Posts

The One Prayer Every Parent Must Begin Praying Today

Prayer for parents

The One Prayer Parents Need

I began to notice a trend in our mornings. After the mumbled good mornings were spoken, one boy would begin telling me about a dream he had. Often this would spark another boy to share his dream. At first, I paid little attention. Until one morning I found my eyes rolling inside my head.

I just wanted to start our school day, but I was listening to details of dreams. They were persistent in sharing with me. Almost as if they couldn’t move on until they got it off their chest. They sensed my impatience as they often began with, “It’s real fast, Mom.”

The day I felt my inner-self exasperated at the chore of listening to dreams, the Lord spoke, and I stopped what I was doing and audibly gasped.

This is what you’ve been praying for.

I immediately began thinking back to what I’ve been praying.

There are certain scriptures I will pray each night before they go to sleep. In addition to scripture, there are specific phrases I pray consistently.

Recently, I read Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson. He termed these types of prayers as prayer mantras. I realized I had a list of prayer mantras. Many were developed from scripture, but some were not.

 

My Prayer Mantras for our kids:

  • Lord, give them a heart like David’s, one who has a heart after your own heart. Give them a spirit like Caleb’s, one that follows you wholeheartedly.
  • Lord, tonight may they lie down and sleep in peace, knowing you alone, O Lord, make them dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
  • Use them in mighty ways for your kingdom and let them strike fear in the eyes of the enemy.
  • Let them determine in their mind and heart to seek You, their God. (1 Chron 22:19)
  • Plant your Word deep in their hearts that they might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)
  • Instruct their hearts with truth even as they sleep. (from Psalm 16:7)

That last one. Instruct their hearts with truth even as they sleep. When they sleep, and their bodies and minds are at rest, I desire that God uses that time to keep speaking to them. When nothing is competing for attention, when nothing distracts, may they lie in sleep and allow God to mold and shape their hearts while instructing their minds and hearts.

God is at work in times and areas we are completely unaware of. Our tendency is to limit what God can do or focus on what we can see.

God is at work deep in the heart. His arms can reach into the places no man’s hands can go. Man can repair a heart and make it function. But God can purify a heart and make it beat with true life again.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

It’s the area we as parents can influence but can’t actually change. However, God can. This type of work happens over time. Often gradually, slowly. If we watch with alert eyes, we can see the changes that happen little bit by little bit.

I think many times we fail to see what God is doing in those deep places because we are looking for the instant gratification of an immediate, miraculous change, a road to Damascus moment.

While that can happen and absolutely does, sometimes what God is doing is massaging a heart. He is softening it. He is growing and stretching them. He is bringing together multiple layers and purposes.

We see mere glimpses of the inner hearts of our children. But if we are praying for God to do the deep heart surgery, we can rest knowing He is at work. Even when we can’t see it.

So maybe we stop and ask God to give us eyes to see glimpses. Maybe we praise Him for the glimpse. Praise Him for the slow work.

Maybe we stop wringing our hands and instead lift them to heaven.

Psalm 134:2 Lift up your hands in the holy place and praise the LORD!

Praising God brings forth the miracles. Try it and wait. Miracles rain from Heaven when a heart turns to praise. Something shifts in the spiritual world.

You see when we praise Him, the miracle first happens in our own lives. Inside of us, in deep crevices, something bursts forth. This is the first miracle.

Andrew hopped himself onto the kitchen counter and began telling me details of a dream. We were all going to a carnival where Andrew had been the day before. He watched as carnival goers followed the carnival workers into games and attractions only to find themselves tricked by their persuasive speech and promises. Once inside the attraction, they never came out again. Andrew saw the true colors of these workers and had warnings for the rest of us.

As we all arrived at the carnival, he begged and pleaded with us not to fall for the deception. He urged us to trust him that these people weren’t who they said they were. In his dream he said he warned over and over again that while they said the right things and put a big smile on their face, they were really tricking people to get them to follow them. And once they went with them they never returned.

Only days before Andrew shared this dream, another boy heard in a dream to “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

And another son that same week had a very detailed dream. He and one of his brothers were martyred in Rome by being thrown out of a window. In the next scene they stood in Heaven and he watched Jesus approach each person who stood at the gate. He said he saw Bible greats like David and he was so excited to see them. He watched Jesus approach his brother and tell him well done. He watched his brother enter the gates of heaven. Then Jesus went to another man to deliver the message that he wouldn’t be entering heaven. The man began to plead and explain that ‘he didn’t know’. The man held up a Bible and said, “I had the wrong Bible. I didn’t know.”

After hearing all of these dreams in the span of days, I saw instruction that could be taken and applied. I saw themes of wisdom and deception. After putting the three dreams together, I landed at Matthew 7:14-16.

14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.

21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME

While I don’t know exactly what all these dreams might mean, what I do know is they are a sampling of many others they have shared with me. Dreams that hold Biblical applications the boys could apply.

I believe God placed in their hearts the desire to share many of these with me as a reminder that I often pray and forget I’ve even prayed the very things God is doing.

The Lord reminded me that He is speaking to my kids at times and in ways I cannot. And He is speaking to me through my kids. He’s got us in His hands.

I can trust my kids to the Father who created them and will never leave or forsake them.

I can trust Him to change hearts like water to wine.

I can trust Him to feed their 5,000 needs out of the crumbs I see with my eyes.

I can trust Him to open their eyes so that they see how many are on their side.

I can trust Him to take their sin and wash them clean.

I can trust Him to use them in ways I’m too fearful to fathom.

I can trust Him to mend and repair the pains created when He rips the weeds from their hearts.

I can trust Him to fix what is broken.

I can trust Him to part the Red Sea and make their impossible way miraculously possible.

And I can trust Him to do what ONLY He can do.

Trusting God is a choice. Today I choose trust.

When I choose trust, I choose freedom. I choose rest. I choose to release anxiety and let it go back to hell where it came from.

God has given me a choice. I can choose to trust Him with my children. Or I can white knuckle through our days. I’m running to Him. It’s a choice.

And when I tuck my body tightly under His Wings, I whisper these words. God, I choose to trust You. If you are holding me this tight and secure, I believe you are doing the same for my kids. I’m asking for miracles to rain down on my kids. Miracles that leave them speechless before a Holy God. And Lord, like I pray for my kids, I pray the same for me. I declare the truth of your Word that I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. I can rest because I’ve chosen to trust you with every second of the lives of my children. Even their sleeping moments that I thought went unused and wasted. You waste nothing. I praise you for you are the God  who speaks. May we have ears to hear you speaking.

 

 

How To Live Fearless In A Scary World

IMG_8379

For the audio recording of this post click here to listen.

I sat straight up in my bed, my heart racing as my eyes desperately tried to focus. Light filtered in through the blinds as I reached for my watch and tried to understand why I felt terrified. My immediate thought went to Andrew. Did he sleepwalk out of the beach house we are renting? The pond steps from our place has several alligators cruising its waters. Did Andrew wander into the waters? What if he’s gone?

Initially, I tried to talk myself calm. I tried to prove to God I trusted in Him by praying and laying still in my bed. But I couldn’t. I bolted out of the bed and ran to the front door. I checked the deadbolt. Twice. I went to Andrew’s bed. Everyone was safely sleeping.

I returned to my bed and prayed myself back to sleep. I wish I could say this is the first time that has happened. It’s not and it seems to be happening more frequently.

Our first day at the beach the wind was fierce, so loud you had to yell to hear each other. The sand blew so hard it pelted our skin with little stings. The boys and I used different words to describe the waves. To me they were violent. To the boys they were adventure.

Steve and I watched the boys jumping in the waves while the sand stung our skin and all we could hear were shouts of kids carried intermittently by the wind.

“Steve, it’s too dangerous for them to be out there. Those waves are rough.” I immediately thought back to a conversation we had on the way to the beach. One I initiated about fear and how I refused to become a person directed by fear. While I wouldn’t jump from a plane, I wouldn’t stop living life because of the what if’s of freak accidents either. That would simply be life not lived, rather life controlled by fear.

But in that moment fear held me by the neck against a wall.

“Steve, I feel terrified right now.”

“Renee, you need to send that fear away.”

I began talking to God with my eyes lasered at my kids. In that moment it hit me. He commands those waves and winds. He quieted the waves and winds with two words. Be still.

Be still.

I’ve written talks around this. I’ve spoken on this topic multiple times. And here I am again. Reminding myself that the One Who holds the world, is the One who commands the waves, is the One Who has numbered my days. So why do we fear?

We are a scared bunch of people. Anxiety plagues our world. The world is scary.

We are surrounded by terrifying reports. Within days we read about the Orlando massacre, the tragic death of a 2-year-old in Disney, a missing 14-year-old who was swimming in the ocean, a 13-year-old almost kidnapped right from her mother’s side. I am debating getting off of Facebook for good because I walk away scared, or mad, or nervous, or something that is not good for me.

Here’s the deal. I hate when satan attacks us and we let him. There is something so deep inside me that begins to boil over when I see his schemes. I’m dropping the gloves with him. I’m tired of watching him seek to destroy us through fear tactics. It’s his age old trick. He’s not very creative. We are simply not seeing what he is doing. And we aren’t putting on our armor.

I will not live scared in this world.

How often does God instruct us not to fear? Throughout the Bible God tells His people not to fear. Trust Him.

But we read these words then we turn to the news and immediately forget God’s instruction to us.

The weeks before Steve and I left for Haiti, I battled fear in a big way. This is nothing new for me. Fear I battle regularly. Last fall I had an intense fear war going on as God revealed many things to me. His intent was not for me to fear, yet I went first to fear.

Prior to our Haiti trip, Jacob expressed his own fear about our trip. What if we died while there and he was left with no parents? It’s a valid fear. It was my biggest fear as a child. I shared his fear with a friend who instantly reminded me of the truth.

Job 14:15 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.

Jacob and I read this verse together. I said, “Jacob, God has appointed a time for me to die. He knows the exact hour. Whether my plane crashes over the ocean or I’m sitting in my house and my heart simply stops beating, God knows the day I will go home to Him.”

I watched as the moment of understanding transformed his face. That’s why we can’t let the what if’s of life plague us.

Psalm 56:3 “When I’m afraid I will trust in you.”

Psalm 139:16 “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

The day we depart this earth is no surprise to God. He has numbered our days. He knows the very moment we will enter into eternity. So why should I waste one second on fear? Why should I allow satan to steal my joy and my moments because I’m pondering the what-if’s?

We have two choices in where we allow our mind to go. On Him or on the fears of this world.

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

To live fearless in a scary world takes us making the choice to live fearless. The choice is ours. The moment fear creeps in, we take charge by breaking down the stronghold.

2 Cor 10:4-5 “since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly,[a] but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Either we take fear captive….or it takes us hostage. All we have to do is take those fear thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. God is not the author of fear. Fear is from satan. Because we are under the lordship of Christ, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to take every thought captive and make it obey Him.

Our fear thoughts only torment us if we allow them to. Battle with His Word.

 

When the plan makes zero sense

followplan

I used to be so organized! Really I did. I used to make monthly menu plans, cleaning schedules, well-planned to-do lists. In the past, I would have packed for a trip a week ahead of time. I would have begun preparing mentally well in advance. I would have plotted out the trip before leaving so as to have no wasted time.

Now my kids are older, and I spend all of my free time writing, studying, or speaking. So I put a significant amount of planning and organizing there, which means something had to give. I think secretly my family is glad about this. It makes a not free-spirited girl a little bit free-er…is that a word?

For our recent trip to Orlando, I mentioned in a previous post that we surprised the boys with a day at Magic Kingdom. The old me would have spent an enormous amount of time planning, plotting, or organizing to maximize that day. But I simply had no time, so the night before we left, I hopped on The Unofficial Guide to Disney and for $12.95 purchased their very well thought out, super-organized touring plan suited for a family with only 1 day and children at various ages and stages.

This plan makes no logical sense at all. It has you zigging and zagging all over the park rather than visit each ride in each section while you are there. A few times Steve gave me that look. The one that said, “Seriously….we have to walk all the way to the other side when the ride right here has a very small wait? This makes no sense.”

The plan seemed to make no sense. But we made a choice to trust the plan even though it made no sense whatsoever. There were so many moments that temptation was great to break the plan, to follow our own ideas, which seemed right. Then we would remember we had chosen to trust the plan.

We followed the plan exactly. Never veering to the right or to the left. Never following our own ideas, even when they seemed to make more sense. We followed the course laid out for us.

And the most amazing thing happened. We finished every single attraction on that list in record time. A plan that estimated we would finish just prior to park closing, we finished before dinner. On a peak day, during spring break!

Every single day I question God’s plan. Not out loud, not in a way anyone would recognize as questioning God. It’s a little more silent inside me. The way I become exasperated over correcting the same behavior over and over again in my children. The way I question why I continue to have to walk through various difficult situations that appear hopeless. The way I become restless and discontent in a current situation, looking to what I want rather then grasping gratitude for what I have. The way I worry and cover it by saying I’m just “thinking”.

Oh, yes, I question God’s plan. When I look at the world around me, despair beckons me to crumble at its feet. When I hear words spoken from one of my children that I swore my children would never say, and in my heart I just want to throw in the towel and admit defeat. When a difficult person continues to present difficult situations and I quit praying because I’ve decided to take sides with hopelessness. These are the silent ways I question His plan every single day.

In my heart, I trust God. I trust His Word. I sit at His feet and pour out my heart, I am strengthened by His Word. Then I take 2 steps into reality and how quickly I forget. So today I visualize following that silly, illogical touring plan. Choosing to follow what felt unnatural. That’s what it often feels like to follow God.

I choose to follow God’s plan, even when – to my human mind – it makes no logical sense. Because I know He is faithful. I know He cares for me. I know He holds me in His right hand. I know He is compassionate towards me. I know He knows my fears and struggles better than I do. I know He sees ahead what I can’t see. I know He laid a plan for me before I was born. I know that nothing can thwart His plan. I know all of this. Today I choose to walk in the belief that His plan is perfect even when I can’t see the sense in it.

Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”

[box] If you enjoyed today’s post, consider subscribing here to receive posts via email. Blog subscribers are entered in a quarterly drawing to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card and will also receive a free Christmas ornament download that accompanies Seeking Christmas – Finding the True Meaning Through Family Traditions.[/box]