Cheri's Blog

Praying for Boldness

Praying for Boldness

Praying for Boldness

Did you know that the most popular foods in America are hamburgers? Hot dogs, French fries, and Oreo cookies fall in line right behind burgers. I’m sort of disappointed tacos did not make the top ten, but I find these statistical matters interesting. A researcher and question-asker, I am at the core, so it shouldn’t surprise you that today’s prayer focus resulted from hovering over some revealing data points. Today, more than ever, there is a need to pray for boldness.

In the past year, Pew released alarming findings on the number of people in the American population who have no religious affiliation. That segment has grown to 29%. This upswing results from an increasing secularization of society, which affects church attendance as well as beliefs and practices. In the past ten years, attendance has decreased by half. (I think those numbers might be askew considering Covid driving most to virtual participation, but I cannot ignore a significant decrease.)

With a rising percentage of those with no religious affiliation, there has never been more of a need to share our faith and be involved in discipleship. George Barna and his colleagues would agree. They found Christians avoid making disciples. A large percentage said they have never been asked, and another chunk confessed they had never given it much thought. Barna writes:

“Interestingly, a lack of external motivation becomes the chief obstacle for Christians who are being discipled themselves but aren’t helping someone else grow in the same way.”

In other words, they found Christians often just need a push to engage in relationships ripe for disciple-making. Among hesitations like feeling ill-equipped, they lack boldness. That’s where you and I come in.

How do we attain such boldness?

Boldness is not a magical quality in Christians just because you follow Jesus, but it is required. Paul and others recognized that to be a part of God’s work in making disciples, boldness was required and that they could not possess it on their own.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 1 Thessalonians 2:2

So how did they possess it? Paul gives us a clue in his letter to the church as Ephesus.

Paul’s Request

and also (pray) for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, Ephesians 6:19

I get the rub. This is easier to write on a blog in the safety of my office than to walk next door to get flat rejected. But here is what you and I must determine: If we truly believe that Jesus is Who He says He is, and He can do in others what He has done in us, then we cannot remain timid but ask God to do something in us that is supernatural.

Today, let us follow Paul’s example to pray for a boldness we do not possess to proclaim the gospel wherever and to whomever God chooses (even the difficult neighbor next door). Pray for me and I will pray for you.

Praying for Boldness

boldnessFather,

As we near the celebration of our national independence, please hear this prayer of our dependence. There are so many in our midst that do not know Who you are or what you can do. In fact, there may be more than ever before. So, today, we take your Word and lift up this request for you to make us bold. Specifically, I am requesting a supernatural boldness for my sweet friend to possess and know how to utilize. Give her a confidence to engage in spiritual conversations, have a willingness to ask and answer the difficult questions that arise, and point people to Jesus. Let her be a strategic part of turning the numbers back on themselves—bringing those in her sphere of influence to the saving power you, alone, offer. Help her trust that You can do this. Give her opportunities. Remove her timidity and reassure her with your presence that You are worth any risk.

In the glorious and unmatched name of Jesus.

Amen,

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Times of testing

A Prayer Against Distraction

cover against distraction

A Prayer Against Distraction

She Prays on Fridays

What’s your plan for the day? I’ll bet you are multitasking and fighting to get everything done on your “To Do” list. How’s that going? If you and I are anything alike, half the battle is me and my personal wanderings. I spend too much time fighting against distraction, landing in a wilderness—miles, and miles from where I intended to go.

The “what if’s,” “maybe I should,” “ooh, look at that,” “oh, I forgot about X,” cat videos and social media scrolling, creep in, seeping into my thoughts and my thumbs, turning my actions away from my original agenda, and often in an opposing direction.

I know you get it because current data supports my predicament. Researchers have found that 47% of our days are spent in this wilderness wandering. Apparently, this wandering is so common and natural that we don’t even realize it is happening.

This finding shouldn’t be surprising in light of John 10:10.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

How better for the enemy to steal our focus and attention, far from experiencing the life Jesus came to give, than to lead us into distraction before we realize it’s even happening?

If you and I desire, not only to become the most productive versions of ourselves but women who live in abundance through Christ, we need to do what is unnatural, spending our efforts working against distraction.

The Good News in our Battle Against Distraction

The good news is that we are not alone. This recent discovery by researchers is nothing new. We don’t have a discourse on the thinking behind David’s writing of Psalm 119, but we can deduce where his problem areas surfaced. He aggressively attacks the battle with thought and action.

  1. He recognizes the problem.
  2. Then he sees the solution in seeking hard after God.
  3. In that process, he prays –affirming his battle plan.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15 ESV

But fixing his eyes and mind on God’s truth is not his only defense. Not only does David go on the offensive, he makes some defensive moves.

Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:36

This one Psalm has found its way into my prayers regularly – for the sole reasons I expressed above. I can’t make good decisions without divine intervention. My deep need and depravity and longing for what seems natural – overpowers me and I lose.

Unless I do exactly what David models here.

How to Win Against Distraction

Recognize the problem

Attack the problem by doing what is not natural

Praying for God to enable me to be victorious in seeking Him over that which seeks to weaken me, shrink my reach, make me ineffective, and live a life absent of abundance.

I find Proverbs 4:25 to be helpful as I think and move and pray.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25

We could go on looking to other places in the Bible that illustrate this same fight – and hear from different people from various centuries who knew the battle well. From Job to the writers of Psalms, Solomon, Luke, Matthew, Peter, Paul, and the author of Hebrews, to name a few, the battle against distraction is as old as time and common to all peoples.

Today, let’s advance toward abundant life in Jesus through prayer – to help us do what we cannot and experience what we might miss otherwise.

A Prayer Against Distractions

Against Distraction pinLord,

I am so thankful for your timeless Word that meets us in our culture, our circumstances, and our need. Today I pray over my friend what I, myself need. Help her to recognize her need to move away from distraction and toward You. And as she does, make her away of what is stealing her attention and affection from you. If it’s too much on her agenda, give her the wisdom to know what NOT to do.

When her mind wanders into the wilderness of wastefulness, help her see how and when it’s happening. Instead, draw her focus to your word. Make it clear, easy to understand, and enable her to embrace what you give over every natural inclination that beds down in her heart. Show her how to meditate on you and what it means to fix her eyes on you. And at the same time, turn her attention away from all that will not last. Supernaturally enable her to look directly forward, and gaze on you and the eternal purposes you have planned. Give her life in your ways, and nothing less.

Thank you for transforming her thought life to experience the abundance that lies in you.

In the glorious and unmatched name of Jesus.

Amen

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Times of testing

 

Praying Through Times of Testing

Times of testing

Praying Through Times of Testing

Sometimes you can read a chapter or a passage of verses in the Bible that feels like the person writing is sitting near you, telling you a story. That’s how Psalm 66 lands on me. It’s conversational as if the writer is talking to an actual person, and he’s telling the account passionately in just a few words. In these moments we have together, I want to pick up on that passion by sharing his words with you, and then use them as a framework for a prayer you and I can pray through times of testing.

Psalm 66:5-12

Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

8Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
 Psalm 66:5-8

The Invitation

The first section calls the friend or audience to come in close. He wants you to see with your mind and heart what God has accomplished. No. They were not there to experience the wonders described, but they have been the benefactors. They didn’t watch the people cross the Red Sea, but they are a part of the community that came from that legacy.

Because of what God has done (that which we did not see but can experience the effects) the writer drawer on the listener to raise her eyes upward. Stop and praise the Lord in a manner He can hear it from you.  Then he gives us some reasons that are not locked away in a history book or grandpa’s storytime.

9who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.

God has kept you alive.

Think of all your near misses. Do any come to mind? Personally, I have experienced more than enough to legitimize this point. I’ve walked away from a plane crash in was in, car accidents, and tornadoes. From what I understand, as an infant, I wasn’t expected to make it out of the hospital alive. I’m sure you can think of similar accounts. The bottom line is this: If you are breathing, it’s on purpose for a purpose. Girl, Praise God!

Then our writer does something you and I don’t always like to reflect upon or raise our hands in the air to celebrate.

10For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;

God uses tests, nets, and enemies

According to Scripture, there are times in our lives when God tests us. He brings us “into the net.” Not that He leads us into situations so that we will fail or will be destroyed, but He will allow circumstances, difficulties, bad guys, and impossible situations access to us without intervening. In other words, God allows adversity that has been at times, unbearable, varied, and seemingly constant–just one thing after another, on purpose.

I wouldn’t do it His way. You and I might even say, we don’t like His way. It’s been awful at times. Crushing. Painful. And difficult. Yet, the Psalmist is not finished:

yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

Times of TestingYes, we go through the times of testing, but He does not leave us there in the net, or in the storm, fire, or dying under the weight of it all. I don’t believe the Psalmist is saying there is a particular location on this planet this side of heaven that is absent of drama, problem-free, with no more nets. But there is abundance in reliance on Jesus through the mess, looking upward at Him through the difficulties rather than focusing on what doesn’t last and cannot save. And it’s right here for us to use as we pray.

This one is a prayer that helps turn our eyes upward, speaking these things back to God in gratitude. If we are in the middle of the difficulties, buried under the weight, we can pray for Him to be true to this word. Also, we can pray for this victory and the presence of God over someone else, which is what I am about to do for you.

A Prayer for Times of Testing

Lord Jesus,she prays

In this moment, I bless your Name. Thank you for the mighty works you have done to get us here today, praying, and able to know your Word freely. More specifically, I thank you for the life of my friend reading. For Your perfect purposes You have preserved her. Help her live in complete assurance and freedom. There is no accident, coincidence, or mistake that You have provided for her presence, her abilities, her availabilities, and her positioning.

We know that to ready her, equip her, and to show her to Whom she belongs, You have tested and will test her. In fact, You may be testing her now, allowing her to experience untold difficulties, strains and struggles we cannot alleviate. So Lord, I ask that you give her the strength to rely on You. Help her to see through to the end, keeping her eyes looking upward, and not be given to discouragement. Give her eyes to see beyong the testing toward Your abundance–whatever that looks like from Your perspective.

In the glorious and unmatched name of Jesus.

Amen

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If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

 when to quit

 

How to Pray for a Fearless Trust

fearless trust cover

Firm and Fearless Trust

by Cheri Strange

Welcome to the She Prays, spotlighting Scripture and praying it over you, for your strengthening and encouragement. Today we are looking at how to pray for a fearless trust. I found myself sitting down this week, with burdens not my own, but yours, hers, and beyond. I needed to know how to trust when all the pieces don’t fit and I am tempted to do mental acrobatics trying to figure it all out on my own.

I’m a serious person. (In fact, recently a woman at a conference felt like I was too focused and serious, making her way to me to pray in a heavenly language over my “problem.”) I accepted it. Maybe there is hope for humor development after all.

Still, I live in the deep places. It’s not that I like living in all the mental mire and heaviness. It’s just, that I can’t get past the practical. When the bottom falls out of your life, Who or what can you and I depend upon? Maybe you come to the crux of the matter by receiving a diagnosis so challenging, that it sucks the air out of your lungs. The job you depend upon is taken away by a failing economy. The relationship is facing destruction, or the losses or injustices you have experienced exceed what you can endure. These moments are when our theology matters.

Who are we going to trust in these kinds of places?

Oh sure, God is good, and trusting Him makes sense when all is right with the world. But what about in the gritty deep places of disappointment, loss, loneliness, and the seasons when nothing makes sense? My serious take on life does not result because I’m a sour Sally, but because I believe the words of Jesus.

In this world, you will have trouble…John 16:33

Trouble in the world is not something we will likely escape. In fact, it is to be expected. If we don’t have a faith that can hold up when the world shuts down, when we can’t get the things we need, when we are forced into difficult situations and so many other unknowns, what foundation will we have? I’m aiming for one that believes the second part of what Jesus promises is equally true.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Yes. Jesus assures us will have trouble. Without escape, we will need to deal with the serious and heavy at some point. At the same time, Jesus declares He has overcome the world. Not he will later, he might, he has a good shot at it, the odds are in his favor, but He has. The foundation and surety of Jesus are what we stand upon. Nothing less. We can trust Him for all of our unknowns.

Trusting God where we are, even if we find ourselves submerged in the hard ugly stuff is possible because He is already there. Positioned. Ready. Waiting. But you and I often forget this truth because of the enormity of the trouble upon us. That’s when we need God’s Word handy. The book of Psalms is the perfect place for finding the words that reflect our needs.

fearless trust storiesPsalms for a Fearless Trust

For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. Psalm 112:6-8

Arming ourselves with these verses we can preach to ourselves on days when life is candy canes and cotton candy, as well as when we don’t know how our feet will stand.

The Psalmist is calling us to be, first of all, unmoved. He is calling us not only to be immovable but to be unafraid of bad news. (Not that bad news doesn’t come, but you and I are not to be afraid of it.) This woman’s heart is firm because, instead of focusing on her surroundings and allowing “What if’s” to dominate her day, she is trusting in the Lord.

It’s not firm because she has plenty of money in the bank and her job is secure, or because her health is guaranteed. No. This powerful segment is all about the ugly. It’s as if he is saying, “If the bottom were to fall out of your life—this is the faith needed to get through victoriously.”  The woman who does this— would be one firmly planted, knowing exactly in whom she trusted. She would know Jesus was worthy of her total reliance.

In this serious predicament, the woman who believes the Word of God about God, possesses a steady heart. Her heart is not racing in fear or dread. She’s not riled up over the world coming to a stop, or all of her dreams falling apart. She will not be afraid until there is victory over the foe–invisible or otherwise.

Transforming your outlook

These three verses can transform our entire outlook if we will believe them about our own situations and believe the One on Whom we can rely. Take these verses and use them. Preach to yourself this weekend. When you find yourself afraid, pull these out. When you and I are unsettled, we can go to these words of God. Then remember to pray them back to God, for he is listening. He is already taking action on your behalf and mine, remaining ever faithful.

she prays

Prayer for a Firm and Fearless Trust

Lord,

In these moments I ask that you make yourself known to my friend. That you will make her faith immovable no matter what comes at her. I pray that you protect her mind and her heart against fear and in many different ways reassure her of your trustworthiness and dependability for her life.

Give her a firm trust in You. Settle her heart in her unsettled time, in a way that is completely unnatural so much so that people will know that it must be because of You. Make your name Great in her life.

As the Psalmist once again asks for you to make him unafraid, I request the same of my friend here. I don’t know how to give it to her or what she should do, but we trust you. Give her nothing short of a firm and fearless trust in You.

In the glorious and unmatched name of Jesus.

Amen

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FREE STIRRING FAITH BUNDLE

Get my FREE gift to you to help you experience more of God in your everyday life. You will receive two beautiful e-books (Awakening Hope, a 21-Day devotional, 7 Fundamentals for Navigating Relationships, and my Bible Reading Plan for a working strategy for reading the Bible month by month, day by day. You will also begin receiving more resources, news, and encouragement from me while gaining access to the Strange Library -- all of the resources I offer to members of the She Yearns Community without cost. Get your FREE gift today!

We respect your privacy.

Don’t forget to check out the latest FREE reading plan available from YouVersion?

She has over TWENTY different reading plans for you to choose from. Just click on the images below to check it out:

The Journey Toward Waiting WellConquering Chaos

If you like She Prays for battling fear you will like finding light

Be sure to check out the Stirring Faith Podcast, where you will find encouraging episodes like this one:

If you like Truths Jesus Taught you will like finding light

 

 

 

 

 

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

 when to quit

 

Shattering Doubt

Shattering Doubt

Shattering Doubt

She Prays on Friday

Last week I met with a group of precious souls gathered because they believe God has or is calling them to write a particular message to a particular audience. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Most days it feels like you are trying to be something you are not. Other days it seems you have made up the calling in your own egomaniacal brain. Getting together with others who question, even doubt, God’s ability to use them is comforting.

Without knowing what God is speaking into your life or any real details, I can imagine you know these doubts. Maybe you are struggling with a child, feeling like you are not a good mom. It could be you feel inadequate at your job, fearing someone might discover your deficiencies and fire you any day. So many of us keep this type of mental drama spinning, filling us with questions and hesitancy. It’s in these emotional predicaments I find Psalm 138 so instructive.

Shattering Doubt with Scripture

 

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8 ESV

 

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. KJV

 

These verses are filled with declaration, promise, and faithfulness. David is expressing at least three things in these verses:

  • David first declares what God will do.
  • He explains why he can say God will do the first thing.
  • Finally, David prays, asking God to be true to these realities.

The first thing we should notice is who is directing this ship.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;

David is not the captain of his ship. At the onset, David declares who is in charge—and it’s not him. Neither are you in charge of our own ship. It’s not your employer, the coaches on your child’s sports team, your doctor, or any other entity that seems to hold sway over your life.

The Problem of Doubt

Most of the time our problem is us. We lead. David makes clear he cannot orchestrate his life to turn out the way he wants. If you know his history, the man tried directing his own life, and it was a colossal disaster. He stole someone else’s wife, got her pregnant, and had her husband killed. Of course, he got caught. Then the child died. The whole selfish and sin-filled season left David looking like a loser for years. There was a loss of dignity, respect, and at one time, the kingdom.

The Solution for Doubt

This man knows a thing or two about what he declares here. David’s way is not better. The LORD will fulfill His purpose for him. God will. Not David. At the same time, David knows something you and I often forget. You can be a total screw-up and a disappointment to everyone and yourself while still experiencing this promise.

The LORD Will. . .

Consider his certainty. David states this as an absolutely surefire deal. The LORD will. He will. David does not hesitate with “God might, but I’m not sure because I’m a loser.” He does not record how God is able but likely not with him. Instead, he knows what you and I often forget. Even in the midst of our failures and screw-ups, the LORD will. This is the assured faith we need in what is not seen or deserved.

The LORD Will for You. . .

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. It’s not an impersonal gesture like the gift bags given to every conference participant when you check in at registration. You and the other thousand participants enjoy the same free stickers, schedule, a pen, and cheap water bottles. Everybody gets the same thing. It’s not personal.

This is not how God works.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; (ESV)

What an ever-so-personal promise.

Shattering Doubt with Promises

I love how the KJV and the Amplified versions record it:

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me.

There are a lot of things which concern me, yet—it’s still just me. And it’s still just you. God is concerned about that which concerns you.

David is as sure of God’s concern and devotion to him, personally, as part of His character.

. . .your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.

This sticking-to-you-like glue, never to be shaken off kind of love that will not end is steadfast. Forget what you have done or can’t do. He loves you. There is mercy enough. David has tried God in this and lived to tell tales. Ugly ones. Let us not forget this man was a real person who knew and experienced what you and I can know and experience. The love of the Lord toward you—as a person—will not ever end.

A Final Plea to Shatter Doubt

Shattering DoubtBecause of these realities, David is drawn to plead with God.

Do not forsake the work of your hands.

You would think David would be so convinced of God’s ability, based on the preceding lines, there would be no need for direct petition here. What is this plea about? The Bible doesn’t say. What we can recognize are patterns. David has a habit of walking us through an internal process—some necessary inner work of getting his heart ready to act.

David first states the known. God is personally invested in your present and future for everlasting good because of His commitment to His own. This understanding is backed up because of God’s steadfast love for His people. Therefore, David injects a let us not leave anything on the table type plea. In other words, “Lord, do it in spite of my shortcomings and lack.” It’s a plea based on His character, calling God to crush any doubt to which he is clinging being faithful to Who He is and what He promises.

What an incredible prayer to use in our own lives today.

A Prayer for God to Fulfill His Purpose in You

Lord,

Thank You for investing in that which concerns my friend. I thank You for Your commitment to her. Right now, I ask what David asks: Fulfill Your purpose for her wherever she is. Perfect what concerns her in her family, her relationships, in ministry or in work. You lead.

Because of Your love for her, show this friend Your mercy to use her brokenness. Demonstrate Your character in her life. Work wonders in and through her. Yes! Fulfill your purposes for her life. For what she cannot yet see or understand, I pray for clarity. Inherent in these verses is the possibility of doubt and  discouragement. Therefore, renew her sense of trust and action, looking to You to move out diligently until she sees the fulfillment of what You have called her to in this season. For all this we thank you. In the glorious and powerfully able Name of Jesus,

Amen

For His Glory,

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Be sure to check out the Stirring Faith Podcast, where you will find encouraging episodes like this one:

If you like Truths Jesus Taught you will like finding light

 

 

 

 

 

You can meet Cheri on the She Yearns blog for more truth-saturated, Gospel-centered encouragement like this:

 when to quit

 

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