Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Prompts for Praying Perpetually

Are you familiar with the hymn, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”? To be honest, I find an hour of prayer challenging, rather than the “sweet” communion W. W. Walford, the blind English preacher, wrote about. Yet God encourages us to pray, not just for an hour, but continually. (Ephesians 5:18) Maybe the problem is my lingering misconception of what “prayer” really means.

Prayer is NOT:
-rattling off a list of things we want God to do
-a monologue
-a chance to show off our Christian-ese to God or to fellow believers
-a last resort
-merely an obligation
-limited to kneeling with hands folded

Prayer IS:
-a conversation, a dialogue where both parties speak
-a time for listening, as well as speaking
-natural and unaffected
-a powerful weapon in our Christian arsenal
-holy privilege
-possible anywhere

Even knowing all this, I still need help maintaining an attitude of prayer throughout my day. About four years ago I posted some tips for praying without ceasing. Since that time, I have come across several more helpful suggestions for keeping prayer at the forefront throughout my day:

  • When getting into a vehicle, I pray for safety and for whatever the cause for my trip—a family gathering, a doctor visit, a purchase, etc.
  • Before we go our separate ways in the morning, Dick and I pray for each other and for family.
  • I keep all greeting cards and use them as prayer reminders, taking one from the basket each day and praying for that individual or family.
  • Dick and I say grace before meals—whether in public, eating out with others, or sitting beside each other on the couch watching a recorded episode of our favorite TV show.
  • When something makes me smile, I whisper, “Thank you, Lord!”
  • As I peruse Facebook or read blog posts and comments, I pray for the people who mention that they, or others close to them, are going through a challenge—a lost pet, cancer surgery, feeling blue, etc.
  • Our church uses a mass email to alert our congregation of prayer needs that come up during the week. My email sends an alert to my phone, so as soon as one of these requests come in, I pray.

What are some of the little prompts that keep you praying continually? Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


The Lands at Hillside Farms
Shavertown, PA
To budget is to allow or provide a particular amount for a specific purpose. Dick and I have found that following a money budget keeps our finances healthy. It helps us to always have a clear picture of what is financially feasible and what is not. The first line item on our budget is our giving to God. Placing it there is a physical reminder of what we strive for in our hearts—to put God first.

I recently read a devotional by Gail Purth entitled, “Time and Time Again” in which Gail talks about a “time budget”. It brought to mind something my husband and I do many mornings. Before Dick heads for the office, while we are slowly getting the wheels of our day turning, one of us will ask, “What’s on the agenda for today?”

We share what our responsibilities, commitments, and hopes are for the day, and then we pray together about these and ongoing desires of our hearts. It helps us keep our priorities straight, assuring that those things that really matter get done, and facilitates our desire to accommodate one another.

Similarly, Dick and his staff meet briefly each morning to go over their plans for the day and to pray together about the new and continuing needs and happenings that require their attention—an “effort budget” of sorts. It brings to the forefront of all of their minds the current primacies for ministry at Trucksville UMC.

In order to thrive spiritually, part of my personal time budget must be an intentional period each morning dedicated to re-connecting with God. If I don’t take that time first thing, my day gets rolling and the opportunity for truly “quiet moments” with Jesus is lost.

Although there are occasional unavoidable glitches that require flexibility, I find budgets really do assist me in prioritizing all that God has given me—whether it is time, money, or effort. Do you use budgets? Do you find them helpful or restricting?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sing Me To Sleep

Have you ever sung your child to sleep? Even as an adult, listening to quiet Christian music relaxes me and helps me sleep, despite fears, sickness, anxiety, or agitation. I have seen firsthand how a praise song or hymn has consoled others—over-tired children, a grieving friend, a loved one battling illness, a parishioner near the end of life, and a restless soul in a nursing home.

Psalm 42:8 says, “In the night the Lord’s song will be with me . . .” As I recently read this verse, I envisioned Jesus kneeling by my bedside singing me to sleep. An awesome sense of peace stole over me just imagining this tender scene.

In the previous seven verses of Psalm 42 David describes how he has been feeling—defeated, discouraged, disgruntled—feelings we all face at one time or another. Where does David find his comfort? He says that in the night watches, it is in the Lord’s song.

What might “the Lord’s song” mean to David—and to us? While our ears may not hear the Lord’s voice, our hearts can. Perhaps it is inwardly listening to the words of a hymn or chorus that we have sung countless times. Maybe it is through inspired instrumental music played quietly in the background. Even nature’s night sounds—the hoot of an owl, crickets chirping, peepers peeping, the lapping of waves, a cat purring—can be a “song” the Lord uses to remind us of His presence, that we are not alone. The how doesn’t matter. Letting the Lord minister to us with His song can overcome our fear, soothe our fevered body, relieve our anxiety, and calm our agitation.

Have your experienced the solace of “the Lord’s song”?

"LORD, You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble and
surround me with songs of deliverance."
Psalm 37:2

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How Will They Hear?

When we find it difficult to see God at work in our lives, when hard circumstances raise doubts about God’s love, care, or forgiveness, how do we remain faithful? Last week in my blog post “Is THIS Your Plan, Lord?” I shared three helpful ways to “keep the faith”. One of those ways comes directly from Psalm 63:1-2 which says we go to church and look for Him.

“O God, you are my God. At dawn I search for you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry, parched land where there is no water. So I look for you in the holy place to see your power and your glory.”

One of the ways we find God in church is through the faith stories of others. We depend on those stories and go to church hoping to hear of and see God’s power and glory. When our own faith is shaky, doesn’t it help to hear of the strong faith of others in the face of difficulties?

With this benefit in mind, are we proclaiming what God is doing in our lives in order to encourage others? When the pastor asks if anyone would like to share with the congregation how he/she has seen God at work, do lots of people raise their hands to offer a simple word of praise? Or can you hear a pin drop at that point?

How will others find encouragement if we don’t vocalize our praise, appreciation, and amazement at what God is doing? It is more than just an opportunity—it’s an obligation. As Romans 10:14 puts it, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”

Building up the faith of others isn’t limited to worship services. Do we tell our friends, family, and co-workers about how God has brought us through? Do we share how God is working in our lives with our fellow participants in Bible studies and fellowship groups?

When we pass along our faith stories, we obey Jesus’ command in Mark 16:15: “So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News.”

Let’s take Jesus’ words seriously and make it our aim this week to encourage faith and give God glory by telling others of the things God is doing in our lives. Church seems like a safe and welcoming place to start!


©2016 Pamela D. Williams