How I Pray

How I Pray
A feeling of dread gripped her as her small group began “popcorn style” prayer. Everyone’s prayers seemed so much more inspired than hers.

She didn’t really know how to pray. Whenever she prayed, it would usually just trail off into nothing or she would become distracted by the whistle of her iPhone. She waited for a lull to interject a prayer she had been mulling over for the last 15 minutes. But then the worst thing happened—the awkward two-voices-beginning-a-prayer-in-unison, and then the even more uncomfortable, “No, no, you go.” She let the other guy pray his prayer. Feelings of shame and frustration welled up inside her as she wondered, how do you even pray?

I don’t know if any of you have had a similar experience to the one above, but I know I have. Growing up in the church and going to a private high school, I learned the “Christian lingo” pretty rapidly. I figured out what phrases would get the most “mmms” or “amens.” I would throw those bad boys into my prayer to get a little spiritual ego boost, not because I genuinely felt or believed them.

But then I experienced the power of the gospel, and I realized prayer is our way of communicating with our Father.

And He wants to hear us.

He wants to hear genuine prayers.

He wants us to talk to Him. And because we are His children, we can boldly approach His throne (Hebrews 4:16). Once I figured that out, I realized I had been going about this whole prayer thing completely wrong. Let’s examine exactly how Jesus says to pray and His example of prayerfulness throughout His life.


PRAY SIMPLY


When teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus gives several prescriptions on how to pray and how not to pray. The first thing He says not to do is, “Do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). So often, we dress up our prayers to look more spiritual to those around us. God knows what is on our hearts (Matthew 6:8).

He just wants us to bring it to Him in honest, humble, and simple prayers.

There is no need to impress. God has already determined your worth by defeating death to make you His own. You already have the best approval of all—the approval of the Creator of the universe—and you are His child.


UPWARD, INWARD, AND OUTWARD


Throughout the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6, Jesus gives a pattern we can imitate. Jesus uses direction to focus His prayers in a few different ways.
The first is an upward focus:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus focuses on God’s character, His holiness, His kingdom, and His will. He begins with worship. He acknowledges a submission to the Father’s will above His own.

Then He shifts His focus inward:

Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts…

He asks the Father for sustenance. He isn’t afraid to boldly ask. This demonstrates a humility and dependence on the Father and total deference to Him. This inward focus includes reflecting on our own hearts—where do we need forgiveness? Where do we need to seek forgiveness?

Lastly, His focus is outward:

…as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Consider the pronouns Jesus uses during this outward shift. He uses we, our, and us. Jesus is praying for others.

Does your prayer life follow this pattern? As I was considering this, I realized my prayer life is extremely self-centered. I needed to spend more time praising God for His character and praying for those around me.


PRAY SCRIPTURE


One of the most enriching and transformative things we can do is actively pray through Scripture.

Go line by line. Just read it, and then pray that you would be able to apply it and it would transform your heart.

Martin Luther used to do this. He said that when you read the Scriptures, “your first duty is to begin to pray.” Here is a practical example of how you can walk through the Lord’s prayer, praying through each line:

“Our Father in heaven”
Thank you for being my Father. Thank you for calling me your own. Help me remember that identity when the world is telling me my identity is in appearance, approval, grades, or achievement.

“Hallowed be your name”
God, your name is holy—you are set apart. You are worthy of all glory, honor, and praise because you are perfect. Teach my heart to remember you are holy.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done”
God, I pray that I would desire your kingdom to come. Help me desire your will over my own.

Oftentimes, I set my alarm for a set amount of time, flip my phone over, and just start praying through a particular passage until my timer goes off. You will be amazed how much God can teach through that time of prayer and being immersed in His Word.

God has made us His own.

Because we are His children, we have direct access to our Father anytime we want.

Prayer is an open line of communication—He wants to hear from us.

Prayer helps us actively live out our identity as sons and daughters of the King. As we pray to our Father, our delight in Him increases and we experience a deeper, more joyful intimacy with Him. It’s my hope and prayer we become people of prayer-women who are utterly dependent on Christ. Drop me a DM or comment if you have other helpful tips on how we should pray!

Love ya like a sister-

Rach

Waterl<ss: My Secret to Going a Week Without Washing My Hair

Waterl<ss: My Secret to Going a Week Without Washing My Hair

This post is sponsored by Waterl<ss.

If you are anything like me, then you dread washing your hair because you know a long, damaging session with the blow dryer looms before you.

I’ve tried many a hair product to maximize the time between washes, but I haven’t found one that compares to Waterl<ss. If you’re not familiar with Waterl<ss, it’s a hair care company based out of Cape Town, South Africa created by a small group of scientists who wanted to create non-wash products that actually work. They put the products to the test during the water crisis in early 2018! I love partnering with brands that have awesome principals, and Waterl<ss celebrates diversity with lines for all different hair types. They are also passionate about water conservation! Their three-step system to maximizing the time between washes is so effective because it makes your hair look, feel, and even smell fresh-like you washed your hair that day. They want your hair to look just as good on day three as it does on day one. You know me, I go 4, sometimes even a full week without washing my hair. I do it using Waterl<ss’ full regimen of products. Also-think about this-the less you wash your hair, the less damaging heat you put on it. I am convinced this has helped my hair grow so long and healthy.

Making your hair look clean

Waterl<ss’ first step is their dry shampoo. Their No Residue dry shampoo stands out above the rest because there is no residue. You know how some dry shampoos leave your hair looking grey or chalky? Waterl<ss has absolutely zero of that. My roots are a light brown/dark blonde and so I am always cognizant of that-I mean who wants to walk around with grey roots?! Waterl<ss has solved this problem and simply leaves your roots looking clean.

Making your hair feel clean

You know that feeling after you deep condition your hair? The ends are soft and smooth. It’s hard to get that feeling without actually deep conditioning your hair. I know usually around day 2-3 of me forgoing washing my hair the ends begin to get a little brittle. But Waterl<ss has developed such a great solution to that! Their Weightless Smooth dry conditioner leaves your hair shiny, smooth, and soft-feeling like you just deep conditioned it. I always apply the dry conditioner to the mid shaft of the hair down to the ends, avoiding my roots or places near the top of my scalp.

Making your hair smell clean

Your girl loves to work out. I work out every single day. I also love hiking and pretty much doing anything active. But I don’t want to have to wash my hair every single time I work out-if I did that I would be spending an hour a day blow drying-nobody’s got time for that! Waterl<ss’ third and final step is their hair fragrance. This makes your hair smell fresh and clean without being overly “perfumey.”

Waterl<ss’ system has completely transformed how much heat I use on my hair and how often I need to wash it. Their products are so effective and thoughtful. I love being able to go hiking or work out knowing I can go without having to wash my hair afterwards. Their three-step system has perfected making your hair look, feel, and smell so fresh and clean!

The Waterl<ss Collection is available online at Target!

Overcoming Sadness

Overcoming Sadness

Have you ever been in a really sad season of life?
A season where your sadness overwhelms and feels like it is going to crush you.

A season where you force yourself to crawl out of bed because you don’t want to face anyone or anything the day has to offer.

A season where you feel so alone, all you want to do is cry. A season where the promises of God seem so far away, you have to fight every day to believe them.

That’s the season I’ve been in in the past.

My sadness seemed every where, a prison created by my own self-centeredness combined with the brokenness that is etched into this world. Everyday I would wake up and pray to God to sustain me. I met with a friend who pointed me to truth and encouraged me that there is beauty in authenticity and in rejoicing in the midst of very real pain. She pointed me to scripture that reminded me of the Gospel and gave me practical suggestions to focus my heart on Jesus and I would love to share those with you friends.

BE REAL

I don’t know about you, but my whole life I’ve tried to be perfect. To look perfect, act perfect, have it all together- the fake it till you make it mentality. Imperfections were never an option. But here’s the thing- we are broken.
We are weak.
We are little.
God is strong.
God is powerful.
God sustains.
God wants every aspect of our hearts and most of the times, going through that process is painful. Usually God puts us out of our comfortable situations into uncomfortable one where we have to be stretched. Sad seasons are uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable when a stranger asks how you’re doing to say, “You know what, it’s a hard season, but I am fighting to believe God’s promises through it.” But God desires our integrity. He wants us to be real- to be honest. Not necessarily to bare our souls and tell our deepest sin struggles to every stranger at the grocery store. But he wants us to be real, to be authentic.

MAKE A LIST OF THANKFULNESS

Everyday now I am making a list of things I am thankful for. At the top of this list is always the Gospel. When you remember that Jesus Christ, who was fully man and fully God, came to earth, lived the perfect life, died the death that we deserved, then defeated death so that we could be restored back into the original design He intended for us-it puts everything back into perspective. It centers our hearts where they should be- on Jesus. God wants us to rejoice through suffering.

MEMORIZE PROMISES

Scripture is our weapon. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Here are some promises from scripture to encourage and remind you of the heart of God and how to rejoice through sadness.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14

God is sovereign over all things-all suffering, all sadness. He is sovereign over all circumstances. He is sovereign over Satan. God is sovereign over suffering. He uses it to make us more like Him, to make us understand our utter and complete dependance upon Him. The times I have been closest to God are the darkness times of my life. God used my biggest fear and biggest hardship to call me into ministry. I remember it vividly. I hadn’t eaten in days because I was crying out to the Lord to sustain me. I had been attacked by one of my closest guy friends. My biggest fear had become my biggest reality. I cried out to God, telling Him I had no desire to live anymore. With a soft voice He answered me with Philippians 1:21, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Right then I knew that this God who met me in the midst of my deepest sadness and rescued me-is a God worth living for-worth giving everything for.
God used that hardship to push me into ministry. We do not suffer in vain.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

God does not withhold good from us. All His plans are for His glory and for our good.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Our power belongs to God. We are His broken vessels to do His will. We are going to be attacked on every side, but we are never without hope. Our lives and our hope is rooted completely in Jesus and in the cross.

God uses suffering. He uses it to remind us of our desperate need for Him. He wants our whole heart. He wants our everything. Remind yourself every day of the Gospel, of His promises, and that He is a good, good Father.

 

Love you sister,

Rach

How I Read the Bible

How I Read the Bible

I used to always be that kid who would hold my Bible between my hands, with my eyes closed and face positioned skyward and say, “Ok, God show me what you got!” and then I would open to a random spot in the Bible, hoping the Spirit would move. Don’t get me wrong, God can move that way. I just wish that someone had taught me a practical way to actually study the Word of God and It’s importance in my life.

WHY DO WE STUDY THE BIBLE?

It is our authority.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training up in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Scripture is God’s Word to us.

That is why we study it and that is why it is essential to know it. It is our road map in this crazy world. The Bible is God’s revealed will to our lives. Have you ever just hit a cross road in your life and are crying out to God to show you what to do?
Open your Bible.
God speaks to you through His living and active Word. That also reminds me of Hebrews 1:1-2, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.” We study the Bible because it is our authority and It is God’s will He has chosen to reveal to us.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE

 

I use the method of studying the Word called REAP. It’s an acronym for Read, Examine, Apply, and Pray. I choose one chapter of the Bible and go through all these steps.

1. READ

This step is as easy as it sounds. Just read the chapter. Then in your journal write a short summary restating what was in the chapter. Don’t get too philosophical just yet. Just write a short summary about what you read.

2. EXAMINE

Next, you are going to think about the chapter using these questions:
1) What characteristics of God does this passage reveal? His goodness? His holiness? His compassion? His righteous wrath? His power? What is this passage teaching me about God?

2) What is this passage teaching me about people? What is the state of humanity without God? How do we change with God?

3. APPLY

Now apply this scripture to your life. Be honest with yourself. Are there areas in your life, you are refusing to surrender to God? Is there sin in your life that you need to confess through prayer and then turn away from? What characteristics of God are you not believing or accepting? What characteristics of man do you disagree with? How can you use this scripture to bring more glory to God’s name, to know him more, and walk more closely with Him?

4. PRAY

One of the biggest roles the Holy Spirit has in our lives is to teach us and remind us of Truth. Whenever I pray I confess whatever sin or unbelief is in my heart. I then ask the Spirit to help me trust in God’s goodness and His plan for my life. I ask the Spirit to conform my heart to be less like mine and more like Jesus’. I ask for Him to transform me. Change me. I ask Him to take away any façade of pride, doubt, or unbelief. Pray about what you just learned and ask the Holy Spirit to change you.

It’s my prayer for all us that God will work in our hearts through the power of His Word. It’s my prayer that when we wake up every morning we would remember Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” It’s my heartfelt prayer that God’s Word would reign in our hearts and lives. I pray that His Truth would permeate every single sinful crevice of our hearts and transform us more everyday into the perfect, radiance of Christ.

LYLAS,
Rachel

Five Ways to Overcome Shame

Five Ways to Overcome Shame

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a wallower.

 

Whenever I make a mistake, I will beat myself up for hours or even days. Conviction hits me hard. It’s really probably one of my most annoying qualities. All my friends have told me to never, ever wake them up before 9 am. Whenever I am feeling guilty of something, I always have to confess in the early hours of the morning. The Holy Spirit convicts us after we have sinned and that is a good thing: it keeps us in check and makes us continue to walk with God when we’ve strayed. But here’s the thing: we don’t have to feel guilty after we have repented or turned away from our sin. I want to share some truth with you that I need constant reminding of also.

1. YOU ARE SET FREE IN CHRIST

Jesus’ blood has covered you. You are set free from the bondage of sin. You don’t have to continue berating yourself after you have confessed and repented of your sin. Let it go and focus on how you can live your life to honor God instead of analyzing your past mistakes. Dwelling on your past mistakes doesn’t do you any good and it actually minimizes Jesus’ death and resurrection in your mind. Believe that the cross is bigger than your sin, because it is. Once you repent, keep your eyes focused onward and upward. Don’t live in the guilt and shame of your past mistakes, Christ has covered you sister!

2. REMEMBER THAT GOD USES SINNERS

Whenever I open up Psalms, I thank God that He used David. If you are not familiar with his story, David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who messed up royally. He committed adultery and then murdered to cover up his sin. I know God used someone like David on purpose: to show us that God can use anyone. God uses sinners and even sinners like David can still have a heart after God. It’s more about God’s grace and glory than it is about us anyway-God loves to work through broken and messed up people just like us.

3. WE’RE ONLY HUMAN

One thing to remember is that we’re all on this life journey together. No matter how godly or perfect someone may seem, every single one of us messes up. Everyone has fallen short of God’s grace. There is nothing we can ever do to deserve it. We will make mistakes, even if we are trying with everything we have to walk with the Lord. We are imperfect people.

4. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

It’s important to recognize when you’ve messed up and make changes. I know in college, I literally made the same mistakes over and over again. I kept on messing up and then running to God because I felt convicted. Once you’ve made a mistake, put up barriers to help you not make that same mistake. Ask a trusted friend who loves the Lord to hold you accountable to remind you of the power of the gospel. Let your conviction teach you. Remember-God calls us to repentance through kindness-not shame or guilt.

5. GUILT ISN’T ALWAYS HEALTHY

There is a natural conviction that you should feel after you have stepped outside of God’s will. That conviction brings you back to Him and makes you change. But if you have confessed and repented from your sin, then the enemy might be using your guilt as a weapon. I know when I have really messed up, little thoughts creep into my mind and tell me that I am not worthy of God’s love or make me doubt my calling.

These are lies.

God can handle any sin you throw His way. And the cross has already covered it.

It doesn’t matter how huge it is.

He can handle it.

Recognize these lies from the enemy and remind yourself of Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Whenever you feel guilt about a past sin, remember that you are forgiven.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. The Holy Spirit will use conviction bring us back to Him. But once you have confessed and repented, don’t continue beating yourself up over a past sin you can’t change.

Instead, look to the future.

See how God can use those past mistakes to bring him glory. You are not tethered to that sin anymore because you are set free in Christ. His blood has completely redeemed you! I am unbelievably thankful for that freedom we have in Christ.

-Rach