Lent Day 16 Personalizing Your Prayers

Lent – Day 16

Personalizing Your Prayers

This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” Matthew 6:9-13

God longs for you to engage with and enjoy your relationship with Him. As you pray — and experience how He answers — your relationship with Him grows in trust, and you can have peace in whatever challenges you’re facing. There are six important steps to personalize your prayers, all found in Matthew 6:9-13. These steps include worshipping, surrendering, requesting, confessing and inviting protection.

Pray by using your own words that reflect your unique journey with God.

“Our Father in heaven.” Pray to the Father who is in heaven. Remember that He is in control. This leads to peace and confidence.

“Hallowed be Your name.” Worship God for who He is. Thank God for His love, grace, forgiveness and sacrifice. Focusing on His attributes puts your circumstances into perspective and reminds you of why you can trust Him.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Pray for God’s will to be done by surrendering your plans to Him. Pray for His power, position and presence to be evident on earth.

“Give us today our daily bread.” Ask God for the things you need. Share with Him your deepest desires and longings. He is your provider, protector and sustainer. Trust Him with what you need today. Trust Him with your unmet desires. You don’t need to worry about tomorrow. He will be there to care for you.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Confess your sins to God, turn from them, and ask for forgiveness. Forgive others as God has forgiven you. Release your pain to Him for justice and experience the freedom of forgiveness.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Pray for victory over temptation and protection from the attacks of Satan. God can break every addiction* or sin in your life.

Pray, Reflect and Respond

How could praying through each of these topics daily help you in your relationship with God?

Pray every day this week following this model and note how it impacts your relationship with the Father.

Lent Day 14 Lighting Lanterns

Lent – Day 14

Lighting Lanterns

“I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:10

Before the invention of electricity, oil lamps were common. Add oil, trim the wick and light the lantern.

Without light, darkness is deep, real and often frightening. When a lantern flickers out, the darkness feels complete.

Jesus frequently uses lamps and lanterns in His analogies, comparing His truth and love to physical light (Matt. 5:14-16) or using light to call for a prepared expectation of His return (Matthew 25:1-13). In the New Testament, Jesus calls Himself the Light of the World — and we are invited into His light.

There’s something inside each of us that feels dark — something that weighs heavily on our hearts. Our experiences are different, and each of us feels that burden in a different way. Our life stories are all filled with hardships and difficulties that reveal darkness in our lives.

When you come to Jesus for the first time, you’re cloaked in darkness. Your sin and shame cast shadows over your heart. You’re walking through the world blindly. But Jesus, the Light of the World, reaches you through the darkness and pulls you into His beautiful and glorious light. Jesus, the ultimate lantern, the ultimate guide, sees each detail of your pain and sin.

Throughout your life with Christ, darkness will creep back in.

As a human, you’re sinful. As a child of God, you’re forgiven. Although you will continue making mistakes, Christ’s forgiveness breaks through every barrier. Likewise, difficulties will come that you did not cause, but which affect you greatly. Even in these dark places, Christ is your eternal lantern.

Reflect and Respond

How have you seen Christ’s light in your life? How has He broken through your darkness? What parts of your life need the light of Christ the most? Reflect on this in a quiet moment with the Lord today.

Lent Day 11 The Truth Will Set You Free

Lent – Day 11

The Truth Will Set You Free

“The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 1Corinthians 2:15-16

Stop. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Again.

You never notice that you’re breathing unless you’re asked to breathe — like right now or at the doctor’s office. But you are constantly breathing.

It’s the same with your thoughts. Every day, all day, you make choices based on thoughts you are unaware of. Often these thoughts are negative. Lies, doubts, worries and fears creep in unnoticed.

How can you be aware of and replace negative thoughts with what is true about you, about God and about reality?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 that those who have accepted Christ “have the mind of Christ.” With Christ’s Spirit, you have the ability to think like Him.

You can begin recognizing lies you are believing by comparing your thoughts and beliefs with God’s Word. We all have lies we believe that are sometimes hard to articulate, but when we confess them and bring them into the light of God’s Word, we can experience freedom. (For example, perhaps you’re believing that you’re alone in a tough situation and have to figure it out on your own, when, in reality, if you belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells you. God is with you always and longs to give you the wisdom you need.)

I practice walking in this freedom throughout my day by simply asking, “What am I honestly believing and feeling about what I’m facing right now?” Then ask, “What would God say about what I’m facing right now?” Then I pray that God would give His wisdom and lead me to answers in the Bible. When I open a dialogue with God in prayer and depend on His Spirit to guide me, God begins to replace lies with truth I find in Scripture.

Jesus fought off lies this way when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan came at Jesus from all angles, including by distorting Scripture. But each time Satan tried to tempt Him, Jesus responded by quoting directly from the Old Testament. “It is written,” replied Jesus when Satan pressed Him to change stones into bread, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’”

John 8:31-32 is a great reminder that holding on to Christ, the Author of truth, makes all the difference: “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’”.

Reflect and Respond

What is a lie or worry that keeps you from the freedom that Jesus offers? Is it that you are not worthy of love? That you can’t handle whatever you are facing? That God won’t take care of you? Breathe out your negative thoughts by writing them down or saying them out loud. Then ask God what He would say about these things. What does He say about you?

Don’t know what God would say? Look for Scripture related to what you are facing. Memorize these truths. Breathe in these truths every day.

Lent A Day Of Rest

It’s Sunday — a day to rest.

Did you know that ever since Jesus died and rose again, each Sunday is like a mini Easter? In addition to resting, like God commanded in the Old Testament, the first Christians remembered and celebrated Christ’s resurrection every single week.

Today, God invites you to celebrate and rest in the finished work of Christ — for you and for everyone who trusts in Him.

Lent – Day 10 The Power Of Repentance

Lent – Day 10

The Power of Repentance

Every Saturday during this study, you will learn about common spiritual disciplines that many followers of Jesus practice during Lent. Today you will learn about repentance. These disciplines are valuable tools to draw near to God when they come from a heart seeking to do just that — rather than a heart which hopes to justify itself through these works or simply check a box on its Lent “to-do” list. We hope these insights will encourage you and help connect you to the Father throughout these 40 days.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight; so You are right in Your verdict and justified when You judge.” Psalm 51:1-4

Saying “I’m sorry” has never been easy for me. I don’t enjoy admitting when I’ve messed up. I’ve learned, though, that if I don’t apologize when I’ve done something wrong, my relationships inevitably suffer.

I see this in my relationship with God too. Sin damages my fellowship with Him, but repentance — the act of turning away from sin and surrendering anew to God’s authority — brings restoration and peace.

King David learned the importance of repentance after having an affair with a married woman and sending her husband to the front lines of war to die. Psalm 51 shows his anguish over his sins. His prayer of repentance can serve as a model for you today.

Repentance acknowledges that your heart is prone to wander away from God, and it places God back in His rightful place on the throne of your life. The purpose of repentance isn’t to spend time wallowing in shame but to allow the Holy Spirit’s conviction to draw you back to God. He has already paid the price for your sins, and He has the power to bring you victory over that sin.

If it’s been a while since you’ve practiced the healthy discipline of repentance, Lent is a great time to incorporate it into your spiritual walk. His love is perfect; His mercy is abundant. Like David, cry out to Him and trust that He’s able to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. And then enjoy the sweet fellowship that comes with being right with God.

Pray

“God, thank You for Your goodness and mercy. I acknowledge that I am guilty of __. Please forgive me and create a clean heart within me. I surrender to You and ask You to help me live a life that pleases You. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Jayna Richardson

Lent Day 9 Shared Glory Shared Suffering

Lent – Day 9

Shared Glory, Shared Suffering

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8:14-17

I remember the moment I realized how tightly my heart and spirit were gripped by fear. On a summer mission trip to Juneau, Alaska, I watched everyone around me take steps of faith despite their fear. One student stepped toward vulnerability, sharing her story with courage. Another stepped toward bold evangelism, inviting locals into community with us and with God. As I observed from a comfortable distance, it struck me that I’d never experience the Lord like my peers were if I stayed on the sidelines.

I took my first real leap of faith into a lake, hand-in-hand with my small group. In total disregard for my fear of water, I jumped; when I climbed back onto the dock, I couldn’t believe I had done it. I finally turned away from fear and stepped out in faith, trusting God completely, and I felt weightless. It was liberating. No longer bound by my fears, I was free to experience the fullness of God’s presence with me as I discovered new courage to do things I had been afraid of for so long. This is exactly what the Spirit’s presence promises: disencumbering assurance, peace beyond measure and freedom from fear.

This same kind of freedom comes with your adoption into the family of God. When you invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit enters your life. At that moment, you become God’s child. Like an orphan adopted by a loving family, you do not do anything to earn your place as God’s child. Your adoption is a permanent gift given through the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word used in this Bible passage for “adoption to sonship” refers to the full legal standing of an adopted heir in Roman society. Through adoption, you gain an inheritance — but what do you inherit? Romans 8 says that you are God’s heir and a co-heir with Christ, meaning you share in Christ’s inheritance. Your adoption into the family of God qualifies you to share in the same victory and joy as Jesus.

While you share Christ’s victory, you’ll also share His suffering. The Holy Spirit frees you from bondage to fear, but He does not eliminate suffering from your life. You will suffer disappointment, defeat, grief, frustration and obstacles far beyond your control. But the good news of your adoption is this: even when trouble comes your way, you don’t have to be afraid. Your seat at the family table is eternally reserved. Your adoption grants you full access to a heavenly Father who sees your grief, knows your heartache and delights in caring for you.

You don’t have to fear disappointment, defeat or grief because you are a child of God. And His love for you — like His love for Jesus — is infinite. Suffering will come, but so will glory, and both are shared. As a co-heir with Christ, a child of God, whatever comes, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll never have to endure suffering alone.

Reflect And Respond

Think of a time when God used your suffering to bring you closer to Him or to accomplish something that you hadn’t expected.

What might help you to remember that you are not alone when you are suffering?

In light of your adoption, what might be keeping you from experiencing the fullness of God’s presence?

Sarah Wontorcik

April 17 MRO Egg Hunt @ Bristol Motor Speedway

Please join us on Easter Sunday for an Egg Hunt at the MRO Community Center @ 2:00 p.m.

No credential. No worries. The MRO CC is located outside of the 3rd turn tunnel. You and your family can hang out with us for the entire afternoon of fun!!

2022 MRO Easter Egg Hunt

After the Egg Hunt, you and your family can enjoy an Easter Celebration sponsored by Bristol Motor Speedway @ 4:00 p.m.

Details:

https://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/media/news/chris-tomlin-max-lucado-gary-levox-headline-special-easter-celebration-service-bms-april.html

Lent – Day 8 Lost On The Inside

Lent – Day 8

Lost On The Inside

“There was a man who had two sons…” Luke 15:11-32

Resentment about serving builds where I used to enjoy it.

Envy rises toward people who appear to lead a simpler life.

I tabulate the work I’ve accomplished for Jesus before clocking out of good deeds for the day.

Do you, as I do, tend to function like you’re God’s employee instead of a beloved member of His family?

When I’m in this kind of funk, the story of the father and his sons in Luke 15 snaps me back to reality.

A wealthy father has two sons, and one asks for his inheritance early. This son, the younger, parties his fortune away while the other stays at the family farm, working hard to build the estate. I get that life — the life of the dutiful child.

Then the younger son returns completely broke, willing to take the place of a servant. Instead, he’s welcomed back as a cherished son.

The older brother — the responsible one — now spews his resentment. He’s never felt celebrated, and he’s angry. He was there the whole time working so hard, being so good, but missing out on life.

The father finds his older son outside the house and pleads with him. “Everything I have is yours,” the father says. “You are always with me,” he adds, pleading for deeper understanding. We are left wondering about this older brother. Does he get it? Is he ever able to receive what his father wanted to give him: an invitation into his presence, to his wealth? We are left wondering how he will respond.

Regardless of whom you identify with in Jesus’ story, this invitation is extended to you too.

If you relate to the younger son, will you come home and embrace the father waiting for you? Or will you remain far from the family, hoping to work something out on your own?

If you, like me, relate to the elder brother, will you remain in the darkness, lost outside the celebration, resentful because you worked so hard for so long to earn something that was free all along? Or will you join in on the party, accepting God’s free and complete favor extended to you through His Son, Jesus?

Respond

Spend some time reflecting on Luke 15. When have you felt lost, resentful or like you had to earn God’s acceptance? What did the older son feel that he deserved? What did the father hope his older son would see about their relationship? How is the father’s character in the story similar to or different from what you understand of God?

Alison Wilson currently works with college students at Texas A&M University.

Lent Day 7 Forgiven And Free

Lent Day – Day 7

Forgiven and Free

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”Psalm 103:8-12

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:15-25

Reflect And Respond

What moments or patterns of sin weigh you down? Write one or two down and confess them directly to God. Give them to Him, remembering that Christ paid for these sins and more when He died on the cross. Then read Psalm 51, knowing you are a new creation, clean and forgiven in Christ.

Lent – Day 4 Fasting Can Transform Your Life

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

In When Moses received the 10 Commandments, he spent 40 days on the mountain without food or water. When the prophet Daniel waited for God’s deliverance, he fasted, confessing his sins and the sins of his country. Before Christ began His earthly ministry, He was tempted in the wilderness and He fasted. But why?

When you fast, you deny yourself the necessity of food or the pleasures of this life and, for a time, you make feeding your soul by hearing from God a higher priority than feeding your body. 

When you deny yourself food (or other things you rely on), you humbly admit your dependence on God alone to meet your needs. As your metabolism slows down, so can you, and you can allow the fast-paced world to fade to background noise for a short time.

Down through history, people have fasted at times when they had an urgent prayer request, were looking for direction or were taking on a special assignment. Still, fasting — a staple of the Christian life passed down through generations — may not be as familiar to you as other spiritual disciplines, like having a personal quiet time or praying.

Because we live in a “me-first” culture, we forget that life in Christ is not all about us. We’re tempted to tell God how we want Him to act so He can make our lives easier. “Give me what I want right now. Please don’t make this painful. And by all means, keep me safe.”

Fasting allows you to line up your heart and prayer life with God’s desires rather than pursuing your own agenda. You may fast for a specific time from food or from luxuries like Netflix, social media or even chocolate. Some people fast for a day, others for a week or two, and still others might fast as long as 40 days, the entire length of Lent.

By denying yourself, you invite the Holy Spirit to examine your life and lead you into the plans He has for you.

Pray

“Jesus, I want to live in line with Your plans for my life. What are You asking me to let go of for a time so that I can listen to You more clearly?”