Category Archives: prayer

Marathon Training – a journey of faith and prayer

My prayer life has significantly chanced since November 27, 2016.

I imagine this unhurried and exhaustive way of praying about everything and for everyone that is a special concern or blessing to me to be more like how Jesus might have prayed when He slipped away to be alone with the Father.

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Last fall, I confided in my dad that I had been contemplating running the 25th Walt Disney World Marathon in 2018.  His immediate response was to mark the dates of the race weekend on his calendar with a note one year out (January 2017) to call and make hotel reservations.  What a supportive father!  Before I could even register for the race, he already had our rooms booked.

Oh, to be that kind of an encourager to my own children and to cheer them on in their “impossible dreams”!

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The images in this post are from the spiral notebook I made to contain all the information I collect pertaining to the Disney Marathon.

I have fallen back on his confidence in me several times since registering in February.

Since then, I have had a surgical procedure that corrected my heart issues which has allowed me to come off all my medications.  What a grace filled and faith building experience this journey has already been!  But, it also required me to take a significant break from running and then to begin again, building up my miles from a slow walk.

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I had to adjust to a normal heart rate, which felt abnormally fast when I  started to run, but with that came the blessing of higher blood pressure, which meant an end to the lightheaded and slightly tired feeling I had grown accustomed to.

Two months later, feeling unprepared and uncertain that I would finish before the course closed, I ran my fastest half marathon, thanks to a dear friend who paced me every step of the way, taking more than 10 minutes off my previous times.

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What is extra special to me is how I ran it.  This was the first half marathon I ran without music.  Instead, I meditated on scripture and prayed.

This approach to racing began for me one Sunday afternoon while running at the school track.  I began to pray, but my mind was racing.  My rambling rabbit-trail conversation with the LORD felt rushed.  My thoughts hopped around like a frantic bunny chased by an unseen enemy, bounce on and off of every thought and concern as if to tag it with a blessing.

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I stopped.

Standing still for a moment, I asked myself, “What is your hurry?” 

I had planned to work on a run/walk ratio for an hour and a half to two hours.  I wasn’t in a rush to go anywhere and neither was God.

I pulled out my phone and wrote a start of a prayer to the LORD as I walked.  It began like this:

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And then I ran.  I ran and prayed about all that I wanted the LORD to be for me as I set out to pursue a dream.

After a while, I’d walk again, quiet my mind, ask the LORD to guide me in my prayers; type out the next theme that came to mind, and set off in prayer and in a run again.

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What developed from this list is my go-to prayer pattern for when I exercise.

  1. LORD, this is what I need You to be today…
    • LORD, be my Personal Trainer.  Push me, pace me.  Write my training plan and outline my cross-training workouts for me…
    • Great Physician, be my Physical Therapist.  Help me to strengthen my supporting muscles and keep me from injury…
    • Creator of all things, my body and all the food I will eat, be my Dietician.  Help me to know what to eat, how much, and when…  protein, carbs, etc…
  2. Head to Toe blessings (literally from my hair to my toenails)
    • my brain/thoughts – naming distractions and concerns
    • senses & emotions – starting by asking the LORD to sort out how I “feel” and then naming all five senses in this order:  sight, hearing, smell (concentrating on each one to take in my surroundings with thankfulness), taste (to even include the water/fuel I’ve carried along), and saving my sense of touch for last (focusing on the temperature, sun, and wind on my skin); which also brings me to…
    • my body – naming every organ, muscles, tendon, ligament, function, form, common injury, etc. that I know of (for an increase VO2 Max, to efficiently breaking down fuel into energy, from short to long muscle fibers, to thankfulness for a steady heart rate,…).
  3. Blessings on family and friends.
    • Since registering for my marathon, I chose a person to pray for on each of the 26.2 miles of my course.
    • My “mile 26” has more than one person.  Here I pray for all my friends who are training for a marathons.
    • Matthew DobsonMy “.2” to finish is for Matthew Dobson, an amazing Christian role model and the only American to win the Disney Marathon in 2004 with an amazing time of 2:27:58(Just as a reference, my best time for a half marathon was 2:26:26.    That was really moving for me, and a pretty fun number for someone dreaming of  running 26.2.)  Because his blog and books have  been a real encouragement to me  and  because I have tired to copy many of his tips, I also pray for him when I lace up my shoes.

I have also chosen a verse for each of the 26.2 miles, for a total of 27 verses/passages, which I turn into prayers for myself and for the person I am praying for.  I don’t always start with “mile 1” (the first person or verse), rather on different runs, I pretend to start a different mile on the Disney course.  It is also a fun discipline of my thoughts to think through the various parts of the Disney property I would be on and pray for the LORD to give me strength for each specific mile.

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I made prayer cards to give to the people I am praying for as a reminder that I am praying for them. The card has the mile, the verse I am claiming for them and for myself, and a few of my running prayer concerns.

At first my 27 scriptures were for memorization, but now I just take phrases and turn them into rhythmic mantra to meditate on.

For example, when I’m running up a steep hill and wanting to walk, I’ll tell myself to say the phrase 10 more times and count them on my fingers, “Strong and Courageous” (Joshua 1:9) or “Consider Jesus.  Do not grow weary; do not lose heart”  (Hebrew 12:3) .  Or on the final stretch, I push myself as hard as I can repeating, “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Before I know it, I’m concentrating on that spiritual truth and the hill is behind me or I’m across that imaginary finish line.

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This is the list of verses I carried with me for my last half-marathon. The font is just large enough for me to read. On the back I have a copy of the course map. I covered it with packing tape so it would hold up under sweat and rain over all my training miles

(When I’m running I’m running with someone, I have a much abbreviated version of this.  It I’m running with a family member, I often pray aloud but keep it brief.  Though I sometimes pray with my friends and even share the verse I’m on if they’re interest, but usually I try to cover most the first two parts while I’m getting ready or while driving to meet them or before they arrive at my house.  Then, I mentally tuck in prayers for others when there are lulls in the conversation.  But, when I am running alone, this is my favorite mental discipline!)

I still use my prayer notebook first thing most mornings and other prayer tools on days I’m not running, but I feel such a new fellowship with Christ in this season of life.  I imagine this unhurried and exhaustive way of praying about everything and for everyone that is a special concern or blessing to me to be more like how Jesus might have prayed when He slipped away to be alone with the Father.

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Though it may sound very structured, it really pretty free flowing for me.  Having a frame work to get me started and to return to when I’ve reached the end of a rabbit trail in prayer is such a help to me.

If you’re reading this, I’m praying for you…

for your physical discipline to tackle your responsibilities while still taking care of the temple God has given you, for physical activities that you are able to do safely and enjoy, for the discipline to start and the perseverance to continue, for the mental discipline to make the best choices for your health, for spiritual disciplines that thrill your soul and that you can make intimately your own, for contentment without settling for mediocrity, for the God’s truth to inspire you in the areas you seem to have the most excuses, for friends to share with all the wonders you find as the LORD answers these prayers specifically and practically in your life.

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May the LORD help you to begin something wonderful today!

And, may He give you the desires of your heart as you delight yourself in Him!


The following images are included incase anyone is interested in the type of information I’ve gathered to help me mentally prepare for the race:

 

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The historical weather conditions for the previous Disney marathons (starting temperature, high and low for the day, humidity, and wind speed).
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Pace charts for various finishing times

 

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chart to log my miles and cross training exercise for the entire ye

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Maps of the Parks:

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a pocket in the back for loose papers and maps of the course from previous years
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pages to journal and log times from long runs
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LOTS and lots of quotes, many from Disney, but many more from famous athletes and trainers and others from articles and books I’ve read
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a list of thoughts for the night before the race, another for the morning of race day, and a page of thoughts that might be an encouragement when considering the second half of the race
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a small section for each mile of the race to log prayer request for the person I am praying for, details of that section of the course (what to expect, locations, elevation water, food, etc.), and any thoughts I want to journal that might pertain to this part of the race  (Several people have worn cameras running the marathon or in ride-a-long videos from wheelchair racers; so a lot can be learned about the course on the days I run indoors on the treadmill.)

I’m sure this might seem over the top to some, but I love to research and study everything that interest me.  This first marathon  is such a stretch for me (my longest run previous is only 14 miles); so the more I learn about it the more excited and less nervous I become.

I hope, as I share this side of my personality to you, that you are encouraged you to be yourself, live deep and indulgently enjoy what you love, and chose to become an expert in those things that interest you.

And, remember, you can make anything and everything a matter of prayer“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3

“and give Him no rest”

Do you realize that the LORD gives us permission, actually encouraging us in both the Old and the New Testament, to “pester Him” with our petition until we have our answer?

(Not to ramble on and on with meaningless and vain repetitions.  But to ask, seek, knock, and keep on asking, seeking, and knocking in persistent, unrelenting faith?  Absolutely!!!)

see the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow – Luke 18:1-8,  and Christ’s instructions on how to pray and the example of the pestering friend with unexpected guests Luke 11:1-13 (especially v. 8-10)

Today I want to challenge you to be BOLD in what you ask.  Open your Bible, put your finger on the specific verse you sense the Holy Spirit has brought you to, and hold it out to the LORD.  Remind Him of what He has said, what He has done in the past, and what He said He would do…

“If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”  John 14:14 

So, what is the most earnest desire of your heart?

I know several people who, like me, when asked this question, without hesitation the name(s) of someone specific comes to their lips, someone who has wandered from the truth they were taught in their youth.

It reminds me of Israel, and I feel a kinship with the LORD’s passion for Jerusalem.

The prophet Isaiah’s concern and passionate desire was for Zion and the peace and glory of the LORD to be reestablished in Jerusalem.

He said, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning.”  (62:1, NAS)

There are a handful of places (Israel is one of them, also America, North Korea, Guatemala, India…) and people (relatives, the children of dear friends, neighbors, friends from my youth, …) that are especially near to me heart.  The LORD has so woven them into the fabric of my life that their I wandering and suffering feels like a constant tugging on my soul that I can’t ignore.  To imagine them separated from God feels like a ripping of my heart.  This agony I feel for them is to know how the LORD feels for Jerusalem, a shared suffering with Christ.

I desperately want their righteousness to be going forth, shining brightly in the world!  I want their salvation to be like a burning torch, lighting their way and bringing light to others everywhere they go!

So, I will pray like the appointed watchmen standing on the walls of Jerusalem,

“…All day and night they will never keep silent.  You who remind the LORD take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”  (62:6-7, NAS)

When a section of scripture resonates with me, gripping me as I read it so that I keep coming back to it again and again, I take this as a prompt to start turning the passage into a prayer either for myself or someone else or even simply echoing it back to the LORD in thanksgiving or praise.

I want to give you an example as I pray for someone heavy on my heart today.

Before you read any further, ask the LORD to put someone on your heart, and then read these paraphrased verses as a prayer to God on their behalf.  (You might want to grab your Bible and follow along so you can see exactly what how The Word became my words prayed back to Him.)

Knowing how strongly the LORD feels about Israel/Jerusalem/Zion and His love for the world/the lost is the common ground that we stand on as we begin to beg His mercy and grace to move on behalf of those we desperately love.

A Prayer for the one I love not living in victory:

(a specific request from each of the 12 verses in Isaiah 62)

LORD, I beg You,

  1. make his/her righteousness shine bright as the dawn, make his/her salvation passionately burn like a torch
  2. may the world see the righteous and glory of Christ in his/her life, so transform him/her that all his/her friends give him/her a new nick-name (a special one with meaning that is picked out by You)
  3. may he/she be like a crown/royal tiara of splendor/beauty for You in the palm of Your hand
  4. instead of living as “forsaken” or “desolate”, may he/she know that You delight in him/her and live as “God’s Delight”/ the “Bride of Christ”
  5. may he/she be joined to You (like a couple united forever in marriage), finding his/her joy in You as You rejoice over him/her
  6. may I stand with You, like an appointed watchman, watching over him/her in prayer (watching, hoping, anticipating an answer from You), I will call on You continually on his/her behalf and never keep silent, may I not take a rest or a break or grow weary in the waiting
  7. I intend to not give You any rest until the day when You establish him/her and make him/her a source of praise to Yourself in this world
  8. LORD, when you swear by Your right hand and Your strong arm (by all the rightful power and authority of Your position as Creator and Ruler of the Universe), it is done.  So, I ask You to make him/her fruitful and his/her work productive and not let the enemy take any of the eternal harvest that You’ve meant to be his/hers
  9. may he/she enjoy a harvest of goodness in his/her life and give You all the praise for it, and may he/she celebrate all that bounty in Your presence
  10. LORD, make a way for him/her to return to You.  Let me go ahead of them calling out and clearing a way from him/her in faith.  Remove any obstacles in his/her way.  Put Your banner over them, and with You, let me lift high a flag for them, claiming them as Yours, and then may he/she raise up that standard over his/her own head declaring that he/she is forever Yours
  11. LORD, You have proclaimed “salvation is coming” and said that You are coming with a reward and recompense.  May Your salvation come to him/her!  May he/she being looking for Your coming and someday see Your reward!
  12. may he/she be one of those who are called “the holy people, the redeemed of the LORD”, may he/she be called “sought out” and “not forsaken”

If You seek them out, LORD, I know Your call is irresistible.  Pursue them.  Stir them to pursue You, to seek You, and to love You because You first loved them.


If you’re reading this, I am praying for your encouragement to persevere in prayer for those you love and for the LORD’s love and grace to be poured out on the person you were thinking of as you read this post today.  LORD, hear our prayer! 

(I was discouraged a few weeks back in praying for the person on my heart, but all that changed when I later realized how many people were praying the same thing I was praying for this particular person.   The LORD had put that person on all of our hearts!  — We are not in this alone.  We are co-laborers with Christ.  The Holy Spirit is at work, and God hears the prayers of His people.  —  If you want, post a name/or a nick-name for a person you are praying for in the comment section below so that others who read this will join in praying for them.  Or, add the word “anonymous” and I will pray for them but not post it for others to see.)

Restore and Remodel your Temple (Tea Party)

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I am blessed to have a fellowship group made up of a seven amazing gals (and an occasional special guest) that meets for tea and prayer.   Seven months out of the year, we take turns hosting a night of fellowship and prayer in honor of one of the other ladies.

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We celebrate our friend with her favorite foods and a unique theme in her favorite colors and styles (many  ideas often coming from checking out her Pinterest boards), but what is most precious to all of us is that we write down prayer requests and pray for each other regularly.

With seven ladies, and each of us praying for a different person on each of the seven days of the week, we all know that we are being prayed for everyday.  Additionally, because we’ve given each other little gifts over the years, we have prayer reminders all around our homes (books, lotions,  shower gels, teacups, jewelry, lip sticks, notes and cards, …). 

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tea party 02This month it was my turn to host.

The tea-girls chipped in to buy the a gift card from a major hardware store for our “unbirthday-girl”, and this inspired the night’s theme…

“Home Improvement” (and, a.k.a., in keeping with our Bible study in preparation for our Spring retreat,  “Temple Improvement”).

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If you’re anything like my tea-party ladies, you love daydreaming about home-improvement projects (remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, chalk painting or refinishing a dresser or coffee table, furniture, or decorating a room in a fresh style or color), but we know that what our house (our home, our body, our temple) really needs to improve the atmosphere is a different type of restoration.

What follows is what I shared for the devotional/prayer activity for the night.

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I chose brochures from the paint section of the hardware store to match each individual’s personality, style, and colors.

When the ladies arrived, I had instrumental music playing, and I challenged them to use the items specifically chosen for them as prayer prompts.   I told them to pay attention to the swatches of color with their descriptive names, the images, and the headings and use them as starters for prayers about their Home and their Bodies (both being temples/dwelling places for themselves and the Holy Spirit).

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With a black fine tip Sharpie, they could write in single words (Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Verbs) or phrases that represented needs, longings, desires, dreams, or anything they wanted to pray about concerning their life.

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Though the layouts were all pretty much the same, because the images (and our hearts) were so different, each trifold prayer pamphlet was unique to each individual.

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Dear Seeker,

The LORD is everything you need Him to be and more.  His is the great Creator, Designer, Architect of the Universe.  He made YOU!   His is a Marriage Counselor, a Mentor, a Life Coach, a Teacher, a Fitness Trainer, and Friend.   Who could you hire that knows you as well as He does?

Let me ask you a question, and I want you to answer.  How long has it been a while since you went out on a “date” with the LORD? 

Here’s a suggestion, take a drive with the LORD up to a city with a Lowes or Home Depot, pick out a few paint swatches with Him.  Buy a fine-tip Sharpie, and then hang out with God for an hour or two at a Coffee Shop as you fill in your sample booklets.    (This is exactly the kind of thing I do with the LORD on my prayer days.  And, I’m addicted to hanging out with Him!  — Try this, and I think you’ll begin to see why once a year, once a month, and once a week is never enough time with the LORD!!!!)

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One more thing.  Are you lonely?  Even attending church can be lonely without deep authentic fellowship (vulnerably sharing in a safe place what God is teaching us, where we are struggling, and what God is doing in our lives, in our ministries, and in our families).

Consider starting a fellowship/prayer/encouragement group of your own.  (You don’t even need to have tea!)  Fellowship is a gift from the LORD!  We all need others to inspire, challenge, and encourage us in the trials of life and in our walk of faith.

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May you chose your confidants wisely.  May the LORD lead you to a handful of like-minded women that will become some of your dearest friends and your greatest intercessors.

Though no one is “perfect” (not even you), I pray you will know the blessing of a safe and loyal group of prayer warriors that you can grow with.  May you take the risk with a chosen few to share your darkest struggles, your highest joys, and deepest sorrows.  May you be a blessing them, and may you be mutually encouraged as you see the answers to your prayers for each other.

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Keep on Seeking!   — If you’re reading this, I’m praying for YOU!

a prayer collage

magazine clippings

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words and phrases

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pictures and symbols

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cutting lines that resonate with something in my heart

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snips of images that trigger a response of my emotions

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Thumbing through a pile of old magazines, one last look before tossing them to make room for the new… and an image in an ad catches my eye.

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I rip out the page to illustrate a journal entry that already has begun to form in my brain.

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… then another and another.

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For several years I’ve kept a baggie of clipped words and images in my supply tote with my Bible and journal, but last year I spent a long sleepless night cutting and gluing magazine pages as I prayed my way through the mental maze of worries that was robbing me of rest.

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This year, I shared the idea with a few friends, and I was amazed at how different each of our prayer pages were!  We all started with the same magazines, but each of us were drawn to different images and went in entirely different directions.  In the end, our creations were each unique reflections of ourselves, ours styles, our families, our concerns, our dreams, our fears, our faith.

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Here’s what you need to begin:

  • magazines and catalogues (We had quite a variety since we collected some from doctor’s offices.  This was especially helpful for finding pictures that represented our husbands, children, ect.  It was nice to have a few Christian magazines that had verses and faith-related words, and the beautiful images from ladies’ magazines were the best for the full-page backdrops for gluing on smaller pictures and words. )prayer collage 20
  • glue sticks, double-stick tape, light weight packing tape  (While glue sticks and tape are essential to create a collage,  packing tape is a must-have to attaching pages together to form an unfolding booklet and to cover a page with small words and pictures that might otherwise flake off after glue dries.)prayer collage 13prayer collage 18

You can begin by simply putting a couple pages together for an unfolding layout or you could start by attaching a magazine page to a folder or in a notebook or journal.

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I like having pages that open to the left and the right with layers of flaps to lift or unfold.

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I pray all though the creating process.  I ask the LORD to reveal to me what He wants:  concerns that I need to entrust to Him, areas of sin that I need to confess, or anything that He’s like to speak to me about …

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Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”  (Psalm 139)

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I pray about whatever comes to mind as I clip.  Then as I arrange the pages into themes or scenes, I pray more specifically about the particular issue or person that page is about.

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Some gals made a separate unfolding  page for each person in their family.  Some ladies made their collage booklet just about themselves with each page being about a personal issue or concern on their heart, with each unfolding page like a door to another room in their heart.

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Having done this several times, I enjoy looking at old prayer pages.  They are reminders of answered prayer, surrendered fears, and dreams realized.  I hope you’ll give this visual approach to prayer a try.  May this idea inspire to you to Seek the LORD more creatively and make everything you do a matter of prayer.

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If you’re reading this sentence, I pray the LORD meets you in a special way in the hours you spent cutting and gluing and that He’ll set you free from every fear and every sin that entangles your heart.    God bless you, dear Seeker!

Little One’s Prayer Bag

Early this morning, Little One crawled in my bed while I was having my prayer time.  Looking at the new prayer notebook I’ve been using, she said she’d like a new prayer book, too.

In her “very-mature” elementary voice, she said, “l think I’m starting a new season of life, and I want to pray more.”   (Where did she hear that????  hmmm.  I think I know.  — How much a child learns from overheard conversations!)

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So, after getting everyone else started in school, she picked out paper and started designing her notebook.    I was her paper-cutter and glue-girl.   Even the bow “to tie the book closed as it gets fat” was her idea.  (Now I’m wishing I had a bow on mine!)

I can’t show you what she’s writing on the inside; it’s her “work in progress” (and I’m not sure if I’ll have permission).  But, this will give you a basic idea of what she had in mind…

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First, she picked a gift bag and paper (mostly PINK!!!); then, we decorated a blank book to make it her own design.

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(a peek inside the bag)

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It contains a clear zipper bag with supplies, an envelope of blank prayer cards, and her prayer book.

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The prayer cards are just 12×12 scrapbook pages cut into a variety of smaller sizes.  She can choose a card to write a specific request on or to write a promise or verse that applies to one of her prayer pages.

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The paper we used is white on the back; so it is easier to read the prayers and scripture verses she writes.

(I gave her an old paper back “Promise Book” with verses arranged by topic to keep in her bag to help her find verses that might apply for the different things she wants to pray about. )

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Larger papers and bookmarks can just be tucked in.   These sizes are great for lists, quotes about prayer, and longer verses.   (The tie she asked for will be perfect for keeping things from falling out.)

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Her zipper bag holds some old scrapbook odds and ends (words, letters, tiny tags), a glue stick, washi-tape and paper clips for holding verse cards and promises on particular prayer pages, colored pencils and pens, and a small ruler for making lines to help her write neatly on her pages.

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I gave her a couple family photos to tape in as prayer reminders, and we glued in a few envelopes for other reminders that she picks up along the way.   (Clippings from Christian magazines, prayer requests from church or friends, business cards from missionaries she meets or businesses she wants to pray for, etc…)

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She chose the different colors pages in her book to be for special areas she wants to pray about:

  • yellow – family
  • pink – herself (school, dreams, future husband, …)
  • green – the world (neighbors, missionaries, Sunday teachers, …)
  • blue – friends

She has titled pages by name or category (Daddy, Grandma, Pastors, School, …)  and is writing out prayers and lists she can add to later for each.

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(picture above:  the back of her prayer book)

While working on this post, I could hear Little One singing to herself as she worked on her book…

Typing as fast as I can, I got down as many lines as I could.   These were her own lyrics to the tune of Disney’s Little Mermaid “Part of Your World”.

(I asked her permission to share.)

  • “Look at this stuff isn’t it neat, wouldn’t you think my prayer book is complete.  Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl who has everything…
  • Look at this bag, treasures untold, how many prayer requests can one person hold.  Wouldn’t you think I’d pray more, I’ve got everything! …
  • I’ve got washi-tape, bookmarks, and pictures.  I’ve got glue sticks, colored pencils and scissors…
  • Do want a thing to pray about? I got plenty!  But, who cares?  You can pray all the time…
  • I’m ready to know what the Christians know.  Ask God my questions and learn more about Him….
  • When’s it my turn, wouldn’t I love to explore heaven above, out of the earth, I want to be part of God’s world!”

Little One's prayer book 13

Ladies, let’s be Seeking Ones, women who pray and seek God’s face and His blessing on our homes, our families, and our friends… for the sake of our children, that THEY might also be Seeking Ones, boys and girls who grow up into men and women who pray and seek God’s face and His blessing on THEIR homes, families, and friends.

If you’re reading this, I am praying for YOU!!!!!