Pursuing Prayer // Kendal // ODU

Have you had a concern, a problem, a tough decision, or a rough spot in your life and turned to your friends for advice? Well, that’s not a bad thing, but let me ask you this…Did you ask God? So many times we forget that we have a way to openly communicate with God—prayer. The Bible constantly talks about prayer and its importance in a believer’s life.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 confers two simple words, “Pray constantly.”

Now, I don’t believe that this verse would be able to stand on its own unless it was significant. Every time I read this verse, however, I always think to myself, “How am I going to pray 24/7? I have to eat, sleep, take tests, brush my teeth, etc…” I mean, how many times have you prayed while brushing your teeth? But, the point remains. We have a two way radio that goes between us and God and all we have to do is keep our hand on the button. Just always stay open for God to talk to you and He will always be open to listen to you.

So what do you pray about? Well, you may not always want to be repeating the ‘prayer requests’ you have had on your mind lately until you go crazy. Prayer doesn’t have to be a request. It can be a conversation, a praise, a worship, a question, or anything just as long as its communication. The more you talk to God, the more of a response you will probably be able to hear. (This is only because your part in the communication is more amplified, it’s not because God was ignoring you before—that’s not what He does.)

Since I’ve made my attempt to be more mindful about my own prayer life, I’ve found strange times when I’ll always just be talking to God. For example: I don’t know if any of you get anxious about being in front of people as I do, be it a performance, speech, or really just anything public. If you do, you know what I’m talking about. That feeling were your stomach twists up into knots, the legs get shaky, your mind feels numb, and your heartbeat is throbbing so hard you can’t focus over the pounding. Yeah, well it’s in those moments especially that I find myself just talking to God and just asking Him to take the nerves away. It works every time!

Prayer doesn’t have to be, “Bless this food we’re about to eat,” or “Help my cousin’s broken toe to heal, help my friend’s aunt find her lost cat, etc.” Although those are completely acceptable and there is definitely time for those prayers! It’s just that sometimes these become our only calls of prayer to God on a daily basis, if even that. Find opportunities to just talk to God.

What do I talk to God about?

Tell Him about how your day is going. “Today was ____”

Ask Him for advice when you need it. “I don’t know what to do about ___”

Take opportunities to glorify Him. “God, thank You so much for ____”

Tell Him your dreams. “God, I really wish that one day I could ____”

Come to Him with your questions. “God, why did ______”

Tell Him your concerns. “God, my friend _________”

Come to Him for your needs. “I need Your help with ____”

Any of these can work and so can many, many others. Sometimes, it’s even important to just listen. Keep the line open if you can’t find words to say.

What if I have nothing I can think of to pray about?

Other than just listening like I previously suggested, the Bible offers a verse for situations like this. In Romans 8:26 it says, “In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.” Now this verse may make a little more sense when taken in its context—Romans is always a good book to study!—but it still goes to show us that even when we have troubles in our prayer life the Holy Spirit still dwells among us and is spiritually active even when we are not. (Disclaimer: This is not an excuse not to pray! )

Is there anything that can remind me to pray?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I find myself forgetting things all the time! So, I found a helpful prayer app that cannot only remind me of things that need constant prayer, but if you need to get back into the habit of praying it can literally send you a reminder to pray. This app is simple to use and has transformed my prayer life. This way, I have all my basic prayer requests written down and categorized. The app takes your requests and presents a few for you to pray for at a time and the requests change every time you finish a set. Personally, I am constantly adding prayers and reprioritizing them. I only go through sets of ten to fifteen requests each time I pray. That way I get in some time to just talk with God consistently as well. I strongly encourage this app, it is a very helpful tool that is easily accessed on your phone. It’s called PrayerMate. Please consider this app, even if you have a strong prayer life, this could help you organize all the requests you’re juggling.

Prayer is essential in a relationship with God and I encourage you to take time to talk to someone who will always listen and will never let you down.

 

My name is Kendal Adams and I am a sophomore at Old Dominion University studying Mechanical Engineering. I love sunsets, traveling, flying planes, music, movies, and Jesus! My favorite quote, which happens to be a verse of course, is “…be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.”  -Romans 16:19

“God Loves You Too Much to Leave You Where You Are…” : A Letter to My Freshman Self // Sarah

“Girlfriend, God loves you too much to leave you where you are. If you surrender to Him, you’ll see grace in His character and in His care for you, and because of that, you’ll see more of who He is and who you are in the process.”

That’s just a little snippet of what I would love to go back and tell my freshman year of college self. Little Sarah and I would have a lovely chat, let me tell ya… ((cookies would for SURE be present for this chat too, no doubt)).

To give some background, I really began to walk with Jesus during my freshman year, meaning I actually started to read and study scripture like forreal. I poured out my very lonely heart to Him quite frequently. Because of that, His presence became real, He drew near to me and I tasted and saw how good the Lord was in the first year of my college career. The gospel came alive to me for the first time after years of just walking through the motions. Through each semester thereafter, I anticipated (and sometimes cringed) knowing God was going to continue to stretch me, prune me and teach me in each stage even more so than the last.

Coming into college, I had a vision of what my life would look like over the course of my four years at VCU. I was under the impression that I would find my best Christian, college girlfriends within the first week of class, have the best time of my life, get married right after graduation and have a family who is the perfect little picture of “Christian success.” It seemed as though following Jesus was some time of cake walk, read the Bible semiregularly, do the right things and obey Him and life will be good. Safe, semi-comfortable, steady and sure.

Haaaaaaaa….. Reality check nah, nope, nada.

Life looks completely different than I ever anticipated and that, I have learned, is g o o d thing and I praise God for it. Why is that, you may ask? As I have reflected in these summer months “post-college”, I have seen a themeGod loves me too much to leave me where I am in my sin, in my circumstances, in my selfdependency, and in my brokenness to not intervene. That means, He shakes things up, He convicts me, He allows my heart to be confused, to break, and to search for Him. Through each year, He draws me to Himself, showing me more of my lack and more of His goodness. He meets me here in my brokenness. And it’s in this place I have also learned how wicked and deceitful my heart is, even on its best day. I have learned that what I have planned pales in comparison to God’s ways and God’s will. I have learned that safe, semi-comfortable, steady and sure is not where I would want to be on my own, because only in Him am I safe, in Him can I be sure and only He is steady.

I am not the only one who He loves too much to leave to their own devices and comfort. He has been loving people “too much” since the beginning of time. Let me explain…I have been studying straight through the Old Testament in the last few months. I am currently makin’ my way through Numbers. ((I can hear you cringe lots of words and lists but so much goodness and God’s grace)). To give a highlight recap for where we are stepping into:

Genesis= God calls a people group (Israel) to be His holy people, via the lineage of Abraham and his descendants. He calls them to go from their home (their comfort) and their land (their safety) and follow wherever God was to lead them. They struggle and wrestle yet God kept His covenant to be faithful to them.

Genesis 12:1-2 “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Exodus= God continues to leads His holy people, this time out from under the rule of Pharaoh and they begin their wandering excursion around the dessert for quite a bit of time. During this time, they start to regret following Moses and trusting God through the uncertainty and through their discomfort. The struggle continues as they get hangry and cranky, and yet again God remains faithful.

Exodus 29:45 “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”

Leviticus= God gives His people the law for sacrifice and holy conduct. He gives very specific law, not ‘cause He just likes a good barbeque sacrifice, but because a holy and perfect God longs to meet with sinners in the Holiest of Holies. God draws them near. He desires to meet with them. The Lord wants to dwell among them.

Leviticus 22:31-33 “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord.”

Numbers= God has promised His people a land called The Promised Land, sometimes referred to as Canaan. Because of their wandering and idolatry of self and pagan gods, Israel continues to doubt God’s goodness and leading. They complained, rebelled and rejected God’s guidance. They forgot again how the Lord had delivered them, provided for them and lead them into a place where they didn’t anticipate. The Israelites started to wish to be in captivity again, in their safe and enslaved homes. Because of that, God withholds a good thing He promised and graciously disciplines His people.

Numbers 14:18 “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgressions…”

And that’s where I found myself this morning…

I saw myself in the shoes (or sandals?) of the Israelites. As I continued reading, I started making the connection to my heart and their hearts, their situations and mine. In the last four years, I have seen God lead me into circumstances and situations that didn’t always feel great, often times through tears and confusion. And like the Israelites, I have asked God questions and doubted His goodness. My comfort and certainty has been stripped away over and over as I have followed Jesus. And guess what….God has met me there, time and time again. For that I am so stinkin’ thankful.

So to conclude my talk with little freshmen Sarah and to other sisters in Christ, I would share this…

“I am thankful that God loves us too much to let us stay where were are, comfortable and complacent, Queens of our own Castle of Self. Instead, He leads us into season after season of walking by faith, in a total lack of control but gentle surrender to His leading. God’s word and His law have been a place of refuge in each of these seasons, reminding us of Who He is, who I am and to Whom I belong to now because of Christ.”

Praise God that He loves us too much!

Hi there! I am Sarah &  I am on staff as an intern with Cru in RVA! I am fresh-off-the-stage VCU alumni and now I get serve on my fav campus, along with J. Sarge! God has me in a place I never thought I’d be in but am SO grateful to be. Cookie dough is my ultimate weakness, running is my therapy and Jesus is continuing to teach me that He is always better. Thanks for reading!

My Only Constant // Jocelyn

Boxes everywhere. The house is disheveled. Packing for what seems like forever, and yet it seems like there’s always more. More transitions. More change. New things are coming fast and right now there’s a number of uncertainties.

For the most part, I’d say I’m someone who enjoys change. There are always hard changes that come up, yes, but for the most part I’m someone who gets excited about the future before being fearful about it. I love upcoming opportunities for adventure. (Sometimes to a fault because then it causes me to be bored with the present, but I digress. That’s not the point here.)

I’m officially done with a full year of campus ministry in a new state with a new staff team, and I’ve had the time of my life. (cue Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes)

Now it’s summer (“summer”.. “summer”.. #HSM2shoutout) and with that comes a bunch of travel. #NomadLife. I’ll be road-tripping from Virginia to Pennsylvania, up to New Hampshire for six weeks, back to PA for a week or so, fly out to Colorado for a week, then back to PA & road-trip back down to Virginia.

One of the uncertainties of life is that I currently don’t know where I’ll be living once I get back from all the crazy travel. So.. that’s a thing. Also, what’s in store for this summer? How is God going to use the Summer Mission I’ll be staffing in NH? Which students will I get to pour into? What will they be like? What will my routine look like while I’m traveling all over God’s green earth? Did I forget anything when I packed all of my other belongings away?

With all of this in mind, something I’m thankful for amidst of all the change is God’s constancy. I’ve been working my way through Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him, which is saturated with great truth from Scripture about 10 attributes of God – attributes that are only true of Him.

In the chapter on God’s immutability, Jen talks about how we can’t truthfully use words like “always” or “never” to describe ourselves or other people. That hit me harrrrd, especially being someone who finds it difficult to be consistent or disciplined in what seem to be the simplest of things.

“When we apply the terms always or never to other people, we speak an untruth. Human beings don’t always or never anything. We just aren’t that consistent. We frequently, we fairly regularly, we often or habitually, but we do not always or never. As finite and mutable creatures, we cannot lay claim to these terms, either as pejoratives or as praise. They can only truly be spoken of God.”

Like I said, this really hit home and made me have those thoughts of “oh man, that’s true. I’m not consistent. I can’t be perfectly disciplined like I’d like to be.” That could be kind of a downer. But at the same time it freed me up to shift my glance off of myself and onto a God who is perfectly consistent.

I can use “always” and “never” when it comes to God.

He always comes through, even if the timing is different than what I’d like.
He never loses His faithfulness. He never changes. He’s always the same.
He always delivers. Always restores. Never stops pursuing the broken.
His character is consistent. Always reliable.

How refreshing is that? To know that in whatever stage of my life, whatever circumstance, I can say that God is loving, faithful, steadfast, etc., and those statements will always be true.

Jen also quotes Psalm 18:31 in this chapter:
“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?”

This reference made me think of the song “Rest in You” from All Sons and Daughters’ Poets & Saints album (highly recommend). The song begins with lyrics derived from this verse. ( take a listen here & meditate on its truth! )

The bridge of the song repeats the line “You cannot change, yet you change everything.” This line plays over and over in my earbuds as I think about God’s immutability and my heart reflects, “this is so true.” God does not change, yet He has changed my whole life. My whole identity. My whole eternity.

The next verse in Psalm 18 says, “…the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” (it goes on from there – read it for yourself! pray through it. journal through it.)

I can not only trust in the consistency of God in the middle of my ever-changing life & daily circumstances, I can also trust that the change that He’s made (and continues to make) in my life is certain, and my position in Him is secure and protected.

I’ll leave you with this last thought from Jen:

“Because He does not change, we can rely on the unchanging truth of Scripture. What He pronounces as sin will always be sin. What He pronounces as good will always be good. All that He has promised to do must come to pass. The Gospel itself is bound up in the idea of God’s immutability. We fervently need God to stay the same – our great hope of salvation lies in His remaining exactly as who He says He is, doing exactly what He says He will do. As long as His infinite sameness endures, He will not change His mind about setting His love on us. We can not commit a future sin that will change His verdict, because His verdict was passed with every sin past, present, and future fixed in view. Whom God pronounces righteous will always be righteous. Nothing we could do can remove from us the seal of His promised redemption. Nothing can separate us from the unfailing, unchanging love of this great God, the Rock of our salvation upon which the house of our faith is built.”

Are you experiencing some sort of big, or even small, transition? Rest in these truths. Rest in Him.