PRAYER-WALK: When you prayer-walk scripture, stress lifts and your peace returns. And it’s best to prayer-walk outside.
Here’s why. Here’s how.
Have you trudged through a day when everything went wrong? Maybe your computer crashed, or the pet barfed on the carpet. Perhaps you got really bad news. If you’re up to your eyebrows in quick-sand stress, you need peace now. Right?
Here’s a solution: Prayer-walk scripture. It gets you away from the distractions of technology, as long as you leave you phone at home, of course! Says bible translator Jordan Monson:
For two thousand years, the most private and undistracted place was behind the closed door. Now, the noise has relocated indoors. If our computers and devices are near, it’s the worst place to try to pray. Walking through Times Square is less distracting than sitting alone in a room full of technology.
When you prayer-walk a scripture, at least 4 awesome things happen:
- your stress lessens
- you connect deeply with God
- you get exercise
- you think on heavenly things, squelching anxiety
Have you ever had a week or a month or a year when one stress after another slammed you like a hurricane? Walking helps relieve stress, thus improving your mood and mental outlook. It also reduces muscle tension and stress hormones as well as high-pressure emotions like anxiety, anger, and depression.
2. Connect with God
When you prayer-walk a scripture — that is, talk with God about a specific bible verse and think on what it says and its application — you readjust your priorities and put first things first.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
For instance, while prayer-walking and thinking on Psalm 23:1, you might reflect on the meaning of “I shall not want” and tell God you give up self-rule and submit to him. In my walks while praying this verse, God has impressed on my heart the truth that he is in control. The result? I sense his strength and comfort, and worship him.
3. Move It
Walking unleashes the body’s endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters. And the motion loosens tight muscles and reduces mental stress too.
No doubt you’ve heard that the best exercise is the one you’ll actually do. If not walking, what exercise gets you moving? Swimming, biking, dance, or gardening? And how much exercise do you need? Dr. Edward R. Laskowski recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobice exercise weekly.
4. Think UP
God tells us what to think on: heavenly things.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
But your mind want to wander, right? When this happens to me, I refocus on the scripture I’m praying. Since I’m prayer-walking a single scripture verse or passage, this is simple to do. I simply go back to where I left off, or begin again.
How to Prayer-Walk
Here’s what my prayer-walk looks like. First, I choose a scripture. Psalm 23 is a favorite. I see the word pictures as I walk.
I say, “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want” and picture a sheep happily resting on shoulders of a strong, gentle shepherd. I am the sheep.
And pray something like–
Father, you know my Honda’s transmission is acting up again. You know my needs. I am asking that you give me wisdom to make the right decision. Thank you that I have a car that runs.
Now the next verse. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” My mind’s eye sees rolling hills of lush grass and a stream. I utter these words: Oh, yes, rest! Thank you, Lord, for the reminder that I need rest and that it’s good. It’s not a luxury. I don’t have to run around like a manic squirrel, trying to do everything that people ask.
What About Wacky Weather?
During crazy-bad weather, prayer-walk scriptures in the comfort of home. Simply walk in place. The more you move your arms, the higher your heart rate. Or choose a treadmill at a gym.
Most important: Get started. 🙂
Counseling hearts to hope,
The Golden Rule
Mom, be authoritative. Be a benevolent dictator! Here’s why.
Our culture tends toward two parenting extremes: crass authoritarianism on one end and wimp-dom on the other..
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God calls you and me to be neither authoritarian nor permissive but authoritative.
Your job – which God gave you — is to be THE MOM. God gave you and your husband, if you are married, the authority to direct your children, to shape them, to benevolently dictate to them. You do NOT direct them for your own agenda or convenience but on God’s behalf for their own good and for His glory.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6, NIV
In this series on becoming the best mom ever, read the part 1 here and part two here and part three here. Here’s the acronym to remember.
2. Recognize you’re in a war.
3. Assume your role as a benevolent dictator.
4. Yield to God.
Does Your Child Have Too Much Power?
We moms often give our children too much power. It’s one thing to say, “Jarrod, do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt.” That’s OK. It’s quite another thing to say to your four-year-old or your 14-year-old, “It’s time to come to dinner, OK?”
Mom, are you asking your child permission? As in, do I have your permission to serve you dinner at such and such time? Yikes.
I know when moms tack an “OK?” at the end of their statements rarely do not really mean to hand over this power, that the kid gets to decide, but this is the message.
Your Child Needs You to Be Authoritative!
As Kevin Leman says in Have a New Kid by Friday, kids have a game plan to drive you bonkers. Look around and observe what’s going on in malls, stores, restaurants, and even your own home.
What about the toddler who cries until she wears her mother down and gets to go not only once but three times on the carousel?
The teenager who yells, “Bleep you!” at his dad and stalks off?
The 7-year-old who gives his mom the “I dare you to do anything about it here” steely glare as he pushes the broccoli off his plate and watches it fall to the floor to the floor at the restaurant?
The 14-year-old dressed in all black who has “attitude” written all over her and gives every sign of going the wrong direction?
The 3-year-old who spends his day screaming, to make sure his parents appease his every whim?
In their eyes the world owes them—and owes them big time. But when children rule, a home becomes chaotic.
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Yet boundaries give them freedom to mature within the parameters of God’s gives in his Word under the guidance of parents. Then children have true freedom to to learn, explore, and have fun. Boundaries also help you refrain from ripping out your hair! Right?
How to Be Authoritative, not Wimpy
The main thing to remember is this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Maybe write it on paper and stick it out the fridge. Teach it to your children.
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Matthew 7:12
The bible shows that there are consequences for disobedience and blessings for obedience. God’s rules to help parents to nuture children through structured discipline. But our real focus is the heart, especially motivations, beliefs, and desires. God’s rules also help us to admonish children when they make foolish choices and to give encouragement to make wise choices.
The wise and authoritative mom teaches her child what is expected and how to do it. And she emphasizes why obedience matters to God. Doesn’t it follow that parents rejoice when children understand God’s heart for obedience, and obey?
But this takes work, doesn’t it? Your’re right! Motherhood isn’t for sissies!
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Next time we’ll finish up the “Becoming the Best Mom Ever Series” with lots of practical ideas. If you have not yet signed up to receives my blog posts in your email, please type in your email address below. Thanks.
Counseling Heart to Hope (and heal),
PEACE PLAN: Remember the spunky Miss Clara in the movie War Room? She narrates: “We fight for power. We fight for riches. And we fight for rights. We fight for freedom. There always seems to be something to fight about.” Yet. . .
“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”
In this post, I’ll outline a simple, Spirit-inspired peace plan to pray. Miss Clara prayed in her closet she calls her “war room” and taught Elizabeth, played by Priscilla Shirer, to speak fervently with God about her crumbling marriage.
Is your marriage in trouble? Are your emotions out of control? Is your teen making poor choices? Are you ill? In financial duress? Brokenhearted?
God has a peace plan for the war you’re in. Prayer is your battle cry!
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God’s Peace Plan
It’s a four-letter word: P.R.A.Y.
Do not be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING, by PRAYER and petition, with THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6
Read this familiar verse again. Then think on it. Now do what it says: P.R.A.Y. This is your peace plan!
Begin with praise. Praising God puts your mind where it need to be: focused on God. He is the One who not only created to universe, but also knows your hurts and deeply cares.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16, NIV
To repent is to change your mind and line up your thoughts with God’s thoughts. Repentance is a gift from God, and I’ve noticed in counseling, those who repent make lasting, positive, godly changes the quickest.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
The Lord invites you to approach him confidently and share what’s on your heart. This is part of deepening your relationship with him. He promises to give you all that is good.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:2
As you pray, believing that God can handle your problems, your faith will increase, and you’ll become calm and confident.
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Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9
Go ahead, PRAY. I will too. Tell me how it goes.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses are comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Scripture is a life-changing love letter. Counselor Donna Hart, PhD, listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here, experiences life change personally as she reads the Bible for understanding and transformation. Do you desire life transformation too? Donna’s article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
A while back, I attended a women’s theology conference where Ruth Haley Barton spoke of our need to pay attention to our God-given desires. . .and to practice spiritual disciplines. She said believers through the centuries have practiced them as a way of opening up to the transforming presence of God.
As I listened I felt my spirit start to stiffen in resistance. I like to practice disciplines that are theologically correct. And I don’t like going off into a lot of emotion and commotion without any devotion.
Then she said something that captured my attention.
When we engage the Scriptures for spiritual transformation, we engage not only our mind but also our heart, our emotions, our body, our curiosity, our imagination, and our will.
We open ourselves to a deeper level of understanding and insight that grows out of and leads us deeper into our personal relationship with the One behind the text. It is in the context of relational intimacy that real life change takes place.
Scripture Is a Life-Changing Love Letter
Barton went on to clarify the importance of reading Scripture as a love letter from someone who loves you deeply. Indeed, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures are active, alive, and God-breathed, just it says:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
How to Read Scripture
I followed her instruction to experience the Word for myself: Take a moment to become quiet and close your eyes to eliminate the distractions. Then let your body relax and allow yourself to become consciously aware of God’s presence with you.
- First Reading: Pick a Scripture of 4 or 5 verses, maybe a Psalm you particularly like, Isaiah 43:1-4, or Psalm 23. Read it out loud, listening for the word or phrase that catches your attention and savor the Word.
- Second Reading: Read the same verses out loud again and listen for the way in which this passage connects with your life today.
- Third Reading: Read the verses again listen for an invitation contained in God’s Word to you. Respond honestly to God about what you are hearing. This is a response that flows out of your deepest longing for God.
- Fourth Reading: Read these verses out loud, this time to rest in the word God has given you, knowing that he who has called you will be faithful to bring it to pass.
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Experiencing Life Change
I walked away from this exercise with a deep sense of peace and excitement. But I wanted to stay in that word the Lord had just given me, resolved to do exactly what He told me to do. Also I wanted to hold on to it and carry it with me all day and savor the moment of intimacy with God. It was like entering the throne room of God. And I did not want to leave. It was like the Lord was giving me a little taste of heaven.
I encourage you to try this discipline for yourself and experience the transforming presence of God. I would also love to hear about your encounter with God.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Election stress disorder: Did you know you might have it?
In today’s polarized, hate-flinging, hand-wringing, Internet-pounding U.S. presidential election, passions are running high. Haven’t you been tempted to . . .
- shut down
- feel angry or hopeless or wonder if the America you know is coming to an end — whichever candidate gets your vote?
Here’s just one small example of election stress: Leila put on Facebook this — “After tomorrow, hopefully the attacks on my character will end. I’ve just been told that because I support Trump, God won’t let me into heaven.”
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The term election stress disorder describes the worry-anxiety-fear that beleagers voters every four years. It was coined by a psychologist who described the phenomenon that plagues many Americans this Election Day.
How Common Is Election Stress?
Indeed, America is afraid.
American Psychological Association researchers surveyed 3,500 adults in August and found that 55% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans said the election is a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” source of stress. Those who use social media are more likely than those who don’t to say the election is a source of stress (54% versus 45%, respectively).
America is heavy with anxiety and distrustful of the other side. Friends are unfriending Facebook friends. Marriages are being tested. Many Americans won’t speak the name “Hillary” or “Trump” fearing name-calling and rejection.
So how pervasive is your election stress?
In Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur, he describes anxiety, at its core, “an appropriate response in light of the circumstances–very different from the cares and concerns in life that cause people to attend to business in a responsible way.”
In other words, if you have worry-anxiety-fear about the election, it sounds like you have election stress.
Telltale Signs of Election Stress
The signs of election stress include heart palpitations, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, insomnia, and a doomed feeling.
Physically, it is felt reaction to a perceived danger. When you fear danger, your body automatically pumps out numerous hormones including adrenaline. Once in your bloodstream, your pupils dilate, your muscles tense, and your heartbeat and breathing quicken.
Did you know election stress affects your thoughts too?
Call it worry. It is the wrong way to handle election stress or any stress. Worry is dwelling negatively on a trouble. It is ruminating on the worst.
All this worry leads to headaches, digestive pain, light-headedness, tingling in your extremities, even chest pain brought on by stress. (Please note, if you suspect a heart attack or other medical emergency, call 911 immediately.)
Your No-Worry Solution
Here are three ways to get rid of election stress and learn to be content.
First, consider what the Bible says about anxiety and follow through.
Jesus spoke “Do not be anxious” and “Fear not” many times. (See Mathew 6:25, 31, 34.) The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
TAKE-AWAY: When you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that Jesus says to NOT worry and replace your worry thinking with a biblical truth that God is in control and cares for you.
Casting all of your care upon him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Then, do the next thing that God hold you responsible for doing — finishing a report, writing an email, making dinner, picking up the kids from swim class.
Second, guard your heart and your mind.
Social media, news shows, and talk around the family table buzz over who’s up, who’s down, and the latest conspiracy theory.
Rather than worrying about today and tomorrow, why not fix your eyes on Jesus? Read the promises in Romans 8:35-39, which begin:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
TAKE-AWAY: Nothing can separate you from Christ’s love. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Think about this truth when tempted to worrry.
Third, choose the right perspective.
Earth isn’t your home. This election is important but pales in comparison with the Most Important. That is, Jesus Christ.
Rick Thomas compares your temporary home on earth to a vacation. He spells it out like this:
- I go on a vacation for a short period of time.
- I act responsibly while I’m on vacation.
- I’m fully aware our vacation location is not our home.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 (ESV)
You and I long for our permanent home: heaven. We are citizens of heaven!
TAKE-AWAY: Remember your true home on Election Day.
May I pray for us?
By the power of the Holy Spirit, quiet our hearts as we fix our eyes on Jesus. You command us not to be anxious about food, clothing, or anything else including who will sit in the oval office after this election. Keep us aware that you are on heaven’s throne and completely in charge.
You are not stressed over this election, so why should we? May we praise you today and always and be filled with your peace. May we respect those in authority as we seek to live a life that honors you. Amen.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,