HAPPY HAPPY EASTER!
I pray that this Easter will be your best! Not because of your full dinner table; not because of the family photo with everyone smiling and looking nice, not because of the beautiful music and the excellent sermon, but because your heart is prepared. You are ready for Easter. You endured the Lenten season with thoughtful introspection. You can see the cross. You recognize your need for the cross. And today you revel in the Hope of Easter. The tomb is empty.
He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed. Hallelujah!
Easter changes everything. As you think of your circle, perhaps not much has changed. Perhaps after investing 40 days of intentional prayer, you’re a bit discouraged. Perhaps, even worse, you have lost hope. Maybe even you’re at your breaking point. How do you hold onto hope when you don’t get the ending you hoped for? Easter, as it did for the disciples, brings fresh hope into dead places. Easter, changes everything.
The tomb is empty. Can you imagine? The story of Easter is preposterous. But because of those preposterous events that happened so many years ago, we have hope! Easter changes everything.
Forty Days. Congratulations. From Palm Sunday to Easter, you completed the Lenten Prayer Challenge! Well Done. PAUSE….
I know what many of you just did with that pause. Instead of celebrating victory, you feel some shame. You probably said to yourself something like this… “well kind of, maybe. But I started late. But I missed a lot of days. But some days I read words on a page and checked it off my list with no hope of having those words penetrate. But I’m still not sure I focused on the right thing for my circle. But even with all of my good intentions, I have more questions than answers. But I can’t see much change to my circle. But, But, But…
I can’t help but wonder… is spending time with Him really worth it anyway?
If that response rings even partially true, I have one word for you…
The ‘But self talk’ is coming from the enemy. It should NOT surprise you. The enemy fears he is losing his grip on you and has stepped up his efforts.
Grace is a sure thing. Grace can be counted on from the Lord. Grace says some time with Him is better than no time with Him. Grace says, you’ve tasted some peace that passes all understanding and that can be yours everyday. Grace says, our time on this earth is preparing us for eternity. Grace says, time with Him is not about results, it is about a relationship. Grace says, you better believe it is worth it.
Prayerfully, most of you undoubtedly received some benefit. How can I be so confident? I stand on the truth and infallibility of scripture. Even simply reading His word is not a waste.
Isaiah 55:11 NIV “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 NLT “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
Maybe your prayer life has had fits and starts. And the daily email showing up in your inbox was the nudge you needed to have more starts than fits. While I’m delighted it has helped, it comes to an end. Someday … maybe I’ll write a devotional for every day… but for now you’re on your own. Maybe you’re feeling a little fragile and wondering… Where do I go from here?
Here are a few suggestions…
The acronym stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid” Forgive me for being direct. The point of the Lenten Prayer Challenge was to spend daily time with the Lord focusing on His word and giving Him reign in your heart.
What ingredients are needed for quality time with Him? Wait for it…
YOUR. Undistracted. Self.
I do agree that a favorite translation of scripture helps, as does a devotional and a journal, especially if this is a new habit. But those tools are secondary. If you load up on a stack of new devotionals and set out to read every one every morning… you have missed the point. To some extent, time with Him is measured by quality, not quantity. Whatever content you read, include time for Him to speak to you. Give Him your undistracted self.
There are a million great devotionals out there. My favorites include Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest. To choose one you’ll love visit a Christian bookstore and browse. Ask a respected Christ follower what his or her favorite is.
Now that the Lenten prayer challenge has ended, don’t wait to establish a new plan to meet with Him consistently in prayer. JUST DO IT. Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable. Agree to a weekly check in to review any insights, any transforming scripture, any fresh understanding.
We are forgetful! We revel in God’s faithfulness one week, when we breathe a sigh of relief from some good news. And then the next week our memory gets clouded when faced with bad news. I recommend you continue to use a journal. A journal serves as a record of God’s hand in your life. Over time it becomes a powerful written testimony to His faithfulness.
Testimony means… “a formal written or spoken statement. Evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something.”
Habakkuk 2:2 (NLT) Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”
What if you just don’t feel like it. Do it anyway. Be obedient. It isn’t about feelings. It does make a difference. An eternal difference. Frankly it is the most significant investment you can ever make. The return on your investment is 100% guaranteed.
John 16:7 “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
You are not left alone. Remember from Day 37… We have the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve always had the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that can intercede for us, when we don’t feel like it. It’s the Holy Spirit that speaks truth to our heart when things don’t make sense. It’s the Holy Spirit that provides comfort through any kind of storm or uncertainty. Come Holy Spirit.
Possible Format of Prayer
On many of my daily emails I closed in prayer. I often use the ACTS format when I pray to Him.
Adoration or Praise establishes perspective. I praise Him for something about His character. Confession removes any obstacles to our communication. Thanksgiving reminds me to have a thankful heart. And then, only then… I seek His help with supplication. I close with AMEN. Amen means “let it be so”. I think of Amen as end of story. With Amen, I visualize my prayer moving from my lips to resting on His capable shoulders.
Father God, I praise you for Your Omnipotence and your Omniscience. What a gift it is that You, the All-powerful, All knowing, All loving creator of the universe longs for me to know You personally. I confess that knowing a transcendent God sometimes seems elusive. It’s because I try to understand You instead of trusting You. Thank you for Grace and Mercy that invites me to meet with you, no matter what. Thank you for loving me in spite of my fickle obedience. Thank you for the gift of Your Presence and Peace that passes all understanding. Moving forward, help me Father, to keep prayer a priority. Help me to trust you when I don’t see results. Help me to know that time in prayer is an eternal investment. Help me to come to you with my undistracted self. Amen.
FEEDBACK PLEASE. Thank you to those of you who have shared with me throughout this challenge. As I consider the possibility of doing this again, please take a moment to provide some feedback. (Go to the bottom of this article and click the comment tab) .
Here are a few specifics…
- Please share your favorite scripture, especially if it didn’t make my top 40.
- Please let me know any suggestions for improving my daily content.
- If I were to expand this to everyday, do you have any suggestions for a helpful structure. Did you like the idea of a “prayer circle” or was that confusing.
- Online communication is a sign of our times, but it has limitations. Any suggestions for how better to engage the entire prayer community?
For His Glory,