What It Means to Worship: {Lessons on Responding to Answered Prayer}

I don’t remember what I was doing when I heard it, but the message was clear.

“When I answer all your prayers, worship Me.”

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1542488016572-13YBLDHIA81HCCNTPL23/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kBUppM4CEAsy0uRdDwalsJdZw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWQUxwkmyExglNqGp0IvTJZUJFbgE-7XRK3dMEBRBhUpxUDDZUYPZSjo2vfw_DBu1SULuqzUj5HdPSG7g_VgQi89G2iX4YUHv-yeEOnfy1R1s/worship.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

It caught me by surprise. But at the same time, I was praying for answers.
For guidance.
For proof we were still on the right path.
For proof we were still following His call and not just blindly stumbling around on our own trying to make things work.

“When I answer all your prayers, worship Me.”

I felt so many emotions surging almost simultaneously.

Joy.
Joy that He was listening.
Joy that He was going to answer.
Joy that He spoke to me.
Joy that I had something to do, some clear directive on what to do next.

Frustration.
Frustration that He wasn’t actually answering any of my prayers yet.
Frustration that He didn’t say if we were doing or pursing the right things.
Frustration that He didn’t say when this was going to happen.

Relief.
Relief that it isn’t up to us.
Relief that He would be the one to do it, so all we had to do was worship.
Relief that I heard Him so clearly.

As these emotions washed over me and back again, a question began growing in me.

”Okay God. You said to worship You when You answer our prayers. What does that actually look like?”

I knew that worship wasn’t only singing songs with my hands raised on Sunday mornings. I knew that it was something I needed to do with my whole life. Honoring Him through my actions and words and decisions.

But to worship Him for something specific…
What did that mean?
What is that supposed to look like?

So I started praying some more.

It’s amazing how so often the answers God gives me when I pray, push me to praying even more…to seeking Him and pressing into Him all the harder.

Asking over and over, searching lives and stories around me, I struggled to understand how to worship God in this way.

Slowly, quietly, a few things have presented themselves.

First, I can worship God through prayer.

I can literally sit down or stand up or kneel on the ground and use my voice to out loud tell God, “Thank you. I worship You. You did this and I acknowledge that it was You, not me, and I praise You for it.”

Second, I can tell others.

I can use my actual voice to boldly proclaim to people in my real life, “I asked God for this and He answered. I prayed for this and here is how He came through for me.”

Third, I can take hold of the evidence of God’s goodness for me and allow it to fill me further with hope and faith in Him.

I can tell God and others of His goodness and faithfulness and then go right back to my worrying ways about the next problem in my life. Or I can choose to rejoice in the goodness and kindness He has shown me and then hold fast to Him no matter how difficult and painful and broken the rest of my life is.

As I type these words out, my heart is drawn into rejoicing and praise once again, because these things listed above, they are the answers to my prayer. The prayer that said, ”God, teach me how to worship You.”

But before He showed me those things I listed above, He showed me something much deeper.

If I want to worship Him for answering my prayers, I have to to notice when He does.

There have been so many times in my life that I have prayed and prayed for something, only to fail to notice when He answers, or to barely acknowledge it when I do notice.

We cannot worship Him and give Him the glory and honor for what He does in our lives if we fail to, or refuse to, notice the things He does.

I’ve gotten distracted, forgotten to persevere in prayer, and subsequently not even noticed when the prayer was later answered.

I’ve been so excited when He answers my prayers that I run around telling everyone I know what a huge blessing God gave us, and never stopped to tell God how thankful I am.

I’ve been so fixated on the bigger and scarier problems in my life that I refuse to worship God when He answers in the little ways, simply because I’m angry that He isn’t answering the big ways.

Missing any step in the chain will hinder me from being able to worship God, to give Him the glory, for what He is doing in my life.

I must simply do the work of praying, noticing, and worshiping God for His work in me.

It comes down to that. To the day in and day out of staying in close relationship and communication with God, no matter how loud or quiet He seems. He will follow through on His end. I must follow through on mine.

Be Still: {My Struggle to Let God Be God}

I’ve gotten pretty good at doing for God.

At going when He says go.
At doing when He says do.
At working when there is work He has placed in front of me.

But I’ve found myself in a season where God has been asking me to do something new. Something more challenging than I would have imagined. Something that is stretching my faith past what I thought possible.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1541973097042-LG3NIBMJ7NBDCEU83IVA/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kMGtGj5MonXlQlAhELeIEjRZw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWEtT5uBSRWt4vQZAgTJucoTqqXjS3CfNDSuuf31e0tVGcK7tbWhWmJW_hRYMmWGEqm71EdF1gzTwvvAnqrVSEsze1Z1RqLaAHWPx0CyAdPp4/Still.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

He is asking me to do nothing.

Nothing. To wait on Him. To be still. To stop trying to do anything or even to think about doing anything.

Now hear me: He’s not asking me to lay in bed and eat chocolate. He’s not asking me to abandon my cooking or housekeeping or mothering. He’s not asking me to throw up my hands and ignore all the hard parts of life. The hard parts of my own soul. Rather, in a few key areas of life…

He is asking me to let Him be God.

He’s asking me to let the Holy Spirit work, not my mouth. He’s asking me to focus on my heart and get still and quiet and close to Him. He’s asking me to stop planning and preparing and preaching what I think is best and instead to pray. He is asking me to wait when it feels like waiting will be pointless, even harmful. He is asking me to stop planning and be still. He is asking me to stop fixing and let Him work.

He is asking me to let Him be God.

These words had been spoken into my heart and life several times already when, on an average weekday afternoon, elbow deep in hot, sudsy dishwater, I found myself facedown on my kitchen floor praying. I had been standing at that worn stainless steel sink, dumping my anxieties out on Him and scrubbing out my frustrations at the expense of my dishes. I kept going over and over the same things: begging Him to show me what to do, begging Him to move, begging for change, begging for guidance.

In the midst of that anxious, sudsy pleading, I felt an overwhelming urge to be still before Him.

So I found myself there, facedown before God during a rare moment of quiet, doing my best to just be still and listen.

I could sense His presence so deeply in that moment. And as I waited and listened and focused on opening my heart to Him, a few words came to my mind. A phrase I knew from the Bible, but couldn’t tell you the exact location. So I pulled out my phone to google it’s exact location and wording. This is what I read.

“And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”” ‭Exodus‬ ‭14:13-14‬ (ESV)

Emotion poured palpably through me. Once again, God was affirming what He had said to me.

Do nothing. Be still.

Let Me act. Let Me be God.

“You need only to be still.” (NIV)

Tears and relief and joy and gratitude followed. But only for a moment. Because it’s not easy to lay our lives in God’s hands, especially when things feel hard, desperate.

Don’t miss what I am saying. This was not the first time He had told me this. But rather…

In His kindness, He spoke to me yet again, to reaffirm the things He had already said to me.

I wish I could say I haven’t wavered since this kitchen floor meeting with God. But I have. Even five minutes later I found myself wrestling again.

But I keep coming back to this moment to remind myself of what I know is true.
To remind myself of what He has told me.
To confess and repent of my sinful tendency to take things into my own hands.
To place myself back in a posture of surrender to Him once again.

I think perhaps, God has asked this of me more times in my life than I realize. Maybe now, I am finally getting better at listening to Him when He does.

Be blessed

Fall: Don’t Forget

Fall: Don’t Forget

I sat on the park bench watching.
Watching my husband chase our three year old up and down the ramps and slides.
Watching our one year old climb up and down the slide.
Watching older kids run past shouting and laughing.
Watching the overcast sky fade from pale grey to dark gray.

The breeze was light, but just cool enough to feel that first hint of fall.

Fall.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1539889710948-53U6H7OHR2EQN7RZJH4A/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kNPKVmbt05aEWnErXou3fDl7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0tb-hnCqoepq4X8c1traqO_6-8vaS3UGENu9QP5pfFlLbyLeIY6QzmBTG9h7XCKkkQ/IMG_0515.JPG?format=original" alt=""/>

I looked around, feeling that warm-but-not-hot air and the ever-so-slightly-cool breeze winding around me. I had forgotten.

In the long, hot months of Florida summer, I had forgotten that another season would come. And I had forgotten how wonderful it is when it does.

I sat there silently marveling.
Marveling that somehow I could forget that summer would be over and the heat would fade and we could go outside in the evening into the most perfect weather.
Marveling that I could somehow forget that the heaviness of summer heat and humidity would be replaced by the lightness of a cool sunny day.
Marveling that we are there already, at that point in the year where we can feel the season changing.

Heat to cool.
Heavy to light.
Summer to fall.

And I had forgotten.

But here we are. The first hints of the joy to come already showing up around me.

And I as I sat breathing in the cool, light air around me, I felt a whisper in my heart that I’ve come to learn as His voice.

”Don’t forget what’s coming.”

Don’t forget what’s coming.

This season of life has been so long. It’s felt like the summer, hot and smothering and heavy, and to be honest, I’ve found myself forgetting. Forgetting that the season will change. Forgetting that although God allows us to walk through the valley, He will also lead us beside still waters. He will also restore our souls.

"Don’t forget what’s coming,” He whispered.

And to be honest, I can barely remember what a season of freedom in certain areas of life feels like, because this season has been long. So very long.

But I know Whom I believe. Whether I remember what a change in season feels like or not, I will trust what He says.

This year, as our environmental season shifts around me, I have a whole new reason for hope. Hope that this season of the soul is shifting too.

Fall: Don’t Forget

I sat on the park bench watching.
Watching my husband chase our three year old up and down the ramps and slides.
Watching our one year old climb up and down the slide.
Watching older kids run past shouting and laughing.
Watching the overcast sky fade from pale grey to dark gray.

The breeze was light, but just cool enough to feel that first hint of fall.

Fall.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1539889710948-53U6H7OHR2EQN7RZJH4A/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kNPKVmbt05aEWnErXou3fDl7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0tb-hnCqoepq4X8c1traqO_6-8vaS3UGENu9QP5pfFlLbyLeIY6QzmBTG9h7XCKkkQ/IMG_0515.JPG?format=original" alt=""/>

I looked around, feeling that warm-but-not-hot air and the ever-so-slightly-cool breeze winding around me. I had forgotten.

In the long, hot months of Florida summer, I had forgotten that another season would come. And I had forgotten how wonderful it is when it does.

I sat there silently marveling.
Marveling that somehow I could forget that summer would be over and the heat would fade and we could go outside in the evening into the most perfect weather.
Marveling that I could somehow forget that the heaviness of summer heat and humidity would be replaced by the lightness of a cool sunny day.
Marveling that we are there already, at that point in the year where we can feel the season changing.

Heat to cool.
Heavy to light.
Summer to fall.

And I had forgotten.

But here we are. The first hints of the joy to come already showing up around me.

And I as I sat breathing in the cool, light air around me, I felt a whisper in my heart that I’ve come to learn as His voice.

”Don’t forget what’s coming.”

Don’t forget what’s coming.

This season of life has been so long. It’s felt like the summer, hot and smothering and heavy, and to be honest, I’ve found myself forgetting. Forgetting that the season will change. Forgetting that although God allows us to walk through the valley, He will also lead us beside still waters. He will also restore our souls.

"Don’t forget what’s coming,” He whispered.

And to be honest, I can barely remember what a season of freedom in certain areas of life feels like, because this season has been long. So very long.

But I know Whom I believe. Whether I remember what a change in season feels like or not, I will trust what He says.

This year, as our environmental season shifts around me, I have a whole new reason for hope. Hope that this season of the soul is shifting too.

The Daily Practice of Confession

Every time in my life that God has brought me back to one of the foundational principles of my salvation, it has been utterly transformational.
This season has proved that all over again.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1538336198183-MWACT6N53G4USOMUGDG5/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kHe0qUhI6UbN3IlBPHCWKp5Zw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWEtT5uBSRWt4vQZAgTJucoTqqXjS3CfNDSuuf31e0tVF478Y3P07JSMJRhNdVI9uOtx69nfhbqGdbtq0U6D5rOebZJt7hPbN7nzW2cG2Yt70/Confession.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

He laid it out simple. How to stop living under the burden of sin. How to kill the lies that seem to hide deep in my heart, manifesting themselves in all sorts of brokenness…all sorts of sin.

*“Killing the spider (lie I believe) is actually easy. It’s finding the spider that’s the hard part. Killing the spider is simply…

Confess. Repent. Replace.”*
Carlos Whitaker

This little process, confess – repent – replace, has been life changing for me. Just a tiny tool to add to my tool belt of ways to combat my daily struggles with my own sin. But it’s that first word, that first step, that has really caught my attention recently.

Confession.

I’ve been working myself into a new habit. The intent is to actually confess and repent to God daily, hourly, as often as needed, for my wrong attitudes, wrong thoughts, wrong actions.
Oh how often it is needed.

And It feels a little odd. Like I imagine it would be going to confessional, although I am not Catholic.

But then I wonder, how in the world did regular repentance and confession become something that feels odd to me?

Isn’t that one of the very primary practices of our faith? Isn’t it one of the first things every Christian was told to do at that pivotal moment of their salvation? Aren’t we commanded not only to confess our sins to God, but to eachother as well? (James 5:16)

And yet it feels odd to say, even in the most deeply Christian circles.

“I’m making a daily practice of confession.”

“God is teaching me about the importance of confessing my sin to Him daily.”

“I’m working on confessing and repenting over my sin to God every day.”

Yet it is true, and yet I persist. Because in this practice, I’ve found a deeper intimacy with God.

It’s harder to hide from God when I’m being honest about my sin.

It’s harder to hide from the nudge of the Spirit when I’m admitting how I really think and feel. When I am confessing to Him my wrong attitudes and the selfish or self-indulget actions that spring from them. It’s harder to hide from God. And from myself.

And I think I subconsciously run from confession and repentance for that very reason.

“Getting close to Jesus means we can no longer hide our inadequacies. His light illuminates everything that is wrong and ugly about our lives. Unconsciously, therefore, we may flee God’s presence rather than pursue it.”
Joanna Weaver: Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

How much of my life have I spent in subconscious fleeing from God because I refuse to look my sin in the face long enough to bring it before His throne in repentance?

The thing I forget is…
God’s throne is not a place of condemnation and punishment, but rather of grace and restoration.

And when I choose to hold myself back from that place of freedom God offers me, I’m not helping God or myself. I’m only causing more pain to us both through the unnecessary distance.

So I persist in this quest to lay my heart bare before my Savior each day in my pursuit of intimacy with God. To take the painful looks at my own heart and life and thoughts and motivations. To look long enough to see my heart in all its ugliness, and to see it washed again by the blood of the Lamb.

He never makes me regret it. Instead He forgives me, restores me, fills me…draws me close.

Confession – it is worth the pain. Always.

Be blessed

For the Mommies: {Walking Through Your Day}

For the Mommies: {Walking Through Your Day}

I sat in church, singing songs of praise and wrestling with the monotony that seemed to plague my life and soul this particular day and the many of the days strung before it.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1529609306994-HV6KC5Z2M0LWFRXGHMJB/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kNiEM88mrzHRsd1mQ3bxVct7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0s0XaMNjCqAzRibjnE_wBlkZ2axuMlPfqFLWy-3Tjp4nKScCHg1XF4aLsQJlo6oYbA/forthemommies.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

It’s tempting to let those thoughts creep in. Thoughts that say, “Your life is pointless.” Thoughts that say, “Could your life be any more mundane?” Thoughts that say, “Of course God is with people doing important work, or out in their jobs surrounded by people who need Him. But me? Why would He be with me when I’m at home sautéing zucchini on a Tuesday afternoon?” Thoughts that say, “The vast majority of your days right now are too boring for God.”

I sat there singing, these thoughts tugging at the back of my mind, when God spoke through the chaos of my mind so clearly that I couldn’t miss it.

“I want to walk through your day with you.”

My mind instantly flooded with images of Jesus right there next to me, walking with me, matching me step for step, as I carry poopy diapers to the trash and wipe crumbs from the lunch table.

Even now, weeks later, I am filled with awe as I think about it. The Creator of the Universe, Savior of the World, the All-Knowing, All-Loving, All-Holy God want to walk with me. Every step. Every moment. Every mundane hour of my day.

And not just me.

Mommy, Jesus wants to walk through your day with you.

He wants to walk through the meal prep and clean up, the diaper changes and clothing changes, the play time and the nap time, the discipline and the teaching opportunities, the coffee reheating and grocery list making, the Facebook scrolling and the library book rereading.

He wants to walk through your day with you.

He wants to hold you through each moment.

He wants to be there with you.

He wants to be intimately invested in your life.

He wants to.

He isn’t dragging Himself through the day with you bored and exhausted and counting the hours. He isn’t giving you half-attention while He pours more of His love and energy into the preacher prepping His Sunday sermon and the perscuted Christian halfway around the world.

For one: He doesn’t have the limits we do. He can pour all of Himself into being with you and simultaneously do the same for the evangelist preaching his heart out to a full stadium of people.

For two: He is walking beside you full of hope and joy and comfort and wisdom and grace. He is interested and invested in you and all the little repetitions of your day. He created the cycle of days and the beauty of repetition and He desires that you see Him and serve Him in it. That you invite Him into it.

And more than that, He is able to use the monotony of your life for more than you or I would ever dream possible.

The things that seem so insignificant and boring to me right now are not boring or insignificant to Him. He values each moment of my life enough to be with me through it.

God’s Spirit lives in me. 1 Cor 3:16

Nothing, not even the mundane, can separate me from God’s love. Rom 8:38-39

God is with me wherever I go. Joshua 1:9

Mommy, Jesus wants to walk through your day with you.

Will I recognize that He is with me? Will I take advantage of HIs presence in my day-to-day? Will I? Will you?

{In posting this, I realize that I probably should have published this post before the one I wrote and posted last week. So if you haven’t read last week’s post, maybe head over and read it now.}

Be blessed

Subscribe To The Blog

Subscribe To The Blog And Get My “Perspective Reset Devotional" For FREE

Congratulations! You Are Subscribed To The Blog And Your Devotional Is Being Sent Right Now.

Pin It on Pinterest