Week 31 – Prayer Posture

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And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. Mark 11:25

As I first took this week’s scripture out of my box and read it, my mind quickly went to the important and obvious point about forgiving others if we desire to be forgiven by God. Also, unforgiveness can be a barrier to answered prayers and hearing from God. Our hearts need to be cleaned out so the static and noise don’t override the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

However, that’s not what I studied or reflected on this week. As I reread the scripture something new stood out to me that I hadn’t noticed after reading this verse over and over again in the course of my life. The words “stand praying” would not leave me alone, so I dug deeper to gain a better understanding of why this verse was so specific about the posture of prayer.

After some research, I found several scriptures that mentioned standing in prayer. In Luke 18:11, the Pharisee stood and prayed, in 1 Samuel 1:26, Hannah states she is the woman who stood and prayed and in Matthew 6:5 we are encouraged not to stand praying in public for attention, but that is due to pride and being seen not because they were standing.  Apparently, one of the most common prayer postures for the Jewish people was standing. It symbolizes and celebrates the freedom and privilege we have to approach the Creator of the Universe, our Heavenly Father, and request His guidance, forgiveness, favor, and blessings. If you think about it, anyone who is allowed to go before a king usually stands and delivers their request. However, sometimes in humility, they also kneel.

Kneeling is another prayer posture. It shows great humility, reverence and it is also supported by Scripture. In 1 Kings 18:42 we see Elijah kneeling at the top of Mount Carmel, in 1 Kings 8:54 Solomon arises from kneeling at the altar in prayer to God and in Daniel 6:10 we learn the reason for his trip to the lion’s den was his commitment to getting on his knees in prayer three times a day.

I pray all over the place! In my prayer closet, car, shower, walking my dog, sitting in carpool and many other places. Those specific locations aren’t mentioned in Scripture, but all of those things fall into some place between standing and kneeling. I pray you won’t let rules or ideas of what you (or others) think prayer is supposed to look like get in the way of talking to your Heavenly Father. He just wants to hear from you. He knows your heart and when you are seeking Him with a humble, grateful and open one He hears your request. No matter what position or location you may be calling on Him from, I pray you trust He is listening. Because He is listening . . . always!

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Week 30 – I love a list!

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The instruction of the Lord is perfect,
renewing one’s life;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,
making the inexperienced wise.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
making the heart glad;
the command of the Lord is radiant,
making the eyes light up.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are reliable
and altogether righteous.
They are more desirable than gold—
than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey,
which comes from the honeycomb. Psalms 19:7-10

Oh, I do dearly love a list. I know, it’s my “Type A” coming out! Let’s break down this week’s scripture and see what glorious reminders Psalm 19 has for us. For each one, I’m going to find supporting scripture to back up the claims of Psalm 19. I love a treasure hunt too. Studying the Word of God can be so exhilarating. Let’s dive in.

1. The Lord’s laws and  instructions = perfect

The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His instructions are trustworthy. Psalms 111:7

2. The Lord’s testimony = sure (firmly established, bound to happen)

Lord, Your testimonies are completely reliable; holiness is the beauty of Your house for all the days to come. Psalms 93:5

3. The Lord’s precepts/statutes/commandments = right and radiant (able to lift you up)

Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 4:6

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalms 33:4

4. The fear of the Lord = pure & clean

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

5. The Lord’s ordinances, decrees, and judgments = true, righteous and reliable 

Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Psalms 119:142

6. The Lord’s ways = more valuable than any earthly treasure and sweeter than honey

Instruction from Your lips is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalms 119:72

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:3

What sweet reminders of the God we serve and all He has promised those who believe and follow Him. May all of our hearts be open to the truth of who our Lord is. He is perfect, sure, radiant, right, able, pure, reliable, righteous and worth more than anything else in all of creation. AMEN!

Week 29 – I will wait all day long!

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Make Your ways known to me, Lordteach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long. Psalms 25:4-5

I can’t help but see the word “wait” in this scripture highlighted, in bold script and flashing as I read over this beautiful Psalm. Wait has been the theme in my life the past several weeks. To each prayer or request, I seek the Lord for, the answer has been wait. Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait for the answers, wait for others to respond, wait for others to take action. It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve had to remind myself over and over again:

love the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, and remain faithful to Him— Deuteronomy 11:22

The Rock—His work is perfect; all His ways are entirely just. A faithful God, without prejudice, He is righteous and true. Deuteronomy 32:4

For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. Psalms 91:11

As I searched for the word wait in the Bible, I found it over 120 times. I know I’m not the only one God has told and tells to “wait”. In fact, reading back through Scripture, God reminded me that more often than not, the faithful are asked to wait.

Noah had to trust and wait for the rain and then the dove in Genesis.

In Numbers, Moses told his people to wait until he heard from the Lord and returned to them.

In Ruth, both Ruth and Naomi labored in the fields while waiting for God’s final plan and the saving grace of Boaz.

Joseph had to wait in bondage and prison before becoming the King’s first in command and restoring the family that sold him into slavery.

David had to wait and undergo loads of persecution before fulfilling his God ordained destiny as leader of his people.

In Luke and the other gospels, God’s people waited for the Savior. They even thought their Savior might be John the Baptist before Jesus arrived on the scene. And, the disciples had to wait three days before the news of the glory of the Risen Lord reached them.

In Acts, the church had to wait for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them after Jesus’s ascension into Heaven.

Even now, we are still waiting for our Savior’s glorious return to bring us all into His loving arms for eternity. Wait! I can’t express enough how much I needed this revelation and reminder from the Psalms. God is worth the wait! His plan is worth the wait. Yes, in this lifetime there is going to be a lot of waiting. I think I need to shift my focus back to the wonder of the wait and the glorious riches that can come by embracing the wait.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

We wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield. Psalm 33:20
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25 

Week 28 – Biggest Winner!

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“Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Be a loser! This is certainly not the message we usually extend to others. I can honestly say that I’ve never told my children, “Go out there and be as incompetent as you can. Do something every day that you are doomed to fail in over and over again.” But Jesus was countercultural! We can always count on Him to mix it up and keep things fresh and out of the ordinary.

As I type, I sitting under a picnic shelter at a nearby lake watching my son and a friend fish. They understand what it means to lose. They celebrate and take pictures of the big fish they successfully catch and reel in and then mourn and analyze the fish they lose. Sometimes, my son will agonize over the loss of a fish for hours. We just aren’t wired to turn things over, to lose control or lose at all. We have to work at it and it’s only with God’s help we can do it. This world tells us over and over that, we should be in control, we deserve more, we should and can always win no matter what the cost and they are lies.

It’s interesting to reflect on the fact that when we do turn over our lives to Christ,  follow Him, and not the selfish ways of the world, we receive so much more. By losing ourselves in Christ we really don’t lose, but win and win big. In fact, we are the biggest winners!

It’s a conundrum. We have to lose to be the biggest winner! So, really if we can get past the words “lose yourself” we will see that it’s actually going to turn into the biggest win we will ever experience.

I mean, there is that whole eternal life in a perfect heaven with no pain, suffering or sadness with the one who loves you more than anyone ever will or can. However, there is much more! If you can imagine. Because in the wait for eternal life, we have access to eternal love, undeniable forgiveness, perfect peace, overwhelming joy and unconditional mercies. Now that’s a club I want to be a member of. Membership is free too! Know anyone you can tell about this awesome club today?

Week 27 – Reveal Yourself

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“The one who has kept my commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” John 14:21

 

My first book was a devotional called The Whisper of God. It was written around ordinary life events that happened to me that illustrated how God spoke to me, encouraged me, provided and rebuked me. The important part of these lessons always tied back to scripture though. There was no lesson with God revealing Himself to me. Just as John 14:21 says, He will show Himself to those who keep His commands, but it doesn’t say He will do so in a cloud of fire or grand vision. God reveals Himself through His written word – scripture!

I’ve encountered many people along my path through ministry and life. Many who will say they could never believe what the Bible says or that God is real. I always ask them if they have read the Bible. Interestingly, their answer is always no. Those who claim they could never believe haven’t even read the Bible. Those who are waiting for some divine visitation to believe have never opened the scriptures and looked for God in the most reliable place. They have given up and formed an opinion before even examining the facts.

This burdens my heart. I wonder why it’s so difficult for some to trust. Is it a broken relationship with their earthly father, difficult life circumstances they can’t come to grip with, a fear of letting go of control or being loved wholeheartedly?

I’ll never forget one of my first reviews on Amazon, “Sorry, but the inside content doesn’t really help you see God in the ordinary. . . ” That stung a bit until I realized this buyer was probably counting more on me to offer her direction than she was on the scriptures. I promise you that if you look at the “inside content” of His written word, God will never let you down. He will reveal Himself to you. You can read every Bible study written by someone who speaks to thousands or by me who only speaks to hundreds and you will never see God revealed in the way you will if you focus on His written word. The words of Bible study teachers, authors and commentators should only be a guide or an encouragement that lights the path to your face-to-face with God through His God-breathed Word.

If you were coloring your hair for the first time, would you just open the box and hope for the best without reading the instructions? Would you try to remember what your girlfriend told you at your last girl’s night out about how she did it? Or would you sit and read each step before beginning? Don’t get me wrong! Hair is super important! I would probably read the directions 6 times before beginning if I ever even got up the nerve to do it myself. In the same way, how can we keep the commands if we haven’t read them? Jesus is WAY more important than hair – even if I do get too caught up in a bad hair day now and then.

I pray that no matter what person or study you are looking to as your guide, you will use it as a tool to open your eyes to God’s Word and not as God Himself.