Prayer Makeover Part III

extreme-prayer-makeover_for-web

I just realized that I never finished my Blog Series. Not the greatest of me– to start my first series and then just not come back to it. Sorry Saints, I am not the best with spam postings. But, without further ado: Prayer Makeover Part III (the last installment…. I hope it’s well worth the wait!)

So, if you remember, I told you all to keep your bookmarks in Matthew 6, which includes the “Model Prayer” there-in-which Jesus teaches us how to pray. Well, we’ve been looking at how to pray and why, so I guess getting direct instruction from God the Son wouldn’t be a bad idea…

However, since it’s been a bit, let’s have a short review session:

The Rules of Prayer: In order for our prayers to be heard and answered, we must abide in and accept Christ as our Savior and read his Wordshow our faith through our confidence in prayer, pray for God to do His own will before our own, rid any sinfulness from our hearts and especially in the words or intensions of our prayers, and finally, we must pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

The Process of Prayer: Go in your room and talk to God, listen to Him too!, Keep a prayer journal that you can revisit throughout the day. Read the Word and speak the Word. God will surely speak to you through them to give them new meaning and application to your own life. Work to see God everywhere! When you are constantly aware of God’s presence, it’s much easier to speak to Him and listen to Him throughout the day.

And now for the Model Prayer:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’ 

-Matthew 6:9:13

This is a pretty simple prayer no? But how powerful it is!

If you were raised as a Catholic like me, you might remember the priest chanting this along with the members of the church, holding hands and singing in minor keys. During those times, I never really thought about the words we were all chanting so solemnly, but let’s look at them:

First, Jesus shows his ADORATION: he reflects on God Himself, praising him for His love, His power and majesty, and His wonderful gift of Christ and the Holy Spirit, who in combination, teach us the way to live and God’s will.

Second, Jesus shows us how to give a CONFESSION (he himself does not confess, for he is sinless): he asked God to forgive our debts and he instructs us to remember to also forgive those around us. We must be honest and humble, and remember that God loves us no matter what we do before our repentance.

The third is not directly talked about, but Jesus talks about it in other scripture, and that is THANKSGIVING: we should tell God how grateful you are for everything God has given–even the unpleasant things! Our thankfulness will help us to see God’s purpose for even the most painful circumstances, and this will allow us to have joy amidst  sorrow.

Lastly, Jesus shows us how to make a SUPPLICATION: when we ask him for our “daily bread”, or ask him to “deliver us from evil” or “lead us not into temptation”, we are making supplications to God. (AKA, asking him for things). We are allowed and encouraged to make specific requests, both for others and for ourselves, just as long as those things are within our pursuit of Christ. In other words, we should not pray for the God to hurt others or for God to give us more of something that we are placing before Him (our addictions, idols, or sinful, fleshly desires).

It’s always a good thing to pray like Jesus did in another circumstance, and add the words “But not my will; You’re will be done” after our supplications. This way, we give God the ultimate power to decide what is best for us. After all, He does know best!

The first letters of these four words form the words “ACTS”. Use this as a mental guideline for a balanced prayer life.

This way, you won’t be always exalting God (although He does love that!), nor will you always be making requests for thing, or asking for forgiveness in confession (I struggle with only making my prayers about confessing, so I need this reminder too!).

So there you have it: ACTS! (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). Conveniently, you can read the book of ACTS and see Paul and the rest of the disciples putting these into action. Or read any of Paul’s letters, which are similar to prayers in their structure…

Thanks for being patient in waiting for the last installment of my Blog Series on Prayer. I hope you have learned something and have benefited from it. Please feel free to offer any feedback or other thoughts!

Happy Praying ❤

On giving up…

let it go…

You may have heard people say things like “never say never” or “never give up” (woops! I just said “never” three times!), and they might sound like very motivated and dedicated people who inspire you beyond belief.

But the truth is, there are times when “giving up” is exactly what we need to do. Giving up will make us happier, healthier, and most importantly, more like Jesus.

There are probably a hundred things we hold dear that we don’t even realize are killing us spiritually.

Here is a list of 10 of them:

1. GIVE UP YOUR NEED TO ALWAYS BE RIGHT

To some of us, the idea of being wrong is terrifying. So much so, that even when it’s clear we’ve made a human error, we’ll never admit to it. There is always a price to be paid when we don’t let this one go. It might be an honest friendship, or even a job, or it might be that we loose our family’s trust entirely. Isn’t it worth it to just let go of that need to always be right?

Through James, God tells us that we must admit when we have done wrong or are wrong: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”. James 5:16

Do you want to be healed?

2. GIVE UP YOUR NEED FOR CONTROL

I’ll be honest; I struggle with this one…. Proverbs 3 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

This means that we really don’t have any control over our own lives. We can’t even count on our own capabilities of understanding the world. We have to be willing to give up our need to always control everything that happens to us and around us. It actually takes the pressure off us if we know that things are out of our control!

The next time you feel like you’re obsessing or worrying over something that you can’t do a thing about, just breathe and know that you’re in good hands; God’s hands.

 3. GIVE UP ON BLAME

This is similar to giving up on control.

When we allow others to have power over us in their ability to make us physically do things, emotionally feels certain ways, or mentally go somewhere in our own minds, we put ourselves in a position where we may end up blaming someone else for our own situation. This is never helpful.

Even when people have done wrong to us, we must never blame them. What did Jesus say when the Jews killed him? Oh that’s right: He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.

God tells us in 1 Peter 4:12 and James 1:2-4 (sequentially), that we should not only expect hardships and persecution, but that we must be joyous in each strenuous situation:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

4. GIVE UP YOUR DEFEATING SELF-TALK

Okay, this one I’ve been struggling for a long, long time, especially in regards to my body image and a few eating disorders floating around out there. Here’s what we need to understand:

God made us in HIS beautiful, glorious, incredible, and perfect image.

And how beautiful is this?

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. Psalm 139:13-16

In Isaiah 64:8, we learn that God has formed us like a potter does to clay. If we made us and we are the work of his hands, then how can we critique God? Who are we to say the pot needs new handles or a different shape?

Now, if you’ve done something wrong, then it’s okay to feel convicted by your actions, but this lasts only for a time. And frankly, it’s not God’s voice that’s telling you you’re no good; it’s Satan’s.

 Who do you want to listen to?

5. GIVE UP YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS

This one is clutch for Christians.

Do not doubt what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible.

Philippians 4:13 tells us that “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.”

There is also a ton of stuff in the bible about doubting and having little faith. If you’re doing to doubt Christ, you cannot follow God. So stop limiting your beliefs with logic or hearsay.

It may not be logical; that’s why they call it FAITH.

6. GIVE UP COMPLAINING

Ephesians 4:29 tells us to “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

And don’t forget when James says in Chapter 5, Verse 9, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”

Then God gets a little angry in Numbers 11:1:

“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.”

There are plenty of examples in the New Testament, when Jesus gets downright annoyed that his apostles are always “grumbling to themselves”. It does no good. We really are doing ourselves a disservice by complaining. When we talk about something, it gives it life, and do we really want to give life to the most annoying things in our lives?

Probably not. So just stop talking about it. Really.

7. GIVE UP THE LUXURY OF CRITICISM

I don’t even have to add to what Jesus says in Luke 6:37-42:

 “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven. If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving — large or small — it will be used to measure what is given back to you.” 

  “What good is it for one blind person to lead another? The first one will fall into a ditch and pull the other down also. “ 

 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

‘Nuff said, right?

8. GIVE UP YOUR NEED TO IMPRESS OTHERS

Stop trying so hard to be something of this world just so that the world will like you. Jesus doesn’t work this way.

Jesus tells us that if we are a friend to the world, we are an enemy to him. If we are impressing those around us, our treasures are here on Earth rather than in Heaven with him.

If we receive our reward here, then no reward awaits for us after life is finished.

In short, we need to impress Christ, not other people. Other people don’t hold the key to our immediate future, or ultimate Salvation.

9. GIVE UP THE PAST

Jesus was arguably the most present person who ever lived. He did not look on past sin in anger, and he did not let his anxiety of future events change his ability to be focused on life within the present moment. In turn, God wants us also to let go of any past wounds or bitterness we hold onto. He wants us to look for his presence within our daily lives, and press on, forgetting what lies behind us.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

If Paul let his past failures and wounds affect his journey by hanging onto them, he would never have been the great writer and teacher that he was through Christ. He would never have pressed on, determined to overcome future battles and struggles.

Our own memories can sometimes paralyze us. If we want to be like Jesus, we have to let go of the past and be newly created by him everyday. And this happens in the moment.

10. GIVE UP ATTACHMENT

First of all, Jesus tells us that rich men rarely enter heaven, so right there you should be thinking of freeing up some space in our pocket book by giving to those in need.

He also tells his disciples not to carry anything with them when they go out to evangelize; He doesn’t want them to be attached or dependent on anything except The Lord.

Now, this is extreme, but perhaps we are called to be a little more extreme in our faith…. When we are attached to the things of this world, we are essentially creating idols, which God hates. And his hate is fierce.

Galatians 5:19-21 reads,  “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Idolatry can also look very much like love. I have been guilty of holding those around me up on pedistals that only God deserves to be held upon. This also makes me have extremely high expectations because… well, unknowingly, I’m expecting these people to take the place of God.

If we idolize our spouses, for instance, we will also end up demonizing them because they won’t live up to our high expectations—expectations to fill places and heal wounds that only Jesus can.

When we attach ourselves to our jobs, our house, our car, our clothes or even our family members, we are placing our identity in things that have absolutely no meaning in comparison to what our identity should be placed in: Jesus.

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27

If our identity is in Christ, then nothing can alter who we are in him. Nothing can touch us!

What are some other things you need to let go of? What is God calling you to give up?