As we walk along with God, we must take the time to pray and listen. In doing this, we can understand when to go, even if we don’t understand the why and what for at the exact moment.
A Time to Pray and Listen.
Taking the time to pray and listen to the One who holds our future is so important. He reveals bits and pieces to us along our daily journey. Sometimes, he says, “Just trust me and go.” Other times, he gives us something more tangible.
Early this year, through prayer I knew–KNEW–I was supposed to step out and take on a leadership role in our homeschool community. So I went through the process. I did the interviews and the training. I went through everything.
Misinterpreting the Reason
A few months later, something else happened in our lives and it took me aback a little. Just a little.
Beginning to question what God had called me to step up and do, I remember thinking, “God you specifically told me to step out and do this.” I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was something I had to do, so why now was this other situation happening?
The answer came in the form of a picture. Being a visual person, I see pictures before the words ever come. I saw Phillip talking to the Ethiopian eunuch, baptizing him, and then being whisked away.
You see, I hadn’t missed my calling. But I may have misinterpreted the reason.
I’m still praying on this one, because honestly it still isn’t completely clear what the next step will be. But what I do know is that God has a plan. His plan is not for me to necessarily stay comfortable in the role he has called me to fulfill.
I quickly realized that my job is to trust and follow him wherever he may ask me to go.
With Phillip, God needed him to talk to the Ethiopian eunuch. Once that task was finished, the Holy Spirit whisked him away in what I visualize as a small tornado! LOL! (It doesn’t say that, but that’s what I visualize.)
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Phillip, ‘Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'”
Look at how specific that is! He had a clear picture of exactly where he was supposed to go. When we take time to pray and listen, we can hear our Lord’s directions.
“So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked.
‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”
Did the Lord reveal the whole plan before Philip moved?
Did you notice that the Lord didn’t reveal his whole plan at once but once Philip started obeying and going along, he gave a little more direction?
First, the Lord told him to go south on the desert road. So Philip started going down that road.
Then, the Lord told him to go hang out next to the chariot. Boom! Once he was given more specific direction, Philip didn’t waste anytime.He ran!
Then, he waited! He waited for an invitation from the Ethiopian eunuch to share about Jesus.
“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reach Caesarea.”
Walk in Trust and not in Details
Sometimes we want to know the whole plan before we get moving, but that is when we need to walk in trust and not the details. It’s not a bad thing to ask God, do we go now or wait, but in order to do that we have to pray and listen. And once we have an answer we must start walking.
We cannot let our comfortableness in a situation keep us there. We must be willing to go about our Lord’s work, just like Philip was. God literally whisked him away the moment he accomplished what he needed to do with the eunuch.
Are We Willing to be Whisked Away?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. Am I willing to be whisked away or am I so comfortable where God has placed me at the moment, that I’m willing to fight him to stay comfortable?
I think it is ironic that in the above situation, I hunkered down in what I thought he had called me to do, not realizing that maybe he just needed me there for a briefer reason than I initially realized. Maybe, God has a bigger plan than I can’t see. Maybe, just maybe, I was focusing on harvesting when he was only asking me to water.
But here’s the thing: As of yet I don’t know His timing and when He will call me away from it, so I will continue to walk in obedience until he points me otherwise.
How will I know? By taking the time to pray and listen.
Friend, I encourage you to take time to do the same.
Thy will be done. Saying those words produces strong feelings in me. What about you? Are the words comforting? Do they make you ready to run? For me, it is both comforting and alarming. It makes me wonder what is about to happen, but also gets me excited to see what God is going to do.
Thy Will Be Done: How can this be both comforting and alarming?
From my own personal life experience, I’ve learned that when God calls, He typically starts to lead me in a way that changes my world and throws me out of my comfort zone. I’ve always considered myself a risk taker BUT God’s idea of risk is much greater than mine and yet, it is the safest thing of all. Because His ways are not our ways, He calls us to something more than this world has to offer. There have been many times that He has called me away from my wants and desires even when I thought they were based on His leading.
Fighting God’s Will in South America
I’ve seen God test my willingness to follow His lead. Maybe in actuality, I was the one testing God to see if I could conform His ways to my will instead of the other way around.
As a freshman in college, I was preparing to go on my first official mission trip. Every week our group of 4 people would meet for training and learn how to encourage open conversation and plant seeds of hope in the lives of others. We were raising funds and praying over the location we were destined to go. Four months into raising funds, we learned that our plans were being changed. Now instead of going to Argentina, which was the ONLY place I agreed to go to in South America, we were told we would be going to a town in Venezuela that was 90 miles from the Colombian border.
I pitched a fit or maybe more truthfully, I refused to go. I went to the office and stated how we had planned to go to Argentina. This was the only country I felt comfortable going to and we needed to get back to that place instead of wherever they were now sending us. I didn’t pray for understanding or for God to soften my heart on this. Instead, I dug my feet in and tried to fight to go to where I felt comfortable. God had different plans.
His ways are not our ways.
God knew I would never willingly choose to go to Venezuela, but He put me on a mission team destined for that very place–a place I soon fell in love with. I came to love Venezuela and it’s people so much that I returned the following summer.
God had big plans. He had been using teams for years to plant seeds in the hearts of people in Merida, Venezuela. That summer, we were able to continue planting seeds, as well as witnessing several dedicating their lives to Christ. It was thrilling! I got to see Jesus alive and well in the hearts of fellow brothers and sisters. The passion for Jesus was contagious and I came back living more impassioned for Christ than I ever had before.
Fighting God’s will in America
Years later, after my husband and I had “settled” into our cozy suburban neighborhood and started our family, God once again decided to change our lives. Looking back now, He called us to something earlier, but we were just to caught up in what we wanted to truly listen to what He wanted.
When we started changing how we prayed and asked God to lead us instead of just blessing whatever plan we had, He took our lives in a completely different direction. I’ve mentioned it before so I won’t go into details again but I will say that it was this time that God took us away from many of our physical “treasures.” He asked us to treasure Him more than our things. My perspective has definitely changed. Now, I look around at the things we own and feel as though I am ready to walk away from it all, if that is what God calls us to do.
Between Venezuela and many other times when I decided to fight God’s will (did I mention I’m stubborn?), I realized something about myself:
I was determined to love God with all my heart and serve him with all I had, as long as I was comfortable.
It felt like I’d been sucker punched the moment I realized this truth. God doesn’t want to live in our confined boxes and He definitely doesn’t want us to. We can’t experience God’s amazing ways when we aren’t willing to walk in His splendor.
Lord teach us…
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
– Psalm 143:10
Will their be times of pain and discomfort?
YES! We can see this truth throughout the Bible. Every single person who followed God’s leading in their life had some form of discomfort. Why would we think that our lives should be any different? Do we really think that we deserve the nice house, the nice cars and all are nice things? Are we willing to give them up if called? If we struggle with answering “yes” to this question, then we may be finding ourselves only living for God as long as we are comfortable. This is a very dangerous place to be. It’s a place that Satan can work to encourage us never to leave.
(Now, am I not saying just because we have a nice house, a nice car, and nice things that we are not living for God? NOT AT ALL! But I am saying if we are putting those things before Christ, even if we don’t realize it, then we really need to question, if we are living for God or living for ourselves?)
We do not need to be afraid of any pain or discomfort that will come when we are walking in God’s will! God will give us a perfect peace when we follow Him.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
As a mom of 5, our Bible Time has looked different over the years. The last two years we have settled into a pattern that I am loving and the kids seem to do well with too. Since a friend asked what Bible time with our kids looks like, I decided I would share and hopefully encourage you in your Bible time too!
I posted a sweet picture of our 3rd child on Instagram and Facebook prepping the table for our Bible Time mid-morning snack. I am always amazed at how God’s word delivers exactly what we need to hear. On this particular day, we needed to be reminded that we are each invited to feast with God, but in order to do that we need to put ourselves and our excuses to the side.
What Our Bible Time Looks Like
1. It’s Flexible
We try to have our Bible time daily, but that doesn’t always happen. I would say at the moment we are running at a 90% success rate. We typically have Bible time around mid-morning, once all the kids are awake. We have one late sleeper. Since we homeschool, we can be flexible and I really enjoy it.
So sometimes we have our Bible Time at mid-morning, sometimes during lunch, and sometimes we have it at night over dinner with their dad. And other times we do it before heading off to bed.
Again for us, being flexible is key. Every day looks different, but most days, we have it mid-morning.
The location is flexible too. Many times we gather together in the living room, sometimes at the kitchen table, other times on the back porch while they snack and draw with chalk, and sometimes on the school room floor while they are putting puzzles together.
As long as they are paying attention and not causing a distraction, then I will allow them to color, play with legos, or color when I read longer passages.
2. Start with Songs & a Chant
Once the snack has been prepped and my precious daughter, who loves to present the food prettily has done just that, we start to sing. First, we sing the Books of the Old Testament, then the Books of the New Testament.
Then we pat the Bible while we sing the “B-I-B-L-E” song and add “YIPPEE!” to the end. It just makes it more fun!
Then, before I open to the passage we are reading for the day, I say/chant the following:
The Bible is the Word of God. Everything in it is true. It tells us all about how much God loves YOU!
Now, that our kids have heard it so often they, I pause and they fill in what I underlined above. Often times, they race to see who can say it the fastest. Sometimes, they finish before I can even start.
Recently, I also started asking if both the Old and New Testament go together or if they should be kept separate. I want our kids to understand this is one seamless story. We can’t just pick up in the New Testament and think we will understand what’s going on. We need to know what the Old Testament says to get a complete picture and understanding of the Bible all together.
3. Fuel the Soul & the Body
I typically present a snack along with our Bible time. This is for a few reasons:
#1 – It helps them gather together. My family eats several times a day. For some the mid-morning snack is what they call second breakfast and they will always come running when food is available. #2 – They are eager for me to start. Mainly, because they are not allowed to start eating their snack until I have started the Bible lesson. #3 – This keeps their mouths closed so they can listen better. When you have 5 mouths that like to give commentary, it’s a nice treat to be able to keep them engaged and listening.
4. Now, it’s time for the Bible lesson.
Several years ago, I became convicted about what we were reading for our Bible lessons. At first, I was using children’s bibles. They were ok, but they left out all the good details and even many of my favorite stories.
I believed that it was a good thing to read the whole Bible in it’s actual context to our children, instead of just working on surface details. God is in even the smallest details and I didn’t want them to miss out on his amazing ways by skipping what He has deemed important to share with us.
Of course, I remember praying about this and thinking,
“God, there are some parts that aren’t really rated G but your word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It is good for teaching and rebuking and our family really needs to be taught, so as we come to the parts where I want to cover their ears, please help me explain it to them in a way that honors you and teaches them how to love you.”
And what God started teaching us was truly amazing!
Now, I will say, that I may wait to read over Song of Songs until their married. That book just might be a marriage gift to them. It’s a great book, but obviously still praying about that one! LOL!
Using a Chronological Bible
We started reading the chronological Bible, which was fantastic for me too. I wanted our kids to understand the timeline of the Bible. I remember being so confused as a kid and an adult about what happened when, so the chronological Bible allows us to read the Bible as one whole story instead of a bunch of little stories.
We have had many wonderful conversations around stories that I may have skipped over had it not been for asking God to help guide our conversations and their hearts.
It was just like the Holy Spirit gave me the words and helped me out.
We read the passage then talked about how God created marriage with Adam and Eve. Anything outside of what that relationship looks like is wrong. We don’t have to talk through every wrong situation and I didn’t even point out the details after reading over it. We simply reflected on that if we know what God is wanting us to do, anything outside of that isn’t following His ways.
I can’t help but think about the richness our kids would have missed had we decided to hang back and wait to expose them to God’s word until an appropriate age. What age is that any way?
Using the Timeline
Every now and then we have to pull out my favorite timeline to figure out when someone lived or what time period an event happened. I love to be able to place the Bible timeline along with what we learn in history, because surprise – it’s all part of the same history!
When we pull out the timeline, I’ll remind our kids that they too are part of this timeline. They are just as important as the people that we read about in the Bible. God has a calling for their lives too. He wants them to share God with others and encourage others in their faith just like those in the Bible encourage us to follow God too.
Reading through the New Testament
Reading through the Chronological Bible with kids takes a looong time. We still aren’t finished!
Sometimes we will read one little passage and discuss it. Other times we will read pages and pages. It just depends on their temperaments at the time and where our conversations take us.
We made our way up past Job and past the conquering of most of the Promised Land. We read through the teachings in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, some of which are hilarious!
Then, I decided to jump to the New Testament. We read all of Acts and now we are reading Luke! LOL!! We totally got that backwards, but that’s ok. I love reading Acts, so we will probably read it again after reading Luke. Then go back to the Old Testament.
I love reading the New Testament in light of the Old Testament because pretty much every principle mentioned in the New Testament can be found in the Old. So we like to talk about the similarities and see the points Jesus makes about each topic.
Family Time Training
We also like to throw in some Family Time Training Activities. They have a free activity every month. But they also have an activity vault filled with activities on almost any Bible subject you might want to delve into and help your kids understand.
5. We Pray
We tend to close out our bible time with kids in prayer. It is a good time to practice letting the kids pray. Allowing them to think of things they are thankful for and who we can pray for, provides glimpses into their hearts. It even lets us hear what they picked up from the Bible lesson that day.
These are the things we do during in our Bible time with kids. Some days go exceptionally well and the discussion flows and other days they are eagerly awaiting when they are excused. But what is important is that they are hearing God’s word. They are being trained to listen to it, absorb it, and talk about it. They are hearing the truth so they will know how to fight the lies with the truth.
Each time you choose to sit down with your child(ren) and study the Bible, the devil will not like it. He will try to make it not worth your time and wish it was just over and done with, but take heart! Getting God’s word into the souls He created is so worth it. When it seems like a struggle, know goodness will eventually come from those moments! May God bless you as you dig into His word with His children!
I sit here in awe of God, once again, as I remember how God answered a prayer that I did not mean to pray!
How He Answered a Prayer that I Did Not Mean to Pray
What actually happened was that my heart and body called out to God because I had no idea what we would do. For the first time in my life when finding out I was pregnant, my heart sank, I balled my eyes out, fell to my knees, and cried out to God:
Now? What are we going to do? God my husband still doesn’t have a job! I can’t handle another c-section.
Please don’t misunderstand. I was not upset about the beautiful life growing inside me. It had just been a loooong 17 months. We had been taking care of my husband’s grandmother and my husband had not worked that whole time.
Not only that but not three weeks prior I had gotten rid of practically all of our baby items including clothes. So the things “we needed” we no longer had and there was no job available to provide for it.
And the c-section. That 4th c-section in conjunction with Diastasis Recti had taken so long to overcome that I did not want to have another one. I was told by my current OB/GYN that I could have up to 8 c-sections, but I knew there would be a price to pay for doing that.
God’s Gentle Reminder
In the midst of my ugly cry, I felt God say,
“Have I not taken care of you?”
That was enough to calm my spirit. God had definitely taken care of us for the year that we had been taking care of my husband’s grandmother. Actually, he had been taking care of us our whole lives!
So armed with that reminder, I dried my tears and asked God to help me trust Him. Never realizing that he would answer something in that prayer that my heart longed for but my brain would no longer dare to ask.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Two Weeks Later God’s Answers the 1st Part of My Prayer
Within two weeks, my husband had two job offers! One was within two hours of where we lived and was my top choice. The other was in a place that I had been to decades before but sadly, all I could remember about it was counting the roadkill as we drove into town.
After visiting both cities with my husband and praying about them, I was overcome with another ugly cry.
Apparently, my 5th pregnancy was filled with lots of ugly crying! Lol!
I knew in that moment that God wanted us in the city that was four and a half hours away and lined with roadkill!
God always has a plan. Sometimes we see some of the “whys” immediately and sometimes we do not.
Within a Month – Surprised with Gifts!
Upon learning that I was pregnant again, friends reached out to me and gifted our family baby items they no longer needed. From a car seat to a breast pump to clothes to cloth diapers to a jumper, all the basics that we needed were taken care of. Once again, God was reminding me that he would provide.
Every time I use one of the items gifted to us, I say a prayer of thanks to God and for those who shared their blessings with us.
Within 6 Months – The Prayer I Didn’t Mean to Pray Was Answered
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect God to work things out the way He did after we moved to Texas.
The quest for a doctor to deliver our precious daughter began. Within a few weeks, a hope began to rise that I never thought was possible. A midwife had told me about a doctor in Denton, TX that specialized in Vaginal Births After Cesareans (VBACS) after multiple c-sections!
God was answering the prayer for which my logical mind couldn’t even ask. I didn’t dare ask because I knew it was impossible. But God isn’t limited by the impossible!
No hospital in Oklahoma, that I knew of, would perform a VBAC after having 4 c-sections. Yet, here, in another state that God had sent us to, there was a man who was willing.
I sent my records over to this OB/GYN hoping and praying that he would accept me as his patient.
At 35 weeks, with eagerness and cautiousness, I saw Dr. Cummings for the first time. After discussing in depth with him my desire, past medical history, and my understanding of the complications, he agreed to allow me to not only be his patient but to have a natural birth. I was going to get my VBAC4!
I must stop here and explain before continuing.
It was my greatest desire from my first pregnancy to have a natural birth. I know c-sections are needed in some cases, but after having so many, I have to admit that it takes a toll on the body. It is major surgery. Our bodies were not made to be cut open again and again and again and again.
Every time, recovery was a little harder. Every time, my longing to be able to have a child the way God intended grew, but with every c-section my hope faded away until God made it happen!
God Made It Happen
On June 16, 2017, our family welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family. We would have rejoiced even if I had another c-section, but we were in awe of God rose up a doctor who loved him and believed with all his heart that God made women’s bodies to give birth.
He was humble and trusted God through the whole process and clearly stated this when I asked him,
“Why? Why do you choose to do this when other doctors won’t?”
His answer was simple. He said,
“I’m a believer. And I believe God made women’s bodies to birth babies. I’m just here to help them along.”
Now, I have a bold new prayer!
I pray that God will raise up more OB/GYNs like Dr. Cummings. He is one man. He cannot do it all and there are many of us, who know our bodies can deliver a child the way God intended, even after having a c-section. We want the chance to have a natural birth. We want hospitals to allow this to happen. And so I pray with all my heart that other doctors will trust God the way Dr. Cummings has trusted God. I pray that with a humble spirit they will be willing to wait for a woman’s body to give birth, encourage the mother to wait for God’s perfect timing in when their child should enter the world, and be ready to step in when it’s necessary.
Being able to have a VBAC4 was a redemptive experience for me. It allowed me to grow closer to God in ways I didn’t realize and brought a new understanding to light, but that is another post.
For now, I’ll just continue to be in awe of how God takes care of each one of us!
While attending a leadership seminar earlier this summer, we were challenged to take 7 minutes and pray. We didn’t wait to practice it later on our own time. No! Right then and there, we each followed this powerful prayer pattern and prayed this 7 minute prayer.
I was blown away by this 7 minute prayer.
Y’all know I love praying! We get to talk to the Creator of the Universe! It’s amazing.
Why I LOVE this Powerful 7 Minute Prayer
1. It is timed.
This knocks out any excuse that “I don’t have time to pray.” I’ve said it. You’ve said it. Let’s not say it anymore. We’ve got 7 minutes!
2. Need help praying longer?
This technique may help you pray longer than you think. To some 7 minutes is a long time, but by using this format, you just might be tempted to go longer. 7 minutes may actually comes fast. And that’s ok. If you want to stretch it out, then by all means stretch it out. This is a technique to help guide you in prayer not to restrain you from connecting with your Heavenly Father.
3. This 7 minute prayer guides you in what to say.
No more do you have to wonder, what am I going to say? It literally gives you the words.
4. Get out of the prayer rut!
This 7 minute prayer helps you get out of saying the same prayer over and over. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes, we could use a little help digging deeper and praying in a way that we wouldn’t think to pray.
5. It keeps your mind from wandering.
If you are often tempted to wander while praying, this technique just might be the answer you are looking for. I noticed, it helped me stay more focused.
How to Pray this Powerful 7 Minute Prayer
It’s so easy! Are you ready?
1. Open up to one of the Psalms.
Maybe start with Psalm 103, that’s the Psalm that guided us in the exercise. After you’ve prayed that one choose another the next time you pray. One lady had a great idea of taking the day of the month and adding 30 a few times and then choosing the Psalm that matched up with what she needed most at that time.