Prayers as Big as You

Grant me the faith to pray for miracles.

Stretch my heart to believe for healing,

For restoration of relationships that others would write off,

For Your perfect will to prevail sooner rather than later.

Open my eyes to see

The visions You have promised to reveal,

No matter how dark the path

Stretching before me.

Calm my heart to bend toward Your own,

As I rest in the assurance that all will be well,

Even when tumult surrounds

And chaos swirls with deafening force.

Grant me a heart that chooses to believe

You will deliver and keep my children,

To trust for prodigals to find their way back home,

And for grace to have the final say over sin.

Increase my faith,

And teach me to wield it with wisdom

As I plant my feet steadfastly in Your strength,

Determined to outlast the enemy of my soul.

Give me the courage to offer prayers
As big as Your love and Your power.

© MereWhispers.wordpress.com

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Learning to Pray for Me

It’s difficult to know how to pray when it comes to our own lives.

I couldn’t help but pause at the above words when I noticed them penned in the middle of an article I was reading. It’s fairly easy for me to pray for others. I often have names and faces running through my mind throughout the day as I lift petitions to our heavenly Father.

Praying for others is much easier than praying for myself.

I can see from the outside how things are falling into place in the life of another, even when all seems to be falling apart. I can compassionately plead for a broken world or a struggling friend without feeling any bent toward selfishness. But when I add myself into the equation, somehow my prayer formula doesn’t seem to add up so easily.

I struggle with my thoughts, wondering if my desires seem selfish. I wrestle with doubts as to whether my prayers are too narrow-minded or too broad. Too much or too little. Too big or too small. Too, too, too…

While prayers for others can spill from my heart like rivers, loving myself through prayer suddenly becomes a complex battle, a power struggle to release a drop or two of heartfelt need. I’m found overflowing with a series of checks and balances where once it was simply an outpouring of faith and expectancy.

How I “should” pray suddenly competes against the honesty of my own heart.

It’s easy to ask for God’s best for someone else. It’s easy to anticipate Father’s mercy for a friend. But sometimes it’s challenging to ask for God to love away my own hurts, especially when they seem so small in comparison to others. It’s hard to ask Father for tenderness for myself when all I can see are my own failings, my blatant propensity toward weakness when strength is needed. When His strength is needed in me.

Why do I think God might withhold from me what I fully believe He will extend lavishly to others?

Why do I hesitate to ask Him for the same favor I pray He pours upon my loved ones?

Instead of checking and rechecking my motives, I simply want to run to Him. Just as I am — scrapes, bumps, bruises and all. Hastening to have Him save the day yet again, just as He did when a tender baby’s cry split the silence of a star-studded night filled with heavenly choir. Just as He did when a commanding voice spoke the words, “Peace, be still,” and a stormy tempest was calmed. Just as He did when the mercy of salvation swept upon mankind with a final, “It is finished.”

As I come beyond the veil ripped wide open, I long to do so with the assurance of Father’s love not just for the masses, but for this one, floundering heart of mine. To reach out and grasp His love with both desperation and tenacity, convinced it is mine for today and for forever simply because I am His.

Even when I feel far from deserving of the grace He so freely gives.

Even when I have more questions than answers regarding my own heart’s wanderings.

Even when I am prone to pull back instead of rush forward into arms outstretched and waiting, arms strong enough to hold me close and love away every ache of soul weariness within me.

Today I want to approach Father as His beloved, not because of anything I am or am not. But because I am His.

And I belong.

Here in the circle of His unending grace where mercy meets the worst of me and loves me best.

Here where I am honestly and wholly His own.

Here where redemption is complete, and I am completely loved.

Here where He reminds me that He is for me.
4962725-mdHere where Father kisses away the hurts…

When I Don’t Know What to Pray

I wish I could say with confidence that I always know how to face a situation head-on, that I never struggle to find the right words to speak relief into the heart of a fellow-sojourner. I wish I knew how to pray effectively without pause, without questioning what should be, could be, might be the will of God for each person in every circumstance. But the truth is, more often than not, my prayers are tongue-tied. Awkward. Raw. Filled with real frustrations, confusion, and sometimes sadness.

But there is always one thing I find to be a constant when I struggle for filling the silence with words:

When I don’t know what to pray, I pray for His presence.

I pray for the spirit of Shalom to come alongside and flow into the depths of souls, regardless of difficulties. I ask for a peace that never falters in the face of flagging faith to make its entrance and stay for the duration.

When our world is shaking, it is in His presence we are held. Strengthened. Changed. Even if our circumstances are not.

No longer do I ask merely for relief from the existing troubles nor for the absence of strife. Instead, I pray for His presence to come and overshadow Satan’s worst with the light of God’s best. For mercy to show up and shatter the darkest of hours with the brilliance of love unconditional and limitless.

As His presence descends, it ushers in the sweet melody of peace, gentle yet firm in its determination to rise above the enemy’s shrieking fortes. The gift of promised Shalom, come with power. Reaching past the furthest bounds of all human understanding. Soothing the weary soul. Bringing its companion of Hope to nestle deep into the broken, spilling its contents upon hurting hearts.

Shalom — completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.

A real, felt peace that burrows through bitterness. Chips away resentment. Stirs a love that knows no limits. Brings wholeness to the fragmented. Bestows favor upon the floundering. Revives the most dimly burning ray of faith. Fanning. Kindling. Reminding once more of Father’s keeping power.

Of presence and peace come again and still to all who look for its comfort.

I ask for His presence because we were made for it.

It’s His presence we long for in the worst and the best of times. It’s where we belong. And it is where we find rest even when our circumstances remain exhausting. It’s where we encounter Shalom, not as the world gives but as He gives to His own. It’s where peace transforms a soul in the making.

Surrendered to our chrysalis, like a morphing butterfly is hidden and changed, we cling to His presence. Trusting in the silence. Holding fast to hope through the darkness. Looking for a future held safely in Father’s care, even without fully knowing what it will be like to live it.

Even before the knowledge of wings and flight and freedom to soar.

So today I pray for His presence to come and meet us right where we are, and I ask for hearts to be open. Yours and mine. Yielded to the turning of Shalom’s hand. Stepping forward into faith, knowing Father will not fail, even if all others abandon.

Trusting His presence will breathe and set to flight the most fragile of wings.

Believing Yahweh is here and will remain.

And that in His presence, we will soar.

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Constant Through the Trial and the Change

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging consistently the past few weeks. Unlike the title of today’s post, my writing has been less than constant through the trial and the change. And let me tell you, there have been a lot of trials and changes around here lately.

At the top of the “change” list has been the marriage of a son, which occurred this past weekend.

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And as far as the trials go, well, let’s just say that most of them are not worth mentioning. Amongst so many life adjustments, it’s good to have a constant. Something unalterable, consistent, steadfast.

That one thing that remains steady when life is fluctuating and shifting on so many levels.

In the midst of all the roiling emotions that accompany the wedding of a child, I was blessed to be reminded of one of my life’s “constants.” When I looked up to greet the smiling face of a friend who has known and loved me even longer than my own husband has, you can imagine my sense of relief and joy at her presence. Shelley has been my BFF since high school and has stood beside me in cheerleading uniform, bridesmaid dress, and bridal gown.

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Last Saturday she stood beside me once more as I donned the garb of mother-of-the-groom. I can honestly say that seeing her at my son’s wedding was one of the highlights of my day and was a blessed reminder of just how fortunate I am to have a “forever friend.” A rare constant who has remained throughout the changing seasons of life.

From the days of sharing secrets of teenage crushes to the moments of finding our “Mr. Rights,” through the struggles of motherhood and the mixed emotions of “letting go” of our all-too-rapidly-growing adult children, Shelley has been there. Sometimes in the background, sometimes as a lifeline on the other end of a phone line, and sometimes standing right beside me – close enough to reach out and hug.

But always there. Always constant in her love for me.

It’s not like we see each other often or talk on the phone weekly. Our lives and callings have led us states apart, which is all the more reason why Shelley’s presence this past weekend was such a blessing to me. Not only was she there to rejoice with me, she was there covering me in prayer. And that’s the kind of friend I need. The kind of friend who views every occasion as a time to lift me before the throne of grace. The kind of friend who impacts my life with words spoken to the One who gifted us with our friendship and has held us together through the years.

No matter the distance between us, I am confident that Shelley always has my back – even when it’s from her knees.

Contrary to the polite comments posted by long-ago friends on our most recent photo together, we really have changed – more than a bit. And although most of the changes have taken place inwardly, I see the maturing of my own face reflected in the slight “laugh lines” (NOT wrinkles, mind you) around the eyes of my friend, the strands of graying hair covered over by a “quick fix” of L’oreal, and the aging of skin that once glowed with the youthfulness of teenagers.

But my friend remains beautiful still.

In fact, I’m certain that if we live to be 85 or 90, I will look at Shelley and still see her as one of the most beautiful people on planet earth. Because I’m confident she will still be glowing with love. And I daresay, she will still be bending her knees to cover me with her prayers, even if those aged knees can only bow in her spirit.

Because that’s the kind of friend she is.

And the kind of friend I want to be.

The kind of friend who has your back… from bended knee.

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When it Hurts…

Please pray for me. However the Lord may lead you to do so. I need it.

This is the note I woke up to find in my inbox this morning. No details of the situation were included. Just a request for God’s intervention.

Just an SOS from a hurting friend.

Please pray for me… I need it.

Prayer is needed.

For broken hearts. For lives rushing headlong toward situations that seem they can only turn out badly. For children who are neglected. Marriages that are unstable. Lives crushed from the weight of so many unanswered questions. Hearts heavy from too much hurt.

And in the midst of my prayers for a friend who is hurting, I was reminded of a simple truth:

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When it hurts, run to God.

And so I did.

And I am.

And I will continue to do so.

For my friend.

For myself.

For all the unknown trials and burdens that are yours to endure in this moment of living.

When it hurts, run to God.

Then stay there until the burden is lifted.

Until God’s peace intersects with the point of your brokenness.

Until you sense the presence of a Savior who has borne each of your trials upon His own shoulders.

Until you rest in the care of the One who can carry it all.

When it hurts, run to God.

Allow nothing to keep you from the Keeper of your soul.

Run past the doubts.

Push through the obstacles that block the way to His presence.

Run with faith, believing that God is with you in your journey.

No matter how long the road may seem.

No matter the number of doubts that tempt you to cease trusting.

No matter how much it hurts.

Run until you reach His throne and find His grace when you need it most.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of  our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” ~ Hebrews 4:16

 

 

When Words are MORE Than Enough

It started out as merely two friends in deep conversation. Two friends sharing their hearts and their struggles. Yet slowly, it developed into sharing more than just personal struggles, it evolved into sharing the struggles of others. The shortcomings of those who were not privy to our intimate conversation. And while it began innocently enough, with words expressing true concern for another’s life, it subtly turned to something more. It became a platform for conjecture, a discussion of what might possibly be within the heart of others that would prompt such actions from them. Slowly, twist by turn, what began as an innocent conversation between two friends became a platform that set the stage for gossip to rear its ugly head.

I daresay, we’ve all lived there more often than we care to admit. Expressing concern… that became conjecture… that became gossip. How easily our hearts can be fooled. How subtly Satan invades the corners of our conversations, slipping in unawares until he has wiggled a slimy toehold and turned it into a foothold that, if left unchecked, can quickly become a stronghold. All in the guise of expressing “concern” for another.

Gossip. A sin that seems so trite in comparison to the atrocities of evil that haunt this world, yet a sin that overpowers so many of us with its glib tongue. And while I know that gossip is a sinful destination that I would do well to avoid completely, nevertheless, I find that I’m still so easily tricked into being led there along a pathway that stems from a heart of care and concern. How can cares become so insidious? How can concern give sway to gossip so easily? More importantly, how can I protect myself from walking that path at the next given opportunity?

Perhaps the best defense against so sly and crafty a foe is to pray the words of Psalm 141:3-4a — Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing…

For as surely as the tongue leads, so shall the heart steadily follow. How quickly the pure streams of living water become muddied with the additives of loose lips. The psalmist here seems to get that. He understands that he who holds the tongue holds the heart, and he who holds the heart holds the man. And that is why his plea is placed before God; that’s why his prayer entreats the King to not abandon him to his own inclinations. For if left to ourselves, history has proven that we will soon leave the right.

While freedom of speech is a portion of  independence I value greatly, it does not give me the privilege to accuse or slander others with my words, even words expressed as prayer concerns. (Did anyone else cringe with that sentiment?) But let’s be real here: All too often, Christians attempt to excuse our gossip by turning it into a prayer of concern for others, expounding on the “details” so that everyone can join us in praying more “effectively.” The truth is, we would do best to pray a prayer asking God to bless us with the grace of silence. More often than not, that is really the only prayer that needs to be implemented.

The next time you sense your conversation is about to be hijacked by that sly foe called gossip, I encourage you (and include myself in this charge) to implement the grace of silence. Exercise caution and ask the Lord to keep the doors of your lips. For in most cases, silence really is golden. Especially when talking with friends with whom we have a tendency to overshare. Proceed with care and be on guard, only opening the gateway to words when something good and true is to be said. 

Otherwise, we would do well to stick to our mothers’ sage advice: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Let’s join the psalmist in committing our mouths and our tongues to the Lord.

For if the tongue and the heart are under God’s care, all is safe.

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