Prayer for those stuck in a rut

This is for all of you people out there who love God but sometimes get bored. Who have had good prayer lives but sometimes feel like you’ve lost that spark. Will you please pray with me? Lord, I love you, I do. That has never changed. I long to grow closer to you. I’m excited ...

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This is for all of you people out there who love God but sometimes get bored. Who have had good prayer lives but sometimes feel like you’ve lost that spark. Will you please pray with me?


Lord, I love you, I do. That has never changed. I long to grow closer to you. I’m excited by the new things I discover in Your word, by the way I see You in prayer and in the changed lives around me.

But I don’t know how to maintain my passion for you. I struggle with staying focused and purposeful in prayer without falling into a rut.

Remind me that I don’t have to have the answers. That You will give me the ones I need, and that the other ones don’t matter.

Reveal Yourself to me in new ways all the time. Let me know You better and better. When I don’t hear from You, or when I feel dry and parched, let me know that doesn’t mean You’re not with me.

Renew my passion for You in ways that will wake up something in my spirit. Excite me, fill my mind with ideas, fill my heart with so much love for You that I can’t just sit back and keep it to myself.

Let me learn that prayer is valuable and I can’t have a good relationship with You without it. But at the same time, don’t let me squander it. I was never meant to keep You all to myself. Prayer equips me to reach out to others, so it shouldn’t stay within the walls of my house. Faith should be active—real, hands-on involvement in changing lives, in helping people carry their burdens, in pointing people to You as the answer for all of their questions and needs.

When I start to have doubts, when I feel bored, when I wonder if it’s worth the effort, help me to remember. Let me look back at the times when I have seen prayers answered in surprising and creative ways. Help me to recall the moments of insight, the surges of passion, the large and small changes You’ve helped me make in my life since I found You.

And when I get too focused on myself—on what I want and need and feel—gently nudge me until I notice the enormity of Your kingdom, the beauty of Your righteousness, the hope that You bring to hopeless and tragic situations, the love that You shower on all your people.

This faith of mine isn’t just for me. It’s meant to change me, and in turn, to change the lives of others. It’s meant to be a witness to nonbelievers, pointing them to the One they long to know. It’s intended to prepare me to live for You—which means to draw people together, to form lasting relationships, to model a content and joyful life. To show people what life can be like when we let You in, when we hand over the controls and break down those barriers and yield all power to You.

It’s exciting to contemplate all that You are and all that my relationship with You can be. I don’t have to bring the passion in to this relationship; I just need to open my heart to You and the passion will come. The ruts won’t feel constraining, but will instead guide me to exactly where I need to be. The boredom will turn to adventure. And You will make all things new. Because You are the God of possibility, of expansion, of miraculous change and surprising answers. And oh how I love You!

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Would you like a colorful reminder to get your prayers started every day? Subscribe to my newsletter at www.kellyostanley.com/downloads or in the sidebar to the right, and you can download monthly prayer prompt calendars (and other freebies). 

My Summer Prayer

Dear Lord, As You—and anyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes—know, summers are a struggle for me. I’m certain I sound like a terrible mom when I say that. And maybe I am a terrible mom. I don’t know. I’m just being real. I’m used to having some space to ...

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Dear Lord,

As You—and anyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes—know, summers are a struggle for me. I’m certain I sound like a terrible mom when I say that. And maybe I am a terrible mom. I don’t know. I’m just being real.

I’m used to having some space to myself at home—a desk that I clear in the mornings and which remains clear unless I clutter it again. I’m used to being able to sit all day without turning on a TV so that I can work, to let my thoughts and ideas incubate in the silence. It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. But this quiet space is where I create. I’m used to juggling appointments and errands and the items on my to-do list with limited restrictions, which normally center on drop-off and pick-up times at school.

But now there are bodies in my house. People talking, sitcoms on television, questions about what’s for lunch and can I go here and oh-no-I-forgot-I-need-to-be-there-in-five-minutes!

My kids are older now: more self-sufficient, less demanding of my attention. So really, this summer is going to be different than those in the past. But this feeling of dread I associate with summer remains in me still.

So, Lord, I am asking for Your help.

With each drive to the school for basketball or soccer or conditioning or summer PE, let me not feel inconvenienced, but instead let me enjoy the time with my son while he’s still too young to drive himself. Let me marvel at his changes, enjoy his music, listen to his off-the-wall insights.

When I sit outside, let me soak in the sunlight and relax my mind, rather than thinking about all those other things I should be doing. There’s enough time to think about those while I’m actually doing them, and the added stress doesn’t help anyone.

When there’s nothing to eat and everyone’s hungry, let me notice the blessing of abundant food and the luxury of turning up our noses at leftovers. Let me remember what a privilege it is to have these people in my home, and let me teach them how to be more self-sufficient.

When I can’t walk through the living room because of the clutter, when on each trip through the house I gather armloads of empty cups, when I trip over the piles of shoes by the back door, and when I’m overwhelmed by the piles of laundry, let me stop and take a deep breath. Let me trust You to keep my mind free of the clutter I’m experiencing physically. Impress on me the awareness that this is not a trial. This is not a bad thing. This is all here because we have a home and a family and a full life.

Help me, every morning, to set my sights on You. To filter my thoughts through Your word. To lean on You for strength. To turn to You for calm. To rely on You for provision. To revel in Your nearness. To see summer as a time of beauty, a season of abundance, a time of joy. Help me equate sunshine with Your glorious light. To see the lushness of the landscape as a reminder of Your extravagant grace. To wake each morning with a sense of peace, and to end each day satisfied and grateful and knowing that I accomplished exactly what You put before me to do that day.

In short, let summer be what every other day of my life should be—and can be—with You.

Amen.

Prayer for the weary parent

Lord, I am so tired. Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. ...

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[Also posted at Internet Café today]

Lord, I am so tired.

Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. Awed by their perfection. Humbled by the powerful emotions they bring out in me. Honored to be given the chance to be part of their life, to be in a position to influence and teach and guide.

But at the same time, I’m weary. It’s hard to be a parent, to make decisions that aren’t easy and won’t make me popular. It’s difficult to enforce the rules, day after day, to monitor behavior and ask them to pick things up and remind them to do homework and to not take it personally every time they resist. To not be hurt by disrespect and disagreement and rebellion, whether large or small.

It’s exhausting, constantly fighting to get my kids to see reason. It’s challenging to know that I can’t make all their choices for them. I can’t protect them from bad decisions, I can’t ensure they never face harsh consequences, and I can’t do everything for them.

And really, I don’t want to. I offered them to You when they were born, and I trust You to lead them and take care of them. I want them to learn from their experiences and I believe they are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to succeed (in all the different kinds of ways we measure success). I don’t want to overstep my bounds. As my friend Lisa told me once, our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job. To teach our kids what they need to know to live. To love. To respect and honor and obey and be productive.

And to lean on You. Because if there is one thing I do know, it is that life is hard. Even when it looks like we have it all together. The only way to get through is to turn towards You, to allow You to teach us individually, personally, in whatever ways we each learn best.

So, Lord, help me lean on You today. Let my kids see that even though I’m not perfect, my mistakes are made out of a desire to protect them, which stems from the amazing depths of the love a parent feels for a child. Let them see that, no matter what they face, it’s better to go through it with You than without You. You can lift the burdens which are too heavy, and enrich the good moments beyond measure. You will shine light into the darkness that they will inevitably face. You will reveal that which is a mystery in the right time. You will endure that which seems too hard to bear. And You will emerge victorious, with them by Your side.

While I wait, while I watch them develop into the people You knew they would become, let me be gracious. Let me cheer them on and not drag them down. Let me hold my tongue when they need to listen instead for You. Let me be a safe place for them to return, an unending source of love to come home to. Restore my weary soul, physically and emotionally. Remind me that You are in control so I don’t have to be. Show me how to relinquish my grasp on their lives and live in faith, how to turn my worrying into prayer.

As You help them grow, do the same for me. Because if anyone understands the turmoil of a parent’s love for a child, it is You. If anyone knows what it means to watch our kids go through hard things and not step in, it is You. If anyone understands the unending, deep and passionate and desperate love we feel, it is You.

The enormity of that takes my breath away, and I know once again the complete truth: We could not be in better hands. Thank You, Jesus. I love You.

TO SCHEDULE: “You, My child, are My favorite.”

I have one younger sister, Kerry. Our dad, who loves us completely and totally and with an unconditional love, has a standing joke when we call: “Is this the pretty one or the smart one?” After all these years, it still makes me laugh, and depending on how I feel that day, I give him ...

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I have one younger sister, Kerry. Our dad, who loves us completely and totally and with an unconditional love, has a standing joke when we call: “Is this the pretty one or the smart one?” After all these years, it still makes me laugh, and depending on how I feel that day, I give him a different answer. We both know he thinks both of us are pretty and smart. My dad has found a way to always let us know we’re special to him. If you would ask Kerry, she’d claim she’s his favorite. I, of course, know better. (Because I’m pretty and smart.)

One night, when my friend Sandee and I were talking, she said, “Don’t you ever, sometimes, imagine that you are God’s favorite—just for that moment?” At the time, I couldn’t say that I did. I wasn’t important enough. I didn’t know Him well enough. The only thing I knew was that I was jealous. I didn’t even know I wanted that special distinction until I heard her talk about it.

And yet, in spite of my actual qualifications, God looks at me and says, “Is this the pretty one or the smart one? The faithful one or the prodigal? The one who’s with Me all the time or the one who just found her way back?” And whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter. He already knows. He holds out His arms in welcome and says, “You, My child, are My favorite.”

How can that be? It makes no sense to us, particularly as women who are conditioned to compare ourselves to others (usually finding ourselves lacking in the ways we measure up). We’re too fat, too short, too insecure. We’ve become conditioned to expecting the reward to be commensurate with our abilities. If we’re talented, we will succeed. If we’re pretty, we will find a man.

It’s a short step to apply that concept to “if we’re faithful, God will like us.”

God wants us to be more like Him, but He takes us just as we are—and multiplies what we have into something more. I love color and words and design. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than hearing people’s stories about God, but I’m an introvert. So God has filled my life with clients who have become friends and provided opportunities to talk about Him. He’s used my love of design and writing to allow me to tell people about Him without having to stand in front of crowds on a stage. Of course, He’s given me opportunities to do that, too, because He sees potential even when we do not.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

See? He doesn’t want to make you into something you’re not. He wants to make you into the most-fully-you possible. Don’t shy away from that. Figure out what you’re good at, what you love, what you need, and embrace it. It is only when we fully express ourselves, pouring it all out for Him, that we become fully alive. When we operate from that place, God becomes visible. Removes obstacles. Relieves fears. Opens doors.

And shows Himself to be more than we ever hoped.


Pray with me? Heavenly Father, as we’re starting a new year, help us embrace who we are—who You made us to be. Let us relinquish control and let You lead. Help us to humble ourselves and step back to let You shine. You can take what meager things we have to offer and make something spectacular. You’re the one who can change lives—but we pray that You will use us as instruments of that change. Thank You for the individual, personal, unique gifts You have given to each of us; help us remember that they’re all gifts from You, and one person’s gifts aren’t better than another’s. Let us be content in the way You made us and know You love us, just as we are. Help us to love others with the kind of unconditional, generous love You show us. And let us believe that we are all that You say we are. That we are pretty, and smart. That we are loved. That we are yours. No matter what we do or don’t do, no matter how outstanding or inadequate our abilities are.

Together, Lord, we will do amazing things. Thank You for letting me walk with You. Amen.


This is an excerpt from my book, Designed to Pray, with a new prayer added. It first appeared on Internet Café Devotions.

Jesus is here

God is over all things, under all things, outside all, within, but not enclosed, without, but not excluded, above, but not raised up, below, but not depressed, wholly above, presiding, wholly without, embracing, wholly within, filling. —from Walking on Water by Madeleine ...

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[I shared this today at Internet Café Devotions. You may read it there or here.]

God is over all things,
under all things,
outside all,
within, but not enclosed,
without, but not excluded,
above, but not raised up,
below, but not depressed,
wholly above, presiding,
wholly without, embracing,
wholly within, filling.

—from Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle

This time of year, it seems there’s always some talk about the so-called war on Christmas, about people being upset if a store clerk doesn’t use the actual words, “Merry Christmas.” People read cards that arrive in the mail and roll their eyes if the sentiment inside ends with “Happy Holidays.” Many of these people react from a pure heart. They love God and want everyone to focus on the point of Christmas, to remember that it’s about Jesus coming to earth—about God drawing near. About His enormous love that prompted Him to come do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

I understand where they’re coming from. I do. And in my heart, I want the same thing—an awareness of God, an understanding of the miracles we celebrate.

But I also know this: God cannot be limited. We cannot keep Him out of Christmas, no matter what we call the season. We cannot pretend He is not present, because He is in all things. Re-read the excerpt above. Over, under, outside, within, without, above, below, wholly above, wholly without, wholly within.

When we pretend God isn’t present in these holidays, we’re the ones who are deluded.

If we want to see more of Him, all we need to do is open our eyes. Open our arms, and our hearts, and our front doors. Open our pantries, our compassion, our communities. Lean on Him, call on Him, ask Him to reveal Himself. Ask Him to work through us, to shine light into the lives he’s given us, to let us be His hands extended.

And even if we don’t see Him, He is there. Because Christmas would not be miraculous if this is a temporary fix. It wouldn’t be a celebration if there were a time limit on His presence.

He is here. He was, and is, and is to come. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. The Lord God Almighty. The beginning and the end. The All in All.

No matter how other people celebrate, I know that this is reason enough for me to rejoice. To give thanks. To fall to my knees in wonder.

Because, Christmas or not, Jesus is here.

Amen.

What punctuation marks your faith?

Today I’m at the Internet Café with a back-to-school post… sort of. Here’s the beginning of it, but you can read the rest of it there. It’s back-to-school time, so let’s do a quick review of the basics. We can skip the multiplication tables and sentence diagrams. But I thought we could take a few minutes to examine punctuation ...

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Today I’m at the Internet Café with a back-to-school post… sort of. Here’s the beginning of it, but you can read the rest of it there.

It’s back-to-school time, so let’s do a quick review of the basics. We can skip the multiplication tables and sentence diagrams. But I thought we could take a few minutes to examine punctuation marks—and see what they can teach us about our relationship with God.

Period (.) End of sentence. Factual. True. When God speaks, it’s usually a simple, declarative sentence. Go. Stop. Trust. Follow me. Our culture has tried to make us believe that our faith isn’t strong enough unless we reside in a place of certainty. And sure, that’s a great place to be. Sometimes our beliefs are absolute and sure, and we’re strongly rooted in our faith. We simply know what we know. But do you know what else I know? It’s OK to not remain here all the time.

Exclamation point (!) Wow! God is amazing! I see Him! I want you to know Him! The best way to approach God is with thanksgiving—by noticing all that He does, all that He is, and letting ourselves feel the awe and wonder He inspires. And the best way to get someone else excited is to express yourself genuinely and enthusiastically. It’s hard to maintain this level of excitement over the long term, though—we get tired, other worries crowd their way in, and so on. It takes sustained effort to remain here and it’s a wonderful place to be, but I spend more time with the next one…

Read the rest of the post here.

 

Does your posture influence your prayer?

I’ve prayed sitting in a pew. Balanced on my knees on a cushioned kneeler. Standing at the altar, hands on another’s shoulder. In a circle at prayer group, joined hand to hand in unity. I’ve pressed my face into my carpet, distraught and wordless, and I’ve stood with both arms raised high above my head ...

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GRAPHIC The more ways I approach

I’ve prayed sitting in a pew. Balanced on my knees on a cushioned kneeler. Standing at the altar, hands on another’s shoulder. In a circle at prayer group, joined hand to hand in unity. I’ve pressed my face into my carpet, distraught and wordless, and I’ve stood with both arms raised high above my head with confidence and praise.

It’s all prayer. It’s all good. And however you approach it, I’m not here to tell you you’re doing it wrong.

What I know, though, is that so often we get stuck in a routine. Before long, actions that once held deep meaning no longer carry any weight. Emotion is replaced with familiarity.

Familiarity can be good. It comes with comfort and peace. You don’t want to lose that.

But I’d like to suggest that maybe you should shake things up once in a while.

Join me at the Internet Café today to find out how.

I don’t just write books. I also write IN them.

Today, I’m really happy to share with you one of the first posts I ever wrote for the Internet Café, before they’d invited me to be a regular monthly contributor. I love the women there—so many different personalities, and yet so many women seeking God with all that they have, all that they are. So ...

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Today, I’m really happy to share with you one of the first posts I ever wrote for the Internet Café, before they’d invited me to be a regular monthly contributor. I love the women there—so many different personalities, and yet so many women seeking God with all that they have, all that they are. So inspiring. And I’m so proud to get to share there every month. This month, as I’m gearing up for my book release, they suggested re-running one of their favorite posts. So without further ado…

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Important disclaimer: I am fully aware of the fact that I am, have always been, and likely will always be a geek.

I couldn’t wait for college.

All the usual reasons — getting away from the small town I lived in and my parents and all the people who thought they had a right to know my business. But it wasn’t just about running away — it was about running to. To new friends, new knowledge, and new experiences. Oh, and also because I’d heard you could write in your books.

Until then,… {read more at the Internet Café}

Hope embodied

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13, NIV God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. All true. But as I think about the lovely ...

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13, NIV

God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. All true.

But as I think about the lovely friends God has placed in my life, I’m discovering a correlation between friendship and hope. Read more of this post at the Internet Café (one of my favorite places to share).

Lord, steer me in the right direction

Join me at the Internet Café today as I explore why my default stance is “I wish there was something I could do to help—but since I can’t, I’ll pray.” And pray with me for what I should think instead....

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Join me at the Internet Café today as I explore why my default stance is “I wish there was something I could do to help—but since I can’t, I’ll pray.” And pray with me for what I should think instead.

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