Years ago, I was complaining to a colleague about another personal situation. After listening to my crying and whining, he said, “Sheri, how are your husband and children?” Fine, I said. “How is everyone’s health?” He asked. We are all healthy, I answered. “Sheri, as long as you have your family and your health you have everything you need,” he said firmly but compassionately.
It would be my friend’s words that would ring in my ears during those early years after I had lost my career in the financial collapse of the U.S. economy beginning in 2009. Yet, each night I would be so overcome with worry and anxiety over my family’s future that I would spend the entire night crying and praying alone in my bedroom.
A sparrow sings
“I am like a desert owl,
like an owl living in the ruins.
I lie awake.
I am like a sparrow on a rooftop.”
Anxiety, worry, and disappointment became so exhausting that at times I no longer had the strength, the tears, or the words to pray. My prayer became the same old script. When I allowed life to overwhelm me rather than the love of Christ to overwhelm me, I would simply start writing in my prayer journal a list of my blessings.
God hears the sparrow
“The LORD is merciful, compassionate, patient,
and always ready to forgive.
The LORD is good to everyone
and has compassion for everything that he has made.
Everything that you have made will give thanks to you, O LORD,
and your faithful ones will praise you.
Everyone will talk about the glory of your kingdom
and will tell the descendants of Adam about your might
in order to make known your mighty deeds
and the glorious honor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
Your empire endures throughout every generation.
The LORD supports everyone who falls.
He straightens the backs of those who are bent over.
The eyes of all creatures look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand,
and you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is fair in all his ways
and faithful in everything he does.
The LORD is near to everyone who prays to him,
to every faithful person who prays to him.
He fills the needs of those who fear him.
He hears their cries for help and saves them.
The LORD protects everyone who loves him…”
My circumstances, particularly in the last seven years have taught me many difficult lessons. If you can visually imagine a parent or a teacher making an unruly and argumentative child sit still to listen – insert my photo.
“Quietness is essential to listening. If we are too busy to sit in silence in His presence, if we are preoccupied with thoughts or concerns about the day, if we have filled our minds with carnal interference and aimless chatter – then we are going to have difficulty truly listening to that still, small voice of God.” Dr. Rev. Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible, pp 684.
Learning to listen to God speaking to me in my daily circumstances has meant actively sitting still and listening to what He has to tell me. It is when I am most overwhelmed that I go back and read my prayer journals. I can see how God has carried me through each circumstance that seemed to exhaust my ability, and each time between those lines I had written, I find hope.
“Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won’t become weary. They will walk and won’t grow tired.” Isaiah 40:31
I have come to trust God fully because I have reached the point of helpless dependence on Him. Depending upon God is not a sign of weakness (this was a tough lesson), but trusting Him with problems only He can solve, and finding solutions that can only be discovered through the wisdom He gives me – in His Word, in the spiritual discernment of others, and in my circumstances.
It is my daily discipline of my prayer journal that has drawn me closer to God, and my sense of discernment becomes stronger as I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
“Peace rules the day when Christ rules the mind.” Author Unknown
My prayer journals have become a testimonial wealth of my relationship with God. Over the years, especially those initial years after losing my career, I can see how God has carried me through it and how He has answered my prayers not only for me but for those who I pray for on the back page of my journal (see my post, Praying for You – The Back Page, https://theprayerjournals.com/2016/04/19/praying-for-you-the-back-page/).
At the end of each month or when I have completed a journal book, I re-read your prayer journal. And as I stayed in my previous post, Power of Prayer and a Prayer Journal https://theprayerjournals.com/2016/06/02/power-of-prayer-and-a-prayer-journal/, I find myself notating those spare spaces of how God has spoken to me. When my spirit feels unsettled. I find God is trying to remind me of something and He usually leads me to a Bible verse or a spiritual quotation I had copied onto one of journal pages.
When I am too exhausted to even write in my prayer journal, I find peace and quiet when I slowly and thoughtfully recite – The Lord’s Prayer.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Praying the Scriptures:
“Let (me) draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 10:22
“And (I) know that God causes all things to work together for good (for me) who loves God (to me) who is called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Let (my) heart not be troubled.” John 14:1
Prayer Writing Prompts:
What do I hope for in my relationship with God?
Is hope vibrant and a revealed thing in my life?
May I pray for you?
Blessings on your day!