Prayer: Our Powerful Parenting Tool

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Sometimes, all we can do is wear out the carpet with our knees. 

God used my son to teach me this valuable lesson during his first couple years of elementary school. I knew he was an energetic kid, but when his behavior started to fall behind his Kindergarten peers, a small seed of worry began to grow. Could he have special needs? A learning disability or ADHD?

Countless attempts at discipline, setting consequences, and rewards without improvement left me feeling defeated. Reassuring the school principal we were handling the situation became harder the following year as the reports kept coming home: Has difficulty focusing. Is a distraction to his classmates. Cannot complete assignments. I dreaded answering the phone when the school called. What if they ask him to withdraw?

Before I knew it, that seed of worry had grown into full blown momma anxiety. I felt ill-equipped to handle the mental strain and emotional stress of a child with academic and emotional delay. 

I needed a plan to fight the fret. Tummy butterflies, shaking hands, and trouble breathing became physical manifestations of a spiritual lack of trust and I simply couldn’t live like that. One night, I went into my son’s room after he fell asleep and knelt beside his bed. I laid my hands on him and began to pray for guidance. 

Psalm 91 has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, but in the shadows of my son’s dimly lit room, I experienced the comfort of being covered by the Lord’s wings. Verse 4 says, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. I found refuge in remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness. I knew He was in control and would guide me through the ups and downs of this journey.

As I reread Psalm 91 in its entirety, my anxiety fizzled out as the words became relevant to my circumstances: 

  • God will protect my son. (v. 4) 
  • I have no reason to fear what will happen. (v.5) 
  • This process will not bring harm or disaster to our family. (v. 10) 
  • When I call on Him, He will answer me. He will be with me every step of the way. (v. 15)

Perhaps you understand how the weight of parenting can lay heavy on a momma’s heart. But that’s why prayer is the most powerful tool we have. Consistently going to God lessens anxiety; as our knees wear out the carpet, God lifts our burdens. He protects our children more effectively than we ever could. Let’s put our trust in Him.

Is God Listening?

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.
1 Peter 3:12a

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve let them venture out on their own while at a local playground. Although I no longer need to be right next to them, following their every move, I pay attention from a distance. I keep track of their whereabouts and I’m within earshot if they need something.

Moms have a special way of knowing which screaming kid is their’s. There could be fifty littles running around but they have distinct, individual voices that their moms recognize. Their cry is unique and moms are so familiar with the sound that we are able to filter through all the others as negative noise.

I Peter 3:12 makes me wonder if God responds to us in a similar way. Millions of voices cry out to Him on a daily basis, yet He knows just which ones belong to Him. Peter is reminding the listeners of Psalm 34:15, which says, The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry. God keeps tabs on His children and responds to our needs.

What comfort it is to know that God is attentive to our prayers. The Greek word used is eis, which means “entered into”. God does more than listen, He enters into our prayers. He engages with us. He wants to hear our worship, our praise, our concerns and requests. All because He cares about us. He leans in and pays attention just as a loving mom attends to her children.

If you’re struggling with believing God hears you, be encouraged today that He does. Allow this truth to seep into your soul: He knows your voice. He welcomes your prayers. He loves you.

Let God Have The Ending

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:41

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for the Godly Chic Diaries. The article, also featuring the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat found in Mark 4, was entitled Power through Panic with Prayer. You can read it here.

To say I was anxious was an understatement. My mind flooded with what if’s the moment I found out my husband was returning home from an 8 month deployment. What if he’s different? What if I’m different? How will the reunion go? I couldn’t help but imagine countless scenarios but the truth was, I had no idea what to expect.

Do you struggle with anticipating a bad ending to a situation before it happens? Our minds race three steps ahead, assuming a negative outcome that may not be true. Perhaps you mentally process how a conversation will play our and then resort to avoiding it because there’s no way it will go well.

In Mark 4, we find the disciples in a boat with Jesus after a long day of ministering. Verses 37-38 say, A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples panicked.

Overwhelmed by the situation, they wake Jesus in dramatic fashion – “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” This was no gentle jostle of the shoulder while speaking in a calm, low volume as to not startle Jesus awake. Panic screamed from their lungs as they shook Him conscious. They had already determined the outcome and it was certain death. They had done all they could and drowning seemed imminent.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

When we experience difficult circumstances, it may feel like they will never end. We may conclude that God doesn’t care. Like the disciples, we may fail to recognize the power of Who is with us. But no suffering lasts forever. And God does care. He allows us to endure the doom in order to develop a dependence on Him. He proves His power through the process, demonstrating His control over the ending.

Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. So let’s expect God to calm the storms of life’s unexpected events. Let’s put our faith in the One who orchestrates every detail of our day. Because even the biggest of waves obey Him.

I Know He Can, But Will He?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:2

Trusting God feels like an impossible feat sometimes. I believe God can do anything, but I get stuck at will He. The Bible is full of convincing evidence of God’s ability to perform miracles, but what about those times when He doesn’t?

I wonder if Sarah felt that way when she learned God would grant Abraham a son. Did she think, “I know God can use me, but will He?” For many years, she was unable to conceive. Doubt prompted her to give her slave, Hagar, to Abraham and she bore him a son.

Perhaps you’ve been praying for a child but it hasn’t happened yet. You know God can perform a miracle in your womb, but will He? Does He need the assistance of IVF technology? Or maybe you’ve been longing for a husband with little prospects on the horizon. You believe God can bring Mr. Right at any moment, but will He? Maybe the date you went on with Mr. Average was better than no date at all?

Sometimes the desires of our hearts are so strong that we can’t believe they aren’t from God. Like Sarah, we step in, take control, and make things happen according to our plans rather than God’s. We walk a fine line between honoring God and playing god.

When we think, but will He?, what we’re really asking is, God, will you do what I’m asking you to do? Will you answer this prayer the way I think is best? But when we start to believe we know better than God, we are no longer trusting in Him.

Psalm 31:14 says, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” The Hebrew word for trust here is batach, which means secure and confident but also careless and complacent. When we trust in the Lord, we are assured that His plan is the best plan. We aren’t negligent in how we live, but rather release the reigns of control, sit back, and watch God meet our needs. Actively trusting God means passively depending on ourselves. We boldly put faith in Him to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14) God will always satisfy His will. In other words, God exists to fulfill His wishes and desires in your life and in the life of others. His will for Abraham was to have a son with Sarah. God’s will for Sarah was to be the mother of nations; for kings to come from her (Genesis 17:16). And that’s exactly what happened. At the ripe old age of 90, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. (Genesis 21:2)

It can be very challenging to trust God is in control when it feels like He isn’t. When I wonder if He will answer my prayers, I take a step back and remind myself that whatever He has planned is better than what I could put together. Whatever happens, I can trust that He is actively accomplishing His perfectly divine will for my life. Do you believe He is doing the same for you?

Just Keep Sowing

Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,
the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
Mark 4:27

Do you ever wonder if the good you’re trying to do really makes a difference? Take parenting, for instance. There are times when it seems my children will never learn to treat each other with kindness, or to patiently wait their turn, or to truly know how much God loves them. I can’t help but feel like a broken record playing among deaf ears.

We can get so caught up in how our children are responding to our direction that we gauge our success as a parent on their behavior. If our words and actions are producing fruit within them, then we must be doing the right thing. But what if it’s not? Or not within the timeline of what we expect?

One of my sons has a difficult time with emotional regulation and despite my best efforts to remain calm, I often loose my cool with him. I can’t help but think, if I could just manage him better, he would make progress.

Thankfully, God never intended us to be in control of another person’s behavior. While reading Mark 4 recently, I found an explanation of what He does intend for us:

“A man scatters seed on the ground… As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (v. 26,29)

Our job is to scatter the seed on prepared soil – to plant buds of faith in our children. To prepare their hearts to receive God’s love, and to spark an interest in knowing Him personally.

In verses 27-28, we learn that part of the harvesting process is out of our hands:

“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, thought he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.”

When we think of the life of a farmer, a great deal of work is done on the front end, but there is no way to predict the outcome. He does not control the amount of rain that falls or the amount of time the sun shines. He does not control the air temperature or the bugs and birds that attempt feast on his crop. He does the best he can to prepare the soil and plant the seeds; the rest is left to God.

Just like a farmer, we are responsible for preparing our children’s hearts and scattering seeds of faith. We can do this my reminding them daily that God loves them and that He created them just the way he wanted them to be. We can model the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. We can present the stories of the Bible as exciting and relevant to our lives today.

But how these seeds grow and develop is up to God. No amount of stress or worry will change the outcome – only prayer can do that. There will be seasons where our children make great strides and bear the fruit of growth. There will be seasons where no crops are evident. Seasons of rain, seasons of drought, seasons of warmth, and seasons of frigid blizzards. Through it all, if we just keep sowing God’s truth into our little ones, we can trust that He will be faithful to complete a good work in them.

Be encouraged today that your efforts for good are not in vain. They do make a difference, here on earth and in the heavenly realms. And as Dory might say, “Just keep sowing, just keep sowing.”

Life is Like a Mirror Maze

For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV)

The county fair is coming soon and I don’t know about you, but we go every year. The week before we go, we research all the food options and talk about the craziest item on the menu we want to try – deep fried butter, deep fried Twinkie, deep fried nachos (who knew??) – the list goes on and on. Last year, I tried the fried chicken-on-a-donut sandwich. A-mazing!

Although my kids love go on the rides, my husband and I do not. So, we skip the “Grown-up” area and take our sons straight to the Family Zone. They ride to their heart’s’ content, then we head home. After we’ve eaten, of course.

One yea, my twins were finally old enough to go into the Mirror Maze House – a maze path of clear Plexiglas panels and mirrors. Entering at the front door, the goal is find a way to the back exit. They were advised to put their hands out in front to feel if the panels a clear barrier or an open pathway. Although my sons had been specifically instructed on the best method to navigate the maze (with hands up), they quickly forgot once they entered the house.

Remember those commercials back in the day for window cleaner? The bird would fly right into the sliding glass door because this particular brand of cleaner made it so clean that it looked like the door was open. Well, imagine that happening to my sons. Multiple times. One son thought he had finally found the right way and in his excitement, started to run – smack into the clear panel.

Thankfully, they were not injured, aside from the red marks on their foreheads. I personally found this to be hilarious at the time and after more thought, I realized how much that maze is like how we try to navigate our life. Today’s verse reminds us to walk by faith and not by sight. My sons were trying to walk through the maze by sight and that was not working well at all. After bumping their heads a few times, though, they started putting their hands out in front of them. In actuality, they could’ve closed their eyes and allowed their hands to do all the work.

The Lord wants us to follow in faith as well – to close our eyes, put our hands up in surrender, and let Him be the guide. When we try to navigate our way on sight only, we are easily deceived by our perceptions of which way the path is leading – just as my sons were. Taking the time to allow God to direct our next step will protect us from the unnecessary harm are rushing ahead on our own. When we trust in Him to make our paths clear, everything we need is to know is within an arm’s length; just the next step, then the next. In doing so, we live by believing and not by seeing. (2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT)

What area of your life is the Lord trying to lead? Perhaps you are contemplating a career change, beginning or ending a relationship, or buying a home. When we choose to walk in faith, we are trusting in the Lord to lead us according to His will.

Lord, thank for sending Your Holy Spirit to direct our paths in the way You would have us go. May Your presence be our tour guide through the maze of life, helping accomplish Your Will. Even when we cannot see the next step, we know You are with us. Teach us to walk in faith. Amen

When God Doesn’t Help Us

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

I gingerly stepped across the dark room, trying to avoid damp spots in the carpet It was nearly impossible to do, as small patches of vomit seemed to traverse the path I needed to take from the door to my son’s bed. It was the middle of the night and the poor guy was sick.

As I cleaned him for the third time within the hour, I wondered if I’d make it back to sleep before dawn. My thoughts were interrupted by his quiet voice.

“Mommy, why do we pray to Jesus when He doesn’t help us?”

My heart sank. He was only six years old, but since I can remember, he has always wanted to be prayed for when sick or scared and that night was no different. After he threw up the first time, he asked me to pray for his tummy. So we did. After the third time, he was questioning the point.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what to say to him at first. I understand the physiology of removing harmful stomach contents and how it eventually makes us feel better. But for my son, it wasn’t so simple. All he knew was that he was suffering from the painful retching. He wanted relief and had hoped God would give it to him.

Job wanted to be relieved from his suffering, too. After loosing all of his livestock, the death his 10 children who were together in his home when a firestorm struck, and developing sores all over his body, Job began questioning God.

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer;
    I stand up, but you merely look at me.
You turn on me ruthlessly;
    with the might of your hand you attack me.” (Job 30:20-21)

His friends believed his was being punished for doing something wrong. His wife even told him to curse God and die, expecting he would be put out of his misery. But he refused. He knew he had done nothing to deserve such significant loss and continues venting to the Lord.

“I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,
    but tell me what charges you have against me.
Does it please you to oppress me,
    to spurn the work of your hands,
    while you smile on the plans of the wicked?” (Job 10:2-3)

He goes on to plead with God to understand why he had been created, carefully put together, shaped, and molded like clay if only to be destroyed and returned to dust. He questions why he was even born, why God showed him kindness, and why he had previously found favor with God for it all to be taken away.

“If I am guilty—woe to me!
    Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head,
for I am full of shame
    and drowned in my affliction.” (Job 10:15)

He doesn’t believe he has sinned, therefore cannot comprehend why all these bad things would be happening to him. He questions God, but does not blame Him. He desires to understand the why rather than trusting The Who.

When God finally responds, He reminds Job of His omniscience, asking him, Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? (Job 38:4-5) Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb? (v. 8) Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? (v. 12-13)

Job is rightfully put in his place as if God is saying, who are you to question me? Job replies,

I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
    I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
    twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-5)

“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:2-3)

Job realizes his error in questioning God. He acknowledges his inability to comprehend the workings and thoughts of God and that his job is simply to trust.

My son was not wrong for questioning our prayers. Like him, we all go through difficult times when we wonder why God would be allowing them to happen, contemplating if He sees or even cares about what we are going through. We believe that if we just knew the reason, we would be able to cope better. But the reality is, God keeps information from us in order to build our trust in Him. If we knew all the causes of our problems, we would likely try to fix them independently, missing out on the opportunity to grow in our faith.

That night, I shared with my son that we won’t always understand why our prayers seem to go unanswered, but we can trust that Jesus is with us at all times. I reassured him that praying is always a good idea, even when it feels like God isn’t helping us.

Lord, thank you for the peace that comes from knowing You are in control. You know the past, the present, and the future. You know everything and can be trusted in the difficult times of life. Help me surrender to You my doubts and discouragement when You don’t intervene they way I want You. Amen

Discouragement Dilemma

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:11

Longest. Week. Ever.

A string of health problems, financial hiccups, and relational drama left me depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It was finally Friday morning and the sun couldn’t rise fast enough. If only all the issues from the week would resolve with the ending of the day.

Feeling discouraged is hard. It zaps our spirit of hope, takes our eyes off the many blessings around us, and prevents bold spiritual bravery. Despite our best efforts to focus on what is going right, we cannot ignore all that is going wrong.

David experienced a similar struggle in Psalm 42: 

3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”… Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? …
6 My soul is downcast within me;
He, too, felt discouraged by his situation, perhaps abandoned by God, longing for the peace of His presence. His mind is a battlefield where his flesh is overwhelmed by dire circumstances while his spirit longs to remain in the sweet spot of intimacy with God by remembering His goodness.
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
He recalls the time God opened the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross, saving them from the Egyptians. He remembers their miraculous victory over the massive Amorite army of Hermon. He recollects the sovereign Law of the Lord given at Mount Mizar as well.
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
David understands that his circumstances do not alter the faithfulness of the Lord. He directs his emotions to be set in line with the truth of an unchanging God in a world of shifting certainty.
After reading Psalm 42, I opened my journal to process the events of the week. I typically flip to the last page, but this time, the first page caught my attention: Prayers for 2017. On the first of the year, I put down the ways I hoped the Lord would move in my life this year. Eleven months later, He had done just that.
I needed the reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness in my life that morning; to recall all He has done and is doing. Suddenly, the weight of my discouragement became lighter as I realized nothing is too difficult for the God of the Universe to bring me through.
Lord, thank you for reminding me of Your endless faithfulness. Because I am Your Child, I can rest in the promises of the past to be fulfilled in the future. Give me the wisdom to recognize emotional responses and redirect them to the truth of Your Word. Amen


Journalling is a great way to document the Lord’s faithfulness as well as see His hand in our lives through time. It can also enhance gratitude when we find little to be thankful for. Thirty Days of Thanksgiving Journal was written for that exact purpose.

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