Bible Verses and a Prayer for Christmas

Every Christmas Eve, my dad read us the Christmas story, Luke chapters 1 and 2, from the big golden family Bible in the original King James.  I still hear his voice…I still hear the words.

If you’d like to read the full Christmas story, you can find two famous passages in the Gospels: Luke 1-2  and Matthew 1-2.

Here, though, are 20 of my favorite Christmas Bible verses from the Old and New Testaments, reminding us of the Savior, the season, the gift…

  • Isaiah 7:14 NIV
    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  • Isaiah 9:2 ESV
    The people who walked in darkness
        have seen a great light;
    those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
        on them has light shone.
  • Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
    For to us a child is born,
        to us a son is given,
        and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
        Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    Of the greatness of his government and peace
        there will be no end.
    He will reign on David’s throne
        and over his kingdom,
    establishing and upholding it
        with justice and righteousness
        from that time on and forever.
    The zeal of the Lord Almighty
        will accomplish this.
  • Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV

    A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
        from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
    The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
        the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
        the Spirit of counsel and of might,
        the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
    and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

    He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
        or decide by what he hears with his ears;
    but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
        with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
    He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
        with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
    Righteousness will be his belt
        and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

  • Micah 5:2 NIV
    “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
        though you are small among the clans of Judah,
    out of you will come for me
        one who will be ruler over Israel,
    whose origins are from of old,
        from ancient times.”
  • Matthew 1:21 NIV
    She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
  • Matthew 1:23 NIV
    “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 
  • Luke 1:30-31 NIV
    But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
  • Luke 1:37 ESV
     For nothing will be impossible with God.
  • Luke 1:45 NIV
     Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!
  • Luke 2:10-14 NIV
    But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
  • John 1:14 ESV
    And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  • 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV
     Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
  • Galatians 4:4-5 NIV
    But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
  • Philippians 2:5-7 ESV
    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
  • Colossians 1:15-20 ESV
     He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
  • 1 Timothy 1:15-16 ESV
    The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
  • Titus 3:4-5 NLT
    But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
  • 1 John 4:9 ESV
    In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

christmasprayer

Praying it Out on a Hard Day

Worry hits me like a sharp, shallow breathing,  right in the middle  of the Wal-Mart.

There I am, just picking the cereal for the week and mentally running through what we already have at home in the pantry, when I realize my breaths are kind of shallow, kind of pained deep in my stomach.

Maybe it’s not even worry; it’s more just thought after thought piling on over time.

Thinking about the to-do-list items, an upcoming  event, soccer and dance, rehearsals, families around me in need, relationships and friendships and peace, work craziness, and ministry decisions.

I  feel “off.”  Unsettled.  Worn down.  Tangled up.

As I push my cart around the store, I take some deep breaths and pray some quick prayers.

Dear Jesus, for my children….

Dear Jesus, for my own brokenness and sin….

Dear Jesus, for those around me….

Send peace . Be our peace, Lord.

I also chide myself.  How foolish, like a tiny child, stressing over things not worth stressing over, thinking and mulling over decisions that will  just come and work out and happen.

It all piles on in one day, though, my own problems to  sort through and a host of others for people I care about:

A family in need, a friend who is grieving, another awaiting medical test results,.

This is a hard day.  A hard day that is making me tenderhearted.

All that sorrow tumbles me into  a sweet place of just crying with Jesus.  I think maybe He weeps, too, just as He did when He stood outside of Lazarus’s tomb and saw how hard it is for all of us, how scared we are, how we mourn.

For a little while, I feel guilty for letting the smallest things in my own life land on my wimpy shoulders  like heavy burdens.

I think, “Count your blessings!  Buck up!  Get over it already!”

And, maybe that’s a little right. Maybe my perspective is off and I needed a little spirit-check, that what has me personally weighed down is foolishness compared to the deep concerns of others.

But I read this also, right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ( Matthew 6:25 ESV)

We’re no different than the crowd of people surrounding him on a mountainside that day.

We feel anxious over the daily things that pound at us.  The food we eat.  The clothes we wear.  The bodies we walk around in. The tiniest mundane details of our everyday life.

Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t be anxious about your cancer diagnosis or don’t be anxious about a divorce or a foreclosure.”

He said don’t worry about any of it.  Don’t worry about lunch and dinner and your outfit for the day and your body type.

And he was so gracious about it.   He didn’t tell  the crowd to get over petty concerns because He was actually going to–you know–be persecuted and die for them because they were, after  all, heading for  eternal  damnation.

Hannah Anderson writes:

“Jesus understood …that small things can unsettle us more than large things; so when He called  the people of Galilee to leave their anxiety–when He calls us to  do the same–He does so in context of very mundane, very ordinary concerns…  At the same time, He doesn’t shame us for worrying about them.  He doesn’t tell us just how to be grateful, to remember how much better we have it than other people…..Instead, He asks if our worry is actually accomplishing anything” (Humble Roots).

It’s not, of course.  Worry isn’t accomplishing  anything for anybody.

But it is a prompting to prayer.  It’s the catalyst that stops me from just standing nearby as a helpless bystander and instead rolling up my sleeves to get in the fight.

I can’t fix this.  Not any of it.  But I can pray.

I can pray it out.  Pray it like that’s our only hope because that’s exactly who Jesus is:  He’s our Hope and our Strength and our Peace and He is who we need when we’re worrying over our children and He is who we need when our friends are facing down death and despair.

So  as I stand there in the middle of the Wal-Mart and then in my minivan and then in my home, I begin to pray it out to Jesus.

Originally published 10/2017

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee

“Lord, we consecrate this trip.”

This is what I prayed over my daughter  as  we sat side by side in the airplane.  It was her first time flying. I’m not a flight expert by any means, but I still  explained every step of the process from security checks to  boarding to  seatbelts and the runway as if I knew exactly what was  happening.

She still  didn’t really know what  to  expect,  so when the plane picked up  speed and the engine roared, she glanced at me for a reassurance that  this was  normal.  And then we lifted off the ground and she gave  me one shocked look of, “are we living through this?”

I  squeezed her hand and reminded her not  to fear, but to marvel, nudged at her to enjoy the awe and the wonder of it.

With the initial take-off over with,  we put aside the nerves. She settled into her book  and I settled into mine.  We were beginning an adventure, heading with other students and her teachers  to a competition in a state we’ve never before visited.

My prayers started out tentative and nervous.  What to pray?   Not that she wins.  That’s  not it.

I prayed for peace and strength and favor.

As we flew, though, I read these reminders from John Eldgredge in his  book  on prayer called Moving Mountains, about consecrating ourselves for God’s work and for His Kingdom purposes.

Consecrate.  I know the definition.  Make holy.  Make sacred.  Dedicate to  God.

We sing it, don’t we? We sing, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee.”

I  consider what this means, though.  What  is it I’ve been singing all these years  in one of my favorite hymns?  Do I know what I’m singing?   Do I mean it?

John Eldgredge writes:

“the act of consecration is….the fresh act of dedicating yourself…or whatever needs God’s grace–deliberately and  intentionally to Jesus,  bringing it  fully into His kingdom and under his rule.”

The night before, I’d read it in my Bible reading, how the nation of  Israel  gathered to dedicate Solomon’s temple and how Solomon prayed for God to  direct them, to answer prayer, to  be present, to forgive, to lead, to guide, to inhabit this physical building with the fullness of His spiritual  presence.

They set it apart.  They made it  holy, all the stones  and the wood and the linen made sacred,  not because they were sacred materials,  but because they were dedicated and anointed for God’s purposes.

Solomon prayed  over the people:

And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands… (1 Kings 8:61).

In Scripture, we see it elsewhere.  Joshua told the nation:

“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5 ESV).

And the priests were instructed:

Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them (Exodus 19:22 ESV).

In the Old Testament, they anointed priests.  In the New Testament,  they anointed apostles and evangelists.  As the church gathered in Antioch, praying and fasting,  the Holy Spirit called out Barnabas and Saul for a special  work.  Scripture says,

Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.  So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went” (Acts 13:3-4)

John Eldredge writes:

First ,  they consecrated themselves.  Meaning,  they dedicated themselves afresh to  God.”

So, I’m on an airplane with my daughter at the start of an adventure, and as we fly I read these reminders about consecration.  I consider what I most want here.

May my daughter see God at work and may others see God at work  through her.  May this whole journey be a part  of God’s plans for her; His hand deeply molding and preparing her for the future.  We dedicate this trip to you and set it aside for your Kingdom purposes.

That’s consecration.

It’s a prayer that feels truly fitting for  any new season or endeavor.

For this opportunity…for this new ministry…for our marriage…for a new baby….for our new house… for this job or this project…for the start of this summer….for the beginning of a new school year….for this trip.

We give this over to the Lord.  May it  be sacred and holy,  God at work, God present, God-directed, God-glorifying.  Amen and amen.

Bible Verses and a Prayer about being Wholehearted

  • Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV
    But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
  • Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV
    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12 ESV
    And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lordyour God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
  • Deuteronomy 13:3 ESV
    you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
  • Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV
    And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
  • Joshua 22:5 ESV
    Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
  • 1 Samuel 12:20 ESV
     And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.
  • 1 Samuel 12:24 ESV
    Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
  • 1 Kings 8:61 ESV
    Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”
  • 1 Chronicles 28:9 ESV
    “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
  • Psalm 86:11 ESV
    Teach me your way, O Lord,
        that I may walk in your truth;
        unite my heart to fear your name.
  • Psalm 119:10 ESV
    With my whole heart I seek you;
        let me not wander from your commandments!
  • Psalm 119:34 ESV
    Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
        and observe it with my whole heart.
  • Psalm 119:58 ESV
    I entreat your favor with all my heart;
        be gracious to me according to your promise.
  • Psalm 138:1 ESV
    I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
        before the gods I sing your praise;
  • Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
     You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
  • Joel 2:12 ESV
    “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
        “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
  • Matthew 22:37 ESV  (also Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27)
    And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

prayer-to-be-wholehearted

Learning how to pray globally as a family

“I’ll pray for Luther!”

That’s my son, the  little echo at our nighttime family prayer sessions.

It’s missionary prayer night and we’ve pulled up a list of prayer requests from missionary kids around the world.

As I read each request, I assign my kids to pray.

“Catherine, you can pray for Luther,” I say.

This is when my four-year-old stakes his claim.  “I want to pray for Luther, too!”

He hops in like this with our every request.

Pray for these missionaries.  “I want to pray for the missionaries!”

Pray for Nicaragua.  “I want to  pray for Nicaragua!”

Pray for Nepal.  “I want to pray for Nepal!”

And when he bows his little head and asks God to “please help Nepal,” I pray also that God receives the precious gift of small prayers for a big need.

I am imperfect at this as a mom, growing and learning but certainly not there yet when it comes to teaching my kids that the world is so much bigger than us, so much bigger than middle school problems and playground drama.

I want them to consider others, to keep perspective, and to see  a world that needs Jesus.

So, I’m learning mostly from other moms about ways to teach my kids to think internationally and to pray mission-ally for the world.

Here are some of the tools I’ve found.  If you have a resource to  share,  please comment below!  I’d love to find new ways to pray for the world as a family,

    • The IMB Pray app:

      You can visit the prayer page for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board  here and view daily prayer requests from around the world.  But, we personally love to use the IMB Pray app on my phone.   Once a week during our family devotions, I open up the “Pray with Missionary Kids” section on the app and we read through their prayer requests.  It’s great for my children to connect that missionary kids are real kids close to  their own age who need God’s help with making friends, learning languages, being away from home, and moving away from family.

    • Operation World:

      My friend introduced  me to this definitive global prayer handbook and I fell in love.  We use the book, Operation World, a few times a month as a family.  It includes a prayer calendar in the front of the book that shows you what country you can pray for on a particular  day.  If we read every detail in this encyclopedic book, it would be completely overwhelming.   But, we go over the basics with the kids.  We open up our world map and find the country, we read a little about its history and current struggles and then choose a few prayer requests to focus on as a family.
      Operation World also released an abridged version of their prayer guide so it’s  a little less overwhelming, called Pray for the World.

      They also list some helpful prayer resources on their website, including their prayer calendar: http://www.operationworld.org/country-lists 

    • Pray for your sponsored children:

      I’ve found that it’s so easy to let Compassion or World Vision automatically withdrawal  money from my bank account each month without actively engaging in prayer or relationship with our sponsored children.  Whenever we receive an update on a sponsored child or a letter….or when we remember to write letters around holidays and birthdays,  we also take time to pray for that child at night before bed.  We ask  God specifically to help them know Jesus, help their family, help them overcome poverty,  help them make good choices,  and help them in school  and with career choices.

    • When you pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, be sure to pray over it!

      We love packing shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items and sending them via Operation Christmas Child to needy children around the world . Collection week is in mid-November each year.   Before we carry those boxes into the collection site,  we take a few moments to pray over the children who will receive them.  When we use the tracking labels via Samaritan’s Purse, we also receive an email after a few months telling us where our shoeboxes were delivered.  That’s another great opportunity to learn about those countries, pull out our map, and pray for the people who live there.

Click here to find out how to pack a shoebox.

Or Click Here to visit the Operation Christmas Child website.

  • Kids on Mission

    The Kids on Mission website (run by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board) offers resources on different countries that can be plugged into any children’s curriculum, but can also be adapted by families to use at home.  Each unit includes activities like  a map, a video, a theme verse, a  game and/or photos of the country.

  • The Compassion Experience:

    If you hear that The Compassion Experience is coming to a nearby city/town, please go!  Take your kids and just go!  It’s an amazing event for families where you can walk through replicas of African ghettos or slums in Ecuador and the like and see how child sponsorship can changes the lives of kids, their families, and their whole communities.  In this walk-through tour, each family member wears headphones and hears the narrative from the perspective of one particular child.   They even have child-sensitive head sets for younger children in case some of the events are too intense for them.  It is an eye-opening experience full of impact that made child sponsorship and praying for those in poverty more real and tangible than anything we’ve ever done as a family.

 

Bible Verses about Praying Together

  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
    if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
  • Matthew 18:19-20 ESV
    Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
  • Acts 1:14 ESV
     All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
  • Acts 2:42 ESV
    And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
  • Acts 12:5 ESV
    So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
  • Acts 12:12 ESV
    When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
  • Acts 16:25 ESV
    About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
  • Romans 15:30 ESV
    I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
  • 2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV
    You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
  • Ephesians 6:18 ESV
    praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
  • James 5:14 ESV
     Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
  • James 5:16 ESV
     Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

It’s unexpected and unplanned but also a little beautiful

I don’t really  create so much as I copy and adapt.

Those pictures on Pinterest, the photos in that project book, the links on Facebook, all entice me to pull out the hot glue gun, some fabric or paper scraps and make a huge mess, take up far more time than I expect, and finally gaze with pride on what I created…..I mean copied.

I’ve been wrapping strips of fabric into flowers and covering my hands into a hot mess of “Liquid Stitch” and stabbing my fingers with the needle when I try to sew the button into the center.

I’ve taken someone else’s ideas and made them my own.

I’ve wrapped the fabric too loosely now and my flower unravels.  I begin again.  Twist, wrap, glue, twist, wrap, glue.

As I try and try (and try) again, I mediate on this:

God started from nothing.

 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:2 NIV).

No McCall’s pattern.  No Pinterest.  No step-by-step directions on the DIY channel.  No classes at Michael’s or demonstrations at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

He takes that void, that nothingness, and He brings the fullness of His plans and design with the power of His Word alone.

Then He “saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:25 NIV).

And when I long for His presence, I can join Him in His activity.  He is Creator.  It is who He is and what He does.   So I make this effort,  make these tiny  attempts at making beauty happen.

Sally Clarkson writes in The Mission of Motherhood:

Creativity is such an integral part of the image of God within all of us… Whenever we adapt an idea or try a different approach to an issue or give our personal spin to a particular endeavor, we are learning a little more about our God-given nature and the nature of our creative God.

God….He’s Creator.

God…He’s creative.

He creates beauty.  He brings light into the dark places and hope into the hopeless situations.  He brings order into chaos and joy from mourning.

I pause and examine the flower I’ve made with a critic’s eye.  It’s not exactly like that Pinterest picture.  Nothing I make ever really is.

But the beauty of its originality grows on me.  Maybe I like it well enough.  It’s perhaps a little unexpected, maybe a little unplanned, but it’s a flower and it’s fabric and in its own particular way, it’s created for beauty.

So, why do I insist that this Creator God who is able to do “far more than all I ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3) and can speak a few words out into a formless universe and create a planet of complex life and intricate and breathtaking beauty….

Why do I insist that He do things my way?

I do this.  I pray, “God, here’s my need.  I’m hopeless here without You. Please reach right here into this pit and save me and here’s how….”

I’ve given Him agendas, to-do lists, blueprints, and step-by-step instructions. I’ve given Him 5-year plans and 10-year plans and custom orders for the needs I face that day.

I cling to my plan and argue like a lawyer in a courtroom before an unyielding judge, and then with just a few simple words He creates and I am stunned into silence and worship.

What God does over and over is create an entirely unexpected solution for the mess I’m in.

Yet, it’s perfect.  It’s exquisite.

I think of Mary, loving Jesus as she did, the mother who rocked Him and sang to Him in the night.

She brought to Him a problem in John 2 at the Cana wedding feast.  No more wine for the guests, she told Him.  The host of the party would be so embarrassed, she told Him.

And that’s where she stopped.

She didn’t tangle Him all up in her expectations, her solutions, her suggestions or demands.

No, she laid that problem right into His hands and trusted Him to care for it in His own way.

She gave Him the opportunity to create.

I look at the stack of fabric flowers I’ve made and they form for me a prayer:

God, help me remember that You are the Masterful Creator and I can trust You.  You make all things beautiful in Your time.  Whatever need I have or problem I face, I leave in Your hands

Originally published: May 7, 2014

Praying it out on a hard day

Worry hits me like a sharp, shallow breathing,  right in the middle  of the Wal-Mart.

There I am, just picking the cereal for the week and mentally running through what we already have at home  in the pantry, when I realize my breaths are kind of shallow, kind of pained deep in my stomach.

Maybe it’s not even worry; it’s more just thought after thought piling on over time.

Thinking about the to-do-list items, an upcoming birthday, field hockey and dance, rehearsals, families around me in need, work craziness, and ministry decisions.  I’m thinking about playground woes with mean girls for one daughter and tween emotions for two others and preschool for my son.

I  feel “off.”  Unsettled.  Worn down.  Tangled up.

As I push my cart around the store, I take some deep breaths and pray some  quick prayers.

Dear Jesus, for my children….

Dear Jesus, for my own brokenness and sin….

Dear Jesus, for  those around me….

Send peace . Be our peace, Lord.

I also chide myself.  How foolish, like a tiny child, stressing over things not worth stressing over, thinking and mulling over decisions that will  just come and work out and happen.

It all piles on in one day, though, my own problems to  sort through and a host of others for people I care about:

A child with heart disease, a family missing loved ones in the aftermath of a hurricane in Puerto Rico, a dad’s death and a hard hospital visit.

This is a hard day.  A hard day that is making me tenderhearted.

All that sorrow tumbles me into  a sweet place of just crying with Jesus.  I think maybe He weeps, too, just as He did when He stood outside of Lazarus’s tomb and saw how hard it is for all of us, how scared we are, how we mourn.

For a little while, I feel guilty for letting the smallest things in my own life land on my wimpy shoulders  like heavy burdens.

I think, “Count your blessings!  Buck up!  Get over it already!”

And, maybe that’s a little right. Maybe my perspective is off and I needed a little spirit-check, that what has me personally weighed down is foolishness compared to the deep concerns of others.

But I read this also, right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus says:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ( Matthew 6:25 ESV)

We’re no different than the crowd of people surrounding him on a mountainside that day.

We feel anxious over the daily things that pound at us.  The food we eat.  The clothes we wear.  The bodies we walk around in. The tiniest mundane details of our everyday life.

Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t be anxious about your cancer diagnosis or don’t be anxious about a divorce or a foreclosure.”

He said don’t worry  about any of it.  Don’t worry about lunch and dinner and your outfit for the day and your body type.

And he was so gracious about it.   He didn’t tell  the crowd to get over petty concerns because He was actually going to–you know–be persecuted and die for them because they were, after  all, heading for  eternal  damnation.

Hannah Anderson writes:

“Jesus understood …that small things can unsettle us more than large things; so when He called  the people of Galilee to leave their anxiety–when He calls us to  do the same–He does so in context of very mundane, very ordinary concerns…  At the same time, He doesn’t shame us for worrying about them.  He doesn’t tell us just how to be grateful, to remember how much better we have it than other people…..Instead, He asks if our worry is actually accomplishing anything” (Humble Roots).

It’s not, of course.  Worry isn’t accomplishing  anything for anybody.

But it is a prompting to prayer.  It’s the catalyst that stops me from just standing nearby as a helpless bystander and instead rolling up my sleeves to get in the fight.

I can’t fix this.  Not any of it.  But I can pray.

I can pray it out.  Pray it like that’s our only hope because that’s exactly who Jesus is:  He’s our Hope and our Strength and our Peace and He is who we need when we’re worrying over our children and He is who we need when our friends are facing down death and despair.

So  as I stand there in the middle of the Wal-Mart and then in my minivan and then in my home, I begin to pray it out to Jesus.

 

 

Bible Verses and a Prayer for When You Need to Breathe

  • Job 33:4 ESV
    The Spirit of God has made me,
        and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
  • Psalm  31:6-7 MSG
    I hate all this silly religion, but you, God, I trust. I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love; you saw my pain, you disarmed my tormentors, You didn’t leave me in their clutches but gave me room to breathe.
  • Psalm 34:1-4 MSG

    I bless God every chance I get;
    my lungs expand with his praise.

    2 I live and breathe God;
    if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

    Join me in spreading the news;
    together let’s get the word out.

    God met me more than halfway,
    he freed me from my anxious fears.

  • Psalm 61:3-5 MSG
    You’ve always given me breathing room,
        a place to get away from it all,
    A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
        an open invitation as your guest.
    You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
        made me welcome among those who know and love you.
  • Psalm 62:1-2 MSG
    1-2 God, the one and only—
        I’ll wait as long as he says.
    Everything I need comes from him,
        so why not?
    He’s solid rock under my feet,
        breathing room for my soul,
    An impregnable castle:
        I’m set for life.
  • Psalm 119:73 MSG
    With your very own hands you formed me;
        now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
  • Psalm 150:6 ESV
    Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
    Praise the Lord!
  • Ezekiel 37:5 ESV
    Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
  • Acts 17:25 ESV
    nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
  • Ephesians 4:30 MSG
    Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

 

Bible Verses on Spiritual Warfare

  1. Deuteronomy 3:22 ESV
    You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’
  2. Deuteronomy 28:7 ESV
    “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
  3. Joshua 10:25 ESV
    And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”
  4. Joshua 23:10 ESV
    One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.
  5. 2 Chronicles 20:15 ESV
    And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
  6. 2 Chronicles 32:6-8 ESV
    And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh,but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
  7. Psalm 18:32-36 ESV
    the God who equipped me with strength
        and made my way blameless.
    33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
        and set me secure on the heights.
    34 He trains my hands for war,
        so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
    35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
        and your right hand supported me,
        and your gentleness made me great.
    36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
        and my feet did not slip
  8. Psalm 18:39 ESV
    For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
        you made those who rise against me sink under me.
  9. Psalm 44:5 ESV
    Through you we push down our foes;
        through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
  10. Isaiah 54:17 ESV
    no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
        and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
    This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
        and their vindication[a] from me, declares the Lord.”
  11. Zechariah 4:6 ESV
    Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
  12. Matthew 16:18 ESV
    And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[shall not prevail against it.
  13. Matthew 18:18-19 ESV
     Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[a] in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
  14. Matthew 26:41 ESV
    Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  15. John 10:10 ESV
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
  16. Romans 8:31 ESV
    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
  17. Romans 8:37 ESV
    No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
  18. Romans 13:12-14 ESV
    The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
  19. 1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV
    But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  20. 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV
    Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men,be strong.
  21. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 ESV
     For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
  22. Galatians 5:17 ESV
     For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
  23. Ephesians 3:16 ESV
    that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being
  24. Ephesians 6:10-13+ ESV
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
  25. 1 Timothy 6:12 ESV
    Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
  26. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ESV
    But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
  27. James 4:7 ESV
    Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  28. 1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV
    Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
  29. 1 Peter 5:8-10 ESV
    Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
  30. 1 John 4:4 ESV
    Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.