Pull up a chair. Can we just be real about something?
Believing for what you don’t see is hard. I mean, its for real – H.A.R.D!
And this makes praying for breakthrough like wearing a bathing suit believing for summer while you are standing outside in the dead of winter. Its laying it all out there, exposing your faith to the harsh reality of circumstances.
I’m not very good at doing that. Maybe you’re not either. But I want to be better, especially when it comes to praying over my children.
I was recently given a book to read for a review. I chose it honestly, because I liked the colors on the cover (come on- you do it too). And I thought it might be an easy read. I was wrong.
The 30 Day Prayer Challenge for Parents literally stopped me on the treadmill. And if it weren’t for the tears of sweat pouring down along my nose, I would have been bawling. Becky Harling’s first couple of pages detailed how she changed her prayers from prayers of desperation to prayers of praise. She was challenged by a friend of hers many years ago during one of her most darkest seasons, and now in her book, she is giving us this same challenge. Then she said:
“I learned that praising God isn’t just some glib hallelujah when finances are prospering, your health is flourishing, and your family is thriving. Praising God is an intentional declaration by faith that exalts God above your life circumstances”
My feet froze.
Its right there in the life circumstances that I find it the hardest to pray. Those circumstances are messy, distracting and kind of overbearing. The words — ‘intentional declaration’ and ‘exalt God’ seemed to jump off the page and into my soul. Life is deep and overwhelming but truly, God is so much more than that. Not one of my fears can stop His promises. I need to exalt Him like that, like I really believe He’s as big as I say he is. Even there, in my desperate prayers for my children and my aching heart for my dreams, He’s big there too. He’s big enough for my marriage and my friends. And while I can’t see change,yet, He’s big enough for my broken family too.
The book then challenges you to spend 20 minutes over the next 30 consecutive days intentionally praising God for His work in your children’s lives. Becky breaks each day into four sections: The invitation (a personalized message of scripture to you, the prayer warrior), Suggestions of praise and worship music to listen to, a Prayer, and then journaling prompts.
But it is so much more than a 30 Day challenge. It’s a game changer.
Day 1 dove right into the heart of comparison. Gulp. And I broke into an all out awe-session as the prayer revealed a side of my children I hadn’t noticed before. There was no pleading for breakthrough, no ringing of my hands trying to remember all the steps of “ACTS”. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) This Day 1 prayer tapped into worship, and in that place, I saw prayers from a different light.
I saw prayers from a place of faith.
As I’ve continued in this challenge I’m hungry to take this practice of praying prayers from a place of faith, with praise (not desperation) into all the areas of my life. My marriage. My dreams. My physical needs and financial needs. All of them.
This book may be a quick daily read, but it will revolutionize your prayer life for life.
And that breakthrough you’re waiting for, it’s in the praise.
You can purchase this book on Amazon here. And oh goodness- she has a book for all those other areas of life. Yup. Summer reading list just got longer!
And I must tell you- The amazing Blythe Daniel Agency gave me two copies of this book… one for me and one to give away… but rather than a drawing I’m going to give it to a dear friend of mine (and a reader here on F2S). If you’ve ever had the opportunity to sit with a prayer warrior- friends, take it. They will challenge you, just like my friend has me. She has done some battle on her knees. And the circumstances… well, they’re still messy. But she’s holding on and I’m so proud of her! So, cheer with me for her!
Oh friends, how I’ve missed you. I’ve been busy tapping on the keyboard preparing the book proposal and getting my chapters all nice and neat. Four weeks to go until I present to publishers- yikes!
All this preparation has me a little reminiscent about the conference last year. I was in such a different place, really. If there was a scene to describe the inner workings of my heart last year, it would look like an all out wrestling match. Ok, maybe even a temper tantrum.
On one hand I was over the moon grateful to be sitting in those chairs, but on the other hand I was mad I didn’t come with a book to give.
Well, that wrestling match was won, but not by me.
Come check it out- I’m sharing all about it over at Stand With Hannah Joy. :)
Oh goodness, I have to share this with you! And I can’t do it without actually waving and sending a real life smile. (If you are reading this in an email- you have to come over to the live blog to catch the video- click here.)
Click on the link below to read the Story:
There once was a man. An ordinary man, who dreamt of things all men dream of: success, stability, a legacy. He did all the things men are supposed to do to achieve those dreams, he followed his father’s guidance, he played by the rules, he showed up every day.
Then God planted a dream in his heart. A bigger dream, a beautiful dream exploding with hope and possibility. It fueled the man, giving him renewed purpose and a deeper joy. His days now had even more meaning. His life had significance and he eagerly watched for its implementation, elusive as it may be.
And waited for the opportunity to present itself, he waited for the first step to begin the string of events that lead to fulfillment. He had been showing up and doing all the same things he did when the dream was planted. There had been more than enough confirmations.
And yet, he waited.
He waited until it was apparently impossible for anything to happen. The moment had undoubtedly passed and the opportunity dissolved.
Despite the man’s failed attempts to accomplish the dream on his own, despite the fact not one circumstance seemed opportune, God broke those seeds wide open, those seeds of hope planted decades before. The first step towards the dream finally sprouted, vibrantly. It was legit, the promises and confirmations all fulfilled, the beginning had begun.
The waiting was over. The future had arrived. Purpose had given way to profession.
It was all he had dreamt it would be.
But then, he was asked to lay it all down. To put his dream, his lifetime pursuit, his purpose and calling on the chopping block and walk away.
Leaving it for dead.
Could you do that? Could you place your deepest desire, your most sought-after pursuit – could you place it on the altar and light a match? And walk away? Willingly?
This man had a grandson, who walked a somewhat similar path. The grandson’s dream was spoken over him while he was yet unborn. He, too, would have a grand destiny, something pen-worthy and important. As the grandson grew he often toiled over the vision. I mean, it took some serious maneuvering to keep hold. One of his actions lead to a serious fall out. The kind of fallout that will land you on a midday trashy talk show.
It was ugly, family-dividing ugly. I’m sure as he packed up the shattered pieces and kissed his loved ones with a lingering “I’m sorry this hurts, but I had to” kind of kiss, that he wondered.
“How in the world will that vision, that dream, come to pass. I am forced to leave the very place I am called to be, all because I defended and preserved my destiny?”
I bet he ached with a deep groan and his head pounded with doubt. He had nothing left.
This Grandson went on to spend many years in a treacherous relationship. This boss of his was exploitive and deceiving. And yet, the young man prospered. His shrewdness could match the chicanery. Even in the midst of the darkness, when his dream was no where to be found, he kept building, steadily persevering.
Maybe he even settled there, in that secondary place. Striving over the comfortability of a lesser goal, a more measurable one.
Until God called him to go. Beckoned him to pack it all up and go back to the place of his full destiny, his full purpose.
Oh, this may have started out as a happy day- freedom feels fantastic until you realize it comes with responsibility.
You see, he was going to have to risk everything he had thought was his purpose, everything he felt he was worthy of. He had been working hard, for years, on what he had settled as his destiny. God was asking him to put all of it at risk in order to face his past. But to take hold of his future, he’d have to.
And thus he wrestled. He wrestled with fear, fear of letting go. Fear of laying it down. Fear of picking it up. Fear of failing. Fear of loosing. Fear of being rejected.
And when he finally came to the end of the grappling, he emerged steadfast with his identity. Solid and confident in who he was, no matter the outcome.
Every dream requires a relinquishment.
Without sweat and tears there is no gain. Without a releasing of fear there is no trust. It takes trust to burn purpose into identity. The winds will howl and the waves will rage, but if the dream is etched upon your soul through the fire of a sacrifice and the breaking of a wrestle, it will stand firm.
That is the destiny I am pursuing; the dream burning in my soul is more than an accident, it is my calling, it is my legacy. And I must surrender.
Relentlessly, the Lord has asked that I lay it down. And oh friends, have we ever wrestled about that. But I want to give Him obedience more than I want to give him the duty of pretentious actions.
And so, I must tell you. He has asked that I lay down my own personal writing in order to write the story He has placed in front of me. I need to immerse myself in those words, giving all of me to that process. Faith 2 Shine will still be here, and I will pop in as time allows (I love you too much!) But I am working on a book for a dear friend of mine, and God has asked that I pause this work, to pursue that work. Believe me, I plan to share it with you as I can! But posts here won’t be as regular, at least for a while.
Can I close with a prayer for you and me:
This place, these words, these friends, I lay them all down at Your feet. Oh, what a blessing they are and how much freedom and grace have You brought through these times together. Thank you for your deep work.
God, our dreams, our visions, our hopes, our goals – they are all part of the destiny you have for each of us. You showed us through Abraham and Jacob that even when the circumstances shout one thing, You are still working. You have not forgotten and you won’t ever forget the dreams you’ve planted in the soil of our hearts. Your glory resides there, in the gardens of our purposes and identities.
We relinquish our control and set down all conventional plans and instead, God we surrender all. May our identities reflect you and may Your glory be on display in the story of our lives.
In Jesus name,
I did it again.
In my defense it started innocently with a status update, then an Instagram photo followed by an eloquent tweet. I cheered. I smiled. “Awe, so cool” I said.
But it lingered.
And then it moved to real life and it met me in the dressing room trying on swimsuits. And then again at the restaurant across from that chic.
I would brush it off with a casual flip of my hair, and a stiffening of my upper lip. “I got this, I totally have it all under control”, I thought.
Until it started to eat me for lunch. It ravished the peace in my friendships and then it gnawed at the tender joy in my marriage. Finally silencing the truth in my faith.
I got caught up in the tantalizing web of comparison.
I totally fell victim to this crap-trap of lies and twisted perceptions.
I let it eat at the inside of me until the process of being authentic was juxtaposed with false representations of ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’.
You see, I know better. I know better than to allow comparisons to turn to evaluations. I even wrote (and spoke) about it here. Umm, I know those evaluations brought on unwarranted shame. Like quicksand, I began to fear all sorts of things. Things like, rejection and insignificance and I doubted connection, fearing transparency. Oh, it was ugly.
But an echo from a book I once read came dangling down in front of me, just as I was about to go under.
“If I search around long enough, I’ll find insecurity beneath my grandiosity and arrogant expectations beneath my self-contempt”. -Terry D. Cooper (quoted in So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore)
Pride. Pride was seeping in all around my tender soul masked as insecurity. And the spark that started it all was a simple moment of comparison.
Beth Moore goes on:
“Pride talks us out of forgiving and steers us away from risking. …Pride is a slave driver like no other, and if it can’t drive us to destruction, it will drive us to distraction.”
Can I sum that up in two words: Social Media.
I sat there on that fatefully dangerous day and compared their success to my perceived short comings. I lined up their haves next to my have-nots and promptly declared myself as inadequate. Friend, don’t you dare tell me you’ve never done that, and hold the platitudes please. You and I both know this epidemic is rampant.
Pride was shouting, “See there, I don’t have as many followers as they do, I am not as important or valuable.” “She got more likes than I did.” “I wasn’t asked to join them because I am not enough”. “I’ve been passed over.” “It will never happen, I don’t deserve it.” Because according to pride, it’s all about me and my abilities and my worth.
“Pride is the result of mistaking the eternal for the temporal. We end up looking in to look up instead of looking up to look in. We get fixated on every self-gain and every self-loss until, in our inordinate self-protection, we end up liking our wounds to the point they can’t heal.” (Beth Moore, So Long Insecurity)
And thus, the struggle to be authentically me.
I was too busy trying to make me like everyone else. Distracted I was, striving to make my journey just like theirs.
No, the truth is I am authentic, I am of undisputed origin, made in a way that faithfully resembles The original. I was created in His image.
Proverbs 11:2 says: When pride comes in, then comes shame. But with humility comes wisdom. And boy, am I ever familiar with shame; we were roommates for far too long. What I do want is humility, an unassuming position, a manner that avoids impropriety. Because I want the real, authentic me to be what shines, it’s the only thing that brings true meaning to the air in my lungs. And I don’t have air to waste chasing someone else’s validation.
“We must stop affirming and reaffirming to ourselves how inferior we are. It is the furthest thing from God’s concept of humility.” ~Beth Moore (So Long Insecurity)
In my quest for the shears to shed this unwanted shame and stifling pride I landed in Galations 5. Paul said it best and so I’ll quote him from the Message Bible, but seriously – you should go check out the whole chapter.
“I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”
“You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect.”
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”
Galations 5: 4-10, 25-26
Oh how I want the kind of deep down confidence from the Master, so that no amount of yeast can overtake me. I will work out these implications, daily. I surrender to find meaning, I bow low in humility to fulfill my praise to You, God.
Yes Lord, walking in the way of your (word), I wait for You. Your name (Your name alone) and Your renown are the desire of my heart. (from Isaiah 26:8 Parenthesis mine).