Pray Out Loud

pray out loud Pray Out Loud

I’ve never been one to pray out loud very much.

To be completely honest, I’ve never even considered prayer much of a spiritual gift.

Still, I’m not one of those to shy away from it; I’m happy to pray out loud in public when asked (obviously it’s not a fear of crowds or public speaking that hinders me icon wink Pray Out Loud

If I had to dig really deep with myself, I’d say my tendency not to pray out loud centers more around my time issues. Not only is it hard for me to find pockets of free time in my day, but even if I do, it’s exponentially more difficult for me to sit still during that time!

Still, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us to:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t interpret that verse to mean we’re supposed to pray out loud all throughout our day, even as we walk through the grocery store and the office. Rather, I believe it commands us to invite God into all aspects of our life and put on the mind and heart of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), even in the most trivial parts of our day.

Yet what struck me in a new way this morning to pray out loud was something I learned about myself recently. If you’ve been following  my story over the past few months, you already know I’ve been suffering from panic attacks for the first time in my life. While they’ve subsided greatly compared to a couple months ago, I learned a physiological key to helping them stop before they start.

Exhale.

That’s right. When fear and panic start to grip you, our bodies first instinct is to inhale. Yet our lungs cannot take in more air until we first exhale. Once we realize we can’t take in more air, we start to panic further, and thus begins the tragic cycle.

Yet if we start by completely emptying our lungs an breathing from our diaphragm (easier to accomplish stomach breathing when lying on the floor on your back), our body gets the oxygen it needs and begins to establish a regular breathing pattern again.

So why is it important to pray out loud? In order to speak, you MUST exhale. So when you call on the name of Jesus audibly, not only is there spiritual power in saying His name (1 Cor 1:2), but there is a physiological reaction that stops the fear once you exhale upon speaking.

Powerful, right?

As I felt the panic creeping in to me this morning, I simply said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” out loud and realized that not only was I calling on the most powerful name in the universe, but I was simultaneously releasing the air gripped in my chest so I could breathe in fresh life!

I realize now that panic attacks are real, and while they may all come at different intensities, this simple rule has helped me stop them before they start. Regardless of whether or not you suffer from the same malady, I believe we can all break free from whatever grips us, and we can begin that freedom when we pray out loud.

How do you face fear when it presents itself to you?

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The nation’s thrill; a mother’s terror #PrayforBoston

pray hard 300x225 The nations thrill; a mothers terror #PrayforBoston

When news came of the Boston Marathon bomber suspect finally being apprehended last night, there was a thrill that came over the nation. I can only imagine that Bostonians in particular experienced a sense of relief that this terrorist had been caught and a sense of peace in knowing the lockdown has finally ended.

But for one mother, her terror is just beginning.

This terrorist is only 19 years old. Not only is he barely an adult himself, he is someone’s child.

He is a brother, a nephew, a friend.

And the reports from those who knew him all echo the same sentiment:
We would never have imagined he could do such a thing.”

He was described as “funny”, “nice”, & “a good athlete”…not “isolated”, “withdrawn” or “brooding”.

So what now for this family who has to face their own terror that is just beginning? Their world has been equally turned upside down by their sons’ (alleged) actions, yet I can guarantee they will not have the privilege of fighting this battle in private.

When I first learned how young the suspects were and that they were brothers, I posted this update to my Facebook wall:

In shock over the new developments in Boston. Brokenhearted to hear the new ‘WANTED’ suspect is only 19 years old. Imagine what could have happened if someone had poured peace and grace into his life instead of anger and hatred… 

I have no answers to you in writing this (not that any of us do), but I have a prayer I’d like you to join with me in praying. As you pray for the families in Boston today and everyone around the country who’s been affected by this horrific act, please consider praying for the suspects’ family as well. Pray for justice to be served, but for a path of peace to be laid as a result.

God bless America.

 

Image sourced from Google Images/RunEatRepeat.com
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I Give Up Lord

780737 born to pray I Give Up Lord
The other day, I was praying and confessing to God and said, “Lord, I want you to remove ____ from my life”…to which He quickly replied, “I want YOU to GIVE IT UP!”

Our God is not intrusive.

He is a gentleman. He is not invasive, yet meets us where we are. He calls us not to be passive Christians, but active in our faith.

Just as when we first come to Christ, we cannot ask Jesus to come into our hearts until we first confess our sins and iniquities. God is present and might to save, but He needs believers that are strong enough to admit their need, while weak enough to know we cannot do anything without Him!

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17

Looking to go deeper? Why not watch church online right now? I have several options for you…

468x60 easter I Give Up Lord I Give Up Lord

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Felt Prayers

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The kids & I at our first rest stop of the day!

Have you ever been able to feel when someone is praying for you? You ever wished you could sense some prayers more than you do?

Or perhaps the better question is, do you feel like your prayers make an actual difference in the life of the person you’re praying for?

All these questions went through my mind just a couple days ago as my husband was spending the final days with his dad in Florida and I was home with the kids. I was feeling very helpless being away from him and all he asked for was my prayers

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Driving past the iconic Varsity restaurant in Atlanta

I’ve never considered praying as one of my spiritual gifts; I often wonder whether my prayers actually make a difference in the life of the person I’m praying for. Of course I believe in the power of prayer, but as a realist, it’s very hard to convince myself that there is a tangible effect.

But when it came time for me to drive 13 hours by myself with my two kids after getting barely any sleep the night before after learning about my father-in-law passing, it was the single, solitary thing that I needed: prayers.

I have to admit I was barely able to stay awake for the first two hours. I was literally slapping my face in order to be aware of the road in front of me.

But then one call came in, and then another, and then another. And then text messages and tweets and Facebook updates. Literally dozens of people praying, encouraging me, and lifting me up in a way I have never experienced to this day.

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We met Jeremy at the GA/FL border as he headed north & we headed South!

The trip turned around for me from that point forward. I can honestly say I felt better at the end of the 13 hours than I did on any other trip I’ve ever done in the car.

And let’s not mention that I was one of the only few cars driving southbound in Florida into Hurricane Isaac and I hardly experienced any rain at all on my drive!

No fatigue, no rain, no traffic. What do I attribute it to? Prayer.

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Kariss was my social media maven, helping me with photos & text updates!

I can only hope you will experience the same feeling of prayer that I felt today. To those of you who literally lifted me up beyond the strength that I could’ve forged on my own, I can only say thank you. I cannot express how much I felt your prayers and appreciate you taking time out of your lives to pray for me and my family.

If I can ever reciprocate and be a part of creating the same experience for you, please do not hesitate to ask!

The kids and I did arrive safely in Florida almost 13 hours to the dot from when we left Nashville (plus add an hour for the time change icon wink Felt Prayers

I just found out that dad’s visitation will be Wednesday night and the service will be Thursday am; of course I will pass along all the details to you as soon as I find them out.

God bless you all!

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God's promise at the end of our trip - a rainbow!

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Pour Out Your Problems

 Pour Out Your Problems Pour Out Your Problems

In times of trouble, it’s natural to pray…but do you pour out your problems to the Lord?

We have certainly been doing our fair share of praying over the past week since my father in law has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Yet in my effort to feel like I’m the one who has to keep things together for our family, I can’t honestly say that I’ve poured out my problems to my Heavenly Father.

This was brought to my attention this morning as I was reading through my Daily Walk Bible, and the introduction to Psalm 102 described the Psalm in this way:
A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.

I actually haven’t read this particular Bible in awhile (moving hides things from you!), and I was equally taken aback with the overview for today, the day I happened to find it again, prefacing Psalms 98-103:

Perhaps no  other six psalm picture God’s praiseworthy character as graphically as the ones in today’s reading. God in his righteousness (Psalm 98), in his exalted place of authority (99), and in his everlasting mercy (100) demands and deserves admiration and adoration by his people. In view of God’s character, the psalmist pledges his obedience (101), expresses his dependence (102) and acknowledges his gratitude for God’s rich blessings (103). 

In fact, Psalm 102 begins like this:

Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.
Bend down your ear and answer me quickly when I call to you…My hear is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite…

My translation:
Our prayers don’t have to be pretty. God wants us to be honest. He feels our heart.

This brings to mind another favorite verse of mind that echoes my translation, 1 Peter 5:7:
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you…

Bottom line is this: don’t hold back from God.

When you hurt, He hurts. To the disbelief of some, it is possible to be sorrow-filled and still be spiritual. The difference lies in where you take that sorrow…

I think the degree of your “groanings” all depends on the depth of your anguish. That’s not to say that the Lord only answers the prayers of the pitiful, but rather, we become closer to God when we are utterly and completely honest with him in our prayer life.

So the next time you find yourself in a deep valley, “like an owl in the dessert” or  ”lonely as a solitary bird on the roof” (Psalm 102:6 & 7), pour our your problems before the Lord and don’t hold back! Our merciful, righteous and powerful God will meet you exactly where you are and bring you to where you need to be.

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Prayer for you or me?

bible prayer hands Prayer for you or me? I admit, I’m not the best prayer warrior.

There. I said it. Are you surprised?

But just because I don’t consider prayer one of my spiritual gifts does not give me the license not to pray.

In fact, I would venture to say that prayer helps me as much as the person I’m praying for.

Through prayer, not only am I lifting someone else closer to the throne of God, but I am literally putting them ahead of myself. In putting my own thoughts aside in order to focus on someone else’s needs, my own heart benefits as a byproduct.

I’ve also learned that in order to fill that ever so important request, “Will you pray for me?”, I often need to stop in that moment and do so. Sometimes it is with the person, sometimes it is simply a quick talk with God once I get in the car; yet whatever the prayer is, I know that through the act of prayer, I am fulfilling the will of my Heavenly Father.

I wish we would all walk through life that way: knowing that we don’t have to compete to get ahead, but instead by helping others, we in turn truly better ourselves. It’s a win-win!

While I don’t recommend entering prayer for the sole purpose of thinking, “What can I get out of this for myself?”, I would also encourage you to open up your mind to the possibility that praying for someone else just might bless you in return!

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. ~ Ephesians 6:18

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3 Practical Ways to Pray with your Kids

I always get asked advice on how to pray with kids. Giving our kids tangible ways to talk to a seemingly intangible God makes prayer personal for them. Here are just three practical ways to get them started until they feel comfortable enough to venture out on their own prayer path:

  1. Pray/Sing God’s Word back to Him

    One of the best ways to pray, regardless of whether you’re young or old, is to pray and/or sing God’s Word back to Him. A great resource for this is 100 Prayers, 100 Praise Songs by Stephen Elkins or by putting scripture to music.

  2. Pray over Pictures

    Put pictures of family and your kids’ friends in their room on a bulletin board or on your fridge. Find a regular time to pray over them every day.

  3. Prayer Cards

    Take index cards and write categories on them for each day of the week for you and your family to pray over together. Here is just an example of what your week could look like:
    Sunday: church/missions
    Monday: Parents’ co-workers/neighbors
    Tuesday: Mommy’s Extended Family
    Wednesday: Daddy’s Extended Family
    Thursday: School friends/teachers
    Friday: Mentors
    Saturday: Friends who aren’t saved

To read my entire article on Kids Prayer Tips, visit TommyNelson.com

Tommy Mommy whitepurple 150x1501 3 Practical Ways to Pray with your Kids

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Practical Ways to Pray: Tommy Nelson Blog

Tommy Mommy whitepurple 150x150 Practical Ways to Pray: Tommy Nelson BlogMy latest “Tommy Mommy” post, “Practical Ways to Pray” is live on the Tommy Nelson blog today! Here’s an excerpt:

Coming to know Christ in my 20’s, I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do.Luckily, I had (and still have) a very godly woman who was willing to mentor me, answer my questions and come alongside me as I learned what it meant to walk though life with the Lord.

On my journey, I learned a simple, yet profound principle that I want to pass on to my children:
When you don’t know what to pray or what words to say, pray God’s Word back to Him.

So now when my own kids don’t know what to pray or how to act, I walk with them through the Bible…

Read the full article on Practical Ways to Pray Everyday over at Tommy Nelson!

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Expect Results

Many of us pray, but do not wait for a response.  Sometimes the response we receive from God is not the same as what we praying for, and therefore we believe the prayer to be ineffective.

Too many times I believe we pray without actually expecting God to deliver results.  It is as if we are throwing words into a great void and hoping for the answer to fall out of the sky!  Dr. Gary Smalley writes, “If you’re praying for an answer, make sure you’re looking for one”.  According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Has God answered your prayers in the past?  Of course he has because he is faithful.  That is also what gives us the confidence to continue in prayer.  1 John 5:14-15 reminds us that:

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.

Be both faithful and persistent in your prayer life.  Pray continually according to 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  Put your faith in God and expect Him to reveal answers in direct accordance to your prayers that are in his will.

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