Category Archives: Be Specific when You Ask

Worry Robs Our Rest

Don’t worry about anything.  Instead, pray about everything…(Philippians 4:6 NLT).

Do you have a problem with worry? Maybe you’re exhausted from worrying about everything from your family to the elections, to the economy, to the condition of the world.  But here’s some good news:  The Lord has given us a secret weapon to use against anxiety. He tells us we can overcome worry through prayer.

Now, I happen to be a world class worrier. I didn’t have to learn how to worry. It just came naturally as a by-product of an overactive imagination, a curious mind, and a relentless memory. Marriage and a family only brought more responsibility, and therefore more things to worry about.  I agree with my friend who defines worry with the acronym: W.O.R.R.Y:  Worry-Only-Robs-Rest-from-You. It’s true. Worry is exhausting.

 So as one who is prone to worry, I’m inspired by Paul’s letter to some persecuted Christians in the town of Philippi. They were always in danger of getting killed, and therefore had lots to worry about. “Don’t worry about anything,” he encouraged them. “Instead, pray about everything.”

I’m struck by that word instead. Paul didn’t just say to stop worrying. He said, instead of worrying, to pray.  He tells us to redirect all that furious, anxious energy into prayer.  To make worry work for us instead of against us!

I get that concept.  It sounds a little like a trick I learned back in high school when I took karate in between sports seasons. I was taught to use the enemy’s energy against him. A violent attack could be redirected to incapacitate my attacker.  The Bible reminds us that daily, we are in a spiritual battle.  So, in a similar way, prayer is one way to use the devil’s energy against him.

When we use all the energy (that we are not using for worry) on prayer,  we can begin to experience gratitude and peace, instead of anxiety.  Paul puts it this way: “Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.” Then, “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7 NLT).

Reminder: When you are tempted to worry, try redirecting all that energy into prayer!

(Adapted from Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars: Learning How to Hear the Voice of God,  By Marilynn Chadwick, Howard Books, 2012).


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 22

Do you ever feel like your dream will never come true? The obstacles just won’t budge.  You can’t seem to win your spiritual battle, no matter how much you pray and pray and pray. And you feel like you are losing hope.  Perhaps you need a breakthrough.

Breakthrough was first used as a military term to signify an offensive thrust past the defensive lines of warfare. The word entered the realm of common speech during the technological age, often used to describe a sudden discovery or invention.  Breakthroughs usually occur only after repeated failures.

Think about it. Thomas Edison tried unsuccessfully over ten thousand times before his final breakthrough invention of the electric light bulb. The Wright brothers experienced hundreds of crashes before their breakthrough in flight.  And countless scientists performed endless experiments before breakthroughs in DNA research. Continue reading


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 19

“Jesus, are you willing to heal me?”  The man was desperate.  He was covered with leprosy–a terminal case.  His condition was hopeless.  Lepers were untouchables, so he was ostracized.   An outcast.  Jesus was his last ditch effort.  Face in the dirt, he crushed any remnant of pride…and begged.  His plea was simple. Just ten words: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus answers in half as many words and performs a miracle.  “I am willing.  Be clean!” (Luke 5:12, 13 NIV).

Let’s meditate on this passage in a different Bible version:  While he was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, “If you want to, Lord, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, placed it on the leper, saying, “Certainly I want to. Be clean!”  (Luke 5:12-13 PHILLIPS).

Notice this version uses the word “want.” The Greek word, thelo, is translated “want, will, desire,” or even “wish.”  Thelo also indicates a “pressing on to action.”  Jesus not only wanted to and was willing to heal the guy. He took action!

In an instant, Jesus changed the man’s condition from hopeless to hopeful!  The leper’s plea can be considered a type of prayer. The word deomai, translated “beg,” describes a specific, urgent prayer.  The leper’s answer came swiftly.  His desperate cry for healing was consistent with the will of God for that man in that moment.

Alignment with God’s will is the key to powerful prayer, as Jesus taught His disciples in The Lord’s Prayer: Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). This is a strong petition. It’s an imperative—more of a demand than a request—and better translated:  “Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as in heaven!”

God’s will is done perfectly in heaven–so heaven becomes the template for our earthly prayers. It’s almost as if Jesus wants us to shake our fist and shout as we decree that God’s will be done on an earth still crawling with enemies.

So how do we know God’s will? My short answer is this: Read His Word.  Saturate your heart daily. Grow so close to your Good Shepherd that you know His will, obey His will, pray His will.  And when we pray according to God’s will, our hope springs to life.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 9

If we want to live in hope, we must guard against “hope-killers”—those pesky predators that seek to destroy our God-given dreams. One of the most insidious hope-killers is anxiety. Like a slow leak, anxiety drains out the belief that we can trust God with our future. It then fills us with a low-grade dread that steals our joy. No wonder mental health experts are disturbed by the growing numbers of those suffering from anxiety—now the most common mental illness in the U.S.

I’ve discovered a simple prayer that helps quench anxiety and build hope. It goes something like this: “Lord, I surrender this dream into Your hands. I trust You to answer my heart’s desire in a way that goes beyond what I even know to ask.”  In other words, “Surprise me, God, with more than I can imagine.”  I call this “praying beyond.”  This prayer is right in line with the Bible’s encouragement to entrust our dreams to the One “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think  (Ephesians 3:20 NASB).

Praying beyond also helps me take my focus off the obstacles to my dream—or what I can see with my eyes—and fix my mind, instead, on God’s powerful promises.  Praying beyond moves me out of the realm of fear into faith, fueling my hopes and dreams. Taking new territory.  Walking on water.

Not too long ago, I was reading Ephesians 3:20 again—this time in a different Bible version. The words put a fresh twist on my “praying beyond” verse:  “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…”  (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).

I continued to ponder the words “above all” as I went for a run: “God, maybe You’re encouraging me to look down upon my hopes and dreams as though I’m seated up above with You in the heavenly realm. From where You’re sitting, I imagine my hopes and dreams look pretty easy—nothing’s too hard for You.  I believe You’re able to do above all I can ask or think.”

I rounded the corner and jogged by several buses.  Suddenly, I had to smile as I looked at the name on the side of one bus. Seemed God was making His point loud and clear…and His answer was above all I could ask or imagine.

IMG_1378 

 Above All Charters

 

 


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 2

What is your “big ask?”  A big ask is the dream your heart most desires.  Your deepest longing.  Sometimes, the only One who knows your big ask is God.  But now and then, God asks us to wait for our big ask to come true.  And sometimes He changes our heart’s desire altogether, or gives us a new dream.  The Bible reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways….and often a whole lot messier!

We can help each other stand strong during our times of waiting.  A friend recently referred to me as her prayer coach—but the truth is, we help each other.  We encourage each other during times of weakness.  Holding onto hope, especially when what we see with our natural eyes looks discouraging, can be a hard fight.  It’s my prayer that something you read during our 30 Days of Hopeful will help you stand strong in your battle to believe.

Here are some practical tips I’ve discovered that help me hold onto hope, while waiting for my dream:

1. I meditate on my “watchwords.”  A watchword is simply a verse or two of Scripture that speaks directly to my heart.  It’s my practice  to read a chapter of the Bible each day.  I’ve discovered that the Holy Spirit has a way of illuminating a special watchword that gives the strength I need to keep my faith strong and my hope alive. I like to write the watchword in what I call my Chubby Book, a wire-bound booklet of 3×5 cards.

2. I keep my prayer list beside me while I fold the laundry.  I list the items on the page next to my watchword.  I then pray for each item on my list, sometimes pausing to reflect on the watchword. This practice has made laundry, a chore I used to loathe, into something I actually like.  A miracle in itself!

Chubby Book

 

3. I take my Chubby Book on my jog and pray for those on my list. My neighborhood has some steep hills. While going uphill, I pray for our friends suffering in difficult places. In some small way, this allows me to feel a solidarity with their suffering. Why not pray during your own exercise time? Or turn your daily walk into a “prayer walk.”

It doesn’t matter if we walk, run, or fold clothes. Our minutes matter to God. And minute-by-minute, as we hold onto our hope, our battle may be leading us to an eventual breakthrough in our big ask.  To God be the Glory!