Seven Things I Learned about Prayer in 2017 (Part 1)

 1. Prayer is the Best Way for Breakthrough

Sometimes-one-word-makes-all-the-difference

Every year I ask God for a word to live by and my word in 2017 was “pray.” After year of living out the word “sacrifice” in 2016, I pleaded with my heavenly Father to give me a happier word like “breakthrough.” “Please LORD, can my word be breakthrough?” However, in my spirit He said clearly, “Lisa, without prayer there is no breakthrough.”

He led me to a passage in Psalm 92. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree. They will grow like a Cedar of Lebanon, planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God” (Psalm 92:12–13).

palm tree

Both palm trees and Cedars of Lebanon have long lives. Palm trees exist for eight hundred years. Cedars of Lebanon can thrive over a thousand years and God says the righteous are like them. In other words the Lord wants us to plant ourselves in his court for long periods of time because that is where we will flourish, where we grow and have breakthrough.

I realized God was missing me. I had been reading His Word but not been spending enough time in His presence. Because of a hectic schedule I was throwing up a thirty-second “speed” prayer with lots of popcorn prayers in between.

list

So after this word from the Lord, I began writing down everything and everyone I wanted to pray for. Before I knew it the list was over two pages and has grown since then. When I laid these prayers at God’s feet, my prayer time went from under a minute (at times) to over an hour. I pray for my family. I pray for my friends. I pray for my projects. I pray for my jobs, both paid and volunteer. I pray for many of those I serve with in ministry. I pray for the sick. I pray for those who ask for prayers. I lift up our country, as well as Israel. I believe everything must be taken to God’s court if we want it to flourish. If we desire breakthrough.

Because all of my prayer scenarios have passed through God’s fingers,  I have seen answered prayers in many areas.

I’ve watched the Lord heal the sick. I’ve received clear direction. I feel God protects our family daily from harm. He watches over our country. I’ve experienced favor in ministry work.

sun-shining-through-clouds

God’s court is where it is at. Breakthrough resides there.

So what is stopping you from a longer stay in God’s presence? Are other concerns jumping in front of a dedicated time of prayer? Is prayer a priority in your life? Do you believe everything should be taken to God’s court?

Clock-free-to-use-clip-art-3

In 2018, I challenge you to expand your prayer time. Ask God to show you who and what needs prayer in your life, then write it all down. Get up earlier. Carve out time to spend time with your Maker. He desires for you to flourish— but it starts when you plant yourself in His court.

What Do We Do When We Can’t Sleep?

6-50 a.m.

6:50 a.m.

Normally, I’m up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. so I couldn’t believe I slept this late on a blogging day, but the days getting ready for Christmas and my husband’s 60th birthday have been packed. Combine those responsibilities with work and I fall into bed exhausted each night.

12841000 - vector illustration of a newborn girl sleeping

The Lord knew I needed a little extra shuteye, a gift from him. Psalm 127:2 says, God “grants sleep to those he loves.”

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you toss and turn each night?

I’m not suggesting that God does not love you, but I’d like to offer a theory. Perhaps you are not giving over the day’s concerns to your loving Father as you lay down to rest. Many times, what keeps us awake at night are our worries, our “to do” list or anxiety. If you’re counting sheep too often, ask, “What is troubling me right now?”

Christmas tree 2

Have the holidays wound you up like your Christmas music box?

Is there a situation at home you feel you have no control over so you replay it repeatedly throughout the night?

Your heavenly Father says, “I’ve given you the gift of sleep. Hand those concerns over to me at night. I will work on them for you while you recharge.”

Psalm 121:3‑4 provides a beautiful promise. “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber…”

27497334 - an image of a girl with insomnia.

God never sleeps but he wants you to sleep.

Our Divine Problem Solver works the night shift. He’s on duty extra hours so you can better face the day ahead.

So tonight, try something different as you head hits the pillow. Take some deep breaths and give over to God whatever is causing your sleepless nights. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord, I am tired. I desire to rest tonight and realized sleep is a gift from you. I give you this situation that keeps me up at night. I know you don’t sleep so I can, and it is your desire to protect me and my loved ones while I am resting. It is also your desire to act on my behalf in these scenarios, even when I am asleep. Thank you that you are in control of my life when it seems out of control. Thank you for working the night shift for me. In Jesus Name I Pray, AMEN.

Photos: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_katarinka’>katarinka / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

One Thing that Can Kill a Friendship

creative writing

“Do I have to write about it? It’s a painful topic for me.”

I was having an argument with the Holy Spirit about today’s blog post. The Lord wanted me to cover a subject that is prevalent among women. It’s broken up many friendships. It’s provoked hateful words. It has the potential to eat you up inside.

Jealousy.

I have many shortcomings, but jealousy of other women has not been at the top; however, I’ve been the object of jealousy more times than I want to remember.

And it hurts.

friendsCartoon

It generally leads to the breakup of a friendship because the person can’t stand to be around you anymore. It can result in a tongue-lashing or passive aggressive behavior because the “friend” doesn’t want to see you succeed.

David Playing the Lyre as He Watches His Sheep I Samuel 16:11

Faithful servant David knew about jealousy. He had a wonderful relationship with his boss, King Saul, but it changed once David scored repeated military victories. Saul overheard his subjects singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” That provoked anger in King Saul. The jealousy started to boil up inside of him. He said to himself, They have credited David with tens of thousands but me with only thousands. (1 Samuel 18:7)

In our terms it could be:

She bought a bigger house. I wonder where she got the money?

Wow. Everyone likes her. Why don’t I have as many friends?

Why does she seem to get all the best opportunities and I don’t?

david-and-saul-in-cave

David went from friend to foe.

Comforter to agitator.

When Saul’s jealousy turned to rage he wanted David dead. The future King David became a man on the run for many years.

Are you the jealous one or are you a victim of jealousy?

women dispute

If you’re the victim, you first have to ask yourself, “Am I provoking this jealousy?” Do you need a dose of humility because you talk about yourself too much? Or is it like David’s situation where other people are exalting you in front of the jealous friend. If that’s the case, it is not your problem.

heart in hands

You must love the person who is envious of you and pray for them, but while you shouldn’t brag, you also shouldn’t be someone you are not. A friend of mine recently observed that I was “dummying down” and told me not do that. I am sheepish about provoking jealousy so I go the opposite direction and suppress my personality at times.

Oftentimes you have to let go of the jealous person. Once they show their true feelings toward you, it will only get worse unless they seek God’s help. It may be best to walk away from an intimate friendship because you want a friend who desires the best for you. Perhaps God is using this situation to move you in a different direction.

If you are the one feeling jealousy, you must ask yourself why?

Repent of these feelings and pray that you’ll be content in your own circumstances and not desire what someone else has.

Trust where God has you at this time.

twowomen

Ask the Lord to restore your relationship with the person you are jealous of and to help you love them like you did in the beginning.

When the Apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people, Scripture says the Sadducees were “filled with jealousy” (Acts 5:17). So how did the Sadducees act out their jealousy? They arrested the apostles and put them in jail. However, during the night an angel of the Lord broke them out and the apostles went back to sharing the Good News.

freedom

God can also free you from your jealousy or from being the victim of jealousy. Seek his guidance. Ask him to help you overcome. Pray for clear direction about how to proceed in a relationship that has taken a jealous turn.

Jealousy kills. It is not of God.

“Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4).

 

 

How Praise Changes the Atmosphere

stars

The sun was still asleep.

I had to take my husband, Jeff, to the airport at 5:45 a.m., so even this early bird couldn’t have an appropriate quiet time with God. I read a quick Psalm, didn’t do my usual praise song before I read, and did not have a chance to pray.

music-notes-vector-223359

When we got into the car, Jeff plugged in his phone and his playlist of old 70’s tunes. I was not ready to start my morning off with Led Zeppelin or Journey but then he said, “Hold on a minute” and fast-forwarded to a string of songs penned by our worship band at church.

“Surprised?” he asked.

“Yes, a little, but thankful.”

cross with music

As we traveled to the airport, with praise music as a backdrop, we prayed for my husband’s journey, a difficult one as he will be helping his sister and ailing husband drive from Sarasota, Florida to Indianapolis, where our brother-in-law will be evaluated for a lung transplant.

As I left the airport, I continued in a spirit of prayer and praise, when I thought, Maybe I’ll stop and pick up some donuts for the kids. Both boys and my oldest son’s girlfriend are still in town for the holiday. When I walked into the donut shop, I was nearly knocked over by the one of my favorite praise songs, “Hosanna,” sung by artist Kari Jobe. Should I get chocolate glazed, blueberry, raspberry filled…? I could hardly concentrate on the selection because the music affected the atmosphere in that little shop. It saturated every fiber of my being and made a simple task like buying donuts— a worship experience.

praise crowd

When we lift up our praises to God, it makes a difference. It can transform the environment in our home, in a place of business like a little donut shop, or in our cars. Years ago, when I was down about our move to North Texas, I used to play praise music in my bathroom as I got ready for the day. Taking the focus off my problem and onto God immediately lifted my spirit. The worship songs invited the presence of the Lord into my house, leaving no room for depressed thoughts.

In Psalm 100:1–2, the Bible says, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” The Psalm adds, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).

thanksgiving

As we close out the Thanksgiving holidays, won’t you thank God for his faithfulness to you, in good seasons and in bad? Will you praise him for your family, a roof over your head, and for food in your refrigerator?

Here’s a promise. When you sing praises to God, the atmosphere around you will change. (LBW)

The Tornado

tornado-clip-art-ncEyjGBai

The sound of the tornado siren infiltrated the Nashville restaurant where we were dining. My friend Donna and I gravitated from chatting about our upcoming date with the Grand Ole Opry to gluing our eyes on the television weather alert. A funnel traveling 50 mph had been spotted near downtown Nashville, exactly where we sat, munching on our tacos.

waiter

Our waiter, noticing the concerned looks on our faces, tried to comfort us. “You’re in the right place. We have a bunker below the restaurant where we could take cover. It’s where the railroad used to be.” My eyes scanned the floor where I saw the trap door leading below. I thought, How would everyone in this restaurant crawl through that tiny door in an orderly fashion? I prayed we would never have to find out.

tornado

As it turned out, the tornado did make landfall east of downtown and caused major roof damage in Joelton and Gladeville, Tennessee, but our area was left unscathed.

As I look back on this scenario I realize life’s tragedies can be similar to tornadoes and can happen without warning. The destructive winds of the unexpected emergencies can leave our peaceful environment in rubble if we don’t know where to go for protection.

cross divides

Here’s some good news. God wants to be our shelter.

Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

Our heavenly Father wants to protect us in His holy bunker.

“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

tornado-clip-art-ncEyjGBai

Have you ever been hit by a life tornado? Is one hovering?

Do not fear. God provides an inexplicable peace if we choose to dwell in his presence.

music-notes-vector-223359

Because Nashville always inspires me to write a country song, I penned one about this subject as I returned to Texas.

“Tornadoes in the Valley”

I didn’t see the winds of change coming.

It caught me by surprise. I didn’t know.

I couldn’t find a place to give e shelter.

I didn’t know someone could feel so low.

The storm, it was so fierce I couldn’t stand.

The rains of life, they soaked me to the bone.

So lost and weary. Never had an answer.

I felt the world had left me all alone.

But then there was a break in the rain and thunder.

I heard the voice so tender, sweet and clear.

He said, “Daughter, there’s room for you in my shelter.

My wings will cover you and all your fears.”

The winds still roared but my heart was calm at last.

There’s nothing God can’t help me to wade through.

He shelters me from tornadoes in the valley.

When I trust Him there’s no reason to be blue.

(Copyright 2017; Lisa Burkhardt Worley)

#

1 2 3 86