Learning to Pray

We all long to see God do big things, and recently I read the book “Moving Mountains” by John Eldredge. John’s message was that we can see great victory and experience God in awesome ways when we engage in purposeful, effective prayer. I am trying! Below is a mash-up of some of what John said, and of my own heart. It is an application and declaration of the truth and power of what Jesus has already accomplished on our behalf! Feel free to try it out, discarding what doesn’t feel right for you, if you want. I hope this is helpful; it certainly has been for me!

Ang

Good morning, Abba! I thank you for this new day and all that you will do. Father God, I know you delight in the prayer of your children, and I ask you to lead me by your Holy Spirit to pray in accordance with your will.Jesus, I pray also by your authority and power, transferred to me when you took my place on the cross and shed your blood so that I could be restored to the Father. I acknowledge your absolute power, your awesome holiness, and your utter “other-ness”, God. In reverence and grateful joy, I adore you because you have called me to be under your love and your protection through no merit of my own, but simply because you delight in me. I don’t understand it God, but help to to believe it and walk confidently in that truth. I am loved by God of the universe. I am intimately known, completely forgiven, and fully accepted. I deserve death, but you say I get abundant life.  This is my joy and my strength. Thank you, Father. Renew my heart and mind to truly appreciate all of it, and flood me with joy and peace in your love for me.

In faith, Father, I ask for your kingdom to come on earth today: in my heart, my mind and my will, in my body, soul, and spirit; in my home, my workplace, and in my circle of influence.I dedicate and consecrate myself, my desires, my attitude, my choices, and all that is to come today to you because you are God and I am not! You are my God, and I belong to you and no other. I need you desperately today, and every day.

God, this morning I am thankful for ___________.

I praise you for all the good things I have to be thankful for today, Father.

God, in this time I also confess my sin. I sincerely apologize for __________. Cleanse me and restore me,God. Because you give grace I need to give grace, too. I forgive ______ for their sin, as well.  I  know that there is a very real and active enemy of my soul who wants nothing more than to see me defeated, but in the name of Jesus I declare victory over sin, death, and condmenation!  In the name of Jesus, I bind, banish and order the spirit of _____ to go to the judgment seat of Christ and never return. I am covered by your blood, declared spotless and righteous! I break any agreement I have ever made with lies told to me by the enemy. I ask you, Holy Spirit, to show me any place I have believed a lie over God’s truth and break every bond and chain there. Come into that hurt and broken place, Jesus; heal and restore. Replace lies with  your truth. I lay down my pain and sorrow for your love and peace.

Confident of your forgiveness and restoration, I present my body to Jesus Christ as an instrument of righteousness. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I renounce every way I have misused or abused it, and bring every act under Christ’s atoning blood. Jesus, cleanse my body once more, and Holy Spirit, come, fill your temple! 

Holy Spirit, I receive your hope, love, joy, and faith; your beauty, goodness, and trueness; your wisdom, power, and strength; your holiness and integrity in all things. I ask for an extra measure of faith, wisdom, and discernment (or whatever the day calls for). Let me be sensitive to and aware of your presence and work both in and around me. Grant me an obedient heart to respond to your leading. I stand in agreement with all those praying for me by the Spirit of God, and by his Spirit alone.

Jesus, apply to me all the work and triumph in your resurrection! I receive it with thanks, and I give it total claim to my spirit,soul, and body; my mind, heart, and will. I gratefully receive you, Jesus, as my authority, rule, and dominion, and my everlasting victory against the evil one and his kingdom, and my ability to bring your kingdom at all times and in every way. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you, Jesus, and you’re worthy to receive all glory, honor, power, and dominion, now and forever! I take my place now in your authority and I give myself to you to reign with you always. 

I bring this authority over my heart, mind,body ,soul, spirit and will; over my day, my decisions, my attitude, my relationships, and my faith. I place your cross between me and every person, letting only the love of God between us.In your power and by your name I push back the darkness and I love your kingdom, forgetting my own. I summon your angels to my side, to fight for me and protect me and in agreement with your word I put on on the full armor of God: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith,the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. 

 Father God lead me, guide me, provide wisdom and strength and joy for the day. Grow my faith and protect me from evil. Provide for my needs and the needs of your people around the world. Give me your eyes, your heart, your faithfulness, and your passion for people to know you. Let me walk boldly in the path you set out for me today, with complete trust and joy. Amen.

*Of course, we will add other prayers as needed, for healing, help, situations; this is just a standard prayer to align our hearts and minds with God before the day comes rushing in 🌸




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Sincerely, Confused

Dear God,

I was pretty sure it was time for me to move on and find a new church. I haven’t felt challenged or convicted by the sermons lately, and to be honest it many times just feels like a self-help seminar with a little bit of Jesus thrown in as filler. 

So, yesterday, I dragged AshCap along to the church Julie and Chris have been attending for the past few months, the one where Julie says she feels Your presence big-time, every time. I do like the preaching there, Lord. It pushes me towards You, and elevates my desire to live in Your truth. As we sang of how faithful You are, it led my heart to a place of worship, reminding me of Your awesome deeds in my life and how they show You are always, always there with me.

As we sat talking in the comfy chairs afterward, I basically came to the realization that I’d  already decided in my heart to leave my current church even though it meant not spending Sunday with my best friend. I wasn’t really interested in joining a small group as Ashley suggested there because it didn’t seem as though these people were “my people”. Plus if the sermons weren’t God-focused, would the small groups be?

After church, AshCap and I ate lunch in Short Pump, walked around the mall, and then we decided to spend some time in nature. She suggested going to the river, but I wanted to stay a little more local so I suggested Deep Run Park, a place I’d only been for our company picnic once before. 

We walked for awhile around the pond and through the trees, passing many families picnicking and grilling out. The food smelled great and Ashley and I lamented the fact that our days of group cookout and gatherings seemed to be a thing of the past. Our circle of friends from previous churches has petered out as people have gone their separate ways and it’s sad. I miss those times.

We sat on a bench in the woods near the running trail for twenty minutes or so and then decided it was probably time to head home. Down the trail abit we saw the parking lot and decided to cut through next to a picnic shelter. One man was there, setting up tablecloths and jamming to eighties music and as we walked closer he called out “Hey, guys!”.

It was Dan, from our church. AshCap and Richie, her boyfriend, had gotten to know him through a class at church, and we’d all gone to the Legwarmers concert at Veritas winery a few weeks ago.  He continued on, saying “You’re early!” 

“For what?” we asked.

“It’s our church’s Summer of Fun church-wide picnic! Isn’t that why you’re here?”

AshCap and I exchanged wide-eyed “What the Heck??” looks and admitted we’d stumbled upon the gathering completely by accident.

“Seriously?! That’s crazy!” Dan said. We couldn’t help but agree.

There were fifteen minutes left before others would get there, so we had an opportunity to talk. I was able to express that I’d been checking out another church and the reason why, and Dan had an opportunity to.let me know that our sermons were intentionally less weighty because their mission was to bring the unchurched in and not overwhelm them. Small group was meant to be where we dug deeper. Hmm. It was good to know that. 

Obviously we stayed for food, and we got to meet some people that could maybe be “my people”. I heard others express that I wasn’t alone in my feelings toward the Sunday service, and that the community was where the magic happened. I was also asked repeatedly to share how we’d hilariously emerged from the woods and stumbled upon the church event.

AshCap and I left, both knowing You were up to something. We kept giggling at Dan’s surprising “Hey guys!”, and marveling at how You’d answered our longing for a community picnic so quickly. I also know You were guiding our footsteps, and that our ending up at that gathering was no accident or coincidence.

So now what? Am I supposed to stick it out and get involved? I was so ready to move on, but I can’t ignore Your obvious handiwork in orchestrating our afternoon. This is crazy. 

Sincerely, Confused.

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Reality Check

I’m just going to put this out there. It can be very disheartening to meet professing Christians who have obviously never actually submitted their lives to the Lordship of Christ.

I’m going to follow this statement with the admission that I struggle with sin daily. I am surprised by how easy it is to think unkind thoughts; to not want to do the right thing. I have downright blown it.

The difference is in the intention, I think. Romans 7 outlines it clearly: Christians will fight against sin nature as long as they are here on earth. The very fact that we wage war against our natural, sinful inclinations is the evidence that the Spirit of God lives within us. Whenever I ask myself if I am truly in the faith (a wise thing to do from time to time as stated in 2 Corinthians 13:5 ), no matter how much or often I’ve fallen, the conviction of right and wrong, coupled with repentance and an earnest longing to be obedient quiets my fears. I believe, even through my doubts. I have been changed, made new. I am His.

So it will be for everyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s why, when I converse with “Christians” who are able to laugh at their sin, claiming the blessings of God but revelling in darkness all in the same breath, I am saddened and scared for them.  

We might be able to convince others. Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves. We said a prayer once. Maybe we’ve grown up around people who have modeled a shallow version of Christianity, and that’s all we know. It is important to ask: Did anything actually change, most importantly our hearts? Do we love God, like for real? Are we a light in this world or are we part of the darkness? Is our life’s motto “Thy will be done” or “I do what I want!”? 

These questions are not meant to be mean, but they are certainly worth asking for anyone who claims to be a Christian. We all get it wrong sometimes, but by all means let’s not stay there!

The beautiful reality of the love of Christ is what draws us to the Father. Our gratitude for his sacrifice gives us the strength to lay down sin and choose a different way, the way he has modeled for us: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Have you experienced this?

Faith saves us, but true faith will always produce change.

Have you been changed?

It’s definitely a journey of progress, not perfection, and filled with grace, second, third,and fourth chances. 

Let’s dare to examine ourselves, and submit whatever it is we’ve been holding back to God’s will. Let’s dare to live differently.
Ang

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”- Romans 6:1-2

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I’m still alive

Hey, friends (if anyone’s still out there..)!

It’s been a minute. 

Life has been busy! No, I still don’t have a boyfriend, so don’t ask.

I have been working, trying to get my beloved direct sales business off the ground, going to weddings, throwing baby showers, and basically out of town every weekend. Even sat in the middle of an impending bar fight with my best friend in the sleepy little town of Warrenton to diffuse the situation. 

I have actually stuck to being a vegetarian since mid- March and have been trying to eat much more real food and get the processed junk out. I have worn these country roads out walking back and forth day in and day out, and I dropped twenty pounds somewhere along the way.

God and I are doing well, I think. I am still being shaped and molded into his image, and he’s got a lot of tweaking to do, but I’m willing and my heart longs to be more like him. 

Bentley the wonder cat is doing great, no doctor visits!

I am setting goals and working hard, and good things are happening! I am also learning to be okay with rejection, because “no’s” just get me closer to my “yeses”. It feels amazing to actually feel passionate about your job, and so it is puzzling when other people don’t get what you’re so excited about. Haha. I will just respect their fear of direct sales (we all have it) and hopefully be there to offer hope and help when they are open. I have also met a whole new community of like-minded, fun, supportive Christian women (and men) through my new job and it’s been a blast to get to know them!

That’s my last couple months in a nutshell. How are y’all??

Ang

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Good One, God

I made $178.00 Monday night. That’s a great amount of money for a slow, easy shift. I was grateful.

Yesterday as I drove into work I prayed, “God, thank you so much for an awesome shift last night. If it pleases you, will you bless me even more tonight than you did yesterday?”

I was supposed to work on the patio last night but it’s been raining for four days straight here in Richmond. Another girl wasn’t feeling well so I offered to switch with her. 

Business was steady, and tips were decent. The last half hour I got to talk with a sweet couple named Casey and Aaron. She got a tiny Greek salad and couldn’t finish it, and when we joked about it she said she just got full so quickly these days. I asked what had changed, expecting with a small smile for her to say she was preggers, but when she told me why her appetite sucked my eyes widened and my heart sank. She has been undergoing chemo for a brain tumor. We talked for about twenty minutes after that and I was happy to hear she knows people at work who take the same fruit and veggie capsules I do. I gave her some resources to look at and told her to go to one of her work friends if she thought they could help (I didn’t want to be a creepy sales person, just wanted her to feel well!).  I asked if she minded if I was praying for her and she said “Please!” Her prognosis is good, but she has a long list of things, such as Hashimoto’s (a thyroid disease) and is a prime candidate to develop Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Please pray for her.

Anyways, back to the money. I had forgotten my prayer until I started counting my tips at the end of the night. Would I make more than 178? I started laughing as I got to the end. 

$179.00.

Funny, God. Real funny.

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A Weighty Dilemma

I feel like a drug dealer.

I work in a restaurant known for it’s 1,000+ calorie desserts. Most menu choices are over the daily recommended calorie intake..for one meal or one piece of cake! Gravy, cream sauce, extra cheese..you want it, we got it.

As I learn more about the obvious link between nutrition and disease, I find myself in an ethical dilemma. 

I won’t eat ninety percent of what we offer at my work. I’m even saying goodbye to the Truffle Grilled Cheese sticks as I wean myself off dairy. I wholeheartedly believe whole food, plant based nutrition is the prevention for most illnesses we face today, which is why I’m excited to be eating as healthfully as I can and why I’m getting on board with the Juice Plus company.

I don’t feel good about putting a plate in front of someone that will take them one meal closer to heart failure.

This is coming from someone who has struggled with weight and overeating her entire life..I lose the weight, get hot, and then start eating buffalo wings again. No more, though. I don’t choose to be sick! I want to feel as good as possible, and I want everyone I love there with me!

What would you do? 

P.S. I may be changing my blog name soon haha. But seriously..

Love,

Ang 

Also, fifteen pounds gone!!! 🙂

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Choosing Health


“My name is Angela, and I’m here for the muffins.”

That was my opening line.

I don’t even like muffins.

I was sitting uncomfortably in a room full of smiling strangers. Mostly women. We all had little plates of snacks, although this wasn’t the cheesy goodness I was used to from my Pampered Chef days. This was fruit, hummus, and muffins. Come to think of it, most of the people here looked like they worked out eight days a week.

We were taking turns introducing ourselves, and how we’d come to be there that Thursday night at a Juice Plus meeting. Obviously, I couldn’t say that my best friend Julie, who’d brought me, wouldn’t shut up about the stupid stuff with the stupid name and so I came to get her off my back. Hence the muffin comment. 

I liked the women I met afterwards as we awkwardly drank water and mingled, but this was the most boring product I’d ever heard of. There were no freebies, just juiced and dehydrated fruits and vegetables in capsule form. I am all about a plant-based diet, but it made no sense to me to buy it in a pill. “Shouldn’t people just eat healthy?” I asked. “They should, but most people don’t, or won’t. It’s really expensive to buy enough good produce to meet our nutritional needs, and Juice Plus fills the gap between what we need and what we actually eat.”

Meh. I wasn’t convinced. Julie raved about the fact that her kids had been taking it for free with the Children’s Health Study and hadn’t been sick all winter. They were even eating much healthier because their bodies were starting to crave the good nutrients.

Then she raved about all the peer-reviewed clinical research.Did I mention we live together? 

One study did capture my attention,  I will admit. They tested blood vessel constriction on people who’d eaten a fatty fast food meal and found that the arteries constricted about fifty percent for two to six hours afterwards. This, apparently, is the reason some people experience chest pain, heart attack, or stroke after a big meal (think holiday season). They did a double blind placebo test where some people received placebo sugar pill, some received the Orchard (fruit)  and Garden(veggie) blend Juice Plus, and the rest got the Trio: Orchard, Garden, and Vineyard (berry). They all took the capsules for twenty-eight days, and then came the true test. All participants ate the fast food meal and then thad their arteries measured. Those on the placebo pill had normal arterial constriction, but those on O &G had sixty percent LESS constriction in their blood vessels. Even more amazing was that the people who took the Juice Plus trio had ninety-nine percent less constriction: their blood vessels remained open, allowing normal blood flow.

Here’s why this matters to me: I had a TIA a few years ago at work, which is basically a mini-stroke. It was a really stressful time, and I’m sure my poor diet and weight didn’t help. That alone puts me at a one-in-three chance for a bigger one later in life. I thought it might not be a bad idea to take something that would help my blood to flow properly. 

 I had already recently begun cleaning up my act when it came to diet, but if taking extra fruits and vegetables could help keep my body as healthy as possible, it couldn’t hurt. It’s just food, after all. It comes with a nutrition label, not a supplement label. But still..I wasn’t convinced.

I decided to go to another potluck thing. I needed to hear people’s personal stories before I gave this thing actual credibility. Research is great, and I’m glad it’s there, but I’m relational. I want to know how it affected you or your mom, or your best friend. The potluck ended up being cancelled so we met two of the ladies at Panera. The fact that both Stephanie and Heather were women of faith helped to ease my mind, and listening to their personal stories of lifelong allergies, eczema and gut issues disappearing was encouraging. They also talked of people they’d met: cancer survivors healing without chemo, or choosing the chemo route but being able to ride a bike the same afternoon. One lady had a family of seven who were constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. After taking JP, they eventually came off seventeen medications between them. When they finally did go back to the doctor, he said he thought they’d moved because they hadn’t been in quite a  while. They told him no, they’d just been healthy, and he demanded to know what they were doing. Just Juice Plus, they said. The doctor started taking it and recommending it to other patients. 

I was becoming less skeptical. From what I was hearing, Juice Plus wasn’t claiming to be a magic pill. It wasn’t a pharmaceutical. It was just quality nutrition that helped your body do what it was supposed to do: be healthy. The people sharing it didn’t even seem to be in it for the money. They just genuinely believed this product could actually help people.

Afterwards, I felt more trusting of JP but it wasn’t until I listened to message after message in a recorded phone series where people shared of more cancer gone, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lyme’s Disease symptoms greatly alleviated, fertility issues resolved, etc., etc.,etc. that I realized how much I want everyone I love to be taking this stuff.

It was starting to make sense. It’s just using what God gave us to give us a fighting chance. I can believe in that. When we pump our bodies full of garbage: processed food, animal products, sugar, and chemicals, of course things will start to go haywire! That’s a given! I know not everyone will be willing to give up meat or dairy or Sweet Frog. I get that it’s hard. I ate truffle oil grilled cheese sticks last night. It’s a process. 

The key is to get less bad and more good, and keep moving in that direction.If taking encapsulated fruits and veggies will kick start my journey to healthy, I’m all for it. I’d already noticed, just from eating better lately that my lower back pain (a possible sign of heart disease) had disappeared, along with my heartburn, sinus pressure, and bad cramps. I’m excited to see what adding thirty more fruits and veggies a day does for my energy level and future health.

So I guess I’m in. I’ve been taking it for a couple weeks now, I begged my dad to do it (he ordered some!), and I’m praying my mom will start. I want her body and brain to work as well as possible, and the anti-inflammatory, free-radical killing nutrition will do that! Aging doesn’t have to suck, not if we’re taking care of ourselves. I read enough nutrition books to know that’s true.

I signed up as a rep to get the discount,  but my heart is changing as I learn more and now I am excited  about helping others and I can’t wait to see people feel better!

Ang

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40:40 Day…40

 

Today will be the last post in my forty day series of commemorating God’s faithfulness and persisting in prayer.

I remember being on day eight and wondering how in the world I would come up with thirty-two more God moments to write about, but he brought more to mind as the days progressed and I am grateful to have these all written down. As much as I hope others have been encouraged by these stories of answered prayer and provision, I have to confess that I mostly wrote these down for me. 

When I next enter a dry season; when I can’t see God’s face or hear his voice and I feel alone, I have proof that I’m loved; proof that he is always with me and I never have to do this on my own. I can come here and remember how good he is, and know that as he has helped me before he will again. It’s my monument of stones testifying to real encounters with a living God.

My last 40:40 is the biggest miracle I have experienced so far: my own conversion. 

No one saw it coming, least of all me.

I had been to church and youth group hundreds of times, but my picture was next to the word “rebellious” on Wikipedia. I almost said dictionary but that’s so last century. I wanted to do bad things. Not to hurt people, but to please myself. Other people did  get hurt, though, and (surprise, surprise) so did I. I loved sin but it didn’t love me. By the time I was twenty-five I was tired of living this way, and against all my natural instincts I opened my heart to believe that I could find peace, love, and joy in Jesus. 

It’s been a bumpy road, I’ll admit, but guess what? I don’t love sin anymore. I love God, and that’s a miracle. Who knows what the years hold ahead, but I know my future is secure because nothing and no one can stand against my God or keep me from his love (Romans 8:28).

Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me. I hope it has blessed someone else as it has blessed me.

Ang

Prayer: One more time. Please take a second to pray for miraculous healing for my friend J. God, we know you are able! 

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40:40 Day 39

Wow. Just one more day to go in this series. 

God has showed up so many times in so many ways.

Sometimes he answers even dumb prayers, just because he can.

A few months ago I was waiting on an a sweet older couple at the restaurant, and out of nowhere a thought popped into my head and I thought it would be fun to pray for them to leave me a twenty dollar tip.

Their bill was only fifty dollars, and that was only because they’d gotten a bunch of desserts to go. 

I smiled and thanked them as they left, and then when I picked up the check book my jaw dropped. A twenty dollar tip.

Now, as nice as that was,  twenty bucks not a crazy, extravagant amount of money. I had an awesome lady come in last night and leave me the same on a thirty dollar check (thanks, Cheryl!!!). The fact is, people don’t normally leave double the regular tip amount for no reason. God must have prompted them, just so that my faith would be strengthened. It certainly worked.

Prayer:

For God’s people to see him at work around them today, starting with me!

*For J’s back to be healed miraculously from mysterious growths. Today would be good.

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40:40 Day 38

God’s provision doesn’t always look miraculous.

Sometimes he lets us know he’s there with us in the work-week monotony, in busyness and routine, especially when we ask. Just because it’s an ordinary day doesn’t mean he’s not awesome and powerful and willing to work in our lives.

Cut to Thursday.

I don’t mind food running at work because it’s a break from waiting tables, but it’s usually less money because you have to tip share with someone else.

Last Thursday I had a food running shift. I was also scheduled to work a dumb section in the morning which I was not looking forward to. I would rather have Friday off to spend time with a friend who needed it. I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask.

“God, can you get rid of my second food runner so I can make all the money and take tomorrow off?”

I’ve probably prayed this prayer twenty times in the past (not for a day off but when I’ve been short on money), and I’m not joking when I say it has a pretty high success rate. One time I prayed and even though they had three extra patio people and it was raining, they sent the patio servers home and moved my second food runner to  a section. So, I waited to see how God would do it this time.

I went in to work at five and immediately my manager told me their curbside had called out and they’d have to use my second food runner. I just smiled and said that was fine.

It was busy because of spring break, so I was working at double speed and I’d say I got a decent workout in the process. At the end of the night I had a respectable amount of money and was able to release the dreaded Bar 3 morning shift. Someone picked it up right away (we have an online scheduling system) and I got to spend Friday with my friend instead.

Prayer: For God to lead his people to where we are serving others effectively and joyfully and using our unique gifts.

*For J’s back to be miraculously healed and for God to get the praise!

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