Using Prayer to Recover Life’s Joy

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Today is Faith Friday. We are delving into how to use our spiritual weapons to regain our joy. This is the first part of our four-part series, Recovering Life’s Joy -Using Our Spiritual Weapons to Reach Out to God series. Joy is a small but powerful word, being joyful doesn’t mean that we walk around without a care, it means that we have made a conscious decision to lean on the word of God and follow his lead. Christ told us in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” This scripture is not new to us, but it can still be hard for strong minded women who are used to solving their own problems or living with their problems in silence to let go and let God handle it. So today we are going to talk about why joy is important and look at our first spiritual weapon is prayer, keep reading to see how having a strong prayer life can help us recover our joy.
How many of us dread getting out of bed in the morning. Facing the same old problems that don’t seem to have a solution. You can’t see me, but I am raising my hand. Mornings for me use to be the worse. I knew nothing in my closet was going to fit me, and I would end up wearing the same black yoga pants and one of my four oversize shirts. I knew that I did not have the money to pay all of the bills sitting in the little tray in my office, and I knew that traffic was going to be horrible going to work, and that would ruin my entire day. I was broke, overweight, and un-happy and I felt like there was nothing I could do about it. Now, mind you at the time I was teaching women’s bible study at my church, And I have to say it is still one my most favorite memory. Teaching those women every month gave me the gave me the boost I needed to keep going. The problem was, that while I teaching these marvelous lessons on faith, love, and casting our cares on the Lord. I wasn’t really living it.

prayerI was still trying to save myself as my grandmother use to say. There were places in my life where I did not let God in and because of that I had lost my joy. Just to be clear, Now I am not talking about depression, sadness or loss of joy is an emotion, and even though we may feel that our sadness is overwhelming and has taken over our life. We should still be able to find moments of joy in our families , friends, or work. Depression on the other hand is a mental illness, and if you have feelings of sadness that has caused you to change the way eat, withdraw from activities you use to love, if you have trouble sleeping, or if you are constantly irritable. Please see your primary physician or a licensed therapist.
Feeling sad is a human emotion that everyone feels at certain times in our lives. We lose our joy for a number of reasons, I mean the world can be cold, scary, and just plain sucky at times. But, I think at the foundation of all of that is that we feel helpless. Nothing zaps your joy like the feeling that you do not possess the tools or resources to help your current situation get better. We can sit on our church pews Sunday after Sunday and leave still feeling helpless and hopeless. That’s because we are focused on the circumstances of our situation and not on the holy solution. But, why is joy so important you might be asking yourself, my can’t I just mine my own business and let other people do the same.
The eyes of the world are on the Christian woman, and they are not interested in what we wear or how we style our hair. They are watching our actions, reactions, and associations. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that “we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (NIV) More than the crosses and bumper stickers we display it is our attitude that attracts the unbeliever first. Our daily attitude is a true indication of how much we believe in what we preach. How can we win souls for Christ, if all people see when they look at us is an unhappy woman being defeated by the trouble and strife in her life? A woman who is so filled with condemnation over her past that she spews out anger and bitterness to everyone she meets. Who would want to be part of that?
It is imperative that we safeguard our joy the same way that we guard our designer bags. Joy is a powerful weapon. In the natural, it conveys to our observers that our faith is strong even if the truth is we are afraid. In the spiritual, it connects us to God, defeats the enemy, and gives us peace in the midst of a world gone mad. If we maintain our joy during trouble, and humbly accept conviction from the Holy Spirit then we will attract the unbeliever to the Christ that lives within us.
Being joyful does not mean that we are immune to hurt, disappointment, or anger. We are human. The good news is that our joy does not come from a natural source. We derive our joy from the innate knowledge, that in Christ, we are victorious. James 1:12 reads, “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (NIV) Sisters, don’t let the enemy steal one more day of joy from you. Remember, “in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8: 37 (NIV)
What is joy? The dictionary defines it as, “the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune.” We do not have to look far these days to know that joy or a feeling of well-being remains an elusive part of life for many people even Christians. It is very difficult to remain joyful in a toxic climate. . To avoid the feelings of anxieties that when we lose control, many of us spend our days using a variety of remedies to create joy, self-medicating in an attempt to eliminate the pain.
. To avoid the feelings of anxieties that when we lose control, many of us spend our days using a variety of remedies to create joy, self-medicating in an attempt to eliminate the pain.
. Or, We place the burden of our joy on the shoulders of mere mortals who are unable to withstand the weight of our request. They will inevitably fail us. What we need to realize is that finding and maintaining joy is our responsibility, no one else’s, not even God. God has already made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our joy. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement (needful to obtain) peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with his stripes (that wounded) Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53: 5 (Amplified) Sisters, it is time for us to stop sitting around waiting to be rescu While God intended for us to be happy, He also knew that we would encounter some difficult times while we are here on earth. Jesus said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have (perfect) peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted) For I have overcome the world. (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you).” (Amplified) The world may be crumbling around us, but we were meant to have peace in our spirits as we wait for Christ to return.

You will not find a scripture in the bible that says you will not have trouble, while we wait for His return. Hundreds of scriptures tell us we that have the power to endure, to have peace, and to succeed. Many of us make the mistake of running from God when we are in pain. When in fact, we should be reaching out to Him and making Him our number one priority.
How can I regain and maintain control of my joy? Well, I am glad you asked. You do not have to complete some arduous plan to be joyful. But, it does require work on a consistent basis. You may have to give up some behaviors that in your mind brought you comfort. You are going to have to reach out to God and perfect the use of your spiritual weapons. They include prayer, meditating on God’s word, praise, and fasting. Today we are going to dive into prayer. These interrelated tools or spiritual weapons enable us to maintain our joy and claim victory. Each one will assist you with reaching out and connecting to God as never before, to hear His voice, and reclaim your joyfulness. You cannot have real deliverance from what ails you by just embracing one or two you must embrace them all.
The first thing we need to do when we find our joy levels floundering is to check our prayer life. Ask yourself is my prayer life strong and consistent or is it just a task I check off my daily to do list? Prayer is an open communication with God and when pray we can tell him what is bothering us and know that he hears us. He promised. In Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Praying God’s word is not only a powerful weapon, but also a powerful joy tool. When I submitted to God and stopped trying to fight the enemy with my own power I gained peace in my spirit and the enemy had to flee. (Read James 4:7)
If you are serious about maintaining joy in the midst of trouble you must have a vibrant prayer life. We do not fight against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12 reads, “we war not against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the authorities, against the rules of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV) Knowing that our enemy is not flesh or blood we must realize that conventional weapons will not work. No amount of yelling, crying, or cussing, has the power to make the enemy flee like the power of God. Prayer should be our weapon of choice. So, why is something as simple as talking to God so difficult to do on a daily basis?
To check the depth of your prayer life ask yourself these questions. Do you wait until lightning strikes before you activate your eternal life line to the Lord? Is your prayer life an ongoing dialogue with God or is it something you run through so that you can check it off your daily list? Your truthful answers will gauge your relationship with the Father.
James 5:16b “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (NKJV) Our prayers are not effective if we do them once in a while. But when we are fervent, avid, enthusiastic, and persistence about the time we spend with God we become powerful adversaries.
Prayer is a powerful weapon. It connects us to the Lord and allows us to hear from Him, to enter into His presence and get to know Him personally. Not as the God of the Old and New Testaments, or as our grandma’s God, but as OUR GOD! However, the Lord is not going to fight through the chaos of our lives to speak to us and if we are not careful we could miss His voice. When speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV) In 1 Kings 19:11-13 when the Lord spoke to the prophet Elijah he did not come to him in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a still small voice. Can you recognize the voice of God when He speaks?
If you are a little rusty with your prayers than do what I did create a string prayer and Pray God’s word back to him. I wrote down three scriptures to string together and pray to the Lord. My string prayer included Romans 8:37, 2 Chronicles 20:15, and Philippians 4:6.
“Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.” The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
There will come a time when you have to be your own prayer warrior, when you are in the thick of battle and cannot wait to get to church on Sunday to have the mothers pray for you. Building a relationship with God through prayer will diminish the time we spend worrying, and our own doing or due to the enemy’s attacks, we will commence to praying. Having established a relationship with God through our prayers this will be as natural as breathing.

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Are You Praying In Faith or In Fear?

 

God is already there

I admit that although I accepted Christ more than 25 years ago, for most of that time I have been praying in fear and not in faith. For some reason, and I cannot for the life of me tell you why I just didn’t believe that the blessings of God belonged to me. Even though I believe in him and in the sanctifying saving power of his grace. I just did not think that he could overcome my genetic code and save me, change me into the woman he needed me to be to teach his people. Maybe I just did not think I was good enough, after all, I was a poor nobody with no connections. Who was I to hear his voice and teach his word?
So, when obstacles came my way, and sometimes it was as though they were non-stop. I worried and tried with all my might to change my circumstances using my own power. I did not want to trust and believe only to be let down because my prayers were unanswered, or God said no. This behavior not only decreased my ability to get a prayer through to the Lord. It also reduced the depth of the relationship I so desperately wanted to have with him. Hebrews 11:6 reads, “and without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” My fear of being let down and disappointed made it impossible for me to please God and to obtain the rewards he so wanted to give me.
I do have to tell you that even in my disbelief and disobedience the Lord continued to love me and bless me beyond anything I could hope for or imagine. You would think that this would be enough to move me from fear to faith. But it was not. Albert Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That is precisely what my life had become, a wild roller coaster ride of me wallowing in fear and then trying to use those fear-based emotions to change my situation.

Insantity

It wasn’t until I was at a dead end that I begin to listen to the Lord. I was out of money, unemployed, and alone. I cried myself to sleep at night, and when I allowed myself to think of what my children must think of me, fresh tears emerged, and I had no strength left in me to turn them off. I heard the Holy Spirit say, “acknowledge him.” I thought to myself, what have I got to lose. I have nothing. No income, no connections, no resources. Looking back, I see how backward my thinking had become. I thought God wouldn’t bless me, because I had nothing. And here I was with nothing, and there he stood with his arms open wide waiting for me to just acknowledge him. “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6 Oh, the time I wasted.
I am praying that you learn these lessons quicker than I did. First, the Lord did not give us the spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 You will probably always feel a little bit of fear, or maybe even a lot as you move in your purpose and began to do things that you never thought you could do. Just know that it is normal and that God is with you all the way. Nothing significant happens in our comfort zones. Great things occur when we move beyond what we thought possible.

The good news is that our creator knows what we can do because he has equipped us with all the gifts and talents we need. The prophet Isaiah proclaims, “Listen, far-flung islands, pay attention, faraway people: GOD put me to work from the day I was born. The moment I entered the world he named me. He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate. He kept his hand on me to protect me. He made me his straight arrow and hid me in his quiver. He said to me, “You’re my dear servant, Israel, through whom I’ll shine.” Isaiah 49:1 (The MSG)
Secondly, faith is not an emotion. Faith is not something you feel, it is something you do. Even when you cannot see the outcome, you must have faith that God knows what he is doing and that nothing that happens to you will take him by surprise. The just shall walk by faith. (Romans 1:17) Because, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (Hebrews 11:1) Faith requires you to move sometimes without the benefit of a safety net that you can see, but our God who has written your name in the palm of his hands will not let you fall. Isaiah 49:16 You do not need a lot of faith, just a small amount of faith that is strong and true can move mountains. (Matthew 12:20)

disobedience to the lord
Three, disobedience is never an option. Even when you are afraid you cannot disobey God. Disobedience brings only death and destruction. It separates you from God and moves you out of his will. It delays your progress and your success. It delays the message that someone is waiting for you to deliver. Disobedience cancels out faith and has dire consequences. Just ask the Israelites who wondered in the desert for 40 years because they did not listen to the Lord. (Joshua 5:6) They died without seeing the promise land. Are you willing to risk that in your or your family’s future?

Four, God loves you. This is by far the most important revelation. Knowing that he loves you will strengthen your faith and lower the possibility that you will be disobedient. Because of his love, you will want to please him. You will look forward to waking up each day without regret. Now, all this sounds wonderful, but I will not be the one to sugar coat this journey. It was hard getting from fear to faith. I had spent many years walking in fear. I had to put myself and my emotions aside. But, each day it gets easier. Just do one thing each day that the Lord has asked, you to do and you will move closer to him.
Remember he loves you. Pray in that love, pray in the knowledge that no matter what you have done, no matter where you are in your walk, that God loves you and that will never change. His love is perfect and perfect love casts out fear. Pray in faith, and your fear will diminish. (1 John 4:18)

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How Many Lives Do You Touch Each Day?

 

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I was having lunch with a girlfriend the other day. Between us, we had about 25 years in social services. And as most conversations do when two people share a profession, ours turned to work. Prompted by the memory she had of a client who had overdosed. We talked about the hundreds of families we had served over the years, some successfully and some not successfully. The unsuccessful cases seem to stay with you even when you have done the best you could.
I talked about my decision to test the teaching waters and how just after a week of being in the classroom the students and I bonded.

Then our conversation turned to how we affect the lives of people every day in tiny ways that probably not even register on our emotional radar. The cashier at the grocery store, the man who almost hit me in traffic, the woman I smiled at while crossing the street after it happened.
The truth is that every time we encounter someone we leave an imprint upon their life.

We leave an imprint

Most of those encounters are probably one and done. But, we make decisions each day on how we are going to connect with someone. Will our contact be positive or negative? We make that decision! To yell at the waiter because the lettuce is wilted. To go through the door without holding it for the person behind us. Decisions!
women in a circle

We, humans, are powerful creatures we can create peace with a smile, a thank-you, a seemingly innocuous phrase like have a nice day or let me get that for you. It may seem petty to us but those innocuous phrases can change the trajectory of someone’s day. We meet hundreds of people each day and because of this contact no matter how brief. They and we are forever changed. How many lives do you touch in a day? Unless you leave in a cave or on a remote island, I would say hundreds. Remember your words have power, and your actions can heal.

Peace!

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Inviting God In

There is something about the ocean that reminds me of God’s power. The ocean is powerful. It moves through the land and seas changing everything it touches. Giving life, breaking down barriers erected my nature and man. We try to control it but in the end in its power is relentless and it always wins.
Is it time for you to let down the emotional and spiritual barriers you’ve erected and let God fully into your life. You know the barriers we erect to keep God in his place. We don’t want him touching the areas that we have deemed off limits. We’ve been hurt before, can’t let anyone get that close again. Not even God. Especially God, like the ocean he never leaves things the way he finds them. He’s always changing, pushing, and moving things around.
But, unlike the ocean, he never moves without our permission what a perfect gentleman. Waiting for us to invite him into our lives. To give us a hand sorting out our mess. Are you ready to invite him in? What do you really have to lose?
#spiritually #spiritjunkies #blessed🙏 #prayer #bible #God #faithwarrior #jesus #jesuslovesyou #spirituallife
ocean waves

Three Tips To Strengthen Your God Connection

prayer changes things

How strong is your God connection? I can always tell when I have slacked off my daily prayer routine. My life is a complete mess. My stress level is running high and everything no matter how small gets on my nerves. My beloved husband, my beautiful dog, the lateness of the garbage pick-up. Every area of life is torturous. Its feels like nails scratching against a blackboard.
I find myself loosing things. Like the bracelet, my husband purchased for me on our first trip to Florida. My Fitbit, which was on my wrist one minute and gone the next. When did I take it off? Where’s Winston’s leash? Oh, there it is, connected to his collar. Everything in my life is off track when I forget to nurture my prayer life. Nothing is quite right, it’s a little left of center. I am angry, misplacing, losing, and forgetting things because I am not entirely present in my life. Prayer does that for me; it keeps me grounded and connected to my world.
Romans 8_37
A glance at my scripture and prayer journal shows a two-month lapse, and then it dawns on me-that my connection to the Almighty is at best 10 percent. Much like the power on my laptop because I can’t find the power cord. It is sure to shut down soon. Prayer is one of those things you really can’t let lapse. Not if you want to fight evil, make wise choices, or just remain sane in the midst of chaos.
It took me some time to realize that having a daily conversation with God was a non-negotiable tenet of my Christian journey. At the beginning of our relationship, I talked to God all the time. Morning, noon, and night, I lifted my prayers and praises up to him. I couldn’t get enough of him. Then like what happens in most relationships, I started taking him for granted. I was married with five children, taking care of a home, and scheduling activities for my volunteer work. Pushing him to the bottom of my “to do” list or, cramming in a quickie prayer to assuage my guilt just seemed like all I could do at the time.
Then life happened. I got divorced. I was afraid and lonely. I felt lost. I was looking at the faces of my children who were looking to me for the right answers. I ran back to God realizing that I needed his protection. I needed to feel his love. I needed to feel the joy of connection. Of course, he was there waiting with arms open wide ready to shelter his little girl from the storm.
I wish I could tell you that -that was one of the few times that my prayer life collapsed. But, to be honest, like most people I find that my fervent prayers to God end when the disaster is over. Do you find this happening with you? Do you pray non-stop in the midst of trouble only to take a deep breath of relief when it’s over, and go back to your usual routine?
The problem with that is what my late pastor, Pastor Clemons, use to call taking withdraws without making deposits. Our spiritual account becomes in danger of experiencing an overdraft. That may sound like a religious cliché,’ but it’s the truth. Prayer is not only how we communicate with God it is how we establish a connection. Each prayer represents a deposit of time into creating a relationship that is built on a firm foundation.
It is this relationship that enables us to stand against evil and stand firm in the midst of trouble. The bible says in 1 John 5: 14 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” This kind of confidence only comes if we do what Jesus advises in Luke 18:1” always pray and not faint.” Our spiritual strength is only as strong as our connection to God. Without him, we are like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. Don’t get slaughtered.
I want to share with you three tips that have kept me in sync with our Dad. First, I schedule my prayer time. It is the third thing I do when I hop out of bed each morning. First, I wash my face and brush my teeth. Because you don’t want to go to the Lord with bad breath. Right! Prayer starts my day, that does not mean that you cannot pray outside of your scheduled time. I find myself talking to God all day and listening for his response.
The second thing I like to do is write down my prayers. There’s something about looking in my journal and rereading a prayer entry that brings me joy. Writing them down makes them solid and real. Don’t panic. I am not asking you to write a short essay. Just two or three sentences and a scripture to pray and meditate on during your time with God. The third tip, which I find is lost on many of us, me included. Is to listen. Prayer is a two-way communication with God. You should not be doing all the talking all the time. Wisdom is born in silence.
To recap, here are the tools for a healthier prayer life:
Schedule a time to pray each day.
Write down your prayers in a journal.
Listen for God’s voice. Don’t do all the talking.
Lest we forget, we are at war. Prayer prepares us for battle and defeats the Enemy. Without prayer, the relationship you believe you have with God is only a figment of your imagination. Don’t wait until disaster strikes. Start building or rebuilding your relationship with God today. There is no time like the present to start.