pray

The Recipe for Answered Prayer

If you’re reading this, then you might have some questions or challenges about some prayers you’ve made that are unanswered or unresolved – so we’re in this together 🙂

To this end, I was recently asking God to change someone & make them more flexible.  This could translate to mean that I want that person to be more compliant to my preferences and it could mean that God might want to work on some control issues in my heart, which is certainly food for thought 🙂

As we think about the prayers we make to God, it’s interesting to think about how God answers prayers.  I say this because of recently reading two exchanges between David and God in 2Samuel 5, when David asks God about attacking the Philistines.  In the first exchange, God tells David to attack in response to his first enquiry.  David obeys God’s direction and successfully defeats the Philistines.

On the heels of being defeated, the Philistines attack a second time.  And David asks God again about confronting the Philistines.  In response to David’s second enquiry, God tells David to circle behind the Philistines, wait for the sound of marching in the tree tops and then attack.  David obeys God’s instructions and defeats the Philistines the second time.  From my point of view, these are very explicit instruction & a stark contrast from the first battle.

So here are some ingredients for the recipe to Answered Prayer:

  1. AFDI:  Ask For Divine Input rather than depending on your own brilliance or willpower
  2. Unlimited obedience, served up with daily consistency
  3. Trusting God more than a method:  yeast goes with flour like trust goes with God;  God seems to work uniquely in each situation, so trusting in a method isn’t as helpful as trusting in God 🙂
  4. DBS:  Don’t Be Surprised when you have to repeat something, but with a different method

In addition to these ingredients, it’s also important to consider how these ingredients go together, some possible marinading time and what happens when heat is applied over a length of time.  To this end, when I asked God about changing someone and making them more flexible, like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I received an interesting reply.

I felt God say to me, “Sarah, maybe the answer to your prayer is a combination of that person becoming more flexible and you being less controlling.”

I had to sit with that feedback and let that marinade for a little while.  And truth be told, I’m still ruminating on what God said to me.  Maybe I’m a little similar to meat marinating in a sauce.  Maybe it takes God a little time to break down the fibers of my resistance and self-deception so that God’s truth and loving flavor can influence my thoughts, attitudes, words, decisions and action.  Ultimately, this is what I want.  This is the ultimate answer to my prayers, even in the heat and fire of daily living.

In our quest to get our prayers answered, let’s be committed to allowing God to change us and help us grow.  Maybe the tasty outcome of God’s culinary efforts in our lives is the expression of genuine love, as we are wholly dependant on God’s presence yeasting into our core identity 🙂

Selah 🙂

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, cooking, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Doing Difficult Things

Life seems to throw difficult things our way, such as dropping off a child at college, health challenges, relationship struggles, financial crisis & lots of other stuff as well. Sometimes the stuff we face is a surprise & sometimes there’s a cumulative process the winds up being a significant difficulty.

In these experiences & seasons, I find it helpful to remember that Jesus is walking with me & doesn’t leave me to navigate alone. And when Jesus is with us, it’s good to ask Him for strength, comfort, wisdom, help, endurance & for His love to overflow our hearts. I also appreciate remembering Ps 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me & He heard my cry.”

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Taking My Daughter to College

The fateful day has arrived & this isn’t like the kindergarten transition. It’s lots harder, full stop. As I write this, I’m swallowing my tears & endeavoring to keep myself together as I suspect other parents & my daughter wouldn’t appreciate heavy water works right now.

So where is God in this day?  Well, I sense God loving me & looking after me with reconnecting with my college roommate. I sense God helping me by watching my daughter do her room & interact with a plethora of people with poise, grace & ease. I sense God helping me stay busy & distracted to keep the tears at bay. And I sense God encouraging me to trust God to help my daughter to grow, learn, adult & deepen her relationship with Trinity.

Holy buckets, this ain’t kindergarten!!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

School Shootings

I live in Denver & yesterday we had another school shooting in a Denver suburb. It’s very unsettling to us because our city went through the Columbine school shooting 20 years ago, the Aurora theater shooting, etc. This kind of event triggers bad memories & feelings in us, causing some to have panic attacks, experience crippling fear, reliving PTSD experiences and lots of other stuff.  And it’s a very disturbing development in our country that schools have become unsafe and places to express violence, aggression, combative and hostile behaviors.

To this end, we all have experiences in our lives that have been traumatic and various things can be triggers to catapult panic, anxiety, fear, pain, etc into the front of our thoughts and feelings.  While these emotions can  natural and honest, let’s also be careful to bring these feelings and events to Jesus for prayer, help, courage, strength and grace.  And let’s pray for the people who are going through these traumatic experiences – may God give them grace, strength, wisdom and clarity to navigate this turbulent season / experience for peaceful resolution and redemptive outcomes!

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Posted by Sarah in Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Roots & Reactions

I need to dye my hair roots, soon!  The brown is getting displaced by white & I could look like a skunk very quickly 🙂

This makes me think about how I react on certain things like when I’m impatient with my kids, or prickly with someone at church, snarky with person at the grocery store, etc. 

Here’s the important truth:  how we react is based on the roots in our heart. I say this based on Jesus’ words in Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

So let’s pay attention to what is in our hearts so that our reactions can be fruitful results of healthy heart roots 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Tourist or Pilgrim?

I’m in Jerusalem with my family, friends & church family seeing loads of biblical stuff that is nothing short of epic!  For example, we’ve seen the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum, Gethsemane, David’s palace, the Temple Mount & heaps more.  I feel like a kid in a candy store to the 10th power!!  

And as I walk around all these sites, reflecting on the associated Bible verses, I’m deeply moved. If I’m only a tourist, then this is a journey of visual information, interesting to my mind but not so much for my heart. As a pilgrim, however, I participate in this journey realizing that my heart could change along the way & I could be different from having taken this journey.  A tourist could have less risk but a pilgrim could have more reward.

So I pose to you the question: will you be a tourist or a pilgrim on this day?  We get to make this decision everyday 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Let’s Pray

With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.

I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fasting, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Election Hangover

In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences. 

  • Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
  • Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
  • Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.
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Posted by Sarah in enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Show Up

Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid. 

Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:

  • Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
  • Deep breath:  this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
  • Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
  • Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!
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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Hot Topic: Elections, Candidates & Politics

In America, we are in the full season of politics, elections, candidates, ballots, etc.  Two years ago, this space was toxic, combative & divisive on a good day.  I’m grateful that this political season isn’t quite as venomous as the one two years ago and we would be wise to pause and reflect.

Regardless of your political affiliations or bend, I’d like to propose a few questions for your consideration:

  • Have you educated yourself on the issues, candidates, platforms, etc?
  • Are your thoughts and emotions based around genuine love? Is there fear, greed, power, insecurity lurking in your soul that could influence your voting?
  • If someone votes or thinks different than you, can you maintain a respectful conversation?
  • Have you prayed for this election, the candidates, ballots, our nation, etc?

Regardless of how the elections turn out, let’s be committed to express genuine as followers of Jesus!  I say this because of His words in John 13:35, “They will know you follow Me by your love for one another.”

Have an AWESOME weekend!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, hot topic, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments