WE THE PEOPLE

adultingI recently saw this meme online, and it made me laugh—probably because many times I’ve thought that same thing. “Isn’t there someone else that can do this better than me?”

With all the recent tragedies in the news, it’s definitely been easy for me to “hope for” someone else to be responsible to lead our cities and our nation to a better place. And then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:8

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Right there it is…plain as day…I’m to pray.  In the moments I feel overwhelmed with current events, I’m to pray. The Scripture is clear: I’m to petition and be thankful to God. I’m to join with him in his desire that all men would be saved and come to know the truth of Christ.  I’m to live without wrath or dissension in my heart.

When we the people choose to join our prayers with the prayers of Christ, we are saying yes to God’s will. We are saying yes to living a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  We are taking responsibility for the well-being of our cities and our nation, and we are fulfilling the purposes of Christ that we were created for. 

May I encourage you, dear friend, if you don’t know how to pray, start with Jesus’ example. Say it back to Him with a sincere heart…not just from memory, but truly believing that God hears your prayers.

“My Father who is in heaven, Holy is Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give me this day my daily bread. And forgive my sins, as I forgive those who sin against me. Do not lead me into temptation, but deliver me from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”   Matthew 6:9-13 (paraphrased)

This post was written by Julie Snellgrove. To read more about her, click here

The Circle Maker {A Book Review}

the circle makerEvery month, we feature a book review based on our blog theme for that month. For more great book suggestions, check out our Bookshelf tab here. (And for you non-readers, check out the audio book options!)

For May, we’ve been blogging about the power of prayer, and while there are a lot of great books on prayer, I wanted to review The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.

When I first started reading this book, I only read through maybe a third of it—and then I got discouraged. We were praying for miracles in our life, and Mark shared testimony after testimony of God’s answered prayer for his life and for his church.

I suddenly felt a bit forgotten and alone.

And, to be honest, I sort of developed a bad attitude toward the book. I would say stuff like, “Oh, he’s just all about ‘name it and claim it.’ That’s not how God operates.”

Let me tell you, friends, when I did actually come back to finish it—a year or so later—I realized it’s so very far from being heretical.

Mark gives insight into the heart of God for prayer: that we would believe, that we would risk in what we ask for because only then are we exercising faith, and that we would be persistent even when we don’t see anything changing.

He’s very quotatble, so I’ll try to be sparse, but here are a few of my favorites:

“His command better be your wish. If it’s not, you won’t be drawing circles; you’ll end up walking in circles” (p. 16).

“God does not answer vague prayers” (p. 27).

“No doesn’t always mean no; sometimes it means not yet. We’re too quick to give up on God when He doesn’t answer our prayers how or when we want. Maybe your deadline doesn’t fit God’s timeline… Maybe it’s a divine delay” (p. 64).

“If you want God to surprise you, you have to give up control” (p. 66).

“I don’t want easy answers or quick answers because I have a tendency to mishandle the blessings that come too easily or too quickly. I take the credit or take them for granted. Now I pray that it will take long enough and be hard enough for God to receive all the glory. I’m not looking for the path of least resistance; I’m looking for the path of greatest glory… Maybe we need to change our prayer approach from as soon as possible to as long as it takes (p. 196).

Whether you’re a seasoned prayer warrior or are looking for an approach to be more disciplined with your prayer life, you’ll be encouraged by this book!

God desires to give us good gifts, and his heart rejoices when we ask Him! Remember Brad’s sermon about middle voice? (5 Smooth Stones—Part 4: Faith) He said,

Pray in middle voice—taking action but depending on God to complete the action.

Let’s exercise our faith through prayer!

This post was written by Laura Brandenburg. To read more about her, click here. 

Influence in Your Circle

circle of influenceI once declared, “I won’t do anything without talking with You about it first, God.” The statement came after a terrible time of grief and pride, and as the only reasonable response to a stunning and specific, yet amazingly gentle, correction given to me by Our Father.

I’d like to say that I have made good on that promise 100%, but that would not be true. However, our Counselor reminds me of that vow when I “go and do,” but neglect my conversations with God. I have noticed that the pattern holds: as I pray about personal, marriage, parenting, friendship, church and ministry, vocation, political issues, etc., I see His praise-worthy creative power at work. However, when I neglect my privileged responsibility to pray over my spheres of influence, I hopelessly witness not only my own but others’ terrible times, grief, and pride.

Remarkably, God Himself made nearly the same statement to us as I made to Him. Amos 3:7 (NIV) says,

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

I believe the reason He does this is to provide the reality of the difference He makes in our and others’ lives. Our spoken prayers toward Him make a difference in our perspective of the world. Also true is that His spoken word—transforming us internally and manifesting externally through us—makes a difference in how He and the world relate to one another. Powerfully, we are in God’s sphere of influence!

Our faith is the only one which states that overcoming this world’s degenerative problems is not just possible, it is the ongoing fulfillment of an eternal promise (John 16:33)! God’s part of the conversation, often given through His disciples, is powerful and effective; He provides correction, encouragement, love, and every good thing.

Many Christians I have known struggle with the words “witness,” “testimony,” and “prophecy”; they sound like they belong to other people and other times. However, John’s Revelation (19:10 – ERV) message, “…the truth of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” is for all disciples of all ages to experience! When we think about it, to witness simply means to provide “public affirmation by word or example,” especially, of our belief in the doctrine of Christianity (the teachings of Jesus and of His Apostles) to those who need the Truth.

Jesus encourages disciples with His timeless declaration, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 – NIV). The world is large, and our problems in it can seem overwhelming; however, the pattern of God’s power in overcoming remains. It is our privileged responsibility to pray about religions and politics, work and recreation, friends, and family; because, these spheres touch and overlap. Praying, we witness God’s influence throughout the world. Beginning with our own little circle, we’ll increasingly see how He changes lives in every good way!

This post was written by Tina Crowson. 

Praying in Power

prayer 1About nine years ago, I began gathering with half a dozen women around the HCF kitchen island every week. It is here that I have learned how to pray—for myself, my family, but most of all for our church. Here I have learned what an honor it is to pray for our pastors and church leadership, and to come into agreement with what God is doing in our land. You can learn how to pray in power and authority over our church, too. Dear sister, your prayers over our church matter.

So how do we pray declarative prayers of truth and power over our church?

First of all, we need to pray in agreement with what our pastors are praying (or words they have received) over our church. This increases the power released when we are praying in unity with our leadership (not just praying what we think needs to be prayed). Yes, we all have the ability to hear the Holy Spirit—but the Holy Spirit has chosen to speak to our leaders, so we need to get on board with that! We need to catch the vision of what God is doing in our church and our community…and that most often comes through what He is speaking to our pastors.

Our pastors are not super-human. They are regular people like you and me. But they have been anointed by God to lead our church, and that is a great responsibility. They need us to support them in unity and in prayer.

One of my favorite verses to declare over our pastors is Ephesians 3:16.

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.

Second, we need to be in tune with God’s Spirit. We need to ask God to make us so aware of His Spirit moving. We need to come ready to hear and see and speak what He is doing and saying. It does not matter if you are on the “prayer team” or not. This is something that every member of the church should be aiming toward every minute of the day.

This is not about us. It is about stepping in and being part of what God is doing. We as the Church have the responsibility to pray God’s Word and God’s will over our church. We are all part of the team. Our prayers create an atmosphere for God to come in power.

Third: Have faith. Spend time drawing near to God. We need to receive what God says about who we are; then He will deposit into us His heart for people. When we get God’s heart, we are able to pray in confidence His words over our church…His Body. God’s heart is for us. God’s heart is for this community. God’s heart is for this Church. So pray believing—for power, miracles, healing, freedom, and transformation. God wants to move in power in our church!

This post was written by Heather Dillard. To read more about her, click here

Permission to Act Like a Child

child 1I am a huge fan of hypothetical situations. I often laugh out loud at hypothetical “what ifs” that play through my mind. In accordance with this pastime, I often think about “what if” we reacted to things the same way as children? Can you imagine?

I am disappointed that my favorite class at the gym got cancelled so I proceed to throw a pathetic tantrum at the front desk. Someone cuts in front of me at the store when I am in a huge hurry…and I respond by tattling to the checker while bringing my shoulder low and pushing my body in front of the person that cut me in line. This brings a smile to my face, but is not acceptable in the least.

While this picture of childlike behavior paints a picture of immaturity and a lack of skills to deal with difficult situations, I have recently begun to consider the spiritual lessons and wisdom that I can gain from my five-year-old daughter, Conley. Recently, I found her in our hallway closet in declarative prayer. My son had jumped off of something and hurt himself (Disclaimer: He was adequately supervised. He is just an intense and very fast child). I was tending to him, and when he settled down, I could hear Conley in the closet speaking the truth of Scripture and declaring him “healed.” She came out and said, “Mom, you don’t have to worry about him. The Bible said God can heal and so he’s ok.”

In another situation, she had heard a story on the radio about a veteran who could not find employment. She asked my husband to pray with her in the truck. She spoke the truth of Scripture over him and a few weeks later told me, “Mom, we don’t have to worry about that man from the radio station. God hears our prayers and he will handle it.” I could share numerous other stories where I have been reminded of how simple Scripture really is when it comes to truth.

Children are able to view the truth of Scripture in a way that is less jaded and distorted when compared to adults. I have been so overwhelmed with God’s generosity as he reveals his strength and truth through my own adult-sized pride. As I have taken lessons from my 5-year-old, it has shaped my prayer life. I now declare God’s specific scriptural truths over my family in the same way as my child. I find peace and freedom in discovering and declaring those truths over my family each day.

I encourage you to seek out scriptural truths to refute the lies you have led yourself to believe, and end the battles you thought you had to fight. Pray from a declarative position as I was so humbly taught by my child. I hereby give you permission to act like a child.

This post was written by Lindsey Wesley. To read more about her, click here

How to Pray BEFORE the Meltdown

declarative prayerI don’t know about you, but taking care of sick kids wears on me after a while. My girls took turns being sick for two weeks and not long afterward my eldest ran fever for 7 days straight. Too sick to go to school but not sick enough to stay in bed. Irritable kids. Irritable mom. Flesh struggling against flesh patterns. Lots of triggered pain. You get the picture.

But my heart is my responsibility.

How do I work through this, especially after I’ve completely lost my composure?Declarative Prayer.

We steer where we stare. Declarative prayer gives me a vehicle with which I can shift my focus back on God and what He says is true. Declarative prayers aren’t speaking magic incantations or denying the difficulties I face.

They help me recognizing that even in the midst of this circumstance, God gets the last word.

Let’s go back to my quasi-meltdown. Afterward, I settled down and thought. Once I verbally processed what I was feeling, I identified the lie I believed: abandonment. It went something like this, “I am alone. No one wants to help me and it’s up to me to make everything come together. Of course, I will fail and it’ll all be my fault.”

Cheerful, huh?

Once I said it out loud I could see the ridiculousness of it all. This lie was in direct opposition to a promise God spoke to my heart a few years back. He said, “Jodi, I’m going to help you.

That’s it. When I thought about His promise, it wasn’t difficult to enter into declarative prayer. Here’s an example:

“Lord, thank You for helping me through this tough time. You are able to keep me from falling and present me without fault (Jude 24). I’ve had a hard time, but You have not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Because of the finished work of the cross I have peace with God (Colossians 1:20) and I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). So instead of relying on my old coping mechanisms to get me through today, I am going to lean into who I am in Christ and trust You. I am not responsible for making everything work today. Instead of pre-judging others, I will ask for help from the appropriate people and move forward from there. Thank You for helping me walk in reality instead of vain imaginations.”

Bam.

I’ve never spent time praying this way when His peace didn’t give me clarity to take the next step. And friends, honestly that’s what most of us need. We couldn’t handle detailed marching orders for the rest of our life. He’s going to show us the next step. Then we get to choose whether or not we’re going to obey.

When you realize you’re rapidly approaching a pain cycle, I want you to remember that you are not powerless. You can use declarative prayer to release the power of God into your heart, your mind and your response. Go for it!

This post was written by Jodi LaFrance. To read more about her, click here

A Call To Fight

eowynC.S. Lewis wrote, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. ”

Because of the influence of my sisters, I now mentally make Lord of the Rings analogies to life…and I’ve noticed I’ve been doing this more recently. To me, this and other stories like it give a picture of a time when people lived fully, loved deeply, and fought fiercely. And I believe that we are in a similar place today: a place where we need to allow ourselves to be fully present to those in our lives.

And there comes a time even now when we must fight. Sometimes it’s for ourselves and sometimes it’s for others. We fight for our families, we fight for our friends, we fight for our churches. This is not in the physical, it is in the spiritual, but it doesn’t make it any less important.
We fight to choose life every day.
We fight in worship.
We fight in prayer.
We fight in faith.

There is an account in the book of Exodus when the Israelites are fighting a battle, and their leader, Moses, is standing at the top of the hill. Whenever he lifts his hands up, they are winning, but when he lowers them, the enemy begins winning. Moses is very old at this time, and his hands grow tired. Two of the leaders have to hold up Moses’ hands on either side, and the victory is won.

Our prayers matter. In this, we are lending our strengths to others and speaking life over them. We are reminding them and ourselves of the truth of God’s Word and speaking it into our reality on earth. This does not mean that we let our hearts get hard; but we are willing to step out in courage–to step up and fight. We do this because our hearts are tender, we care about people, and we are willing to fight for them in prayer (and action, too). These are not scared prayers; these are declaring God’s Word over people and situations, and reminding our own hearts that God is bigger than anything we might face.

We do not fight as if we do not know who will win the battle. We fight because we know that our God is on our side, and he is victorious. He does not slumber or sleep, but will keep our hearts and lives safe–hidden in him. In the physical, this may or may not work out like we want. But we know that we can trust our God and press hard into Him no matter what.

This post was written by Heather Dillard. To read more about her, click here.