How to Build Faith to Pray: Stories We’ve Heard

 

build faith. stories we've heard

We want to focus on how we can build faith today. One thing I do to build up my trust in God is to remember and reflect on stories of what he has done.

For most of us, praying to God can be hard if we don’t have that trust part of faith. If we haven’t fully trusted that God will do what he says he will do. If we haven’t fully trusted that God will answer when we come to him.

It’s like we are on this journey of finding power in prayer. And on this journey, we continue to build up our faith, our belief that God can do anything. As we are walking along, we might at some point begin to believe that he loves people… all people. Then we might eventually believe that he loves and listens to us… that all people includes me. Some of us can come to believe that God can do miracles today – whether that means healing hearts or healing bodies.

I’ve come to understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, that every journey happens uniquely. Our faith is built in a different order and timing. I don’t want to sound too individualistic in this.  But I believe that sometimes God loves this. Because our individual walks with God are indeed unique. And I know that I know that I know that he loves his individual relationship with each person on this earth.

He walks beside us, journeying alongside us as he did with the disciples in the gospels. He is continually developing and growing and nurturing our faith in Him and in His faithfulness to always be with us.

But we can go for years sometimes without allowing God to nurture and develop our faith. This could be because of past hurts or challenges. You might have felt really hurt and abandoned by someone. You might have felt really hurt and abandoned by God. This would have damaged your trust in God.

You may have gotten caught up in the busy-ness of life. Or in the relationships that have taken the place of God in your life – other people that you talk to about your hurts and your wants.

Whatever part of your journey that you are on, let’s be intentional today. Let’s allow our faith journey to move forward.

So how can we, with God alongside us, build our faith… so that we can begin to see “mountains” move in and around us?

Remember the Stories

Start with this question: How can I know that prayer is powerful?

By answering this, you are developing your trust… because you know that God can do x and y.

There are many ways of answering this question, but let me suggest today that you 1) Remember other people’s stories, 2) Remember stories from the Bible, and 3) Remember stories from your own life. We’ll talk about the third one next time.

 

Remember other people’s stories

Write a list of stories in your journal. Stories you remember from other people. Stories where prayer was answered.

If that skeptic voice pops up in your head – evaluate it. Ask God that if it’s true, to give you faith to believe. Make a choice. Will you choose to believe that God can do such things.

Concerning anxiety and/or depression, I can think of several stories through the years where God has met with an individual crying out to him on a bad night. Sometimes through the Psalms. Sometimes through people. Sometimes through hope given in other parts of the Bible. For them, this was a miracle… because it’s hard to get through a bad night. There are a couple of stories I know where God has answered prayers for deliverance from mental illness, and though these are few, they give us hope.

There are so many stories that I can think of from missionaries. Where God has warned them in dreams or in prayer of danger that was coming. Or when he has given them vision of his will in prayer. You’ll often hear stories from short term missionaries who received the money that they needed to go on their trip…after they prayed and surrendered to God.

I found this website via googling “answered prayer stories”, and was encouraged by some of these stories. Have a quick google if no stories come to mind.

I would also recommend asking your friends for their stories. Build up your faith through the testimony of others. And help them build their faith by reminding them where God has been present.

 

Remember stories from the Bible

Another way to build your faith is in scripture. Because if we are a Christian, it is so important to build up trust in God’s word. This reinforces and makes faith solid and unshakable. When you believe the Bible is truth, you have an immeasurable amount of tools for your journey. And you can allow the Holy Spirit to speak in you through scripture.

So in the Bible, how can you know that prayer is powerful?

Write a list in your journal. 🙂 There’s hundreds of stories you could write down.

Like when God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. They trusted God completely, claimed him as powerful, and he was with them.

There are many times in the book of Daniel that Daniel comes to God in prayer, and God reveals to him other people’s dreams. Check out Daniel 2, as his friends pray for him:

16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven…

God answers our prayer with power… and listens to those who pray on our behalf. It’s a beautiful thing to pray for another person, and expect God to come through.

There’s the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

And God answered by sending fire down from heaven. And I love that this was for his glory – that people would know that he is God. This is important to remember in our prayers. That God is the one with the power.

What other stories can you think of from the Bible?

A Prayer for Us

Dear Author, thank you for the power of stories. Thank you for the testimony of others. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bring to our minds stories of when you have listened and answered the prayers of your people. Reveal to us these stories through the people around us. Reveal stories in your word of truth. Give us faith to believe when our minds say no. Where we think it’s not possible, speak to us that it is not only possible, but that it has been done before and can be done again. Strengthen us with faith. Develop us on this journey. May we be able to look back today and see what you have already done. May we look back in the years to come to see how you have surrounded us with stories of your power the whole way. Thank you for this. We claim this in your name, Jesus. Amen.

The Power of Pause: Out of My Hands

the power of pause hands

We’re at the end of our “The Power of Pause” series. I hope that you, like me, have learned a lot by stopping in the middle of chaos. Let’s end by realizing something very important: Much of what happens in life is actually out of our control. It’s out of our hands.

There’s a song that I used to listen to over and over by Shaun Groves, back in the day where contemporary Christian music was all we had. It’s called “Out of my Hands” and the chorus goes like this:

“Out of My Hands” by Shaun Groves

 

CHORUS

It’s out of my hands

It’s out of my reach

It’s over my head

And it’s out of my league

There’s too many things

that I don’t understand

So it’s into your will

And it’s out of my hands

I know that I am not the only one in the universe who feels like there is no controlling my own life. Sometimes the things we should be able to tweak, improve, or even change completely just seem “out of my reach”. I lay in bed sometimes and I reason and I make plans. And then I remember that one thing that prevents me from going after even the mildest of my wildest dreams. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Even if your “preventer” isn’t chronic illness, there’s normally something that stops you.


Right now, I’m relating to Job a lot (I mean, we all relate to Job at some time in our lives. Am I right or am I right?). Not the part where he loses everything he loves. The part where after a certain amount of time and a certain amount of friends judge him, he begins to question God’s goodness.

Optimism is a beautiful thing, and it’s one thing that I am just really good at most of the time. I can turn any bad situation around. I know all the tricks – like by telling myself that everything happens for a reason, or that I can use this situation to help someone else out later, or that this time of suffering will bring me nearer to God or to the people around me.

Job must have thought all of these. He must have known all the tricks. I mean, his friends were really quick to point them out to him. And I understand his friends because they say all of the negative things that I say to myself when optimism fails and my serotonin levels dip – that I deserve what I’m getting, that God is punishing me, that I must have done something really wrong.

But Job got tired of it all, like we all do when people give us advice without really knowing what’s going on inside of us. He’d been good through all his friends’ tirades, but he just melts down. And then Elihu pipes up against Job and the others. Then God speaks.

Job thought that he had rights. That what he wanted was somehow greater than what God had in mind for him.

Of course he does this! He is human. As a fellow human, I completely understand.


Questioning God is something that I’m sure every human has done at some point in their lives – though they may call God the universe, or chance, or Mother Nature. If there is something higher up there, then we feel the need to blame it.

But questioning God has always been foreign to me.

Now that I’m on the brink of my 30th birthday and I have been sick for the larger part of seven years now, I’m starting to get it. I’m run down. I LOVED that verse that said that God knew the plans he had for me – plans to give me a hope and a future. All I ever wanted to do was serve God and help people. I have insane amounts of ideas and dreams and visions in my head that don’t stop even with chronic fatigue. I have ideas that I truly believe come from God. And I run with them. I run with them until I remember that I can’t do any of it. Not on my own. Not with chronic illness.

I’m in bed every single day. I wrote a book where I proclaimed that I would not waste my life. What am I doing? Well, I feel like I am wasting my life.

So I cry out to God. I yell at him and tell him that this is not what I wanted for my life. I tell him that I don’t want to be sick anymore. I tell him that I want to build that orphanage in Romania. I want to open up a place where women can come and be together and help each other. I want to help stop human trafficking in Cambodia.

Thus, I ask the age-old question: Why do good things happen to people who want to do good?

For what have you been angry at God? How have you questioned his goodness?

“But the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding…. Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (Job 38:1-4; 40:1)

Does God’s response to Job answer my questions? Not really.

But it does remind me who holds the world in his hands. It reminds me who is in control and that it is not me. God reminds me that he created me and everything beautiful and grandiose around me. He shows me that I actually know nothing. He reminds me that the birds in the air and the fish in the sea praise him. They don’t blame him for anything.

So if all that He wants me to do with my life is praise him from my bed, then that’s what I need to do.

At the end of our series on pausing, let’s stop and remember this: It’s all out of our hands. And that, my friend, is okay. We don’t need answers all the time. We just need to remember who does. The one who holds the whole world in his hands.

The Power of Pause: Painful Pausing

the power of pause painful

The act of pausing is, indeed, powerful. Often, a relieving kind of powerful, and other times not. Stopping, even for a moment sometimes, can be painful.

A few weeks ago, these “Freedom in Christ” sessions started at our church on Tuesday nights. My husband and I thought it sounded good, but he had a lot of assignments coming up so I just decided to do it and report back.

Based on the verse in Galatians and books by Neil T. Anderson, the course is meant to help Christians claim their “freedom in Christ”. This is done by focusing on scripture instead of on distractions, finding God’s promises, and believing them – letting go of hurts and lies. Basically, it gives you time and space to pause and pray and just deal. By the end, you have a toolkit of principles and scriptures to help you live in freedom.

But, the course made me stop and think about some stuff that I didn’t really want to stop and think about. And that was not a nice feeling.

Pausing can be painful. Because if we let our bodies stop, our minds might wander. And they might wander to our past. They might wander to our present. They might even go on a longer trip all the way to our future. They might take hold of worries and hurts we didn’t want to admit we had.

So… Is it worth it to stop and let yourself feel something painful?

I don’t know. I am neither a doctor nor a therapist.

painful pause

I do know that pushing on a bruise doesn’t make it go away. Push too hard and it’ll even make the bruise bigger. Time is the only remedy.

But there’s something magical about Christianity. Christ was a healer.

So, I believe that if we pause and listen to what God says about us – if we claim his promises and take him at His Word – we can be content. We can be free. We don’t have to be in pain.

But for this to happen, we have to stop and take time to follow him, push through the crowd and the junk of our lives to touch the hem of his robe. He will just turn around, love us, heal us, and always be with us.

Check out “Freedom in Christ Ministries” and print out some of their free downloads. I love the “Significance, Security, & Acceptance Restored In Christ” list that they encourage you to read out loud every day for a week or a month. Most importantly, take time to pause with Jesus – no matter how painful it might be at first – because Jesus can take that pain if you claim the freedom He gives you.

Much love and blessings,

Ashley Ruth

Resolve Well: Soul

matthew-3

It is well,

It is well

with my soul.

The word “well” is one of those words that has many definitions. As a noun, dictionary.com defines the word as “a hole drilled or bored into the earth to obtain water, petroleum, natural gas, brine, or sulfur”. As a verb, “to rise, spring, or gush, as water from the earth or some other source”. The adverb “well” is defined as “in a good or satisfactory manner”. It can be used as an interjection or in idioms. And as an adjective, the word is defined as “in good health; sound in body and mind; satisfactory, pleasing, or good”. I’ve made the word “wellness” to mean, in my mind, something a little deeper than the word “healthy”. I want to be satisfied with my body, mind, and soul. But, I mainly want to be satisfied spiritually, soulfully. There is a depth that I crave which comes from inside of me. I want soul wellness this year.

Soul wellness is, to me, the easiest to attain and by far the most satisfying. It is the easiest because I believe in a God that gives me peace when I ask and direction when I call to him. It is the most satisfying because it is everlasting. One day my body will be rotting in the ground. I only have to take care of that part of me for a little while. I believe that my mind will one day be uncluttered and filled with freedom and truth.

I want to say every day that, “It is well with my soul”. That I am satisfied with whatever is going on in my life because there is a part of me that is eternal. What are ways that you can take care of that most important part of you this year?

Here is my list:

 

1)      Pray well.

  1. Pray more for other people – family, friends, and my church.
  2. Pray for help and guidance on my wellness journey.
  3. Pray for my husband and my marriage.

2)      Read well.

  1. Chronological Bible Reading.
  2. Combine Bible reading with art.
  3. Good literature.

3)      Listen well.

  1. Spend time listening to God’s soul.
  2. Listen to music that lifts my soul.
  3. Spend time doing art and listening to art’s stories.

Whether your focus is taking care of your body, your mind, or your soul this year, I hope you’ll join me in resolving well. Let me know what you’re doing to make your life better in 2017!