I am so glad you are here! I’m Ashley, I am 26-years young, a coffee-addict, Army wife and future Chaplain’s spouse, INFJ, extroverted introvert and a 2 on the Enneagram. Originally from Indiana but currently in Missouri, I love Jesus, summer nights, ice cream and coffee dates with my husband, comfy sweatshirts and the feeling of finishing a good book.
I have a heart for helping other women learn to plant deep roots in Christ and grow in their faith; I struggled for many years to achieve any kind of deep spiritual growth and I have a passion for helping other women who may be struggling too. You are not alone.
Prayer is one of those basics of our Christian life, but can be one of the most difficult to begin implementing. A lot of Christians say they need to pray more but struggle to make prayer a daily habit.
Prayer was something I really struggled to incorporate into my life when I became a Christian. I had no idea what I was doing or what to say and this kept me from growing in my faith for a long time. Eventually, I learned more about it from watching others and learning from more mature Christians, but it still overwhelmed me.
When you start to think about who you should be praying for and what you should be praying about, it can start to get incredibly overwhelming. We worry about what to say and how long to pray for and a bunch of other things that don’t really matter.
Learning to pray and pray consistently is just like any other positive habit you try to implement; it’s going to feel odd at first because it’s new but the only way to make it part of your life is to just start.
You might stumble a little and miss some days, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Here are some simple ways you can have a better prayer life, starting today!
Keep It Simple
Praying every day really doesn’t require a lot of time and can be done anywhere. After I realized that, I was convicted pretty hard and made the decision to make prayer a priority in my life.
Simplicity took me a long time to get my head around, because talking to the Creator of the universe made me feel like my prayers had to be articulate and long and full of zealous words. But prayer is really just a conversation, just like if you were talking to a friend about your life.
Some of my most honest, raw and intimate prayers have been the ones with the fewest words. A prayer for safety can simply be “Lord I trust in your protection, please keep me and my family safe as we go. Amen.”
Don’t overthink it; just start talking to God about your life, your hopes, dreams, fears and anxieties. It will get easier over time.
Use the Lord’s Prayer found in Mathew 6: 9-13 as a guide if you are unsure where to start or how to pray.
- Start with Praise;
- Pray God’s will to be done in your situation;
- Pray for and thank God for provision over your situation;
- Confess any sin and pray for forgiveness; ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart and shine a light on areas that need forgiveness;
- Pray for protection, safety and deliverance from temptation.
As you are studying the bible, you can also use any passage or verse as a guide for prayer. The Psalms are a great place to begin if you are searching for words for prayer and praise.
Find Prewritten Prayers
From guided books to blog posts, there are tons of resources out there for people who are unsure what to pray about or what to say during prayer. These are a great way to get you started and build your prayer vocabulary.
Just on Pinterest alone you can find pins with pre-written prayers for just about anything: anxiety, focus, healing, health, safety, your husband, your kids, your family, your finances, your friends, etc.
Start a prayer board on Pinterest and start grabbing some for future use. You can go follow my Prayer Board on Pinterest to get some ideas!
This may seem like an odd tip, but part of the reason we struggle to pray is because it requires us to slow down and be still in the presence of God. We feel like we don’t have time to slow down, and thus, struggle to pray.
I am not talking about the meditation you may be thinking about; I am talking about meditation on Christ & who He is, on the attributes of God, on His goodness and faithfulness and on Scripture.
Meditation can help you get into that habit of slowing down. It can put your heart at mind in a primed state to engage in meaningful prayer because you are already still and calm, instead of anxious because of all the things you have to do that day.
A good way to do this is to listen to scriptures while practicing deep breathing or reading through a Psalm. You can also play worship music and meditate on the lyrics. I have even created a playlist of my favorite worship songs on Spotify you can use!
By listening to or reading a short passage of encouraging Scripture, your heart is tuned to the Holy Spirit and speaking to God will feel like the natural next step.
The best way to fight prayer overwhelm is to organize it. Spend some time writing down all of the different areas of your life you want to cover in prayer. For example, your categories could be Personal, Marriage, Family/Kids, Friends, Church, Community, Requests, etc.
Under each category, write specific things you want to pray for. Choose 1-2 categories a day to pray through.
If you are someone who writes a to do list or uses a planner to schedule your day, write in your prayer time! Things that require discipline and forethought rarely occur organically during our day. It is important to make time for it and block it off in your schedule.
Set a reminder on your phone, write it in your planner, or leave post it reminders for yourself.
Use a Prayer Journal
Using a prayer journal completely changed my prayer life. Physically writing out my prayers helped me to focus and keep my mind from drifting.
You can use any blank journal for prayer, but the one I use is a yearly prayer journal from ValMarie Paper. It takes care of the Organizing and Journaling all in one!
A big thank you to Ashley for sharing about prayer, you can find more with Ashley at faithfullyplanted.com
“We’ll tell you about our broken places of yesterday but don’t dare admit the limitations of our today.” Lysa Terkeurst.
Wow. These words are heavy, exposing the truth. It is easier to talk about the past. How we have overcome trials demonstrating our own persistence and strength. Of course, from time to time we will include God, most times as a hero who swept in and saved the day. Rescuing us from the storm.
But talking about today? Being transparent; honest? That is a different story. It takes guts. We like to appear to the world as having it all together. As if we can accomplish this insane to do list, save the world, and be home for supper. In reality, we are falling apart- most people are facing limitations daily, which could be illness, addiction, family disputes, or finances.
With a chronic illness, we act often. Taking on the role of a healthy and normal individual in order to blend in or make others happy. A friend asks how we are… and too often, we smile straight up telling a lie, “I’m doing great”…. Desperately we even debate which lies to tell our doctor. What is worth sharing? Will he or she believe me? Is it worth the frustration? It is challenging, to be honest, and the individual that God created us to be. Isolation closes in on us; as we swim in the sea of invisible illness
Without a doubt, there is a time and a place for everything. God’s word echo’s this in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” At times taking on a role has its advantages, and at other times, it is downright damaging. There is also a time for raw honesty. “You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up. “You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up,” Rick Warren. Putting yourself out there is scary. Sharing your heart is healthy. By sharing with others, you become an inspiration and encouragement to others. Struggling does not make you weak, it makes you human.
Additionally, we ask who can we be honest with. Lately, I seem to keep hearing the same message, we were not meant to do life on our own. We were made for community, not isolation. But in all honesty, it easier to say than do. Falling into isolation becomes easy with an illness. Most times, it is not intentional. We flare up, battle fatigue, and lose many friends. Having someone we can confide in about the struggles of today is rare. There are people who hurt us, leave us, and betray our trust.
I think it is hard, to be honest in this way because we don’t want to be negative or a burden to others. At the same time, it is important to do so. Not only is it healthy, but it allows others to support us and specifically pray with us then allows us the chance to offer the same to them. Being honest allows us to share with others how God is working in our lives right now.
Personally, I have two friends who I can be brutally gut level honest with, knowing in my heart that no matter what they will still love me and will pray with me. Their friendship is a beautiful treasure. I hope you have at least one person who you can be honest with about the struggles of today.
You are the God who sees us and knows us completely. Teach us how to be honest about the struggles of today. Bless us with people who we can share our burdens with and support. Allow us to continually bring glory to Your Holy Name.
A big thank you to Victoria her blog is: Chronically Hopeful 2014 https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/25232744/posts/1937603516
I would like to welcome back Crystal Russell back as our guest blogger today.
On Sunday mornings we have a special time of prayer before everything gets started at church.
A group of women gather together to pray.
We pray over the Word that the pastors will bring, the Sunday school teachers, and everyone who will be attending that day.
“for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” – Matthew 18:20
Promise from Jesus
I often think of this verse when I think of our prayer time.
We can (and should) prayer on our own but I also think that is important to gather together for prayer as well.
We have this promise from Jesus.
Why would we not gather together. He tell us He will be with us in a special way when we do.
The prayers of the early church opened the doors of a prison for Peter (Acts 12:5-10).
It makes in difference in our lives today too.
One of the blessing of learning to pray with another is the rich friendships I have gained. My most trusted friendships are with friends that pray with me.
I challenge you to spend time in prayer
alone, with a friend, with a group.
Prayer is our most powerful weapon.
We need to use it.
Father, thank you for the privilege I have in prayer to come into Your Holy presence. I stand in awe of you as my God and Creator. If that weren’t enough, and it is, when I come before you I get to call you Father. You call me your beloved daughter. You hear every world I pray and when I have no words you know the cry of my heart. Thank you Jesus for your promise you gave us that where two or three are gathered you are with us. Prayer is powerful, may we (your church) be faithful to come before you and use it.
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:55-57
The urge to talk to the Creator is part of who we are. It was created in us by the one who made us. Because we are, because we are alive and breathing, we pray. We pray because we simply need to talk with someone and many times we simply need someone just to listen and not judge us as humans have. Sometimes our pain goes so deep within our soul, that we just don’t want to share it with others. At times, in the still quiet of a sleepless night, we need to take our worries and fears, the ones that don’t seem quite so troubling in the daylight, to someone who cares and understands. Then there are days when our hearts are so full of joy, they are about to burst, and we’ve got to share it with the one we know is responsible.
When their comes a time that you seem to be at a loss in knowing what to say, remember that the Spirit himself intercedes for you with groans that words cannot express. Some of your prayers that you consider frantic and unintelligible are actually quite profound. They rise from the depths of your heart, all the way to heaven. To form deep prayers, you need only turn toward Jesus with the concerns that lie heavy on your heart.
Jesus wants you to watch in hope as you wait for him, your Lord and Savior. Wait expectantly: confident that he will do what is best for you. The longer you have to wait, the more you must rely on your trust in him. If you begin to feel anxious, seek his help with short prayers. Jesus fill me with your peace, and he will. As you put your hope in him, his unfailing love rest peacefully upon you. Always remember that the line is always open to our Heavenly Father, and their is never a busy signal, so when you need to talk with someone, just begin talking and believe me, he is always willing to listen.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Gethsemane! How charged with holy perceptions, this name is to the believer! Today we come to a stop at Via Dolorosa-Christ’s road of sorrow. Gethsemane means “olive press.” Cedron, and move when we cross the bridge and move on into the shadows of the olive trees. Let us take off our shoes and bow our heads, for Jesus was here He was to wrestle in prayer with God. Gethsemane symbolizes the crushing weight Jesus carried on the cross. Christ prayed His high priest prayer for others, then He prayed for God to equip Him for His massive offering; to make the impossible possible, to bear the unbearable.
Is this the only way to save the world? asked our Savior. “It is not possible to find another way? Earlier, Satan showed Jesus the other, easier way. During Christ’s temptation in the desert, Satan said, “I will give it all to You, if You will only bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9) Jesus didn’t want to take the easier way without God’s approval. Here in Gethsemane it was not Jesus’ body that was crucified, but His will. Our Lord placed His wishes and desires on the Father’s altar. Although the cup of suffering made Him shudder, He still accepted it from the Father’s hand. He let His will become His Father’s. He bowed in obedience and carried the burden of the world to Golgotha.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you. love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get” Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Jesus never said to love our enemies with the same love we have for our loved ones. It would be totally impossible and it wouldn’t be right. The essence of the word is different. This is quite another kind of love. For example, our love for our loved ones is different, we can’t help loving them. Then there is love that we describe as falling in love. We don’t have to go and look for this love. It comes to us and it is born from the emotions in the heart. But in the case of our enemies, love is not only something from the heart, it also includes something of the will. It is not something that comes spontaneously, we must will ourselves to do it. It is a victory and triumph over what comes to us instinctively.
Agape doesn’t mean the feeling of the heart, that which we cannot help and which is born without us asking for it. It is through determination of the mind that we want to demonstrate unconquerable good to those who wish to harm us. Agape is the ability to love those we don’t like and who don’t like us. We can only have agape if Christ enables us to overcome our natural tendency towards anger and bitterness.
So it is clear and explicit that the last thing agape or Christian love means is to allow others to do exactly as they please. This means that Christian discipline and punishment should not be aimed at vengeance, but at healing.
Love of God is the root, love our neighbor the fruit of the Tree of Life. Neither can exist without the other, but the one is cause and the other effect. (William Temple)
Prayer: Holy Spirit of God, help me to have the ability to love my enemies with Christian love. Amen
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Jesus’ disciples as well as other followers ask Jesus to teach them to pray. The Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven” The word “father” conjures up different feelings for different people: a loving advisor, treasured friend, faithful provider–to name but a few. Then there are those who might say, “If He’s anything like my father, I hate Him” Others say that God is the kind of Father they would have wanted. With disciples, who lived in a patriarchal community, the entire family’s life revolved around the father. He provided for the family, protected them and maintained discipline. Jesus illustrated this kind of father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. He didn’t stop loving his willful son and he didn’t punish him when he returned.
Can God’s character be revealed in a word like “father”? There are more than two hundred names of God, yet Jesus chose “Father” because it is the easiest for people to understand. God becomes “Abba”-the affectionate name Hebrew children used to address their father. We, as sinners, may call the Holy God, the Consuming Fire, Father. Those who have no hope left, who have no prospects of a heavenly home, may call Him Father.
What does this say to us? It says that God loves us with an unfathomable love that gave His Son to suffer and die for our sins. The person who understands this is like the little boy standing on the street corner shouting down the street, “The Father is coming! The Father is coming!” He does this not so that the other children must run like terrified chickens, but that they leave everything: sand castles, mud pies and tricycles, and run towards Him, who stands with open opens.
“Our Father” a loving and compassionate Father, as a good-natured father ought to be. But this Father in heaven is also God. That is His name” a glorious, heavenly, holy name. His name is different and cannot be compared to any other name. His name encompasses all: All knowing, All-seeing, All-mighty. When Moses asked Him at the burning bush who He was, He answered, “I am who I Am” Exodus 3:14
His name is clearly written across creation: on every dewdrop, every cloud, on every majestic mountain and in every green valley. His name is evident in the order of the universe, but especi8ally in His covenant, in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. We find the very being of the only true God in Christ. “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9) Other than the evil that loves anonymity and wants to strip us of our identity, God has a name and He has made it known to us: The Holy One, the Almighty, the Eternal.
And what do we, insignificant humans, do with God’s name? This name is flung across the globe: in books, by word of mouth, in the media, in films, on walls and obscure places. In the process God’s name is violent by someone each and everyday. We have abuse His name and make it hollow, insignificant and meaningless. We don’t think about what we say or whose name we misuse. “The Lord sits in majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. Let them praise Your great and awesome name, Your name is Holy! (Psalm 99:2-3) and so worthy to be Praise now and forever.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you ray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many ways. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:5-8
Few nations had nobler expectations of prayer than the Israelites, and no nation placed prayer higher on their priority list than they did. “Prayer is vital,” the rabbis said,” more important than all good works. However, certain crucial errors entered the Jewish prayer life. In Jesus’ time there was a growing tend towards strictly formal prayer. The Jews prayed according to three prescribed things: The first was the Shema that consisted of there short Scriptures. All Jews had to pray the whole Shem every morning and evening, and for this reason it ran the risk of becoming an idle repetition of words.
The Jewish liturgy also prescribed certain prayers for different occasions. There was scarcely and event or occasion that did not have special prayers: before and after meals; prayers concerning light, the new moon, lightning, comets, rain, storms, the sea, dams and rivers, receiving good news, and entering or leaving a town or city. This had to do with the fact that every event in life was brought to God’s attention. But because the prayers were so precisely prescribed, the whole system tended to become very formal. The prayers slipped from the tongue automatically, with little meaning. So, don’t view prayer as a formal commitment to ensure God’s grace. In the same way, we don’t want our quiet time to degenerate into a habit and become a mere formality.
He thought prayer to be more his business than anything else, and I have seen him come out of his closet with a serenity of face next to shining.
(By John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Movement)
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Lord, if it is you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water.” Come” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:22-31
As we read these words from the Gospel of Matthew we can see a least two important lessons here. The first one is that Jesus knew how important it was to take time away from his disciples, the crowd and anything else to be alone with God. I truly believe that Jesus is telling us even today, that we need to be alone with God in prayer daily, to remain focus on God’s will for our lives. We at times can get caught up with our daily responsibilities that we don’t have the time to pray, and believe me that is when we become so drain with life and things are overwhelming for us to be able to handle them alone. And if for some reason you are saying to yourself I don’t know how to pray, or even what to say no need to worry, pray the Lord’s prayer, and when you don’t know what to say the Holy Spirit will speak on your behalf, you only need to remain still. Just think of your prayer life as having a conversation with your friend, you speak and then you remain still and just listen. Many of us don’t have a quiet time, a quiet room where we can bare our souls to God. It’s not about the room, but about the quiet moments we spend alone with God. This is the reason that I choose for my blog almost two years ago “quiet moments with God”, I know how important it truly is for all of us to be able to poor out our soul to God. Charles H. Spurgeon a writer tells us “only the prayer which comes from our heart can get to God’s heart.
The next lesson is when the disciples was in the boat alone and when they all became afraid because of winds Jesus started to walk on the water, and telling them that they do not need to be afraid it was him. Peter wanted it make sure it was the Master that he ask Jesus to be able to come to him and so Peter did. Once Peter realize he was walking on the lake that he became so afraid that be he began to sink. Jesus is asking you and me are we willing to “Follow Him”. Leave everything behind that you once knew to be able to follow him, it will not be easy but believe me when I tell you is that it will be worth it. We need to seek Jesus and we will find him when we seek him with all of our hearts. He does know the full extend of our weakness, and he realize our weakness. Jesus understands the brokenness within each of us and all around us. At times we can be easily distracted by this world of ours, and he wants us to seek him even through at times it truly can be hard to do so, and more important are you will to follow. This world can never give to any of us what our souls longs for and that is a relationship with Jesus Christ. We are created in God’s image and therefore we long to be with him, and the only way we can at least for now is to follow him, seek him with your heart. Are you willing my friend to follow Jesus Christ “The Great I Am”, he is calling, keep your eyes upon Jesus and don’t look back.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends