Using Prayer to Recover Life’s Joy

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Today is Faith Friday. We are delving into how to use our spiritual weapons to regain our joy. This is the first part of our four-part series, Recovering Life’s Joy -Using Our Spiritual Weapons to Reach Out to God series. Joy is a small but powerful word, being joyful doesn’t mean that we walk around without a care, it means that we have made a conscious decision to lean on the word of God and follow his lead. Christ told us in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” This scripture is not new to us, but it can still be hard for strong minded women who are used to solving their own problems or living with their problems in silence to let go and let God handle it. So today we are going to talk about why joy is important and look at our first spiritual weapon is prayer, keep reading to see how having a strong prayer life can help us recover our joy.
How many of us dread getting out of bed in the morning. Facing the same old problems that don’t seem to have a solution. You can’t see me, but I am raising my hand. Mornings for me use to be the worse. I knew nothing in my closet was going to fit me, and I would end up wearing the same black yoga pants and one of my four oversize shirts. I knew that I did not have the money to pay all of the bills sitting in the little tray in my office, and I knew that traffic was going to be horrible going to work, and that would ruin my entire day. I was broke, overweight, and un-happy and I felt like there was nothing I could do about it. Now, mind you at the time I was teaching women’s bible study at my church, And I have to say it is still one my most favorite memory. Teaching those women every month gave me the gave me the boost I needed to keep going. The problem was, that while I teaching these marvelous lessons on faith, love, and casting our cares on the Lord. I wasn’t really living it.

prayerI was still trying to save myself as my grandmother use to say. There were places in my life where I did not let God in and because of that I had lost my joy. Just to be clear, Now I am not talking about depression, sadness or loss of joy is an emotion, and even though we may feel that our sadness is overwhelming and has taken over our life. We should still be able to find moments of joy in our families , friends, or work. Depression on the other hand is a mental illness, and if you have feelings of sadness that has caused you to change the way eat, withdraw from activities you use to love, if you have trouble sleeping, or if you are constantly irritable. Please see your primary physician or a licensed therapist.
Feeling sad is a human emotion that everyone feels at certain times in our lives. We lose our joy for a number of reasons, I mean the world can be cold, scary, and just plain sucky at times. But, I think at the foundation of all of that is that we feel helpless. Nothing zaps your joy like the feeling that you do not possess the tools or resources to help your current situation get better. We can sit on our church pews Sunday after Sunday and leave still feeling helpless and hopeless. That’s because we are focused on the circumstances of our situation and not on the holy solution. But, why is joy so important you might be asking yourself, my can’t I just mine my own business and let other people do the same.
The eyes of the world are on the Christian woman, and they are not interested in what we wear or how we style our hair. They are watching our actions, reactions, and associations. The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that “we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (NIV) More than the crosses and bumper stickers we display it is our attitude that attracts the unbeliever first. Our daily attitude is a true indication of how much we believe in what we preach. How can we win souls for Christ, if all people see when they look at us is an unhappy woman being defeated by the trouble and strife in her life? A woman who is so filled with condemnation over her past that she spews out anger and bitterness to everyone she meets. Who would want to be part of that?
It is imperative that we safeguard our joy the same way that we guard our designer bags. Joy is a powerful weapon. In the natural, it conveys to our observers that our faith is strong even if the truth is we are afraid. In the spiritual, it connects us to God, defeats the enemy, and gives us peace in the midst of a world gone mad. If we maintain our joy during trouble, and humbly accept conviction from the Holy Spirit then we will attract the unbeliever to the Christ that lives within us.
Being joyful does not mean that we are immune to hurt, disappointment, or anger. We are human. The good news is that our joy does not come from a natural source. We derive our joy from the innate knowledge, that in Christ, we are victorious. James 1:12 reads, “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (NIV) Sisters, don’t let the enemy steal one more day of joy from you. Remember, “in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8: 37 (NIV)
What is joy? The dictionary defines it as, “the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune.” We do not have to look far these days to know that joy or a feeling of well-being remains an elusive part of life for many people even Christians. It is very difficult to remain joyful in a toxic climate. . To avoid the feelings of anxieties that when we lose control, many of us spend our days using a variety of remedies to create joy, self-medicating in an attempt to eliminate the pain.
. To avoid the feelings of anxieties that when we lose control, many of us spend our days using a variety of remedies to create joy, self-medicating in an attempt to eliminate the pain.
. Or, We place the burden of our joy on the shoulders of mere mortals who are unable to withstand the weight of our request. They will inevitably fail us. What we need to realize is that finding and maintaining joy is our responsibility, no one else’s, not even God. God has already made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our joy. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement (needful to obtain) peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with his stripes (that wounded) Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53: 5 (Amplified) Sisters, it is time for us to stop sitting around waiting to be rescu While God intended for us to be happy, He also knew that we would encounter some difficult times while we are here on earth. Jesus said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have (perfect) peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer (take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted) For I have overcome the world. (I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you).” (Amplified) The world may be crumbling around us, but we were meant to have peace in our spirits as we wait for Christ to return.

You will not find a scripture in the bible that says you will not have trouble, while we wait for His return. Hundreds of scriptures tell us we that have the power to endure, to have peace, and to succeed. Many of us make the mistake of running from God when we are in pain. When in fact, we should be reaching out to Him and making Him our number one priority.
How can I regain and maintain control of my joy? Well, I am glad you asked. You do not have to complete some arduous plan to be joyful. But, it does require work on a consistent basis. You may have to give up some behaviors that in your mind brought you comfort. You are going to have to reach out to God and perfect the use of your spiritual weapons. They include prayer, meditating on God’s word, praise, and fasting. Today we are going to dive into prayer. These interrelated tools or spiritual weapons enable us to maintain our joy and claim victory. Each one will assist you with reaching out and connecting to God as never before, to hear His voice, and reclaim your joyfulness. You cannot have real deliverance from what ails you by just embracing one or two you must embrace them all.
The first thing we need to do when we find our joy levels floundering is to check our prayer life. Ask yourself is my prayer life strong and consistent or is it just a task I check off my daily to do list? Prayer is an open communication with God and when pray we can tell him what is bothering us and know that he hears us. He promised. In Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Praying God’s word is not only a powerful weapon, but also a powerful joy tool. When I submitted to God and stopped trying to fight the enemy with my own power I gained peace in my spirit and the enemy had to flee. (Read James 4:7)
If you are serious about maintaining joy in the midst of trouble you must have a vibrant prayer life. We do not fight against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12 reads, “we war not against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the authorities, against the rules of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (NIV) Knowing that our enemy is not flesh or blood we must realize that conventional weapons will not work. No amount of yelling, crying, or cussing, has the power to make the enemy flee like the power of God. Prayer should be our weapon of choice. So, why is something as simple as talking to God so difficult to do on a daily basis?
To check the depth of your prayer life ask yourself these questions. Do you wait until lightning strikes before you activate your eternal life line to the Lord? Is your prayer life an ongoing dialogue with God or is it something you run through so that you can check it off your daily list? Your truthful answers will gauge your relationship with the Father.
James 5:16b “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (NKJV) Our prayers are not effective if we do them once in a while. But when we are fervent, avid, enthusiastic, and persistence about the time we spend with God we become powerful adversaries.
Prayer is a powerful weapon. It connects us to the Lord and allows us to hear from Him, to enter into His presence and get to know Him personally. Not as the God of the Old and New Testaments, or as our grandma’s God, but as OUR GOD! However, the Lord is not going to fight through the chaos of our lives to speak to us and if we are not careful we could miss His voice. When speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV) In 1 Kings 19:11-13 when the Lord spoke to the prophet Elijah he did not come to him in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a still small voice. Can you recognize the voice of God when He speaks?
If you are a little rusty with your prayers than do what I did create a string prayer and Pray God’s word back to him. I wrote down three scriptures to string together and pray to the Lord. My string prayer included Romans 8:37, 2 Chronicles 20:15, and Philippians 4:6.
“Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.” The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
There will come a time when you have to be your own prayer warrior, when you are in the thick of battle and cannot wait to get to church on Sunday to have the mothers pray for you. Building a relationship with God through prayer will diminish the time we spend worrying, and our own doing or due to the enemy’s attacks, we will commence to praying. Having established a relationship with God through our prayers this will be as natural as breathing.

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You Are Stronger Than You Give Yourself Credit!

2 You are Stronger than you give yourself credit

I woke up this morning not really happy about my life. It wasn’t that my candidate hadn’t won although I still question the validity of the race. It was a feeling of not having control over my life that put me in a deep funk. I had made big plans for 2018 which included starting my own business, writing several books, increasing my social media footprint and crafting a slamming body. But, as the year draws to a close, I realize that the scope of what I had imagined for 2018 might not come to pass.
Of course, I had to snap myself out of this funk because allowing it to linger would have me in a total mental meltdown lying on my sofa, eating food not particularly friendly to the girth of my hips. I had to remind myself that I had accomplished a lot this year. I did, in fact, start my own business, I became very clear on my message and what I wanted to offer my friends/clients. I stop listening to other people tell what I should be doing and decided to follow my gut. I created a workout plan for myself and lost 10 pounds without dieting or starving myself. And I built a foundation for 2019 that will take me to personal and professional heights that will be astonishing if I do say so myself. And I do!
As my aunt Maggie use to say, this is no time to waddle in self-pity. It’s time to move. What I am learning more and more as I travel this journey called life. Is that we are stronger and more resilient than we give ourselves credit. We can if we refuse to give up on ourselves and our dreams to accomplish some unimaginable feats. You many feel like I felt. Like what you wanted in your life for this year has not materialized. But you still have time to start planting seeds that will act as your foundation for 2019. A strong foundation will take you to heights you have only dreamt of, I believe in you! I believe in us!

 

Three Tips To Strengthen Your God Connection

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How strong is your God connection? I can always tell when I have slacked off my daily prayer routine. My life is a complete mess. My stress level is running high and everything no matter how small gets on my nerves. My beloved husband, my beautiful dog, the lateness of the garbage pick-up. Every area of life is torturous. Its feels like nails scratching against a blackboard.
I find myself loosing things. Like the bracelet, my husband purchased for me on our first trip to Florida. My Fitbit, which was on my wrist one minute and gone the next. When did I take it off? Where’s Winston’s leash? Oh, there it is, connected to his collar. Everything in my life is off track when I forget to nurture my prayer life. Nothing is quite right, it’s a little left of center. I am angry, misplacing, losing, and forgetting things because I am not entirely present in my life. Prayer does that for me; it keeps me grounded and connected to my world.
Romans 8_37
A glance at my scripture and prayer journal shows a two-month lapse, and then it dawns on me-that my connection to the Almighty is at best 10 percent. Much like the power on my laptop because I can’t find the power cord. It is sure to shut down soon. Prayer is one of those things you really can’t let lapse. Not if you want to fight evil, make wise choices, or just remain sane in the midst of chaos.
It took me some time to realize that having a daily conversation with God was a non-negotiable tenet of my Christian journey. At the beginning of our relationship, I talked to God all the time. Morning, noon, and night, I lifted my prayers and praises up to him. I couldn’t get enough of him. Then like what happens in most relationships, I started taking him for granted. I was married with five children, taking care of a home, and scheduling activities for my volunteer work. Pushing him to the bottom of my “to do” list or, cramming in a quickie prayer to assuage my guilt just seemed like all I could do at the time.
Then life happened. I got divorced. I was afraid and lonely. I felt lost. I was looking at the faces of my children who were looking to me for the right answers. I ran back to God realizing that I needed his protection. I needed to feel his love. I needed to feel the joy of connection. Of course, he was there waiting with arms open wide ready to shelter his little girl from the storm.
I wish I could tell you that -that was one of the few times that my prayer life collapsed. But, to be honest, like most people I find that my fervent prayers to God end when the disaster is over. Do you find this happening with you? Do you pray non-stop in the midst of trouble only to take a deep breath of relief when it’s over, and go back to your usual routine?
The problem with that is what my late pastor, Pastor Clemons, use to call taking withdraws without making deposits. Our spiritual account becomes in danger of experiencing an overdraft. That may sound like a religious cliché,’ but it’s the truth. Prayer is not only how we communicate with God it is how we establish a connection. Each prayer represents a deposit of time into creating a relationship that is built on a firm foundation.
It is this relationship that enables us to stand against evil and stand firm in the midst of trouble. The bible says in 1 John 5: 14 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” This kind of confidence only comes if we do what Jesus advises in Luke 18:1” always pray and not faint.” Our spiritual strength is only as strong as our connection to God. Without him, we are like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. Don’t get slaughtered.
I want to share with you three tips that have kept me in sync with our Dad. First, I schedule my prayer time. It is the third thing I do when I hop out of bed each morning. First, I wash my face and brush my teeth. Because you don’t want to go to the Lord with bad breath. Right! Prayer starts my day, that does not mean that you cannot pray outside of your scheduled time. I find myself talking to God all day and listening for his response.
The second thing I like to do is write down my prayers. There’s something about looking in my journal and rereading a prayer entry that brings me joy. Writing them down makes them solid and real. Don’t panic. I am not asking you to write a short essay. Just two or three sentences and a scripture to pray and meditate on during your time with God. The third tip, which I find is lost on many of us, me included. Is to listen. Prayer is a two-way communication with God. You should not be doing all the talking all the time. Wisdom is born in silence.
To recap, here are the tools for a healthier prayer life:
Schedule a time to pray each day.
Write down your prayers in a journal.
Listen for God’s voice. Don’t do all the talking.
Lest we forget, we are at war. Prayer prepares us for battle and defeats the Enemy. Without prayer, the relationship you believe you have with God is only a figment of your imagination. Don’t wait until disaster strikes. Start building or rebuilding your relationship with God today. There is no time like the present to start.