In Luke chapter 18 we find a powerful parable of two men praying.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
Which payer is accepted?
Today let’s admit who we are, and how desperate we are for Him.
Fear is a hard thing to battle.
Each of us faces it. Sometimes it’s worry, and sometimes it’s full blown anxiety.
When fear is attacking our hearts, where can we turn?
Who can bring us peace more than the Prince of Peace?
Where can we find sweeter words of comfort than the Word of God?
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
His words are powerful.
And when we look to His words, we see His character. We see how He is a good Father who loves His children. There is a beautiful quote that goes, “It’s not how much faith you have that matters, but Who your faith is in.”
If your faith is in Yahweh, the Maker of the heavens and earth, you can rest in knowing that He is with you no matter what.
As long as we live in this fallen world, we will battle with fear, doubt, and sin. But the good news is that we are overcomers. The battle does not define us. As children of God, He lets us run to His open arms for refuge in the storm.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
These Bible verse-inspired prayers bring such comfort to my heart, and I pray that they will encourage you today as well:
Click for printable PDF:
Praying Through Anxiety & Fear
I once heard someone ask the question, “If God is in control, what’s the point in praying to Him?”
There are many biblical reasons why we should pray, and there are articles and books answering this honest question. (Here’s a wonderful article short article: “Why Pray When God is Omnipotent and Omniscient?” by 3-Minute Apologist. And here’s a indepth answer: “Defending the Bible’s Position on Prayer” from Apologetic Press.)
Surprisingly, the question holds the answer.
The fact that Yahweh is in control is the reason why I pray. I wouldn’t pray to Him if He wasn’t all-powerful, because prayer is not about changing God, it’s about allowing Him to change us, our circumstances, and our world through His Holy Spirit.
Prayer is not about control. It’s about surrender.
Our heavenly Father is the only one that can hear the cry of our souls.
He’s the only one who can feel our greatest joy and our deepest hurt. He sees the beauty that we’re blinded to and the sins that we try to hide. He sees our past, our present, our future, our hopes, our fears, and our deepest longings.
How are we going to see the light if we don’t open our eyes?
How are we going to feel hope, if we don’t open up our hearts?
How are we going to commune with Him without prayer?
Let’s pray when our heart can’t contain everything inside. Let’s rest in His presence when we don’t know where to go. He hears the cry of our soul even when we don’t know how to put it into words.
God is in control, not me. That’s why I pray.
The other day I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, when the little girl in the cart behind me began to chant to her mom in a lilting voice, “I’m not listening. I’m not listening.”
My mom turned to me and said quietly, “How often do we do that to Yahweh?”
As the mom continued to softly instruct, her daughter kept repeating the phrase, “I’m not listening. I’m not listening.”
Ouch. Yes, I do that too.
Sometimes we rush into God’s presence.
We have a lot of prayer requests to make. We want. We need. We pray. We seek. But do we listen?
Do we sit in His presence and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our heart as we’re reading the Bible, or are we rushing on to check our devotions off the list?
I needed to learn that lesson from a little girl at the store.
When we find ourselves running in circles like Martha, we need to rest in His presence like Mary did.
We need to listen.
I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak
~”Work of God Speak” by MercyMe
It had been a busy day.
I was working on yet another project, and instead of turning on music, I decided to pray to my heavenly Father while working. I began to tell Him how wonderful He is. And that’s when He spoke to me, “I want your heart, not your words.” That quiet impression caused me to pause and contemplate.
I had been busy for quite a few days. So much of it was in service to Him, but was I serving out of my own strength? Had I taken quality time to get to know Him better lately? Or was I treating Him as a pep stop, where I get a quick fix and rush on with life? Was I just speaking words, or was I giving Him my heart?
It’s easy to fit God into our schedule, and a bit harder to fit our schedule around Him.
It’s a struggle. But most good things are.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Prayer is a part of our relationship with our Maker.
Today, let’s give Him more than our words, let’s give Him our hearts.
Are you wanting to go deeper in prayer this year?
Having a prayer life doesn’t just “happen.”
It takes choices. It takes faith. It takes abiding in Yeshua (Jesus).
Our busy schedules try to stifle it. Distractions hinder it. Sometimes even when we’ve set aside time to sit in God’s presence, our minds start drifting in other directions, and minutes later we realize that we’ve hardly even said a word to Him or listened to what He’s trying to show us.
I’ve been there. There are times when I feel my prayer life struggling, and times when it feels so alive. The good news is that every day we have a choice, and every year is a new start.
Here are some ideas to encourage your prayer life this year:
Listen to Music
Most worship songs are prayer put to music. When we praise God, it welcomes His presence into our everyday lives. Scrubbing baseboards, cooking dinner, or driving to town can become times of worship, so turn that music up.
Keep a Prayer Journal
Keeping a prayer journal can help you stay focused while praying. When I write a prayer to my heavenly Father, it’s often more reverent, thoughtful, and focused than when I say it. Plus, if you’re crazy about starting journals (like I am), this is yet another excuse to get a cute notebook (T.J. Maxx, y’all).
(For more inspiration, see our post: Keeping a Prayer Journal.)
Capture the “in-between moments”
So often the minutes of free time in our days are twiddled away, but they can be wonderful opportunities to take a break and rest in God’s presence. Do you have a few minutes to spare because you’re ready to leave the house early? (Confession: that doesn’t happen with me.) Do you have ten minutes of free time while the cookies are baking, or a minute before your toddler calls for you again? Each of these minutes are gifts from the Father.
Find a Prayer Partner
Prayer doesn’t have to be a lonely thing. Perhaps there’s a prayer group you could join, or maybe you have a friend who would like to commit to a regular time of prayer together (whether in person or on the phone). Can’t think of a prayer partner? Pray for one. If it’s God’s desire, He’ll bring along someone who will join you in prayer. Not only will this bring accountability and focus to your prayer life, it can strengthen a friendship in a special way as you seek His face together. Which leads us to…
Pray with Friends
After a chat on the phone or an afternoon spent with friends, prayer is a great way to close your time spent together. Also, if something comes up in your conversation that needs prayer, volunteer to pray right on the spot. It’s amazing the comfort and strength we can receive from God in those times. It might seem awkward at first, but I’ve found that it means a lot to friends.
Set a reminder on your phone to pray at a certain time of the day, or place sticky notes around your home. Also, when you think of someone, pray for them. This is a great way to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Use Prayer Guides
Not only will prayer guides give you inspiration, they can also help you stay committed to daily prayer. What are you wanting to pray more about? There are quite a few prayer guides online that might be just what you were looking for. (You can also check out our “Resources & Reviews” page for a collection of prayer guides and inspiration.)
What are some more ways to focus on prayer this year?
As another year comes to an end, we can look back on these past months and see the victories and trials, the laughter and tears.
I don’t know what you’ve been through this year. Maybe it’s been your best year, or maybe your hardest. But as you look back, I pray that you can see His hand guiding, feel His presence leading, and hear His voice speaking. Even in the darkest nights the stars were still shining, and after the storm, the sun warmed your face. I hope you can see each blessing as a gift from above.
Let’s start off the year with thankfulness and prayer.
-A Prayer to Start off Your Year-
Father, I surrender my year to You, all its joys and tears, all its victories and trials. I want to walk in the power of your resurrection–rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, staying devoted to prayer. I want to draw closer to You this year and seek Your face like never before. Please give me the strength to be Your hands and feet and share Your love with this world. Remind me who You are and how you hold the whole world in Your hands. Thank You for providing all my needs, and saving me. May You receive all the glory this year. In Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) name, amen!
Father, I surrender my year to You, all its joys and tears, all its victories and trials. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I want to draw closer to You this year and seek Your face like never before. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Please give me the strength to be Your hands and feet and share Your love with this world. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Remind me who You are and how you hold the whole world in Your hands. (Psalm 95:4)
May You receive all the glory this year. (Revelation 4:11)
Click for printable PDF: A Prayer to Start Off Your Year
How has God answered prayer in your life in 2016?
Prayer is something that is sometimes hard to understand. Why do we pray? The Bible answers that question.
It connects us to our Creator.
“The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer.” (Psalm 6:9)
It’s a way to love one another.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44)
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
It gives us courage and faith.
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,” (Luke 18:1)
It keeps our souls from harm.
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
It works in ways we cannot see.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
It makes miracles happen.
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
Yeshua (Jesus) showed us how to pray.
“But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:16)
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ ” (Matthew 6:9-13)
I hope these verses encourage you to today.
Whatever you’re holding inside your heart, pour it out before Him. He’s waiting to hear your voice, to bring you peace when you surrender, and to refresh your thirsty soul with His Spirit.
Click for printable PDF: Why Pray (Seven Biblical Answers) by Sisters on Our Knees
Some of the dearest friendships in my life are connected with prayer.
When my family moved to Alabama nine years ago, I struggled deeply with loneliness. Two year later, on a summer afternoon, I surrendered my longing for friendship, declaring that Yahweh was the best friend I could ever have, and that I’d rather be lonely than have friends that would pull me away from Him. It was only a few weeks later that my family met another like-minded family in our community. Over the following year I was able to spend many hours playing board games with them, particularity with their oldest daughter, who later became my sister-in-law.
In 2014, I went on a camping trip with my brother’s family and their friends for the Feast of Tabernacles. By the end of the week, I connected with a girl who soon became a sister by heart. Later we discovered that leading up to this trip, my mom had been praying for me to find a new friend. The girl had been praying for a friend as well. It was the perfect timing and stage of our lives for us to meet and encourage each other.
After graduating from high school in 2015, I wanted to know what Yahweh desired for me to pursue. I felt there was something missing in my life. My mom and I prayed that I would have direction by the time I came back from our family trip to Israel that fall. Two days after I arrived home from Israel, I was contacted with the opportunity to babysit a 9-month-old baby girl. Fast forward a year and a half, and that precious little girl has blessed my life more than words can say.
Last spring I had the opportunity to volunteer for two weeks at a Christian kibbutz in Israel. I worked alongside a prayer warrior from Colorado. Our times of prayer together nurtured my passion for prayer and deepened our friendship. When I came back to the USA, she and I continued to pray over the phone. Those times inspired me to have prayer times with others, including weekly prayer times on the phone with Peyton, which led to launching this blog.
My heavenly Father has blessed me with each of these friendships as a result of prayer.
He’s the best at connecting friends.
Do you have a friendship testimony?
P.S. Revelation 12:11 shares that one of the ways to overcome is by the word of our testimony. Sharing our testimonies of answered prayer is a powerful reminder to us and to others of how our God is faithful. Do you have a prayer testimony you feel led to share in a blog post? Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org