Making Time for Quiet Prayer

Making Time for PrayerQuiet prayer can be difficult.

We frequently hear about the importance of regular quiet time with God – in sermons, devotions, personal testimonies, heck, even the Bible. Jesus often went off by himself to pray. Many times Jesus prayed through the night, foregoing sleep. Prayer was clearly a priority, and should be for us.

My best prayer time, recently, was while strapped to an uncomfortable seat as required by an illuminated fasten seatbelt sign. With nowhere to go, I opened my prayer app, lifted up each concern, and jotted down insights. I can’t remember the last time I poured out my heart to God like that! It was surprisingly intimate! I emerged connected to the Spirit, filled with peace, and confident that God was handling every concern.

Why don’t we make prayer a daily habit?

There are many reasons – work, sleep, lunches to pack, a pet needing to go out, social media, life.

We talk to God all day, sending quick prayers of thanksgiving and cries for help. We think about people needing His presence. We say mealtime blessings. It’s all good prayer but doesn’t provide the intimacy found in time alone with Him.

So let’s do this!

We want to start our day with Him. We know that a steady habit of dedicated prayer is life changing! Let’s choose to meet Him in that quiet place.

In lieu of being strapped down and a thousand miles above the earth, find a comfortable chair away from your main living space. For convenience, keep a Bible, notebook, and pen there, and perhaps a candle and timer.

A timer? Short of installing a seat belt, it may be difficult to remain seated. Set the timer and commit to five minutes in His presence. At first, it may feel like an eternity, but will soon be too brief.

Use the candle to calm your racing mind and relax your body. Tell your family that when the candle is lit, you’re spending time with God – it’s better than posting a Do Not Disturb sign.

If you’re visually distracted, close your eyes. When your mind wanders, either arrest the diversion and pull your thoughts back to God or pray for the diversion itself.

Don’t do all the talking. Let your mind be still and listen. Take notes of your insights or journal your whole conversation with Him.

This is an idyllic prayer environment, but we all know some days don’t start out this way. Never fear! There are many ways to be alone with God.

  • Pray before getting out of bed. When you’re tempted to start planning your day, give Him your agenda and ask for His guidance.
  • Pray while walking. Praise God for His creation. Pray for the families whose homes you pass and pour out your own concerns.
  • Pray through your keyboard. It doesn’t sound sacred, but close your eyes (or remove your glasses) and let your prayer flow through your fingers. Don’t edit. Don’t look at the screen. Just pray.
  • Pray in the shower. You’re alone, right? And naked! What better time to surrender yourself to Him and allow Him to search your heart?
  • Pray over the child snuggled in your lap, your role as a mother, and your marriage.
  • Pray during your commute. Silence all distractions and talk to God.

However, you and God work out time to be together, He will honor your effort. Over time, you will find it’s the best, most important part of your day.

The Mission of Being a Mom

The mission of being a mom

Some of my earliest childhood memories is from going to church with my grandmother.  I remember the red buttons on the pew and how I would neatly stack the quarters my grandmother gave me for offering on them each week.  I remember how my aunt would always share a half a stick of gum with me.  I remember how proud everyone was of me that I could recite the Lord’s prayer from memory.  I can still sing the songs that I was taught in Sunday School there even though I haven’t heard them for years.  I can vividly remember hearing the story about the woman at the well and how my little ears heard the “woman and the whale.”  Oh, how I wish there was flannel graph that day!  That story perplexed my little pre-school mind and it stuck with me.  It was years later before the real meaning of the story stuck out to me.  To this day, when I hear the story about the Samaritan woman I pause for a moment and think back to my mental image of a woman and a whale.

It’s a funny story to look back on now but at the same time it terrifies me.  It’s paralyzing to think of how much little minds can remember.  That whale is etched in my mind.  Oh, how I desire to train my daughter and son up right.  Being a parent is an enormous responsibility….and opportunity.  I don’t want to squander it.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Teaching children about God and His Word is a non-stop, 24-7 duty.  As I’m reminding myself again that I need to be intentional about what I’m teaching my children I want to encourage you to do the same.  We’re teaching them things every day by the way we live and behave.  Let’s make sure we’re teaching them spiritual truths too.  What a blessing it is to be a spiritual guide to our children!

30 Days of Giving Challenge

Do you have a giving heart or would you like to cultivate one?  Then join me in the 30 Day Giving Challenge!

30 Days of Giving Challenge

I’ve participated in this challenge for the past four years and each year it blesses me in unspeakable ways!

Here’s the deal:

The challenge is to give something to someone everyday in November.  The gifts can be anything given to anyone…money, food, old clothes, crafts, your time, or even kind words.  I would love to have my readers join me in this challenge.  The way I see it, even if I don’t give something every single day it will probably would still be more than I normally would have given any other month…and that’s worth it, right?

You can follow my giving progress here on Embracing Grace but I’m interested in ways that you’re giving.  Feel free to comment on this post with posts you’ve written on your own blog about the challenge, links to tweets, or Facebook messages showing your giving.  If you’re sharing on social media feel free to use the hashtag #30Days2Give so myself and others can follow you, share your posts, and gather new ideas for ways to give.

Here are some of the gift ideas I’ve came up with so far:

  • donate can goods to a local food pantry
  • donate new toys in your gift drawer or closet to Toys for Tots
  • make and deliver a meal to a grieving family or a family with a sick loved one
  • donate a couple of hours of free babysitting for new parents
  • rake up the leaves in an elderly friend’s house
  • clean out your closets to donate to GoodWill or the Salvation Army
  • give few more dollars in the plate at church
  • prepare a gift for those new to the neighborhood
  • send a letter and a box of non-perishable goodies to a soldier
  • have the kids make and mail cards to missionaries
  • put together a shoe box (or a couple) for Operation Christmas Child
Plus, check out my Gift Ideas & Gift Wrapping Pinterest board for cute and clever gift ideas and ways to wrap them.

So what do you say, are you up for the challenge?  I do hope you’ll join me!!


Happy Tuesday Beauties,
Today, I’m sharing 
a glimpse from my journey-journal.

If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that my husband’s employer experienced significant changes last year, and those changes eliminated three hundred jobs, including Tom’s. 

 We have focused on the Lord throughout, finding comfort and reassurance in verses such as Proverbs 3:5-6, which encourage us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

As of today, it’s been more than one year.

Tom and I are intentionally reflecting on the Lord’s faithful character. We rejoice in His provision. We rest in His unseen plan. But may I be honest? There are days when our focus shifts to the immediate sting of our circumstances.

The financial difficulties caused by unemployment.

The uncertainty of our future.

The relentless process of job hunting and devastating rejections.

On those days when we divert our focus, confidence and courage soon give way to doubt and fear. That once-clear focus is blurred, and we become overwhelmed and overtaken by shortsightedness and unbelief.

When Peter walked on water, his focus was diverted (Matthew 14:29-31). Peter got out of the boat, walked on water, his sights set on Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid. As Peter focused on the swirling storm water, he took his eyes off of the Lord and started to sink.

When Tom and I choose to focus on our stormy circumstances instead of God, we can be swamped by that storm. We tread choppy waters of doubt. Fear leaves us drenched and exhausted. We thrash about in swells of unbelief and end up wiped out, worn out, and washed out.

What can we learn from Peter?

We learn to live by faith, and not by sight.

On a particularly rough day, when it felt like we were sinking under the weight of anxiety, we created a trust list.

This trust list outlined actions Tom and I could take each day to increase our trust in God.

That included daily bible study and worship. It included going over God’s promises and eliminating distractions. It also included simple things such as daily exercise. We took care to focus on God, and to take care of ourselves by sleeping well, eating healthy, and avoiding those things that weighed us down.

Are you in a storm? Is it hard to focus? Put your eyes on Him as you read scripture and pray. Sing and play praise music. List the lessons and blessings in today’s storm. Revisit the Lord’s faithfulness from past experience to identify His provision for today.

Our Lord knows every concern on your heart. He sees the swirling waters of your circumstances.

His focus is on you. You can place your confidence in the Lord for He is more powerful than any storm you will encounter.

Just as Tom and I continue to experience, God is mighty and able to give each of us what we need in the midst of the storm.

Take Him by the hand, focus on His strength, and keep Him in your sights.

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)
Isaiah 32:2a, “Each one be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm.” (NIV)
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.” (NIV)
Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV)

A Sumptuous Feast

Preparing a Sumptuous Feast

A Sumptuous Feast

Zoe Elmore

“Feed the church of God, which He bought with his own blood.”  Acts 20:28b (NIV)

You’ve heard a mother-in-law joke. We all have. I’m not proud to admit it, but in the past I’ve told a few.

But my mother-in-law, Catherine, was the farthest thing from a punch line in a mother-in-law joke. She was a spiritual giant all wrapped up in tiny 4-foot-10 inch bundle of sunshine. Down to earth, kind, and unpretentious.

When you entered her home you were greeted with warm hugs and the aroma of her latest creation wafting from her tiny kitchen. She was one of the best cooks I ever met. Cooking never seemed arduous or tedious for Catherine.

She took great pleasure in preparing and feeding her family, spending days preparing a sumptuous family dinner just to have it consumed in moments. Empty plates and platters were her delight. Sending home leftovers were her bliss. Before the meal we all would bow our heads to hear her words of blessing and gratitude.

Catherine’s spiritual life was a lot like those meals. It was satisfying and full of nourishment. She poured the word of God into our lives as easily as she filled our glasses with sweet tea.

Toward the end of her life, she broke her wrist and I had the privilege to care for her. I bathed and dressed her each morning, fed her breakfast, then sat on the floor at her feet while she fed me from God’s holy word. She recited her favorite verses from memory and read to me from her daily devotion book. Her prayers were like honey, sweet with remembrances of God’s goodness and faithfulness to her. Those prayers were infused with gratitude for His enduring strength and perfumed with her love for Jesus.

The angels surely paused long enough to add an amen!

In the few weeks she and I spent together I was treated to some of the richest and tastiest morsels from God’s word I have ever feasted on.

There was once a time that I wondered how she managed to turn out delectable meals from her tiny kitchen, but also how she became a professional at serving up God’s word to her family.

She often said, “Honey, it all begins on your knees. If you spend enough time with my Jesus, He will teach you every thing you need to know about feeding your family.” angel biscuits and sweet tea aren’t the only things I miss about my mother-in-law. I miss her tiny kitchen and the fresh serving of prayer she whispered while feeding her family.

Yes, her kitchen now sits quiet and dark, but the feasting of a spiritual legacy of her love for God and her family lives on.

Dear Lord, help me to be a wife and mom that feeds her family from the kitchen and from Your word. May I leave a legacy for those you’ve entrusted in my care. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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