If you know a woman who loves coffee and Jesus even more, Coffee Talk with Jesus would make a perfect gift. Tuck it into a gift basket with a bag of gourmet beans or a Starbucks gift card and you’re done!
But the gift recipient won’t be. This book will have her feeling as though Jesus is talking directly to her over a cup of her favorite brew. It’s a wonderful devotional for those who want more intimacy with the Lord, those who like to journal, and those who love recipes. Barbie has included many delectable-sounding coffee dishes in the book, including one of my own.
You can also gift Coffee Talk with Jesus for the Kindle.
Author, Barbie Swihart of My Freshly Brewed Life, has a gift for one of my readers. Register to win a copy of the book this week and be sure to visit her blog for a savoring of her encouragement.
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Let’s be honest. You’d pray more if you felt like more of your prayers were answered. Why aren’t your prayers being answered?
This post isn’t going to delve into all the many reasons your prayer may not be answered in the way you hoped. Instead, I want to share a very practical reason you and I aren’t checking off as many answered prayers as we could be. The simple steps necessary to address this problem can have a huge payoff:
- Your faith will grow as you see that God really is hearing you.
- You’ll pray more as you come to believe that a prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
- You’ll encourage others to pray because of your own experience.
A Lesson from Productivity
I have so much I want to do that I’ve long been fascinated with finding ways to motivate myself and to make the best use of my time. That’s why I’ve been doing a whole series on Fridays called A Year of Living Productively. I’ve also been blessed to have a number of visitors to those posts who wouldn’t ordinarily visit a Christian blog like mine.
One of the basic teachings of productivity is that you have to make your tasks actionable. In other words, I don’t put ‘be happy,’ ‘be strong spiritually,’ or ‘be healthy’ on my to-do list. I would have no idea if I’d finished those tasks.
The problem is we regularly put those kinds of things on God’s to-do list! We pray that we and others would be happy, strong, and healthy. Those are wonderful prayers and we don’t have to stop praying them, but if we want to see answered prayers, we need to make some changes.
Start recording your prayer requests. If you have no record of what you’ve done during a given month, you’re going to be dumbfounded if I ask you what you’ve accomplished in the past 30 days. In the same way, God is very busy acting on your behalf, but you have to write down how to remember. Begin keeping a prayer journal or use an app to track your requests. Here is a free prayer journal printable with plenty of room to record the results. I love Pocket Prayer Pro for the iPhone because I can schedule requests.
Phrase your prayer requests in actionable terms. Instead of praying for happiness, pray that you or a loved one would rate your joy as 7 or higher for the day. Instead of praying for your child or grandchild to be strong spiritually, pray that they would show interest when you talk with them about God. Instead of praying for health, pray for a specific indicator of health, such as a medical test result. Exactly how you phrase your request doesn’t matter as long as you will be able to clearly determine that your prayer has been answered. Be sure to include short- and long-term requests, just as we include these kinds of tasks on our own lists. You can absolutely keep praying general prayers, too. Fortunately, God doesn’t give us prayer request limits. Isn’t He incredible?
Follow-up. When we work on our own task lists, we want to know the results. We find out if our boss is happy with the report, if the small repair we did worked, or if we are actually losing weight by eating right and exercising. Experiencing more answered prayer is no different. We shouldn’t just pray for our loved one to have peace during a medical procedure; we should ask them if they did! Then let them know you were praying for them. If you pray in the morning, look over your prayer list that evening and see what God got done.
Recording the answers to prayer this way can uplift your faith, your family, and your church. When you or someone you love is discouraged, you can show them the record of answered prayer in your life.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6
Do you have an actionable prayer request that I can pray for you? Please contact me if you have a private request.
I often feel guilty praying little prayers. I have friends right now who need great big prayers. They’re in pain. They’re in mourning. They need a job in the worst way. Do I have any business praying for the rain to stop so my hair doesn’t get wet?
Praying for Dresses and Parking Spaces
Graduate school had been a harrowing time for me. In So You’re Not Wonder Woman, I share some of the many challenges I faced: impending failure, unbearable living conditions (that I’d created), credit card debt, overeating, unhealthy relationships, and depression. I was so thankful to have emerged from that time with a Ph.D. that I wanted a special dress to celebrate. I wasn’t willing to spend a lot on it and it had to be just right. But my shopping had been to no avail. I had to have a dress before the stores closed that night or I would have to wear something I’d worn many times before. I prayed that if the Lord wanted me to have a new dress for graduation, that I would find it at this last store at the right price. I walked into the store and saw it immediately. As I reached to take it off the rack, a sales clerk stopped me and said, “Wait! We’re marking that down.” I not only got the perfect dress inexpensively, I got the idea that it was okay to pray little prayers.
I’ve written before about God answering prayers for parking spaces and beautiful weather for weddings because God is a Gentleman. But I keep forgetting that fact and feel like I’m being a spoiled brat whining at God’s feet when I pray little prayers. This weekend I remembered why you and I have permission to pray them.
The Rain that Wasn’t a Pain
Saturday morning I was getting ready for the annual Women’s Day of Renewal where I would speak on “Secrets of the Spirit Lifters.” I had my hair sufficiently poofed up, but it would be no match for the rain that was coming down. I asked my husband if we had any umbrellas I could take with me. He thought maybe there was one in the garage. Nope! I was pretty sure they were all in our family van which I was not taking to the retreat and which would require me to take on a lot of rain to get to. I decided to jump in the other vehicle and take my chances not having an umbrella.
On the way to the retreat, I realized I didn’t even have a jacket to cover my head. I was NOT thinking about encouraging the women; I was thinking about keeping my hair dry! I decided to pray.
Lord, if you would stop the rain long enough for me to get into the church, I would be so appreciative! Please bless this retreat and make it the best one yet.
I’m going to be completely honest and admit that I didn’t expect Him to hold off the rain–especially as I turned up my wiper speed as high as it would go on the drive there. But I did relax knowing that God would help me, one way or another. I sang along to the praise music on my radio until my exit was in sight. The rain suddenly stopped. The little drops stopped landing on my windshield and threatened to slide down my cheeks.
I was able to get into the church with my materials dry and my hair held high. But nothing could have been higher than my spirits. God cares about dresses and parking spaces and dry hair because He cares about me and you. He seems even bigger when He answers our little prayers.
As I left the retreat I asked one of the organizers how it had gone and she answered, “It was our best one yet.”
And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30
Has God answered your little prayers and renewed your faith?
It’s become popular to choose one word to focus on for the upcoming year, especially among bloggers. Last year, I chose Extreme because I thought it was funny. Put the word “extreme” in front of something and it not only sounds silly; it sells. The book company my husband represents can tell you that. In fact, it’s so effective that I decided to change my title to include it.
I also chose Extreme because I’m pretty much an extremist. I loved having one child, so I had six. I did great with natural labor, so I had a baby at home. I got an extreme amount of education and then ditched my career to teach all my kids. I wrote a book in 3 months. I did an extreme diet for 8 years. I went from being an ardent feminist to being very traditional. Those who know me best are probably itching to tell you about my other extremes. There are some extremes I regret and others I don’t.
It’s against the rules to have two words or I would choose Extreme Encouragement. Why? Because I still think it’s funny and I really mean it. I want to be extremely encouraging this year. My goal is to encourage people every single day. I am having a great time trying to find new people to encourage. It’s not as much fun to encourage the people you know who are extremely annoying, but I’m encouraging them too. (Don’t worry if I’ve encouraged you; it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re annoying, but it doesn’t hurt to consider it, right?).
In the interest of being extremely encouraging, I started a new blog (of course!) solely for the purpose of encouraging others. I encourage authors and bloggers by linking to their sites and readers by giving them uplifting quotes, Scriptures, stories, and challenges. I recently shared with The Inspired Day‘s readers the power of one word to encourage others. One word can be extremely encouraging.
I was driving back to college after a visit home. It was much harder to be away from my family than I’d thought. After months of studying, I loved having my mom’s homemade cooking, being around to get teased by my dad, and seeing my brothers and boyfriend. I was sad as I started on the four-hour trip back on a desolate highway. My mom had put a plate of leftovers together for me. It was one of those nice, microwavable sectioned plates with a cover. I had it on the passenger seat next to me. I stared at it (I was not risking my life as there was no one else on the road) and saw there was a little slip of paper in one of the sections. I pulled it closer and through the condensation on the cover, I could read the one word written on it: Love.
I really bawled then. I wanted to go right back home, but at the same time, I was encouraged to keep going. I was loved. It was just one word, but it was so much more. My mom was showing me that everything she did for me was for love. This year, even though the one-word thing has gotten a little extreme, that’s what I want to do. Like the Savior who went to extremes for you and me, I want whatever I do to be summed up in one precious word: Love.
Do you have a word for the year? What is it and why?
P.S. I’d like to thank Melanie of Only a Breath for making my one-word button. She’s so generous and doesn’t she have a beautiful first name? 🙂
Have you ever wondered why your prayers aren’t answered? There are many possible reasons, including those that have nothing to do with how we pray. But the account of the woman whose daughter was demon-possessed in Matthew 15 redefines what it means to pray powerfully.
The woman who asked for Jesus’ healing hand on her daughter was a Canaanite, not a Jew. Jesus doesn’t even answer her first plea for help. When he does respond, he likens her to a dog. Definitely not the popular version of Jesus! Why would Jesus treat a desperate woman this way? In his sermon, Persevering in Prayer, Pastor Dechard Stevens uses this story to explain:
When someone knocked on the door of a couple’s home, the husband went to answer it. The man at the door asked if he could please have some food. “Honey,” the husband called. “There’s a man at the door and he wants some food.”
“Tell him no,” his wife called.
“Sorry,” said the husband and started to close the door.
“Please,” said the man at the door. “I just want a sandwich.”
“Dear,” called the husband to his wife, “he says he just wants a sandwich.”
“Tell him we’re as poor as he is. No sandwich!” answered his wife.
Again the husband apologized and tried to close the door. “Please, just a slice of bread?” asked the man at the door.
The husband called to his wife once again, “He says he just wants a slice of bread.”
“He’s a real beggar,” answered the wife. “Let him in and give him a whole meal.”
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:27-28
Want to learn to pray more powerfully? Join Circles of Faith for 40 Days of Prayer using Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle beginning Wednesday, February 13th.
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I read Jen Hatmaker’s post on the trouble with including Santa in the celebration, the problem with commercialism, and the guilt we ought to feel about purchasing goods produced by slave labor.
When I finished reading, I continued on to read the comments, of which there were many. Most of them were cheering Jen on with cries of, “Exactly! This is why my family celebrates this way (or doesn’t celebrate at all).”
I was left wondering if I was celebrating Christmas the right way.
I mean, I can’t really disagree with most of what Jen said and I’m one of the most guilt-prone people I know. But something kept me from wanting to beat myself up one more time.
I was confused by my confusion. Why wasn’t I reacting to this message the way I ordinarily do?
I took the matter to the Expert on all things Christmas and was surprised by what He said.
I expected to hear that although I celebrate well in some respects–like giving gifts similar to those the Wise Men gave–I was really messing things up. I figured He’d give me what for on the Santa stuff especially–lying to my children! How could I?
Then I was sure He would take me to task on how excited I get about buying gifts for people. He would remind me of the giddy anticipation I have of Black Friday and how it pales in comparison to my anticipation of Good Friday. He would be right.
But that isn’t what He said. He said, “Melanie…
Christmas isn’t about what you do.
Christmas isn’t about what I do? But that’s all I hear about these days–what people DO for Christmas. Facebook, Pinterest, even the news is all about what we do for Christmas. There are all kinds of ideas for gifts, decorating, and food. There are even lots of ideas about how to focus on the Reason for the Season.
While I was still trying to make sense of what He’d said, He explained:
Christmas is about what I did.
The grammarian in me recognized immediately His use of the past tense. Christmas is about what God had already done. He sent His Son, Jesus, to be born to a most humble couple in the most humble of circumstances.
What God had done changed my life. That’s the past perfect tense. What God did for you and me in the past, He did perfectly in Jesus. But I still wondered if I was celebrating Him in the right way. His answer surprised me again.
I sent Jesus to answer that question.
He sent Jesus to tell me whether I was celebrating Christmas the right way? To tell me about Santa and slave labor? Then I understood.
The answer to the question is a resounding “no.” I’m not celebrating Christmas the right way. What’s more, I’m not living the right way. But if I were capable of living right, I wouldn’t need a Savior. Doh.
I was seized by a joy that I haven’t experienced at Christmas in years. Christmas isn’t about what I do. It’s about what God did!
The most glorious truth about the birth of our Savior is that I can’t mess it up. Christmas is here whether Santa steals the spotlight or some Grinch steals our goodies.
Christmas is here whether the whole world trades “Merry Christmas!” for “Happy Holidays!” It’s here even if Black Friday begins the day after Halloween. It’s here no matter what you and I do.
We’re not celebrating Christmas the right way, friend. But Jesus came for that very purpose.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This post is part of the Inspired Holiday Hop. You may enjoy these participating posts:
A Christmas Book a Day
Elf on the Shelf Jesus Style
Evaluating Christmas Traditions for a More Meaningful Christmas