the office and try and be still with God. It’s crazy---I don’t have a plan or structure, I think and pray about ministry, family, the neighborhood, look at the birds, watch construction workers, etc. For a structured, to-do list guy like me, that’s a different world---but it’s been great!

I think that’s what Jesus’ wants and what Luther and John D. were speaking to. Regardless of the busyness, we are called to stop, come under Jesus’ authority, and get guidance for the day.

If we are consumed with work/kids/family/etc., I bet presenting these before God will give us much more peace and hope throughout the day than if we just start attacking our to-do list, consumed with anxiety. Finally, we might even be more productive if we begin by spending time with our Father---ever think of that Type A’ers?? Then we approach the day under His authority, peace, and hope and not under our anxiety and ability.

Do you begin the day by being still with God? Why or why not? How does busyness or anxiety impact your prayer/Scripture life? Are you in the habit (like I can be!!) of just approaching the to-do list and not seeking the Author of life?

Finally, it’s not just a one-time a day thing, but as Paul says, ‘Pray continually!’ Maybe we go back numerous times throughout the day and seek Him for guidance and rest. Also, don’t just read this devo and think it’s good advice---act on it and change your ways!

I would love to hear your comments and how today’s reading struck you. Any practical wisdom or insights would be appreciated as well. Mike

Why Pray? Day 9 -- "Which Foot First?"

Thanks for coming along on the journey this week! If you haven't yet read Day 9 in the Why Pray? book, please do so now.

The verses for today come from Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I. Am. Exhausted.

Busy week, busy weekend, busier days ahead as my children finish up school (yes, four more days), and my family prepares for a "vacation" (which I'm sure will be busy as well). I honestly want to hop on just one foot (the work foot) and get this devotion completed so I can publish it to "go live" early tomorrow (Monday) so I can go to sleep.

So I am going to stop and pray - right now - to realign my feet so that I'm not stepping with my "work" foot alone.............

................I'm back. Thanks for letting me restart on the right foot.

I'm a visual person, and as I read Day 9, an image combining yokes, stepping in sync, and making a heavy burden easier to carry came to me --

The Budweiser Clydesdales.

If you haven't ever seen them in action outside of a Superbowl ad, they are quite a sight to see! Their hugeness, combined with the impressive teamwork they display, is hard to forget.

As I was researching a little bit about them, I found out that the Budweiser Clydesdales are, from the moment they are born, trained to be "in sync" as in the picture above. The training takes place in baby steps -- first, they are taught how to be handled by trainers (hooves, ears, tails), then they are socialized with other horses and people, leading up to being introduced to crowds (their main purpose is performance rather than deliveries, nowadays). The specifics on training them to pull are more "top secret", but I'm sure they, too, are built upon in small increments -- wearing a yoke alone, wearing it paired with another horse, adding line to the yoke, hitching the horse up into a group without pulling anything, and finally leading up to the horse becoming one of the five show groups in the country.

All the elements are here - the yoke that allows the burden to be shared, the stepping in sync so the carriage is pulled straight and that the horses don't injure each other with missteps. I seem to grasp a sliver of understanding of what Jesus is talking about when I see this picture.

What I also see is that these horses didn't go from being unfamiliar with a yoke straight into pulling in a show group -- they GREW into it. They were intentionally led through exercises that gave them practice, built up stamina, and led them to a level of familiarity that makes the performance a natural extension of who they are. These horses seem to be taking it in stride, because they ARE. They have learned how to do so.

Jesus knows His way isn't natural for us. He knows our nature is to carry burdens alone. He knows we are going to get exhausted from trying so hard. That's why He starts out with "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Then, when we take up His yoke -- walk in step with Him -- we learn from Him and the burden is lighter, easier, no longer ours alone to carry. The more we yoke up to Jesus - walk in sync with Him - the easier it gets to get in sync. We build up stamina, become more familiar and feel it becoming a natural extension of who WE are. We learn from Jesus how to do so.

The author mentions in his closing that "A backward glance will make us laugh as we wonder in amazement at the unbelievable, humorous, and unexpected ways God uses us when we walk in step with Him. Things happen that defy our planning, showing that God is in control. And we rest -- we relax as we, in prayer, snuggle into God's lap with His arms around us."

Suddenly I'm not so exhausted anymore, at least not spiritually. I know He will take me, tired as I am, and walk with me, teach me, take away my burden and give me His to help carry instead. Jesus promises that being in sync with Him will actually bring rest to my soul.

What do you think?

Before you contribute to the blog below (or leave this page to go on to other things), stop for a moment and pray to step back in sync with Jesus. While you do, pray for the families you on your list from Saturday -- does anything come to mind as you pray that maybe calls for action on your part? If so, what can you do to follow through on that call to action?


Why Pray? Day 8 -- It Takes Two Feet to Walk

Welcome to Day 8 of “Why Pray?” – I am so glad we are on this journey together! If you haven’t had a chance to read Day 8 - “It Takes Two Feet to Walk” take a few minutes and do so now!

Now consider the scripture reading for the day – it seems appropriate in light of the reading.

Judges 7 “Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon ) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead. ‘” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

The illustration from “Why Pray?” about walking with two feet (one being action/work – the other prayer) is priceless!  I have spent plenty of time going in circles – one foot working really hard the other one (for me it is usually the prayer foot) not being exercised at all.   I have spent so much energy in my life trying to “make things happen” whether it be in my job, family, marriage, finances, career, church and so much of it without a great deal of prayer.  Some prayer – but many times “after the fact” prayer when I am already set and going with my “working to make it happen” foot going strong.  I think God is going to use this “walking with two feet” illustration a great deal in my life!  My hunch is the first step I need to take is prayer!  Then – as I get better at prayer/listening to Him – I will know best how to put my “work” foot into action!

That kind of ties in with the “little boy flying the kite on a windless day” word picture.  That little guy (btw I think his name is delton) is working oh so hard to keep that kite aloft.  If I will step first with my “prayer” foot everyday – then I will know which way the wind is blowing.  How the Spirit is working in my world.  So I can fly my kite in His wind.  That is some really good stuff to think about – really good!

It seems Gideon was in training like we are – learning how much can be accomplished with so little (300 dog lappers) when ever God is in charge of planning and strategy!  That is an amazing story of learning to walk with God – two foot walking!  Gideon was still involved and still did His part but God was calling the shots as Gideon talked and listened in prayer!

I have to admit – I believe the ramifications of this day’s reading in my life are going to be really profound.  I want them to be – this is good stuff.  I hope to spend the rest of the day contemplating what “two foot” walking and “wind filled kite flying” really look like in my life!  I want to learn more and grow more – I really want to get better and better at this!

What do you think?  How did you feel as you reading through Day 8?  Did the illustrations grab you? How? Your thoughts would be helpful for me and everyone else who reads so I hope you will share?

Have an awesome day of “two foot” walking!

Before you close today’s “Why Pray?” experience I encourage you to pray for the families you listed yesterday.  If you are just now hearing about this challenge the idea is to ask God to bring to mind about five families that really need His love, grace and peace.  Write the names down and pray His love and blessing over them.  Remember the “spotlight and sprinkler”! We get to watch what God does over the next several weeks in response to our prayers.  How cool is that!


Why Pray? Day 7 - Prayer is Work

Welcome to the final day of the first week of “Why Pray?”! We are on a journey and I am so glad you are participating in this blog!  Your comments are vital!  I am looking forward to today’s conversation.

If you haven’t read Day 7 in “Why Pray?” -  take a few minutes and do that now!

Contemplate the scripture reading for the day, Matthew 5 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I remember as a kid getting a cheap little magnifying glass in a box of Cracker Jacks!  I had heard you could start fires with these things so I gave it a whirl.  It worked!  That magnifying glass so concentrated the heat of the sunlight shining through it that it literally started dry leaves smoldering and it wasn’t long before flames erupted.

That is one of the mental pictures I had while reading, “Prayer is Work – Day 7”.  The idea that my prayers can focus the love, grace and power of God on a particular individual, family or situation is very heartening – more than that it is exciting!  We can make a difference in the lives of the people in our world as we come along side our God “working” with Him in what He wants to do.  Prayer is work – working with God.

I have rarely heard it said that way – Prayer is Work!  But it is true so true!  It is hard, takes effort, intentionality, training and practice! Yea it is work!  Good work!  I really like the idea because it dispels the myth that prayer is just a passive, effortless, spiritual experience that really doesn’t accomplish much.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Prayer is vital, important and a valuable partnering with God to bring His life giving presence into people’s lives and circumstances.  We are part of His plan to bring “light” to the world!

I am so jazzed by that reality – we all can make an eternal difference – working with the God of the universe – doing our part – working hard in prayer!  I heard a pastor in London say once, “We must do what only we can do and God will do what only God can do!”  I am beginning to understand what he meant!  I think prayer is a huge part of “what only I can do”!

What do you think?  How did you feel reading “Prayer is Work!” today?  Were you challenged, inspired, ignited?  Share your favorite quotes from today’s reading!

Before you leave this “Why Pray?” experience today let’s do a little work!  Ask God to bring to your mind several families (or households) – maybe five - who are distant from Him and need a greater sense of His presence in their lives!  They can be friends, neighbors relatives etc. Write the names down in a page of your book! If you didn’t get five don’t worry you can add to the list in days to come! Begin praying for these families right now by name for a few minutes – simply asking God to focus His light, love and grace on them today! We will be prompted to pray for these families over the weeks to come.  It will be exciting to see the way God moves as we “work” with Him lighting up the world!


Why Pray? Day 6 - Prayer is Traveling with God

Have you had a chance to read “Why Pray?” Day 6 – Prayer is Traveling with God?  If not, please take a minute to do that and come on back. Today’s Bible passage is Psalm 8.  Part of that Psalm, specifically verses 3-5, always amaze me, humble me, and remind me that I am important to God all in just a few words:

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

I love to notice “little things” – things other people might overlook or not even see.  I remember so clearly a day when the Point of Grace building was being built; the parking lot had been recently finished and we were finally able to park on it.  As I was getting into my car after work one day a little bitty flower caught my eye.  No landscaping had been done yet so it was an unexpected sight.  There, at the very edge of the parking lot, almost under it in fact, was a tiny white flower all by itself in a sea of dirt and asphalt.   I wondered how something so pretty could grow in such an inhospitable environment.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a tiny little nothing in a sea of humanity…do you?  Then out of the blue, God uses a little flower to remind me that I am important to Him and I will thrive in His Presence.  He whispers, “Check out the beauty around you…I made that for you to enjoy.  I would love to be a part of your day.  How about it?”  At that point, I have a choice to make:   say no thanks and go about my business or invite Jesus to be present in my comings and goings, even the boring stuff.  How amazing is it to know that our God, the Creator of the universe, wants to go to the bank with us…or to visit with us as we fold laundry…or be part of the conversation during coffee break?  We were made for intimate connection with Him…we crave it and so does He!

This is where what I’ve always called “drive-by prayers” come into play.  Drive-by prayers are the ones prayed when there’s a sense of immediate need.  I’m just not very good at setting aside time every day to get into deep prayer and contemplation.  I try, my mind wanders off, I chastise myself for losing focus, I try again, my mind wanders…you get the picture.  I am, however, very good at praying in the moment:  I see a guy in uniform, I pray for protection for him;  I see a mom in the grocery with an unruly toddler, I pray for patience for her;  I get a text from a friend who is struggling with a decision, I pray for discernment for her.  Drive-by prayers!  Now, I do believe that God wants deep, contemplative prayer sometimes, and His patience with me as I try and try again is more blessing than I could ever deserve.   He lovingly waits as I ramble, listening all the while to my heart when my mind is lollygagging (If you’ve seen the movie “Up”, you’ve seen Doug the dog have his attention captured by a squirrel.  Yeah, that’s me).  God is just that patient – He knows our weaknesses and works with us anyway.

In “Why Pray?” John DeVries asks if “prayer is your ‘traveling companion’ relationship with God.”  I love to think of prayer that way – an “everyday talk” with my Dad!   As I travel through my day, I’m free to bring Him praise, ask Him questions, listen for His answers, tell Him I love Him, listen to Him tell me He loves me.  It’s a very ebb-and-flow kind of daily prayer.  What is your favorite way to pray?  Do you appreciate quiet time set aside each day for deep prayer or do you enjoy the “hanging with God” feel…or both??

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”     Ephesians 6: 18


Why Pray? Day 5 -- Prayer Is Being The Friend In The Middle

I love today’s devotion.  I’m challenged and inspired by it... but hugely convicted by it as well.  I never thought of myself as the middle man (or girl) in prayer.   Do I pray for other people and circumstances... yes....  but in reading the Luke 11: 5-13 scripture, I realize I’m rarely as bold or persistent with my prayers as the person is in the parable – knocking relentlessly at the door of his friend  in order to meet the needs of his other friend who is hungry and weary from a journey. First of all... in order to be bold and persistent, I have to really love, care about, and have compassion on those for whom I pray.  That only comes from my relationship with Jesus and the way God gives me a heart like His through prayer and connection with Him.  I can’t hope to love or have compassion for anyone without God’s heart for people beating inside me.  And I can’t possibly see the needs of those around me without God’s vision being my vision.   I just wonder how many people I’ve missed... how many needs I’ve overlooked...and how many opportunities I’ve not seen because of my lack of intimacy with the Father.   He’s the lifeline, the connection, the RESOURCE for it all.

Secondly...I think I’m not always bold or persistent in my prayers for others because I feel helpless.  Some situations seem so overwhelming and hopeless that I’m already thinking that nothing can be done as I pray... which makes my prayer just a faithless act.  I’m failing to realize that although I am unable to meet the needs of this person or friend – God IS able and His resources are unlimited!   I have to admit that the quote on page 45 of the book hit hard and made me take a look at my trust in Him:  “How often do you look away from the family quarreling down the street or the problems of your inner city because you have little confidence in your relationship with the Source of all blessing?”      OUCH!

So recognizing my need for intimacy with the Father and confidence in His resources will help me to love people he puts in my life, to have compassion on those in need, and to pray boldly for needs and circumstances that are out of my control – because I am connected to the ONE who makes all things possible, has all resources at His disposal, and hears my bold persistent pleas on behalf of others.

He calls me to do what I can to tangibly meet the needs of others...and when it’s beyond my ability to help, I can have confidence that it’s never beyond His ability, resources, or creativity to change the circumstances of those I’m praying for.

Some Questions:    Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by someone’s situation that it was hard to pray about it?  Have you ever felt like it was all up to you to help someone in need?  Have you ever forgotten how big God is and how all resources are at His disposal?    Are you in a situation right now where this hits home?   Have you seen God do a miracle in someone’s life that you were praying for....a situation that was way beyond your tangible capability to help?  (if so... share it!)

Read:  Matthew 9: 35-38.   Pray that God will use you as a friend in the middle and dream about and anticipate what He might do through your prayers! Denise

Why Pray? Day 4 -- Prayer is Depending Upon God

Welcome to Wednesday’s PoGBlog! Please read Day 4 in Why Pray,  entitled, “Prayer is Filling the Gas Tank.”

I like word pictures.  So of course I really liked the Author’s word picture in today’s entry of pushing his car past the gas station because he was too busy to stop. This really got my attention.  His comparison of Prayerless Christians pushing through life without stopping to pray “zinged” the point into my conscience and heart.  Ugh.  How many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years even, have I foolishly grunted and groaned through life’s hills and obstacles all alone – because I was too busy to pray?  Zing!  Point taken.

Okay.  That was good.  Take time to stop and pray.  Don’t try to go through life without being yoked to Jesus.  That is like pushing my car past the gas station.  Nice.  Got it.  Done.

But then – on page 41 the author gives TEN Scripture passages to look up!  What?  TEN?  That is going to take a long timeI am in a hurry.  Zing!  I wasn’t going to take the time to look up the passages, to see what God had to say.  Zing.

However, it is my turn to facilitate the PogBlog!  So  I felt like I probably should “bother” to look up the passages.  So I did.  I looked them up.  I wrote them down.  I was “stuck.” What do these verses have to do with the gasoline story?   The gasoline illustration was just fine the way it was.  Why these passages, too? Why so many?  What are You saying to me?  Zing.  Take time.

I stopped.  I decided it was time to get some gas.  But not in the “hurry up kind of way” that I usually stop for gas.  You know what I mean… stopping at the gas station at break-neck speed, “cramming” the credit card through the slot, punching in the zip code, shoving the handle into the tank, filling it at full speed, punching “no” to the car wash (because I don’t have time), punching  “no” to the receipt (because it takes too long), and zipping off in the car as fast as possible.

So, even though it will make my PoGBlog too long – and even though it will take a long time to type out the verses, I will write out five of the ten Scriptures for  you…just in case you are in too big of a hurry to look them up, too!  Maybe you will be inspired to look up the other five for yourself!

John 15:4  “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”  (Hmm… I guess I need to stop for gas / prayer if I expect to remain in You, Lord, right?)

Luke 1:15  For he (John the Baptist) will be great in the sight of the Lord…he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.  (Hmm… if he had not been filled with the Holy Spirit, would he have been able to make ready a people prepared for the Lord?)

Luke 4:1  Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert.  (Hmm…did Jesus, the Son of God need to be filled with the Holy Spirit before He was tested in the wilderness for 40 days?)

Acts 4:31  After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly.  (Is it because of the Holy Spirit that they were able to speak with boldness?)

Acts 13:9  Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas (a sorcerer) and said….  (So, was it because Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit that he was able to defeat the sorcerer’s cunning schemes?)

Again, what do these verses have to do with the gasoline story?  The Author says, “We are called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit…so that every aspect of our being may surrender to and be saturated with His holy presence.”  “That we are to be yoked to Him – and when that happens, His power flows into us.”  The people in these verses are “saturated” with His holy presence, and have His power flowing in them – empowering them for the work God had planned for them to do that day! Oh, how I want to be saturated with that kind of Holy Spirit presence, too!

I think I am getting the point.  I need to stop and pray, to stay connected to Him, to remain in Him, so that He can fill me with the Holy Spirit.

So today, when I Stop and Pray – it won’t be in order to just check it off my list…  “Devotion – done – check.”   “PogBlog – done – check.”  “Prayer time – done – check.”  No.  I think it means, that when I stop and pray, God will be filling me up with more than a check-mark for my list.  He is filling me up with the Holy Spirit empowering me for the road ahead.

Further Scripture for Today – Matthew 11:25-30

At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure.

“All things have been committed to Me by My Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Thoughts to Ponder:

To whom or what are you really yoked for daily strength, friendship, and direction?

Are you willing to be yoked to Jesus?


Why Pray? Day 3 - Prayer is Holding Hands With God

Welcome back! If you haven't read Day 3 in "Why Pray?" Please do so now.
Today's Scripture - I Corinthians 2:11-12 "Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."
Honestly, when I read the title of today's section I thought something like, 'Great, I got stuck with some sappy, romantic comedy version of Christianity.'  It only took a page or so to realize there was much more depth than that (Not that romantic comedies can't be deep!!).
The idea of being made in His image really caught my attention---1 Cor 13 ends with faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these being love.  This gives us some insight into God's image and what was impressed upon the human heart.  Love is the greatest, because love is eternal.  Faith and hope were not around before creation and will go away upon Jesus' return.  Love though, love was eternal in the relationship of the Trinity and love will continue after Christ returns into eternity!
God designed us with a great need for intimacy, founded on our relationship with Him through Jesus, made possible by His Spirit.  Prayer is a part of that intimacy and expression of the relationship and it's a two-way street.
The author mentions the 1 Cor. 2:11-12 passage and how our spirit connects with God's Spirit that dwells in our heart.  This is how we walk through life---allowing His Spirit to speak to us, guide us, heal us, correct us, motivate us, send us, and to know Him more fully.
Jesus' death and resurrection restored that relationship and the ultimate intention of humanity being in relationship with our Creator.  So now, our hands/souls can be intimately connected with Him as we walk this journey of faith!!
Spend 5-10 minutes reflecting on the reading, passages, and ask God to speak to your soul.  What challenged you from the reading/passages?  Do you realize your deep need for connection with God?  What steps can you take to 'hear' Him and walk more closely with Him?
I would love to hear your feedback below...

Why Pray? -- Day 2 "My Hands on His"


Welcome! If you haven't had a chance to read Day Two in "Why Pray?" -- do so. We'll wait.

Done? Good - It's a real treat to be on this journey with you!

Today's Scripture is Mark 10:13-16 -- "People were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them."

When I read today's reading in "Why Pray?", I couldn't get the above photo out of my head. It's of my son in the lap of my father -- just like the boy in the book. I share this image with you in case you haven't visually experienced it - I will let you borrow mine!

I think that, as an adult, I so strongly fight a battle against just settling down. Against stopping. Against resting, even if it is in God's lap. It's tough - I mean, I have at least four separate To Do Lists to answer to each day, plus I'm supposed to complete the "extra stuff" I haven't even written down yet , and then I have all the places I need to go to but never make the time to get there, as well as all the information I need to process that keeps collecting in my head from so many sources. And it never fails that something falls apart somewhere in my life -- HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THIS "SETTLE DOWN AND REST IN PRAYER" THING?!?

Do you ever feel like that? I hope I'm not the only one.

Well, I can tell you that my son, as a child, is fully present in the moment while riding that tractor with my dad. I can guarantee you he is not worried about anything left undone or untouched. He is simply connecting with my Dad and loving it.

So I think that's what I need to do. I'm going to spend time in prayer, even if I have a list of things to do a mile long. I will come, knowing that all the other stuff going on won't go away, but I will no longer have to face it all by myself. I will share it all with my Heavenly Father and connect with Him in prayer.

And then He will reach out His arms for me to come and settle in for a ride. I will hand all my "stuff" over to Him, climb into His lap, put my hands on top of His, and He will take me around His Kingdom. Wow! Can you imagine what I might see on this ride! Can you imagine the conversations we can have! Can you imagine what I might learn from Him as we go!

It is from this new perspective that I will then tackle what needs to be done, or go where I need to go -- with Kingdom eyes inherited through a prayer relationship where My Father is guiding me in ways beyond anything I could fathom without Him.

How about you? I would love to have you join me in just stopping right where you are -- no need to finish anything first. Seek God in prayer - set aside all your "adultness" and seek Him as a child. Share with Him all that is going on with you. Give it all to Him. And rest.


Why Pray? – Day One “Does it Pay to Pray?”

Welcome to this 40 day journey and thank you for being a part of this blog conversation! Enjoy your journey today!  If you have time read through the introduction material in the book.  It is helpful in understanding where the author is coming from.

Read Day One in “Why Pray?”

Today’s Scripture – Luke 10:38-42 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

The topic for Day One in “Why Pray?” affected me at a deeper level than I thought!  I have read a lot of books on prayer and they generally start out with fairly cushy lists of the reasons we need to prayer.  “Does It Pay to Pray?” cut a little deep – struck a nerve… Why?

I have wrestled with that a bit!  I am thinking that part of the reason is because I do use the “Does it pay?” litmus test a great deal in my life.  I think it is core to our culture to be efficient, effective, look for the best ROI (Return on Investment), have the least amount of waste ,…!   These are great litmus tests for a number of things in my life but perhaps it is detrimental for me to test prayer life – or spiritual life that way!

Perhaps prayer is bigger than the question “Does it Pay?” or “Is it efficient use of time?” – Perhaps if I go down that road I will miss really what prayer is about and perhaps a whole chunk of what it means to have a relationship with God?  I wonder – How do things work in God’s economy?

What do you think?  What grabbed your attention in the “Why Pray?” reading?

How does this whole idea of “efficiency” or “Does it pay?” in respect to prayer strike you?

Let me know what you think!  I would enjoy reading your comments!

Before you close this “Why Pray?” experience for today I encourage you to take 5 minutes to be still with God.  Pray… or just sit with God for 5 inefficient minutes… whether it pays or not!  Listen – Pray- notice any obstacles or “voices like Martha’s” (Luke 10:38-42) Enjoy!