Prayer Journal

I want to share a little glimpse into the prayer journal I use that has helped me so much to get regular and somewhat organized in my prayer times.  First, a disclaimer. The very LAST thing I would want is to portray that this is something I have all together or that I am an all-star prayer warrior.  That thought makes me sick to my stomach! Because though I have grown in this area, I am still not where I want or need to be.

In Dec. of 2010 I was given a prayer journal by my sweet mother-in-law for Christmas. It has different divided sections and the author (Tara Furman) wrote a bit about prayer and some helpful hints, verses, etc in the beginning of each section.  This happened to also be the time (unbeknownst to my MIL) that the Lord was gently convicting me and urging me that this was an area I was really lacking and that growing in my prayer life was the key to knowing Him deeper. How sweet that He provided a tool for the same thing he was urging me to grow in! 🙂

As I mentioned, the journal I have is purchased (you can order one at www.http://tarafurman.com/resources/), or you could get your own notebook and dividers from a place like staples. I am not sure about the size, but it’s smaller than your typical notebook size. Tara shared at a MOPS meeting I was at once that this is what she does and uses as her template.

Here’s a breakdown of the sections:

Praise: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…” Ps.100:4

I love how she says in the beginning that time spent in praise and thanksgiving should outweigh time spent making requests. Focusing our attention on Him makes us see how huge our God is, and how small in comparison are our problems and pressures.

In this section I go ahead and write down different favorite praise verses for “quick reference”. Another thing I do often that may sound corny…is write the letters of the alphabet down the page, then fill in an attribute of God for each letter. Or I sometimes just write my own praises, usually focusing on a certain attribute.  Or sometimes I just put my earbuds in and listen to some praise music. But even if I am not writing on that day in this section, having it set up like this keeps me accountable and on track.

Thanksgiving: “You are my God and I will give you thanks…” Psalm 118:28

Here is the section to record God’s specific blessings and answers to prayer. It’s really neat to be able to look back and have it all in one place- things I would have otherwise forgotten, or it would have been more difficult to go back and find those things in a regular journal, as I have done in the past.

Some of my favorites are going back and reading things I wrote down that my kids said/did that showed me that God is working in their hearts! Or a fun movie night with the family. Or for peace that He gave when all was going crazy.

That is all I am able to write right now…I will finish this up later, but go ahead and publish it so it’s not one super-long post! I do hope that showing how it’s organized will help someone else! I spent much time in prayer feeling lost and my mind wandering….or feeling like there was so much to pray for, that I didn’t know where to start so I didn’t pray at all. Crazy, I know. But this has really helped me! I know it’s just a tool that will work for some and not for others…and that honestly it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that helps us, and all we really need is Him.  When we lack the desire to pray, let’s take it to Him.

Thoughts on the Marriage Amendment

I really try to steer clear of political arguments and issues as much as possible, unless I am asked my opinion.  Mostly because people probably don’t really care too much what I have to say! 🙂 And that is alright.

But in the midst of yesterday’s vote on the proposed marriage amendment, I have just one little post to write. I am not really going to even write much, just want to share an article by John Piper. He is writing because his state (Minnesota) will be facing the same proposal in November.

He said much more eloquently than I am able to what I believe to be true about this issue.

Here’s my favorite quote from the article:

“May God have mercy on us. Laws are not our Savior. We need a great awakening to the truth and glory of Jesus Christ far more than we need a marriage amendment. Our hope lies in the work of Jesus—for us on the cross, and in us by his Spirit. Be thankful for laws and for courageous political servants, but live for the gospel and the glory of Christ (Mark 8:35).”

Full article here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/thoughts-on-the-minnesota-marriage-amendment

To God be the glory,

Lauren

Encouragement for the week

I used to be in a Sunday school class that was huge- as big as or bigger than some churches that gather on Sunday mornings. Each week, a certain gentleman would stand up and read the prayer requests that had been submitted and we would have  a time of prayer for them.

After this time was over, he would encourage us to be in the Word that week and say each week, without fail:

“Folks, it’s God’s Word.

We need to be thinking about it, praying about it, and we MOST ASSUREDLY need to BE about it”.

Then he would sit down.  The inflection in his voice was the exact same each week- he would really emphasize the words above that I capitalized. It was very predictable. But the truth of his challenge was worth repeating each week! How would we all (and our families, our workplaces, our homes, our city….) be different if we really were reading, thinking, praying and acting on (being hearers AND doers of) God’s Word this week?

I haven’t been in that class or seen this gentleman for years-  but I am so thankful that his words were ringing in my ears yesterday, challenging me for the week, reminding me.

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

When I am tempted

I can’t come up with clever, catchy titles to save my life! Maybe that is something I will grow in as I write more…..however, thanks for coming over anyway and seeing what the Lord has been teaching me from His Word in regards to temptation.

What lead me to seek the Lord on this particular matter was when I was having a really bad week with the kids. Just some honesty here- I was so quick to be angry at them, raise my voice- ok, let’s call it what it is- yelling, or the kind of talking where you grit your teeth together and open your eyes real big to really get your point across. But I am sure that you guys don’t do that. But I do, and I don’t like it or think it’s ok- but sometimes the old girl rises up and it ain’t pretty. And, it definitely doesn’t get the response from my boys that I want- it doesn’t reach their hearts.

Here’s where Paul’s words in Romans 7:15-23 are such an encouragement to me. I’ve spent this year studying Acts in our Bible study and if the man that I have seen be beaten and imprisoned and hungry and in the middle of riots and left for dead all for the sake of his Savior, can say these words, that gives me hope.

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, cit is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

We’ll come back to that passage in a moment- but the verse the the Lord brought to my mind in reference to this temptation of dealing harshly with my kids is Hebrews 4:14-16. Certainly it applies to any temptation we face, but for me, this is how I have applied it in my own life.

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Even though Jesus wasn’t tempted with each exact sin that we are, he was tempted with the enticement of sin and the tug of evil.  However, he remained sinless and did not give in, and more than that, stands ready to give us grace and mercy in our own time of need! My heart leaps even now as I write about this! To know that my Savior- a perfect, holy, righteous God is ready to  meet me (and you!) where I am and help me.  That he doesn’t look at me (or you!) with a pointing finger or a frustrated “Ughhh! Again, Lauren?!”

He says, “Draw near to me and receive the mercy (not getting what we do deserve) and grace (getting what we don’t deserve) that I want so badly to give you.” For those who are His own, the sheep of His pasture, this is the reality.

So, how did that change me or my day? To just come to him when I feel that anger or frustration rising up inside of me- “Jesus, please help me. I want to parent these boys in a way that reaches their hearts. To show them Your amazing grace, your infinite love, your holiness. I must decrease, you must increase.” And that, friends, is exactly what He does. He is so faithful.

To close, going back to the verse in Romans (actually 8:1)-at the end of that speech about being a wretched sinner that Paul gives is one of my favorite verses:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

And for that, I am so thankful.

Why does it matter?

Finishing up the several posts about Biblical reliability, I’ve been thinking.  We have to understand why it matters if we actually believe the Bible or not. We are misguided if we think, “Well I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and that when I die I’ll go to heaven….but the part in there about fill in the blank here…..well- I don’t know about that.”

Truth is, there are certain Biblical truths/doctrines that aren’t comfy cozy and don’t give you warm fuzzies inside. But I will submit to you that if we don’t believe it ALL, we can’t claim to really believe ANY of it. If it’s not all true, then how do I know the part about eternal security is true? How do I know anything about who God is and what He wants from me? We can’t pick and choose from Scripture what we would like to believe.  That leaves us confused and uncertain. Two things that I don’t believe He wants us to be.

The thing is, God wants us to know Him. He wants us to be secure in His love and His plans. And that is why He’s given us His Word. We are not going to understand everything about this life and even about Scripture, but we can apply ourselves to know Him and His Word, and continue to grow in that until the day we die.

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom,

    let not the mighty man boast in his strength,

let not the rich man boast in his riches,

but let him who boasts boast in this,

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24

See- all of those other things can be taken away from us- wisdom, strength, riches (things that our culture and world values & treasures above all else)…..but knowing Christ cannot.  So I would ask you- if we don’t know Christ, what level of security or confidence can we have in this life? And how do we know him if not through his word?

“With my whole heart I seek You;

let me not wander from from your commandments!

I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.

I will delight in Your statutes;

I will not forget your Word.”

Psalm 119:10-11,15-16

P.S.

Today wraps up the series on biblical reliability!  So far, we’ve looked at:

M-manuscript evidence

A- archaeological  evidence

These last two go very well together so I have decided to lump them both here. I feel the need to say again, these points aren’t mine, but come from the article by Hank Hanegraaf, “MAPS to Guide You Through Biblical Reliability”.  Here is the article in it’s entirety: http://www.equip.org/articles/bible-reliability

So, jumping right in, the P stands for prophecy- predictive ability. There are many events that the Bible predicts, but because Christ is the focus of the whole counsel of scripture- old and new testament- it only makes sense that the prophecies regarding him outnumber the rest, so that’s what I want to hone in on.

Genesis 17:19- Here, God promises that the messiah will come from Abraham’s line- via Isaac, not Ishmael.

Micah 5:2- Prophecy that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem

Isaiah 53:12- Prophecy that the messiah would be crucified with criminals

*These are just a few of the ones that obviously Jesus could not set out and intend or conspire to fill.*

Let’s look real quick at Psalm 22 and Matthew 27.

Ps. 22:18- “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”
Matt. 27:35- “And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots”

Ps. 22:7- “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads”
Matt. 27:39- “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads

Ps. 22:8- “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him”
Matt. 27:43- “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him, For he said ‘I am the Son of God'”

Ps. 22:1- “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
Matt. 27:46- “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now, for the S- statistics. The Bible was written over the span of 1500 years with over 40 authors in 3 different languages, and speaks to hundreds of subjects. Yet, there is one over-arching theme- Jesus Christ and God’s redemption of mankind. The likelihood that Jesus would fulfill all prophecies concerning him BY CHANCE alone? Conservative estimates: 1 in 10 to the 17th power.

I also want to say again, that I am no Bible scholar or apologist- I don’t pretend to be! There are plenty of great ones out there! I just want to show that the Bible is worth looking into- maybe giving a second thought to the possibility- that it’s divine in origin rather than human, and that it’s accurate.