A BOOK REVIEW for a great prayer map.

How is your prayer life?

I don’t often post a book review, but I do want to share this resource with you.  I received a free copy from Barbour Publishing, and it is in fact compiled by Barbour Publishing.  Although the title says for women, it is equally relative for men.  Following the review I posted to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christian Book Distributors, I will explain what led me to add my review here.

The Prayer Map for Women

I am impressed with this prayer journal. The title is an excellent clue as to what is inside.  Truly it is a great map to find a deeper, richer prayer life. 

There is a two page spread included for each day.  We write the date in, and then the map leads us to greet our heavenly Father before doing anything else.  We move on to a time of thankfulness before going forward to making a list of people we are praying for that day.  There is a place to list our worries or concerns, and a place to note what is happening in our life at the moment.  The map then shows us where to put our needs.  The next stop on the prayer map is a place to share anything else we want to talk to God about.  The map ends with a scripture verse and Amen. 

I feel this is exactly what I need to enrich my prayer life.  In my experience, I pray more consistently and fervently when I write things down.  I have a separate journal for scripture journaling; the focus of this book is definitely prayer.  I like having a prayer journal for two main reasons:  it is helpful to write things down to keep our focus on our prayer, and we can look back later to remind us of what we prayed and noting how the prayers were answered. 

Physically, the journal is a perfect size for grabbing a cup of tea and going outside for prayer time.  The wire binding makes it easy to turn to the current page and write in without needing a table.  The cover seems to be good quality, and I suspect a small spill or drop of jam could be wiped off without damage to the cover if done quickly although I have not had to test that yet.  Colors are mostly soft so they do not overpower what you write. 

So far, I have not found anything about this prayer map journal that I do not like.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their prayer life.  I also feel this book can be a great resource in a class or workshop about prayer.

Now let me get back to my original question. How is your prayer life?  Let me state that another way…how is MY prayer life?

For some time, I have been very concerned over my prayers.  It seems to me my prayers have become too vague and repetitive.  God and I talked about that, but I don’t think I was in a listening mood.  Once I even caught myself saying to God, “but I don’t need to tell you that because You already know what I am going to say.”  Really Susan?!  I lamented and stewed and pleaded with God, but never really put any effort into changing.  I confess, at one point in my life, I did a lot of praying and a lot of listening to God.  Perhaps I took it for granted, but I don’t think that is what happened.  I think I simply got too busy, too involved, too tired…whatever.  It isn’t that I didn’t want to pray but more that I was skidding through prayer without digging deeper.  I was letting outside thoughts seep into my prayer time.  (Even the work you are doing for the Kingdom can intrude on your prayers at the wrong time.)  You might say I was letting the cares of the world make my prayers unfruitful.

I am positive God often shakes His head and lovingly says, “Susan, Susan, Susan.”  When I was pleading with God a few months ago to deepen my prayer life, little did I know that I would be asked to review this book. Let me say that it doesn’t tell me anything new, or that I didn’t know.  However it reminds me that I need to take time to greet my heavenly Father and praise Him and tell Him how much I love him BEFORE I get into the I needs and I wants.  It reminds me that if I list the people I will be praying for today I am much more likely to remember to actually pray for them throughout the day. It reminds me that I need a consistent way to organize my prayers to be more effective.

It reminds me of the song we used to sing as children.  Deeper, deeper, in the love of Jesus, daily let me go….(deeper yet I pray. And higher every day.)

Gotta go.  It’s time to pray.  And I am excited.



Pulling Weeds

Feeling a bit energetic today, I went for a short walk outside.  Of course my first stop was our garden.  Hubby has taken over almost all of the gardening.  I love it, but my knees don’t.  Funny, for the last 5 years I have don’t all the gardening pretty much by myself with the help of some Grandies now and then.  Hubby wasn’t able, so I did the best I could, loving every minute of it especially when grandkids were in the garden with me.  Now my body yells if I thing garden, but Hubby has retired and is now back to gardening all the time!  Hmmmm, sounds a bit like teamwork to me.  But that is a rabbit trail and I need to get back to the main path of my thoughts.

The garden looks great, and I was able to plant a few plants that somehow hadn’t made their way to their permanent home yet. That felt good to my soul; gardeners will know exactly what I mean.  Then I came back to the house briefly to get the fresh nectar for our hummingbirds.  They are such a pleasure to watch that I try hard to make sure their feeder is filled every few days.  Walking back outside, I strolled to the large flower bed planted right outside the living room window.  It probably looks like a strange location to passersby, but it is perfect placement for us to watch the birds, butterflies and bunnies that visit.  I had planted petunias, geraniums, dahlias, marigolds, and a host of other flowers earlier this year.  I took great care to notice which area would get shade and which would get full sun, placing the flowers carefully.  Then I put some shepherd’s hooks with finch feeders and cardinal feeders, along with my hummingbird feeder- spaced just so among the flowers.  Two small bird baths were added, and the fairy garden that the Grandies have been working on was moved close to the hummingbirds.  Every time I looked at that flower bed, I had to smile and reflect on the loving God that made such a riot of color possible.

This morning, however, something didn’t look quite right.  We have had a few bad storms recently and I hadn’t actually been in the flower bed for a week or so.  The plants that had been so beautiful were drooping and fading.  The growth wasn’t what I expected, especially from the petunias which can tend to take over.  Hmmmm, what to do, what to do?  You know, just because I love gardening doesn’t mean I have a green thumb.  And then it happened, standing right there between the petunias and the purply flowers (whatever they are called).  God gently reminded me of a lesson or two He had taught me before and now needed to remind me.  Flower beds, like our faith and our prayer life, need attention.  It isn’t enough to plant the seed and let it go. The seeds and plants need to be nurtured.  They need to be inspected for leaves and flowers that are no longer productive.  My son would say they need to be “deadheaded” and have a haircut now and then. Anything that is hindering them from growth, like weeds, needs to be removed. They need a bit of food now and then to keep them healthy.

Our faith and our prayer life need to be exercised and nurtured.  It isn’t enough to say I have faith and then sit down and dwell on that fact.  It isn’t enough to pray a quick prayer now and then when I remember it.  We need to be intentional in our walk with God.  Speaking to me now, but you can listen if you want, I need to see what in my life is keeping my faith from growing.  Some things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but if they take away from  God’s plan for me, then they are bad for me. What in my life is hindering my prayers from being more regular, deeper, more intentional?  If I’m not growing, then I’m standing still, which is the same as going backwards.  Is busyness keeping me from time in the Word?  Are other interests taking up too much of my time, keeping me from putting my faith into action?

Well, I thank God for the nudges and reminders He gives us.  I believe it is time for me to get out my spiritual food and action plan (Bible) and see what else God has to say to me today.  It isn’t always comfortable when God has to dig around in my heart, especially when He has to use His pruning shears, but it is necessary as He makes me into the beautifully blooming, productive  and growing Child of God He wants me to become.  Something to think about, in a quiet moment.

Turning to gaze out the window one more time before I get busy reading God’s Word and pulling some spiritual weeds, I see the hummingbird perched and looking right at me.  It seems he might be smiling.  And you know, I’m convinced the flowers look just a wee bit brighter already.

Camels, Pain and Prayer

Did you ever watch a camel plodding over the dessert?  Ok, I admit I have only seen a camel plodding on hot desert sands in the movies, but I can empathize with the camel.  One foot in front of the other, again and again and again.  Now God created a camel to be able to do what a camel must do.  And He created me to do what I must do.  And I was NOT created to plod across hot sand.  Fiddle, I can’t even keep my balance in cool sand.  But if I can do anything, I can plod on a good old regular floor.

Today I plodded with the best of them.  My part time job coincides with the school year, so Monday it is back to work.  Today I went in to make sure everything was in top shape and ready to go.  The room wasn’t too bad, but something about this time of year makes me want to rearrange furniture.  And rearrange I did.  Cabinets full of construction paper changed position more than once. (Come on Nana, really?)  Tables, equipment…nothing was safe.  One hour slipped into two, and before you know it hubby was calling to see if I would even make it home for dinner.

As I plodded to the car (ok, I couldn’t resist that one!) I remember thinking my feet were really going to be telling me a few things later after all the abuse of the day.  Driving home, I could feel those ankles getting their thoughts together.  Sure enough, when I tried to get out of the car at home, they had their words in order.

“Nana, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?’ said the left ankle as I swung it out of the car.  The left ankle jumped right in. “Anyone as old as you should have better sense than to move furniture all day without help.”  Personally I wish the ankles would just hush.  Do they really think I don’t already know I overdid it a bit?  Mentally I reminded myself that I should probably keep quite about the pain or he would probably join the ankles in commenting on my good sense…or lack thereof.

Keeping quiet didn’t work.  Within 2 hours I was all but in tears and bemoaning the fact that pain pills are not permitted.  I propped my feet up.  I groaned.  I complained that while doctors were quick to tell me I couldn’t take pain pills they didn’t tell me what I could take.  I took a hot shower.  I berated myself for not being sensible.  And then I thought, oh yeah, prayer.  Why is it that I always remember prayer last?  God wants me to talk to Him about things all along rather than waiting until I feel there are no other options.  I think sometimes I feel I shouldn’t bother Him with my silliness, but He wants to hear my thoughts.  Just do a search for prayer in the Bible and the verses will keep you busy for a long time.  I didn’t ask God to take away my pain, but to make it manageable.  He sure answered that prayer and I wondered why I waited so long.  With things in a better perspective, I was reminded of a  social media post earlier in the year.  It bears repeating, so here it is.

“I am thankful for pain. Now don’t get me wrong…Wes hears a complaint or two because my feet hurt so badly tonight, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My ankles are remembering the many pushes of my bicycle pedals especially in 4th and 5th grade. And the pacing back and forth while I stretched the phone cord as far as it would go while talking to my hubby…before he was my hubby. They remember running after two little boys who have since become two fine young men…joining in their games and pretending I had just as much energy as they did. The bottoms of my feet remember the joy of teaching my students. The most recent students needing me to squat to their level as well as spend long moments balancing doubled over tying shoes, wiping noses, sharing discoveries…and did I mention tying shoes? My feet remember hours of joy spent in the garden. Sometimes alone with God and my thoughts and sometimes accompanied by precious grandies who made me see each plant and critter with new eyes. My ankles are remembering being blessed with extra sewing time and flexing to press that foot pedal for just the right speed. They remember walking from the car to a job I enjoy, and trudging up the steps when I get home and being greeted by a husband who still thinks I am special. Tomorrow my feet will be ready to meet a new day with better energy, but for today they help me remember so many blessings. I’m thankful for pain”

The thoughts still hold true.  I’m thankful for what I was able to accomplish today, even if I could have been a bit more sensible about it.  I’m thankful that I have a God who cares.  I’m thankful that I have a hubby who puts up with me when I haven’t made the best choices.  I’m thankful I can still plod along.  I’m even thankful for camels.

camel in Lancaster