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Day 31 Spell it Out

“What do you want me to do for you?” Matthew 20:32

I’m not sure about you but so many of the devotions, from Draw the Circle, have impacted my daily prayer life. This one in particular is one of my favorites as Mark Batterson reminds us to know what we want from God and ask for it specifically. I love the story as Batterson tells it:

“More than a thousand years after the original Jericho miracle, another miracle happened in the same place. Jesus was on His way out of the city when two blind men shouted, ‘Lord, Son of David (Matthew 20:30), have mercy on us!’ The disciples saw it as an inconvenient interruption, but divine appointments usually come disguised. The disciples would have walked right past this ‘miracle waiting to happen.’ They had places to go and things to do. But Jesus stopped. Then He asked the two men a loaded question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’

“Is that question even necessary? They are blind. Isn’t it obvious what they want? Yet Jesus forced them to define exactly what they wanted from Him. Jesus made them verbalize it. He made them spell out exactly what they wanted Him to do, but it wasn’t because Jesus didn’t know what they wanted; He wanted to make sure that they knew what they wanted.

“What if Jesus asked you the same question: What do you want me to do for you? Would you be able to spell out the promises, miracles, and dreams God has put in your heart? I’m afraid many of us would find ourselves at a loss for words. We have no idea what we want God to do for us, and then we wonder why it seems like God isn’t doing anything for us. The great irony, of course, is that if we can’t answer this question, then we’re as blind spiritually as these men were physically.

“Most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want. We’ve never made a list of life goals. We’ve never defined success for ourselves. We’ve never circled God’s promises. And we’ve forgotten most of the prayers we’ve prayed before they’re even answered.

“If faith is being sure of what we hope for, then not being sure of what we hope for is the exact opposite of faith, isn’t it? The more faith we have, the more specific our prayers will be. And the more specific our prayers are, the more glory God receives. If our prayers aren’t specific, however, God gets robbed of the glory He deserves because we second-guess whether or not He actually answered them. We never know if the answers were the result of specific prayers or general coincidences that would have happened anyway. Well-defined prayers give God an opportunity to display His power in new ways. Well-developed faith results in well-defined prayers, and well-defined prayers result in well-defined answers.”

It’s not our responsibility to worry about when, where or how God answers our prayers. It’s only our responsibility to discern what God wants and then humbly and specifically ask Him for it. And look for holy surprises along the way because He may answer our prayers differently and even better than we originally requested!

Batterson poses critical questions for us today: “We need to identify our Jericho – the promise we are circling. What promise are you praying around? What miracle are you marching around? What dream does your life revolve around?

“It’s easy to get so busy climbing the ladder of success that we fail to realize the ladder is not leaning against the wall of Jericho. Eternal priorities get overshadowed by our everyday responsibilities, and we pawn our God-given dream for the American dream. So instead of circling Jericho, we end up wandering in the wilderness.”

Obviously our Jericho changes over time and during different seasons of life. Begin where you are today. Define your dream, claim your promise, spell out your miracle, and pray specifically to God for it.

Most of us don’t get what we want because we don’t know what we want. -Mark Batterson

What is your Jericho?

Prayerfully, Paige


Day 30 Abide in Me

“If my words abide in you…” John 15:7

Have you ever read the Bible cover to cover? It’s a tough commitment but one that I highly recommend. I recently did this in a class format called The Bible in 90 Days and cannot say enough great things about it. You will not finish the last words written in the book of Revelation an unchanged person! For more information, visit biblein90days.org.

Mark Batterson even stresses the importance of getting into God’s Word in today’s devotion, “One of the surest ways to get into the presence of God is to get into the Word of God. If we get into God’s Word, God’s Word will get into us. It will radically change the way we think, the way we live, the way we love. But it requires more than a casual reading. In fact, the Bible wasn’t meant to be read. It was meant to be memorized and meditated on. It was meant to be prayed and practiced. We have to abide in the Word of God and let the Word of God abide in us.”

I remember reading through the Bible and many times wondering why so many words were repeated until I realized that they were important words we must pay special attention to; words not to be forgotten. One of them being the word abide, which is repeated no less than eight times in John 15. John 15:7 states, ‘If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’

Abide in this context means to stay, to hold fast, to stand still, to be moved, and to tarry. This represents continual action; something we do for the rest of our lives. The more we do, the closer we get to God. And the way to do this is to abide in His Word.

To stay – sometimes we need to stay in God’s presence a little longer like Jesus did the night before His crucifixion. The more we are in His presence, the more He can use us because He can trust us the most.

To hold fast – Our most effective defense is the Word of God just as Jesus used it when He was tempted by Satan. Abiding in His Word is the way we hold our ground.

To stand still – Exodus 14:13 says, Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.’ When we face problems or situations we cannot solve or change, we may feel like panicking, but that is the time we need to stand still and wait on God.

To be moved – New passions are conceived in us when the Word of God gets in our spirit. We cannot abide in God’s Word and not be moved into action. Inaction is no longer an option.

To tarry – Just like the disciples tarried in the upper room for 10 days, we must tarry in His Word. We can’t do something for God if we aren’t with God. The best way to get into His presence is to get into His Word.

Batterson recommends, “Wherever you read the pronoun you, insert your name. It will help you take what you read more literally, more personally. It will also remind you that your life is a unique translation of Scripture. If people like what they read in your life, they might just want to pick up the Book that inspired your translation!”

Reading without meditating is like eating without digesting. -Mark Batterson

Are you in His Word?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 29 A New Prayer

“Sing to the LORD a new song.” Psalm 96:1

We all have routines that we follow as a necessary and important part of life, such as taking showers and brushing our teeth. And while routines are necessary and important, some routines become bad routines if we don’t change them. As Mark Batterson writes in Draw the Circle, “One of the great dangers we face spiritually is learning how and forgetting why. Call if familiarization. Call it habituation. Call it routinization. Call it whatever you want, but when we learn how and forget why, we start going through the motions spiritually.

“Six times the psalmist tells us to sing a new song. Evidently God gets tired of old songs. He doesn’t want you to worship Him with just your memory; He wants you to worship Him with your imagination as well. Love isn’t repetitive; love is creative. As love grows, you need new lyrics and new melodies. You need a new song to express new dimensions of love.

“Jesus warns us, ‘When you pray (Matthew 6:7-8), don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!’

It’s easy to pray the prayers we know and are familiar with, followed by an amen. But like the psalmist states, we need to sing a new song and pray a new prayer. “If we’re not careful, we pray without thinking – and that is just as destructive as thinking without praying.” says Batterson.

As mentioned in post “Day 26 Game with Minutes,” try a new prayer posture or a new time of day to pray. Pray out loud or start a prayer journal. Kneel when you pray or start a prayer walk. Change your routine, do something different, and pray a new prayer!

If you want God to do something new, you cannot keep doing the same old thing. -Mark Batterson

How will you change your prayers today?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 28 Quit Praying

“We’ll done good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:23

Have you ever wondered why some of our prayers aren’t answered? I wonder if it’s because God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves? God is honored when we ask Him to do things that only He can do. That way He gets all of the glory!

“There comes a moment when praying becomes a form of spiritual procrastination. It’s time to stop praying and start acting.” says Mark Batterson in his 40 day prayer challenge, in Draw the Circle.

“Quit praying about the program and fill out an application. Quit praying for the friend you hurt and make a phone call. Don’t just complain to God about your coworker; circle them in prayer. Don’t just pray for missionaries; write a check.

“We are called to pray about everything, but there comes a time when praying can be a form of disobedience, laziness, or negligence. We can’t just pray like it depends on God; we also must work like it depends on us. At some point we have to quit praying and start acting.

“Christianity was always intended to be a verb – more specifically, an action verb. The title of the book of Acts says it all, doesn’t it? It’s not the book of Ideas or Words. It’s the book of Acts. And if we said less and did more, I believe we would have the same kind of impact the first-century church had.

“When we talk to God, God will talk back to us. He will provoke us, rouse us, stir us, goad us, and prompt us. When we say ‘amen,’ inaction is no longer an option.

“When everything is said and done, God will not say, ‘Well said, good and faithful servant.’ He won’t say, ‘Well thought,’ ‘well planned,’ or even ‘well prayed.’ There is only one commendation He will give: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.'”

Don’t just pray about it; do something about it. -Mark Batterson

There have been several times in my life when I’ve had to quit praying and start acting. what a blessing to see God at work in the midst of my action and God to be given all the glory!

What do you need to quit praying and start doing something about?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 27 Double Circle

Have you ever fasted for something? Perhaps fasting during Lent is something you traditionally do each year. But fasting doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be reserved only for the Lenten season.

Mark Batterson encourages us, in Draw the Circle, “There are times when circling something in prayer isn’t enough. We need to double-circle it with prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21 tells us that certain miracles only happen in response to prayer and fasting. And fasting will take us further into the presence of God than praying. We still need patience and endurance, but fasting has a way of fast-tracking our prayer life like a hyperbolic chamber that speeds healing or a hyperlink that gets us someplace with one click. Fasting is hyperprayer.”

There are lots of different types of fasts: a Daniel fast consisting of fruits and vegetables, a fast lasting from sunrise to sundown, a complete food fast done over a short period of time, or a media fast like TV or Facebook. Whatever type of fast we choose, we need to establish a timeframe and an objective. For example, we can fast for deliverance from the yoke of bondage, discernment in an important decision, God’s favor, dedication to God (a new year, new job, new business, or financial, relational, or emotional breakthrough), or simply to seek God’s heart.

Fasting provides willpower; a way to crave God more than you crave whatever you are fasting. Fasting breaks down our pride, our bondages, and our will. It helps break bad habits and build good habits. It is the way we break down our spiritual calluses and regain sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

Batterson says, “I’m more and more convinced that the answer to every prayer is more of the Holy Spirit. Need more power? Then you need more of the Holy Spirit. Need more wisdom? Then you need more of the Holy Spirit. Need more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control? Then you need more of the Holy Spirit.

“We need to be filled with more of the Holy Spirit, but we have to empty ourselves first. And one of the best ways to empty ourselves is through fasting. If you double-circle things with prayer and fasting, don’t be surprised if you receive a double-blessing!

If you want to break the sin habit, you’ve got to establish a prayer habit. -Mark Batterson

Is there something you’ve been praying for that you need to start fasting for?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 26 Game with Minutes

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

If you are a book reader and haven’t read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, put it on your reading list as it’s a great one! So great that each time I am reminded of it, I pull my copy out and read it again!

Mark Batterson reminds us of Brother Lawrence in today’s devotion: “On January 30, 1930, Frank Laubach began a prayer experiment he called ‘the game with minutes.’ He was dissatisfied with his lack of intimacy with God and decided to do something about it. One of the inspirations for Laubach’s experiment was Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century monk whose singular purpose in life was to live in the presence of God. For Brother Lawrence, this didn’t mean retreating from the routine of life; it meant redeeming every routine and turning it into prayer. For decades, Brother Lawrence worked in the kitchen of his Carmelite Monastery, washing dishes and preparing meals, but he turned his chores into prayers. After many years of practicing the presence of God, prayer became a way of life. In the words of Brother Lawrence, ‘The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.’

Laubach launched an experiment to see if he could have contact with God at every waking moment. He began to pray for everyone he encountered which turned his routine life into a daily adventure.

Batterson encourages us to “pray for the people you are meeting with, prior to walking into the meeting. Ask God for favor, discernment, and grace. Then when you leave, pray blessing on them. A prayer of blessings isn’t just something for pastors to pronounce over congregations at the end of services. It’s your right and responsibility to pronounce blessings over everyone in your life – from your children to your colleagues to your customers, and everyone in between.

“The key to praying without ceasing is to turn everything into prayer. It usually starts with big things like problems and dreams. Then it graduates to little things like chores and routines. And eventually, your entire life becomes a continuous prayer. Every thought. Every action. Every moment.”

Can you imagine only talking to your spouse or child once a week? Sometimes once a week is all the time we give God. And if that’s true then there is no way we can have an intimate relationship with Him.

“God is only a prayer away. The shortest distance between you and Him is the distance between your knees and the floor. But you don’t have to hit your knees or bow your head or fold your hands to be heard. Prayer isn’t something we do with our eyes closed; prayer is something we do with our eyes wide open. Prayer isn’t a sentence that begins with ‘Dear Jesus’ and ends with ‘Amen.’ In fact, the best prayers don’t even involve words at all. The best prayer is a well-lived life, day in and day out.”

Like Laubach, try turning your prayer life into a game. Try a new prayer posture (kneeling, walking, palms up, or eyes open), praying at different times of the day, creating a prayer list or starting a prayer journal. If you want to see a difference in your life, do something different.

Change of pace + change of place = change of perspective. -Mark Batterson

What new prayer posture, prayer time or place to pray will you try today?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 25 A Prophetic Voice

“I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets. Numbers 11:29

I attended a Chris Tomlin/Kari Jobe concert tonight. Three and a half hours of amazing music and worship, but what filled my spirit more than anything else was a young boy behind me, most likely around 10 years old, who knew the words to every song (in Spanish and in English). And he sang each one with such conviction, and delight that I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face!

Mark Batterson says in his book, Draw the Circle, “Prayer isn’t just the way we cultivate our own potential; prayer is the way we recognize potential in others. Like Paul who saw gifts in Timothy that Timothy couldn’t see in himself, we, through prayer, are enabled to see through prophetic eyes. We are given supernatural insight. Then we are prepared to speak with prophetic boldness into the lives God has positioned in our path.

“The more we grow in grace, the more prophetic we become. According to 1 Corinthians 14:3, a prophet speaks words of comfort and encouragement as prompted by the Holy Spirit. And prophets come in all sizes and shapes. The more we pray, the more prophetic we will become.

“You’re a prophet at work and a prophet at home. And your words have the potential to change lives by helping people discover their identity and destiny in Jesus Christ. You don’t have to influence thousands of lives to make a difference. Maybe you’re called to influence one person who will influence thousands. The fruit of their life is your reward.”

I believe that God uses people to speak the right words at the right time so that He gets all the glory. Just like the little boy who sang in my ear tonight!

Prayer is the way we recognize potential in others. -Mark Batterson

Are you cultivating your own potential, or recognizing potential in others?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 24 Find Your Voice

“The word of the LORD came to me.” Jeremiah 1:4

Mark Batterson writes about our unique “voiceprint” in Draw the Circle stating, “All of us have a unique voiceprint, not just physically but spiritually as well. God wants to speak through you differently than through anyone else. Your life is a unique translation of Scripture. It doesn’t matter what you do – politician, preacher, entertainer, homemaker, teacher, musician, lawyer, or doctor. You are called to be a prophetic voice to the people God places in your life. But the key to discovering your prophetic voice is cultivating a prophetic ear. If you want to find your voice, you need to hear the voice of God.

“We live in a culture in which everybody wants to be heard, but many people have nothing to say. Don’t worry about building a platform. If you listen to God, people will listen to you. Why? Because you’ll have something to say! And God will give you a platform to speak from. So how do we hear the voice of God?

“The first thing to do is open your Bible. When you open your Bible, God opens His mouth. The surest way to get a word from the Lord is by getting into God’s Word. God will speak to you. Then God will speak through you.

“In the process, make sure you have no unconfessed sin in your life. Sin doesn’t just harden the heart; it also hardens our hearing. In fact, it makes us turn a deaf ear to God because we don’t want to hear the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. But if you aren’t willing to listen to the convicting voice of the Spirit, you won’t hear His comforting voice, forgiving voice, or merciful voice either. Sin creates relational distance, and distance makes it harder to hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. But if you get close to God, you won’t miss a thing He says. And if you incline your ear to God, God will incline His ear to you.”

The more we spend time with God, the more we will recognize His voice. I don’t want to miss out, do you?

If you want to find your voice, you need to hear the voice of God. -Mark Batterson

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 23 Not Now

“Wait for the gift my Father promised.” Acts 1:4

Whew! This devotion is so powerful, I’m going to quote most of it directly from the book so you won’t miss the blessing.

I can’t agree more with Mark Batterson in Draw the Circle when he says, “When God says no to a prayer, it doesn’t always mean no; sometimes it means not yet. It’s the right request but the wrong time.

“Sometimes we have to be willing to give something up to God in order to get it back from God. Like Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, it will probably be something as precious to us. It may even be a gift from God, just like Isaac was to Abraham. But God will test us to make sure the gift isn’t more important than the Gift Giver, the dream isn’t more important to us than the Dream Giver. He’ll test us to make sure it’s not an idol. If it is, that dream, gift, or desire might need to die so that it can be resurrected. But God often takes things away to give them back so that we know they are gifts to be stewarded for His glory.

No one likes waiting, “but waiting is part of praying, and praying is a form of waiting. Prayer will sanctify our waiting, so we wait with holy expectancy. And waiting doesn’t delay God’s plans and purposes. It always expedites them. Waiting is the fast track to whatever it is that God wants to do in our lives. And we’ll discover that on God’s timeline, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

“In our impatience, we often try to do God’s work for him. We treat Sabbath observance like a luxury instead of a commandment. We only obey it when it’s convenient, and then we discover that it’s never convenient. We work as though our world revolves around us and relies on us. Maybe it’s time to rest as though the world revolves around and relies on the Creator who hangs the stars and spins the planets.

“We’re way too busy. We’re constantly trying to do more and more in less and less time. The net result is that we don’t have any margins in our lives. And that is when prayer gets marginalized. We think we have too much to do to pray, but the exact opposite is true: we have too much to do not to pray!”

Following Jesus’ ascension, the disciples followed His explicit instructions not to immediately go into all the world (Mark 16:15), but to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. They didn’t go ahead of God but instead gathered in an upper room and prayed for ten days. Those ten days have benefited generations for over two thousand years!

“After we pray like it depends on God, we need to work like it depends on us. But if we don’t pray first, our work won’t work. We can’t do something for God until we let God do something for us. He wants to fill us with His Holy Spirit, but we need to empty ourselves first. From the depths of our hearts to the depths of our minds, the Holy Spirit wants to fill every crevice that already exists and create new capacities within us. And when the Holy Spirit comes on us, we will think new thoughts and feel new feelings.

“What would happen if we holed up in an upper room, knelt at an altar, or locked ourselves in a prayer closet and said, ‘I’m not coming out until I receive my gift my Father promised.’ I’ll tell you exactly what would happen: Pentecost would happen all over again.

“You cannot plan Pentecost. It’s not like Peter woke up on the day of Pentecost and had ‘speaking in tongues’ on his to-do list. He didn’t plan on baptizing three thousand people that day. But if you pray for ten days, Pentecost is bound to happen.

Sometimes God’s no simply means not yet. -Mark Batterson

How long are you willing to wait?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 22 Prayer Fleece

“I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor.” Judges 6:37

You may have heard someone use the term ‘putting out a fleece’ in reference to making a decision. This term comes from an event in the life of Gideon where he wants to know what to do, so he “tests” God by placing a wool fleece on the ground and asking God to give him a sign with it (Judges 6).

Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle devotion states, “There are moments when we need to turn our desires, ideas, and dreams into prayer fleeces. Now, we have to be very careful when it comes to putting fleeces before the Lord. Generally speaking, signs don’t precede our steps of faith; signs follow. But there are occasions when it’s OK to ask God for confirmation because of our uncertainty. I don’t think we should do it often, and we shouldn’t approach it in a haphazard manner that amounts to nothing more than picking petals off a daisy, saying, ‘She loves me; she loves me not.’

“So here are a few cautions when it comes to fleeces. First, if God has already answered our question in Scripture, then you don’t need to even ask it. Don’t seek revelation when God has already given it. Second, check your motives to make sure they aren’t selfish. The fleece must come out of a genuine desire to honor God and do His will. Third, you have to be willing to accept whatever answer you receive without second-guessing it.”

I’m sure Gideon was filled with insecurity when the angel spoke over his shoulder telling him to rescue Israel. But God reassured him with: “I’ll be with you.” I’ll be with you is all we need to know isn’t it? “If we could come to grips with two fundamental truths, they would transform our lives; God is with us and God is for us. That is all you ever need to know.” says Batterson.

Maybe we’ve been asking the wrong people for answers (a boss, spouse, friend, sibling or colleague) and simply need to ask God instead. Seek God instead of answers and the answers will seek you.

When God gives a vision, He always makes provision. -Mark Batterson

What are you asking God for today?

Prayerfully, Paige

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