3 Prayers to Pray for Keeping the Enemy Away

I was honored to attend a breakout session conducted by Lynn Cowell at last year’s She Speaks conference. Shortly afterward I participated in the launch for her new study, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures. Lynn is a gracious, godly author and speaker who’s love for women is obvious in every word she uses. She has graciously accepted my invitation to share ways we can pray for our children. Please welcome our guest, Lynn Cowell.

3 Prayers to Pray for Keeping the Enemy Away

by Lynn Cowell

“Lord, how did we get here?”

I know it isn’t good to ask God our Father “why” when we are praying, but as I prayed for my kids and their friends, I did wonder … how did we get here?

As I reflected on the pathway my family has been on, I saw one thing clearly: I had not been as clued in as I should have. 1 Peter 5:8 tells it this way, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (NIV) That someone is our children and the next generation of the Church.

I saw clearly: I hadn’t been alert; paying attention and being on the lookout for the enemy’s movement in our lives. Yes, I had been praying, but I wasn’t fully aware and attentive; wide-awake and keen. In fact, sometimes I had allowed fear to keep me from seeing, or at least admitting, what I didn’t want to see or know.

Let’s learn from my mistakes together and start here:

3 Prayers to Pray for Keeping the Enemy Away

1. See the enemy at work.

While Satan is not wiser than our Father, he does have a plan and that plan preys on the weaknesses of our children, especially when they are young and immature. Pray that you and those you love will spot his work and recognize his plans.

2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (NIV)

2. Wisdom for a course of action.

Sometimes as moms and mentors, our place is to pray for our loved ones and trust God to do what only He can do, but it can also be our place to get involved. Pray for the wisdom to know what to do, when to do it and when to get out of the way.

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV)

3. Strength so the enemy is defeated.

Our children do not have as much experience as we do in partnering with the Holy Spirit. Pray that they will cry out to God for the strength they need to choose Him every single day.

James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)

Praying for our children doesn’t mean we have to be on our knees all day long, but it does mean that we need to be aware of what is taking place in the spiritual realm. Our children are growing every day, let’s pray that we will be growing in our walk with the Lord as well.

For more prayers to pray for your children, click here.

 

Lynn Cowell is a Proverbs 31 speaker and the author of several books, written for women of all ages. Her newest Bible study for women is Make Your Move: Finding Unshakable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures and for young girls, Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You. Lynn calls home North Carolina, where she and her husband, Greg and the occasional backyard deer are adjusting to life as empty nesters. Along with their three adult children, the Cowells love hiking, rafting and anything combining chocolate and peanut butter.

 

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Renewing the Mind Through Prayer

My friend (and fellow author), Julie K. Shirkey joins us for Project Prayer today to share her thoughts on Renewing the Mind Through Prayer. She would love to hear from you in the comments below. Visit julieshirkey.com/ to learn more about Julie’s ministry and to order her book, A Life in Christ: Seeking God’s Will.

Renewing the Mind Through Prayer

Julie K. Shirkey

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. ∼Romans 12:2 

What happens when you don’t pray? The world seeps in and takes control of your thoughts and life. You no longer think, act, or respond like Jesus. Words you never thought you would say become part of your vocabulary. Reading, watching and listening to those things that are not pleasing to God becomes a part of your new routine. Your life turns back to the sinful ways you were forgiven from. You lead a life walking away from the Savior instead of toward Him.

When you continue to neglect prayer, you become self-centered and selfish. Then, when you do pray and ask God for help, you don’t remember or care about the request of others because in your mind you are such a mess and need all of God’s attention for yourself. You begin to criticize everyone, from your family and friends to the stranger in line in front of you.

When you stop praying everything goes wrong and problems are exaggerated. You feel the weight of your problems on your shoulders and everyone you speak to feels it too. People will start to avoid you because you throw your burdens at them instead of listening or sharing your concerns with them. Instead of a sounding board, people become a dart board where you lash out and throw darts at them, thus running off those who care for you. People begin to keep you at a distance, the phone calls and texts become less and less until slowly, one by one, people are no longer a part of your life and you have no one to communicate with but God.

Does this sound like you? Maybe not right now, but at some point in your life you have been here, lonely with burdens, swimming with problems and no physical person to help you through. You walk around with a scowl instead of a smile on your face. There is no laughter, and happiness is only fleeting. And you wonder, how did you get here? How did your life get turned upside down? Then you realize you stopped praying and spending time with God. You left your first love.

One thing I have learned from my prayer life is God is much better at solving the world’s problems and the concern of others than I am or ever will be. I have to admit there are times my prayer life suffers. I become so burdened by life and others that my focus turns from what God can do, to what I can do. Then I spend all my strength and not God’s to fix everything.

You might think this won’t happen to me, I’m so tight with God, and I’m so in love with Jesus, I love to sit in the Holy Spirit’s presence. Right there is the reason your prayer life will suffer, and it will happen to you sometime. Why? Because of “you”. You get in the way. You start doing everything in your strength, by routine and one day out of nowhere something happens and your whole world changes and “you” don’t know what to do.

“How did this happen”, you ask? It could be anything, but usually it’s a lie from Satan. Maybe a prayer request wasn’t fulfilled the way you expected. Maybe something you should have prayed about and you didn’t pray about fell apart. Maybe you bartered with God and failed. God didn’t fail, but you failed at what you promised God. Mostly it’s anger or guilt. You are angry at God or you have some sort of guilt to work out. So you blame others for taking up your time, and you no longer have time to pray. You become a victim of circumstances. One time, and you don’t drop to your knees and pray, a new pattern for your day begins. Oh, I can pray about that later, then “BOOM”, your day gets away from you, problems and all. Or God prompts you to pray and you push that thought away, you will get to that later, but later you forget and God has moved on. What will be your wake up call to pray again? What does it take for a hardened heart to change? Until you become so overwhelmed by your circumstances and you can’t fix everything so you don’t do anything? Is that the answer? This is when you need God to renew your mind to be like Jesus.

Are you resentful about prayer? Has it become a chore instead of a joy? You are praying, but no one, including God is listening? You are beat down, frustrated, disappointed and don’t know where do you start? You take your mind off of you, and you place it on God.

How can you begin your routine to pray and sit quietly in God’s presence? You renew your mind by praising God, being thankful and grateful to God for all He has done for you. The best place to renew your mind is through praise. Praising God for just being God, praising God for Jesus, praising God for your life and praising God for your struggles which bring you closer to Him. You don’t want to praise God for your struggles? Do it anyway, no matter how hard it is, praise God anyway.

Renew your mind by thanking Him. But you say, “God hasn’t done anything for me lately”. Oh, but He has and He will again. Remember all God has done for you in the past, and start by thanking God for those things. If He healed you from an ailment, if He saved a family member from eternal death, if He unexpectedly provided a meal or finances right when you needed it, thank Him. Or you can start by thanking God for Jesus. Your very salvation is because of His sacrifice. Then renew your mind by being grateful for all God has done for you. Be grateful you live where you can openly praise God; be grateful for His grace and mercy, be grateful for those people He has put in your life to help you.

How else can you renew your mind? Through prayer. You need to get back to the basics in order to move forward. What are those basics? Getting away from those things which replaced your prayer time; TV, radio, social media, and people. Finding a quiet place and time to sit and not talk to God, but listen to Him. Stop taking on the cares and burdens of others, because helping others can cause you to neglect your prayer life. The problem is you cannot fix these things, only God can. But then you try and are disappointed when you fail. Better to pray for God to fix them than try to fix it without Him. Take your mind off of you and focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. He has given you an example of prayer to follow.

If you find yourself really desperate and lost on where to start again, pray the Lord’s Prayer. Break it down verse by verse or word by word. Study, mediate on what God’s Word says and you will again have the prayer life you have been missing and a renewed mind.

 

Julie and her husband Steve reside in Jacksonville, IL. They enjoy the outdoors, working on their cars and seeking and sharing Jesus Christ through their ministry. Julie is not only a Christian author, she is also an audio technician, is self taught in the art of stained glass, and enjoys building her own furniture. Steve is an over the road truck driver who he enjoys hunting, fishing, and drag racing. (And helping Julie move her big, heavy, homemade furniture!) Their goal is to reach the world for Christ by sharing their testimonies and God’s Word.

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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

 

 

God Told Me “No”

Any time you explore the topic of prayer, eventually you come face to face with a time when God says “no”.  When that happens, if you are not careful, you can quickly find yourself in a theological quagmire.

Through the centuries this issue has made some followers walk away, has made skeptics feel justified, and the rest of us….well, feel uncomfortable.

Quickly we get dragged down the rabbit hole of “why”.  I’m telling you now, there are some things you will never be able to reconcile. Things like why a child dies instead of being healed, or why, even with fasting and prayer, your marriage still falls apart. To try to answer “why” will simply frustrate you, and hearing platitudes like “God has a plan” or “There must be a purpose”, do little more than drive a wedge between your grieving heart and God.

For a few minutes, set aside your desire to understand, why, and instead, think about what you can learn through the experience. Now I can’t begin to tell you what your lesson from “No” is, but I invite you to look over the shoulder of my experience and let me share what I learned when God gave me the biggest “no” of my life.

I met my husband in Bible college. When I graduated, we married and moved back home to start our life and our family. That first year together was everything a young couple could ask for. We threw ourselves into youth group, our careers, and family. Life was good.

In those early years, we learned how God would deal with us the rest of our lives. When we had a decision to make, we would pray about it, asking God to either open or close the door of opportunity according to His will. That’s exactly what He did! Time after time He demonstrated His faithfulness, and we became quite adept at recognizing His direction.

We had four young nephews, and we adored them!  We dreamed of a house full of boys or girls, at least 3, maybe even 4. Those first few years passed by, but no children.

In year five I talked with my doctor. We began testing to see why we weren’t getting pregnant. The tests all said nothing was wrong. There was “no reason” why I shouldn’t be able to conceive. Another year went by childless. My husband went through tests with the same results, “everything was working correctly”.  There was a lot of prayer, but no children, only closed doors.

Once we suspected we weren’t going to have children of our own, we started to explore adoption… I can’t express how deeply I admire those who welcome children into their home and raise them as their very own. It’s a reflection of how God deals with us, adopting us as His very own sons and daughters.

I’ve always had one great fear, though…that we would adopt a child who would later feel we weren’t enough and would go looking for his or her birth parents. In fact, as I prayed I told God about my fear. We asked Him to open or close the door for us to build our family through adoption.

Repeatedly the door was closed. Often like this:

I worked for a number of years as bank teller. One year I was assigned to a branch where a young woman (we’ll call her Stephanie) worked.  As I came to know her, I learned Stephanie was adopted. My husband and I were once again beginning the process to adopt, and I considered Stephanie’s arrival a confirmation we were moving in the right direction.

I spent many slow afternoons asking Stephanie about her relationship with her adoptive parents, and sharing my fears that my child would feel the need to go searching for birth parents. Stephanie assured me that no matter what happened, her adoptive mom would always be her mom.   She was saying all the right things! I was convinced God was saying “yes”. It was finally time.

It was a Friday in October when Stephanie arrived in the office and announced, “I found my REAL mom!” and over the next few weeks, as the holiday’s approached, she lived out all my fears. The door shut.

The years passed and I continued to pray for children. However, door after door has closed, always in different ways, always shut tight.

Three years ago I accepted the reality that even though God has given me blessing after blessing over the years, what we wanted most is a “no”. Why? I have no idea. We haven’t done anything noble or spiritual with the experience. We haven’t been unhappy…just, a little empty.

Recently the Spirit tapped me on the heart and asked me a life-changing question.

“Why do you serve God? Is it because He gives you what you want?  Or do you serve Him because He deserves your worship as the creator and sustainer of the universe?”

I’ve wrestled with this question for a while now, examining why I serve God. Is it because He does what I want?  Is it because I live this charmed life and He gives me good things? Am I like my cat who hangs around for the tuna treats, or do I serve and worship God because of who HE is? You see, He deserves respect, honor, and praise from a creature He made.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

So that’s my 33-year lesson. Maybe I’m a slow learner. My friends, you are not likely to find peace if you are looking for “why” – but after the pain fades, look for the lesson. He’s a gentle, patient teacher.

 

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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

When Your Prayer Life is Stuck-Try Something Different

QuietPlaceMy prayer life has long been a source of frustration. I can’t count the number of days I fall into bed, and realize I haven’t spent even 5 minutes talking to God. So I look at the ceiling, take a deep breath to pray at the end of the day, and the next thing I know my alarm goes off and a new day begins, yesterday’s opportunity to talk to God is gone.

So I decide to pray in the mornings… I bought a journal, and with coffee in hand, bible on the table, I was determined to succeed in this new method of prayer. I read 10-20 verses and start to journal. One or two days go by and all is well, then my journal starts to look more like a “to do” list. I start missing days because I get up late or have an early meeting and the house of cards comes down.

How about praying while I walk? Great idea, except rain for 3 days straight and walking no longer happens daily.

You see why I’m frustrated, right? It’s humbling to say I’ve been a God follower for 40 plus years and still have not mastered the most basic of Christian disciplines, prayer. I envy those who have that deep, intimate, daily time with the Savior. And if I’m being honest, sometimes I give up.

It was a couple years ago I had a life changing, guilt lifting, eye opening revelation! (At least it was new to me. I’m confident people much wiser than I have been telling me this since I was in middle school). Here it is: When I talk to my husband, I do so in many ways, we talk face to face, we text, I call him, he writes notes, we walk and talk, drive and talk, sometimes we even communicate in silence.

If I use all these ways to communicate to my husband or mother or father or friends, why do I think there is only 1 way to pray? Why am I constantly trying to corral God and confine Him to only one method of talking with me?

That one thought, prompted by the Holy Spirit released 40 years of guilt, and put me on a path to discover new ways to “Pray without ceasing”.

So now I mix it up and I try to look for new ways to pray. In that search, I’ve come across one method I’d be honored to share with you over the next weeks. It’s called Visual Prayer.

Sometimes I go through periods when I don’t know what to say. There’s not necessarily anything wrong in life, I simply am at a loss for words. Visual prayer uses art like painting, coloring, photography, sculpting, or even scrapbooking to help me focus on connecting with God. Now, before we go any farther I AM NOT AN ARTIST. In fact, sharing what I’ve done will be embarrassing, so please extend the cover of grace. You see, it’s not really about the product, it is about the conversation with God that happens during the process.

As we explore visual prayer, I try to give you some tips about how art can help your prayer life. I’ll interview a friend or two to gain some insights into art and prayer. Along the way, we will share some pieces, and I hope you will share too.

 

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