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.™

 

 

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t keep them. That does not mean I don’t need to make changes. I am not perfect. Although I have not set official New Year’s resolutions for several years, I am always setting goals for myself. Maybe this year I should turn those goals into resolutions and invite you to join me. Our goals (a.k.a. New Year’s Resolutions) for 2017 will look something like this:

  • I resolve to thank God often for making me a new creation through Jesus.
    (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    Christ came so that we could become new and improved.
  • I resolve to put off my old ways and to put on my new self—to act like the new creation I am.
    (Ephesians 4:22-24)
    This is not something that is forced upon us. We must resolve to put off our old selves and to put on a new self created in the likeness of God’s righteousness and holiness—the new and improved self. We must choose—resolve—to become new. This is the most important resolution we will ever make. I might want to lose weight, but until I choose to do it the weight won’t come off. I have to resolve to do it.
  • I resolve to embrace the new heart and new spirit God gave me.
    (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
    Our new God-given heart and spirit will help us to desire, recognize, and follow His Spirit. Just as a personal trainer helps me stay focused on my fitness goals, the Spirit of God within us will help us keep our resolution to put on a new self.
  • I resolve to follow God’s new command to love others.
    (John 13:34-35)
    Under this new covenant the commandments are thrown into a hat and stirred around; then, God puts in his hand and draws out a single word to summarize their essence—LOVE. We are commanded to have a deeper level of love in our lives as new creations. A love that will cause people to recognize the influence of Christ.
  • I resolve to keep my eyes focused on the new heaven and new earth where Righteousness Himself dwells.
    (2 Peter 3:13)
    Whenever we become frustrated or feel hope slipping away, we are to turn our eyes to eternity and refocus on what will be—a new heaven and a new earth where Righteousness lives.
  • I resolve to seek daily renewal in knowledge so that my life may reflect my Creator, in strength so that I may soar even during difficult times, and in mind so that I may discern God’s will.
    (2 Corinthians 4:16)
    Just as silver will tarnish if it is not polished every day, our newness can become dulled by life if we do not renew ourselves daily. This daily renewal can take several forms. First, our knowledge of the Creator is being continually renewed as we study and meditate on His word. (Colossians 3:9-10) And this knowledge reflects to others the image of the Creator. We need to daily grow in our knowledge of God in order to accurately reflect His image. Second, when we are waiting on (serving) the Lord, our strength for each day will also be renewed. (Isaiah 40:28-31) Finally, another area where we experience renewal is our minds. (Romans 12:2) As we put off our old selves and put on the new, we are transformed—our minds are renewed. We can think clearly—looking at God’s will with new eyes.
  • I resolve to testify to what God has done by singing the new song He placed in my heart.
    (Psalm 40:2-3)
    When we leave our old selves behind, we have a lot to sing about! You had better believe that if I reach my fitness goals, I will be singing the praises of my trainer. How much more should we sing the praises of Him who helps us become new creations? When we sing praises to God, others will see what He has done—our new song is a witness or testimony to God. God gives us a reason to sing. We need to sing our new song so others can see Him.

These resolutions are great, but they are only attainable because of Jesus. Something new has a price tag attached. The price of our newness was the blood of Christ. We prefer new over used in every other area of our lives. Why settle for anything less than the newness purchased as a gift by Christ? Why not join me in reaching for these 2017 New Year’s Resolutions?

 

Father,
Thank you for making us new creations through Jesus. Help us, Lord, in our resolve to put on our new selves—to act like the new creations you have made us. Thank you for the new heart and spirit you have placed within us. Father, when life wears us down, help us focus our eyes on the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where Your Righteousness lives. Renew us in knowledge as we daily meditate upon your word so that our lives reflect Your image. During difficult times, renew our strength so that we may soar above our circumstances. Renew our minds each day to recognize You and Your will. And, Lord, as we go through our days, may we each love others deeply, and may we each sing our new songs so that others will see You. Lord, thank You for making us new in Christ Jesus.
Amen.