Hunting for God: Grow Your Faith through Prayer Journaling

Hunting for God: Grow Your Faith through Prayer Journaling

As a brand-new Christian, I really wanted to get to know God and develop an intimate relationship with Him, but I didn’t know where to start. I had already fallen in love with the Bible, but my prayer life felt inadequate.

Then at a women’s retreat, the speaker challenged us to keep a God Hunt Journal – a journal that tracks God’s activity in our lives. I’ve been keeping a prayer journal for over 25 years now and it has powerfully impacted my faith.

I wanted to see God’s work in my life, so I accepted the speaker’s challenge. I began keeping a prayer journal. Every morning, or at least most mornings, I read my Bible and write out a prayer in my journal. Nothing fancy or complicated. Just a conversation between me and God.

In the journal, I often respond to what I’ve just read, seeking wisdom to apply Scripture to my life. I ask God to search my heart and show me anything (sin, bad attitude, prejudice, resentment) that doesn’t belong. (Ps 139:23-24) I ask for His help to live out His will. I intercede for the needs of others.

As I pour out my heart to God, I write each word in a lined-paper book.

This simple spiritual practice powerfully impacts my faith. When I’m discouraged, I can review my prayers and see how God has helped me through previous challenges. This reminds me that God has been faithful to help me in the past and can be trusted to help me today. When trying to make difficult decisions, I can look through my journal and see the general direction God is leading me, which helps me make choices and stay on track. In these pages, I find the faith to overcome obstacles when my emotions war against moving forward.

When I review the journal and see all God has done in my life, gratitude wells up in me. I overflow with praises!

If you’d like to begin a prayer journal, here are some simple steps to get you started:

Get a journal. My favorites brands are Moleskine and Poppin, but you can use anything from a spiral notebook to a Word document. Use what works for you.

Invite the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I light a candle to symbolize God’s presence as I read my Bible and pray. This visual reminder helps me remember that I’m having a conversation with a person, not simply sending my prayers into the clouds.

Date each journal entry. This will help you find specific prayers when you go back through your journal looking for them. Sometimes God answers my prayers so dramatically that I can’t wait to re-visit the answered prayer and mark it.

Carve out time in your busy day. I like to start my day in prayer, but there have been seasons in my life when late evenings worked best. Find a time when you can be consistent.

Don’t aim for perfection. If you miss a day (or several) just jump back in and begin again. You don’t have to have the perfect pen, journal, or even great penmanship. Just show up and journal!

Hunt for God. Periodically review your journal for answered prayers, guidance, and growth. Highlight or mark your entries, including how God answered your prayers. Praise God for what you see as you review.

Do you have any questions about prayer journaling? 

There are No Racial Boundaries in the Ladies’ Room

There are No Racial Boundaries in the Ladies’ Room

Flickr: Matthew G

Last Sunday we made the long quiet drive home from Los Angeles after dropping our son off at Biola University. It had been an emotional week and I wanted to get home and begin our new normal — with only one child remaining in our nearly empty nest. Around Stockton, said child declared her hunger and asked for an In-N-Out stop. While waiting for her food, I stepped the restroom. (Did I mention, it’s a VERY long drive!)

In the ladies’ room was a woman deep in conversation with her son. He was maybe 10 years old and, I thought, a little old to be in a women’s restroom. But with so much craziness happening in the world today, I’d be tempted to keep my son at my side too. I was observing this mother-son duo at the sink, listening in to their conversation about his new dirt bike and her insistence that he always wear a helmet when he rides.

Caught up in my own thoughts, I didn’t realize I was staring until I saw the woman watching me watch them.

Racial tensions are high in the US right now, with Black Lives Matter protests nearly every day.  Afraid my eavesdropping might be misconstrued, I quickly blurted out, “I just dropped my son off in college. In LA.”

The woman sized me up and said, “Momma needs a hug!”

Before I could respond, she had wrapped me in a hearty embrace — right in the middle of the In-N-Out restroom!

Her son must be used to her demonstrative behavior because he was clearly unphased by it.

I hugged her and thanked her. Tears streamed down my face, not because I was missing my son, but because I felt so blessed that a complete stranger, a lovely black stranger, had entered into my loss and comforted me.

 Just moms who love their kids and understand each other’s hearts.

******

When was the last time a stranger comforted you?

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Mark 12:31

Don’t Tell Me, I Don’t Want to Know

Don’t Tell Me, I Don’t Want to Know

11191097_sOnce you know something, you can’t un-know it.

I’ve just been sucker-punched.

A friend, we’ll call her Lippy, stopped by our house to take a peek at some work we’re having done. We laughed about the joys and challenges of home maintenance and repairs. So far, so good.

Then, this friend erupted with a juicy tidbit about a mutual acquaintance. Lippy just couldn’t wait to share something dreadful about our acquaintance. A very juicy morsel of gossip. It all happened so fast that my husband and I didn’t have a second to stiff-arm the gossip with the words–don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. 

I so wish we could have seen it coming and halted it before the words left her mouth and slapped us both across the face. Violated. I felt violated. I felt sick about what this acquaintance is going through and the sheer torment she must feel because of it. I would be devastated in her shoes.

And now I know too much about her.

This event prompted me to create a Don’t Tell Me List:

Don’t assume because I attend the same church, work with, live near or simply know someone that I want to know their drama. I don’t. Please don’t make me the unwilling keeper of someone’s secret.

If you’re just dying to tell someone, don’t tell me! When a fiery bit of gossip is burning a hole in your tongue, it’s a good sign to keep your mouth shut. Cut off the oxygen and put the fire out!

If it’s personal and you don’t have expressed permission to share with me, don’t tell me! How do I look this acquaintance in the eye knowing what I now know about her personal life? We are not confidantes or she would have told me herself.

If the subject of the discussion has not (or would not) post this information on social media, don’t tell me! It’s private for a reason. The person may feel ashamed, humiliated, hurt or even devastated by the situation she faces. She doesn’t need to wonder who knows what about her life.

If this is a person I know, don’t tell me! Please don’t include me in the “in the know” crowd. I’d rather be blissfully ignorant of the gossip. That way I can keep my relationships untangled and on the up-and-up.

If this is about a person I don’t know, don’t tell me! It’s none of my business. Unless you’re telling me about a situation because you need advice or prayer on how to handle it, don’t tell me. If you do need my counsel or prayer, tell me as little as possible, omitting names and identifiable details.

If you wouldn’t share this in front of the person it’s about, don’t tell me! When my kids were little, I was part of a play group. We met weekly at a local park. I dreaded having to miss park days — not only because my children napped better, but also because any mom who didn’t show up was severely talked about! The last time I went, one of the moms was going on and on about an absent mom, sharing private things that would not have been shared in the mom’s presence.

I piped up and asked the gossip-spreader (who happened to be the very best friend of the person she was dishing about), “Hey, aren’t you two friends? Does she know you talk about her like that?”

Yeah, I was that mom. I’m sure I was the topic of conversations for a few weeks after I packed my kids into their little green wagon and took them home to play on our own swing.

Please, keep your juicy tidbits to yourself!


 

We’ve all fallen into the gossip trap. I have no stones to throw. My personal goal is to live gossip-free. How about you? What do you do to keep from getting caught up in gossip? Would you say something to a friend who shared inappropriately with you? 

Want to know what the Bible says? Check out these scriptures about gossip.

De-Cluttering on the Path to Peace

De-Cluttering on the Path to Peace

As soon as I plunged into the pages of Clutter Free, I zealously tackled a few easy areas of clutter in my home–the spice cabinet, hall closet and bathroom drawers. I was determined to create order. I’d clear out the excess “stuff” my family and I dragged with us on our last move, and free our home to be more functional. A worthy goal, right?

Those first few spaces were a cinch to de-clutter. I mean, I have no emotional attachment to expired spices or that expensive moisturizer that makes my face red and puffy. I tossed them into the garbage bag without the slightest resistance or regret. Those miniature lotion samples went in the give-away box.

Those super-easy tasks had an immediate effect. My cooking efficiency improved. And I really enjoy working in a beautiful, tidy kitchen. My morning routine was streamlined, because there were no unusable products to slow me down!

So far, so good!

What I didn’t know yet was that the external clutter reflected and compounded the internal clutter. I didn’t expect that eliminating the physical clutter would be the catalyst for purging emotional clutter.17415485_s

Until I took on my closet.

I have three closets in my bedroom (don’t hate me!) Though I have ample space, I needed to remove items I don’t love or wear. If I wouldn’t plunk down my debit card to purchase that item again—it needed to be re-homed. Into the give-away box it went.

Each morning I read from Clutter Free, then dedicated a small block of time for clearing out the clutter. My closet cleaning coincided with reading Part Two: Why We Buy Stuff and Part 3: Why We Keep Stuff. I was forced to look at the motives behind my purchases.

I came face-to-face with the fact that I really don’t have much to wear! My closet was filled with clothes that don’t fit—but might someday. Clothes that don’t work with anything
else I own—but might if I found just the right piece to pair with them. And clothes that I don’t really like—but with tags still hanging on them, I’m reminded of the investment I’ve already made to each item.

I had to look at my purchasing/keeping motives as a reflection of my heart. I didn’t like what I found there.

I had the illusion of a lovely wardrobe. And it would be if I were a size or two smaller. It was a closet full of items that might someday fit. Every time I stepped into my closet to get dressed, I felt the accusations: You’re too fat for me. You wasted money on me. You’ll never be able wear me again. The external clutter was tormenting me. It constantly reminded me that I don’t measure up. Literally.

I had to hit the brakes!

I decided to give myself copious doses of grace. I pulled everything from the closet and laid it out on my bed. Then I stood next to the mountain of accusers and prayed. One by one I picked up each item and put it to the Kathi Lipp three-question test: Do I love it? Do I use it? Would I buy it again?

The only things I put back into the closet are the items I can currently wear and feel good about wearing. It’s slim-pickings, but my wardrobe no longer accuses me as I make my daily clothing selections.

I donated the business clothes I’ve held onto “just in case I ever need a real job.” They’re now helping women transition out of joblessness.

Eighteen (18!) pairs of shoes, that I haven’t been able to wear since breaking my foot several years ago are off to beautify new feet.

I donated the adorable ruffled orange blouse with the tags still hanging. Someone has the perfect component to make an outfit from it. God knows I never did!

This morning when I stepped into my closet to choose my outfit for the day, there were no accusations flying. No self-condemnation for past wasteful purchases. No assaults on my self-image. Just a wardrobe that reflects my current reality and the peace that comes with it.

What about you? Are there areas of clutter in your home? Any that create emotional obstacles for you?