On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

 

I wish we were sitting across from each other at a quaint little coffee shop with ice cold frappes in our hands. The things I want to share with you are so much a part of my life and so impactful on my heart right now I feel as though we must be in person to convey these things accurately. But alas, you’re way over there and I’m way over here. Let’s imagine we have frappes though, because wow it’s warm in northern Illinois right now!

Recently, I was reminded through one of Jesus’ Gospel parables about the importance of praying earnestly. Boldly coming before the Father with your request and taking it to Him not just once but many times is huge. I decided to have a go at this myself, and pleaded with God on behalf of something that has been really impacting my life, and I included the plea for love and joy to fill my heart as I waited. I am so aware that my actions are often so selfish and I can do little about it in my own power, so praying for God to adjust my heart with genuine love and His joy has become a necessary factor for me. Throughout the day, God did not fulfill the initial request, but He changed my attitude about it, and in addition He filled me with a rare amount of a unique love and joy that I hadn’t experienced before. Because of various situations just in that day alone, it couldn’t help but be pointed directly at God, because I knew that I was completely incapable of conjuring up those qualities in myself! And this happened because the Holy Spirit led me to that passage that reminded me of praying to Him earnestly. That day, Hebrews 11:6 became very real to me: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

There have been many times that I have prayed for something in my life to change: for pain to go away, for finances, for getting accepted into a university, for a plethora of things. And you may have heard the saying that either God says “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Often, it’s the dreaded “wait”, during which you’re not even sure if God heard you. But rest assured, He certainly did. When you come to Him, intentionally seeking Him out, He absolutely does hear you. And that waiting period is so very difficult. But this is what I’ve found to be so very true during those times of waiting and praying earnestly and diligently: He changes your attitude. There have been times when He was preparing me for the death of a dream, and what incurred was the result of a “no”, but He had something far better in store. Sometimes too that initial desire was in preparation for what was to come in its place. Waiting resulting in the answer “yes” is also a good preparation period, during which God is molding your character.

And there is so much more to prayer than even that. Building your relationship with God requires communication just like any other relationship, and this relationship with the Creator of the stars is a life-changing, heart-altering experience. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon and continue with our frappes!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

 

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

On Prayer, Part 1: My Heart’s Song

You may have noticed that I write pretty much straight from my heart. When I put my fingers to the keys, I word vomit and don’t look back, especially when I don’t know how or where to begin, which is exactly what I’m doing now. Over the years of filling up diaries I have come to an automatic writing style of journaling that isn’t necessarily essay-worthy, but it’s from the depths of my soul. If I was blatantly honest with anyone it would be to paper, a computer screen, or Jesus.

So guess what?
You’re looking at a screen. 😉
You get to know my heart for a little while.

Lately, this enormously precious topic has been on my heart: prayer. The word makes some people wince, and others shrug. A lot of people would stop reading by now, because prayer is a boring topic that doesn’t make much sense, and isn’t really worth knowing about.

But it’s worth knowing. Let me tell you. It’s worth knowing.

Not only is prayer worth knowing, but it’s a vehicle to the One who is the source of your life. And He’s worth knowing.

There are several elements of prayer that didn’t ever really make sense to me for a long time either. For example, if God already knows my heart, why pray? and How do I know that my prayers actually affect anything?

I’m not here to answer those questions with a philosophical explanation, or even act like I know the real answer to what prayer truly does. Why I’m writing is to convey to you what I’ve learned over the course of the short 20 years I’ve existed in this crazy confusing world. Prayer is one really big thing that has impacted my life on so many truly, truly real levels.

It’s so hard to convey accurately what I’ve discovered about prayer. It’s been an interesting, and honestly perplexing journey over the past three years. But what I do know for sure are these three things:

  1. It affects you
  2. It affects your relationship with Jesus
  3. It affects others

So in the next few posts in this category, I’ll be diving into this topic of prayer and what I’ve come to know that has extraordinarily impacted my walk with Christ. I am still on a lifelong journey of discovering all the different, wonderful aspect of prayer, and I’m certain that I’ll never get to the point of fully knowing what it means to be in relationship-level communication with the Creator of the Universe.

But I suppose if I knew everything about things, life wouldn’t be so intriguing!

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:9-10 & 12

 

 

Hope

Hope:

This isn’t the end.

This is just the beginning of just a chapter of your life.

This chapter could last two paragraphs or 60 pages.

This chapter could be the most exciting chapter in the book, it could be the climax.

This chapter could actually also be a low point in the novel of your life, and it could only get better.

Hope:

God is in control.

You can rely on Him to take care of your needs.

You are an imperfect decision maker, but God is a perfect decision maker.

You are imperfect at pursuing a thing, and God is the Master Perfecter of all plans, and WILL, He TRULY will fulfill them in the most perfect way there could ever be.

My Grace is Sufficient for YOU

See here,

you were put in this season of your life for reasons that nobody else shares. God has a unique plan for you. Don’t be comparing your life story with that of another’s. While another life may appear successful, they are fighting their own unseen battles. They may seem as though they have it all together, but that’s only you comparing your life to theirs. Stop comparing. You have your own very beautiful story in which God has invested Himself 100%. It is your duty to do your best where you’re at. Don’t be trying to do your best according to what someone else’s best looks like. Do YOUR best.

Perhaps you expected that coming into this season of your life you would learn specific things and that since you aren’t getting those things accomplished you feel like a failure. By no means have you messed up God’s plan for your life! God has designed this season of your life in a way that grows you in specific areas. Yes, perhaps during this season of life you may very well learn the things you anticipated, but there’s oh so much more to each and every season than what you expect. There’s more beneath the surface. You are learning, growing, and being molded in a much different way than the girl who always seems to smile or the boy who always has the right answer to every question.

Go with the flow in the life God has called you live in; allow God’s grace to flood your life and everything you do, and stop comparing yourself to the success of others. Your success looks different than any other individual. You were made in more unique ways than your appearance or your personality…your entire story is a unique, intentional, purposeful puzzle piece in this world in which God created you.

Don’t compare.

Your story is beautiful.

It doesn’t have to be tainted by comparing your story with the story of anyone else.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

You Are Beautiful (2)

I have been learning recently a whole new perspective on the value of myself. It is such a common misconception, especially amongst women, to believe they are less than that beautiful, popular girl in class, less than that hot model on the red carpet. But believe me, and I am speaking as a girl who has had insecurities about herself image ever since I can remember…YOU ARE TRULY GORGEOUS.

Please read this carefully.

God created you and your outward appearance intentionally. He absolutely LOVES the way you look. While culture constantly changes and evolves what is considered  beautiful, God’s concept of beauty never changes. He created you specifically to be beautiful, and you are really and truly His masterpiece. God specifically designed you and knitted you together to look exactly the way you do. Yes, exactly. And yes, you were born without make-up. You don’t need extra things to look “beautiful.”

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” [Ephesians 2:10, NLT]

You are the only one who knows exactly who you are. No one sees all your “flaws.” No one sees all the things about your personality that you abhor. No one sees all your sins at once but you. Only you see all these things combined and immediately view yourself as ugly. And this, my dear friend, is exactly what Satan wants you to see.

But in the eyes of God, you are clothed in righteousness. You are flawless. God has forgotten your sins, and allows you the opportunity as well to be able to forget them and move on into the grace that God gives you.

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” [Isaiah 61:10, NASB]

Satan, on the other hand, doesn’t want this to happen. He wants you to see yourself as ugly and despicable, because he knows this is the exact opposite of worship toward Christ, your Creator. By accepting and being confident in the way God created you, this is an act of worship. Imagine if you spent hours on a painting that your poured yourself into, and when you stood back to admire your finished work, the painting began to complain about the way it was made.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” [1 Timothy 4:4-5, ESV]

But God shakes His head at your discontentment. God is perfect, He cannot make an ugly human being. He designed you intentionally. He knitted you together in such a way that is pleasing to Him. Think of this: God knows everything about you. And He still thinks you are stunning, dear friend, you are STUNNING. Forget what the world considers beautiful. You are exceptionally stunning.

“You have searched me, Lord,and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar …. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. … For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” [Psalm 139:1-2, 6, 13-14, NIV]

Satan despises it when God’s creation is pleased with the way it looks. Satan wants God’s creation to be discontent and dissatisfied with the way it is, for you to be primarily focused on all your insecurities, to be withdrawn into yourself so much that there is no room for God. You were made in God’s image, and Satan hates that you are so much a part of God.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” [Genesis 1:27, NIV]

The same God who created the stars created you. He considers you to not only be good, like He considered the beautiful gems in the sky, but VERY good, from your glittering eyes to to every hair on your head.

You really, truly are beautiful.

Forget Satan’s torments.

Lean into God’s grace, allow Him to clothe you in righteousness. For you are His masterpiece, created in His image.

You’re Beautiful

You’re Beautiful

 

I am a huge fan of spontaneous photography expeditions, so when my good friend Mrs. Jones asked if I would like to take her son’s senior pictures in Chicago the next week, I was elated. On Thursday, we drove and walked all around the Windy City, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the giant brick murals and random, unique sculptures. Except for the first six months of my life, I have lived in the rural parts of Illinois, so cornfields, silos, windmills, and big red barns are incredibly average sites I drive by every day, and nothing to be overly excited about. But in the city, there are impressively tall, shiny skyscrapers that glimmer in the sunlight, plenty of notable sculptures to be admired, and flowers and budding trees galore, planted in the most organized and strategic fashion. Beyond those, there’s the lake and the ferris wheel, seaguls, pidgeons, and people that stepped right out of Pinterest. My friends and I wondered how these runners, businessmen, and college kids could walk past these amazing points of beauty and not be struck with awe.

Of course; they live there. They’re used to it. They walk or run past it almost every day. It’s as mundane as a silo or a windmill.

I get these great ideas for pieces of art, and attempt to draw them. They don’t turn out exactly how I pictured them, so I erase, re-draw, erase, sketch some more, erase another line, and it gets kind of old after a while. The drawing isn’t as fabulous as I thought it would be. And yet when I show the drawing or painting to my friends they are all excited about it, thrilled that I have created such a masterpiece. Me? What? And I put myself down because I honestly don’t agree with their amazement. Instead, I gaze at the artwork of other far more talented artists, and only dream of being able to accomplish such vibrantly creative pictures. They’re new, different, completely unlike mine, and I can’t even see a single flaw.

It’s because my own drawing got old; I was staring at it for too long, and as the artist, I could see all the mistakes I made. But to the average onlooker, the piece is brilliant and worthy of praise. While I was busy comparing my artwork to the new, skillfully sketched piece of someone else’s, my own became like dust.

Every morning when I look in the mirror, I see a reflection of flaws and all the features I’ve never been content with. All the things I wish I could change about my appearance is accentuated and exaggerated so that’s all I see, and I’m bored and frustrated and discontent with myself. This world contains plenty of gorgeous model-status girls whom I revere, and nothing I can do will ever measure up to them.

But that isn’t what God intended for His beautiful masterpieces! I am an imperfect artist, and I make mistakes. But the Creator of all things, my Savior, has made you and me absolutely perfect in His eyes. After all, we were made in the image of HIM! My own paintings don’t have life: they can’t think for themselves, and they don’t make choices. We, on the other hand, do, and God gave us, creations in His image, this gift to be able to choose what we think and what path we take. Unfortunately, we tend to overthink. I know I do, especially during the morning routine when I’m getting ready for the day and I don’t feel at all like those beautiful, stylish models on Pinterest. We become bored with our self images and nitpick every quality in comparison to that one girl we passed at Old Navy who was perfectly matched, perfectly adorned, perfectly outfitted in every way, and had that nose we could only wish for. I can only imagine what sadness would overcome my painting if it overheard me telling myself everything wrong I did with it and what painting it should be more like. No, our perfect God, who makes absolutely no mistakes, made you exactly the way you are, because He knows that is beautiful.

YOU, my dear friend, are beautiful.

“For you are His masteriece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

See? His works are wonderful. All of them. Including you, beautiful.

Caution: Extreme Randomness

I’m sure that it’s rather common among writers to begin an essay and absolutely hate where it’s going, so delete it, but then mourn the fact that it actually contained some great visuals and vibrantly colorful adjectives. Basically, that’s how I started this particular post perhaps a half a dozen times. At 7:02 PM, April 26th, 2016, I am sitting on my bed, laptop propped half on my crossed legs and half on my comforter, and I’m internally freaking out. I AM STARTING A BLOG.

Hello, world. It’s me, Elizabeth Henrikson (but you can call me Liz): cat lover, photographer, artist, ukulelist, pianist, sort-of-a flautist (though haven’t picked it up in years…good heavens), adventurer, and apparently I’m a writer. But above all, I’m a Jesus lover, Believer in Christ: a Christian. I am absolutely IN LOVE with my Savior and heavenly Daddy, and I desire to serve Him through everything I do, and that includes this blog.
So here we go! On to another adventure. Lord help me.