Category Archives: Write 31 Days

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Just the Beginning

Fervent Prayer

Well friends, what can I say? It has been a fun and challenging journey for the past 30 days. I hope more than anything that you have done some seeking on your own and discovered how important having a strong, fervent prayer life is.

I know it won’t always be easy. As we have learned, the enemy is constantly attacking us. He wants to see us broken, stressed, overwhelmed and as far from God as possible. If he can keep us busy enough, mad enough, distracted enough, selfish enough…he will do it. Anything to drive a wedge between us and the abundant life God has for us.

But we have a weapon. A powerful weapon that we can use to fight against these attacks and that is prayer!

So my biggest prayer here for you on this last day of October would be that this journey towards fervent prayer would just be the beginning.

Tomorrow will be another day to do battle. Another day to put on the armor so that you can withstand the fiery darts of the enemy. Another day to seek God in all things and to remain alert and aware of the enemy’s schemes.

I also hope that after this month you will have walked away changed. Maybe you have started a prayer journal and you are documenting the requests and the answers so that you don’t forget. Or perhaps you are getting on your knees and establishing a new routine before you start the day. Or you are writing out scripture on your prayer cards and hanging them in your prayer closet (or armoire).

If we have done the hard work of building a routine of fervent prayer we will see the results. No, not every prayer will be answered in the way that we might hope. But we will likely be more aware of all the ways that God is working.

After studying fervent prayer and all the ways the enemy comes at us, we are wiser. We can see more clearly and have learned to fight the battles with a power that only comes from God. We have full access to Him, may we never forget that!

So I encourage you to keep going. I think that reading and re-reading Fervent again and again will only reveal more. I have different things underlined and highlighted from each time I have been through it.

Yes, this is just the beginning.

We are stronger, smarter, suited up and ready to walk in the callings that God has for us.

We are ready to march around our walls and declare victory in God’s name! We have spouses, kids, parents, siblings and so many more who need our prayers. We need to take what we have learned and get to it!

Let this last day of the month be the beginning of a lifelong journey of fervent prayer!

Lord, we just thank You for all You have taught us through this journey. Thank you that we have such intimate access to You through prayer. Lord,  I know we will face challenges and disappointments in the coming weeks and months. Please guard our hearts and our minds. Give us Your strength so that we can go forward in Your name and Your power! Thank you for the transformations that have taken place over the past month. Stir our hearts that we would continue to seek to know You more! In Jesus Name, Amen!

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Wisdom

Fervent Prayer

James 3: 13-18 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Some heavy words to start our day today but man did they challenge me when I was looking at the chapter in Fervent on relationships.

One of the things I like to do as I am studying God’s Word is to read the passages in different versions of the Bible. The BibleGateway app is wonderful for things like this! I use an ESV Bible, but at times the Message Bible offers a more “plain language” view and it is particularly relevant here.

13-16 “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

Whenever we are trying to look better than others, things fall apart. Can I get an Amen!

But when I stop and look at my own behavior in relationships, isn’t that what I find myself doing? The need to fit in, to belong, can often translate into a striving for success so that we appear like we have it all together. This can lead to pride.

Pride in my life is a bad thing!

I start puffing myself up, making myself look good and then I start to think “hey, I’ve got this life managed pretty well…” I stop praying, stop seeking God’s wisdom and start relying on my own. What is that saying? Pride comes before the fall?

Each and every time friends…each and every time!

I want to be remembered as someone who is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings. Isn’t that what we all want?! But I can’t do that and be fighting for my place at the top at the same time. I want people to see Jesus through me, in all areas of my life.

Priscilla said this, “The magnet that draws other people out of darkness toward the light and hope of Jesus Christ is so often not the A-B-C evangelism presentation they hear but the one they see – the recognizable change and difference in people who claim to be at peace with God themselves.” Fervent p.174

As we walk through the end of this journey of Fervent Prayer I hope that we would be stirred to seek God’s wisdom for our lives. That we would be humbled and gracious towards others. That we would be that light in a dark world. That we would daily seek God for the strength to do those things. Without prayer, without God’s help, I am a hot mess.

But through Him and because of Him I can build relationships with others, disagree and be respectful at the same time, offer compassion and mercy to those suffering around me. I can’t do these things on my own, I need God’s help. Today I am grateful that His work isn’t finished with me yet. That I have the opportunity to make a difference because He has made a difference in me.

Lord, we just thank and praise You for who You are. We ask Lord that You would pour out Your wisdom over us. Give us eyes to see Your will, hearts that seek to love others the way You loved us. This life is a gift, help us to be the kind of person that people will know, we are different because of You. May our lives bring You the glory and honor You deserve! In Jesus Name, Amen!

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Peace and Unity

Fervent Prayer

“Together we are a mighty force. Satan knows that. And by remaining united, we let him feel that.” Fervent p.171

We are in the home stretch friends, can you believe it?! Priscilla addresses the final strategy when she looks at how the enemy can and does attack our relationships with others. And more specifically, our relationships with other Christians.

If you have spent any time online recently you have likely seen Christians on both ends of the spectrum. Especially in a presidential race…everyone has an opinion about who is best, or worst. Labels are thrown around and division can happen quickly!

This is right where the enemy wants us to be.

This fictional quote (not a real C.S. Lewis quote) was shared all over FB, and while it wasn’t actually in Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, it is an interesting look at how the enemy may work in situations such as these.

Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself. Keep up the good work.  Uncle Screwtape

How easy it is to become divided from one another when we are focused on all the problems we believe are out there and refusing to see our part in it?!

We have been attending a wonderful church in a community close to ours since we moved to Minnesota. It can be hard to find a place to “belong” in a new town and it was so important for us to find a solid, biblical church. Even after the first week, we felt welcomed. It was a good fit.

But then something happened to me. I started focusing on what I thought everyone else was doing together. I began to feel that I (we) weren’t being included and the pity pot of “poor me” became by close companion. I thought “if only they’d invite us….this would finally feel like home.”

That became my focus week after week. But here’s the deal, I didn’t do anything about it either. I waited for the invitation, but never did the inviting myself. I craved community but didn’t want to do any work to cultivate it.

I felt jealous and I misjudged people. I made myself pretty unapproachable. I would come in, find a seat and not talk to anyone. I am an introvert by nature so some of it is who I am…but I made myself seem closed off when I put up my walls. And then I blamed others when I felt alone.

The enemy works on our insecurities.

I have long struggled to feel like I belong. And when I kept myself disengaged from community, expecting everyone else to just come to me…my feelings of rejection built. Rejection led to resentment and I have already shared what that can do in my heart!

Then one Sunday morning our pastor preached on community and something he said struck a chord with me. I had been waiting on others instead of looking for ways to offer the very community I was seeking to those around me.

Of course the enemy wants to see those in the church in disharmony! If he can cause a division, he wins. We must fight back with prayer!

Priscilla says this: “Prayer helps us stay focused on bigger things, on much more eternal things than the petty stuff that threatens to puff itself up beyond actual size and become some huge deal it doesn’t deserve to be. In prayer we experience the kind of hard-fought peace that unites us into an army of soldiers for Christ.” Fervent p.172

Are you feeling left out? Pray about it.

Are you struggling with the opinions of a fellow believer? Pray about it.

Seek God in all these areas, and with prayer we can ask for clarity. We can pray for direction and seek out our part in a specific matter. We can pray for courage to take some action that would foster positive change. We often don’t have the grace to handle these situations without God, so pray first. He will guide your steps!

1 Cor. 12:25 “…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”

1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Lord, we know the enemy seeks to draw us away from one another. To disrupt our sense of community and belonging among believers. Lord guide us, especially in our interactions with other believers. Help us to remain united, to be a light with one another. Let there be no place for disharmony and may we choose to always be in prayer for our relationships with one another. In Jesus Name, Amen!

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Extending Grace

Fervent Prayer

Yesterday we talked about unforgiveness. And believe me when I say that I understand in a real way how difficult it can be to forgive someone, to let it go. But I have found in my own life that when I am unwilling to forgive, I am bound in chains.

Freedom comes from releasing the hurt to God, extending grace (even when it is undeserved) and giving up the “right” to punish someone for how they have hurt you.

Priscilla said this and it just hit home for me: “Genuine freedom and renewed fervency are waiting for you on the other side of forgiveness. And the forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer. When galvanized with the living truth of God’s Word, fervent prayer is the bucket that can dip down into the reserves of God’s strength and pull up all the resolve you need for releasing other people from what they owe you.” Fervent p 161

With fervent prayer we can access God’s strength. With fervent prayer we can fight against the enemy who wants to see us angry, bitter and resentful. Knowing how poisonous resentment can be to us we have to find a way to remove it from our lives. Only God can change our hearts and our minds. Let Him take what is hurting and broken and restore it!

It can still be a struggle though, I get it! In those times I often have to look to God’s Word for the reminder about how grace was extended to me first. God set an example through the death and sacrifice of Jesus. A sinless God who took on my sins so that I could be free.

Ephesians 2:1-10 is a favorite passage of mine. Evidence of those “But God” moments and a reminder to treat others as He has treated me. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

It is easy for me to sit and think of all the ways I have been slighted or hurt by others. It is much harder (because it requires humility) for me to be honest about the multitude of ways I have done the damage myself. I am not innocent either and if I want grace extended to me when I hurt someone…shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?

And here is something that jumped out at me when I was reading those verses in Ephesians that hasn’t impacted me before. God didn’t just send His Son to pay the penalty for my sins. That alone, that forgiveness, would have been enough.

But God, who is full of mercy and grace, chose to make us alive through Christ AND He says we will be raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places so that He can show us his immeasurable riches. WOW!

God is overflowing with grace and love for us. How can we not do the same to those we come in contact with? When we spend time in prayer seeking to know God, asking for help in our weakness and praying for His grace to flow through us I think that the way we respond to hurt may be radically transformed.

Yes, we live in a sinful, fallen world and at times it is down right rotten to us. But when we access God’s power, through fervent prayer, we can bring light into the darkness.  

Lord, Your love overwhelms us. You pour out grace and mercy over us and yet at times we struggle with offering grace to those that have hurt us. Help us Lord to see others as You see them. May we remember the sacrifice that was made on our behalf and may we look to You for help in those times that showing mercy is difficult. Thank you for providing the ultimate example of what extending grace looks like. In Jesus Name, Amen.

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Unforgiveness

Fervent Prayer

“Unforgiveness is a strategic design, craftily implemented by your enemy to outwit you, to cripple your effectiveness in prayer and your power to stand against him victoriously.” p153 Fervent.

I spent a lot of years stuck in the pit of unforgiveness.

Unable or unwilling to forgive those who have hurt me, resentment became a close companion. It was easy to point my fingers and blame. It became second nature to say “I wouldn’t feel this way if you hadn’t done xyz…”

Hate and anger would fester. I quickly came to that place where I was bitter all the time and I was unable to see the good in any situation. Have you ever found yourself there? Bitter, angry and resentful and stuck in unforgiveness?

I remember one morning, sitting in front of the mirror to get ready for work, and I looked at myself and didn’t recognize who was staring back at me. I felt dark and ugly inside and I needed help.

I have heard it said that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Oh how this was true in my life. The people, places or things that I was upset about weren’t hurting like I was inside. I suffered alone and thought my anger would “make them pay.” Instead, I was paying with my mental, spiritual and emotional health!

Let me share an example from my own life.

Years ago I started working at a bank. I didn’t know anything about banking and started as a teller. I quickly was promoted to the customer service phone banking center. A friend of mine at the time was looking for something new and I told her about some openings we had in our department. She applied and was hired.

Months later a “lead” position became available and this friend and I were the two people vying for the spot. She had become close friends with the department manager and spent time out of the office with her. We both went through the interviews and she was offered the job over me.

When I asked the manager why I didn’t get the job she said it was because she heard that I was looking for another job outside of the bank. They didn’t trust that I was reliable and would stay. Those things said about me were not true and I was so upset. I was sure that I knew who had told those lies, but it was too late, the decision had been made.

I felt hurt and betrayed. A friend had sold me out to advance her career. I immediately cut her from my life. I didn’t confront her to hear her side of the story. I believed she was the one who had said those things about me and in my mind our friendship was over.

Soon after I applied for and was hired for a different promotion within the bank. It was something that I couldn’t have applied for had I gotten the other promotion. Through that job I had the opportunity to advance in ways I had not planned or expected. In the long run, that no was a gift.

But despite that, I held onto the resentment.

I spoke poorly about her to others, I refused to let that betrayal go and acted rudely towards her if we came into contact with one another. I wanted her to hurt because she had hurt me.

Today I am just sad about how I handled everything. Honestly, I don’t know that our friendship could have been restored…but I certainly didn’t act in a Christ-like way. I had the chance to show grace and instead I spewed hatred. That isn’t how I want to be remembered.

Someone in my bible study shared that when you let someone off your “hook”, you are putting them on God’s hook instead. He sees all, He knows. But what if I missed an opportunity to be grace to someone who didn’t know God’s grace in a real and tangible way. That is my regret.

So today I use that situation as a reminder to me. I didn’t like the way I felt during those years. I don’t feel good when I am holding onto anger and resentment. Today when I am hurt by someone I try and pray for them.

It is hard to be angry at someone while praying a blessing over their life.

It doesn’t always mean that the relationship can be restored to the way it had been before the hurt…but it does mean that I am letting go and letting God handle the hurts. There is freedom in that.

Through prayer we can bring those hurts to God. He understands, He can bring peace into the darkest hearts. But we have to be willing to let go of our desire to hurt back. Easier said than done at times…I know! But again, it brings freedom and I think we all need that!

Lord, we come to you with our hurts. We know that You are a God who restores. Help us Lord to let go of resentments, to stop living in unforgiveness so that we can walk in freedom. We thank you Lord that you gave us the greatest example of grace. Help us to show grace to those that have hurt us as well. We know that often times we will only be able to do it in Your name and because of Your power! We need You moment by moment Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen!

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Making Room for the “Better”

Fervent Prayer

Yesterday we looked at how our pressures/schedule can keep us overwhelmed, overworked and just too busy. And often this cycle can pull us away from God. So many of us get comfortable living this way that we don’t recognize the damage it can cause. I said that I often have worn “busy” as a badge of honor. I have begun to equate value to how busy I am, not realizing the sacrifices I am making to keep up.

But it is hard to say no.

It’s difficult to have an appropriate balance between our home/work/personal time when there are so many things vying for our attention. And if you struggle with the “need to please” like I do, you may find yourself wanting to do it all, and perfectly, at that.

We can run at this pace for a time and then often times, something has to give. That’s what happened for me. Our work schedule was running us ragged, I had said yes more than I had said no. Dominic was involved in an outside board within the community and I had a commitment with my women’s bible study at church.

All good things. Being involved in the community, good. Having the accountability of a bible study, good. Running a successful business, good. But there are times that God is calling us to something more, maybe even something better.

That happened to us earlier this fall. We were invited to participate in a leadership course of sorts with a few others from our church. It was a 40-week commitment. We knew from previous attendees that there was a lot of reading. A LOT. We would meet once a week for a few hours and then have homework that would need to be completed before the next meeting.

It was an opportunity to grow and learn, develop and define our understanding of God and it would challenge us to take our faith life to the next level. But to do so would require giving up some of the good things we were involved with. In looking at our schedules we knew that if we were going to give this class the time it needed, something had to give.

And so we stepped away from a few of our commitments. I really struggled with leaving my bible study. I love the women in that group. They were there and supported me in one of my hardest times last year. They encouraged me and without them (and God of course) this 31 Day series wouldn’t exist.

It was hard to give up something that I really enjoyed. But I also felt very called to this new class. It was a chance for Dominic and I to do something together. And we needed that too. I think that God rewards our obedience in tough decisions like this one.

This class, while tough and full of A LOT of reading (I am serious even for this book nerd, it’s a mountain of reading!) is growing and stretching me. To keep up with the homework I have set back the alarm again and am back to spending my early mornings learning about God. I am getting back into a routine that is filling me, not draining me.

But it started with recognizing and admitting that I can’t do it all. And that sometimes I have to give up good things to dive into the better things.

Is there something in your life that is keeping you from the best God has for you? Pray over that today and ask God to reveal areas that may need to be trimmed from your life so that you can fully walk in His plans for you!

Lord, so often we fill our days with good things, but we forget to stop and ask You if there are better things you might have for us. Help us to be brave in examining our schedules to see where changes are needed. Lord may we have humble hearts that long to seek You and do Your will.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – When Pressures = Slavery

Fervent Prayer

Every year in October we have a few weeks where our work schedule slows way down. The majority of our clients are farmers and so during this time of year they will be in the fields for harvest and we get a bit of a break.

This year it felt like a gift of time where we were finally able to breathe.

We have been running at full speed and at times it feels like too much. And this is just our work schedule, then we factor in our kids, our new bible study, time with extended family and it is a wonder that we can even find time to sleep.

Priscilla talks about the pressures we face in Strategy 8 of Fervent. When I read these words I felt that she was talking to me…“Ever notice how many of the pressures in your life resemble slavery?….Slaves don’t rest. Slaves just work.” p135

One of my biggest struggles has always been setting appropriate boundaries. Especially when it comes to our work schedule. Rules of customer service dictate that the client is always right and that translated into my rarely saying no. Fear sets in and I wonder if I say no to an over-full calendar if they will come back.

But trying to be everything for everyone can leave us harried and worn out.

And once again we are right where the enemy wants us.  “If I were your enemy, I’d make everything seem urgent, as if it’s all yours to handle. I’d bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn’t tell the difference between what’s important and what’s not….” p133

In those moments where I am so incredibly stressed by my workload/schedule, I am not at peace. And I really don’t have time or energy for God. I am a morning person, so getting up early to have some quiet time works for me. But earlier this year I was so exhausted that I started setting my alarm back in the morning. A half hour quickly became a full hour to sleep in. I wasn’t spending time in God’s Word. I wasn’t praying. I was barely hanging on.

I could tell a difference in my attitude towards those closest to me. I was easily irritated and short-tempered. I didn’t pause and pray. And while I wasn’t distant from God because I was angry at Him…I didn’t feel close to Him because I wasn’t spending any time fostering that relationship.

Tomorrow I will dive into this a little more and will be sharing how I recently had to give up on some good things to free up my schedule for some specific things God was calling me to.

Today I encourage you to take a look at your schedule. Are there things that bring you joy each day? Things that feel like a burden? Maybe there is something that has become a chain of slavery in your life. An expectation you have for yourself, or believe someone else has for you that is driving you for the wrong reasons. An inability to rest or to find time to be with God each day. Maybe there is something that needs to be changed so that you too can breathe again?

Get a list together and tomorrow we will talk more about how we can say no, and maybe even give up control so that we can have more peace in our days. I know God doesn’t want the yoke of slavery on us…but how often do we carry it anyways? I for one have had enough!

Lord, we so often wear “busy” like a badge of honor in our lives. But when we are too busy that we can’t even make time for You, we often find ourselves falling apart. Help us as we examine those areas in our lives that need cutting. Give us the courage to say no to the good things so that we can follow Your path and the best things that You have for our lives. In Jesus Name, Amen

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – An Intentional Act

Fervent Prayer

We have made it over 3 weeks into our study and look at the book Fervent! If you can’t tell already, I love this book and I think that everyone should read it! But the impact of prayer wasn’t something that just started with this book, and so today I wanted to share an “In Real Life” situation that helped shape my view of what an intentional prayer life might look like.

As I said before, for many years I used prayer as a means to ask God to fix something in my life. Prayer was a bargaining tool I used“I will do this Lord if you will just do that.” It wasn’t very effective and left me feeling like God wasn’t hearing me.

Praying out loud, in front of others was HARD for me. I was sure that I wasn’t saying things correctly and didn’t want to embarrass myself. It seemed too vulnerable and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.

We have always said quick, recited prayers before meals, but only when we were at home. It wasn’t something we had considered doing outside of the home until one day we saw something that changed all of that.

We were in a Taco Bell of all places. We had stopped to grab a quick bite to eat before running a few errands. There at a table in the middle of a restaurant were a husband and wife and a couple of kids. Their food arrived and before they started to eat they paused to pray.

Dominic and I were both struck by what we saw. I can honestly say I hadn’t seen a family pray in a fast food restaurant before. But they saw the benefit of it and paused to honor God before they ate. As we were leaving we stopped to tell them what an impact it had on us. Oddly enough we ended up seeing them at Sam’s Club just minutes later and ended up talking at length with them.

They were walking out their faith, in real life. Not just behind closed doors where it was comfortable, but out in public where they had the potential to be scrutinized. I wanted a faith like that.

So Dominic and I made a decision that day that we would start being more intentional about prayer. When we go out to eat somewhere, we pause and pray. And here’s the thing, we don’t do it so that we get some jewel on our crown…but what if there is someone watching that needs to be encouraged like we were so many years ago?

What if our intentional acts of faith could make a difference for someone else?

When I think about how dark this world can be at times, it is encouraging to know that people around me still have faith. We have the opportunity to be a light in the darkness, and one way we can do that is through prayer.

So I challenge you today…look at your prayer life currently. Are there things you have avoided just because of fear? Start by praying for God to give you courage and remember that your intentional act of faith could make a big difference in the life of someone you don’t even know!

Lord, I thank you today for that family that made such an impact on us over 10 years ago. Their act of faith inspired us to start being more intentional in our own life. Give me courage Lord to do the same. Help us to look for ways to be a light to those around us. Remove any fear we may be carrying and fill us with a boldnes that only comes from You! In Jesus Name, Amen.

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Righteous Living

Fervent Prayer

Priscilla says in the chapter on Strategy 7 – Your Purity that “Prayers that have power come from a person in pursuit of righteous living.” p123

Walking through this fervent prayer journey now five times, of course I want to be the kind of person that has powerful prayers. So reading this got me to thinking….what is righteous living? How do we live in a righteous way on a daily basis?

The word righteous is defined as “acting in accord with divine or moral law :  free from guilt or sin”

It feels a lot like legalism to me. And something that has been a long struggle for me, understanding God’s grace and removing myself (and my need to “earn” my salvation) from the equation. I am incapable of acting in accordance of God’s moral law. We are all. As we discussed earlier, ALL have fallen short of the glory of God.

So how can we possibly walk in righteousness when we are sin-filled, flawed individuals? And if we don’t walk in righteousness…how can we be effective in our prayer life?

I have to be careful here not to fall into the “all is hopeless” pit that I so easily find myself in. In those moments I forget the glory of the Cross, the instrument that was used to guarantee my payment for sin and instead I focus on the reality of my weaknesses.

Even Paul, whom has to be one of my favorite apostles, understood the frustration of sin. In Romans 7:15-25 he says this:

15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Evil lies close at hand, for all of us, even when we want to do good. Our bodies are weak, there is a reason God sent His Son as a living sacrifice for our sins. All sins, past, present and future.

King David understood this in a unique way himself as well. All throughout the Psalms we can see his prayers and praises to God. In Psalm 25: 4-5 he says:

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.”

and this in Psalm 141: 3-4

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
    keep watch over the door of my lips!
Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
    to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
    and let me not eat of their delicacies!”

Paul, David and many others understood that sin was a part of life. It doesn’t excuse it and once we have accepted Christ we typically have a heart that responds to that gift with a desire to walk in righteous living. But sin is there. Always.

There isn’t a self-help book out there that will keep me “clean” enough or make me “good” enough or give me six steps to stop sinning so that I can be presentable to a holy God.  But because of the covering of Jesus, I am clean. And since I have even the smallest grasp of the sacrifice He made on my behalf, I seek to honor Him with my life.

Through prayer, in all situations, we can do just that.

Yes we will continue to sin.

But in those moments we need to bring those struggles to God. I try to recognize it for what it is. Call it out, bring light to the dark places of my heart. And then I pray that God would use the struggle for His glory. Lord, Let me help someone else who is hurting, may they see the transformation in my life and know it is only through the power of You.

Just because we know sin will be a part of our lives doesn’t mean we have to walk in it as though there isn’t anything we can do. We can pray. We can humble ourselves and ask for help. And we can daily celebrate the gift that is the Cross. May we never forget His great love for us.

Lord, we know it is impossible to live a fully righteous life. It is only by Your sacrifice that we have access to You. What a gift You have given us! We are weak Lord, sin permeates our world so today we pray protection over us. In those times we should remain silent, put a muzzle over our mouths. In the moments we should extend grace may we remember the gift we were given first. May we seek to know You Lord more fully so that all we do might be an offering back to you. Thank you for loving us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Purity

Fervent Prayer

“Sin has consequences. Always has and always will. Keep this revelation fixed squarely in your mind. Because whether we like it or not, here’s how the spiritual economy of life works for believers: Obedience to God garners intimacy and nearness, divine blessing and favor. Always. And disobedience creates a sense of distance and loss, grief and regret. Always” Fervent p.122

Let’s be real for a moment can we?

Talking about sin really isn’t fun. It can be difficult to come clean about the things we like to keep hidden about ourselves. If I look good on the outside, then maybe I don’t have to be completely honest about what’s going on in my heart, or my head.

But like Priscilla says Strategy 7 on our purity…sin has consequences. We see the consequences of that sin all around us. Just turn on the news and it is littered with story after story of our broken humanity.

But if you are anything like me, your sin struggle may be something that isn’t news worthy. And maybe it doesn’t feel like it’s THAT bad…so we hide it away and fancy ourselves up for the outside world. All the while we are suffocating by the truth of ourselves.

In my life I have found that it is those things, those hidden struggles that become the great divide between me and my God. I justify, manipulate, even blame others and then it gets harder and harder to present myself before God. I stop praying because I am aware of my brokenness but too prideful to reach out to a merciful God.

And this friends is right where the enemy hopes to keep us. Apart from God, stuck in sin, filled with shame.

My “hidden” sin, or at least my biggest offender, would be anger.

I have long been a “stuffer,” I feel upset, hurt, whatever and instead of dealing with the way I am feeling about it, I stuff it. Deep down inside where I think it is gone, but at some point I can’t stuff anymore and I explode.

In those moments it is ugly. U.G.L.Y.

It doesn’t matter if I have promised it won’t ever happen again, or if I know that the word vomit that is coming out is causing irreparable damage. I don’t stop until I have said every hateful, horrible thing I could say.

And then, even worse, are those times that I have then refused to accept responsibility for my actions and continue to point the blame on someone else.

“And disobedience creates a sense of distance and loss, grief and regret. Always”

Yes, yes it does.

I have begun to understand the “why” that I stuff my emotions. It stems from wounds long ago. But God has been healing me. I am beginning to discover that while I may have the inclination to stuff and explode, it doesn’t have to be a cycle that I continue. There are alternative ways to deal with my struggles and while I wish I could pray them away and poof they’d be gone. What I’m finding instead is that it has become an opportunity for me to invest in fervent prayer over them.

By bringing my greatest secret struggle out in the open I am free of the weight of it. I never claimed to be perfect but I have longed believed that somehow I needed to strive for it anyways. I didn’t want to share the ugly parts of me because then you would see me for who I am.

Broken.

But in that brokenness I am rediscovering a Savior. A promise that was for me too. A gift that was sent because we all struggle with sin, secret or news worthy. And the only way we could hope to be in the presence of an Almighty, loving God, was by claiming the blood of Jesus over those sins.

I am not pure. I never will be. But because of Jesus I am made pure in the eyes of God.

How can we not celebrate that today?!

Sin separates us yes, but Jesus unites us. Today I am claiming victory over my sin in and only because of Him!

Jesus, we humbly ask Your forgiveness. We know all have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. And yet you loved us. I may not ever fully understand how You could, but I want to praise You for that truth. Thank You for the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You that we can come and be honest about our struggles and through prayer we can develop a new response. I am not capable on my own but am fully able because of You. Thank You is not enough, may my heart spend eternity praising You for who You are. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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