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Archive for the tag “religion”

Day 32 Get a Testimony

“…and by the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:11

I have loved hearing from so many of you, the stories of how Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and/or Draw the Circle has impacted your life. I believe that sharing these testimonies increase our faith and get us excited to keep praying!

Batterson says, “When God answers a prayer, no matter how big or small, we need to share it. It’s a stewardship issue. If we don’t turn the answer to prayer into praise, it may very well turn into pride. Giving testimony is the way we give God all of the glory. But we also need to share it because others need to hear it. If we don’t share our testimonies of how God is working in our lives, then others are tempted to think He isn’t working at all.

“When we share a testimony, we are loaning our faith to others. When we listen to a testimony, we are borrowing faith from others. Either way, the church is edified and God is glorified.

“A testimony is powerful, in part, because we cannot argue with it. It’s irrefutable and undeniable. A personal testimony is our secret weapon, and that’s why the enemy wants us to keep our testimony a secret. It’s not a testimony if we don’t share it with others. If we don’t share our testimonies, we are robbing God of the glory He deserves. And we aren’t just holding out on God; we are holding out on those who need to hear it.

“No amount of education can compensate for a lack of first-person experience. We don’t get a testimony in seminary; we get a testimony by being tested.

“Remember the Samaritan woman who was totally transformed by a single encounter with Jesus at the well? She went back to her village and shared her testimony. That testimony sparked faith in those who heard, but their faith was secondhand faith. They needed their own encounter with Jesus, and that’s exactly what they got. The transition from secondhand to firsthand faith is evidenced in their words: ‘Now we believe (John 4:42), not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves.

“We cannot live off of someone else’s experience forever. Secondhand faith is as dangerous as secondhand smoke. We need a faith with our own name on it. We need to own it, and it needs to own us. We can’t just know what we believe; we need to know why we believe what we believe what we believe. And it must be continually upgraded.

“Don’t be satisfied with simply going to church; get into God’s presence. Don’t be satisfied with hearsay; get a word from The Lord. Don’t be satisfied with secondhand faith; get a testimony!”

Most of us are educated way beyond our level of our obedience. -Mark Batterson

What’s your testimony? Please don’t hesitate to share it! Email, call or text me – or better yet, share it with our praying community by commenting below!

Prayerfully, Paige

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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 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

Day 21 Set Your Foot

“I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on.” Joshua 1:3

I remember when I first told my kids about The Circle Maker and circling things and people in prayer. I know they thought that there was something magical about it (since they started asking me to circle all kinds of things in prayer!) but there isn’t anything magical about physically circling something in prayer, only Biblical (i.e., when the Israelites followed God’s orders and circled the city of Jericho until the wall came down). It isn’t a magic trick to get what you want from God. You should want what you get from Him (and if you don’t, you won’t be drawing prayer circles, you’ll be walking in circles).

Circling something in prayer simply means “praying until God answers.” It’s being determined to pray as long as it takes (ALAT – see post Day 17) and remembering that if we stop praying, we could give up just short of a miracle (see post Day 18). “Drawing prayer circles starts with discerning what God wants, what God wills. And until His sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from its power supply. And getting what you want isn’t the goal; the goal is glorifying God by drawing circles around the promises, miracles, and dreams He wants for you.” says Mark Batterson in Draw the Circle.

Having no idea how God would break down the walls, the Israelites obeyed God’s commands and circled Jericho over and over again. As Batterson states, “They circled the promise thirteen times over seven days! Why? Because even though they didn’t know how God would deliver on the promise, they knew that God would come through somehow, someway! And God didn’t just show up; He showed off His power.”

God is not a genie in a bottle, and your wish is not His command. His command better be your wish. -Mark Batterson

Below is an excerpt from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson to provide you a sense of the Jericho March –

The first glimpse of Jericho was both awe-inspiring and frightening. While wandering in the wilderness for forty years, the Israelites had never seen anything approximating the skyline of Jericho. The closer they got, the smaller they felt. They finally understood why the generation before them felt like grasshoppers and failed to enter the Promised Land because of fear.

A six-foot-wide lower wall and fifty-foot-high upper wall encircled the ancient metropolis. The mud-brick walls were so thick and tall that the twelve-acre city appeared to be an impregnable fortress. It seemed like God had promised something impossible, and His battle plan seemed nonsensical: ‘Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times.’

Every soldier in the army had to have wondered why. Why not use a battering ram? Why not scale the walls? Why not cut off the water supply or shoot flaming arrows over the walls? Instead, God told the Israelite army to silently circle the city. And He promised, after they circled thirteen times over seven days, the wall would fall.

The first time around, the soldiers must have felt a little foolish. But with each circle, their stride grew longer and stronger. With each circle, a holy confidence was building pressure inside their souls. By the seventh day, their faith was ready to pop. They arose before dawn and started circling at six o’clock in the morning. At three miles per hour, each mile-and-a-half march around the city took a half hour. By nine o-clock, they began their final lap. In keeping with God’s command, they hadn’t said a word in six days. They just silently circled a promise. Then the priests sounded their horns, and a simultaneous shout followed. Six hundred thousand Israelites raised a holy roar that registered on the Richter scale, and the wall came tumbling down.

After seven days of circling Jericho, God delivered on a four-hundred-year-old promise. He proved, once again, that His promises don’t have expiration dates. And Jericho stands, and falls, as a testament to this simple truth: If you keep circling the promise, God will ultimately deliver on it.

I pray that you will keep circling your Jericho and that God knocks down the wall, giving you every square inch of the promise, miracle, or dream He wants for you!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 20 Go. Set. Ready.

Can you believe that we are already on day 20 of the 40-Day Prayer Challenge? I have been so blessed by so many of you who are emailing, calling, texting and telling me how God has been working in your life over the last few weeks. Our God is amazing! Please keep your answered prayers coming (and feel free to comment below so that our community of pray-ers will see how God can and will work through the power of prayer)!

“He (Abraham) did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

We will never be ready – to get married, to have kids, to go back to school, or to start a business. We will never be ready financially, emotionally or spiritually, nor will we ever have enough faith, cash or courage. But, as Mark Batterson says in Draw the Circle, “God doesn’t call the qualified, God qualifies the called. If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.”

Abraham had great faith. God asked him to go to a place where he would receive his inheritance. He obeyed by taking the first step, even though he did not know where he was going. Sometimes we have to take the first step in order for God to reveal the second step, just like the Israelites, standing at the edge of the Jordan River, waiting for God to part the water (see Post Day 7). Take the first step and God will honor it. “Be obedient with the amount of revelation God has given you.” says Batterson.

Remember the old saying, Ready. Set. Go.? When it comes to faith, Go. Set. Ready. seems more fitting. We sometimes spend our entire lives waiting to do what God has called us to do and we never end up doing it because we think we’re not ready. Why do we do this when God has already said “Go?” This is definitely not to encourage you to make thoughtless or prayerless decisions. We must know that God is calling us to get married, start a family, go back to school, or change careers but we can’t be so afraid of doing wrong that we’re not doing right.

“Who can calculate opportunity costs when we ignore the promptings of the Spirit, thereby missing divine appointments? Faith is not faith until it is acted on.” Mark Batterson states.

If you are looking for excuses, you will always find one. -Mark Batterson

What are you waiting for?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 19 Memorial Offerings

“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4

There are no guarantees that God will answer your prayers how you want or when you want but know that God will answer because He always answers! And never underestimate God’s ability to answer anytime, anyplace, anyhow as He has infinite answers to our finite prayers. He can answer them multiple times and He can even answer them forever – because our prayers never die!

“Like parents who collect their children’s elementary artwork and display it prominently on a refrigerator door, the heavenly Father loves our prayers. Each one is a keepsake. Each one functions like a memorial that jogs the memory of the Almighty.

“If our prayers are that precious to God, shouldn’t they be more significant to us? Aren’t they worth collecting like snapshots in a family photo album? Shouldn’t they be treated with respect and dignity, like the monuments that grace the nation’s capital?

“Every prayer we utter is like the marble stones used in the building of the Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial. When we pray, we are building a monument to God, a memorial to Him. And those prayers are not perishable. They aren’t wood, hay, or straw. They are a foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10-12) of gold, silver, and costly stones. They will not be forgotten. They will not go unanswered.” says Mark Batterson in his book, Draw the Circle.

We never know when, where or how God will answer our prayers or when, where or how we might be the answer to someone else’s prayer. But we do know that when we live by faith, our memorial offerings are for God’s glory.

Our prayers don’t die when we do, God answers them forever. -Mark Batterson

What prayers are you offering today?

Prayerfully, Paige

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