November 22, 2017

Prayer Anemia As I Write - Alan Anderson

The theme of this month's blog, “Praying As I Write” reminds me of my prayer anemia condition. In my reading about anemia I learned red blood cells take or transport oxygen to the body. If the red blood cell count is below normal then the body becomes anemic and that is a problem. A person becomes tired, fatigued due to lack of oxygen. Okay, enough of my attempt at science!

I realize prayer anemia is a condition I can help alleviate. I also ask the Lord to forgive me for being neglectful in prayer. Is it that I don't pray? No! Prayer is in deed part of my life. I'm just not a model of prayer other people would copy. I’m still a work under construction. At times my prayers are downright weak.

Included in the writing prompt this month is the following question. “Tell us of a time God infused your ideas and writing with His thoughts and desires?” Perhaps the following experience gives an example of this.

I may have mentioned in a previous blog post that I was once a closet writer. No one saw what I wrote. It took me years to allow other people to read my pieces. I was afraid. I couldn't figure out why God would give me such a gift yet I was scared to show it to anyone. I knew things had to change in order for me to take my writing seriously.

I have always loved to write ever since I was in elementary school. This carried over to high school, college then seminary. It was when I was in my early forties and in Bible College for the second time I was convinced I was a writer. A couple of the instructors encouraged me by suggesting that after marking my essays they noticed something about my train of thought in how I wrote. They both said that my essays went deep into the topic at hand. This was staggering to me. It had to be a "God thing." It still took me a few more years to launch into serious writing but I no longer kept my writing in the closet.

After years of writing timidity I came to a freeing realization. I can write. I can really write! I can write and there are people who appreciate what I write. This has caused me to approach the words I put on a page with caution and respect.

I know God uses my writing in ways that astound me. He does this in spite of my prayer anemia. It astounds me that I have had many encouraging comments from people who recognize I have a gift for writing.

It is in the fact that God may use my writing to help someone that motivates me to continue to write. I pray the words I write will form a community of thoughts pleasing to the One who called me to be a writer. In doing so prayer anemia will be a thing of the past!


November 21, 2017

The Tasseled Prayer Rock .... by Jocelyn Faire

Become willing to see the hand of God and accept it as a friend's offer to help you with what you are doing. Julia Cameron

I have not grown up with the concept of a prayer shawl. This past Sunday my husband and I listened to a video talk by Rob Bell and he referenced the Jewish prayer shawl. In Numbers 15:37-41 God instructs Moses on the making of a garment with blue tassels to remind the Jews of all He had done. As they spread the garments over their heads and forward stretched arms, they created their own little tent/sanctuary(prayer closet). Here they could shut out the world as they conversed with the maker of the universe. When I was growing up, we had the all heads bowed and eyes closed posture as the evangelist looked over the audience to see who wanted to go deeper with God. My twelve year old hand raised then and at several meetings over the next few years, because I was guilted into uncertainty, knowing I always fell short of the glory of God. If I could but touch the hem(tassels) of his (prayer)garment and be healed ...

Fifty years later I still have my struggles with prayer. But I have learned a few lessons along the way.
That God shows up, when we earnestly seek him. Having him alongside in whatever we are going through will be enough. Sadly at times, prayer does not change circumstances, but wonderfully it does bring about His presence, which is of far more benefit in the life long term. And we are in this for life. Throughout my grief journey, I prayed many prayers that felt as though they went unanswered. But, the one thing I do know is that I did not walk the path alone. The God of the Universe was beside me. And when I needed someone with skin on, he brought different people into my life to encourage me.
Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes it is an argument, and often I need to be silent and listen to what He has to say. But God has also said “Come let us reason together” and I interpret that is an invitation to sort through issues.
Sometimes I have felt guilty because I said I would pray for such and such, and I simply forgot. Later when I'm reminded of that situation, even as the crisis is past, I can still lift it up in prayer knowing that God is not on the same time frame as humans are.
God helps us with our doubt. For years the James admonition crippled my prayer life. I have struggled over and over with the words—if anyone of you doubts, don't expect anything ... this pretty much eliminated all my expectations. I could see myself tossed about on that sea of doubt. I was more an I believe, help me in my unbelief kind of person. Somewhere along the way I learned that doubt is not the opposite of faith, but certainty is. As Anne Lamott said, “Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
My prayer life has had its share of doubts, but am I chastised for that? No, I am not. The real question is, where do my doubts lie? This was an Aha moment for me. My doubts lay in wondering if anything would or could change. When I realized that even though I did not have a full understanding of the situation, God did. The question for me became: Will I trust God with this situation, no matter the outcome? When I can answer Yes, I pray in faith without doubting. This is a huge difference.

Oh Lord, let my life be like the prism of ice that reflects your beauty.
May my spirit be connected to your spirit
and reflect what it has been shown.
In my life, in my words, and in my actions may your radiance shine through.
May I touch the hem of your garment from time to time ...
Keep my heart from being cold as stone, make me soft and malleable
Keep me from the distraction of comparisons, 
Knowing that you have given me uniqueness
As I lift my hand to you, keep hold of me when I do not have the strength to hold on to you.
And thank you,
You are faithful, even when I am covered with doubts.
The icicles of both pictures reminded me of tassels

Peace of mind as I
Release my control
And say
Yes to God.

"True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that - it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth." - Charles Spurgeon
Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking out of My Head? Grief as an out of body Experience

Perhaps if she would pray more about her writing ... she would write more? She is busy with living her life as a prayer, and has a newfound interest in prayer shawls.
Photography by Jocelyn

November 20, 2017

Breathe In, Breathe Out by Joylene M. Bailey

I can’t say I have a strategy for prayer for my writing. I am not in the habit of praying in a specific way before each writing day. But I do usually start my day with the prayer: Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.

I believe that when I am in an attitude of listening for God’s voice, for the Spirit’s nudging, then whatever I do, whether writing or doing the dishes, it is done with a heart open for God to work through me.  

Prayer is a little like breathing.
Breathe out – LORD, use my words.
Breathe in – God speaks.
Breathe out - May your love, your heart flow through me onto the page.
Breathe in – God directs, nudges, affirms.
Breathe out – Thank you for Your guidance and Your wisdom.

Yes, there are times when I do spiritual battle over a piece of writing, and then I get very specific in my prayer for that writing at that time. But the breathing kind of prayer is such that anything can happen in any moment.

It is such an unconscious thing at times that an idea will seem to come from nowhere (but of course I know God has sparked it). This was very clear when I wrote a poem for Christmas one year. I didn’t know I would be writing a poem but suddenly there was this rhythm in my head. First came the rhythm, then came the idea, then came the hard work of finding and fitting words to the rhythm and to the theme. During that whole busy week, in which I had little time to write, the rhythm and the words came stronger and stronger. It was hard work but it was work I knew I wasn’t doing alone. As I wrote, it seemed that God was right there, looking over my shoulder saying, “Uhuh, uhuh. No that word doesn’t work, try something else. Very good! That’s coming along.” He gave the rhythm. He gave the idea. I did the work, with His constant blessing. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t been in an attitude of listening for His voice.

I do often hear those other voices Glynis talks about, and I often succumb to self-condemnation. However, God’s voice is never condemning. That’s how I know it is His. I have found that if I ask God to speak and really open my heart to listen, He will lead in whatever I do.

Photo by Pixabay

Joylene writes at Scraps of Joy.

November 19, 2017

One small word at a time by Eunice Matchett

Seek the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:6)

Prayer for me is a constant awareness of God in my day to day life. When I sit at my desk to write, I know he is with me. Still, it is quite normal for me to begin writing, staring at a blank screen, especially if I didn’t leave my latest project in the middle of a scene. When I quit my previous project at such a point, it is easier to get my motor running. Assignments like this, without a lightbulb moment, are very difficult. It takes discipline.

While I stare at the screen, I force my mind and heart to rest, and listen. Although I don’t verbalize my words, I invite God to direct my thoughts. Sometimes a fire erupts and thoughts tumble into my mind faster than my fingers can type them. Thought upon thought, in an orderly manner. But that is rare. Most of the time, a little spark ignites, and as I respond to that thought, another one glows, inviting me to explore it. Other times my mind remains as blank as my screen.

At this point I will reread what others have written on the subject, hoping something will awaken my slumbering brain. If nothing does, I try to change the direction from which I approach the subject. Even doing that, quite often, it is persevering, refusing to give up, squeezing out a thought, one word at a time, all the while wondering if I’m ignorant on a subject I need to write about.

But once I’m finished, and reread what I’ve written, I marvel at how those squeezed out words actually say something. I am humbled, considering how easy it would have been to quit, yet, my Heavenly Father led me down a path on my blank screen I had no idea existed.

November 18, 2017

From the Heart - Gloria Guest

It’s difficult for me to say just how prayer has affected my writing life. I can however see that my writing has definitely affected my prayer life. Prayers like;

 “Dear God, I don’t think I can handle staring at this empty page for much longer.”

“God, is there a reason you gave me this desire to write?”

 “God, when will I ever get paid again for my writing?”

And some positive prayers;

“Dear God, please let this minister to someone today.”

“Thank you God for those encouraging words from that (reader, fellow inscribe member, editor, friend, family member).”

These prayers and many more go through my heart and mind anytime I sit down to write. It’s obvious that  I’m not a ‘prayer warrior’ when it comes to my writing. I won’t deny the benefit of that, but for me personally, I prefer to approach God just right where I’m at for the most part. I try to speak from my heart throughout the day to Him, as I would anyone who spends the day with me. Being as I’m not a prolific, successful writer perhaps I need to give my method of prayer when it comes to my writing, another look. I’ve read some wonderful blogs on the subject this month, with some great suggestions.

I have always related to the Psalms. I find them ‘in the moment’, pertinent to what David was experiencing at the time. I relate to his many emergency type prayers and yes, even his prayers of anger when he calls down God’s retribution on his enemies. He is simply being real. And then he often moved into beautiful prayers of repentance and worship such as “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 51:10). I can recall a time in my life that, although a Christian, I wasn’t very aware of my constant sin; of just how many times a day I sinned in my thought life or even actions and words. After a lot of growth and introspection I now admit that I sin many times a day, often before I even get out of bed! As the saying goes. So I relate to David’s many heartfelt expressed psalms of repentance and have prayer them over myself. It’s not because David was perfect or even the most spiritual man around that he was called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14). It was, I believe, because he prayed from the heart.

One suggestion this month from Sharon Espeseth ,that I’ve decided to try, suggested we write our own writer’s prayer. Here is my own version of a writer’s prayer.

A Writer’s Prayer

Let my writing reflect Your truth God, and not my own,

Let it be honest and sincere, not full of religious superiority or false humility,

Help me to be real and open regardless of others approval or disapproval,

And may I always seek to know You better so that in my writing

You will increase but I will decrease.

And help me dear God, to always write,

Straight from the heart.