Prayer Journal: Thanksgiving Tab

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The last couple years, I have participated in “Thankful Thursdays” on facebook.  This is an area that I have come to firmly believe is necessary for joy, and an attribute that I want to develop into my quirky personality.

Thanksgiving is the key to a joyful and contented heart.  How often I lose my key.  Do you do this?  Seriously, I know this works, I’ve seen it in action…yet I forget to be thankful, and am frustrated at my lack of joy.   I want to have a joyful, contented heart; how easy it is to slip into envy and discontent if the door of our minds are locked to the joy that thankfulness brings.

Since I already have a naturally optimistic bent, you would expect that thankfulness would come easy for me.

Yeah.  Not.

While I am naturally optimistic by nature, I also am terribly idealistic, and I expect things to work out like I envision they should.

Yup.  One of those.

Much of the time, with effort on my part, I can make things happen.  But obviously, not all the time.  I am bitterly disappointed when things fall short of my ideal, and I tend to fall (as Anne of Green Gables would say) into the depths of despair.  How easy it is to slip into the devil’s trap of comparison, envy and discontent when the door of my mind is locked to joy.

There is a reason that I choose thankfulness to follow contrition and confession in my quiet time routine.  After the confession portion of my prayer time, I tend to still be a little bit raw.  Really, this should not be surprising, after all, I’ve just examined myself, and admitted my sinful thoughts, actions, intentions and omissions; that is, those things I’ve done and failed to do that have offended my Father.  I’ve brought it all to Him, offered it up, and asked him to forgive me, and now…well…like I said;  I feel a little bit raw.  So, as I remind myself of His precious promises of forgiveness and restoration, and experience the grace that He pours through my broken heart, I begin to praise Him for:

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  • Answered Prayer – Those petitions I have brought before His throne, favors granted, and His provision, including those things that He has withheld from me, or things for which He has chosen to make me wait while continuing to ask.  This part of my prayer time is a real hurdle while I’m suffering with my disappointment and impatience, but it is so necessary, for me, in developing the ability to follow Ephesians 5:20.
  • His mercy that is new every morning – that is, His sparing me from the ultimate penalty of sin, and His faithful, steadfast love through the years. (Ps 25:6, Lam 3:23).
  • Who He is – going back to adoration, and incorporating thankfulness…reminding myself again of the attributes of God, and thanking Him for all that He is to me, for me, and with me. (1 Cor 16:29, Ps. 34:7)
  • My loved ones – family, friends, spiritual leaders, etc. (Eph 1:6)
  • His grace and the indwelling of His Spirit that frees me from sin’s bondage.  Because of His grace, I am not enslaved to sin.  I have the choice to do what is right, and experience victory through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  (1 Cor 15:57)
  • The presence of His Spirit with me. I know He is with me when I experience the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I continue to pray that my life produces the fruit, evidencing that I am His child, and He lives and reigns in me…by faith…so that everything I do can be done in His Name and for His glory. (Col 3:17)

Thanksgiving does not come naturally, it has to be cultivated!  Because I need frequent reminders of the importance of being thankful, the back of my divider is filled with Scripture reminders of the importance of developing thankfulness with an acronym of sorts of the word “gratitude”.  I have tried to keep these verses at the top of my memory, as I work on this attribute…or rather, as I allow the Lord to develop this attribute in my life.  I don’t have them all memorized, but reading through them in my quiet time has cemented their truths into my routine, and I like to think they are there for when I need them.  As I’m giving thanks, I try to write something down in this section, so that on my down days, when it’s difficult to think of something to be thankful for (I can be a big baby, did I tell you that already?), there is a list of things that I can remember and thank God again.  This is an act of obedience for me, so sometimes I need a little prompt….this totally works!

Act before you Ask
Adoration Tab
Confession/Contrition Tab

 

 

 

 

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Litany of the Love of God

Melanie, over at Joy Of Nine9 has blessed me yet again, this time with Litany of the Love of God.  It is so beautiful!  As I read, I found myself praying, in agreement with the words, and as I did, some of the words pierced through places in my spirit that I had been protecting from painful memories and past injuries.

It is challenging to say with complete honesty, that I allow my love to return to Him:

  • with all my heart (above the place that my husband, children, and grandchildren hold there);
  • with all my soul (that part of me that makes me who I am…including the masks I wear, the fortresses I’ve built around it for protection from pain, and the parts of it that have been robbed by fear, doubt, and unbelief);
  • with all my mind (above my own understanding and expectations of who God is, how He works, what He desires);
  • with all my strength (because I know the reserves I keep for the times when I don’t rely on His strength to do what He asks me to, or to do what I choose to do instead of what He’s asked me to do…I know well the areas of my being that are not surrendered to Him, and that I hold back).

Do I really mean it, when I tell Him, “Lord, I love you back, not for what you lavish me with, but just for who You are…”

  • above all possessions and honors,
  • above all pleasures and enjoyments
  • More than myself and all that belongs to me,
  • More than all my relatives and friends,
  • More than all men and angels,
  • Above all created things in heaven or on earth,

Oh!  I want to…but I know I fall short!  I am guilty of placing things above that love for Him.  How easily they get in the way, because I do love my things…my family…my friends…even myself and my accomplishments.  How sobering a reminder to keep all His riches that He shares with us in their proper perspective.  Of course, it’s right and expected for me to be thankful for all these blessings that He gives, with the knowledge that they are from His hand, and they are to given to me for His glory, not my own.

  • In wealth and in poverty,
  • In prosperity and in adversity,
  • In health and sickness,
  • In life and death,
  • In time and eternity (in what I know of in my now, and forever after)

I used to think it was easier to trust God and to love Him in the good times than it was in the hard times.  This notion has been tested and found to be untrue over the past ten years.  We’ve gone from employment and home ownership, to unemployment and homelessness (and back again); from having supportive family around us, to suffering fractured, painful dynamics; we’ve lost aged parents and welcomed grandbabies; and I can honestly say, through all of it, my love for God was strengthened in the days that I cried out for and received His comfort and consolations.  It was not easier to love God in the easy times, in fact, when times were easy, so was the ability to forget Him, and become complacent.

There is a hidden wisdom in the Lord’s prayer, when we ask for our daily bread.  I realized a rich dimension of thankfulness and awe in watching and waiting for daily provision, that was not present in our years of plenty, when I was buying groceries to stock a pantry for the month.  It’s not that I didn’t know where my help came from, but I was not reminded of it every day, and our blessing over the meal did not inspire awe then as it did when we did not know where our next meal would come from and were provided for on a daily basis.

I love the end of this litany…where I can unite the love I am returning to God with the love of all the saints and angels, even with the love of His own mother, and with His own infinite love.  Just in case mine falls short (and it does), it still returns to Him complete, because of the unity of His body.  What a beautiful picture of an answer to His prayer for us, that we be one, as He and the Father are one.

 

When it’s all been said and done pt.2

Continued from Part One

Our time here has been one disappointing closed door after another, including but not limited to being unemployed, fractured family dynamics, and fruitless attempts to get back home where we both can work and try to get back on our feet.

BUT, it’s also been an exciting faith walk (not to be confused with the cake walk), of total dependence on God.  On numerous occasions, we’ve watched Him provide money when we were down to our last dollar, food when the cupboard was all but bare, and sweet streams of refreshing and comfort when we were tempted to believe God had forgotten us.

We’ve been on the receiving end of harsh, judgmental attitudes of misguided, self-righteous individuals; as well as sincere Christian charity from God’s people who take Matthew 25 seriously.   We have found God’s love and provision in places that many self-proclaimed christians (with a little “c” on purpose) would be embarrassed to frequent.  We have been humbled and tried in the furnace of adversity, and we are in the process of learning to love as He loves and forgive those that have wronged us, leaving our offenses in the hands of the One who has the right to repay, the One who defends and delivers His own.

We are now at what feels like the tail end of our stay here.  Our household items are all being stored until we have the funds to move us all back to the U.S.  We are receiving word after word encouraging us to look up, and see our deliverance; to believe without seeing that our victory has already been given to us, and to thank and praise God for the work He’s done.  Reminders of His love and faithfulness come numerous times in the day, and as my mind continues to meditate on the lyrics of this song, I know, deep down, it’s been worth every step.  Worth every heartache.  It’s been growth, and it’s been for Him and His glory.

Lord, your mercy is so great, that you look beyond our weakness,and find purest gold in miry clay, making sinners into saints.  I will always sing your praise!  Here on earth, and ever after, for you’ve shown me heaven’s my true home, when it’s all been said and done, You’re my life when life is done.

…Did I do my best to live for truth, did I live my life for You?