Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Lent…Worship and Prayer’ Category

If you were forced to be silent for 9 months – what would the first words out of your mouth be?

In Luke chapter 1, you can read the story of Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. Verses 6-7 tell us, “They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.”

The angel, Gabriel, came to Zacharias and told him that Elizabeth would bear a son who would be called John. Zacharias was full of doubt and Gabriel told him that because of his unbelief, he would “be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place” (vs. 20). God blessed this couple with the child they had longed to have, and their friends and family wanted to name the child after his father. Zacharias still was unable to speak, so he had to write the child’s name. Verse 64 tells us that as soon as the words “his name is John” were written on the tablet, Zacharias’ mouth “was open and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.”

Luke 1:68 says,  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people!

The first words out of Zacharias’ mouth, after being silent for 9 months, were in praise to God!

What a testament to his faith! Oftentimes, even when things are going great, I don’t find the first words out of my mouth to be praise to God. In Zacharias’ shoes, I’m afraid that the words out of my mouth may have been more along the lines of “Finally! I can’t believe I had to wait until I was this old to have a kid!”

Looking back at the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus opens with words of praise to the Heavenly Father. In your prayer time today, I encourage you to open with praise to God. You might be going through up times or down times, but God is on His high throne!

Dear Heavenly Father, we lift up Your name. You are higher than the highest and greater than the great. You are the most high Creator, and we magnify Your name. Lord, I ask that You bless the woman reading this blog today. Please protect and guide her as she seeks to give You glory. In Your name we pray, AMEN!

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Intercession can be defined as praying for others.   When we place another person’s needs before the Lord and call on Him to act on their behalf, we are participating in one of the most beautiful ways we worship the Lord, though we don’t always think of it in that respect.  Through this season of Lent,  I have begun to see just how closely intertwined intercession and worship can be in my own personal prayer life.  It is certainly nothing new or earth shattering, but here are some of the dots I connected and perhaps it will encourage you as well.

When I pray my requests for another person to the Lord, not only am I selflessly focusing on something other than my own want-list, I am also acknowledging His power and character are of primary importance over all things.  But here is where I was disconnected…I don’t always complete my sentence and articulate my specific trust in Him for a specific situation.  For instance, a typical prayer of intercession  I might say is:

Lord, please direct my husband today in his decisions…  What I often fail to mention is  …and I worship You as The Lamp that will light his path!  (Psalm 119:105)  

While I think it is still worshipful to God even when I don’t articulate the end of the sentence or finish my thought process, I am finding it personally helpful to complete the sentence of my prayer as an exclamation point to my worship of Him.  Here are some more examples from my prayer list:

Lord, please grant my children safety…I worship You as The Strong Shield that protects! (Psalm 28:7)

Father God, help my church leaders lead well…and I worship You as The Good Shepherd! (John 10:14)

Dear Lord, I ask you to lead my friend to the right decision regarding _____ …and I praise and worship You as The Wise Counselor! (John 14:26)

Jesus, please draw my neighbor’s heart to You…I worship You as the God of Love and God of Salvation! (Rev. 7:10)

Lord Jesus, I pray for the end of strife in ____’s life… You are the Prince of Peace!  (Is. 9:6)

How about you?  Look at your prayer list, or think through the prayers you consistently pray for others.  Do you finish your sentences?  If not, take a moment to finish the sentence, completing the thought of worship as you intercede on behalf of those you care for, and see how it elevates the Lord in your heart and mind.  

We would love to hear your insights or one of your own “completed sentences” in a prayer…please feel free to leave a comment.

Read Full Post »

David, one of the greatest kings in history, has been called a man after God’s own heart… but he was a major screw up – just like ME!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with David’s story, let me fill you in. You’ve perhaps heard of David and Goliath – the little boy who defeated the giant with a slingshot and a river stone. David grew up and was appointed king over Israel. While he was king, and his army was away from home fighting in battle, David went up to the roof for some peace and quiet. While he was wandering around the rooftop, he saw a beautiful woman bathing. He discovered the woman’s name was Bathsheba and she was the wife of one of his soldiers. He sent for her, spent the night with her, and she became pregnant. When David learned of the child, he sent Bathsheba’s husband to the front lines of the battle where he was killed. (2 Samuel 11)

A man after God’s own heart – somehow, the story doesn’t fit the description, does it? But if David can do something like that, then maybe we have a hope, right? Fortunately for David, his story doesn’t end there, and ours doesn’t have to end there either. Psalm 51 is known as “A Contrite Sinner’s Prayer for Pardon,” and they are David’s words of repentance and worship. He realized he had done wrong and poured out his heart to God.  As you read these words, don’t just read them with your mind, read them with your heart as a prayer to God. God craves our praise, and appreciates our repentance. God sent His only Son to the earth that we may be cleansed of our sins and enter into an eternal relationship with Him. Allow this prayer to be part of your worship as you ask God to create in you a clean heart.

1Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.  3For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.  4Against You, You only, I have sinned
and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak
and blameless when You judge.  5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin my mother conceived me.  6Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.  7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be  clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  8Make me to hear joy and gladness,
let the bones which You have broken rejoice.  9Hide Your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquities.  10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  11Do not cast me away from Your presence
and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.   12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
and sustain me with a willing spirit. 13Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
and sinners will be converted to You. 14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.

AMEN!

Read Full Post »

The average person who is interested in observing Lent will know about the discipline of fasting.  They just go together!  There are many facets to this discipline of restraint, and many different ways people choose to observe a spiritual fast.  We would love for you to join the conversation!  Please leave a comment and share what God has taught you about fasting.

One woman of Biblical note,  who participated and led a whole nation in this discipline, fasted in the face of a potential holocaust.  Queen Esther’s full story is found in the Old Testament in the book of Esther, and in chapter 4:16 she charges her uncle Mordecai with this command:  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day, I and my maids will fast as you do….”  

As intriguing and terrifying as Queen Esther’s circumstances were, we can completely understand her need for additional support and emotional strength from God and fasting seems a smart move given her situation.  But what about you and I, in our normal run-of-the-mill and day-to-day existence.  For most of us, I am willing to bet a death warrant hasn’t been signed with our names on it as it was for the Jews in Esther’s day.  Most of us don’t have high level political decisions that alter the course of a nation.  Is fasting still a good discipline for you and me?

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do,

for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.

I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you fast,

put oil on your head and wash your face,

so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting,

but only to your Father, who is unseen;

and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus Christ addressed this topic for a reason.  Fasting is an important personal discipline for Believers in the worship of their God.  I read in this an assumption that fasting is to be a normal part of a Christ-followers walk.  Jesus says, “When you fast” not “if you fast.”

Traditionally, fasting mainly has to do with setting aside food or drink for a designated period of time for the sole purpose of focusing on worship of the Lord and prayer.  Some people have felt led to fast from a specific type of food for a time period as a symbol of sacrificial love for the Lord.  Fasting can also mean setting aside a hobby or habit and replacing it with a valuable spiritual exercise of some sort, whether it is extended prayer time, good works, or more time to study the Scripture, etc.

The main idea throughout Scripture is that fasting relocates our human desires and needs to a position of inferiority and elevates God in our lives as the main focus allowing us to more clearly hear His voice and direction in our lives.

Read Full Post »

In this series for Lent focusing on Worship, Prayer Journals are a natural topic during for this week focused on Prayer.   From  floral diaries to spiral notebooks, I have used Prayer Journals on and off for the last 20 years and God has used this tool to mature my walk with Him in different ways in different seasons.  I have found it to be valuable  in my personal worship of God helping me to voice deep feelings of love for Him, disciplining me to stay focused on His Word,  and a providing a place to record what I hear His voice speaking to my heart.

King David also wrote a Prayer Journal in a manner of speaking, though I don’t suppose his scroll was adorned with a bright floral print or filled with lined school paper like my own journal.  But the Psalms are filled with David’s prayers to the Lord, complete with raw and heart-wrenching emotions and heart-felt phrases exalting and praising the Almighty God.  Here are a couple of excerpts from David’s prayer journal:

“I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.

Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with your love.”

Psalm 109:25,26

“O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you,

my body longs for you,

in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

I have seen You in the sanctuary

and beheld Your power and Your glory.

Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.”

Psalm 63:1-3

I love these beautiful and expressive words in the Psalms that so often express feelings I can’t quite wrap my own mind around until I read them on the pages of Scripture and I immediately connect with the Psalmist’s emotions.

My Prayer Journal experience was initially used by God to draw my heart closer to Him during a time of deep pain and spiritual drought.  After several months of consistency, as my personal healing process progressed, God began to use it as a tool of discipleship in my life because I was forced to seek out His Truth in the pages of Scripture to know how to accurately pray within His will. My journals eventually became a means for spiritual discipline in my prayer life, a practical reminder to keep myself accountable for spending time with the Lord daily.  But I have also had long periods of time in which I have felt led to stop journaling as it was becoming more about me than about Him and He was leading me to pursue other tools of prayer and worship.

So how about you?  Do you write out your prayers to the Father?  What have you learned from this?  Leave a comment and let us know!

For those who might feel hesitant, don’t be afraid to give it a try even if it is new or you don’t feel particularly eloquent.  Cleverly turned phrases and good grammar are not the point of this avenue of worship.  If you were to read the pages of my own journal you would see incomplete sentences, way too many exclamation points, and repetitive pleas for help or guidance.  The point of a Prayer Journal is to deepen your relationship and communication with God and to place yourself in a position to better hear His answering voice.  The season of Lent, preparing our hearts for Easter, is a great time to begin this type of spiritual exercise!

Read Full Post »