I love the challenge in today's Girlfriend Devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa TerKeurst, particularly the quotes from Nancy Guthrie from an article she wrote in Today's Christian Woman.
Because I'm a writer by nature--always have been (couldn't tell, could you?)--I express my prayers through a prayer journal. It started out as a diary when I was in high school. I have notebooks and duotangs and journals filled with my hearts desires, requests and thank yous, and conversations with God. But it's only really in the last year or so that my prayer journal has become more than a diary. It still is. I still talk to God about the ordinary things that happen. But, it's more than just getting these issues off my chest and into the hands of God. I now know and consciously use the time to listen to Him, to spend the last few moments of my day in His presence. I use that time to not only minister to my worried, tired brain, but to my heart and spirit.
This has been compounded by my starting to read the Bible every night. I want to know what the Word says. I want to get to know God's heart better. To help with this, I keep another journal to help me keep track of what I've read, for one, and to help me remember what I've read for another. Surprisingly, I've never been very good for memorizing Scripture. I can remember the gist. I can recite many verses once someone else starts them. But I haven't been able to say Psalm 91:1 says....
I knew I needed something more direct to help me study Scripture and not just read it, and also to apply what I read to my life. So, in my little note book, I summarize the passage in my own words and then jot down how that passage can be applied to my life. I've learned that some passages leave me stumped in that regard. It's not always readily apparent how some verses apply. I'm currently reading through the Psalms. Most of the Psalms have praises or a combination of laments and praises. But I've found there are some Psalms with no praise, which in my mind shows me that despite of the suffering of the Psalmist, the praise is the lesson that he has learned through the suffering. That's not always there. Perhaps the next time I read through the Psalms the meaning will become more clear.
I also jot down a verse or two (if there are any) that really strike me.
I have noticed in doing this that I am closer to God. I'm learning to be the "quiet, gentle" wife the Bible instructs me to be. I'm learning other things that can be applied to my life. I have learned what it is to finally understand that everything we have is from God. I'm still learning about truly loving Him. (I wrote about that a while ago.)
You may not be a writer, but I still believe a journal of some sort--whether it's for tracking your progress through the Bible and what you've learned from your readings, or whether it's to jot down answers to prayer--is important. I know I wouldn't want to rely on my memory for some things.
Anyway...I hope you take today's Girlfriend Devotional as a challenge to get beyond the asking God for stuff, and use the time to spend it in His presence. I've also learned that the more I spend time in God's presence, the more I want to spend time in His presence. I don't want to miss it.
Remember prayer and getting to know God and getting "something" out of church isn't about you. It's about God. When we give God the praise He's due and give him the glory for what has happened in our lives, whatever that may be, as long as you do those things with your whole heart with the desire to praise him in the midst of your circumstances, you will always get something out the service...a closer relationship with God.
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