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,
Who doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.
So today you learn how to:
1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.
2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.
3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here.
Click & Tweet!
What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Step 1: Identify
First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:
UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS
Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.
UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”
EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness
ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips
Step 2: Replace
Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS
Here’s a corresponding example.
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.
NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage
NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application
Step 3: See Change
Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought.
Click & Tweet!
And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.
You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.
Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
“A-to-Z Identity List” is this month’s Tuesday tool.
When you tell yourself the truth of who you are in Christ, your life undergoes a beautiful transformation.
Click & Tweet!
“I am Chosen by God”…”I am Made to worship”…”I am Victorious over sin” — these A-to-Z truths and others come from the Word of God. And they will encourage you to stop false beliefs and start seeing through the lens of scripture. Then as you embrace them, healing follows.
Get the Most from the A-to-Z List
Here are two excellent ways to delve into your God-given identity and get the most out of the A-to-Z list.
1) Once daily look up the scriptures for one of the words, until you’ve completed all 26.
2) Read through the entire list of words. Circle 3 to 5 that are meaningful to you. Then in a journal, personalize the verses. Example: For Lamentations 3:22-23, you might personalize it by jotting down,
God loves me and has great compassion for me.
I don’t have to let trials rock me because God is always faithful to me.
Journaling God’s truth is among the best helps for my counselees and for me.
Accepted–John 15:15; Ephesians 1:6
Born Again–John 3:5-7
Chosen, conﬁdent–Ephesians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 3:3-4
Direct Access to God–Ephesians 2:18, 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 2:5
Established by God–Genesis 1:27; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Forgiven—Ephesians 1:7; Psalm 32:1; Isaiah 43:25-26!
God’s Child—John 1:12; 1 John 3:1
Heir with Christ–Romans 8:17, Galatians 3:29
Immersed in Jesus Christ–Acts 2:38; Romans 6:4
Justiﬁed—1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-8
Kept for eternity–John 10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6
Loved–John 3:16, 15:13; Ephesians 5:2, Colossians 3:12
Made to worship–Ecclesiastes 3:10-11; John 4:24
New creation in Christ–2 Corinthians 5:17
Optimistic–Joshua 1:9; Romans 8:28-29
Peace—John 14:27; Philippians 4:7, 2 Thessalonians 3:16
Quietness of Soul–Psalm 46:10, 62:5, 131:2
Rescued from Satan’s domain–Colossians 1:13
Secure, sealed – 1 Peter 1:5; Ephesians 1:13-14, 2:8-9
Temple of God–1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:1
Unique–Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:14
Victorious over sin–1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4
Whole, no longer incomplete–James 1:2-4, 1 John 4:12
Xtra valued by God–Psalm 17:8, Deuteronomy 32:10
Yoked with Jesus–Matthew 11:28-29
Zealous for the things of God–Revelation 3:19; Titus 2:14
A Freebie for You
Would you like an attactive handout of the A-toZ Identity in Christ list? Simply ask for it. Contact me now and type “Send me A-to-Z Identity List in the subject line. This list was inspired by my fellow counselors at Biblical Counseling Center.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience is a treasured tool I very highly recommend and use regularly in counseling. if you’re a counselor, you’ll appreciate this tool to help women and families. If you’re not a counselor, but want to understand why you feel, and say, and do, the way you do, then this book is for you too.
READ A CHAPTER –> Wouldn’t you like to read a chapter? Here’s a link to chapter one.
In this brief article, you’ll learn from Jeremy Pierre’s book:
- What makes your heart tick
- How the heart is corrupted and redeemed
- A plan to counsel the heart
What Makes Your Dynamic Heart Tick?
Your heart responds cognitively, affectively, and volitionally to the life’s circumstances. It is multidimentional, it is dynamic. Most important, faith in Christ is the means by which your heart can respond to life differently, better.
Did you know each person’s heart is both simple and complex? The heart has automatic responses to situations. But underlying these seemingly auto-responses are deep beliefs, desires, and commitments of which people are generally unaware.
However, people can become aware and should. While psychotherapy on the whole divides awareness into conscious and subconscious, Scripture has a multifaceted view.
The Dynamic Heart, Corrupted
The corruption of the heart began at the Fall (Genesis 3) and infects all of the dynamic heart: cognition, affection, and volition. It shows up as idolatry.
Idolatry is a whole-hearted inclination that fails to believe God is God and worship him alone.
An alcoholic, then, is not worshipping a bottle but something deeper and more complex—a way to get something good apart from God. As this becomes habitual, the person loses sight what the idol is doing to him and he takes on the deadness of the idol to his detriment. God interrupts, he gives a Cross-shaped message of hope.
The Dynamic Heart, Redeemed
Jesus redeems the dynamic heart so it can do what God intends: worship him in thought, desire, and choice. God made the heart to imitate his own. Did you know you are an image-bearer?
While God is unlike people in many ways (e.g., he is omniscient), he is like people in some ways. For instance, he reasons and has emotion. As believers respond whole-heartedly to God and without reservation in reflective prayer and careful study of Scripture, they become more like Jesus.
Counseling the Dynamic Heart
A plan for counseling the dynamic heart requires four tasks. They are:
READ: Hearing people’s hearts
Llistening is crucial to understanding a hurting person and her problem in its context. Hearing the heart includes paying attention to what the counselee is saying (and not saying).
REFLECT: Helping people understand their responses
Self-awareness helps a hurting her connect her intuitive (or, automatic) responses to their belief system. Then she can challenge her automatic heart responses and begin to change.
RELATE: Looking to Jesus
With greater self-awareness of one’s responses, she sees that the help she needs comes from Jesus. Just as a believer trusts Jesus for her salvation from sin, she also learns to trust him for helping her make new heart responses.
RENEW: Calling for new responses from faith
Commitment to change is key. This requires an active faith since “heart change occurs as it is lived out, shaping and reinforcing new values and commitments,” Pierre writes.
Resources for You!
COUNSELING: Struggling? I offer biblical counseling by Skype and in person (greater Chicago). Learn more.
FIT FOR LIFE eBook: A comprehensive weight-loss and life change plan. Check it out. Click here for information.
ARE YOU A COUNSELOR? Join Heart2Heart Counselor Directory! Get details now..
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
A right and godly focus cuts through the complications of life and brings peace to your heart. In her article, which appeared first here on her website, Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul shares insights from story of Ruth as well as Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Life has a way of being very complicated. It is so easy for us to get lost in the situations that happen around us that we quickly lose our focus and our way. We become overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful, maybe even bitter and angry.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians it seemed that might be the case. Paul hoped to encourage this church. I wonder if they were thinking that since Paul was a follower of the Way and was imprisoned that maybe it could happen to them too. Perhaps the scuttlebutt around town was “imagine Paul in prison, chained up. I wonder if he is going to be killed soon? He must be scared. This is terrible. How could God let this happen? Is Paul wrong?”
But this is what Paul writes,
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians: 1:12-14
Deciding Your Focus
Wrong thinking is one of the first places we look focus.
You can hear it in the true story of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
Naomi’s focus: Naomi faced famine and moved to Moab, a godforsaken land, where her husband dies. Her sons marry idol-worshipping women. They produce no offspring. Then her sons die, leaving her with two daughters-in-law. Life couldn’t get much more difficult than that.
She believes God’s hand is very heavy on her and that she has been emptied of anything and anyone who mattered to her. Now she was old. Death would have been a welcome visitor for her. She saw nothing but her difficult circumstances. Poor Naomi … lost, alone and disillusioned and bitter. She sees no hope for her future..
Ruth’s focus: Ruth, on the other hand, could have thought that if she went with Naomi to Israel, she would not be welcomed. She could have thought: “I will never marry or have a child. Perhaps I will face abuse and ridicule. I may starve.”
These were all real possibilities for her future. Yet she did a remarkable thing. She wanted to be where God was in the Land of Bread, and she was determined to go. She persisted and off Ruth and Naomi went to Israel.
Orpah’s focus: Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, returned to Moab and her idol-worshipping life. She lacked God’s perspective. To her, returning home looked most promising.
Listening to Paul’s Solutions
The aspostle Paul…
- clarifies the gospel
- focuses on results
- looks at the big picture
Paul clarifies things so this little church isn’t discouraged or fearful. He doesn’t go into the details of what has happened to him. Instead, he reminds them that the Gospel is being advanced all over the place.
Paul focuses on the results. Paul reminds them that he is in chains for Christ and that the Gospel is advancing.
When we get lost on the problem, doesn’t our vision become limited? Naomi couldn’t see past her circumstances, Ruth saw something way beyond herself. She was going to be in the place God was and she couldn’t wait to get there. It didn’t matter what happened to her as long as she was close to Him.
We become self-absorbed when we focuse only on the horizontal of life. Our world gets smaller and smaller and it appears nothing will ever change. Naomi was caught in that place for quite some time.
But Paul took advantage of his circumstances and shared Jesus to everyone who was attached to him as well as anyone else. Ruth also took advantage of her situation and lived a life of integrity committing herself to the care of this older bitter woman who she loved. Both Paul and Ruth were witnesses of what a follower of Jesus looks like and people noticed.
- How can we think differently about the situations that happen to us? What might God be up to?
Sometimes we know the purpose but other times we don’t. Paul took advantage of this situation and proclaimed Christ. Ruth on the other hand just lived her life in love and obedience to the God she found. She wasn’t a great teacher or spokesperson instead she lived a life of grace and others noticed.
Paul looks at the big picture. Paul sees he is in chains, and other believers speak more boldly. And that is all that matters to him, that Christ gets proclaimed.
God desires for us to change our thinking. We live in a soft and comfy world and we quite like it that way, but following Jesus comes with great cost. We might not be in chains like Paul was, but there will be ample opportunity for us to suffer and go through hardship and in it we can choose to respond like Naomi and get bitter or we can like Paul see the big picture.
Paul endured, he suffered, he sacrificed, he gave and he served because he loved.
How can we take up that same challenge?
During your darkest hours God is working, He is up to good things. He wants to redeem your struggle and use it for nothing but good in your life. You may not always know what He might be doing but you will know the end result is to make you reflect Christ more. (Romans 8:28,29)
What an honor we have.
Will you allow God to use your suffering to produce in you a most pleasing aroma for Him?
An Invitation to You
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,