Why We Pray

Prayer is such an amazing form of communication. It is us talking to the God of our universe. Normally, we pick up a phone to shoot a text or call someone if we need to talk to them. Prayer is like that except without the technology. We simply need to be still and talk to Him, whether it be in our hearts or out loud. He hears us wherever we are. We can be in the middle of a quiet garden or in a bustling crowd and the Lord will hear us no matter what. We need to understand how to pray, why we should pray, and for what/whom we should pray. I will be the first to admit that my prayer habits are not always the best and I need to dedicate more time in my day to talk to Him.  Prayer is a special bond we have between us and God. He hears our prayers morning, noon and night. We can ask him for forgiveness, miracles, wisdom, or just to give Him thanks.  Some people can make prayer sound like a religious act where God only hears the most pious of people. In reality, prayer is simply the act of talking to our Father in heaven. The great thing is that we can do it wherever and whenever. There are persecuted Christians in places where if they even walk into a church they could be killed, and their silent prayers are heard by God. There are young mothers praying out loud over their children at night and their prayers are heard by God. These are a few examples, but God hears all the prayers of His children. Prayer is vital, like oxygen to our lungs. Just as we need people in our lives to help our relational human side, we need prayer to sooth our spiritual side. There are many verses throughout the Bible that reference the beauty of prayer.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul states, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of Christ Jesus within you.” When we have Christ in us, we will crave time to just be alone with Him and talk to Him about our lives.

As daughters of the King we should especially pray diligently for ourselves, our friends, our family, and our futures. You must pray for yourself, because you know what you need. God will hear and help you through the hard times. God knows you because He created you in your mother’s womb, so He knows everything you need. You must pray for your friends and family because you never know what they may need help with, but just like God created you he also created them and knows them. You can pray for them because you can rest in the fact that God knows everything they need to and will surely be with them.  Pray for your future. People tend to worry over every possible detail. In the end, we don’t know if tomorrow will even come for us. Something could happen, and the last moments you had on Earth were spent worrying. God knows what is best for us. We need direction in which way to follow and He will lead us on the best possible path. Within our future includes the man that we may marry one day. This is a huge subject to pray for because your husband will be the one you spend your life with,  all the rough times, the good times, the heartache, and celebrations. You need a man that will lead you closer to Christ and challenge you to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus.

1 John 5;14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

We should be praying multiple times a day, not only when we are thanking him for our food before a meal. I like to set aside certain times each day to pray for certain things. My roommate introduced me to keeping a prayer journal last semester. It helps me stay accountable to pray for everything I write in it. My church gives out a weekly prayer bulletin that I like to keep in my purse so I remember to pray for them as well. Little reminders are good to keep, and after a while you will not even need them. After a while, prayer becomes second nature and the first thing you run to in every situation.

Prayer shows us that we are never alone. God is here for each one of us and will never stop listening to us. He loves us enough to meet us where we are, allow us to pour our hearts out to Him, and work in our lives to make everything good according to His will.

Sometimes, we feel like the Lord is not there and we do not feel Him in our lives. The truth is: He is always there for you and He hears you. We do not always “feel” God but we have faith. We know God hears and we know He will answer because the Lord is faithful.

We encourage you to start right now by praying for at least one thing. Make it challenge to yourself to talk to God more and to grow that communication relationship. Make today the start of a more prayerful walk with the Lord.

Love you lots,

Jodie M.

As always our team would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, prayer requests, or just need to be encouraged, please email us at woventogetherministries@gmail.com

Stealing my joy

As I sit down to write this, I have dried tears on my cheeks and a weary heart beating loudly in my chest. My bed is empty, even though I have to wake up in a few hours, because I simply cannot fall asleep.

If you had asked me at 3 o’ clock this afternoon what kind of day I was having, I probably would’ve described my day as “great,” “fantastic,” “awesome,” or some other equally enthusiastic adjective. You see, I had just received some truly exciting news. God answered a prayer that I’d been praying for years. I was so relieved. I was so grateful. I was so joyful.

So, how did I end up laying in my bed sobbing a few hours later?

The simple answer is this: I let the world steal my joy.

We tend to let our circumstances (a snide remark from a sibling, a failing grade on a test, a bit of bad news) distract us from the blessings that God gives us.

Today, I let my circumstances steal my joy.

When things go wrong, we can be quick to forget all of the good that God has done in our lives, but God isn’t changed by our circumstances. Even when bad things happen, God is good. Even when we feel alone, God is faithful. Even when our hearts break, God is love.

That joy that I was experiencing earlier today? It wasn’t from my circumstances, though I had received good news, because, despite that good news, I still had plenty of things to worry about (two research papers, a test, and a mountain of reading). There’s always going to be things in our lives that are stressful, hard, and unpleasant. That’s the reality of living in a fallen world.

No, that joy I was experiencing came from God. I had been seeking God’s will in this area of my life. I had been praying earnestly. I had been doing my very best to hand my worry about this aspect of my life to God. And through all of that, I had grown closer to Him. I was experiencing a blessing that He was sharing with me. I was communing with God, and that’s why I was joyful.

A few hours later, I got into an argument with a friend. There were careless words. There were hurt feelings. There were tears. I, being the completely imperfect person that I am, could’ve probably handled the situation with more grace. In that moment, I was so focused on my circumstances that I didn’t even remember all the ways that God has blessed me. I was so wrapped up in the trials of this world that I pushed God away, choosing to handle my problems my way.

Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah uttered these words during a time of celebration, but he knew that God was faithful in both the good times and the bad.

I don’t know how much you know about the story of Nehemiah, but basically, he was leading a group of people in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He encountered a lot of resistance from the surrounding nations. They both ridiculed Nehemiah and his team for trying to rebuild the wall and physically attacked them. These were pretty rough circumstances, but instead of focusing on his circumstances and withdrawing from the Lord into the world, Nehemiah remembered God’s goodness. He told his people to “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families…” (Nehemiah 4:14).

Nehemiah knew that the joy comes from God, and that the joy of the Lord can be experienced even in the bleakest of circumstances. More than that, he recognized that the joy of the Lord provides strength to make it through hard times.

You can experience the joy of the Lord by choosing to grow your relationship with him. That doesn’t mean that there will be no sadness, pain, or discomfort. When you live in a fallen world, as we all do, those things are a part of life. Nehemiah and his people were attacked several more times after he gave that pep talk in chapter four. But in chapter eight, when the wall was rebuilt and the exiles had returned, Nehemiah sat at a celebratory feast and reflected that the joy of the Lord had been his source of strength.

Maybe your circumstances are great, or maybe your circumstances are terrible. Maybe you’re dancing with excitement, or maybe you’re sobbing into your pillow.

No matter where you are in your life, you can experience the joy of the Lord.

Joy is different from happiness. Happiness is an emotion, but joy is the knowledge that God is good, faithful, loving, and able to provide.

I might still have dried tears on my cheeks, but tonight, I choose not to let my circumstances steal my joy.

I choose to run to God with my worries, doubts, and trials.

I choose to remember the blessings He has given to me.

I choose to seek His presence.

And in His presence, I find joy.

As always our team would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, prayer requests, or just need to be encouraged, please email us at woventogetherministries@gmail.com.

-Faith Brooks
Photo courtesy of Noel Brooks

 

The day the world received hope

What do you think of when you hear the word Easter? Do you think of chocolate bunnies nestled in that stringy stuff in Easter baskets? Do you think of uncomfortable dresses that your mom used to make you wear for Easter dinner? Do you think of church services that always included the hymn “He Lives”? When I hear the word Easter, I think of hope. I think of promises fulfilled. I think of new beginnings. I think of freedom from my past failures, sins, and hurts. I think of victory and new life.

In order to understand why one word brings to mind so many feelings for me, let’s throw it back to the years of 2006-2007. I’m in seventh grade. I have heavily highlighted blonde hair, I’ve never even heard of a flat iron before. I have braces and glasses. I’m depressed and suicidal. I didn’t have friends and I was probably the loneliest I had ever been. One day a girl in my Spanish class invited me to go to church with her and I reluctantly went. I faithfully went to church with her for two years, but I still didn’t make a commitment to give my life to Christ yet. During the summer of 2008, I found out that this same girl (who was my only friend) wouldn’t be starting school with me in the fall. It was during this season where I thought that I had no one, that I learned the most beautiful truth.

During this time I learned about a man who loved me more than anyone else. This man loved me so much that He willingly died for me. He gave up His life so that I may live. Me, this messed up girl who had no friends. This girl that thought no one would ever love her. How could this be? Someone willingly died for me? There must’ve been a mistake.

But there wasn’t a mistake. This man is Jesus and He died not only for me, but for the whole world as well. He willingly took on the sins of all of the people and paid the penalty that we deserved. But that’s not where the story ended. You see, after Jesus died all hope seemed lost, but three days later, He rose again.

On Easter we celebrate that resurrection. We celebrate the promises that Jesus fulfilled by dying for us and rising again.  We celebrate the promise of new life through Him. We celebrate the promise of every battle being won. This is what gives me hope. Easter is the promise of new life. The promise of hope coming out of darkness. On that day in June of 2008, the depressed middle school version of myself finally turned her life over to Christ. I stepped out of the darkness and into light. No longer was I suicidal or depressed. I had a hope. Life was worth living because of the newfound freedom I found through Jesus’s death and resurrection.

I’m not going to lie and say that my life has been 100% peachy since accepting Christ. It definitely has not. In fact, this past year I battled depression again. I still struggle, I still sin. But now I have a hope. The resurrection promises us that there is hope. A popular quote on social media on Friday said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming.” You might be living your life in a Friday season right now. Everything might be dark. You might think that there is no hope and that it’s always going to be like this forever. But, friend, let me encourage you. There is a hope coming. The resurrection is coming.

Easter gives me hope that after death, there comes a rebirth. Easter reminds me that when I feel like hope is lost, the story is not over. There is a resurrection coming. Jesus lives. The battle that you’re fighting? It’s already been won. As a child of God, we can have freedom. We have victory. Satan does not win. Death has no sting. Friday does not last forever. It’s Sunday and the good is here.

I can say with 100% certainty that the Gospel message of Jesus’s death and resurrection saved my life. I would not be writing these words had the events of Holy Week and Easter not occurred. Jesus’s death gave me a hope that I could never have created on my own or through any other source. He took me out of my dark season of depression and allowed me to walk in the freedom of His resurrection. Hold tightly to the truth of His resurrection. You are loved, you are cherished, and the battle is already won. Rejoice in that hope on this Easter Sunday.

-Krista Miller

As always our team would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, prayer requests, or just need to be encouraged, please email us at woventogetherministries@gmail.com.

Six hours on not a normal Friday

It is a normal Friday. I wake up at 9:30 and get ready to rush to Liberty University’s convocation, finally relieved to be done with the week and head into the weekend. Now it’s 11:30, convocation has just let out and I leave with my friend to get some tea and catch up. Then I hop on a bus to another part of campus to catch lunch before my class. The bus is crowded and smells a bit weird, but the drive is short and I hop off and rush to the food court where my roommates already have a table. I have been up for 4 hours now. We talk about our classes so far, joke around, make plans for the weekend, etc. After lunch, I get back on the bus to go to my class. I make it just in time as the professor starts the lecture. We finish up at 3:30 and I am now free for the rest of the day. I am done with my 6 hours on one typical Friday.

 

However, today is not a typical Friday. Christians call it Good Friday, although what happened was far from good. The Son of God was hung on a cross. He bled and hurt and spent 6 hours up on the cross before He died. For 6 hours He hung there in humiliation, suffering the worse death created by man. Crucifixion was meant to not just kill you, but to make you suffer for a long and horrible time. It was meant to show that Rome was in power, and this was what happened to those who crossed them. The one who created all them, who had the ultimate power over the entire universe had to endure all this. The one who was most high suffered the death of the least of us, a death we all earned through sin.

 

Jesus was perfect. Not once in his whole life did he ever turn away from God or do anything wrong. This did not always look like what the people of that time thought. Pharisees hated him, priests feared his power of the people, but sinners? The broken wrongdoers? They loved him. He came for all of them though. Christ came to bear the penalty we all earned by going away from God. He lived the perfect life we never could, but stepped in and took our penalty. The people had the law of the Old testament. They thought they could make themselves perfect but the law presents a standard of holiness we can only dream of living. That’s why Christ came and lived it for us. He did this because he loved us.

 

One of the more prominent verses in the Bible is John 3:16. Little kids memorize from an early age, this verse of the gospel. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Read that again. God sent his only Son, so perfect and holy, into the suffering and death that we deserved. All so we could be with him forever. This is the grandest of love stories, for there is no greater love than this.

 

Instead of sitting in a crowded bus, we deserved the vile sponge held to our lips. Instead of the seats we might think are uncomfortable in class, we deserve the wood to be hung on. Instead of laughing with friends we deserve the ridicule and slander. We should take the nails over the food, the pain of the world instead of wondering what we might do on a Friday night. That is the 6 hours I earned by walking away from God.

 

But Christ stepped in. He saved us. He endured the worst of the worst so we could spend eternity with God and be free from sin. We still will struggle. We still will fall. But claiming Christ as our Savior means that we now have the freedom to leave our burdens at the cross. This is where Good Friday leaves us. Standing on blood soaked ground at the feet of the cross where we are free to leave our sin. We can leave our depression, our anxieties, our hopelessness. We can walk away with knowing that we might struggle and waver, but at the end of the day we are free.

 

If you have any questions, please comment or contact us at woventogetherministries@gmail.com. We are praying for you. You are loved.
I got this idea from Max Lucado’s book by the title 6 hours One Friday.

Choosing joy over worry

Sometimes I feel like the number one “worrier” on the planet. I’m not great at taking things as they come.  I often catch myself thinking, “Hold on, that was not what I had laid out in my head. How am I going to handle this now?” It also makes me nervous when I do not have a plan a few days in advance. I feel we all struggle with this more then we should and I, just like many, am a number one worrier.

I was reading a devotion on my phone called Too Blessed to be Stressed. One of the verses was Philippians 4:6-7,  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  It was one of those “Okay, thanks God, I needed to hear that.”

Another great verse used was Luke 12:25-26, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”  This is a tough topic for me so I am not only talking to you guys but also to myself. I need help in this everyday!

I think as humans we all have a little bit of short term memory loss our whole lives.  How often does God remind us and promise that He is always there, always knowing our hearts and every need? That is pretty amazing, guys! One of my favorite common quotes is, “Everything is going to be okay.” Anyone who knows me, knows I say this ALL the time and I am constantly reminding myself and my friends.  

So no matter how big or small, do not let worry turn into doubt because that consumes you and kills your joy in living! That is the last thing God wants for us.  It takes up too much time and energy and no matter what, we will never be fully in control. 

I know we all hear this all the time, but I encourage you to go back and read Jeremiah 29:11-13 today. That is what life comes down to. His love is so real guys! Let us not miss out on it by worrying. 

So as you start this lovely Monday go out and know that you are loved and everything is going to be okay

The reality of sex

Most people like to dance around the topic of sex. The reality is that the more we pretend like it is not an issue, the more it hurts us and our future generations.

I recently went to Athens, Greece on a trip. As I walked through the streets of downtown, there were signs everywhere flashing “Sex Sells”, “Do What YOU Want”, and “Just Do It NOW”. These signs point to the reality of a culture being overtaken by a skewed version of sex and immediate pleasure. I immediately tied this culture back to America because we do almost the exact same thing, without using the blatant language.

The truth is, we all have been effected in some way by sex. Sexual abuse, boundless relationships, rape, crude advertisements, pornography – these are just a few examples of what happens when a God-given entity is skewed by our (humans) sinful nature. We can be effected as a participant or a victim, or sometimes both.

God gave sex as a gift to people united by marriage.  While it can be a beautiful bonding thing with your spouse, when used in a way not intended by God, it hurts people.  There is a lot in that last statement but I am not going to dwell there because my focus is much deeper.

Many of us have “fallen short” or have been effected in some way but there is a heavy burden there.

1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body”

Sinning against your own body hurts differently than the sins of lying or stealing, for example. This is a deeper hurt because it effects the core of who you are, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We all know the pain and the emotions related to it, I believe that is safe to say because of the world we live in.

I’m writing this blog because I know what it is like. The guilt, the shame, the heavy yet empty feeling deep down. You feel like the only one, yet there are so many that can relate. It can be the loneliest place when you give yourself away or you yourself are taken advantage of by another person.

I write this not as a condemning person. I write it because I found something that makes all those negative things shrink. Jesus died for every person, for their sin, including their shame and guilt. He took it on as He sacrificed Himself on a cross and through his death and resurrection He gives us a life so much more than we could imagine. I used to think that this “abundant life” God promises us is supposed to be easy and filled with riches and happiness. I have found that this life is rather filled with a joy and a peace so deep. I know Christ took all my burden onto Himself and defeated it as well as death. For that I am forever grateful. I no longer have these chains of burden and shame controlling me, and I can live at full peace and relentless joy under His banner of love. Christ paid it all and now I worship Him because of His love for me.

Life is still hard for me. I have joy and peace that is almost indescribable but I still live in a broken world. College is hard, and life is even harder. But God gives me the strength to get through it and the courage to press on. Sex damages so many relationship these days and it can be hard to get back up again and heal. There are days when the shame cripples me and I can barely look at myself in the mirror but those days are vital because I must choose to cling to God even more.

Here are some of His truths over me and over you that I like to encourage myself with:

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” -Psalm 118:6

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made” -Psalm 139:14b

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” -Psalm 46:1b

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

I am His “treasured possession” -Deuteronomy 7:6

I am “holy and blameless in His sight” -Ephesians 1:4

I am “chosen” -Colossians 3:12

Nothing can separate me from the love of God -Romans 8:35-39

God is “with me always” -Matthew 28:20

He is “the savior of all who seek refuge” – Psalm 17:7

I know this is a lot, but when you are down in the dumps, you need to know what the God of this Universe has said about you and has promised to you. There are many people who have self-help guides and other ways to get your mind off your past. But the hard truth is that your past will haunt you until you give it to God. He knows you fully and can heal you fully. The Bible talks about chains of bondage and how, when you let God in, those bondages are broken off. One of the BEST verses to preach to yourself is Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”. You are not a slave to sin, to shame, or to guilt. If you have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for your sins, you are free.

Sex has become a slave-master in today’s world. Sex trafficking and pornography are both at all-time highs in their “businesses”. Most people are somehow connected to this master and the ultimate end is never pleasure, but rather shame and guilt. Whether you are connected to sex willingly or unwillingly, it always leaves a scar.

These are the things people do not really talk about because if we are honest we are all scared and lonely deep down. We are afraid of people knowing who we are deep down and we are scared of being rejected. The ironic thing is that God knows us already, from the outside all the way to our core. He knows you and He still loves you.

Do not run from the only one who can turn your life around and make it better than it ever could be. Jesus Christ is the answer. He is the answer you need and the one you have been searching for. My heart goes out to you. I may not know all the readers of this blog but I have prayed for each one of you, far and wide. I pray that the Lord would heal your heart from any brokenness and shame. That the chains of bondage would be removed and that you would see Jesus in a truer more beautiful light. Jesus loves you, knows you, and is here for you.

Lauren