prayer

Fake or Faith?

A couple weeks ago, I ran into a young woman struggling in her marriage. She said, “I just gotta fake it until I make it, right?”

I hear that phrase periodically and it doesn’t sit well with me, I’m a girl who treasures authenticity.  I hugged the young woman and said, “How about FAITH it until you make it? God doesn’t want us to be fake.”

“That’s good! I like that.” She said before we parted ways.

One little word can make a big difference in how we see God through our circumstances and approach him. Fake is different than Faith. Faith is not being fake, there is nothing fake about making the choice to focus on God’s greatness.

I used to have a motto when it came to prayer. I would say, “The only ingredient to a successful prayer is sincerity.” My passion for sincerity was in an effort to avoid being like the scribes who prayed for pretense (Luke 20:46-47). They were being fake, they were praying for show. I also noticed others memorizing prayers (like the Lord’s prayer) and reciting them like the pledge of allegiance. In an effort to pull myself and others towards an authentic relationship with God, I emphasized sincerity. I still believe 100% in sincere prayers, but I’ve also noticed the power of adding one extra ingredient: Faith.

Jesus said in Mark 11:22-24, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

I recently made my first Facebook live video on our tendency to “worry-pray.” Instead of praying in faith, we can have the tendency to magnify the problem rather than the problem-solver. I wrote out a faith-declaration about who God is (all based on scripture), as a way of setting my mind on the greatness of God first before I bring him my concerns. When I set my mind on His greatness, my (once) mountain of a problem starts to look more like a speck. It’s not fake, it’s focus.

If our prayers magnify our problem to be bigger than God and His power – our faith is in the wrong thing.

Yesterday, my daughter came to me overwhelmed with homework. As we sat on her bed, I pulled out my faith-declaration and read it to her. Tears fell down her face as she was reminded of our God who is limitless in strength and power when she feels weak. She asked if she could hang a copy up in her bedroom. The privilege of paving the way in motherhood never gets old. I want her to know what real faith is. Fake smiles through gritted-teeth and says, “I can do this.” But faith is different. Faith says, “I can’t do this, but my great God certainly can!”

3 Benefits to Fasting

It’s January, and my husband and I are in the middle of our beginning-of-the-year fast to coincide with Canvas Church’s 21 days of Prayer and Fasting (click the link for ideas on what to fast).

We don’t particularly enjoy fasting, but because we have seen such tremendous power and breakthrough in fasting, we’ve come to look forward to it each year. What will God do this year? What breakthrough will we experience? What will the Holy Spirit speak to us during this time? What will God do in our church? The beginning of the year brings anticipation.

Before I explain the benefits of fasting, let me pause to explain what fasting is. Cleansing and dieting are trendy, but to be clear – fasting is not a diet or a cleanse, it is a spiritual act. It’s when we deny our flesh, its indulgences and appetites to take more time to focus on God through prayer. We sacrifice something such as food, saying no to our bodies and yes to our spirits.

Many people ask me what they should fast. My answer is: whatever is going to be a sacrifice to you. We choose to fast something that reminds us to pray. When we get a hunger pang, an urge to browse Facebook, or watch television – that’s the time we pray. We don’t fast something we shouldn’t be doing in the first place. For example, we don’t fast things such as gossip – we shouldn’t be gossiping anyway. If we want to eliminate a bad habit from our lives, it’s more beneficial to make that one of the focuses of what we pray about during the fast.

Here are 3 reasons why we look forward to fasting each year:

  1. We fast for breakthrough. In Matthew 17, the disciples asked Jesus why they weren’t able to drive out a certain demon. Jesus replied (vs 21, HCSB) “This kind can come out by nothing by prayer and fasting.” The most incredible breakthroughs we’ve experienced happened during a fast. We’ve had marital breakthroughs, relational breakthroughs, parenting breakthroughs, church breakthroughs, personal breakthroughs, the list could go on. I encourage struggling believers to try fasting if they feel stuck in one area or another. We also don’t just fast for our own breakthrough, but for breakthrough for others. Isaiah 58:3-7 says “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to se the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Fasting helps us take our eyes off ourselves and on to God, and when our eyes are on God our eyes are also on those in need. We might need personal breakthrough, but we also have in mind breakthrough for those around us; our local church, co-workers, family members or needs in this world. When we feel helpless in meeting someone’s need, I’ve heard it said, “prayer is not the least we can do, it’s the most we can do.”
  2. We fast to hear from God. We can hear from God any time, we do not need to be fasting to hear from God. But for me personally, I seem to hear from God more clearly during a fast, which is why I look forward to fasting in the beginning of the year to seek direction and clarity. I believe the reason is twofold. One, my mind isn’t clouded with social media. Two, I’m making more room for God to speak by spending more time in prayer and the word. God is always speaking, we just need to be willing to make the space to hear.
  3. We fast to detox our minds and bodies. No, fasting is not a diet or a new years resolution to consume less media. However, after the holidays, I’m ready for a fast. I look forward to my body being reset and my mind taking a break from the noise of the world and being renewed in the word. Studies have shown there are health benefits to fasting, God designed it to be good for us. And as addictive as media can be, it’s good for our minds to detox from the cravings of mindless entertainment.

Fasting is not resting in our own ability, it’s relying on God’s. We aren’t more holy or spiritual by how lengthy or sacrificial our fast is. Fasting shouldn’t be a burden we brag about carrying. In fact, I hesitated to mention our fasting practices in a blog because I didn’t want to make it about our efforts. However, I couldn’t shake the passion in me to help equip and encourage believers who feel stuck to experience breakthrough in fasting.

There is one more week left in January, want to join me? If so, comment below what you will be believing for and I will partner with you in prayer.

Don’t Squash Your Mouse-Sized Dream

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My family and I just got back from celebrating my daughter’s fourth birthday at Disneyland. Disney just gets better every time we visit–they sure know how to keep the wonder factor alive. It was the last day to use our season passes so we made the most of it and stayed for the finale, “World of Color” show. The show has changed a bit, this time it was a tribute to Walt Disney. They projected black and white images of Walt and told the story of how it all began.

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As they were projecting old images of Walt Disney giving speeches and being interviewed, he said, “I want people to remember that it all started with a mouse.” 

I’m not much of a crier, but I’ll admit I had to fight back tears. We were in the wet zone, so I figured I could always blame my wet face on the splashing water.

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I’m looking around me at images being projected upon a wall of water, rides using technology that I can’t even pronounce, a team of people committed to saying “Happy Birthday Princess” to my daughter every time she passes, a sea of smiling, wide-eyed children, the list could go on. I’ve never been to DisneyWorld, but I’m sure the “awe” factor spreads far and wide. It’s overwhelming in the best way, and it all started with a mouse.

A doodle. A black and white, cartoon scribble of a mouse who was almost named “Mortimer.”

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I got teary because it reminded me of the truth in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise small beginnings.” 

I wonder how many people despised the mouse, and Walt’s dream. I wonder how many people said, “Never” or “It can’t be done” or “Impossible.”

I wonder how many mouse-keepers there are out there right now, with nothing but a scribble of a dream.

 

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A mouse is fragile, easy to squash or disregard.

But God says, don’t despise the small beginnings.

Don’t ignore the flicker of a dream, the speck of an idea, the flutter of creativity, the impregnation of an embryo of hope.

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Don’t let anyone squash your mouse.

Feed it, it will grow.

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My son looks up at me with wide eyes after the show. The next day, he flips through his “Hidden Mickey” book and tries to check off the ones he found. He asks questions, lots of questions. They are all indirect, but with the same theme, “Mom, do you think I could have a dream that big?”

Son, I think you can have a dream that small. I think you can feed your little mouse with hard work and prayer. And I think it can grow into something bigger and more wonderful than you ever imagined. 

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Chase after that God-dream, because the next generation needs to see the potential of a little mouse and a big God.

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