You Are Way Stronger than You Realize

The blood pooling on my knuckles helped me forget the knife-like pain stabbing behind both ear drums. Sinus tumors had created so much pressure that they were ready to rupture. All the pain and rage and desperation found their way to my ten-year-old fist as it punched a hole through our fiberglass shower.

After the immediate fear of “Oh shoot, what’s dad gonna say?” wore off, another thought hit as I shook off my hand…

You are way stronger than you realize.

That exact thought rolled back the other day as I was reading Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. From jail, he said

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. Philippians 1:19

He banked his future on two things:

The help of the Holy Spirit

AND  

The prayers of Godly people

The little conjunction “and” changed the way I prayed. If you’re in Christ, it should change how you pray for others as well. You’re way stronger than you realize.

Do You Pray for Ghost Stories?

Remember that lady in Acts 12 who yelled, “AGH! It’s Peter!” then didn’t open the door for him because everyone else in the house was like, “Uh-Uh, that’s a GHOST!? I’m glad they left that part in there. What makes it better is the fact that they were all praying for Peter’s release from prison, and God miraculously answered them.

But, like the ghost lady, a lot of times we don’t believe our prayers matter either. They do though. They matter a lot.

God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to limit His activity to the prayers of His people.
– Vance Pitman

Paul, on the other hand, would pray and position himself to see God move. He knew prayer changed things. In prison, he wrote this in a letter to Philemon:

Philemon 1:22
At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

He wasn’t asking this family to mumble through some little ritual at dinner. He told them to renovate their house in faith that God would move through prayer.

What are you asking God to do that only He can take credit for?

Don’t be like the ghost people. Be like Paul. Pray because it matters.

Do You Push Reset Each Morning?

How I start the day can determine more about the way it goes than just about anything else. I’m not talking about my devotional life per se (though one’s day is certainly affected by it). Instead, I’m focusing on how someone starts.

What is your waking thought? What do you do first thing every morning? Have you thought about it much?

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

I have to push this reset button on my mind each day. Its default mode is set to “earthly things,” and will stay there all day if I let it.

Here are the two ways I press reset:

A VERY SPECIFIC PRAYER

The first thought out of my mind is always the same request to God:

Father, today, expand my mind to think more like Jesus, expand my heart to love more like Jesus, and help me be unashamed of the Gospel.

Then I look at my phone. Not to check email or social media, but to see my Prayer Notebook prompt. This app allows you to set reminders on your phone to pray for specific people and moments. It also keeps track of how God has answered prayers over time. I look at my prompt, pray for whoever is on it, and get ready for the day.

LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE

This is something I’ve only discovered recently, but have grown to love. Listening to Scripture on my phone helps focus my mind on things above (checkout the YouVersion app). Slowing down to write notes in a journal is good for me, too. But there’s something refreshing about hearing the Bible read out loud.

If I don’t start the day well, it tends to get cranky fast. I’ve also noticed that my morning routine thrives on subtle variety. So, I try to throw new things in the mix.

Begin thinking through your morning moments. I’d love to know what you’ve found to help. Leave a comment at the bottom with an idea or observation. It may guide other people to hit reset better. One of my favorites is an observation John Piper made:

“I feel like I wake up and have to get saved again every single morning.

How do you push reset?

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Prayers

It’s curious how many well-meaning Christians have said something along these lines:

“Be careful what you ask God to do. He just might do it!” 

What’s even stranger are the prayers to which they’re referring. Ones like, “Use me however You will,” or, “Teach me __________ (humility, to pray, evangelize, etc.).” But why are these prayers considered, in any way, “dangerous?”

God is not out to ruin your life plans, but to redeem them. Praying for the Holy Spirit to move and work in your life is the safest prayer possible. God’s will is to conform you into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28-30). That’s not dangerous. It’s the one thing that brings us life and joy! (John 10:10; John 15:11)

So, don’t be afraid of your prayers. God is a fortress and refuge. (Psalm 18:2; 25:8-10; 46:1-3; 91:2; Deuteronomy 33:27; Proverbs 14:26; Matthew 7:24-27) The last time I checked, those were pretty safe places to live.

Instead, learn to pray as the sons of Korah did:

“Let me hear what the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” Psalm 85:8

Will He ask us to step out on faith at times? Yes. Will we be stretched in trials or circumstances? Of course. But never apart from the comfort and peace of our Refuge. I pray this poem weekly as a reminder:

Faithful fortress for the weak,

Sustainer of the tried,

Hope of Heaven, Christ in me,

You’re where my trust abides.

Ruling, reigning King of Glory,

Matchless is Your love!

Victory is now my story,

Freedom- through your blood.

Pray for God to do big things in and through you. It’s anything but a “dangerous” prayer.