When All Else Fails... Pray First

Christians in general don't pray enough- at least we don't pray WHEN we should. I've come to the realization that the vast majority of us are just not very timely 'pray-ers'. Sure, we're great at bringing God the big stuff- we're okay at bringing God the little stuff, but I'm not sure how effective we are at bringing God ALL the stuff.... FIRST. Prayer is too often used as a last resort. When all else has failed and we've come to the end of our rope. When everything we can think of and mess with has fallen short. When we are, through multiple instances of personal failure, finally convinced that (maybe, just maybe) it's something that God could take care of. When we find ourselves a long way down a long road to Nowhere and decide that the decisions we've been making are perhaps not the wisest.... Well, you get the idea.

We pray.... finally.

Too often, dear ones... too often we start praying when all else has failed.

Too often we have it backwards. We've missed step one.

Scripture implores us to be in prayer continually- to seek God's favor, grace, mercy, encouragement, advice, healing, wisdom, conviction always. I wrote on this verse last week, but it just keeps coming up- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." It doesn't say to pray sometimes, or to pray near the middle of a circumstance. Paul doesn't tell us to pray at the finale, when we can think of nothing else to do and we're at the end of ourselves. We're not taught to pray only when we think we need God's help.

God's WILL for us is to pray without ceasing- which by nature implies that we're giving EVERYTHING to God, ALL the time. The beginning, the middle, and the end... and then some more.

Today brothers and sisters, please don't wait until the all else has failed to start praying. Pray first. Pray often. Pray without ceasing. And be assured that the Lord of the heavens, will never fail you!

The Power of Perpetual Thanksgiving

I was honored to write this as an article for a dear friend, Amber Blackburn, who hosts The World Sees Normal blog. Please enjoy!  

It is always an interesting thing to me when November rolls around and I start seeing the inevitable “no-shave November”, National Adoption month,  and Lung Cancer Awareness month memes all over my social media. Did you also happen to know that November holds the illustrious marker as Adopt a Senior Pet Awareness Month, National Pepper Month, and (definitely not in order of importance…) Sweet Potato Awareness month? Who knew?

Among all these awareness titles, most often I come across the proverbial “30 days of thanks” in honor of Thanksgiving; and while I am thankful (pun intended) that this is a ‘thing’, I am also sad that it’s a thing seemingly only when we have a holiday to celebrate it. Because the truth of the matter is, thanksgiving is much more potent when we celebrate it every month, every day, even yes… hourly. In fact, I would argue that thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most important things we can do to keep ourselves happy and healthy- emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically!

Thanksgiving (not the holiday) is not something to celebrate just once a year- it is a mindset… no, better yet… a HEARTset that we should celebrate and exercise all the time.

Study after study, from the medical world down to spiritual gurus, holy books, and psychiatrists alike show that an attitude of thanks is hugely beneficial to one’s health. As a Jesus-lovin’ Christian I wholeheartedly agree!

It is easy to give thanks when life is good and pleasant. Things are going well. The proverbial “Attitude of Gratitude” is easy when the going is smooth. But what about when the goin’ gets tough?

The truly tough get to celebrating thanksgiving.

There is NEVER nothing to be thankful for… never. Often some of the most harrowing stories of martyrs or trials and tribulations have the brightest examples of people choosing thanksgiving over desperation or worry.

Yes, we have a choice. We can choose fear, anxiety, worry, frustration, sadness, etc over so very many things. Bills are coming due, a child is having trouble in school, our personal life is fraught with turmoil, our bodies are not cooperating or working the way we’d like. Yes… all these things are real. They are here, they affect us greatly. And yet, there is always something to be grateful for. Always.

One of my favorite Bible verses right now is in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I love that God’s WILL for me is to simply rejoice and give thanks in ALL circumstances. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Today I want to challenge you to take a minute and take a look around. Are you in a low place or a high point? Make note of it.

Now take this verse to heart. In ALL circumstances choose an attitude of thanksgiving… seek out and find reasons to be thankful. Look for opportunities, however small, to show and tell and express thanks. It may be as simple as being able to take a breath without pain, or being alive for the day, listening to birds outside, or watching the snow fall- after all, not many of us are winning the lottery everyday! But I promise you’ll be surprised at how much your heart is lightened by the change in perspective with the attitude alteration. There is power in the habit of perpetual thanksgiving! I encourage you to get into the habit today and everyday!