It Could Be Life-Giving

At the risk of losing whatever male audience I may have, I feel the strong need to share the following quote from the move Ever After:

Ever AfterThis quote has been on my mind recently, because I am struck with how similar I’ve felt in the past about obeying Jesus. That might seem like a stretch, but hear me out!:)

I used to think I needed to live my perfectly controlled little life, and never let the Holy Spirit loose, because everything would get completely crazy and overwhelming. If I started obeying whatever God asked me to do, I would have to do everything. I would feel tired, frazzled, and overwhelmed, and it would suck the life right out of me.

I hear that same concern from people fairly often – listening to God will lead to an exhausting list of things to accomplish.

And yet, in these past six months since I’ve started saying “yes” to God, I have experienced the most wonderful, life-giving freedom. I’ve done things I’d never dreamed of doing in the past. I’ve done things that I thought would exhaust me, and things that have taken me far out of my comfort zone. But instead of feeling drained and depleted, I feel more energy and life flowing through me than what I ever knew before.

We seem to think letting go will mean craziness and stress – controlling everything ourselves will bring rest and comfort.

But God is teaching me a new definition of “comfort”. Turns out, I had no idea what could truly bring me comfort, rest, and joy.

The day I started to let go, the day I started saying “yes” to God without holding back, was the day that He began pouring a new joy and freedom into my life.

When we find our true purpose, it gives us freedom.

And doesn’t that make sense? God’s words bring life and hope, not stress and discomfort.

My Father made me, He knows me, He holds me, and He loves me. Why wouldn’t I trust that He knows what’s best for me?

Do you ever feel afraid to “let God loose” in your life?

What I Want to Do, I Do Not Do…

A few weeks ago, I was praying about parenting. I was especially frustrated that day, because it felt as though I repeat myself to my children over and over again, every single day, and I don’t really see much progress.

I was so fed up, I said to God, with much passion and annoyance, “WHEN will Anika listen to me???! Why can’t she learn to obey me??”

And God said, deep in my heart, “When will YOU learn to obey me? What keeps YOU from listening to ME?”

I thought about that for a bit, and finally realized: It’s my heart that keeps me from obeying God. I know what I need to do, but I do not have the strength to follow through. My heart needs to change in order for me to obey Him.

I was sharing this experience with Anika last night, and as I tried to explain it, the verses from Romans came to mind:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it….What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:15-20, 25)


Jesus rescues me. Jesus teaches me how to obey, and transforms me inside so that I start to do the good I truly want to do.

Trying to explain that to Anika in a way she could easily understand made me want to weep with relief, as I was reminded all over again that I am saved from this mess, and I do not need to do it on my own. “Thanks be to God…!”

Trying to force my children to obey me has not been working very well. I can get as annoyed and frustrated and angry as I want, but disobedience is only a symptom of the true problem – I need to keep praying for their hearts. I need to keep remembering that it is Christ who gives us and our children the strength to do what He wants us to do!

How can I be impatient with my girls, when I turn around, and there is God, waiting to teach me the very thing my children need to learn, as well?

So, Anika and I decided to try all over again the next day. We prayed about it, and we thanked God for second chances and fresh starts, and we will keep going for the heart.

Sneaky Prayer

I was asked to do a little children’s story time in our church yesturday, and the topic I was given was “Praying as Outreach”. As I was thinking and praying about what God might want me to pass on to His kiddies, the following story came to mind:

A few years ago, I was at the mall. After shopping for awhile, I sat down on a bench for a bit of a break. As I sat there, I noticed a lady coming towards me. She was pushing a stroller, and had three kids with her. They were the most unhappy family I had seen in quite a while – the kids were screaming, the mom was screaming, and they did not look as though they were having a good time at the mall.

As I watched them come towards me (while trying to be very discreet, because I wouldn’t want her to know I was watching the whole performance), that little voice inside said to me, “Pray for her!”

My immediate reaction was, “What?!! I don’t even know her! How on earth would I know what she needs prayer for??”

And the answer came instantly: “Isn’t it obvious?”

Since there was no arguing with that, I decided that although I felt really silly, sitting on a bench and praying for some random woman at the mall, I really didn’t have anything to lose. So I started praying for absolutely every little thing that crossed my mind as potential prayer material.

I prayed that her kids would stop screaming.

I prayed that God would fill her with such love, patience, and kindness for her children, that she wouldn’t even understand what was happening to her.

I prayed that she would have an absolutely wonderful time at the mall with her children.

I prayed that she would find what she was looking for at the mall, and that God would give her much wisdom as she spent her money.

I prayed for her the whole time she was slowly making her way past me with her chaos on display, and until she rounded the corner, out of sight.


I never saw that woman again, obviously. I have no idea what happened to her after I prayed for her.

But the experience taught me a few things about what I like to call “Sneaky Prayer”:

1) Obedience.

I don’t really need to understand why God is asking me to do something. I just need to do it. When I do my part, who knows what God does as His part?

2) Practice.

There are many Christians out there who feel very uncomfortable with the idea of praying aloud, in front of other people. To me, it makes sense that the more we practice when God is the only one who hears, the more comfortable we will become with prayer in general. If we would pray all the time, for everything, and then suddenly one day, be asked to pray out loud, I think we might be able to just do what we always do, except a little bit louder.

It would probably still be a hard jump for some people, and there’s no way around that. It might come down to gritting your teeth, squeezing your eyes shut really tight, and taking one wild, nausea-inducing leap of faith and courage, and just forcing yourself to do the uncomfortable, but I’m still thinking the extra practice on your own can’t hurt.

3) Blessing.

As Christians, we often say, “I’ll pray for you.” But there’s something different about being told, “I’ve been praying for you.”

Sometimes we make empty prayer promises – we have full intentions to pray, but we forget. When we can say, “I’ve already been praying for you”, I think there’s a special blessing in that.

A few years ago, while we were going through our time of infertility, I met a woman who was a wonderful listener. She also had trouble conceiving, and even though we were around each other for a day, I shared a bit of my heartbreak with her. (Shocking, hey?! Me, sharing deep, personal struggles with a random stranger?:))

We had a wonderful talk, but then I went home, and I didn’t really think about it very much. She had been a great source of encouragement to me, but life moved on.

Then, maybe six months later, I received a card from this woman in the mail. She wrote that God had moved her to pray for me for the last six months, and she had faithfully done so. She was wondering if there was anything in particular that I might want prayer for.

I sat there, holding that card and bawling, for two reasons: It amazed me that God would care so much about me, He would ask a stranger to hold me up in prayer. And it amazed me that she had taken the time to obey.

There was such a huge blessing in being told, “I have been praying for you.”

So here’s hoping this week is filled with many “sneaky prayer” opportunities for all of you!

Does anybody have any cool sneaky prayer stories to share?:)