In my last blog entry, I shared about my word and verse for the new year. If you recall with me, I admitted I wanted to be fruitful this year and see how God would use me if I truly surrendered and watched for His leading.
I had a realization these past 2 weeks. It was an "aha" moment, like they say. I was actually in the shower. Sometimes that is the best place for aha moments, maybe because it's one of the only places I am alone.
God said to me in my spirit, "What are you thinking? How do you expect to be fruitful when you are not being serious about prayer?"
That pretty much hit me upside the head. I mean, my verse for the year does say, "Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
But I thought I was doing ok with that whole thing! I have been pretty good at reading the Bible regularly, thanks to my Bible Study Fellowship lessons. But when I thought about it, I knew God was right (duh!). I was a prayer wimp, not a prayer warrior.
And everything I had read, listened to, and been taught these past 2 weeks only confirmed the lesson that God was already trying to teach me this year. He was already "pruning" me. The lead teacher at BSF mentioned that prayer is a discipline. Then also, later in my notes, I read the same. I went to a church event where the speaker handed out a book of 40 Pocket Prayers. My church is currently on a prayer focus this week. And, my MOPS group had a speaker inspiring us to pray with our families.
God had made His point. He was calling me higher. He was calling me to be disciplined in prayer, to stay closely connected with Him so I can indeed be abundantly fruitful. I had to get serious about prayer once again.
Ladies, moms, dads: if we aren't praying for our families, who is?
Prayer is important in so many ways, more so than I can list, but I'll give it a try.
-Prayer is one way we hear from the God who loves us
-Prayer gives guidance, wisdom, direction
-As we pray, Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede and plead for us
-Prayer gives peace
-Prayer gives worries and anxiety over to God, who is big enough to handle it all
-Prayer reminds us we are never alone
My go to verse that God has used twice now to call me higher, to call me to this discipline of prayer? It is Colossians 4:2. "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Other versions say to "continue in prayer," and yes, we are to never quit.
But we also should be disciplined. For me, that means a regular time of prayer each day where I pray in a structured way. I also journal my prayers because it keeps my mind focused. Breath prayers are important too, but to be disciplined and still before the Lord is to get serious about prayer. It looks different for everyone though, because we are all different.
Would you join me? Is God calling you higher, too? After all, our families need our prayers. Our churches need our prayers. Our schools need our prayers. Our country needs our prayers. And we, both you and I, need to be connected to the only source of power, the only one who can enable us to do anything of real value. We need our prayers.
Do you make a New Year's Resolution? Did you last year? Did you keep it?
I'm not into New Year's Resolutions. It seems like they only stick around for a month anyway. I have found something better! I began something new last year after a friend of mine challenged me to choose a word and a verse to focus on for the entire year. She encouraged me to ask God to give me the word and the verse, so it could be something He wanted me to work on or focus on.
I had never done this, but I gave it a try. I had a verse already in my mind, a verse that had been hanging around in my head for a few months. It was 1 Peter 5:2-4
"Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor."
And after talking with a wise friend, I arrived at my word: Content.
I wanted to feel content with where I was in my life, not looking ahead and wishing away my days at home with my kids, not looking behind and wondering what if. I wanted to be present each day and content with what I had, where I was, and what I was doing. I knew God wanted it for me too.
I must say, I was challenged right away. Because I had written a blog (click here to read it) about it and shared my word with God and my close friends, it was like I had put a target on my back, making Satan think, "Oooh, tempt her. She is going to try to be happy without things and projects to make her feel important."
I was tempted. I struggled with my attitude and had to take a deep look at what actually made me happy. Was my level of happiness tied to my surroundings and stuff? Or did my joy and contentment come from God alone?
I was able to remember and focus on my word and verse all year long. (I kept the word and verse in significant places around my house.) Now, I'm able to look back and measure how far I came and what I still need to work on, with God's help. Because I'm using God's Word as my standard, I can compare myself to His words and His thoughts about me alone. I don't need to compare my progress with anyone else.
I feel that with New Year's Resolutions, that comparison factor is a huge negative. For example, many people wish to eat healthier or lose weight, but down the road they find themselves comparing their progress to someone else's.
When I get together with God and select a word or a verse, my progress is just between us. His Spirit can lead or convict when necessary. He can grow us how we need it most.
So, here's my word for 2018: Fruitful.
I feel called, like a yearning in my heart (to use a cheesy word), to be fruitful and productive for God this year. I have felt this inkling since the summer after I was challenged by a question Beth Moore asked in her Entrusted Bible study. She asked something like, "Do we dare ask God to make us fruitful? Do we dare ask Him to make us abundantly fruitful?"
This year, I am daring to pray that very prayer. Make me abundantly fruitful for you, God. And my verse for this year recognizes that I cannot do this, cannot be abundantly fruitful on my own.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15: 1-2, 4-5, (emphasis added)
I know I'm giving myself a target again. I mean, verse 2 says that I will be pruned, so I can expect to deal with some things that might be uncomfortable. But I know that it will be worth it in the end.
I would like to suggest you, my friends, to give this a try if you never have before. Pray and ask God to give you a word or a verse for the year. Ask what He would like you to work on. How would He like to mature you as a believer?
I can honestly say last year's word shaped my year. I was more successful at enjoying my kids at the ages they are now. My husband and I had less fights because I was able to let the little things go. I would say that, overall, I was content last year.
I look forward to continuing to grow with God. I can't wait to look back at the end of 2018 and praise God for cool things that He did!
I know one thing: I'll be a lot better off than if I only made a simple New Year's Resolution.
*****If you choose to do this, please share your word with me! I'd love to know, and we can help each other be accountable!
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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