Help! My Prayer Life Is Stuck!

Prayer Life

Trouble with Prayer Life?

Ever have times when your prayer life was stuck? I know that I have felt this way more often than I would like to admit. There is a dear friend of mine whose prayer life seems dry. Hence, I thought I would write some words of encouragement about this problem.

First, this is often an attack because Satan wants me to be ineffective. And the best way to do this is to keep me from praying. Prayer is vital to the health of a believer. When I stop communicating with my heavenly Father, there becomes a problem in the relationship. The same thing happens when I fail to keep in touch with my parents and/or friends.

My heavenly Father desires a love relationship with me. 1 Peter 5:6-8 clearly states that He cares for me and wants me to cast all my cares on Him. How can I cast my cares on Him if I am not praying? I need to be in communion with Him for His steadfast loves will never fail me.

Furthermore, when God feels far away, it is I who has moved. For God is constant and never-changing. His love for me is too vast to fully comprehend. In life there has been many let downs by others or betrayals that can make it hard to accept God’s amazing love. But He is faithful and will receive me time and time again if only I turn to Him. His love is like none other.

Here’s Help to Get Unstuck!

Therefore, let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Even when we don’t feel like praying, just offer up a simple prayer. Ask a friend to prayer with/for you. Iron sharpens iron. Use scripture as a basis for your plea.  The Psalms are good place for petitions. I especially like psalm 16.

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

 

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To Catechize: Is it Relevant Today?

Catechize

Catechize [kat-i-kahyz]: What does it mean?

Here is a word that you don’t hear every day and when you do you probably think of Catholic or Lutheran churches. However, the word catechize is vital for those of us in the Christian faith.

What does it mean? You ask. Well, it means to instruct orally by means of questions and answers, especially in Christian doctrine. I came across this word in a blog titled, “Two Lutherans Elephants: Negligent House Pastors and Divorce.” The author addresses the reasons, the numbers are decreasing in the Lutheran church, have two causalities. One reason is that men are not catechizing their families. I believe that this also includes other Christian churches.

There are instructions found in God’s word to catechize one’s family. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 clearly states that we are to love the Lord our God with all our being and to teach His statutes to our children. This is to occur at home, when we come and go, and when we go to bed at night. Men are to impart these to their wives and then wives to impart them to the children. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 22:6, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

To neglect to instruct one’s family leads to trouble down the road. In the aforementioned article, the author states that it gives children the impression that religion is for women and children only. Therefore, they forsake their beliefs when they grow older. This is a sad state of affairs and no wonder we are in the current spiritual environment.

So I want you to consider how you might take up the idea to catechize your family and inspire your husbands, sons, and son-in-laws to get involved.

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Lord Jesus, Imprint Your Image on My Heart

Imprint Your Image Lord Jesus

Hymn, ‘On My Heart Imprint Your Image’

This was my hymn for meditating on and my prayer this week. I am so moved by how Jesus answered. But first, let’s look at the scriptures that talk to us about being conformed to His image. God alone has the power to imprint the image of His son on my heart.

First, Romans 8:29, For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. I am not going to discuss predestination here. Thus, the point I want to make is that God’s intent for us is to be conformed to the image of His Son. God will not force Himself upon us because He desires an intimate relationship with each person not a robot like follower. Therefore, we must want to be conformed and seek His will through prayer and obedience. He does truly know what is best for us.

Second is one of my favorites in 2 Peter 1:3-4. It addresses the fact that through God’s divine power we have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness. Knowledge of Him and His great and precious promises are enough to become partakers of the divine nature. Yet, I so often forget this very fact.

Third set of scriptures are Ephesians 23-24 & 2 Corinthians 3:18. Here I am instructed to be renewed in my mind and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God. This is a matter of turning over my will to His. Jesus is the source of the transformation thus He can and will imprint His image on my heart. He will transform me one step at a time.

So What Does This look Like in Me?

The image of Jesus in me can be seen when I serve others and not of selfish motives. It is when I pray for the driver who is in a hurry and appears to be driving recklessly instead of getting upset. Another example is when you spend several minutes on the phone helping someone get to where you are without grumbling. I feel as if someone stepped in and directed all my comings and goings.

Serving others is amazingly so uplifting. Jesus enables me with a do it without thinking and free flowing spirit. I will find myself in the right frame of mind where I do not let my right hand know what my left hand is doing. Now, I may not always function like this for I am human with a sinful nature and I do get self focused. However, from what I have experienced in the just the past couple of days, I hope to allow Jesus to imprint His image on my heart as much as possible.

The Lyrics are as follows:

On my heart imprint Your image, Blessed Jesus, King of grace.

That life’s riches, cares, and pleasures Never may Your work erase;

Let he clear inscription be; Jesus, crucified for me.

Is my life, my hope’s foundation. And my glory and salvation.

Here is the link to hear the Hymn sung. It is just one verse and sung in melody.

In Conclusion, May Jesus Imprint His Image on Your Heart.

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Forty Appears to Be a Significant Number in the Bible

Forty Days and Forty Nights, Etc.

Just out of curiosity, I went to Bible Gateway.com to see how many times the number forty appears in the Bible. Would you believe that it came up 97 times, from Genesis to Revelation? Apparently, it is a number of some significance.

The first mention is, of course, in Genesis (7:4). God said it would rain for 40 days and 40 nights, which it did in verse 12. The flood continued for 40 days (7:17). At the end of 40 days Noah opened the window on the ark.

In chapter 50 verses 2-4, I read that 40 days were required for embalming. In addition to this, both Isaac and Esau were 40 years old when they took a wife (25:20; 32:15).

Furthermore, forty is used in the Exodus in reference to the people of Israel. They ate manna for 40 years in the desert (16:38). Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain (24:18). 40 is also the number of silver bases used in the building of the temple (26:19). In the book of Numbers, the spies returned after 40 days (13:25) and the Lord was angry with Israel because only Caleb and Joshua believed that God would deliver the Promised Land. Therefore, God sentenced them to 40 years in the desert, one year for each day spent in Canaan (32:13).

Last but not least, the number 40 is found nineteen times in the New Testament. Jesus also appeared to people for forty days after His resurrection. Let’s not forget the temptation of Jesus found in both Matthew and Luke chapters 4. I do believe that this is where we get the forty days for Lent. I cannot begin to imagine fasting that long.

Something to Consider

Have you ever tried to do the same thing for 40 days and nights? It takes a good bit of will and determination.

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A Sermon in the Form of a Hymn

The Sermon, My Song of Love Unknown

While I grew up attending a Baptist church and there are several hymns that I love; yet, what I, particularly, love about a Lutheran hymn is the fact that it is often a sermon put to music.

As I begin to read and meditate on different Lenten hymns during this season. I have come across one of my most favorites, “My Song of Love Unknown.” I, particularly, like this hymn because it sings of so much about Jesus and His suffering. The song is a sung in a melody as opposed to four part harmony. The music is so moving to my heart and soul. It often brings tears to my eyes when we sing it in church.

In the hymn, “My Song of Love Unknown,” there is a sermon and so much more. It sings of why Jesus came, what He did and how He was rejected and crucified. I usually begin to cry in verses 5 and 6. These verses tell of Jesus going to the cross to set even His foes free; He did not have a place to call His own and He died a death that was meant for me. Therefore, I will gladly sing His praise as in verse 7.

  1. They rise and needs will have
    My dear Lord made away;
    A murderer they saved,
    The Prince of life they slay,
    Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
    That He His foes from thence might free
    .
  2. In life, no house, no home
    My Lord on earth might have;
    In death no friendly tomb
    But what a stranger gave.
    What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
    But mine the tomb wherein He lay
    .

For Your Benefit

I have added 2 links to this beautiful and inspiring hymn. One is a You-tube video and the other is where you can find all the verses to this sweet hymn (see above). This song is a great one to meditate on and help you to focus on what Christ did for you and me. I do hope that you will take the time to listen and meditate on it. I am sure that you will come to love this one as much as I do.

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Lent: Give Up or Take Up?

For This Season of Lent

I was reading my church newsletter for March and I came upon Pastor Crowe’s article, “What are you doing for Lent?” In which, he discusses whether or not Lutherans give up something for Lent. During this season, other churches may give up things like meat or even chocolate, however, the LCMS position on this is quite different. Pastor Crowe goes on to encourage us to take up something for Lent to help us remember and personalize the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for us.

This in turn lead me to consider taking up the focus on Lenten hymns during this season. Therefore, it is my aim to focus on one Lenten hymn each week during these 40 days and what better hymn than the one we sang for Ash Wednesday service, titled O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days. The lyrics are as follows:

  1. O Lord, throughout theses forty days

You prayed and kept fast;

Inspire repentance for our sins,

And free form our past.

 2. You Strove with Satan, and you won;

Your faithfulness endured:

Lend us Your nerve, Your skill and trust

In God’s eternal Word.

  1. Though parched and hungry, yet You prayed

And fixed Your mind above;

So teach us to deny ourselves,

Since we have known God’s Love.

  1. Be with us through this season, Lord

And all our earthly days,

That when the final Easter dawns,

We join in heaven’s praise.

In conclusion, there is a link to a You tube video of this beautiful hymn. I found it quite appropriate as the season of Lent begins. In it, I see the reason one might give something up in order to deny one’s self. Yet, I still like the idea of taking something up. What will you take up this season?

The Lutheran Perspective

QUESTION: Do Lutherans have to give up something for Lent as some other denominations require?

ANSWER: From the perspective of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, “giving something up for Lent” is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. It would be wrong, from our perspective, for the church to make some sort of “law” requiring its members to “give something up for Lent,” since the Scriptures themselves do not require this.

If, on the other hand, a Christian wants to give something up for Lent as a way of remembering and personalizing the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins, then that Christian is certainly free to do so — as long as he or she does not “judge” or “look down on” other Christians who do not choose to do this. (This is taken from the lcms.org web page.)

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Forgiveness in light of what in Christ I have been forgiven.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Is Not Always Easy

Sometimes forgiveness does not come easy for me. I am prone to think that I have a right to be angry and hold on to my anger. I may also expect someone to ask for my forgiveness, which may not happen, before I am willing to forgive. Yet, Christ instructs me to forgive.

When I take a moment to fully contemplate and comprehend the forgiveness that I have been given, it helps me to be able to forgive. I would be lost if it were not for the forgiveness of my sins. I have missed the mark because I am not able to love God with all my heart, soul, and strength nor am I able to love my neighbor as myself. Christ came to earth to do just that and to ultimately pay the price for my sin. This makes all the difference in the world for I am a poor and miserable sinner in need of a savior. Jesus paid it all.

When I fail to remember this, then I have trouble forgiving and I am prone to resentment and self righteousness.

This is exactly what Jesus addresses in Matthew 18: 21-35 in the parable of the unforgiving servant. The master had forgiven the servant of a rather large debt. Yet, when someone who owed him a lesser amount came to him, he was unwilling to forgive the debt owed. The unforgiving servant was not grateful for nor did he fully comprehend what he had been forgiven. Therefore, the master sent the unforgiving servant to jail till he could pay his debt.

Gratitude is Crucial

Stopping first to think of what I have been forgiven and being grateful will make forgiving easier. I am often forgetful that I have been forgiven a great debt. With the Lord’s help, I aim to do better. I shall be forever grateful for my forgiveness.

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Experience is Key to Knowing God’s Goodness

Experience is Vital

Experience is Vital in Telling.

We often throw the word “good” around to just about anything we like. For instance, “That was a good movie!” or “That was really good food.” Advertising uses it well, i.e. “Milk, it does the body good.” Therefore, when we as Christians use it in the phrase, “God is good,” what are we really saying? Do we have the experience to back it up?

Jesus did not like being called “good,” hence He rebuked those who said he was good by saying that God alone is good (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). The Greek word for good used here is agathos. This word describes that which, being “good” in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used in a moral sense here. God is essentially and consummately “good” Thus God alone is the ultimate good.

Therefore, to really be able to say, truthfully and meaningfully, that “God is good,” I truly believe that one has to have experienced God’s goodness by coming through some truly tough times. Experience is the key. I have heard in many a testimony to this fact. God is the ultimate good and is capable of great things. Anyone who has experienced near death experiences or a miraculous recovery can tell you.

In conclusion, I know from my own life experiences I can truly say that God is indeed good. I do hope that the next time you want to say that God is good that you can say it from experience. If not, don’t feel bad if you are not able to say. Ask the next person you here say it how God has showed His goodness to them. Don’t hesitate to ask God to reveal to you His ultimate goodness apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Share Your Experience

Please feel free to leave me a comment about your own experience of God’s goodness.

 

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Tell of The Goodness of the Lord!

Tell, Remember, Declare, Ascribe

Tell, Remember, Declare, and Ascribe!

I started reading 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 today. King David sang a song of thanks in which he gives many directions to give God glory. First instruction, I read is to tell of all His wondrous works! Second, remember the wondrous works that He has done. Third and fourth, I am reminded to tell of His salvation from day to day and declare His glory among the nations. The fifth is to ascribe to the Lord glory due His name. Last but not least is to give Him thanks.

So here, I will tell of the wondrous works of the Lord. And why not? For the Lord is good and worthy to be praised. God has restored broken relationships in my life. He gives me strength when I am weak and grace when I need it. He gives me wisdom when I ask. I will declare His glory to the world.

In remembering, I find hope when times are rough. When I remember the times that God has carried me through many hardships, I know that He is faithful to see me through another one. When I am in need I remember the times that God supplied all my needs and He will do so again. Take time to remember what God has done in your life.

I am instructed to tell of His salvation from day to day! Oops, I have dropped the ball on this one. I had better get back to telling of His salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Furthermore, I am to ascribe. Ascribe? What does this mean? To ascribe means to credit or assign, as to a cause or source; attribute; impute. Therefore, I am to credit or assign glory to God. I cannot ascribe it to myself.

Finally, I give thanks to God for He is good and His steadfast love endure forever!

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Comfort, Where Do You Find It?

What Gives You Comfort?

For the past few months, my family and I have been getting our current house ready to sell. It has not been an easy journey for me. The thought of selling my home has brought me to tears. It has also revealed to me that I have placed my comfort in things.

As I have had to move everything that makes my house a home to storage, I have lamented the transition of my home to just a house. I look at this house now as belonging to someone else.  All my comforts of home are gone. I cried for two days. I mourned the loss of what was once my home and all the fond memories.

Another aspect of this process is staging our current house which is a daunting challenge. The realtor and staging agents have come through telling us what must go and made suggestions of painting. I have not always agreed with some of their choices. Sadly, I made it quite obvious that I didn’t. You might say that I acted like a spoiled child.

However, I have gained some insight into myself and where I should find my true comfort. I was wrong to seek contentment in what I possessed. In God, alone, is where I can find everlasting and true satisfaction because all that I have is not lasting and they are gifts from Him. There is a really good passage on comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. The Apostle Paul spoke of being content in whatever circumstances, Philippians 4:11-12.

To sum things up, I chock this up to another lesson in learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable in my life. Glory be to God for showing me where my heart again needed to change. Ask yourself, where do you seek to find contentment and satisfaction?

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