Prayer

Yay….. all we need in the world is someone else giving advice on how or what to pray. Just what the world needs right now. Then again, looking at the world right now, it may be exactly what is needed. I have no magic potion for prayer, but prayer isn’t magic. It’s way, waaaaaaay beyond magic. It is supernatural. It is miraculous. It is God at His very, very best…. and He’s always good. 🙂

I have found that Matthew 6 is a good place to start.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Matthew 6:6-8

Find a quiet place… a quiet room, a mountaintop, a prayer closet, whatever works for you and shut out all distractions. Then open your heart to God. As the verse says, He knows what you need before you ask (but ask Him anyway) and He will reward you. What an awesome promise! Be honest and open without holding back. Strip away the facade. Set aside your masks…. all of them, and talk to God. Open up to God, take your limitations off of Him and what He can and will do for you… and then trust Him. In a with all your heart kind of trust. He already knows what you’re going to ask/say/pray… be honest with Him.

Believe He will do what He says He will do. We have heard and read the verses about asking, believing and receiving many times over to the point of them being committed to memory. But I feel where we fall short most likely is believing He will do them for us.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask… – 1 John 3:21-22a

And there it is… “If our hearts do not condemn us.” We’ve all been hurt by the world and betrayed by people we loved who promised always to be by our sides….. and they’re nowhere to be seen. We go into defense mode and employ whatever survival techniques to get by. We let our hearts condemn us. It’s a trick of the enemy. The battle is in our minds, but the fight is for our hearts. If he takes the heart out of the equation, he has won. Don’t let the enemy win. Your heart is where the Holy Spirit lives. Fight for your heart…. fight for Him. Open up to God in prayer, then turn Him loose.

Again, take your limitations off Him. Don’t start out your prayers with “God, I know I’m not worthy, but…” You are worthy. You are a child of God. Approach the throne with confidence.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Be bold with your prayers. Pray for yourself. Pray for others. Pray for the world before it blows up or we get swallowed whole by the giant Covid death clouds. 😉 Just pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray with thanksgiving. And pray believing a just, merciful and loving Father will answer your prayers in His will and His timing.

Awwww….. why’d I have to go and throw those last two in? Well…. because they’re true. Everything is in His timing and we (as in me) needs to let go of the wheel. But, but God…. I prayed this two minutes, two hours, two days, two weeks, two years ago. Where is the answer to my prayer? What’s taking so long?? Breathe… as in a trust in the Lord with all your heart kind of breath and hope it doesn’t take two decades. Some people wandered for forty years…some people are wandering still. Be still and know. Wait on the Lord. Take courage and wait on the Lord. 🙂 He knows the plans He has for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:11-13

Hmmm…. there’s that all your heart thingy again. It must be important to God. Your heart is important to God. Another reason why it’s important to trust in His timing and His will. Because sometimes the answers aren’t what you expected. Other times they are, but they look different than what you imagined. Sometimes your friend or family member’s healing you prayed so very hard for happened in heaven. Sometimes your friend or family members and the promises they made just walked away. Sometimes the job you had or business you started fell on tough times and you had to adapt and change the life you had envisioned.

Just know they are seasons and they won’t last. Also know that God’s love, mercy and grace will last, He will never leave you and that He keeps His promises…. although they may look a little different than what you thought. They also may take longer than you wanted to get there, but they will happen. Pray without ceasing. Praying with thanksgiving. And pray with hope knowing that God finishes what He has started… exceedingly and abundantly more than you could even begin to imagine in your wildest dreams. So sleep well tonight knowing God has it all under control and you are in His arms. Ask and receive, but most of all…. Believe. Believe (and trust) in the promises of God.

Write Something… Part 2

Aka. This One’s for Me

When I originally had the idea for this, I had three reasons to write about why I stopped writing almost two years ago. As of now, I can only think of two, but hope to remember the third before I hit the publish button.

I was posting more/most/all of my writing on facebook than I was here, although I have shared a few of them since on hope, forgiveness and trust. I was writing what I felt God was telling me to. I was writing on breaking strongholds, negative patterns and thinking, generational curses and learning to live and love life as God intended. Unfortunately and unwittingly I gave the enemy a stronghold to use against me. I was getting likes and positive comments. I was getting private messages about how my “Jeff talks” helped heal friendships, family relationships and people’s outlooks on life. And as a result I was becoming more hope filled also. As time went by, though, I began to add a disclaimer (sort of) that the things I wrote were merely my opinion. That I hoped they helped, but in a way attached an asterisk to them… and you don’t add an asterisk to God’s words. Again I was writing on breaking strongholds and gave the enemy a stronghold. Not my brightest moment as a fledgling, wannabe writer.

The second reason was something about a girl. When I started this endeavor in March 2016, it was called Letters to Shelly. The enemy mentioned above had torn Shelly and I apart in 2015, and we were completely broken by the beginning of 2016. But through lots and lots of prayer and even more grace given by God, Shelly and I were reunited by May of that year and she came home in June. We prayed. We listened. God guided our steps. He was ahead of us, behind us and more importantly next to us. We took a step of faith… then another and another. And it was good……for a while. But happily ever after, didn’t happen. After a few months she was mentally checked out of our story, and a few months later the rest of her left.

But that isn’t why I stopped writing. I was still writing. She and I were still talking and hanging out and having fun. Things weren’t great, but they were good…. and I still had hope. After all, it was a God story. All good, right? Not so much. When she came back we had made a promise we would share our God story with others. Soon after coming home, though, she asked to delay that for a month or two until she was settled and I agreed. Because of that though, she eventually became Eve and unfortunately, I was Adam. The enemy began to whisper to her and she began to believe him. And just like the original Adam, I sat by and watched….. and didn’t do a thing.

By now we were no longer a couple, but I still had hope. Again, the God story thingy. And then one day in conversation, she told me she never told anyone our story. I had told family and friends. I had the church praying for us. I told everyone who would listen about everything God had done for us and it was HUGE. God moved mountains to put Shelly and I together again. And she couldn’t tell one person. I saw God answer prayer after prayer after answered prayer. And she couldn’t tell anyone. How do you handle that? I had no idea then, and I have no idea now. I have no answers. I know it was a God story and God stories don’t usually end like that. It’s hard to take God out of His story, but somehow she did. I know God gave us free will and she used hers to walk away. I know God has His reasons and one day I will know, but for now I still don’t.

What I do know, though, is finding out one of the most Christian women I have ever known couldn’t include God in our story, caused the air to be taken from me and my hope to be taken from me and I stopped writing. Well, I’m writing again. I have hope again and I’m praying again…. although I never really stopped. But when you see prayer after prayer after prayer answered and they still choose to walk away, you wonder if they were ever answered….even though you know in your heart God answered them. << I sense a blog about this in the very near future. I began to think I prayed wrong, that I had misheard God…. but know I didn’t. It was a God story regardless of the outcome. He had His reasons, and one day I will know….. or I won’t. He’s God. He doesn’t have to tell me. 🙂

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. As I subtitled this one, This One’s for Me, it was. I still have faith in God. I believe more than I ever have, and I trust Him. Still working on the waiting, His will and timing stuff, and I may always be. I know He is never wrong, though, and that is why I can sleep at night knowing He loves me, cares for me, knows His plans for me, not to harm me, to give me hope and a future. And I can sleep knowing He’s there for Shelly too, wherever she may be and wherever she may go.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  When you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

And there’s that ALL your heart thing again. I see a theme here… 🙂 I still have no idea what the third reason for not writing was, so maybe it wasn’t that big a thing. If I think of it I may update this, but will probably just let it go.. pretty sure it’s a God thing I don’t remember.

Let God be God

If I were to be honest, and I hope that I am, all of these could be titled Let God be God and/or Trust. Because isn’t that what we all need to do? Trust God… let Him do His thing. Be still and know means to let go and give God everything…E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. He knows the plans He has made for us…. and they’re good!! Don’t we all just need to get out of the way???? I know I do.

But how do we go about doing that? I feel my daily thought processes are equal parts faith and hope mixed with doubt and fear. I know what faith and hope look like and I know at my ripe young age of fiddy-sumpthin that my wants and my needs are two entirely different things and I have a kinda, sorta faith that God will work all that out for me in His timing.

I actually have more than a kinda, sorta faith in God. I just have to be still long enough to remember all the many, many, MANY things He has done for me. I also need to pause and pay attention to what He does daily for me….which is also many, many things, and be grateful, because I have so many things to be thankful for. Otherwise, my patience/impatience in His timing welcomes in doubt and fear, and doubt and fear creep in like a stampeding herd of buffaloes… btw/fyi, stampeding buffaloes don’t creep.

Be still… how does one go about doing that? I know it has something to do with what I said up there ^^^^ about faith, trust, let God be God, etc… but I have trouble doing that. As I’ve said before, I believe wholeheartedly in God, but I have trouble letting go of things long enough to let God be God. I play at being a good Christian and sometimes I succeed at being one. I pray honestly and openly to Him (most of the time) since He knows my heart and what I’m going to say, and I know without a doubt He has protected me throughout my life and guided my steps when I had no idea where I was going. I know He does it still. So why not let go and let God? Why does my faith waver?

The world gets in the way. I do my best to “come unto Him” and pick up my cross daily and follow Him. I try to take my focus off the world and have faith in the unseen, because without faith it is impossible to please God….. impossible. I believe. I’ve seen and remember the things He has done. Big, beautiful, bold things as only God can do. But there are times reality looks completely different than what you remember….. and those times stink. What do we do with those?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart…. right? I know it’s easier said than done. Every day with everything, trust in the Lord. Cast all your cares on Him… Trust Him, He cares. Hope in Him. All the promises are true. Believe them and believe Him.. that is ALL we have to do. And that may be the biggest ALL in the history of ever. As I’ve said before, I believe very strongly in God. But do I trust Him with all my heart? I would like to say yes, but I would by lying. I talk (pray) with Him many times throughout my day… and sometimes I even listen. And I like to believe I lay everything at the cross for Him. All my worries, fears, anxious thoughts about life, love, relationships, kids, work, the world, etc, etc…

As in Matthew 6, I close the door and pray to the Father in private. I’m give thanks to Him and for Him. I share my concerns and worries and thank Him that He’s working in my life and the lives of people I love, and in the lives of people I can’t stand. And I leave it with Him….. or do I? I say my Amen. I go to my truck feeling pretty good about things. I put it in reverse and start to back out. And then I pull back in and put it in park. I go back to the cross (metaphorically speaking) and pick up a couple of those things I just gave Him. Hey God, thanks for everything, but let me do a little more with this kid, this relationship with my best friend/mom/dad/work/brother/sister/significant other/money/fill in the blank…. ugh. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. Remember ALL He has done. Know that the Lord is good…. ALL the time. Be still and know that He is God.

Yes, we all would be better served if we would take the time to remember all He has done for us. Again, we get busy, but if we’re to be honest with ourselves, we stay busy mostly to avoid these things. And sometimes those “things” we ignore are God speaking to us. Not pointing fingers at anyone but myself with that comment. Look back at your life. Would you say you’re where you are on your own… of your own doing? Or can you see where He has been with you and by your side every step of the way? Just trust Him…… speaking to myself again. 🙂

One thing I like to do to help for times like this/all the time is keep some go-to verses on hand whether they be on trust, hope, love, forgiveness, the heart, and so on. Whatever verses you need at times you’re struggling or are feeling anxious, fearful for whatever situation you find yourself in. Take time to read them, commit them to memory, and don’t be afraid to use them. Jesus used them… Don’t be afraid to use “It is written.” Remember them, use themand be grateful for such a kind and loving God that will shower us with grace if we let Him. Like all gifts, we just have to open our hands and our hearts and accept them.

If you’re still here, thanks for reading this far. I started this blog over a little over four years ago….. it was about a girl (I will write more on that in my next blog), and accomplished what it set out to do…more on that also. I wrote over seventy blogs in a two month period and my writing got better in time. I hope the same happens now. What used to take two hours to write now takes two weeks and feels disjointed, repetitive and out of sorts…. kinda like the author. Of course I agree with what I’ve written thus far because I wrote it. 🙂 But I’ve said all that up there ^^^^ to say this.

It’s a good thing to have faith and hope and trust in God. It’s good to pray and take time daily to remember all He has done for you. But I feel the most important thing to do in letting God be God is to let God in. He stands at the door and knocks… All we have to do is let Him in. I believe too many times we talk to God through the closed door. Occasionally, we may open it a little taking care to keep the chain in place (you all remember those, don’t you?), but still won’t let Him in. And even rarer are the times we let Him in. He sits. We have a meal together as friends. But after an hour or two, we let the busyness back in. We look at the clock and begin to clear the table. We say something about tomorrow’s a school day and the kids still need a bath or we need to check their homework or both. And God is gracious enough to go back outside the door and wait until next time. Let Him in. Let Him stay in. All in with God isn’t a bad place to be.

I could add a hundred verses to this post/blog, but I think this encompasses all of them… and I mean ALL of them. 🙂

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in ALL your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Let God be God

The Eyes of the Heart

Yes, I know it’s the name of my site, but thought it deserved its own story/message/sermon/blog, too. I named it this as I wish by doing so that I will eventually be able to see everything and everybody through the eyes of my heart. I also hope that by sharing these thoughts, I can somehow move closer towards this goal, whether in giant leaps or baby steps, and can hopefully help someone else do the same. A daunting task… or is it? With God all things are possible… right?

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” – Ephesians 1:18a

That sounds like a great thing to want, or actually to long for. I long to see with the eyes of my heart. It seems so very close and attainable, yet it feels miles away. That it is just beyond our grasp… or mine anyway. It also seems to be a bar that keeps moving as I near it. I can only speak for myself, but think that may be true for a lot of people. Maybe it’s scary to us. Maybe we’re afraid of the mess we’ll find…because if we’re honest with ourselves, if only for a second, we know it’s messy in there. Sometimes we get close. We get it in our sights… we reach out for it and as we begin to close our fingers around it…. it moves again. Just beyond our grasp. But we have to keep looking, because that’s where I think real freedom comes from.

I have come to believe that’s what religion does to us. Whether it means to or not, man made religion can and will take the heart out of us. I believe in God. I believe He walked the earth in human form, and I believe He left us a helper as promised. But I hold back in the things that matter. If I do manage to see with the eyes of my heart, either I don’t tell anyone or I pull back out of fear… or I pretend I didn’t see it and just move along. Nothing to see here. Religion wants us to be safe. Religion doesn’t want us to talk back. Religion wants us to be good boys and girls and eat our vegetables. Jesus wants different. Jesus wants more from us and for us. He will keep us safe, but He wants us to lose our lives for His sake and to truly live from our real selves… He wants us to follow Him. And for that, we will need our hearts.

I feel I have a pretty good relationship with Jesus… but I’m also biased, have blinders on and keep God at arms length. Although I know it is not how this works, it’s as if our relationship is on my terms… and we all know that isn’t true. God will change you and your life to align with His will. Yes, with love, mercy and grace, but He will change you. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. He will leave the ninety-nine to search for you… How great is that?!

I pray almost continously as the verse says. Sometimes too much, though, as sometimes (most times) I just need to shut up and listen. As in my everyday life, I choose to stay busy with my busyness. Where is my Be Still? Where is my ability to rest in Him? I go into my quiet place. I shut the door. I follow all the rules (or attempt to). I start to pray from the heart, then my mind goes somewhere else… my mind remembers it’s messy in there. I want so very much to pray in the needs of the day from my heart, but have found over time, whether wanted or not, my prayers have become mechanical, structured, repetitive and boring. I’ve prayed for years for my prayers not to become rote… yet here I am.

That isn’t what I want, though, and I know that’s not what God wants to hear. I can almost see or hear Him finishing my sentences for me as I pray them. Lather, rinse, repeat…c’mon man, be real… get to the point, He says! He knows what’s next and it’s not what He wants to hear. He knows what’s on and in my heart…. and I stay quiet. I talk to Him like I do the cashier at the grocery store, or the neighbor I’m supposed to love. It’s honest talk, but it’s also small talk to keep the silence away.

I want to give Him my heart and yield my ways to Him, but always find myself holding on to something, holding back from Him, although He knows everything in my heart. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, right?!?! Then why am I still here? Why am I stuck on this part? I have a good heart, but it’s an injured heart… but aren’t they all? My story isn’t any different in that way.

I’ve had the same joys, heartaches, happiness, sadness, love, laughter, fears, heartbreak, contentment, hurt, pain, peace that everyone experiences at one time or another. Our individual stories are different, but the story is essentially the same. A parent that should have been there for us left. A parent we wished had left stayed and abused us mentally, physically in ways no one should have to experience. We found love… then someone who promised to stay forever forgot what the meaning of forever is. We have all had to shut our hearts down or off completely for protection from hurts, heartaches and disappointment. Unless we’re very fortunate, most of us have found ourselves, at one time or another, standing and staring at the edge of a giant hole where our life used to be, how it used to be and sometimes wish it still was. We kick a rock into the abyss and never hear it hit bottom.

So how do we go about finding our heart to really, really pray from, and to see and truly live from? Again, I can only speak for myself as I am the only one who can take and live my journey, as you can only take yours. As each journey with Jesus is personal, this is personal also. Even as I type this, the words that made me begin this blog, that sounded so very good and meaningful in my mind as I sat down at the computer, now begin to escape me. What was the real me an hour ago is becoming the false self again. How do I write this down for complete strangers to read? Why on earth would I? But why wouldn’t I if my life depends on it… because in a way it does.

Is it the enemy? Is it for protection? Is it a little of both? I mostly feel that is from that false self we have created. The funny one. The smart one. The laid back one. The reclusive one. All of the “ones” wrapped up together… The masks must come off. The same small talk we have with the cashier, the waiter/waitress/server/ whatever we’re supposed to call them these days. The small talk with family, friends, co-workers to keep the hounds at bay long enough to smile and laugh and tell a joke or funny story about our weekend before we turn to go just as a tear finds its way from the corner of our eye down our cheek from a new hurt we’ve just experienced or from a memory we thought we had forgotten long ago.

That’s also what we tend to do with God.

Dear God, thank you for this and thank you for that, and if you would could you help me out with this… okay, thanks, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

By not seeing with the eyes of our hearts, and praying from them also, we are not letting God be God. We have made our agreements in our minds for protection from life’s hurts and stings and from the arrows that go right into us. We handcuff God. We place limitations on Him. God is about as big for us as we assume Him to be. If we think He can get us a parking space close to the door, or let us hit all green lights on our journey, then that is who God is to us. But that’s not God. God is so much bigger than that! He doesn’t program the traffic lights or get you to the store first… But He does watch over you and love you and protect you….. if you’ll let Him.

Take the limitations off of Him. Change your routine, if you must… and you should if it’s become predictable and is taking the life out of you. God isn’t routine and your prayers shouldn’t be either. Let your guard down and open your heart. It will take practice and time…. and it will hurt a little.

Thank Him for everything you have in you to thank Him for. Thank Him for your family, kids, job, house, car, etc. Thank Him for the sun, moon and stars. Thank Him for your friends, pets and hummingbirds. Thank Him for putting a white dove in your path on Saturday when you needed a sign from Him more than ever. Thank Him for the ocean and sky, the mountains, the snow, rain, rainbows, the everything…. and then open your heart. Tell Him of the hurts and disappointments. Tell Him of the pain that lingers and the fears that keep you paralyzed on your mat. Be personal with Him. Confess everything good, bad or otherwise because He knows it anyway. Treat others how you want to be treated applies to God, as well. Treat Him as you want to be treated. Thank God He’s more merciful than that and will treat us with love and grace whether we deserve it or not. Just be honest with Him. << preaching to myself a little/a lot.

Then get ready. Get ready for healing and restoration. Maybe not right away as we see time, although God can do more in a minute than we can in a lifetime. But healing will come. Rest assured, it will come. But you have a responsibility in it, also…. You have to want to be well. More than life itself, you have to want it… because, in fact, it is life you’re after. And the freedom of being well may be more than you’re ready for. For some, the pain and hurt have become their identity, and everything outside of that is scary. You may be tempted to wait until He’s out of sight before spreading your mat back on the ground again and getting comfortable by the pool. We’ve all been there, some more than once, and some still choose to live there every day. Don’t do it!!!! Take a step of faith…then another… then another. Trust and obey. This is life and this is your life. Live it well and with everything you have in you to live with. We are a mist and then gone. Give God the chance to show you the exceedingly abundant God He is. Let God be God.

God2