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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. She is a witty and point-on expositor of God’s Word as a conference speaker. With a B.S. in Organizational Leadership, Gina is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Gina also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
I am using the award-winning structured prayer journal, Organizing Your Prayer Closet (Abingdon Press) to decorate and enjoy during my prayer time. I am sharing why going back and making updates are important, talking about what do when the Holy Spirit cautions you and crying over my mama (again).
I discovered something in my prayer closet – the power of repentance statements! As you probably already know, to repent means to go the other way. Something had happened that had given me some concern. I guess you could say I was overcome with fear.
While I was prayer journaling, I made an entry for safety, but realized that I was still afraid. Knowing, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)” I decided that I must repent of giving way to fear. So, I simply made an entry in the Freedom and Forgiveness compartment that simply said, “I will not be afraid.” And you know what, I felt the Spirit of God immediately break the bonds of fear. My words really cannot do my experience justice.
The next week, I experienced the same thing when fear tried to grip my spirit again. My husband was out of town and as I went to bed I became afraid to be alone. After a few minutes of panic and tears, I was reminded to make another repentance statement – I will not be afraid. Thankfully, my mind was immediately put to ease.
That’s just one of the many things God did recently in my prayer closet. Feel free to take an additional peak…
On Senior Day at my high school way back in 1985, I won an honorary award. It was not Most Likely to Succeed or the Most Likely to be Famous, but…wait for it…Most Absent-Minded. Yep, that’s me.
Unless you have this problem of being naturally scattered-brained you will never understand how hard it is to overcome. I find that those who consistently fire on all cylinders are under the impression that overcoming absent-mindedness is like flipping a light switch. But, I beg to differ.
Is there a remedy to my dilemma?
Perhaps it is mindfulness.
Merriam-Webster defines mindfulness as a, “state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”
Although, I cannot say that I have vanquished absent-mindedness, I have become somewhat successful at it in prayer, thanks to the aid of the Holy Spirit. When I send up my prayers I use the discipline of structured prayer journaling to capture any and all movement regarding my prayer requests.
There is some divine stuff going on, and if we capture it, we can catch a glimpse into to what God is doing. How much better off would we be if we paid attention to every little detail that God is orchestrating? And how much more exciting! With this approach, I find that I am never disappointed by His answer.
Try my process:
Write down your individual prayer requests
Every day, think through your day and make notes of anything that happens that relates to your written prayer requests
Prayerfully ponder them
Allow God to show you the why and what in the developments you have noted
Take note of what you believe the updates mean
Wait for it…See what God does
Record the answers
Assess the reality with spiritual eyes
Thank God for His gracious insight
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 1 Corinthians 4:1 NIV
Here is something I often have to remind myself of – prayer is not all about me. I cannot keep throwing up my petitions without balancing my prayer life with God’s requests of me. Our give and take is what makes the relationship. Abraham had the kind of relationship with God that I desire. He was dependent on God, and God depended on Abraham’s obedience to execute his divine plans. I want to be a divine partner with God, don’t you?
But, in order to embrace Abraham’s experience, we must be aware of the various types of requests that God made of Abraham so that we can be prepared to answer Him, as well. Here they are:
Practical Requests– Sometimes God directs us to change jobs or move to new areas. God desired that Abraham leave his family and travel to a new land. These are probably the most common requests in that they are very do-able, practical requests. (Genesis 12:1)
Exciting Requests – Sometimes God gives us a specific vision that moves and excites us. At an old age, Abraham found out that God was going to make him a daddy! These are my favorite kind – the kind of requests that produce an outcome that we want as much as God does! (Genesis 17:19)
Sacrificial Requests– Sometimes God gives us a request that requires something painful or sacrificial that challenges us while accomplishing His will. God imparted the Covenant of the Circumcision to Abraham. Despite how bizarre this sounded, Abraham accomplished it that day. These requests are rare, but somehow there is a perception that these are the only kinds of requests that God makes of us, but they are not. Maybe we are asked to give up something (a TV series, overeating) in order to be obedient to God. Can we immediately do it without complaining as Abraham did? (Genesis 17:17)
Outrageous Requests – Sometimes God gives us an unbelievable command that we can hardly fathom. It is so daunting that we can’t even share it with others. We hold to it quietly and wait to see what God will do. God did such a thing when he tested Abraham to kill his only son, which He provided a ram for in the end. Abraham discussed this with no one, but in radical obedience made his way to the altar. Mary carried the Messiah in her womb and pondered those things in her heart. In those instances we just have to wait and see what God does! We don’t have to make something happen; we just follow God’s leading and let God do His thing! (Genesis 22)
I am reacquainting myself with these types of requests so that I can stand ready in prayer – ready to answer my heavenly Father with obedience. What about you? Has God requested something of you? If so, which category best fits your divine request?