31 days of prayer

 

I could not believe I was doing this.

My mother and her best friend signed us up for an all day seminar on prayer. It was a special Friday class offered at the Women of Faith conference when it first started years ago.

There were hundreds of women in attendance as we listened to Becky Tirabassi teach us about the importance of prayer and daily Bible reading. Becky gave her testimony and told us what a difference these two things had made in her own life.

At the end of the day, she asked those of us who were up for the challenge to stand up and make a commitment. We pledged to follow a daily Bible reading plan which included the Old and New Testaments, the Psalms and Proverbs and to pray for at least one hour every day. I was too embarrassed to remain seated, so I stood up. And made the pledge.

I don’t remember how long we agreed to stick to it, but I did it and I’ve been doing it ever since.

God has changed me through prayer and the study of His Word.  Prayer has become natural, second nature – like breathing.

It is my hope {and prayer} that if you don’t pray regularly, this series will be a bridge for you, like the seminar was for me, to begin a regular appointment with God in prayer.

Each day for the month of October, I will focus on a particular theme as I pray. You are welcome to add to my prayer in the comment section below the post.

Today I will begin with a begin with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9, He begins with praising the Father for who He is – hallowed. Holy. When I pray each day I try to start in a similar way. With my eyes on who God is.

 

O God, I bow in my heart before You today. I come in reverence to worship and adore You for who You are. You are Elohim, eternally three persons in One. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who in the beginning spoke and formed and breathed the heavens and the earth into existence. (Genesis 1:1) You are God and there is no other. There is no one like You, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done. (Isaiah 46:9-10) Nothing is too difficult for You! You are the LORD. When I am overwhelmed by my circumstances, remind me, O God, that I can trust in Your power and Your might. For nothing is impossible with You. (Luke 1:37)

 

Father, before sun, moon, stars……You spoke and there was light. (Genesis 1:3) You are Light, O God. In You, there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5) In Your light, we see light. (Psalm 36:9) Thank You, Father, that You illumine my way, that I am not left to grope in the darkness but You are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) Guide me, I pray, in all I do at home, at work, and in all my relationships. Cast Your light on me so that I walk wisely as I go.

 

You are Adonai, Lord and Master of the Universe, who counts the number of stars and gives names to all of them(Psalm 147:4) and yet, You know the very number of hairs on my head.(Luke 12:7) Thank You that the details and intricacies of my life matters to You. I bring all those details to You and ask that You rule over all of them. Rule me, O Sovereign Lord. I surrender every part of myself to You.

 

Father, You are El Shaddai, Almighty God. Help me to abide in the shadow of Your wings.(Psalm 91:1) Hold me close. Be my refuge and fortress amidst the storms of this life that threaten to undo me. Be my dwelling place, O Lord, a place where I can rest. Lead me to Your secret place when I am tempted to rely on worldly solutions to my problems. You, O God, are the answer to all my questions. The solution to all my problems. You are Jehovah Shalom – the Lord my peace. (Judges 6:24)

 

You are beautiful, O Lord. Open my eyes to the riches of Your glory. The whole earth is full of Your glory. (Isaiah 6:3) Give me eyes to see. The world is too much with me and I become cynical and complain. Lift the veil from my eyes and show me Your glory.

 

Father, You are El Elyon, God Most High. I praise You and thank You for accomplishing all things for me, for sending from heaven and saving me, for sending forth Your lovingkindness and Your truth.(Psalm 57:2-3) Your Word is truth. (John 17:17) Sow it into the very fabric of my being. Transform me. Renew me. So that I may bear fruit in every good work and please You in every way. I want to know You, Lord. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Come back tomorrow for Day 2 in the series!

 

Photo credit- Jim Sorbie

 

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Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.

Psalm 96:11-13 NKJV

 

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My heart is heavy.  I cannot shake the images of children, blindfolded on their knees, hands bound behind them and guns pointed at their heads.  Lambs to the slaughter.

Babies mutilated.  Mothers and fathers in utter agony.  Swords entering their very souls.

Images of crucifixions. Beheadings.  Scenes reminiscent of a first century Roman coliseum.

There are wars and rumors of wars.  Famine.  Disease.

And the love of many has grown cold.  Lives have been ripped apart by disasters of every kind.  Both near and far.

It seems that the world is all at once on fire and at the same time, frozen over with hate.

Lord, have mercy.

David’s words that prophesied the death of Jesus keep coming to my mind. These words are familiar because I have spoken them in prayer myself.  With face to the carpet, during times I didn’t think I would survive.  So I raise them again on behalf of those whose pain I cannot even fathom. I raise them to One who understands because He has walked this agony out step by step.

 

Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!

Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.

Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!

 

-Psalm 22:11-21 NKJV

 

Father, I lift up all those in need today. All who are suffering. All who are surrounded by evil, disaster, threats and danger. Come near, Lord God. Encompass them with Your power, Your protection, Your love. Send help in whichever way You choose, O Lord. We beseech You on behalf of those who cannot find the words, who do not have strength, who are at the end of their rope today. Have mercy on them, Lord. Have mercy on all of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

To my readers and subscribers,

I’ve been experiencing some technical problems with my site. I am so sorry for the inconvenience and hope to have it resolved soon. I appreciate your patience and hope to be back in the swing of things soon.

Thank you,

Lyn

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 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  

John 15:13

 

Over 700 years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah recorded these words. How could he know of whom he was writing? Yet Isaiah’s words are staggeringly descriptive of the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion. Christ did not come as everyone expected. He came humbly. He came sacrificially. He came as the perfect sacrifice for our sin. To open a way for us to be with Him. Both now and forever. This is love.
 

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, he was despised and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted;

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.

By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper His hand.

As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53

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It is one of the devil’s oldest tricks to discourage the saints by causing them to look back at what they were.  No one will make progress with God until he lifts up his eyes and stops looking at himself.  We are not to spend our time looking back and looking in – we are told to look forward!  Our Lord is more than able to take care of our past.  He pardons instantly and forgives completely.  His blood makes us worthy – all we are and all we have is by the forgiving love of God!

~A.W. Tozer

 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NASB

 

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Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 6:25-26 RSV

 

 

I am an expert in borrowing trouble. Perceived trouble, that is. Nothing that has actually happened.  But it could.  Maybe.

 

I am also imaginative and slightly dramatic which means when I worry, it’s in technicolor!

 

For the last couple of weeks I have stewed over one particular issue which is totally out of my control. It not only weighs me down, it stirs me up! I have prayed and prayed and today these words from Matthew came like a soothing salve to my soul.

 

What a relief to remember Who holds the future!

 

Today’s challenge: Cast my burden on the One who even cares for the birds and focus only on today.

 

 

 

It has been well said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourselves so, my friends. If you find yourselves so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God’s. He begs you to leave the future to Him, and mind the present.

                                                                                                            ~G. MacDonald

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A Note of Thanks

I told the story of Thanksgiving yesterday. It’s been years since I told the story of pilgrims and indians sitting down together and enjoying a harvest. I smiled to myself as I remembered my daughters making construction paper hats with big buckles and feathers and cornucopias and children eating on paper plates shaped like turkeys.

 

I haven’t thought about that original Thanksgiving in a long time. And it’s the first time I told the story in Spanish.

 

A friend from Mexico asked me why so many people are cooking sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and turkey.

 

I told her a little bit about American history. About a three day feast where indigenous Americans and Englishman came together and broke bread and gave thanks for the harvest. All that God had provided.

 

She smiled and thanked me for telling her the story.

 

And I can’t get it off my mind. That reminder of why we go through the motions of preparing a feast every year.

 

I take so much for granted.

 

Like speaking Spanish.  I’ve done it so long that it seems ordinary.   Commonplace.   It’s not.

 

There’s really no reason why I should be bilingual. My family doesn’t speak Spanish.  But from the time I was 9 years old I was welcomed into the homes of dear Cuban families who had immigrated in the early 1960s. to Florida.  They taught me their language and I learned about salsa and Celia Cruz.  About ropa vieja and platano frito.  About Cuba in its hey-day. About losing your country. Your home.  And moving to a country who does not share your culture or your language. These families have left indelible marks on my heart. They helped shape the person I am today.

When I’ve traveled to Puerto Rico and South America people have asked me if I’m Cuban. I always smile because I do feel a little bit Cuban in my heart.

 

Learning Spanish created a bridge into another world.  Not at all ordinary for a little farm girl from north Florida.

 

My friend from Mexico reminded me of this.  Of all the gifts God has given me.  And I am so grateful.

 

 

*Salsa- a popular music of Latin American origin (the Cubans claim they invented it)

*Celia Cruz- Cuban singer/performer who is one of the most popular salsa artists of the 20th century. Often called the “Queen of Salsa”. 

*Ropa vieja- literally means “old clothes” but is a popular Cuban dish of shredded steak in a tomato sauce. 

*Platano frito – fried plantain

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I met Ellen Hathaway over 20 years ago and was immediately drawn to her southern charm.

 

She grew up in rural eastern North Carolina, in a town of only 12,000 people. The sights and sounds of Washington, North Carolina provided plenty of inspiration for this little budding artist!

 

 

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Ellen dabbled in art as she grew up, but decided not to pursue it in college. It wasn’t until she had children of her own that she began taking classes in watercolor and acrylic painting. And she’s been painting ever since!

 

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I spent a few hours with my friend in her studio at home. I sat wide-eyed as I looked at all the vibrant colors of flowers and leaves bursting forth from canvases. We talked about the creative process and faith, and how the two are connected.  I love these words that she penned for an exhibit she entitled, “Epiphanies”:

 

Trust now.

 

That tiny seed, that tender root,

with no power in itself transforms through

Grace into glorious bloom at just

the appointed moment, making the place which

once appeared empty, now full of life,

color, texure.

 

 

Just as writers struggle with a blank page before them, artists can struggle with a blank canvas.  Ellen says the remedy for that is to get some paint on the surface as quickly as possible!  Her studio is full of canvases, but they’re not blank.  They’re all painted!

 

Kaleidoscope II_36x24x3 Lesson #1 – Begin. Do something. Get some paint on the canvas or the paper or the computer screen.  Just start.

 

She really makes this look so easy, but when I asked her about the creative process, she admitted that there are times when she struggles with controlling the outcome.

 

She says, “I try not to get so married to my own ideas or listen to the critical voice in my head. I try to let go and let God.”

 

Lesson #2 – Don’t get into a tug-of-war with your work. Take a deep breath and release it to God.

 

When I asked Ellen about her greatest difficulty she remarked, “The hardest place can be resolving the painting. . . wanting it to go one way and the painting wants to go another. I’ve learned to step back, throw a glaze on it and come back to it later.”

 

Lesson #3 – Step back. Hit the pause button. Come back to it later. 

 

{I think I need to keep these on my refrigerator as well as my easel! I think they’re life lessons, not just art lessons!}

 

You can visit Ellen at her website. You can also visit her Facebook page.

 

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The burning desire to live creatively intersects with the generosity of the creating Spirit. Living creatively is a gift, unmerited, abundant, and waiting to be indulged.  Another epiphany.  Live gratefully.

 ~ Ellen Hathaway

heartful friday

So….I’m a little late getting here today. {My friends would tell you that I’m rarely on time!} But it’s still technically Friday and I want to share several sites that I keep up with regularly. Both are incredibly creative and both of these ladies love Jesus!

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I’ve been following Hannah {aka Wifeysinger} for quite some time.  Her photos and writing always encourage me.   She also makes beautiful jewelry that you can purchase here.  I love her use of color !  It makes me smile.

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Becky {aka Farmgirl Paints} is another one of my faves! Her blog is warm and inviting and I always feel inspired.
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Becky makes cool jewelry and she also paints {hence the name of her blog!}.  She’s taking a little break from her shop for the month of October but you can visit it  here.

 

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And . . . I’m working on a little something myself.  It’s not finished but I’m almost there. I think.

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I’d love to hear about other creative blogs. Feel free to share in the comment section below!

Have a beautiful weekend!

Blessings to you,

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