If you haven’t seen the movie, War Room, I highly recommend it. It’s about the victory we can have through prayer. Sadly, too many of us don’t pray regularly. I think that’s because we have believed the enemy’s lies about it.
Want to watch the video of this post instead? Scroll down.
#1 We don’t have time to pray.
This is a big lie! We imagine that we have to devote an hour of uninterrupted time to pray or we can’t pray at all.
The truth is that, unlike many other activities, we can multitask when we pray. We can pray while we drive, exercise, and do laundry.
We don’t have to set aside a specific time to pray (although that is an excellent practice). We are to be praying all through the day.
TRUTH: We have time to pray.
Rejoice always, pray continually… 1 Thessalonians 5:16
#2 We are too emotional to pray.
When we are angry, crying in despair, or even celebrating a blessing, we may believe we aren’t in the right emotional state to pray. Yet the Bible is full of prayers written by people who are very emotional.
Our emotions should prompt us to pray! God is not put off by our emotions. Yesterday I was angry and was tempted not to pray. I resisted the temptation and took my upset to the Lord in prayer. Within minutes, the anger was gone.
In the middle of an emotional state, we may not know what to pray. At those times, we can simply say His name.
TRUTH: Emotional times are the best times to pray.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26
#3 We are too imperfect to pray.
The enemy reminds us of our sin and taunts, “You are the last person who should expect help from God.” He may even twist Scriptures like Proverbs 15:29. The LORD is far from the wicked: but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
The enemy knows that if he can get us believing that we have to be good enough to have our prayers answered, that we will never pray. Who can be good enough? Thanks be to God that this isn’t His standard for answering prayer. Instead, He asks that we come to Him in truth. The Lord loves the confessing tax collector and is put off by the prideful Pharisee.
TRUTH: God wants imperfect sinners to pray.
The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth. Proverbs 15:29
#4 There is only one way to pray.
Human nature resists rules. If there is only one prayer to pray, one place to pray, or one prayer posture, we won’t want to pray.
While there are beautiful prayers like the Lord’s prayer that are scripted, all prayer is beautiful to God. Prayer is simply conversation with our Creator. Having a prayer room would be lovely, but as I mentioned in lie #1, prayer is to be happening continually. We do not have to have a prayer room. Praying on our knees or on our face before God can be a powerful part of emotional prayer, but I spend my devotional time in a recliner! I want my time devoted to prayer to be my favorite part of my day and it is.
Determine what could make prayer time your favorite time and do it. Grab your favorite beverage, a favorite spot, and your favorite tools and pray.
TRUTH: Prayer can be any words, anywhere, any way.
I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8
#5 Our request is too small.
If you’re at church or in a Bible study and other people ask for prayer for someone with cancer or for someone who lost a job, you can feel like your request isn’t important enough to mention. We can take that attitude home with us.
The enemy knows that if he can convince us that our prayer request doesn’t compare to others’ needs, he can keep us from praying and trusting God. I wrote a post called Permission to Pray Little Prayers about this lie of the enemy. God wants us to pray about everything so we will not believe another pervasive lie: God helps those who help themselves. This is not found in Scripture. The enemy wants us to figure things out on our own. If you’d like a reminder as to why this is, reread the book of Genesis! Yes, God wants us to work for Him, but only after we have prayed.
TRUTH: God wants us to pray about everything.
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6
#6 Prayer makes no difference.
This is the biggest lie about prayer. The enemy reminds us continually of our unanswered prayers–the prayers where it seems the enemy is enjoying victory. He wants us to ask, “What’s the point of prayer?”
This lie is based on Satan’s very first lie: God isn’t good. If he can get us to doubt God’s goodness, he can get us to stop praying. Many teachers today try to answer this lie by suggesting that God will always answer our prayers the way we want if we just have enough faith. But that answer suggests that God is only good if He does things our way. God is good even when our prayers aren’t answered in the way we hope.
Like a good parent, God doesn’t ask us to perform for Him in order to be loved. While we don’t know His purposes in unanswered prayer, we can know that God is good and that He loves us.
TRUTH: Prayer is powerful because God is a loving, powerful God.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11
I’m praying for you right now. Father, give this child of yours a heart to pray in spite of the enemy’s lies. Amen.
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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.
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 was recently asked how I was able to write for Woman’s Day magazine and thought many would-be writers might have the same question.
While I’ve always been a writer, once I was in the midst of diaper changes and a very part-time clinical practice, I didn’t think my dreams of being published could be fulfilled. While I am far from being a full-time freelance writer, I have enjoyed seeing my work in print and have even enjoyed getting paid to do something I love.
I’m not going to give you the standard advice about perusing The Writer’s Market guide or the The Christian Writer’s Market guide and then sending off good query letters. I’m not going to do that because that isn’t how I was published. That certainly isn’t to say that it’s a pointless approach; it isn’t. It just so happens that I spent hours fantasizing about which periodicals and publishing houses I would send my work to, but never did. I understand from other writers that pursuing publication in this way can be both rewarding (a presenter at a writer’s conference I attended was making over $100,00 a year as a freelancer) and frustrating (with long wait times and lots of rejection).
I’m going to tell you the atypical way I was able to get published because I believe it can work for you, too.
Let People Know You Want to Write. In my first job as a psychologist, I made sure to let our clinic supervisor know that if there were writing or speaking opportunities, I wanted them. Tell your pastor, workplace, organization, or municipality that you’d be glad to write for their newsletters, blogs, and more. I’m not talking about knocking yourself out to put “writer” on LinkedIn or marketing yourself aggressively. Simply mention it!
Write What You Know. We often try to write what we think will sell, rather than what we know. To get published, start by writing the information others ask you for. Because I was a psychologist, I was often asked for information on a host of relationship and mental health issues. My church was the first to ask me to write for them. Without any action on my part, a parachurch organization asked me to write an article for its family newsletter. Are people asking you how you make delicious homemade bread, stay so fit, or organize big events? Write about it.
Give it Away. I wasn’t paid anything for my work for quite some time. Honestly, seeing my published work was payment enough! Share your writing with others for free and let it be reprinted without charge. Early on, you want as many people to have your name in front of them as possible. The combination of these three steps led to my being hired to write booklets for another parachurch ministry. I was well paid and rewarded by seeing my work in our pastor friend’s office in another state.
Write in Love. The reason I was able to write for Woman’s Day, a magazine with a circulation of 6 million at the time, was because I responded to a request for nominations of women who make a difference in their community. My nominee was selected as a winner and I was invited to New York to meet the editors of the magazine as well as the First Lady who would be giving the award. My friend, Deb, was able to write for Woman’s Day after responding to their online request for bloggers on The Happiness Project–an idea she loved. She also responded to a request for bloggers by her favorite store and is now a regular HomeGoods contributor. Respond to and write about people and organizations you love and you may end up published, too!
Pray for Publication. If the Lord wants you to be published, He will make a way. When I learned I would be meeting with the editors of Woman’s Day, I prayed about a topic idea. Immediately, I thought of FLYLady (the online organizing system I was using at the time), but she hadn’t responded to an email I’d sent her. I prayed about it and that day, Marla Cilley emailed me back. I was able to pitch the idea to an editor and received a rewarding contract several weeks later.
I believe publication is possible for any aspiring writer no matter the competition, the changing nature of periodicals, or the writer’s season of life. Do you have other suggestions for aspiring freelancers?
I really believe that I have tried absolutely everything to get my kids doing chores thoroughly and independently. I have tried every conceivable chore chart: refrigerator, printed, spur-of-the-moment, elaborate peg boards, computer, iPad, clip-on. My current system is an improvement over the past. However, the main reason chores aren’t as much of a problem today is because my youngest is almost six. Everyone can do every chore (especially with help).
My current system is a simple table created in Word, listing morning and evening chores for each child for each day of the week. Every chore rotates to each child and even to mom or dad. Chores include clearing and wiping the table and counters, unloading the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, cleaning various bathrooms, taking care of the dog, helping with meals, and picking up various rooms. Chores everyone has to do daily (e.g., make your bed) are not listed on the chart, nor are weekly individual chores (e.g., vacuuming). I use another list for the latter.
People with smaller, non-homeschooling families often marvel at our chore chart which is posted on the refrigerator. I wish they wouldn’t, because frankly our chore chart doesn’t work. Sure, it works better than anything else has, but in my mind, it’s still a complete failure. For example, when it’s my turn to clean the bathroom, it’s clear it hasn’t been cleaned all week, despite cheerful proclamations by my kids that they’ve done it. When it comes to evening chores, we all take turns not doing them. Don’t get me wrong. We have co-op meet in our house each week and lots of company, so our house gets cleaned. But not as quickly or as peacefully as it should be.
I was listening to a promo for Dr. Randy Carlson’s program, Intentional Living, when a mom complained that she couldn’t get her kids to clean their rooms, despite all of her nagging. She said she usually just broke down and cleaned their rooms because it was her house and she wanted it clean. Dr. Randy said (and I’m paraphrasing), “So essentially you’ve trained your kids to believe that they have a really crabby maid.” LOL! Wow, that sounds familiar, only I’ve also trained my kids that they have a really crabby mom. I spend lots of time complaining about the kids not doing their chores or doing them really poorly. Then I become the drill sergeant who insists that they get them done NOW.
So yesterday for the 8,000th time, I sat before the Lord really, really frustrated about chores. Sure, I knew I needed to check their chores. I knew it was all my fault. But knowing this had never solved the problem. In the movie, Courageous, a father tells his pastor, “I just wanna know how to be a good dad.” That’s what I said to the Lord yesterday. Lord, I just want to know how to be a good mom. I really want to solve this chore challenge. If you tell me what to do, I will do it.
Honestly, I expected God to tell me that I was lazy and selfish and I would have agreed! Instead, he surprised me with an insight that has completely changed the way I am approaching chores and character, too! Here it is: Approach chores the same way you approach teaching any other school subject. Well, that seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? But not to me. Whereas, I would never tell my kids how to write an essay once or twice and then expect that they would have it down; and whereas, I would never get mad at my kids for making mistakes in math; and whereas, I would never fail to check my kids’ schoolwork, allowing them to go for days on end without doing their lessons, I was doing all of those things with chores. Being the chore checker was a job I dreaded and resented, while being a teacher is a job I treasure and enjoy. I am now my kids’ chore teacher!
The difference that role change makes for me is huge. I now check my children’s chores because I want to see if they understand what to do, not because it’s one more responsibility on my shoulders. I am praising them for getting so much of it right, rather than criticizing them for what they still don’t know. I am teaching them to make meals to mastery, rather than asking them to do cooking tasks haphazardly. I am also accepting that many of my children are still years away from working completely independently.
What I marvel at is how this huge mental shift occurred as an answer to prayer. What a wonderful teacher is our God, who is so patient and positive with a mom like me. Maybe you need a different approach to the challenge of chores. I know Who you can ask to tutor you.
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:21)
George Mueller is one of my faith heroes. I have read several books about him and by him and continue to be inspired.
He wrote a small pamphlet called “Five Reasons Why Prayer Must be Answered.” George is known for receiving consistent and dramatic answers to prayer and as a result is a highly credible author on the subject. We can be confident pray-ers like George:
1) If we pray according to the will of God, we can be confident of answered prayer. “14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
2) If we ask in the name of Jesus and for His sake, we can be confident for what we ask. “14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14)
3) If we believe He is able and willing to answer us, we can be assured that our prayers will be heard. “24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)
4) If we avoid willful sin, we can be certain that the Lord will listen to our appeals. “18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;” (Psalm 66:18)
5) If we have a history of answered prayer, we can be sure that our God is the same God today. “7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?”
Lest you think that George was a man who believed that wealth, good health, and salvation for all were his for the asking, you should know that:
- George gave up his earthly wealth to serve the Lord. The Lord provided for him in every way, but he had few earthly possessions.
- George experienced chronic abdominal problems, though he lived a long life. George saw God using his periodic poor health for his good and the good of others.
- George wrote that God “did not see fit” to confirm to George that his father was a believer before he died. Yet George continued to believe that God’s will was to bring many to faith through George’s work and testimony.
- George was a sinner. Although George did not choose to call sin something else and did not knowingly and stubbornly engage in sin, he still led an imperfect, fleshly life. Even so, the Lord chose to bless him with an abundance of answered prayer. In other words, George’s standard for living is not too difficult for us.
- George spent a great deal of time ascertaining the will of God. Before beginning a bold project and then asking the Lord for His blessing, he often spent months making sure he wasn’t pursuing something for his own purposes.
- George often waited a long time before seeing the answers to his prayers and even experiencing significant trials as he did so.
Finally, if we want to pray like George, we ought to record our prayers. George was diligent to note the date he began praying and the date of the fulfillment of his request. Honestly, this is a practice I once had, but have let go. I hope you will join me this week in praying like George. If you haven’t read his biography or his book, The Life of Trust, I know you will be blessed to do so.