All posts in Prayer

Working Mom’s Devotional: What Santa Teaches Us About Conflicted Faith

Santa Claus in Chicago

Abby (age 8) is at that age where she wants to believe in Santa, but she has her doubts.  So this year, she’s decided to put Santa to the test.  It’s simple.  She wants purple Nike tennis shoes.  But the manufacturer doesn’t make her size.  So she’s asking Santa to step in and make it happen.

In her words, “I’ve decided I’m going to see if Santa can do it.  I’m going to ask him to make the purple shoes in my size.  If he doesn’t bring them, I’ll just have to get a different pair after Christmas.”

In other words, I’m not really sure if Santa exists.  If he does, he will make the shoes.  I want to believe, but I just don’t know. 

It’s a perfect picture of conflicted faith.

We want to believe, but our circumstances seem impossible. And like Abby, we’re conflicted. In the same breath, we tell God we believe but we really don’t believe. How can we possibly overcome our unbelief when we can’t even make up our minds?  So we find ourselves praying conflicted prayers.

I used to feel guilty praying in the midst of my doubt.  I used to think it was all or nothing. Doubt or faith. How can the two possibly coexist?  Then I read about the young father who asks Jesus to heal his son.   In the words of a desperate man who is wrestling with doubt, he tells Jesus:

“I do believe.  Help me with my unbelief.”  (Mark 9:24)

Thank God – I’m not alone!  The young father shows us it’s normal to be conflicted.  That doubt and faith often go hand and hand.  He also shows us that we can pray for faith in the midst of our unbelief.

And Jesus shows us that he is not limited by doubt.  He is not surprised by the young father’s conflicted prayer, and he heals the son, despite the father’s unbelief.

Like the young father, I often find myself praying a conflicted prayer. My motives are mixed and my faith is weak. I want to believe, especially at Christmas, but some days it’s really hard.  I want those purple tennis shoes, and I just can’t find them in my size!  Is God really out there?  And how am I supposed to believe in him for the big things when I can’t even trust him for something little?

I want to believe God, but sometimes it’s hard.  I live in a conflicted state, and I need your help. Like the young father asking Jesus to heal his son, I confess, “I do believe. Help me with my unbelief.”

Are you struggling to believe this Christmas?  Have you asked God to help you with your unbelief?

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Need some gift ideas?  Check out these great books by several women I know and admire:

Expect To Win, by Carla Harris

Faith Powered Profession, by Elizabeth Knox

Work Love Pray, by Diane Paddison

(And, if anyone knows where I can get size 1 1/2 Nike purple tennis shoes, I’d be most grateful!)

This Father’s Day, Don’t Stop Praying For Your Man!

 In most families, the mother –not the father —  is the spiritual driver.  Sorry guys, but the research supports me.  Studies identify women as the “spiritually stronger” sex – not just in church attendance, but in spiritual leadership within the family. 

I’m not saying this is the way it’s supposed to be.  It’s just the way it is.  And such was the case in my own family growing up.

My mom got us out of bed and dragged us to church on Sunday morning.

My dad stayed home, smoked cigarettes and read the paper.  (It was the 70’s after all.)

I can still remember peeling off  the Surgeon General’s warnings from the bright green pack of Kool cigarettes.  I would leave the warning in conspicuous places – like by my father’s “Archie Bunker” chair – in hopes that he would see the light while the rest of us prayed for him on Sunday mornings.   My prayers went something like this.

Dear God, Help Dad to stop smoking.  Save his soul too.  I really like being his “Squirt” and I want him to be in heaven with us.

Yet week after week, he would sit in his chair, read his paper, and dismiss – and even mock – my mother’s faith.

But my mother never gave up.  

Sometimes, the tension was so thick in our house that you could cut it with a butcher knife.    Other times, we looked – and acted – like the happiest nuclear family on the block.  And we truly were.  It’s just that my mom was in love with Jesus, and sometimes I wished that He wouldn’t come between my parents – and that she wouldn’t act like such a Jesus Freak.  It really made Dad mad. 

But she kept praying.

God first answered her prayers about cigarettes.  My dad stopped smoking over 30 years ago.  And while He won his battle with nicotine, he fought another battle with cancer.

That’s when God first got his attention.

But some men (like some of us!) are very stubborn.  You know the type.  It was through another awful disease that God really got his attention.   But God didn’t stop there.  He took my father from the wheelchair to the walker.  From the walker to the cane.  From the cane to his feet. 

Today, at age 82, my father publically proclaims his faith in Jesus Christ.  You can hear his story and witness his baptism here. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mR1QZH_-WAM 

But the greatest aspect of his story isn’t his physical healing.  It’s the spiritual transformation of a man.  A praying wife.  And a relentless God.  

To those of you who don’t think that miracles happen today, think again. 

To those of you who have stopped praying for your husband, don’t ever stop.  God never gives up.   

Isn’t Father’s Day a great day to keep the faith?

[This blog was originally posted on November 18, 2012 – shortly after my father’s baptism.]

Working Mom’s Devotional: Be Still

Lighthouse

I recently overheard my mother tucking my daughters in bed.  True to form, my 6-year-old (Abby) would not stop talking.  My mother was trying to pray, becoming increasingly frustrated with the jabber jaws.  But instead of scolding Abby or trying to talk over her, she simply quoted the Psalms with authority.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Silence. 

Finally, my daughters both quieted. 

I couldn’t help laughing as I eavesdropped.  I have put  my girls to bed countless times, and it never occurred to me to combat their motor mouths with scripture.  Suddenly, a light bulb went off.  I need to teach my children to be still.

Being still is actually a learned concept.  Maybe even a new concept for this generation.  I must admit, I am everything but still.  I am constantly moving, talking, watching, driving, playing,  and texting.  In some narrow corner of my mind, I have decided that stillness is not an option.

But there is beauty in a still, quiet moment that speaks far more loudly than noise.  Just try it.  Take 60 seconds and do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Turn off the background noise, put away the phone, and get away from the computer screen. 

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Before I tuck my kids in bed,  I am usually rushing prayers.  But not this time.  This time. I announce that we are going to be still.  I borrow a line from Grandma’s play book and I tell the kids:

Be still and know that I am God.

No one takes me seriously.  Instead of being still, I get 20 questions.  “How long do we have to be still?” “When will we know when 60 seconds is over”  “Are we allowed to touch each other?”  “Are we allowed to breathe?”

At first, I get angry with the questions.  But then I realize.  They don’t know how to be still.  I have never taught them.  So I patiently explain that being still means not talking, not moving, and not giggling.  And, yes, you are allowed to breathe.  I ask everyone to listen to see if God talks to our brains. 

It takes us six tries.  But we finally do it.  We are still for 60 seconds.  

Psalm 46:10 –“ Be still and know that I am God” – becomes our family theme for 2013.

It’s harder than it sounds. 

God, teach me to be still.  Help me to start today by taking 60 seconds alone.  Help me to put away the noise – the computer, the phone, the laptop.  Show me the beauty in quiet moments and give me the discipline and wisdom to teach my children to be still before you..   Amen.

Do you struggle being still?  This week, practice being still for 60 seconds at a time.  Then take 60 seconds and practice being still with your children.  (Babies may need to practice while sleeping, but it still counts!)

The Heart Of A Child Who Prays

Nick/Anna Joy

We take turns praying before bed.  It’s Anna’s turn (age 9) and she says, “I pray for everything on my 2012 prayer list.”

I smile and say “amen.”  I don’t correct her.  I too have prayed these kind of prayers.  After all, God already knows what we need.   Why do we have to tell Him all the details? Continue reading →

Gutsy Prayer: Why Are Moms Afraid To Ask God For Big Things?

Working Mom's Devotional

Sometimes, when I pray with my kids, I don’t want to ask God for anything big.  After all, what if He doesn’t answer?  Am I setting up my kids for disappointment?  Am I setting up me for disappointment?

Yet I know deep down that gutsy prayer is exactly what I need to do. Continue reading →