Creating a Prayer Strategy

Welcome to Positive Life Principles with Karol Ladd. I’m so glad you have joined me here for a healthy dose of encouragement and wisdom. During the month of January, I’ve asked my friend Candace Gray to be my guest blogger and share her insights on starting the new year in a positive and productive way. Enjoy and be strengthened!

– Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

  Matthew 7:7

Do you have a strategic approach to your prayers? Being strategic is about being consistent and intentional. Making progress on meaningful goals can be a fight, so you need a battle strategy for the year.  Here are some things to consider:  how & when will you pray? What and who will you pray for? What are your go-to Scriptures that encourage you and remind you of truth? Who are the people who will encourage you, pray with you and challenge you?  Finally, does your prayer strategy include bold requests?  

There are many benefits and specific promises tied to prayer. James 5:16 tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  Here are some suggestions for being strategic in prayer:

  1. Ask, Seek, Knock continuously.  Matthew 7:7-10. This passage is an encouragement to be persistent and consistent in prayer and you will be rewarded with a response. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (7:7)” Furthermore, the passage explains the heart of God and His willingness to respond to  His children. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give Him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him. (7:9-10)”
  • Be bold. In Matthew 14:29, Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on water. Jesus’s response to him was, “Come.”  He allowed Peter to walk on water just because Peter was bold enough to ask.  Not one to waste an opportunity, Jesus used the experience to show His power and increase Peter’s faith.
  • Ask with confidence. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God:  that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”  Don’t over-analyze your prayers and hold back in what you ask of God. If you pray for something that is not in alignment with God’s will, know that He is good and He will sort it out. He does not punish you for asking.  Instead, He teaches you so that you grow in understanding His will.  Therefore, present the desires of your heart to God and let Him guide you in His will. If I pray for something that’s not good for me and is not born out of the right motives, God, in His kindness, will help me to come to that realization. In His mercy, He will not give me something that He knows will be harmful to me.

In the spirit of confidence in God and pursuing a focused, purposeful and bold new year, pray and seek:

  • God’s vision for you for this year; 
  • Ability to do more than you think is possible this year;
  • Wisdom, creativity and practical ideas for accomplishing your goals this year. 

About Candace: Candace Gray is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same. She is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

Redeeming God

Who redeems your life from the pit.

Psalm 103:4

            The pit.  Been there? There are simply times in our lives when we find ourselves in a rut. It may be an emotional pit of feeling down or blue.  It may be in a money pit where you find yourself in a hole which keeps draining more and more of your finances. The job pit may seem like you are tirelessly working without enough recognition or pay. Maybe you are even in a spiritual pit – a lull where you feel alone.  Take heart my friend. God is a redeeming God and He is able to redeem your life from the pit.

            He can bring new life into worn out frustrations. Isaiah reminds us that He makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters.  When life seems to be at rock bottom, He is able to lift us up. Look up my friend, whether you are in a pit of your own making or one you didn’t choose. Look up and seek Him. He is the God who redeems your life from the pit.

Prayer Must Not be Our Chance Work

Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer.   Spurgeon

In his book entitled Prayer, Timothy Keller describes a conversation he had with his wife during a particularly challenging time in their lives. His wife Kathy urged him to pray with her every night and she used the following illustration to convince Him:

Imagine you were diagnosed with such a lethal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine – a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to it for some nights? No – it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.*

Kathy recognized her desperate need to go to the Father for everything in her life. Last week I read through the book of Daniel and was inspired by his courage and faith, but more than that, I was moved by his commitment to prayer. Think about it, Daniel prayed even when the public policy was against him, and he could be thrown in the lion’s den.

If Daniel took life-risking measures to pray three times a day, then why am I not willing to get up a little earlier and spend time with the Father. Great work happens on our knees. God gives us insight on our knees. We grow more in love with Him, on our knees. We find comfort and peace on our knees. May we be determined not to make prayer a chance thing in our lives, but an essential part of each day.

Here’s one of Daniel’s prayers of praise after God:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
    You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
    you have made known to us the dream of the king.

Daniel 2:20-23

Why wouldn’t we want to pray to a God like that?

* Tim Keller: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

Completely Understood

Have you ever felt misunderstood? Perhaps you have found yourself saying to a close friend, “You just don’t understand what I am going through?” Or maybe someone has made assumptions about your actions or your words or your motives. Could it be that you are experiencing loneliness and that no one else could possibly “get you?”

Feeling misunderstood is a hard place to be, and honestly no one can know exactly what is going on in your heart…except the Lord. I find it very reassuring that the Bible tells us that God is the God who sees. He is the One who searches our hearts. Jesus Himself was misunderstood.

The good news is that God meets us where we are. He sees our pain, He knows our hearts better than we know them. This same God who met Hagar when she was crying in the wilderness, and Elisha when he was depressed in the cave, and Jonah under the plant, and Jeremiah in the pit, and David on the run – this same God meets us where we are at.

He sees. He cares. He understands.

In our darkest hours, we can call to Him. When life seems unfair, we can cry to Him. When no one seems to get us, we can go to Him. God’s invitation is clear, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

The deepest need of our heart is to be understood and fully loved, but no human can fulfil that void. To be sure, God brings people into our lives to counsel and encourage, but only God completely understands us and loves us with an unfailing love. He is not far – He is near. May you find hope, comfort and strength in Him today.

He Provides

 “God himself will provide the lamb

for the burnt offering, my son.”

Genesis 22:8

            It was a tense moment. In the book of Genesis, we read the story of Isaac and Abraham headed up the mountain to present a burnt offering to God, but there was no lamb. God was testing Abraham’s heart to see if he would be willing to offer even his only son. Abraham prophetically stated a truth that would be fulfilled several thousand years later in Christ, as God provided the Lamb who died on our behalf.

            The angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from offering Isaac. The Bible then tells us, Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. God provided a lamb that day on the mountain, and God has provided a lamb for all who will believe. Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

            As we celebrate Easter this month, may our hearts be drawn to the great sacrifice God made for us in sending His only Son to offer His life on our behalf. But the story doesn’t stop at the cross! In three days, He rose from the grave demonstrating victory over sin and death! What joy and victory for those who place their faith in Him! 

Photo by Danny Lines on Unsplash