Crying Out to God…

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When I studied the life of David a few months ago, and read his anguish in the Psalms, I realized that I have never cried out to God or called out to him in times of despair quite like David had.  Thankfully for me, God inspired the young, soon-to-be-king, to write his feelings down, and then preserved them forever in scripture.

David is a good example for me on how I should be praying to God.  This is an area in my life that I tend to struggle with a bit.  I love prayer.  But, let’s face it, sometimes it can be awkward, right?  If praying silently in my head, quietly writing in a journal, or occasionally aloud with family or friends can feel awkward and one-sided now, how do I grasp this concept of crying out to God in times of desperate need just like David did?  When I feel desperate, I am often at a loss for words and I rarely respond to my difficulties with immediate and passionate prayer.  This is so practical and tangible, I don’t know why I don’t.  AND…have you ever asked someone else to pray for you instead of praying for yourself?  Yea, me too.

Sometimes I just feel like I can’t make a connection with God, that the relationship just isn’t there.  I long to feel His attention and presence in my life.  When there is difficulty, I do sometimes lay out the circumstances to Him…but a lot of the time, I just don’t know how to pray or what to say.  And honestly, I have never “cried out” to God in any circumstance.  I try to roll with it, endure it, figure it out, and fix it myself.  But I learned with this study, that maybe I endure too much for too long because I don’t bring it to Him with my full emotion and ask for help or to be rescued from the storm.

I need encouragement to be specific in my prayer life.  If I’m going to share a cup of tea and pour out my heart to someone it needs to be with Him, not my girlfriend, not even my husband.  Remembering this study not too long ago, I did just that.  I haven’t accomplished crying out to God ALOUD, which I think I should do, but I prayed for the first time with everything that I had.  It was all in my head as I lay in bed but it was heavy and specific.  The next morning, the weight had been lifted, my motivation was renewed, and I moved forward, not with perfection or even being rescued, but with clarity.  And I was calm.

I mentioned I need encouragement to be specific in my prayer life.  And wouldn’t you know, this connection with God was encouraging to me.  I was blessed for trying and applying something I had previously learned.  He truly is paying attention.  I know my next step in prayer will be to speak out aloud and hear myself calling to God…which is what I should be doing.  I know the awkwardness will fade and I will get there.  But in the meantime, I am thankful that He met me where I am for now.

“I pour out my complaint before Him, before Him I tell my trouble.  When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.” Psalm 142: 2-3

The Power of Influence…

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I was reading through portions of the books of Galatians and Acts in my bible this morning.  A section in Acts talked about Paul and Barnabas preaching to the Jews and Gentiles about Christ.  It’s no secret that Paul and Barnabas were often targets of violence and persecution because of their outspoken beliefs.  Yet that abuse never stopped them from continuing on and faithfully teaching and preaching.  After speaking to a large group, Paul and Barnabas’ words were spreading like wildfire.  Some Jews, of course, did not like this and began to plot against them.  While reading, I was pointed through my study to a verse to think more intently upon and study the context around it.  Here’s where it get’s interesting to me…

“But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” -Acts 13:50

Who did the Jews motivate first to act against Paul and Barnabas?  Women.  And not just any women.  They were “God-fearing women of high standing…”, women of influence.  Interesting.  I then read this statement in my study book

For reasons we may never know, God entrusted womankind a most wonderful and terrible gift; the power of influence.

I’ve never thought about my influence being a gift from God.  In fact, if I really meditate on that, I would say that in thinking about influence, I would relate to it in a negative way – the terrible gift.  I think of people, including myself, to often use their influence to be manipulative or for personal gain.  It’s not really a fair thought and I am somewhat embarresed and disappointed with myself that I immediately went that direction in my head with it.  But what if I used my gift of influence for positive and unselfish gain?  What would that look like?  My thoughts immediately went to my children and husband, and then ventured outward to the rest of my family, friends, and those I don’t even know.  Suddenly I feel a weight on my shoulders that I am not doing what I could to influence others in a positive way.

What does the gift of influence look like in my home?  At a family gathering?  Out shopping at the grocery store? At church?  Wow.  God is pressing upon my heart to really think about this and take action.  At best, my influence should teach, encourage, nurture, love, and allow others to grow.  This is powerful and I am equipped and capable of doing all those things.  What a wonderful and unexpected gift.