When Scripture Makes Your Heart Sing!

This morning in my quiet time I camped out in Colossians 3:16:

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

And it hit me how key music is for letting God’s Word dwell in me richly.  According to this verse it’s right up there with teaching!  Have I ever found this to be true in my own life.  Most of the scriptures I’ve memorized, especially the longer portions stick with me because they’ve been put to music.  Not always great music, mind you!  But even little ditties help things stick better in my brain.

And it’s not just my brain.

I’ll never forget when my son was three years old, I decided to walk to the gym with him in the stroller, by the time we were headed home huge storm clouds gathered, leaving the sky ominously dark.  You could hear thunder rumbling all over the place.  As I raced the mile home pushing him in the stroller, praying that the fury of the storm would hold off just a bit longer I suddenly heard him saying something over and over.  Leaning in I discovered he was quoting Psalm 56:3-4a to himself repeatedly.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.”

He was applying scripture, using it to calm his fears!!!  At three years old!

How could this be?

We’d been listening to Steve Green’s CD Hide Them In Your Heart!  The song got in and when the truth was needed it was there.  Years later I learned how crucial this is – if a child feels like he’s all alone when he’s experiencing pain he will often feel the need to self protect and shut down his heart emotionally. Can this ever impact his life and relationships even decades later!  But if he’s aware of the Lord protecting him, he won’t feel the need to self protect.  Truly one of the most important things parents can teach their children is that God is with them and able to protect and comfort them, especially their heart when it hurts.

That’s what Doug and Debbie Kingsriter discovered when their son had to have emergency surgery but no one mentioned that when he awoke after surgery he’d be unable to communicate for awhile.  They were so concerned since they hadn’t prepared him for this.  The doctor warned them most children freaked out but when their son could finally communicate again he was totally peaceful.  The doctors were amazed!  When they asked him about it, he shared how a verse they’d been memorizing as a family came to mind and calmed his heart.  They were utterly blown away!  He was so little they had no idea it had even sunk in!  That’s when they decided to create the GT and the Halo Express CD’s where all the songs were scripture!  If you can find a copy of these they are pure gold!

I cannot recommend highly enough moms listen to songs that feature scriptures with their children.  Even with babies!

Now the thunderstorm incident happened over 20 years ago, but since then even more Scripture song resources have been created – for you as well as your children (and grandchildren!  :0)  I love to memorize using the Fighter Verse app on my phone.  There’s a ton of variety in these songs and do they ever stick!  I listen to them as I’m exercising, learning a new one each week and it’s amazing how I’ll find myself throughout the day not only humming the tune but meditating on the words!  This is so helping God’s Word to dwell in me richly!

Recently my prayer partner shared with me another wonderful resource called Sing the Bible with Slugs and Bugs by Randall Goodgame.  My friend is absolutely loving using this with her children – and she has 13 of them! But note, she’s also really enjoying the music herself too.  If you go to Amazon.com you’ll find their CD’s have received 5 star reviews!*

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Here’s a link to one of my favorites from here, featuring the African Children’s Choir:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp0N0HPDA3M&index=5&list=PLYIqjB_N06Gv4lOS55xmMOdBmVIJh973H

I honestly believe providing opportunities for our children to hide God’s Word in their hearts is one of the most important things we can ever do for them.  We never know when the enemy may come to attack while we’re not around and what a difference it can make to equip them with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) so they are ready for such times!  And not just when they are little…

A few years ago when my son was in college he passed through a difficult time of disappointment and pain.  During his hardest moment you know what helped?  A verse he’d memorized through song as a child, Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you, says the Lord.”

But here’s the crazy thing – while I bought those children’s CD’s for my son’s benefit, after listening to them over and over for years as he grew up, those verses are forever etched in my memory – and on my heart, where they continue to make a difference in my life!

So please hear me on this – Scripture songs aren’t just for children!  Especially as I’m getting older I’m finding it’s much harder now to memorize.  But when something is put to music, memorization suddenly becomes do-able!  It really is helping God’s Word dwell richly in me… and then flow out of me so i can talk about it when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up, impressing them on those around me.  (Deuteronomy 6:7)

So for my application from this morning’s quiet time can you guess what I did?!  :0)

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*NOTE: Slugs & Bugs is Kickstarting Sing the Bible Volume 2!  You’d better believe this is one kickstarter project I am so excited about supporting!!! http://kck.st/1H60szM    And no, I get nothing for posting this on here!  But I so love passing on treasure when I find it – and trust me this is one kickstarter you receive treasure when you support! ;0)

The First 90 Days…

After two days hiking Pikes Peak with a friend I was exhausted.  So when my husband picked us up at the end of the trail I grabbed the nearest book in the car and started reading as he drove us home.  The book was entitled The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins.  Not something I normally would pick up.

On the first page the author states, “The actions you take during the first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.”  Did that ever catch my attention! Especially as Jim was just about to start a new job!

So I prayed, “Lord, you’ve created me to be Jim’s helper.  How can I help him during these first 90 days on his new job?  Especially as I’ll be in a different state for the first third of them!  Would you please give me an idea?”

Did he ever!

One of the girls in my Bible study is getting married soon and asked if we could get together to talk about praying for your husband.  If you know me, you know this is one of my favorite things to do – both praying for Jim and sharing with others the incredible blessing of doing this!

For the past twenty years I’ve made it a point wherever we live to find someone who will meet with me to pray for an hour each week for our husbands.  I can’t even begin to tell you the huge difference this has made in our marriage as well as in my life!  So even though I’m not much for schedules or doing the same thing repeatedly, this is one of the top priorities of things I do.  Out here in Colorado, one prayer partner and I got waterproof Bibles so we can still walk and pray even if it’s snowing or raining!

Over the years have I ever collected a bunch of resources that help me pray for Jim.  So I arrived at my friend’s house with a bunch of materials. What a wonderful time we shared not just talking about praying for your husband, but also praying together for my husband and her husband to be!

At the end of the time she showed me a book she’d just bought that was recommended to her called Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes.  When I saw it included a month’s worth of daily scriptures to guide you in praying for your husband I was so excited!!!  This was the Lord’s answer to my prayer for something I could do to “help” Jim as he transitions!!!  You better believe the moment I left her I went right to Amazon.com and bought a copy!

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So Jim just started his new job yesterday and I just got back from my second day walking and praying through this.  Oh friends, I can’t even begin to tell you what a treasure it is!!!  It’s so deep and rich and extensive!  I think the guy who wrote The First 90 Days should’ve included this in his book!!!  :0)

Here’s what I prayed through this morning:

ZRE9d  YTVou   A4Jrm

Now I’ve only just started so I’ve no idea what kind of impact it may have on Jim, but it is blessing the socks off me!  Not only am I getting to pray for my husband, but it is providing some of the sweetest time with the Lord as I walk and pray through this each morning.  It’s so rich and so unbelievably applicable to his transition, I think I very well may pray through this book three times – which perfectly covers his first 90 days! ;0)

Oh how I love it when I ask the Lord for an idea and He so abundantly delivers!

Just thought I’d share this new treasure with you!  ;0)

Praying “With” Others

I often get people asking for suggestions regarding how they can grow in prayer.  My top answer isn’t to read a certain book or create lists or retreat to a prayer closet but instead to pray up!  Find someone who has been praying longer than you and ask if you can pray with them.

Honestly the best things I’ve ever learned about praying have come as I’ve been praying with those who’ve prayed longer than me.  It’s amazing what you can learn about prayer as you pray with someone!

But what do you do if there isn’t someone around or available who’s been praying longer than you?  That’s where books can be such a great blessing.  I’m not talking about books on prayer, but actual books containing prayers!

Of course the best book containing prayers is God’s Word!  Memorizing and studying the prayers in Scripture truly has been the top enrichment to my prayer life!  As I pray with Jesus and Paul and David through their written prayers have I ever learned a ton I can be praying for!

Beyond God’s Word there’s also treasure to be found in other books containing prayers.  Though, to be honest, initially I never really liked these kinds of books.  It seemed too trite and mindless to just read through someone else’s prayers.

Then I discovered Ruth Myer’s book 31 Days of Praise and the Lord laid it on my heart to look up all the references at the bottom of each prayer and then following her example, create my own prayer of praise.  Wow!  Was that ever life-changing!

Since then I’ve discovered if I look at books of prayers not as something to rote-ly pray through but instead as providing a structure – almost as if I was praying with the actual author (eg., what’s written is their portion and after reading one phrase, I then add mine in there as if we’re going back and forth) well, I’ve been amazed at how this expands and enhances my prayer life getting me thinking and praying about things I never would’ve come up with on my own.

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One treasure I recently discovered and am currently praying through is Barbara Duguid & Wayne Duguid Houk’s book Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration. Wow! Wow! Wow!  This has been one of the biggest blessings in my life lately!  Especially as at the end of each prayer she lists songs that relate with the very things just prayed for. After I pray, I look these songs up on youtube, watching the versions that feature the lyrics (a huge help since I can barely hear anymore!) and has this combination of prayer and singing ever resulted in some priceless times with the Father!

It’s also really been making me appreciate Jesus even more as I’m discovering even more how much I really do have to confess.  When i use the blank A-C-T-S form (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) to structure my prayers at the end of the day there are times when I struggle to think of things to confess and it always seems even after I’ve written down the obvious, I know there’s more I’m missing.  Has this book ever opened my eyes to that “more” I need to confess.  And I’m finding as I confess more, I am so appreciating even more how much it cost Jesus to pay the penalty for all my sins!  (Luke 7:47)

I’m also really getting the socks blessed off me as I’m praying through the prayers in The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennet.  As I’m praying through the prayers in that book, they are serving as a school training me in a whole new perspective shift!

I will say one of my biggest struggles in doing this is to fight against rushing through it.  So I’m learning at the start of each time to not start with the prayer in the book, but instead to start by asking the Lord to calm my heart, bind the enemy in Jesus’ name from trying to rob me by bringing other things to mind I could be doing, and to give me grace to enjoy this time.  What a difference it’s making to start that way!

At the end of Skye Jethani’s book With he gives suggestions for ways to keep growing in living life with God.  One of the key ways he mentions is to take time three times a day and get down on your knees and pray through the written prayers of those who’ve walked with Jesus longer than you have.  That’s what got me started on this new prayer journey – and what a blessed, life-changing journey it’s been so far!

Just thought I’d pass the treasure on! ;0)

Innie or Outtie?

“What do you wish you’d done differently when you were a young mom?”

I so wish I’d prayed daily to become an innie!

Now I’m not referring to belly buttons but instead I wish I’d grasped in the depths of my heart that my value came from within and not from without.  What a difference this would’ve made in my life!

It’s like I’m an empty box and all my life I’ve looked to things outside of me to give me value – what I do, what I have, what other people think of me…

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But the reality is when I became a Christian, I wasn’t just saved for eternity, but God’s Holy Spirit literally came to live inside of me.

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That’s of greater value than if a ton of gold was poured inside me!

But I still kept living as if things outside were needed to give me value.  So when my son was a baby and my husband would come home from work and ask “What did you do today?”  I’d burst into tears.  I’d had a full day, nursing him, changing his diapers, caring for him… but there sure wasn’t much to show for all my efforts.

Did the enemy ever use this to rob me of contentment.

When my son celebrated his first birthday I decided to head back to school and get more training so I could do something of value.  Now I’d heard on a Focus on the Family broadcast that it was important if possible that moms not be away from their children during their first three years of life more than 15 hours a week so I worked out my schedule never to be away from him more than that.  When I put him down for bed at night I’d study till 2 in the morning then sleep until 6 am.  I lived an entire year only getting 4 hours of sleep each night and I was sick the entire time.  Pretty ironic as I was teaching personal and family health!

Even though I wasn’t physically away from my son I wasn’t very present emotionally or mentally.  I’ll never forget trying to study for an exam one Saturday and my son kept coming in wanting me to help him, play with him, ask me questions…  After about the fifth interruption he went back to his dad and exclaimed, “Mommy isn’t very nice.”

Sadly I wasn’t the only one being robbed here…

And the crazy thing is on the night I graduated the Lord woke me up asking, “Dream big Deb.  What’s the biggest dream you can come up with for your life?”  And after I shared how I was going to work part time as a consultant, designing programs for hospitals, providing continuing education classes on the weekends, He exclaimed, “That’s nothing compared to what I can do with your life if you’ll give it all up and wholeheartedly follow me.”  You should’ve seen my husband’s face the next morning when I told him I believed the Lord didn’t want me to work!  But I did what I sensed the Lord was leading me to – and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am now!

Though I will say, my search for significance (and being robbed by the enemy because of this!) didn’t end.  It just morphed into looking to being a mom to give me value.  I wanted to be the best mom I could be – and help my son be the best he could be.  Sounds good – except it sure can get ugly when you’re looking to this to give your life value and meaning.

“Did you just call me a fool mommy?”  My son had been practicing his piano and not very open to correction, so in frustration I’d shared the verse Proverbs 12:1  “a fool hates correction.”  Of course I quickly pointed out he was acting like a fool not that he was one.  But did that ever stop me in my tracks!  I so needed to guard my tongue!  The problem was I really wasn’t aware what was fueling my reaction.

What a blessing it’s been to finally understand – not just in my head, but in the depths of my heart – my value is a set thing. And it’s not because of anything I do or don’t do, have or don’t have, or what others think about me – it’s because of what’s inside me, God Himself, that I have tremendous value always!  …even on my worst days!

The sad thing is you can’t just do a Bible study or read a few verses and get this.  That’s why if I could go back I’d be praying every single day asking the Lord to help me be an innie – to understand and embrace this truth in the depths of my heart.  Can it ever help protect you (and those around you!) from being robbed by the enemy!

Love is Kind… It does not rejoice in evil… It ALWAYS Protects!

If he hits you, if he causes pain, whether physical or mental, that’s not love.  It doesn’t matter how sweet or sorry he is the next day, it doesn’t matter how many gifts he brings you, how handsome or wealthy he is, it doesn’t matter if he promises to change, or if he says he only did it because of what you did… that’s not love, that’s a neon sign to get out, get away, leave the relationship.

Today is a great opportunity to consider what love truly is… and isn’t!  And to share that with those younger than you!  No longer can we assume people know.

Over 100 million copies of the book Fifty Shades of Grey are circulating and today the movie releases.  Don’t think because it’s rated R and can only be viewed by people over 18 that the younger generation isn’t being impacted.  This isn’t the first work of BDSM literary porn, but it’s the first to hit mainstream culture and be embraced.  Even Sherwin Williams is using “50 Shades of Gray” in their advertising!

Facebook is flooded with articles about why you shouldn’t see or read this…. And what’s the best way to get those younger to want to read or view something?

Yes, this is “just a work of fiction.”  But story is a powerful way of communicating and what this story is communicating has the  National Center on Sexual Exploitation off the charts concerned.  You see, it’s every woman who remains in an abusive situation’s dream – that if I just stay with him long enough and am obedient and loving enough he’ll change.

That’s the way this story ends – but that’s not reality!  On the contrary, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation states on its website http://www.fiftyshadesisabuse.com that this movie, “Glamorizes and legitimizes both sexual and domestic violence.  In real life, women in these situations don’t end up like Anastasia – they end up in a women’s shelter, on the run from their abuser or, sometimes, dead.”

Women who are being victimized in a relationship are not the ones to rehabilitate their abusers!

Ironically, if you really want to help your abuser one of the best things you can do is to bring the abuse to light and leave until he gets help.  Rare is the person who will change without experiencing consequences for aberrant behavior.

Another lie is as long as there’s consent it’s not abuse. But this doesn’t take into account the psychological manipulation that is usually involved, which is why so many women experiencing domestic abuse end up remaining in the relationship. It’s vital to understand consent can be compromised by trauma, abuse, alcohol or mind altering drugs, miseducation, or a lack of knowledge.

Nor does consent remove the psychological or physical damage that results.  To get a picture of this you can read an article recently published in the Huffington Post entitled “He Never Hit Me”  http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5974386   Note how much the author still struggles over leaving the relationship. Does this ever show the impact of emotional and psychological abuse.

I first read this article when it was shared by Doris Rivera-Black, a former Colorado Springs police officer who stated, “Wow.  As I read this I could not help but feel my chest tighten.  I remember feeling just as this woman felt.  No, he never hit me… but the scars he left me with ran deeper than any physical pain I’ve ever experienced.  It was not until the night he kidnapped me at gunpoint that he actually laidhands on me but in now way the emotional and psycholical abuse I endured prior to that should have been minimized.  Domestic violence is not always physical.  I pray this article helps someone out there that may have felt invalidated.  You are not alone.  I thank God every day for freeing me of this abuse and I pray you too are liberated.”  (She has great resources on her facebook page and an incredible story of how The Lord rescued her).

And please note these consequences often don’t stop with the victimized partner!  Earlier this month The New York Times ran an article entitled, “To Stop Violence, Start at Home,”  which begins, “The pattern is striking.  Men who are eventually arrested for violent acts often began with attacks against their girlfriends and wives.” And goes on to say “More than half of the 110 mass shootings in the United States between January 2009 and July 2014 included the murder of a current or former spouse, an intimate partner or a family member.”  And it states, “Violence is a learned behavior.”

Since the book and movie also send the message that “This is what women want” this also increases the likelihood of this happening to the women around you, women you care deeply about.

Especially as it’s sending the message to women “This is what you want!”  And if the drastic increase in the purchase of bondage sex toys and rope are any indication, many women are believing this!  In a recent article, “Is 50 Shades hurting your vagina?”  The Washington Post reports the number of Emergency room visits for injuries related to sex toys has drastically increased since the book’s release.

I’m not writing this as someone who’s read the book or seen the movie, but instead as someone familiar with the aftermath in the broken lives of women, and I’m sadly expecting to see this more.

But one of the best ways to prevent this happening is to talk about it before it happens with those you love! And don’t just talk about it from the perspective of “Don’t read this book” or “Don’t see this movie” but help younger women understand what true love is and how to recognize it and how the lies in this story can actually keep them from finding and enjoying what their heart truly desires.

To celebrate love, what it truly is, sometimes means having a hard conversation about what it isn’t.

Discipling Your Children Bible Study

If you go to Amazon.com you will find a ton of books on parenting.  And of course there’s always the advice of friends and family.  All this certainly can have value, but one thing my husband and I did when our son was a toddler that was incredibly helpful was to go directly to the Scriptures to see what they had to say.

A friend shared with us the following study that proved for us to be pure gold.  It was compiled sometime prior to the 1990s as that’s when we received a copy.  What I love about it is you aren’t trying to take parenting advice and then go to the Scriptures trying to find Biblical support.  Instead you start with the Scriptures.

I found it helpful to take time to write out the verses listed in each reference! True, it’s much easier to use a computer and cut and paste the following verses onto a Word document – but you want to be sure you’re really taking in the content and many times a great way to do that is to write the verses out by hand.  (if you’d rather not hand write them, but instead print them out I’d encourage you to read over the verses with a colored pen or pencil in hand underlining the things that stand out to you.  I have found this can be a huge help in processing!)

After you’ve written out or read through the verses, there are a list of questions you can seek to answer based on the verses you’ve read.  This really was a powerful way to process and work through our convictions as a couple.  My husband and I did the study separately, then spent time together discussing our observations and conclusions.  Did it ever help us, two very different people, coming from very different backgrounds to get more on the same page regarding parenting and discipling our son.

Now please note due to the nature of the questions, two different people may work through this and come up with very different answers.  In truth, God’s Word is the Living Word and there may be different aspects that He highlights for you.  Remember when you are doing Bible study there is observation – what the text says, interpretation – what the text means, and application – how the text gets applied and lived out in your life and family.  Be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and teach you and give you wisdom as you go through this process!  The Author is right there with you!  Feel free to ask Him questions and enjoy His presence as you do this!  :0)

We found this study created a great foundation for discussion, that helped us step outside current cultural norms and consider what we were going to do in our family based on the timeless truths of God’s Word.  By no means am I saying it’s the best study or resource out there!  But I always like to pass on things that helped me personally!

If you don’t like some of the questions or the way they are worded, feel free to omit, change or add what you’d like!  I just love the idea of going to the Scriptures first and then drawing your conclusions from there.

This is also a great resource older women can share with young moms.  I recommend it highly!

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Discipling Your Children

1.  Discover all you can about child raising and family living from the following passages.  Record your observations and questions as you study each passage.  Be sure to note the context.  (This is not an exhaustive list of verses… add your own!)

Exodus 13:8

Deuteronomy 6:6,7

Joshua 4:21-24

Joshua 24:15

1 Samuel 1:3, 2:12, 2:22, 3:12,13

Proverbs 1:8

Proverbs 13:24

Proverbs 14:26

Proverbs 19:11

Proverbs 20:7

Proverbs 22:6

Proverbs 22:15

Proverbs 23:13

Proverbs 29:15, 17

Proverbs 31:28

Ecclesiastes 8:11

Mark 10:13-16

Ephesians 6:1-4

1 Timothy 3:4,5,12

Titus 1:6

Titus 2:4,5

Hebrews 12:9-11

EXTRA:

Deuteronomy 4:9

1 Kings 1:6

Psalm 71:18

Psalm 78:5-8

Psalm 127, 128

Proverbs 13:1

Proverbs 13:22

2.  Based on the passages you have studied, answer the following questions (with appropriate references).  Where the Scriptures do not give a direct answer, be sure your response is rooted to Scriptural principles.

A. Is spanking Scriptural?  List three guidelines for disciplining children.

B.  Whose responsibility is it to teach your children about God?  What role should the local church play?

C.  Should parents argue or have “discussions” in their children’s presence?

D.  What should parents do when children do not want to have family devotions?  When children show little interest in spiritual things?

E.  Should both parents work outside the home?  How will this affect the children?

F.  How should your children be educated?

G.  How can a busy mom or dad find time for God, others, self with a busy household of pre-school children?

H.  How can parents combat the influence of secular society on their children?  What kinds of guidelines should be developed regarding TV?

I.  What role does touching physically play in a home?

J.  How does your relationship to your spouse affect your children?

K.  How does your relationship to God affect your children?  How does it affect your ability to properly raise your children?

3.  Best two verses on parenting (for memory):  ___________________     ____________________

4.  I would be a more effective Biblical parent if I…

(a)  ____________________________________________________________

(b)  ____________________________________________________________

(c)  ____________________________________________________________

Prayers for Your Children (and Grandchildren!)

One of my favorite ways to help new moms get off to a great start praying for their children is to create a roll of index cards that feature one verse from scripture they can pray for their child every day.  I actually got the idea for doing this from a grandmother in Vermont who kept a similar roll on her dining room table so she could pray one verse each day for her grandchildren.

The beauty of this ~ you don’t have to spend hours in prayer to have a significant eternal impact in the lives of your children and grandchildren!  Slow and steady wins the race!

And I love how this gets us beyond praying for more temporal needs (not at all to say those aren’t important!) but praying God’s Word can really help us invest strategically in the lives of those we love.

Years ago Jerry Bridges wrote an article entitled, “Engaging The Unseen Foe”  and in it he utilizes military terms to challenge us to not just pray about logistics but also about things that are tactical and strategic – and how key especially those strategic prayers are for God’s kingdom advancing. I’ll re-post that article at the end of this post in case you’d like to read it!  What an huge impact this has made on the way I pray!  As well as on my life and the lives of those I’m praying for!

Now there are a ton of verses you can use for prayer – in fact, one dear friend and I are praying straight through the Scriptures each week as we walk and pray for our husbands.  We take turns reading verses through a chapter, stopping when the Lord prompts us to pray for something related to that verse for our husbands and children.  So far we’ve prayed our way through Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and are now praying through the book of Romans.  You can pick up a Bible anytime, anywhere and do this!

But having some verses in a ready to use (ready to pray!) format can really facilitate this happening.  Years ago, in Pray! Magazine a format for 31 days of praying for your children was published that I often use as the basis for my roll of index cards, adapting the format so I can personalize it for the child being prayed for.

1.       Salvation: “Lord, let salvation spring up within _______ that he may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” Isaiah 45:8 and II Timothy 2:10

2.       Growth in Grace: I pray that ________may “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” II Peter 3:18

3.       Love: Grant, Lord, that ________ may learn to live a life of love through your Holy Spirit. Eph. 5:2 and Gal. 5:22

4.       Honesty and Integrity: May honesty and integrity be ________’s virtue and protection. Ps 25:21

5.       Self Control: Father, help _______ not to be like many others around him, but let him be “alert and self controlled” in all he does. I Thes 5:6

6.       A Love for God’s Word: May ___________ grow to find your word “more precious than gold, than much pure gold, (and) sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Ps 19:10

7.       Justice: God, help _________ to love justice as you do and to “act justly” in all he does. Ps 11:7 and Micah 6:8

8.       Mercy: May ____________ always “be merciful as (his) Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36

9.       Respect (for self, others and authority): Father, grant that __________ may “show proper respect to everyone” as your Word commands. I Peter 2:17

10.   Biblical Self Esteem: Help _____________ develop a strong self esteem that is rooted in the realization that he is “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:10

11.   Faithfulness: Let love and faithfulness never leave _________but bind these twin virtues around his neck and write them on the tablet of his heart. Prov. 3:3

12.   A Passion for God: Lord, please instill in _____________a soul with a craving for you, a heart that clings passionately to you. Ps 63:8

13.   Responsibility: Grant that ___________ may learn responsibility “for each one should carry their own load.” Gal. 6:5

14.   Kindness: Lord, may _________ “always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” I Thes 5:15

15.   Generosity: Grant that ___________ may “be generous and willing to share and so lay up treasure for himself as a firm foundation for the coming age.” I Tim 6: 18-19

16.   Peace-loving:  Let ___________ “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” Ro. 14:19

17.   Hope: May the God of hope grant _________ to overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ro. 15:13

18.   Perseverance: Lord, teach ____________ perseverance in all he does. And help him especially to “run with perseverance the race marked out him.” Hebrews 12:1

19.   Humility: Lord, please cultivate in _________ the ability to “show true humility toward all.” Titus 3:2

20.   Compassion: Lord, please clothe___________ with the virtue of compassion. Gal. 3:12

21.   Prayerfulness: Grant Lord, that _____________’s life may be marked by prayerfulness, that he may learn to “pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Eph. 6:18

22.   Contentment: Father, teach ______________ “the secret of being content in any and every situation…through you who gives (him) strength.” Phil. 4:12-13

23.   Faith: I pray that faith will find root and grow in ________’s heart, that by faith he may gain what has been promised to him. Luke 17:5-6 and Heb 11:1-40

24.   A Servant’s Heart: Lord, please help ______________ develop a servant’s heart, that he may serve wholeheartedly “as if (he) was serving the Lord, not men.” Eph 6:7

25.   Purity: “Create in _____________ a pure heart, Oh God, and and let that purity be shown in his actions.” Ps 51:10

26.  Gratitude:  “Lord, please help ______________ to live a life that is always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to You for everything in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 2:7

27.  Discipline:  “May ___________ acquire a disciplined and prudent life doing what is right and just and fair.”  Proverbs 1:3

28.  Joy:  “May _____________ be filled with the joy given by your Holy Spirit.”  1 Thessalonians 1:6

29.  Courage:  “May ___________ always be strong and courageous in character and in action”.  Deuteronomy 31:6

30.  Willingness and Ability to Work:  “Teach __________ to value work and to work at it with all his heart, as working for You and not for men.”  Colossians 3:23

31.  A Heart for Missions:  “Lord, please help __________ to develop a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Psalm 96:3

Source:  PRAY!  Magazine issue #4

Can you imagine the impact such prayers can have on a child’s life, even years on down the road?!!!
Now when I meet with a young mom to share this with her I will bring this stack already made as a gift and then we’ll spend time praying through some of these cards for her child.  Remember people are much more likely to use something if you’ve first done it with them!  Depending on how much time she has we’ll pray back and forth through some of these for her child.  I encourage her to keep the stack near where she feeds her child and to seek to pray at least one verse prayer for her child each day.  But the beauty of having 31 cards numbered – even if she misses a few days she can just start on the card for that day!
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And can you ever have fun decorating the cards and personalizing them!  This batch I did with the word “thanks” written in the lower right hand corner of every card as a helpful reminder to always pray with thanks.
So you can put these verse prayers on a flip roll that will stand up on your dining room table, create your own stack using a circular ring which I find works great for walking and praying or I’ve also printed these on a bookmark that I keep beside my bed and will grab at night to pray through some of these verse prayers before going to sleep.  What a lovely way to end the day!
Now that my “baby” is 24 years old, it is such a joy to see how the Lord continues to answer these prayers!  I cannot recommend doing this highly enough!
And have I ever found this to be a wonderful example of one way older women can train younger women to “love their children” and be “busy at home!” ;0)
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ENGAGING THE UNSEEN FOE

By Jerry Bridges

Issues: Prayer is warfare with a defeated but still powerful enemy. When we allow our prayer lives to remain only on the level of immediate or “felt” needs, we risk the great danger of losing the struggle that God is ultimately interested in.

There’s a chapter in the history of the nation of Israel that I believe graphically illustrates the way we tend to operate as Christians.

Second Kings 3 records the account of Joram, the king of Israel, going into battle against the king of Moab. Joram did not seek God’s help or guidance for the fray; he simply made the decision and then enlisted the alliance of his former countryman, Jehoshaphat (king of Judah). Jehoshaphat didn’t pray either. After gathering up the king of Edom, they all went charging into battle.

In verse 9 we find out that they got into a supply problem: they ran out of water in the middle of the desert. Suddenly they wanted God’s help, and only then did they begin to pray (their method of praying was to seek the prophet). Their felt need was the focus of their prayer.

Water for their men and animals was a very important detail for those kings. But they were not out in the desert to drink water: they were there to fight a battle. Notice how God answered when he spoke to the prophet Elisha: “You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also hand Moab over to you” (verses 17–18). God had not forgotten the objective: to win the battle over the Moabites. The kings, however, had lost sight of why they were out there, because they were preoccupied with their immediate need.

THE TRUE BATTLEGROUND

As Christians, our prayer lives tend to dwell in the realm of water shortages. We seldom operate in the realm of true spiritual warfare. Go to an average prayer meeting, and I guarantee that 75 percent of the prayer requests will be for felt needs: for example, Jim’s neck. Now Jim’s neck needs to be healed, and I hope we are praying about it. But we never seem to get into the battle. As I’ve told students, “The only way that you can get prayed for at our church is to be in the hospital or out of a job.”

One year at Thanksgiving time I flew out to southern California to speak at a mission conference. My goal was to stimulate a vision among students and young military personnel for recruiting laborers for the harvest field. When I arrived at the Los Angeles airport, however, no one was there to meet me.

After wandering around the gate area and the baggage claim for forty-five minutes, I called the conference grounds. No answer. I thought, Well, I’ll get my secretary on this—she knows how to take care of these things. But when I called long distance back to Colorado Springs, no one answered the phone there either! Then I remembered that it was the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the office was closed. There I was, stuck.

It was then that I resorted to prayer: “Lord, if there is anyone in this airport looking for me,” I prayed, “help him to find me.” Not having much faith that my prayer was going to be answered, I headed out a nearby door to catch a bus to Pasadena. On my way out, I ran into a familiar-looking man on his way in. He was looking for me.

That was one of the quickest answers to prayer that I have ever experienced. Later on, however, I asked myself this question: “Did I pray as fervently for the real mission for which I was sent to southern California as I did that someone might find me at the airport?” In that airport, I was like Joram and Jehoshaphat, stranded in the desert without water. But the real reason I was there was not to get picked up at the airport, but to have a part in recruiting laborers for the harvest field. Jesus told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers. That was the real battle.

There are three military terms that I feel illustrate various types of prayer: strategic, tactical, and logistical. Strategic refers to the ultimate objective—to defeat the enemy—and the overall plan, or strategy, to bring him into submission. Tactical means the specific battles necessary to achieve the ultimate objective. Logistical is simply supplying the physical needs of the army fighting the battle.

I believe that 75 to 80 percent of our prayer is for logistical items. For water in the desert. For someone to find us at the airport. For that sick person in the hospital. For the one who lost his job. All of these things are important, and we should be praying for them. But those kinds of things are almost all we pray about.

I would guess that 15 to 20 percent of our prayer effort is tactical, related to specific engagements with the enemy—the spiritual results of the conference I spoke at, for example. But that conference was only a specific operation; the overall objective was raising up laborers.

Very little of our prayer effort is strategic, or focused on our ultimate objective—the battle that God is really interested in. We need to remember that when we pray, we are entering into spiritual warfare. We are engaging a defeated but still powerful enemy: Satan, our unseen foe.

There are four primary aspects of this kind of warfare that are crucial to our success: first, understanding our enemy; second, identifying and learning to use the weapons with which to fight him; third, understanding the nature of our struggle with him; and fourth, focusing on the right objective in our attempts to defeat him.

UNDERSTANDING OUR ENEMY

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul says that our struggle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our warfare is with the devil and all of his evil angels. They are the spiritual forces Paul refers to in this passage.

The New Testament tells us four facts about the devil that we need to know in order to combat him. First, he is the ruler, with evil angels under him, of a kingdom in which all of the unsaved are held. When Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers that they were formerly dead in their sins, he was saying the same about us. We used to live in our sins when we followed “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1–2). We all used to follow the devil because we were all in his kingdom, under his dominion. When God commissioned Paul, he sent him to turn the Gentiles, the unsaved, “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

Not only does Satan hold the unsaved under his reign, but he also blinds the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). That’s why witnessing often seems like pouring water off a duck’s back. Our speech comes across like a foreign language; the unbeliever just can’t understand.

When we witness to someone, we are launching an attack upon Satan’s kingdom. We cannot win this attack by our own power, because that person is under Satan’s dominion, and he is blinded by him. Jesus said that we cannot enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions until we first bind that strong man (Matthew 12:29). The strong man is the devil, and we bind him through prayer. That’s why we must enter into battle in prayer before we engage the unsaved in a witnessing situation.

The third fact that the Bible tells us about Satan is that he wars against believers, even though we have been delivered from his dominion into the kingdom of God. First Peter 5:8 says that he prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The roaring lion is intended to symbolize the ferociousness of Satan.

When he attacks us in order to ruin us, however, he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). In Scripture, light stands for either truth or moral purity. When Paul says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, he means that Satan tries to convince us that his false teaching is the truth. When he tempted Jesus in the desert, saying, “Cast yourself down because it is written, ‘He will hold you up,”’ Satan twisted the truth.

Second Timothy 2:22–26 tells us that Satan’s masquerade can be so deceptive that he actually takes believers captive to do his will. This is not demon-possession, but rather a diversion of our minds into false teaching, unimportant or peripheral issues, temptations, discouragement, and doubts about the truth of God’s word.

I vividly remember an event that occurred to me while going through an intense spiritual battle. I was looking at a particular promise in Scripture, when Satan planted this thought in my mind: “It isn’t true, is it?” That was just as clear in my mind as if he had spoken in a voice. He was seeking to make me captive to do his will by attacking my mind with false teaching.

We are at war with an enemy who has thousands of years of experience. Satan attacked Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he has been attacking God’s people ever since. He knows his strategy, and he is not locked up in logistics.

But Scripture gives us a fourth (and the most important) fact about Satan: he is a defeated foe. Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus Christ disarmed the powers and authorities and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross.” This is the reason James can tell us, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Satan has lost the big war. He is now engaged in guerilla warfare against us, and we can defeat him in this day-to-day struggle.

USING THE RIGHT WEAPONS

In 2 Corinthians 10:3–5, Paul gives us a clue to the kind of weapon we need to battle Satan:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The war we are engaged in is for the minds and souls of people. Our weapons are not physical, nor are they those of human logic and cleverness. They are divine.

When you are engaged in battle and the objective is a person’s mind, what are you going to use? The truth. Satan masquerades as an angel of truth, but we combat him with the real truth—the word of God. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God, so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. The list of armor is primarily defensive: helmet, breastplate, belt, sandals, shield and so forth.

In verse 17, however, Paul says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” There are two Greek words that are translated, “the word of God.” One of them is logos, referring to Scripture in general. The other is a word that focuses on a specific passage of Scripture. In this verse, Paul is referring to the specific word of God—individual passages of the Bible that are brought to bear on individual battles. Just as Jesus answered Satan with specific passages of Scripture from the Old Testament when he was tempted in the desert, so we fight Satan with specific passages of Scripture that apply to the situation at hand.

Our first weapon in battling our foe is the word of truth. In verse 18 of Ephesians 6, Paul gives us our second: “And pray in the Spirit.” The second weapon is prayer. Whether we are evangelizing the lost, discipling believers, or trying to restore a lapsed brother or sister, the weapons are always the same: the word of truth accompanied by prayer in the Spirit. We need the Spirit of God to open our minds and release us from Satan’s captivity.

The battle for the souls of men and women is really not won in the witnessing encounter or the discipling meeting, but in prayer, before we ever get into those situations. Our actions are of course necessary, but it is futile to fight without paving the way by prayer against the devil.

THE NATURE OF OUR STRUGGLE

We are at war against a powerful, unseen foe. And our weapons are the word of God and prayer. In order to use these weapons successfully, we need to have an adequate understanding of the kind of warfare we are engaged in.

Several times, Paul uses a word related to prayer that means to struggle or to agonize. It is the word from which we get our word agony. The same word is translated “fight” in 1 Timothy 6:12—“Fight the good fight of faith.” Paul also uses this word in Colossians 1:28–29: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present every one perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling [or agonizing] with all his energy, which so powerfully works within me.” Here Paul is talking about our first weapon, the word of truth. But in chapter two, verse 1 of his letter to the people at Colossae he continues, “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” In Colossians 1:29 Paul means, “I agonize in the ministry of the word.” In Colossians 2:1 he means, “I agonize in the ministry of prayer.” Both indicate intense fighting. Paul wasn’t just praying about those in the hospital and the unemployed. He was in the heat of the battle.

In Colossians 4:12, Paul commends Epaphras for the same kind of struggling: “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling [always agonizing, always waging war] in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Epaphras had his eye on the battle. He wanted these people to grow up in Christ and stand firm in the will of God. He wasn’t just concerned about their logistical or felt needs. He was concerned about the spiritual aspects of their lives. And he waged war in prayer.

Are you in the battle? Have you agonized in prayer lately? Or are you still preoccupied with the material things of your life, as Joram was for the need of water, losing sight of the real battle and the real enemy?

FOCUSING ON THE RIGHT OBJECTIVE

Once we’ve faced the enemy, armed ourselves with the right weapons, and prepared ourselves for the rigors of battle, we can still jeopardize our success by losing sight of God’s ultimate objective in this spiritual warfare.

What is God’s objective? “For God so loved the world.” God so loved people that he gave his only begotten son. Christ died for them. This is God’s objective: people; not being found at the airport, or even having a great mission conference. Those are logistical and tactical operations.

In Genesis 12:3, God promised Abraham, “All people on earth will be blessed through you.” This hasn’t happened yet. Our job is to engage the enemy in warfare, to see that it does happen. God’s plan is going to be fulfilled, but he has ordained that this plan be carried out through prayer.

There are 4½ billion men, women, and children on this earth right now. Most of them have never received the gospel. Have you prayed God’s promises into fulfillment for any of those people lately? Are you engaging Satan in battle through prayer? Are you asking God to bind the strong man, and claiming Christ’s victory on the Cross?

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. He told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest would raise up laborers. The battle is not with unemployment and sickness and transportation arrangements. Those are necessary logistical items, and I am not saying that we shouldn’t pray for those things. God is aware of our friend in the hospital, or the man or woman out of a job. But I think that his attitude toward them is embodied in what he said to Joram: “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” They are logistical details. He will also hand the enemy over to us.

My challenge to you is this: keep praying for your friend in the hospital, and keep praying for your friend who needs work. But remember that these are light things in the eyes of the Lord. Ask God to get you into the heat of the real battle. Ask him to equip you to engage the unseen foe, and then take your prayer life into the war for God’s ultimate objective. And expect him to hand Moab over to you.

[1]Mayberry, Peter, Discipleship Journal, Issue 19, (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress) c2000.