Blog

5 Keys to Effective Prayer

For those of us in the U.S., May 2 was the National Day of Prayer, an event first called in 1775 by the Continental Congress, and established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. In 1952 Congress voted unanimously to establish a National Day of Prayer. The purpose of this day is specifically to pray for the nation and those in authority. According to Paul in 1 Timothy 2:8, we do this so that we will have a peaceable and quiet land.

5 Keys to Effective Prayer.jpg

I believe there are at least 5 Keys to effective prayer for any nation, not just the United States. They are:

  1. Forgive those whose political stance we oppose.

  2. Forgive those of our own political leanings who have not governed wisely.

  3. Forgive the political, media and social groups that have sown evil and discord.

  4. Forgive our family, friends, co-workers, and pastors for inaction, silence, or judgments made relative to the government.

  5. Forgive ourselves for our own inaction, silence or judgments made relative to the government.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray the focus of the prayer Jesus taught them was about the nations and government — on earth as it is in Heaven.  The prayer in Matthew 6:9 begins and ends with reference to the kingdom. Four keys of prayer are referenced: Father God, freedom, food and forgiveness.  I believe that the first three depend on the last one — forgiveness.

Forgiveness was God’s idea and it is only because of His forgiveness that we are in a position to pray to Him as Father.  We are commanded to forgive just as we have been forgiven. Sometimes it is challenging to obey this command when the issue is tied to political and governmental people and issues. Then we find ourselves involved in intellectual debate, questions of right and wrong or righteous indignation.  It may even be difficult to identify our unforgiveness.  However, if we are uncertain, Holy Spirit is able to reveal it in our heart. And it is vitally important to deal with what is in our heart. David said in Psalm 66:18 : “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (NIV) For me that one verse is enough motivation to allow unforgiveness to be uncovered and dealt with.

Holy Spirit, search our hearts. May we forgive as we have been forgiven, so that our prayers will be heard and our nation will be saved.

Love, Dad ❤

I love Christmas! So much so I leave my tree and inside decorations up all year long. It may sound a bit eccentric but trust me; it saves a lot of work. Plus, I come home to Christmas after every trip.  The only thing lacking is the load of presents under the tree, always a big part of Christmas. I admit, I love the gifts part of Christmas too.

Yes, I was one of those children who drove her parents crazy by discovering the hiding place of the gifts. Knowing in advance did not rob me of the excitement of tearing off the paper to get to the present inside. My mother soon gave up on the fancy wrapping. Why bother? Mother didn't believe in wasting anything so the tag on the gift was always part of one of last year's Christmas cards.

Mother was not only the one who wrapped, but also the one who shopped, based on the long Christmas list I provided from my catalogue shopping. It was always a battle to see who got the first look at the Christmas catalogues. By the time I had gone through them with my red marker it was difficult to see anything on a page because I had circled just about everything.

gifts.jpg

My father left the bulk of the Christmas preparations to my mother. His Christmas contribution was a small white envelope hidden somewhere in the tree. Not wrapped in fancy paper with a bow, but wrapped in love. Yes, you guessed correctly—there was money in the envelope! He always wrote something on the card and signed it— "Love, Dad." I can still see his handwritten words on the small while note card holding the check.

He is in Heaven celebrating with my mother so there is no white envelope hidden in the tree. But there is this reminder from James that "Every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights." (James 1:17) So the truth is that every single gift I open has the words "Love, Dad." written on the card. Each one is a gift from my Heavenly Father.

As you open your presents this Christmas, I pray you will experience the extravagant love of your Father, the Giver of every good gift.

Peace and Joy, Part 1: The Fountain of Joy

Do you need more peace and joy? My answer to that question is a resounding "Yes." I believe I have discovered a key to experiencing more peace and joy. Often the answer to a problem is right under my nose, which is why I may miss it.

Image.jpeg

Sometimes it is shocking to look back at attitudes I have had in the past on a subject, in this case peace and joy. I remember my constant irritation with a grade-school classmate who skipped onto the bus every morning, overflowing with exuberance, wearing an enormous smile. How could she be so joyful at 7:00 am? What was wrong with her? To me, she was weird. No one else on the bus was like her.   

Searching for the Fountain of Joy  

Now I am on a mission to figure out how to be that fountain of joy, not just at 7:00 am but 24/7. There are books, tapes, seminars, and webinars available to help me live in constant peace and joy. To date, it doesn't appear these products have produced long-lasting positive results. Looking at the history of the early Church, as recorded in the New Testament, I see they demonstrated a level of joy in the midst of difficult times that is worth investigating. What was their secret?

It may be that part of their secret was their focus on just one thing—the Kingdom. Jesus told them to seek first the Kingdom and everything else would be taken care of. (Matthew 6:35) Their steadfast obedience to this command kept them from distractions. 

Another aspect of the power of their focus was they understood the Kingdom was not in the future or somewhere "out there" but was actually within. The enemy tries to put our attention on the external circumstances because he knows the Kingdom is already within us. If he can convince us to focus on the outside, it will hinder us partnering with the power of the Kingdom on the inside. It is a game changer when I realize I already have what I need and want. Selah!

It's Not Too Late for a Fresh Start

What has 2017 been like so far? Have you made progress with the projects you planned to begin, and the new habits you so eagerly desired to establish? I will be the first to admit that the beginning of my year has not been smooth sailing: paperwork, projects and surprise deadlines have all made an appearance in my calendar! And yet, I feel the voice of the Holy Spirit encouraging me that He is an expert when it comes to fresh starts, including this one.

growing

Last year I remember encouraging my followers: February 1st is the new January 1st! As I reflect on how this year has begun, the same rings true. We all need time to prepare, and I have chosen to view February as a month of preparation. It is not enough for me to have great ideas about what I will do this year: I am taking time to get God’s wisdom on how I can move towards the vision He gave me for 2017, one step at a time.

As I talk with my Heavenly Father about the year ahead, I am reminded that fresh starts rarely begin with fireworks and the strike of midnight - as much as I enjoy those things! Rather, they begin with a quiet but confident “yes”, and small steps that take me in the right direction. Our God is not so excited about our big plans as he is about the moments when we patiently choose to keep moving in the right direction. Like the disciples leaving their nets to follow Jesus or the boy who offered his bread and fishes, one small “yes” can result in extraordinary things when we are partnered with God.

Today I encourage you to book some meetings with God. Be honest with Him about your hopes, fears and dreams for this year - he is not intimidated! Then ask Him to show you what small things you can do today to keep moving in the right direction. If you need guidance, why not use my e-workbook Prep7? I think it is a great tool to help you re-focus and converse with God about what He has in store for you. You may also want to talk with your friends and family about their plans for the year. Encourage each other to find where God’s grace is, and take the small first steps.

I would love to hear back from you about how God has helped you to get a fresh start in the areas you need it most. What made a difference for you?

Have You Made Your Christmas List?

I still remember the excitement I felt as a child when the Christmas catalogues arrived in November. What fun, going page-by- page, circling item after item with a red felt tip marker. I laboriously scribbled my Christmas List on notebook paper, giving product and page number to ensure my parents bought the right item. Their response was, "It would take a miracle for you to get all this for Christmas!" From my perspective nothing was impossible.

Christmas list

Christmas is a season that can re-awaken in us, as adults, wonder, awe and expectation that anything can happen. The birth of Jesus Christ ushered in an eternal season of the miraculous. Who ever heard of a virgin giving birth to a baby? The rest of the Christmas story is filled with the supernatural; angel choirs from heaven, angelic dream appearances, and bright spotlight star guidance.

Christmas is still a season of miracles. We are never too old to make a Christmas List. Why not make a list of every miracle we desire for our family, our friends, our nation, and ourselves? I believe our Father delights when we, as His children, come to Him as the giver of every good gift. Let's take off the limiting lenses we have put on as adults.

I encourage you to make your Christmas Miracle List. No matter how impossible the request is, write it down. We need to be like Ralphie in the movie "A Christmas Story". He wanted that Red Ryder BB Gun more than anything in the world. It seemed like an impossible request, but he believed, in spite of discouraging comments. You have probably seen the movie and know the outcome. Remember the joy on his Dad's face as Ralphie went behind the tree and found the gift?

Our Heavenly Father experiences great pleasure in giving us gifts above and beyond what we have even imagined. So go ahead and make your list. Enjoy a Merry Miracle Christmas!

Enter with Thanksgiving

David hungered and thirsted for God’s presence because he knew from experience that God and fullness of joy dwelt together. Life apart from God was stressful, scary, and dangerous. My life has had stresses, but nothing compared to his! Having had a taste of the Presence at an early age, I have been pursuing God ever since. I have discovered an important key to access that joy. There are other keys, but today I am going to focus on only one, and encourage you to try it.

Thanksgiving

I have struggled to fulfill the exhortation to give thanks and praise. Having grown up with a Dad who was a pessimist, although he saw himself as a realist, I was trained to see the negative rather than the positive. Only uneducated simpletons saw life through rose colored glasses, and I didn't want to be classified as one of those! This early training left me in the school of mind renewal for decades. I witnessed others who excelled in positivity, joy, thankfulness and encouragement, while I failed to pass.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has continued my tutoring. He knows my desire to be in the Presence of God and has convinced me of the value of thankfulness, the key to Presence. He reminded me of the words from Psalm 100:4: “enter His gates with thanksgiving.”  This is not a suggestion, but a requirement for entrance into His realm. Not just any key will open the gates. The only way to open the lock on these gates is with the key of thanksgiving.  

Of course, my mind wanted to know why. The Holy Spirit was gracious to give revelation. He showed me that gates are the boundary to God’s kingdom. The atmosphere, language and currency of that kingdom is truth. Only things based on truth are allowed to enter. Pessimistic, judgmental, and critical thoughts or words are based on lies, not on truth. That means I am not allowed access into His Presence with words and thoughts based on lies, but only with words of thanksgiving and praise based on the truth. Pessimism doesn't praise. I realized I had a choice: stay negative and remain outside His Presence, or give thanks and enter in. I am learning to enter his gates every day with thanksgiving!

As a tool to grow in gratitude, I keep a daily journal, which I call “Daily 12”. This is a list of 12 things for which I am thankful. This exercise helps prime the pump and open the gates. Recently I have started daily Instagram post titled “Every day - Entering with Thanksgiving.” Check it out if you need a daily shot of thankfulness!

I would love to hear from you: how do you cultivate thankfulness in your day-to-day life? What things are you most thankful for right now?

I'm Praying for You!

Great comfort comes in the midst of a hard season when a friend says, "I am praying for you." Even receiving a text with those words changes the atmosphere. The Bible is replete with exhortations concerning prayer as well as testimonies of answered prayers. When a crisis happens we don't need a reminder from the scripture in order to call a family member or friend and say: "Please pray for me!" It is as automatic as breathing. It is comforting to know we have a Friend in Heaven who is always available to pray for us.

Prayer

Recently I was dealing with some issues and was feeling alone, overwhelmed, and discouraged. One day, out of the blue, almost audibly, I heard Jesus say: "I'm praying for you." The tone of His voice was like warm oil, covering every raw, exposed emotion. I was completely taken off guard. In that suddenly of God, I was transformed. In less than a twinkling of an eye peace returned to my mind and heart. His words were with power during His earthly ministry, and they are still able to stop the winds and waves of any storm in my life today.

While on earth, Jesus modeled a life of prayer, going into the mountain in the evening to spend time in prayer. During the day He prayed as He met people in need of healing, deliverance, forgiveness, and provision. The prayer was always directed to His Father, just as He taught the disciples to address their prayer to the Father. He knew that the one who answered His prayers was our loving Father in heaven.

Not only strangers, but also friends were the beneficiaries of the prayers of Jesus. In the midst of the sacred Passover Meal, the night of His betrayal, Jesus confronted Simon Peter with a word of knowledge. The Holy Spirit had shown Jesus that Satan was going to attack Peter, trying to shake his faith. Jesus said to him: "I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." (Luke 22: 31-33.) Peter was shocked, adamantly rejecting any suggestion of denial. We know as we read those words, that the prayers Jesus prayed for Peter were answered. He made it through this dark patch and has strengthened the Church through the centuries with his writings.

Jesus has continued His intercession for the Church. He had only 3 years of public ministry, but has had over 2,000 years of 24/7 prayer ministry since His resurrection. It is good to know from Scripture that Jesus continues in this activity. However, it is even more powerful when the truth of this intercession intersects with a need in our own life. The revelation I had recently of the reality of His awareness of my needs and constant prayer for me every day has been life changing. I pray today you will hear His compassionate voice say to you: "I am praying for you."