Last week, I attended a webinar hosted by Michael Hyatt, the New York Times Bestselling Author, speaker, and blogger. I highly recommend his work, especially as he teaches from a Christian perspective. One of the action items from this webinar involved “making an appointment to write” and keeping it just as you would any other appointment. He placed emphasis on this phrase: “What gets scheduled gets done.”
If you are laughing hysterically, you might be a mother with young children.
I’ve had more than one schedule implode in the face of kitchen catastrophes, emergency room visits, colored walls (or floors), and other unforeseeable incidents. At one point, I had three children aged three and under—one newborn, one potty training, and one threenager. I get it.
In spite of these challenging seasons of life, we still manage to be at doctor’s appointments, baseball games, date nights, and plenty of other engagements. We also have ample time to check our phones and watch movies. If something is important to us, we will make time for that something.
Over the past 23 years of being a Christian, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard these statements:
“I need to read my Bible more often.”
“I forget to pray every day.”
“I’m so busy, I don’t have time to go to bible study.”
Once you have a child, your life will be forever changed.
You will be humbled. Humiliated. Screamed at. Loved with abandon. Squeezed with unimaginable strength by those little arms. Amazed. Shocked. heartbroken. Overwhelmed with love. Filled with a newfound awe for your own parents.
When I was a green seventeen-year old beginning my first year of college, I went through an orientation week affectionately called “WOW week” (aka Week of Welcome). In one of our mandatory sessions, the Dean of the College of Sciences asked us the following:
How many hours did you study in high school?
Do you know how to take notes?
Do you know the importance of rest?
Having graduated second in my high school class, I had little concern about my study habits because I knew they were sound. I am not a genius so I had to spend hours (about 30 hours/week) studying, taking detailed notes, recopying my notes as a study method, and prioritizing my projects. I continued these habits in college and managed to graduate cum laude. Persistence really does pay off.
A few years after college, this question was posed to me:
“Do we devote as much time to studying the Bible as we did studying for our chosen professions?”Continue reading →
Today, as I was preparing to listen to my daily reading in the YouVersion app, this verse popped up as the “verse of the day.” YouVersion has graphic designers that make these verse images and every so often I post them to Facebook or Twitter. This particular verse jumped out at me today, and I particularly love the emphasis this designer gave to the three words, “joyful, patient, and faithful.”
Now, in the context, this verse is part of a list of “things to be” from Paul the Apostle in the book of Romans. As I looked at this verse this morning, I thought, “Am I joyful, patient, and faithful?” Continue reading →
Clogged up parking lots. Fresh, clean backpacks. Crisp new clothes. Sharp pencils. Eager young faces… Yup, it’s back-to-school time!
No matter what form of education you choose for your child—homeschool, private school, or public school—we need to pray diligently through this season of life. The education process is indeed challenging.
I realize that many children are already in school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shift your focus toward school-time prayers!
Below are links to some PDFs with prayers for you, your child’s teachers and (of course) your children. Some of you have only one child in these situations,some of you have multiple children. Your child may have special needs. These printables are merely springboards to guide your thoughts. I have made three PDFs; one for homeschoolers, school-aged kids (for public or private school), and college students.
I welcome additional suggestions in the comments below!
For those of you teaching, may the Lord grant you a calm spirit, a heart of patience, and diligent hands. Thank you for your efforts to teach the children entrusted to your care!
And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
There are so many reasons we need to engage in regular prayer with the Lord. Throughout the gospels, we repeatedly see Jesus taking time to pray alone. What does He pray about? Some prayers are recorded, some are not, but He sets an example for us to go to the Father and lay our hearts before Him.
Here, in the gospel according to Luke, Jesus gives His disciples an immediate command, and He does it twice: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” After the initial command, Jesus also gets down and prays. He leads by example.
He gets up from His prayer and walks over to His disciples. They are so overcome with sadness that they had fallen asleep. It’s possible they fell asleep while they were praying (has that ever happened to you?). I can’t imagine how embarrassing that would be to have Jesus catch you sleeping when you were supposed to be praying. Peter—of all people—should have been praying (and sweating) because Jesus told Him earlier that Satan had asked to “sift him like wheat.”
“I can’t believe they fell asleep!”
The disciples never seem to fully grasp the perilousness of their position.
We, too, often fail to consider the precariousness of our situation until we are waist-deep in it. We fire off brief “arrow prayers,” but fail to get on our knees each and every day for some solid time with the Lord. Arrow prayers have their place, but they should not replace quiet, dedicated time alone with God.
“Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Just last week, I wrote a post on the importance of committing the Word to our heart so we can fight temptation (click here to read it). Study and prayer go together like bones and marrow—only when the two work together can we have life.
We, like Peter, have too much confidence in our own strength and conviction. Strength and conviction will not be enough when Satan decides to tempt us, and He pursues us every minute of every day. He wants us to fail desperately because we do not belong to Him!
Peter might have had this experience in mind when he wrote:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Peter knew the consequences of sleeping when He should’ve been praying. After this account, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. He never thought He would deny Jesus, but when the rubber met the road He wasn’t ready.
Being asleep isn’t just a literal problem. We do need sleep and rest. However, we can be slumbering in the sense that we do not possess any situational awareness of pending danger. The devil wants us to think that we are safe from temptation. He wants us to be over-confident and, rather than keep watch, sleep the slumber of the care-free. It’s much easier to attack and kill your prey while they are sleeping. It’s much harder when they are on guard and possibly even fleeing.
Are you sleeping?
The lion is at the door! Pray hard, pray often, pray to the one who can strengthen you for the fight or flight.
For people like me who wage a daily war with depression, there is a phrase that pops up every so often, and we grow weary of saying it: “I’m depressed… Again.” It’s frustrating, upsetting, and draining. “Will this ever completely disappear? Surely people are sick of my black cloud… I know I am.”
You know you have to face the day again tomorrow. You know you’ll likely wonder why you bothered to get out of bed. You feel like nobody cares.
There is One who always cares. He already knows you’re hurting. He holds all your tears in a bottle. He watches the ongoing fight.
God cares. Jesus understands. The Holy Spirit strengthens.
You are not alone.
People will grow weary of your ups and downs, but God never will.
There is an old hymn we sometimes sing entitled “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Most people focus on the friendship bit, but I want to focus on an often overlooked part:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged— Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge— Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear; May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.
Are you really carrying everything to God in prayer or do you come with a few requests and then carry the rest to your best friend from school? Don’t bring some of your requests to God, bring them ALL. Pour out the anguish of your soul. Confide your worries, fears, doubts and weaknesses. Carry everything to Him.
Every person that I have ever loved in my life has let me down. That is not a reflection on their quality as a friend, but rather a reflection on our mutual humanity. I am quite confident that I also have disappointed each and every one of them at some point or another. We are not God, we cannot be omni-present, and we are prone to weakness. I have begun to realize in the last year an important truth: Rejection, disappointment, and failure are the gateway to true dependence on the Lord. We aren’t going to lean heavily on a God we cannot see when we have friends and loved ones we can see. We go to them when we hurt (and that is only natural), but at some point they won’t be there because they can’t be everywhere at once. When all obvious supports fail, we clearly see the One Solid Rock that has supported us all along.
God never lets us down. Jesus understands what it’s like to be abandoned by friends. The Holy Spirit is ever near to comfort you.
You are not alone.
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Memorize this verse and repeat it beneath those dark clouds of sadness. Then do it. Pray. Cast that burden on the Lord. Do it again until you feel unburdened. If the weight comes back, cast it off again in prayer. Do it for the rest of your life. Pray ceaselessly. Pray for others carrying that weight. Give thanks to God when you find relief.
Are you walking through that lonely, cloud-covered valley today? Is the weight of life too heavy? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Every. Single. Day.
If you are suffering from depression, I recommend you read these posts: