By Grace Alone

The real life struggles of a Christian mom

Prayer: The Why February 25, 2010

One of the primary areas I’d like to work on in 2010 is prayer.  At the beginning of the year, God brought the issue of my sub-par prayer life to my attention in various ways.  One was the teaching at our church women’s meeting when the speaker asked, “Do you look forward to praying?”  Uh, no.  It’s humbling and disgusting to admit, but many days I look forward to my favorite tv show or a date with my husband more than I look forward to spending significant time in prayer.

In recent years, as I have become more and more dependent on the Holy Spirit as a mother, prayer has become a greater part of my life.  But my prayer life is mostly informal–short prayers for help, wisdom, patience or self-control during the day.  Or praying for others when God brings them to mind.  That informal prayer life is valuable and important.  But when thinking about looking forward to prayer and reading a chapter on prayer in Donna Otto’s book Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time, I realized that I need to develop a consistent, substantial time for prayer.

Otto writes:  “Fortunately, God is generous, loving, and–most of all–full of grace . . . He does not maintain prayer meters or time clocks . . . But the Lord of our lives deserves homage and our allegiance.  If we are too busy to commune with Him regularly, we are doing a disservice to Him and to ourselves” (p. 237).  She discusses the importance with combining the informal prayer life I’ve described with a formal prayer life:  time set aside for prayer, including adoration, confession, thanksgiving and presenting our requests to God.  This part of my prayer life has been inconsistent at best.

I love how Otto describes this time she spends with God:

Personally, I think of prayer time as a specific opportunity to get down on my knees and subordinate my will to God’s will.  God has a will.  God has a perfect will.  God is sovereign.  And through prayer I try to subordinate my will to His will.  I do that by asking Him to create in me a clean heart, to create in me a sinless heart that is in line with His plan for me and to allow His desires to be my desires (p. 252).

Who wouldn’t want their will to be in line with the will of their good, sovereign Creator?  I know I want that.  But I battle against my sinful nature daily as sleep, worldly desires and my to-do list wage war against setting aside this time with God.  I’ve been talking to other women about prayer and working to improve in this area, so I look forward to sharing more about this topic soon.  In the meantime, I hope you are as convicted and encouraged as I have been to set aside time for prayer.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18


Top 10 Reasons to have a Daily Quiet Time June 30, 2008

Filed under: spiritual growth — Marissa Henley @ 1:51 pm
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I realize that many ladies in my stage of life (mother of young kids) are not spending time daily in prayer and God’s Word. I know this because I used to be one of them. In college, I thought, “When I don’t have all this studying to do, I’ll spend more time in God’s Word.” When I graduated and started working, I though, “When I stay home with kids and don’t have to leave the house so early, I’ll start having a daily quiet time.” And when I became a stay-at-home mom, I thought, “When my kids are at school all day, THEN I’ll finally have time to get a great prayer life started and read my Bible more.” I thought it was perfectly acceptable to chalk up my lack of discipline to this stressful, exhausting season of my life and only crack open my Bible a couple of times a week.

Then came Bible Study Fellowship and its daily homework. And the realization that if I am in God’s Word on a daily (or almost daily) basis, He will teach me, mold me, strengthen me, and make me more like Christ (which also means being a better mom to my kids).

So if you are using whatever season of life you are in as an excuse to put off developing a daily time with your Savior, let me ask you consider my top ten reasons why you should have a daily quiet time. I’m just putting it out there . . . let the Holy Spirit convict where He may.

10. It gives you an opportunity to pray for yourself. No one knows your struggles like you do, and so no one else is better equipped to intercede for you to the Father for what you need each day. Most of my prayer list is for myself–praying that God would give me wisdom about specific situations, take away anger, anxiety, frustration, etc. Take time to lay your struggles before God and ask for His provision.

9. It gives you an opportunity to pray for your husband and children. I’ve already posted about a great way to pray for your kids during the month. There is nothing more important you will do for your family.

8. You are setting an example for your children. When your kids hit the teenage years, do you want them to be reading God’s Word? How about when they are out from under your roof, facing the questions and temptations of the college years? And what habits would you like them to have when they are raising your grandchildren? Start setting an example for them now.

7. You are filling your spiritual “pantry” with wisdom and truth to feed your family and friends in their times of need. See this previous post for an explanation.

6. If you want to follow the command of Deuteronomy 6 to teach God’s Word to your children, you need to know it yourself. Much of the discipline I strive to use with my children involves teaching them God’s Word and what it says about how we are to love God and each other. My discipline will be either hypocritical and/or superficial if I’m not writing God’s Word on my own heart before I try to write it on my children’s heart.

5. If you want to bear fruit, you must be connected to the vine (John 15:4-5,8). As this passage in John reminds us, apart from Christ, we can do nothing. If we are connected to the Vine (Christ), we will bear much fruit and bring glory to God. I want to bear fruit for God in all that I do, especially in raising my children. I must be connected to my Savior in order to accomplish that goal.

4. If you need wisdom, God will provide perfect wisdom beyond any wisdom of this world (James 1:5). It is easy to feel uncertain about how to raise kids. How tightly do you control their activities and friends? What worldly influences do you allow in their lives? Do you let them do soccer, AWANAs, or both? And we aren’t even out of the preschool years yet! I need God’s perfect wisdom, and His Word and prayer are how I can get it.

3. Christ told Mary and Martha that spending time at His feet is more important than our to-do list (Luke 10:38-42). As my pastor’s wife says, spending time with God is even more important than getting your shower. (And she never smells bad, so she must find time for both.) Your family will benefit more from having you spend time in God’s Word than having a gourmet hot dinner or a clean bathroom.

2. Christ set an example for us by spending time with His Father (Matthew 26:36-44). If there was anyone who knew God’s Word and God’s will perfectly, it was Jesus. And yet He took time away to talk with His Father and ask for strength to do His will.

1. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Does teaching, reproof, correction, or training sound like anything you do during the day? Enough said.

I say these things not to make myself look better, but only to glorify God and what He is doing in my life. I would not choose to make time for Him if He did not give me the strength and conviction to do so. I have seen the fruit of my time with Him in my daily life and in my relationships, and that makes me want other moms to experience the same benefits.

If you are willing to share, what are your reasons for spending time with God, or what obstacles keep you from it? I’d love to hear your comments.


Making Time For Quiet Time June 17, 2008

Filed under: spiritual growth,Uncategorized,wfmw — Marissa Henley @ 9:35 pm
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*** This post is part of Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks In My Dryer. Head over there to see everyone else’s great ideas! ***

A couple of weeks ago I started a new daily schedule for the summer. Before implementing my schedule, I rarely spent time with God in the morning, resting on the excuse that I am not a morning person. I often made time for Bible study and prayer in the afternoon during my kids’ rest time. This afternoon time was fairly consistent, but there were days when other responsibilities would distract me by the time 1:30 p.m. rolled around.

When I began my summer schedule, I decided to wake up every morning at 6:30 so I would have time to shower, get dressed, AND have my quiet time before my kids wake up. To hold myself accountable to this, I made a rule: No computer before Bible study.

This is radical for me, because I am addicted to the Internet. And if you are reading this, chances are, so are you. It is amazing how I never go one day without making time to check my email, Facebook and 14 favorite blogs. But I often go days without making time for my Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

I cannot claim to be 100% consistent with my new rule, but it has definitely helped. I am falling in love with my morning time with my Savior, and by His grace, I hope to become even more disciplined. I will probably need to ask myself over and over again: What is more important to me than spending time with God? What do I need to do to fix those priorities? Next idol to tackle: Sleep.