Tag Archives: prayer

When God Says: “Quit Procrastinating!”

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, over half of Americans (55%) say they pray daily. Women respond as more likely to pray daily than men do (64% versus 46%). With the majority of us women praying, we can logically conclude that there are many different types of answers we receive to our prayers. A Pearl of Great Value will be exploring a few of these in a seven-part series on prayer entitled, “When God Says ….” 

Part 1 of 7

Writing—I’m passionate about it. I’ve maintained journals through the years, developed Bible study curricula, and did some editing work. But, I desired more and felt certain God had a plan for me. When I prayed about what to do, all I heard from our Lord was, “Quit procrastinating and get started!” “But how, Lord?” I would counter. It was my ready excuse.

Once I made the decision I couldn’t put this off any longer, God started putting His plan in motion for me. Through various events, He directed me to write Christian devotions and articles, but I didn’t know exactly what this would personally look like. After enrolling in an online writing course and hunkering down at the computer to write, God brought people into my life to encourage me in this endeavor and it started to take shape. Additionally, our oldest daughter and her husband became instrumental on the website/email newsletter portion of what would soon become a ministry handcrafted by the Lord for me.

What desires have you hidden in your heart that you want to accomplish? These dreams won’t just happen, as it’s a lot easier to procrastinate than spring into action. Most of us savor lounging around in God’s grace, but

God’s grace is not an excuse for laziness.

The book of Proverbs contains plentiful admonitions concerning laziness, often referring to such people as sluggards. Didn’t King Solomon and the other wise writers certainly have a way with words? One of my favorites is Proverbs 6:6 (NIV), “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” Ants are industrious insects always unified in their hard work, and scripture directs us to learn from them. We’re also promised, “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4, NIV). When we’re diligent there will be satisfaction.

If you’re praying and asking “But how, Lord?” as I did, then you’re well into the first step which is to earnestly seek God. If the Lord has laid something on our hearts—a ministry to perform, a job to accomplish, a relationship to restore—He will direct our paths (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

As we ask the Lord to help us over our hesitation and delay, it’s time to formulate a plan of action. But, and it’s a very big but, be prepared for God to tweak the plan! As we submit our plans to the Master Designer, He will shed light on the best way to accomplish the goal. Opportunities will appear, friends and family will be there to encourage, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit will provide what we need.

Just do it—I love this famous advertising logo for a sporting goods manufacturer. There will be some obstacles and stumbles along with the successes, but if God’s in it, we can step forward with confidence.

And finally, be diligent and faithful to what He has purposed and set out for you. When we’ve overcome the procrastination obstacle, we certainly want to stay the course until the Lord directs otherwise. Romans 12:11 (NIV) instructs us to, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Father God, There’s so much I want to do and I’ve been putting it off for far too long. I’m ashamed when I think about how much time has gone by. Please help me to stop procrastinating, to start praying, and to begin preparing. I desire to do what you have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 14:23 (NIV): “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Luke 12:35 (NIV): “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning.”

Galatians 6:9 (NIV): “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

James 4:17 (NIV): “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Talk Time

Do you love to talk to God throughout the day as I do? Sometimes it’s a session of intense prayer, other times it’s simply thanking Him for the beauty of His creation. Often I’m just wondering what to do next. No matter the situation, I’m thankful for the quiet confidence that I can talk to God about everything, all the time. But, it wasn’t always like this.

When I was a new believer, the short, but to-the-point admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to, “Pray continually” struck a chord with me. Do you wonder, as I did, how to pray all the time?

Preceding this instruction, we read in verse 16, “Be joyful always,” which directs us in our attitude of how we approach God. Verse 18 concludes with exhorting us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These straightforward teachings are the key to praying continuously.

As we talk to God we’re to be joyful, giving thanks to Him always. Through prayer we can ask the Lord to change us to reflect these qualities. Adapting this frame of mind, we will find it easier and easier to talk to our Father God throughout the day. Continual prayer will flow more naturally, and

Unlike limited minutes on a cell phone plan, there is no limit to our talk time with God.

Through the years I’ve grown in dependence on God, desiring a heart attitude fully yielded to Him. This awareness of Him can be our way of life as we pray silently in our hearts throughout the day.

I pray you will find reassurance in the lyrics of the first verse of What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Joseph M. Scriven:

“What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.”

Father God, Thank you that we can take everything to you in prayer. Help me learn to talk to you continually throughout my day with a spirit of joy and thankfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Matthew 7:7 (NIV): “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Colossians 4:2 (NIV): “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

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When There Is No Answer

We’ve all been there, praying for a heartfelt need and feeling there’s no answer. Perhaps it’s a needed medical healing, a loss of income, a wayward child, or for a loved one to accept Jesus. We pray, but we hear nothing. All is quiet. The doctors say it’s terminal. The unemployment marches on with no hopeful prospects. The child continues in his rebellious lifestyle. And, your beloved person still hasn’t said yes to Jesus.

Why do I continue to pray?

Scripture instructs us to pray. Prior to teaching His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus stated, “When you pray ….” (Luke 11:2, NIV) Our Lord didn’t say if, He said when—an important distinction.Furthermore, in Romans 12:12 (NIV) we’re instructed to, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” And, in case we still don’t get it, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) sums it up with, “Pray continually.” Why is there such an instruction and urge to pray if our prayers didn’t matter or if God didn’t hear us?

Prayer is how we communicate with God. In the physical realm, scientists are now investigating the mysteries of quantum physics and prayer. My brain starts to hurt when I read articles on quantum physics, but research shows invisible-sized particles having visible consequences. Similarly, our prayers are not evaporating into thin air, as prayer is our means of interacting with our God who we cannot see, but still fully experience. I find reassurance knowing prayer is real.

But sometimes it feels like we pray and pray and there’s still no answer. Luke 18:1-8 tells the familiar story of the persistent widow and it gives me hope. Jesus is speaking to his disciples and illustrating why they should pray and not give up. In this parable, there is a judge who showed no concern for others and a widow who continually came to him appealing for justice against an adversary. After many refusals, he probably grew weary of her persistence. But, that tenacity is what ended up granting her the justice she desired.

It’s a tough place when our answers don’t come quickly and in our timeframe. We’re wondering what God is up to. The pause seems infinite, but we know in our hearts that we need to persevere and present those requests before our Father. Sometimes silence will be the answer as we wait on Him, and during this interval, I pray our Lord will use this as an opportunity to increase our faith. I’m realizing God instructs us to pray and desires “prayer stamina” when needed. Prayer is our method of communication with Him, so why would I not pray?

Father God, Teach me to pray. Help me during the times I don’t hear you. Enable me to be persistent in my prayers and please give me the confidence to know you hear and you care and you answer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 15:29 (NIV): “The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV): “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Philippians 4:6 (NIV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

James 5:16b (NIV): “The prayer of a righteous [woman] is powerful and effective.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

Postponing Time with God

Here I sit in my office with the best of intentions to spend some time in the Word and praying.  First, I check my email and think, “Just one game of Spider Solitaire and then I’ll spend my time with you, God.”  watches-1204696_640My computer is not a terrible thing, but it is powerful enough to pull me away from God, my Father, and I wonder why I once again fall into this trap.  It’s painful and I don’t like what I see in myself when I repeatedly take this direction.

Distractions that take us away from God may not, in themselves, be bad things.  But, we’re allowing stuff to fill our God time rather than soaking in His presence, His Word, and prayer with Him.

And none of us seem to have enough time anyway, so why are we squandering the time we do have?

Scripture exhorts us to, “Come near to God,” and in return, “He will come near to you.”  (James 4:8a, NIV)  I desire this nearness with God, but some days it’s a struggle releasing encumbrances so I can run into His arms.

Here are several steps I’ve found that will enable us to pull closer to God:

  1. Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to fill you. I actually ask God to fill me to overflowing; perhaps I’m greedy, but that’s what I do.  Even before getting out of bed in the morning, being empowered by God’s Holy Spirit sets the tone for the day.
  2. Get in a routine. It doesn’t matter when you have your time with the Lord, but allot something which works for you and your schedule.  Then, close up the computer and push the cell phone aside, knowing those devices will still be waiting for you after you’ve abided with the Lord who also waits for you.
  3. For real change, though, I also need to address the deeper heart issues. Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) tells us, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”  My heart needs renewal in order to accomplish what I desire.  Pulling away for a walk in the neighborhood, at a park, or on the beach usually provides the space I need to examine my heart and ask the Lord to reveal which areas need change.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.  But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.”  (Psalm 1:1-2, NLT)  I want that joy, and I know meditating on God’s Word and spending time in prayer with Him will provide it.  Desiring His blessings, I must draw near to Him.

Father God, I ask you to enable me through your Holy Spirit to address the areas of my heart which need change so I can experience more of what you have for me.  Please renew my heart and help me not postpone time with you, so I can draw closer to you.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 119:11 (NIV):  “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Joshua 1:8 (NIV):  “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

© 2016 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Spring 2016

When the Answer is No

It’s solid oak and it’s gorgeous, but it’s formal. Very formal. So describes our dining room furniture. Since moving to the coast, we downsized and have quickly adapted to a more casual lifestyle. I’ve prayed for the last year or so for new dining room furniture which would better fit our lower-keyed lifestyle.girl-1126008_640 What I desire to purchase, even though it’s simpler and more relaxed, is still a substantial sum of money. My husband was not 100% on board with my objective, but was willing.

But God’s answer was, “No.” Maybe another time; maybe not at all. The Lord impressed me to use the funds to protect the investment we already had—our home. It needs a new coat of paint, which certainly isn’t as glamorous as new furniture.

I understand my particular situation isn’t life altering, but what about other petitions we take to the Lord and our spirit hears, “No”?

Perhaps it’s a job change you desire, but after praying about it you feel no peace.

Maybe you feel it’s finally time to move to a new location, but all you’re hitting are roadblocks.

It could be you’ve been dreaming of a big trip or vacation, but nothing is falling in place for it to happen.

Or, possibly it is a big purchase and the Lord tells you to spend the money elsewhere.

During the Apostle Paul’s second missionary trip, he deeply desired to travel into the province of Asia to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us the Holy Spirit turned Paul and his companions back, and instead, God directed them into Macedonia. “… having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:6b-7, NIV) From there, they traveled down to Troas, bypassing Mysia, and Paul received a vision of a Macedonian man pleading with him to, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:9b, NIV) When the Lord reordered Paul’s steps, the result was abundant fruit, beginning with the salvation of Lydia, the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe. From there the gospel spread throughout the continent. God’s plans were definitely larger and better than Paul’s intentions.

What blessings might we miss if we go our way instead of yielding to the times God says, “No”?

Perhaps in the future there will be a good time to donate the dining room furniture we have, and purchase something more practical. However, right now, the house needs painting and there are ministry opportunities which need financing.

Father God, It seems I’ve been praying so hard about a certain desire or situation and I’m impressed it’s not something you wish for me at this point in my life. Help me to yield to your Spirit and realize “No” is not a bad thing, as you have superior plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 32:8 (NIV): “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

© 2016 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Spring 2016