Bible study was never much of a struggle for me. I love books and reading; once I began following Christ, it made sense to read a book about Him! But prayer was another story. I did pray, but it was a long litany of requests without much engagement.
And I understand why. Prayer is not like talking to human; there is not an audible voice speaking back to you. It takes discipleship to discern the voice of God (and more importantly, how to listen for Him!). We default to request-prayers (also called supplication) and in so doing miss out on what prayer is meant to do.
I spoke about this two weeks ago in my episode on prayer: Why Pray if God is Sovereign? Prayer is not a call-and-response with God focused on the things we hope to get. One person said it this way: Are you seeking God's face, or just His hand? Yes, God is all powerful, all-good, all-loving. But when we only pray for what we want or need we're missing the bigger picture of prayer - and we're setting ourselves up for a conditional faith. “If God performs to my expectations,” our prayers say. “Then He is worth following.”
But if God, in His wisdom (far beyond ours) answers prayers with “no”, or “wait” or even silence… we decide this God isn't actually good, and our faith falters. This is conditional faith.
A consistent prayer life happens when we stop placing conditions on God and pray out of relationship, not just want. I say “not just want” because God DOES desire to hear our wants and needs! He knows them already. Bringing our desires to Him is part of relationship and intimacy. Notice I say “part” – not whole.
Consistent prayer can't be made up of requests alone, though we all have many. I love the ACTS model of prayer for this reason:
Adoration: adoring God and who He is
Confession: confessing sin and conviction
Thanksgiving: thanking God for His blessings
Supplication: placing our requests before God
Notice that supplication is last… and it's one of four types of prayer. By praying the other three types consistently, our hearts and minds are shaped to pray supplication in true faith. Our adoration shapes our view of God and His heart. Our confession shapes our entitled view of self. Our thanksgiving opens our eyes to how God has already answered our prayers. THEN, out of this transformed heart, we lay our requests boldly before God.
To pray continually, as Paul commends in 1 Thess. 5, we don't have to stay on our knees 8 hours a day. We simply move through these types of prayer throughout the day! Our anxious thoughts are a reminder to thank God for what we DO have. They teach us to adore Him for being all-powerful and overseeing our steps.
Our frustrations lead us to confession when we are angry and turn us to thanksgiving for God's amazing grace. And as we pray these prayers, we can ask the Spirit for the self control (supplication).
Personally, I think a dedicated morning prayer time is transformative to Christian life. This is when most Christians in church history prayed. Whenever you wake up, dedicate 5-10 minutes to the ACTS model. Then continue practicing throughout the day. Don't forget to listen for God's voice! This is an ongoing conversation between your soul and the Holy Spirit's leading voice.
You can also prayer journal. I focus more intently when I write out my prayers, which I do in the morning - then I follow up on those thoughts as I pray through the day.
Don't know where to start? Pray Scripture! You can also grab this Quick Theology on prayer in the shop. (We have bedtime prayer cards for parents and Teach Me to Pray cards for kids coming to the fall collection - stay tuned!)
One thing I've been doing for the last month is following the Liturgy of the Hours. This is a practice common to monasteries but works as a constant reminder in my own life to stop and pray. It's simple: I set timers for 5 am, 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm and 9 pm (yes, a lot!). When the timer goes off, I either pray a Psalm (at 5 am, I pray Psalm 23 while laying in bed!) or pray and read from Psalms in 30 Days by Trevin Wax. I use the liturgies as a jumping off point for adoration and thanksgiving. Then I add my own requests.
I am certain people can make things like this legalistic, but for me it has been a good reminder to stop and pray wherever I am and whatever I am doing. It also aids Scripture memory and involves praying Scripture, which is powerful. Try it? Let me know. We can all be praying together at the same time (ish. I'm EST!).
Whatever you do, persevere in prayer. That means prayer will be hard sometimes - but don't give up. Prayer is war in the spiritual realm and intimacy in relationship with God. That means it will be difficult. But it will also bear fruit.
Update on Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers: I'm halfway done with this one and it's fascinating (albeit a little gory). The author's sense of humor is quite witty, which I think is necessary for a book like this - prevents it from getting too dark. I'm learning a lot. I did have to skip a few sections because they were a little too graphic for me (car crash testing, air crash injury analysis) but overall I think it's been a great read.
Finished with Pastors and Their Critics:This book. My copy is so marked up I can barely read it, ha! Incredibly convicting, this book exposes how pride and selfishness manifest themselves whenever we are easily offended. It is also reassuring for when criticism is unfounded and should be ignored. A clean conscience, humility, and a strong prayer life are necessary to withstand slander. My favorite quote: “There is no need for carnal self defense when God's smile is upon you.”
Discussing Chofetz Chaim: I've read this book twice; it's Jewish and written like a devotional. Despite differing worldviews the book is convicting on the power of words/speech. Josh and I have been talking about it a lot lately. The seven basic rules of speech are as follows (we have them written out on our fridge):
Before speaking… be certain your information is accurate and witnessed PERSONALLY or via a direct witness. Otherwise, admit that it is hearsay.
Ask: Has a wrong really been committed or is this my biased perspective?
Approach the wrongdoer regarding the issue before speaking about it to others.
Do not exaggerate.
Motive in speaking should be to help a potential victim of the person you are speaking about and must align with all the above.
Avoid speaking negatively about someone, even it is true…
And if you must speak up (e.g. abuse or glaring sin requiring rebuke) do not cause greater suffering.
Links I Love
My friend Crystal Renaud is doing a very important survey on women and p*rngraphy addiction.
Crystal has been speaking out about women and p*rn through her ministry, SheRecovery, as long or longer than I have! She made me aware that in P-rnHub's 2022 Year in Review, 36% of their worldwide viewership was female. This is an increase of 51% since their 2014 Year in Review. It would help Crystal out SO much if you would fill out this survey. It gives her much-needed data to continue ministering to women trapped in addiction and shame.
I had a chance to talk to Elizabeth at Sunshine in My Nest Podcast a few weeks ago!
This short 20 minute interview was so fun. If you are still wondering how theology applies to YOU, listen here!
My friend Costi Hinn has a new book coming on the Holy Spirit: Knowing the Spirit.
I had a chance to pre-read half of this new book (coming Sept. 12) and am working through the other half - but I can tell you the first half is wonderful. If you are healing from exposure to unhealthy charismatic church culture and the abuse of spiritual gifts, I think this book will be a comfort to you. Costi and I differ theologically on some things, but his tone and presentation of the Spirit make this a book for anyone. Preorder it here.
Library Sale: I think I need an entire alter-ego just to talk books. I am an unapologetic bibliophile!! The annual library sale is no exception. It happens during our city's Sidewalk Sales (the town shuts down the streets to traffic and shops put their wares out for pedestrians to peruse). I grabbed a few great titles, including Dakota, Living the Christian Year, Surprised by Hope (NT Wright), Reading for the Common Good (Smith) and The Spirit of the Disciplines (Willard). The key to shopping secondhand books is a list of titles and authors. I do the same for children's books.
Homeschool Planning: My FAVE time of year. See next section!
Memorizing Scripture: This is another book rec so technically it should have been on my reading list, but I'm putting it here because it is a fave! I've already implemented several of her tips. This book is an easy read but it's deep. If you struggle to memorize things (me!), this book will make Scripture memorization possible for you - and you'll learn why it matters! Preorder it here.
The new Magnolia Cookbook is the best one IMO. My friend Chels kindly gave me this as a belated birthday present (I have the other two) and wow. I think it's the best one. The Mongolian Beef is delicious and I'm making Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chicken Gyros from it this weekend! I enjoy Jo's recipes because they are “normal” but slightly elevated… and I like a little elevation in our lives.
Biggby's Campfire Latte: Run, don't walk for this one. I'm actually not a huge Biggby person (and some of you have no clue what this is… it's a Michigan area coffee chain). But if you like s'mores, this is the best. I get it iced with low-fat milk.
At Home with Phylicia
August is my homeschool planning month and here's what I'm doing.
Our primary curriculum is Classical Conversations, but I have a strong Charlotte Mason bent (if you don't know what these terms are, they represent styles of education. Classical is based on the spiraling grammar-dialectic-rhetoric model of the ancient Greeks; Charlotte Mason is heavy on narration, living books, and nature). This is our third year in CC and we are in Cycle 3 with a 1st and 3rd grader. CC is a program that can be either very light or very intense; it's up to you. As a working HS mom I lean intense but don't have the capacity to follow through on it, ha! So here is what I'm doing.
Once again I bought Half a Hundred Acre Wood's CC Planner and Booklist. It's worth it of the book list alone (and even if you don't homeschool, reading aloud is SO important - as are good books! These lists may be helpful to you too.)
Since we are studying American History this year, I bought Heritage Mom's “Heart and Soul” pack to supplement our history. It fits SO well with CC - you can add in the poems and books to whatever week you're on. (I add this because classical education, and CM too, can be sadly “light” on resources from non-white authors. Since we live in an area that's 94% Caucasian we use books and literature to expose our family to other cultures).
For phonics we will continue All About Reading with both girls. For math, Eva will continue Math U See and Adeline will do either Saxon or MUS again; Josh teaches them, so he decides.
I will be writing my own morning time schedule (since that's how I am) with the poems, books, hymns, folk songs and art I want to study over the next weeks. For nature study, I am customizing Exploring Nature with Children to our cold climate.