Praying the Scriptures

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Brothers and Sisters! GOD IS REAL!
Can I get an AMEN?!

I’m so excited to share how God has been speaking to me lately!

As I set out to read through the Bible with a 1 year thematic plan, prayer was something that was really on my heart and mind. Before I became born again, growing up as a “christian” I had a pretty sucky, minimalist, and sometimes non-existent prayer life.

When God opened my eyes to just how important prayer is, I wanted to know what to pray about/for beyond the basics (family, friends, etc.). Also, I knew that I needed to pray biblically about godly things, not simply what my flesh desired. That’s when God’s Word comes in very handy (isn’t it always). There is SO MUCH stuff to pray about in the Bible! Especially when you read the apostle’s letters to different churches (it’s a goldmine for prayer ideas to copy).

There is something really powerful about praying the scriptures.

When I began to read the book of Ephesians with this great idea in mind (inspired by Holy Spirit no doubt), in the first chapter I came across a prayer Paul prayed for believers in that city.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

When I read that I thought to myself, If Paul prayed that for those believers then it must be important and I should pray this for myself. Plus it’s about knowing God more and I definitely want to!

The funny thing is I can even remember telling Jesus that I had no idea how this prayer would come into effect or when but only that I truly desired what it implied. I could not even begin to imagine how He would “enlighten my heart” and after praying that prayer a few times several weeks ago, I didn’t give it much thought after that.

As I continued to study the Word chapter by chapter, one thing led to another and I found myself dwelling on a certain topic and really waiting on the Holy Spirit to make it more clear to me. Usually I know He wants me to focus on a certain topic when it makes me feel particularly uncomfortable, mind-blown, frustrated, you get the idea. I’m beginning to learn that if something challenges my little ideas of who God is or what His will is, if it troubles me spiritually… then I shouldn’t ignore it. It’s important to continue to pursue His revelation and peace concerning whatever that thing is. Ignorance is NOT bliss.

At one point I decided to do a sleep fast in order to focus more on that topic and seek clarity. Towards the end of the night pieces started coming together. I started to understand. (Though I’m still currently just processing everything because God is so mind-blowing.)

As I was turning through my notes I randomly came across a list of the prayers I copied from Ephesians. I was overwhelmed with a realization that God was very obviously answering the first prayer I had prayed, word for word. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I could clearly see Him directing my study of His word.

This isn’t the first time this happened, but every time it does I get extremely excited! It’s kinda a million times better than getting a text reply from your crush.

HE JUST SPOKE TO ME! THIS IS SO COOL!

Seriously nothing can compare to the joy of being heard by the King of Kings and getting a reply. Nothing can compare to the joy of getting a chance to see into His heart and learn something new about Him. Nothing.

My desire is that you would know this joy, if you don’t already.

Be blessed!

-Sister Yuliya

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Power of Prayer

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This past week I’ve been focusing a lot on the meaning of prayer in my life and how to pray effectively.

I’ll be honest. Despite growing up in a christian subculture, prayer is something I struggled with pretty much all of my life. Praying had always felt like a chore.

Every night I would attempt to pray through my special mental check list, while feeling absolutely bored and tired, eager to be done and over with the whole thing.

Then at one point I stopped praying all-together, and I stayed in that kind of spiritually dead state for about a year or so until just recently when God drew me back to Himself and gave me a new life.

Most of my teenage years, up until recently, were spent worshipping romance and being in love with the idea of love. I daydreamed, wrote, thought, read, and was absolutely consumed with the idea and feelings of romantic love. My life, my emotions, and my moods revolved around my latest object of obsession.

When I let go of everything I ever held dear and abandoned my life to Christ, my world flipped and suddenly all I could think, write, read, and talk about was Him. I was overwhelmed with a strong desire that consumed me and drove me to get to know Him in a deeper way, and that desire only continues to grow as I come to know Him more.

I am falling truly deeply head over heels in love with Jesus.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The thing is though, in order to love Jesus, you need to know Him.

You can’t truly love or be committed to someone you barely know. Just hearing about that person from other people and/or running into them once in a long while wouldn’t cut it. You’d have to know them personally. Like hang out, and talk to each other, do stuff together, etc. In fact, it would be kind of creepy to come up to someone you barely know and profess your love. After all, you don’t even know them. You might think you do, but you don’t. Not really.

Being in a relationship with Christ and getting to know Him, consists of three main things: reading His word, connecting through prayer, and responding.

If you simply think about it, any loving relationship is based on strong communication and commitment.

To have a deep relationship with another person, a lover for example, it’s important to keep in touch. It’s important to be vulnerable with that person, to trust them, to show affection and your love for that person by giving them the priceless gift of your time, and yourself.

For a moment, just imagine that you were given a chance to converse with a famous person. Like the president, or some famous celebrity.  Most people would consider that a once in a lifetime kind of thing, an opportunity they would later brag about to other people as their bucket list accomplishment.

And then there’s God. Pretty much the most powerful of all beings to ever exist. In fact, He’s always existed. He is the King of kings, full of infinite wisdom. You’d think He has better things to do than listen to average nobodies like us. Yet He’s always there. He’s always listening. Always waiting to hear from you and me.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

Knowing this then, why is it so easy for us to often forget or even ignore the fact that in order to have an epic relationship with this timeless Creator, we need to pray. We gotta talk to Him, we gotta to keep in touch!

It’s that simple, yet for some reason a lot of us find our prayer lives so lacking. How sad!

Today I was struck with the reality of the urgent need for prayer in our churches.

I decided for the first time to visit the prayer ministry of a church I’ve admired for the past few years and I was super excited to participate in that prayer group and see how the prayer backbone of that church worked.

That church has about 3,000+ members.

The prayer group consisted of about ten people.

Let that number sink in.

I was the only young person there. The whole group consisted of faithful elderly prayer warriors. That’s it.

I’m pretty sure there are other churches out there that may have a more involved prayer ministry. My Slavic home church has wonderful prayer meetings full of dedicated prayer warriors.

But the sad reality is, the majority of people in church today do not give the power of prayer enough importance in their lives.

When I was on a short-term mission trip in Ukraine a couple years ago, we visited a well-known active church in Kiev, pastored by a former mafia leader.

It was a passionate church full of people with radically transformed lives. Many members had dark pasts as criminals, addicts, and broken people despised by society.

What one of the pastors in that church said has stuck with me until this day. He was preaching on prayer and said that the reason their church was so active and full of changed lives is because every single day throughout the week, people gathered in the morning to pray for at least an hour. And they still do this. Because they chose to believe and obey what God says about prayer.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

There is power in prayer.

Not only is it important for us to be personally engaging in constant prayer but we need to pray together as a church as well.

Prayer makes things happen.
It doesn’t change God’s sovereign will, but it changes us and it’s power gives strength to faith. And faith can move mountains.

The more I understand just how important prayer is, the more disappointed I am to see lack of it in some churches. It really is a tragedy.

As I made conversation with an elderly man from that prayer group, I couldn’t help but express my disappointment and concern. His reply was, “God doesn’t only look at numbers.” Despite the spiritual situation of their church, his faith and hope inspired me.

It also reminded me that few people choose the narrow road. It’s time to get out of the mentality of trying to conform to the crowd, to the majority. In the end it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing (or not doing) but what God commands us to do.

Be blessed!

-Sister Yuliya

When You’re Discouraged and Feel Alone

Image*This is an awesome secluded little park that my sister and I like to visit. One of my favorite places to welcome a sunrise and write. So serene and peaceful.

Yesterday I had to make the choice to either dwell on the feelings of hopelessness, self-hatred, and shame for my past mistakes, OR to turn to the One who loves me and created me in order to find the strength and hope I need in order to live my life as a new creation.  Even though I still have to deal with the consequences of my mistakes and sin, it’s bearable and survivable with God by my side holding my hand.  For strength I turned to God’s word and read chapters 43 and 44 in Isaiah. As I read, God spoke to my fears and His word brought peace to my overwhelmed and aching heart.

Me: I’m scared that I’ll just fail and go back to being stuck in the pit like before.

God: Fear not, for I have redeemed you.

Me: I don’t feel like I belong anywhere, I feel lost and alone.

God: I have called you by name; you are Mine.

Me: Sometimes I get so stressed out by daily life situations.

God: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

Me: At times I feel so overwhelmed, like I just can’t take it anymore.

God: When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

Me: How do I get through this? I feel like I won’t survive.

God: When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.

Me: Is change possible in my life? Can this battle with addicting and suffocating sin really be won?

God: For I am the Lord Your God, Your Savior.

Me: I feel like a worthless ugly failure. I’m boring, awkward, insecure, weird, and easily forgotten.

God: You are precious and honored in my sight.

Me: I hate myself so much right now.

God: I love you.

Me: I’m scared that I will fail… again.

God: Do not be afraid for I am with you.

Me: I feel so useless, it feels like no one really needs me… or wants me.

God: My servant whom I have chosen.

Me: But I’ve failed too many times already, and I’m so ashamed of all my mistakes.

God: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

Me: Some of the things I did were really bad and shameful… Sometimes I feel discouraged because of it.

God: I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Right now I’m vulnerable and weak, but more than anything I want to grow spiritually and get stronger in faith and become the person that God created me to be.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31