Why We Should Be More Excited About Prayer (+Free Prayer Schedule)

Imagine with me for a second.

Imagine that you grew up a lowly peasant in a faraway kingdom, and then one day you were summoned by the King. He brings you to his palace and tells you that he wants to meet with you every day, privately, so you can sit across the table from him and tell him what you want from him. It can be anything–what you want as far as foreign policy, what you need from him for your family, what you want for yourself–absolutely anything. And he’ll give it to you.

Would you jump at the chance?

This is total nonsense, right? What king would allow that–and with someone who can do nothing for him.

What if I told you that the king in this scenario is our God–that He has extended that invitation to you? To all of us?

What if I pointed out that many of us are not taking Him up on this offer–that many of us are too bored by His offer to take Him up on it?

This isn’t just some king of a faraway kingdom no one has ever heard of. This is the God of the universe. He hung the stars and knows each one. He knows the number of hairs on the head of every single person on Earth. He breathes life into every creature and knows exactly what is going to happen to you this time next year.

He can do anything He wants.

So why do we need to be more excited about prayer? Because God answers them!

Here are a couple of reasons why He would answer our prayers.

Truth #1: God answers prayers because of our faith.

I know a lot of Christians who pray like they don’t expect anything from God. They go through the motions of asking, but it’s really obvious that it’s just for the sake of fulfilling a religious quota.

I did that for a long time, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s no fun.

You know what is fun? Praying to a God I know I can count on, a God who would violently shake the foundations of the earth in His anger if I called out to Him in distress (Psalm 18). That kind of prayer is far more exciting. I prefer praying passionately over praying because someone told me I’m obligated to–by a long shot.

He prefers that kind of prayer, too.

Our faith is moving to God.

We learn from the gospels that extreme, reckless faith moves Jesus’ heart. We see it in Luke 7 with the centurion, and in Matthew 15 with the Canaanite woman. When people asked Jesus for things with full confidence in His power and His identity, it deeply affected Him and He gave them what they asked for.

We can be modern versions of those people. We can be the ones who ask God for what we need in complete faith–faith that stirs His heart with affection.

Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Isn’t it amazing that anything we do could possibly affect the God of the universe? More than that, the thing that does affect Him is nothing more than our confidence in who He is.

Conversely, James 1:6-7 says, “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” If we doubt, we can’t expect God to answer our prayers. It’s as simple as that.

This seems harsh, I know, but when I really think about it, the times I’ve doubted God the most are the times when I forget how good He is because I haven’t spent any time with Him. They are the times when I am not abiding in Him much or at all, which brings me to…

Truth #2: God answers prayers because we abide in Him, and He in us.

When we spend time with God, our faith increases naturally because we get to know how good, powerful, loving, and strong He is. We start to realize that He truly is the King of the world, able to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

More than that, even, it causes our hearts to align with His. In John 15:7 Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

First of all, how do we abide in Him?

Here’s a gift to all you language nerds out there!

Note: I am one of you. I’m currently learning Greek on Duolingo.

The word “abide” in this passage comes from the Greek word μενω (menó), which can also mean “to remain,” or “to continue to be,” or “to wait for.”

“If you remain with me…”

“If you continue to be with me…”

“If you wait for me…”

It sounds like He just wants us to stay with Him. We can do this through time alone with Him, but we also need to consciously remain with Him as a state of mind. I know for me, it’s really easy to get distracted by what is seen, what is right in front of me. I have to constantly remind myself of God’s presence and the bigger picture.

Remaining with God rather than living for ourselves is a sacrifice, but it’s one that is rewarded.

I believe that He answers the prayers of those who abide in Him because those people’s hearts are aligned with His. He already wants to do the things they’re asking for. He is the One who put those desire in their hearts in the first place.

Truth #3: God answers prayers because He loves us.

“For I, the Lord your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” ~Isaiah 41:13
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.

~Isaiah 43:2-4

God helps us because He loves us.

God saved us because He loves us, He listens to us because He loves us, and He answers prayers because He loves us.

What if I just forget to pray?

This is a valid question. We’re all busy; we all have things that eat up our day. It can be hard to remember what we’ve already prayed for and what we haven’t.

Step 1: Find a way to keep track of your prayer life.

Prayer journaling is one way to mitigate this forgetfulness, and I know that works well for lots of people. I found this really great article on prayer journaling.

If you’re like me, though, and you’re not a fan of writing out your prayers, you can do what I do and use a prayer schedule. Just make a note on it whenever you pray for something. I made one for you that you can use throughout the week. This way you don’t have to write endlessly, but you still have something visual you can look at later and start to notice prayers being answered. I took the liberty of creating another printable you can use to mitigate this forgetfulness.

DOWNLOAD YOUR PRINTABLE HERE!

Step 2: Pick a time to pray.

I know people who pray in the shower, in the car, in their closets, first thing in the morning…they run the gamut. It really doesn’t matter so much when you pray, so much as that you are actually praying.

If you can, set an alarm and then pray, no matter where you are.

Prayer is one of the most valuable tools at our disposal, and we need to stop neglecting it!

So join with me and pray, friends.

Imagine how the world could change.

Thanks for reading,

Jenna

Am I Really Free From Sin and Death?

Have you ever wondered if you're living in the Spirit or the flesh? Read on!

Before you start, would you do me a favor and pray?

Pray that God will use what you read here in your life and that it would be helpful to you. Thanks!

Next step...

Grab your Bible or use the link I included below to read the passage! Read carefully, stopping as God nudges you.

Passage: Romans 8:1-11

When I was probably 10 or 11, my Girl Scout troop had the privilege of going to a local radio station and learning about how radio works. We even got to be on air and announce a couple of songs (I announced "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood, and if you happened to be listening to my nervous kid voice for those 10 seconds on the radio that one time a decade ago, I'll be signing autographs later).

I wasn't at that radio station announcing songs (Do DJ's even do that anymore?) because of any training on my part. I had no communications degree, no experience in broadcast journalism. I don't think I even had a good understanding of what college was.

I was there because someone arranged for me to be there. Someone decided they wanted me to know what it was like to announce a song on the radio.

It was a gift.

I know that it's laughable to think that there was even a chance that I was there because of my qualifications. Lately, though, I've started to wonder if we might have some trouble applying the same principles to our salvation.

Am I living in the flesh or the Spirit?

That's always the question I find myself asking as I'm reading verses 1-8 even though I've read Romans a dozen times at this point.

Verse 2 says that the law of the Spirit of Jesus (the New Covenant) has set us free from the law of sin and of death. when we set our minds on it, we're living in the Spirit (verse 5) and it brings peace and life (verse 6).

On the other side of things, living in the flesh causes us to set our minds on the things of the flesh. It leads to death. It makes it impossible to please God, because flesh is by its very nature hostile to God.

The first time I read verses 1-8 of this passage, I automatically started thinking of the things I'd done--or hadn't done--that were flesh-motivated. I started to make a flesh vs. Spirit list in my mind of the things I've thought and done, and since my "flesh" list was longer it made me think, "Obviously, since I've done these things, I'm living in the flesh." It made me start to wonder if I'm an imposter who isn't actually living for God.

And then I got to verse 9:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

So now, that begs the question of whether or not we have the Holy Spirit. Look at Acts 2:37:

Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

According to Peter, here are the steps to receiving the Holy Spirit:

  • Repent
  • Be baptized

If you have fulfilled the above--and, if you're a believer, you probably have--then you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. That means you are in the Spirit of Christ Jesus, able to set your mind on the things of the Spirit, and there is no condemnation for you.

"I must be living in the flesh. I'm an imposter." These are the lies of the enemy, and they are discouraging. They are works-based and guilt-based, and by that description they are the opposite of the Gospel.

The New Covenant says that we are in the Spirit and we have life not because of the works we do, but because of the righteousness of the Spirit of Christ within us.

Since you are in Christ Jesus, you are free from sin and death.

That's the whole reason Jesus died on the cross. Just like 10-year-old me at the local radio station, you don't need to have any qualifications. God decided before you even knew His name that He wanted you to live forever with Him, free from the heaviness of this world.

Let this be a relief to you, friend. None of us had the qualifications to receive a gift like this, but we don't need to. Jesus did, and by His death and resurrection He has transferred them to us.

Application time!

Step 1: Ask God to search your heart.

Ask Him if there is anything you need to repent of. Sin keeps us from fully embracing the freedom found in Him.

Take a look at Romans 6:20-22:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

"Return home," this passage says, "so you can once again receive the benefits of living as a child of God."

What real benefits are you getting from your sin? What fruit?

Step 2: Accept the freedom you have.

What good is it being free if we can't live it out? If we truly believe that we are free from the things that once ensnares us, suddenly we become empowered to share that good news with others.

I'll leave you with Romans 8:15-17 as a final word of encouragement:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Until next time,

Jenna

How to Create a Vision for the Week (Free Printable!)

I’ll start with a little questionnaire so you can self-evaluate and decide if you could benefit from creating a weekly vision.

Which sounds more like you?

  • Organized // energetic and ready to take on the week // consistently on fire for the Gospel // spiritually disciplined // encouraged // intentionally pouring into the people in your life // great at planning
  • Not quite that // Trying to get through life without screwing up too much

Personally, I fall into the second category when I try to wing it. If you’re like me, read on!

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” The last time you heard that was probably from one of your high school teachers lecturing the class about the paper that everyone failed. It’s true, though, and it goes for living out your faith, too.

The devil loves to keep us busy, yet ineffective: not getting much done, living for ourselves, just trying to get through life without majorly screwing up. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m 125% sure that we were made for more.

Jesus had some things to say on the topic of preparedness.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.” – Matthew 24:42-43

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.” – Luke 12:35-38

“But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:36

So did Paul:

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” – Romans 13:11

Jesus is coming, and the hour is sooner now than when we first believed. Are we ready?

Here’s a practical way to get organized, be prepared, and intentionally live for Jesus.

Creating a Weekly Vision

First, decide a time to prepare for your week. For me, Sundays typically make the most sense. I usually feel pretty filled up from church, I’ve (hopefully) had a chance to rest during the weekend, and the week is about to start.

Once that’s settled, you’ve made a cup of coffee*, and you’ve printed the weekly vision template (link is at the end of the post!), you’re ready to start.

*I’ve found that drinking some caffeine before I start this process helps me get a lot more hyped for it.

I’ve laid out the steps to creating a weekly vision using the acronym “PREPARED.” I know acronyms are cheesy, but I’m confident that this one will be helpful to you.

 

P- Pray. Ask God to bless your time together, fill you with His spirit and establish the work of your hands (Psalm 90:17). Hint: It’s a good idea to pray through every step in this process.

R- Rest. I’ve found that thinking about all of the things I’ll have to do next week typically gets me discouraged and somewhat anxious. Take some time and just rest in God’s presence. Spend some time with Him without any ulterior motives. Just seek His heart and His presence.

E- Evaluate. Think about the week that has just passed. Think about what worked, what didn’t, what you could have done differently. Ask God for His opinion on all of these. Ask Him how you can do better this week.

P- Priorities. Think about and write down your top 3 priorities for the week. These are the things that are of the most importance. Try to keep it to 3 or less. It’s a good idea at this point to stop and ask God what His priorities are for the week ahead too.

A- Activities. Start writing down (or filling in, if you’re using the printable) any activities that you plan or want to do during the week. These can be fun activities, hobbies, obligations, etc. You have a little more space for these because it’s sort of a to-do list for each day.

R- Relationships. Write down how you will foster your relationships with friends, family, and the community each day.

E- Engage/Evangelize. Write down how you will share the love of God each day.

D- Disciplines. How will you practice spiritual disciplines each day? This is not meant to be legalistic, but as believers there are certain things God asks us to do consistently because relationships are a two-way street. They also help us grow in our faith. These include prayer, Bible study, scripture memorization, worshiping, serving, learning, fasting, or anything else that grows you in Christlikeness.

You don’t necessarily need to write something in every space, so don’t be overwhelmed. Whatever God asks of you is enough.

I can promise you that if you do this each week and stick to what you write down, it will help you become simultaneously more organized and more effective for the Kingdom.

Click here to download your Weekly Vision template!

Until next time,

Jenna

My Blog Went Through Puberty

I have a real website now. Thank you for noticing.

If you’ve been following me since the “.wordpress.com” days, thank you so much for your loyalty. If you’re new, welcome to the new and improved Confidently Approach! I’m so glad you’re here!

Now that my blog has gone through puberty and I’m legit and all that, I’ll go ahead and tell you my plan for future posts.

Saturdays are for Bible study. Each week I’ll post an entry that you can use for a devo, gaining general knowledge about Jesus, entertainment, etc. Whatever you use it for, I’m really glad you’re reading them and I’m praying that they have a profound impact on your life. When the Word of the Lord goes out, it does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). I love studying the word and I am committed to writing Biblically sound posts, so feel free to contact me if you feel I wrote something untrue or harmful.

Thursdays are for Christian Living posts. “How can I live my daily life for Jesus” is a question that no one has the perfect and complete answer to, but I hope that these posts will be helpful to you in the day-to-day aspects of life.

More to come.