Category: spirituality

Uncomplicating Prayer

Uncomplicating Prayer

Prayer in its simplest form is a conversation between yourself and God.  However, many women find it intimidating to pray.  What is it about prayer that makes some of us feel so ill at ease?  For some, it’s determining the appropriate posture, others struggle with what to say and/or how to say it, and many women wonder just how long their prayer should be.  If prayer has served as a source of intimidation for you, it is my prayer that this post will help to put your mind at ease.

Posturing for Prayer

Let’s begin with posture.  Whether you’re sitting, standing, or kneeling is insignificant.  Praying in a position that is comfortable for you, is what is important.  This is key because you want to be able to focus on your conversation with God and not on pain resulting from being in an uncomfortable position.  So, sit, stand, or kneel, whatever works for you.  We have been conditioned to pray with our eyes closed and for me personally it helps me to block everything out and focus, but if you prefer to keep your eyes open then do so

What to Say/How to Say/How Long to Say

Many erroneously believe that their prayer must be formal, filled with thees and thous or “big” words.  God is not impressed with our vocabulary or lack thereof, formality, or marathon prayers.  Matthew 6:7(NLT) confirms this: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words”.  What He does what is honesty and sincerity; Simply talk to Him in your normal voice and tone openly.

Prayer need not be an act that causes you to feel intimidated or awkward.  Close your eyes or leave them open, take a deep breath, and let your words flow out.  Talk to your heavenly Father as you would to your best friend and when you’re done don’t forget to take the time to listen for any words He may have for you.

The Other Fruit

The Other Fruit

It is common knowledge that fruit is good for us.  For us to maintain a well-balanced diet it is recommended that we eat four servings of this food group daily.  Weight loss coaches encourage us to replace the chips, cookies, and other less healthy snacks with an apple, orange, or berries.    Studies show that certain fruits are helpful in preventing and minimizing the symptoms of certain ailments such as lemons for digestive tract issues and cherries for inflammatory pain relief.

While it is a proven fact that fruit is indeed good for our bodies, it doesn’t end there.  Fruit is essential for our spirit as well.  “How so?” you ask.  Galatians 5:22-23(NIV) lists the fruit that should be a regular part of every Christian’s diet:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We cannot purchase this fruit in a grocery store or a farmer’s market and although we can find just about everything at Wal-Mart, we won’t find it there either.  The fruit that is spoken of in these Galatian verses, doesn’t come from outside of us but is produced in us by the Holy Spirit.  The key word in the sentence above is produced.  We aren’t born with the “fruit of the Spirit”; It begins to grow in us when we receive salvation and begin to live for Christ.  As we continuously grow in our relationship with God, the fruit continuously grows within us.

When we are driving down the road and see the big yellow “M” we recognize that there’s a McDonald’s nearby.   Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the situation, our kids recognize it too.  When we see the swoosh symbol we know the shoes or garment is a Nike product.  These logos do what they were designed to do, they make their brand easily identifiable.   Likewise, when others see love, joy, peace and the other six fruits in us, they recognize us as followers of Christ.

Follow the recommended dietary allowance and get your daily four, but while you’re filling up on apples, bananas, and pears, don’t forget about the other fruit.  Make sure you get these nine nutrients too:   love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  The fruit that feeds our spirit.

Defining Your Happiness

Defining Your Happiness

Do you remember having to look up vocabulary words in English class?  For me it involved the use of a large hardcover dictionary, for some of you Dictionary.com  or a similar website may have been your source.  No matter what source was used, you found that most words were not limited to one definition, but often there were multiple meanings.

Happiness is a trending term.  It is a broad word that many try to define narrowly.  Many self-help books have been written on it, public speakers hold seminars and conferences about it, life coaches offer their services to help guide you to it…..

What does it mean?

Just like many other words, happiness has more than one definition.  Dictionary.com gives two:  the quality or state of being happy is the first and most basic meaning and the second is good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.  So now that we have it defined, how do we reach this state of being happy?  How do we obtain good fortune, pleasure, contentment, joy? Is it something to be pursued or do we already have it innately in us?

My Happy/Your Happy

For some happiness is attached to material things and social status.  Careers, money, houses, cars, designer clothes, jewelry are the indicators of happiness for them.  Relationships are the source of happiness for many:  significant others, family, and friends determine whether or not they are happy.  Others equate a spiritual connection to happiness.  Having a relationship with God or their ascribed higher power defines their happy.  I think that happiness is innately within us and that sometimes it gets buried underneath some “stuff” but it still lives.  For me God is the main source of my happiness, but I believe that contentment with my relationships, career, and having some of the material things that I desire further contribute to it.

What does happiness mean to you?

How you choose to define your happiness is just that, your choice.  Choose it on your own terms and not someone else’s borrowed definition.

No Sacrifice, No Reward

No Sacrifice, No Reward

This past Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent.  For those who may not already know, Lent is a 40 day period prior to Easter, in which Christians and others choose something to sacrifice and focus on drawing closer to God.  This something can be a food or drink such as sweets, sodas, or alcohol and/or television, electronics, or social media.  Whatever equates to a sacrifice for you personally.

I believe we can learn a lot from this Lenten spirit of sacrifice.  In a society that “wants it all”  It is important to make note of and remember that reward does not come without sacrifice.

We have to be willing to give up something(s) for our greater good.  It may be time, a hindering habit, wrong attitude(towards others or self), or it may very well be a somebody rather than a something that we have to release.

What are you willing to sacrifice during this season and afterwards?  Remember:  no sacrifice, no reward.

Conquering Your Goals

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Numbers 13:30 is my Tuesday morning inspiration:  “Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.”

Caleb was referring to conquering land that was inhabited by giants.  He knew that God had equipped them to overcome these giants, so his focus was on possessing the land, not on the obstacles to possessing the land.

We have metaphoric “giants” that try to hinder us from achieving our goals as well.  But, I am encouraged that I am/ that we are also equipped to overcome every “giant” that rises up.  We must do as Caleb did and see past the obstacle(s), focusing instead on our goal(s). So, whether your goal is a new career, a promotion, a house, debt elimination, or whatever it is, know that you are well able to conquer it no matter what “giant” tries to oppose you.

Pray It Like You Mean It

 

How do I need to pray?  Boldly and confidently:  “Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭AMP‬‬

 

When do I need to pray?  All the time:  “Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:18‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Why do I need to pray?  For answers and solutions to all situations and problems, for healing/deliverance, protection/covering:  “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭AMP‬‬

What’s the Motive?

Nothing that is said or done, is done so without an underlying motive.  I’m a very analytical person so I’m often questioning motives- those of others as well as my own.

Good or bad, selfish or selfless, we don’t do anything without a reason.  When we choose to help someone, what is our motive?  As a Christian it should be because it is the right thing to do and it is what Jesus wants us to do:  “For I was an hungred and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36 KJV).  This is not always the case though.  A lot of times the motive is to get something in return:  cash, some material possession, or maybe something nonmaterial such as attention, public praise, or some other accolade.  A quote that I saw on Pinterest says it well:  “If you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you’re doing business not kindness.”

My motive for writing this blog post?  I love writing, it is one of my gifts and I choose to use it to help teach, encourage, motivate, and uplift others.

There is a motive for everything and the motive does make a difference- a difference in how your actions are received and/or the outcome of your actions.  Soooo, what’s your motive?

My Mission Statement

I was both intrigued and challenged by the concept of a Life Purpose/Mission Statement.  This notion was presented to me via a training exercise sponsored by Happy Black Woman.  While it is common practice to have a mission statement for a business or corporation, I had never considered a personal life mission statement.  It made me sit back and really reflect on the questions of “who are you?  what is important to you? what do you stand for?”

This reflection resulted in my life purpose/ mission statement which I am proud to share with you below.

God is the head and center of my life.  I humbly submit to Him         and my life evolves from Him and revolves around service to and for Him.  Faith, family, love, and forgiveness are the foundations my life is built upon.  Each day I make effort to “die a little more to self” so that I can become more like Christ, who completely died for me.  I am committed to life long learning in and outside of the classroom.  I am equally committed to teaching both in and outside of the classroom.  My gifts and ministries include writing, helping, encouraging, and teaching.  My mission is to serve the Lord within my home, church, and community and be the best me, the me that God created me to be.

What is your mission?

 

You’re Approved!

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God has already given us His stamp of approval; No further validation is needed or required.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27 ESV

“For am I now seeking the approval of man , or of God? Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10 ESV

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

Keep It Simple

Many of us shy away from prayer because we find it intimidating.  We cower at the thought of approaching “the throne;” we’re not sure of what to say or how to say it, if there are certain words we should use, if we should keep it short and to the point or elaborate, if there is a certain praying position we should use, and what we should do afterwards.  Just relax and keep it simple.  The main requirement is sincerity.

As is with most things, “practice makes perfect,” so it is with prayer.  I have an acrostic that outlines how simple prayer can be:

 

 

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