Sow & Gather

Conversations with God

Discerning & Praying--Praying With Thanks

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
Want To Hear From God Pray with Thanksgiving #prayer #thanksgiving

Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.  Psalm 105:1 (NIV) 

Eating an amazing meal or drinking a wonderful cup of coffee with a dear friend while chatting about life is such a delight. During this conversation, you tell each other everything, all the exciting moments as well as the struggles.  At times I have laughed outrageously and cried uncontrollably, both within the same conversation.    

Prayer, or talking with Jesus is the same. We have the privilege of pouring our hearts out to Jesus, discussing the ups and downs of our lives, as well as stopping and listening to discern His voice.  Our prayers consist of adoring and praising Him, confessing our wrong-doings, thanking Him and interceding for others.  

Recently, I have been contemplating how thankful I am to God. I know I give thanks during the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? Am I thankful and do I express it to the Giver of all things? Is my pride, or even apathy, getting in the way of communicating thanks to God? Sadly, the answer is yes to all three questions. 

So, I decided I would practice giving thanks through prayer every day. I knew I needed something tangible that would help me to be accountable to myself and to Jesus. At first, I grabbed a calendar and decided to write and pray for one thing each day that I was thankful for.  (It had to be only one thing since the block on the calendar was so small!) Funny, right! I tried again and this time I found a journal and decided to write and pray about at least five things. I have discovered most days I pray for more than five, including the smallest details of life. I have thanked Him for everything from the comfortable sheets on my bed to the miraculous healing of a friend.  

This prayer of thanks is one of the final activities of my day. Usually, I am lying in bed scribbling words of thanks, calling out to our great LORD, calling, “thank you, Jesus!” 

Dig Deeper |

Colossians 4:2; 1 Timothy 2:1; Philippians 4:6 

Action Item |

Begin a prayer journal of thanks to God. 

Prayer |

Dear LORD, You are truly a great God. Thank You for loving me and for all the blessings of life. Help me to express my thanks to You every day. Amen. 

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Waiting Patiently On God

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
I'm Learning To Wait On God #prayer #sowandgather

Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. Isaiah 40:13 NASB

Once when my daughter was small, we were traveling in the car where it seems little minds dream up demands at will. Finally, after about twenty jillion requests, in exasperation I said, "You're just gonna have to wait!" To which she replied, "I can't!"  "And why not?" I asked. "Because my wait has run off into the woods and I can't find it." 

While that was a creative way to express impatience, I find that I am less creative when I am waiting on God to provide direction for me. I find that I become increasingly anxious hoping that God is listening. I finally at some point convince myself that I know what is best and plow ahead. Listening to this lie always creates more trouble in my life than it solves, because God's plans are perfect just like Him. 

What I really need is to let God be my pace car. In NASCAR, a pace car comes out to control the speed on the track so that cars are protected from unseen obstructions ahead. Often when God tells me to wait, what He is really asking is for me to trust Him. He knows what is ahead and in His love He is trying to guide me to where I need to be.   

When I was a teenager, I experienced some of the most difficult periods of waiting. During that time, this poem by J. Danson Smith became a real comfort: 

Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting! 

Till next steps made plain shall be; 

To hear, with the inner hearing 

The Voice that will call for me. 

Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting! 

With hope that need not grow dim; 

The Master is pledged to guide me, 

And my eyes are unto Him. 

Waiting! Expectantly waiting! 

Perhaps it may be today 

The Master will quickly open 

The gate to my future way. 

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting! 

I know, though I've waited long, 

That, while He withholds His purpose, 

His waiting cannot be wrong. 

Waiting! Yes, waiting! still waiting! 

The Master will not be late; 

He knoweth that I am waiting 

For Him to unlatch the gate. 

Dig Deeper |

Isaiah 40:21-31

Action Item |

Practice trusting God about important decisions during periods of high anxiety. He is a good God and will not let you go wrong if you wait on Him. 

Prayer |

Father God, I pray to You, just as David in Psalm 27, that You will help my heart to take courage in You, and that I will be strong in difficult circumstances because You, oh Lord, are my salvation. Thank you for being my Guide. Help me to trust You more and wait on Your perfect timing. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

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This post is part of the #livefreeThursday linkup with Susie Eller.

How Can I Discern God's Voice

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
How Can I Discern God's Voice? #prayer #sowandgather

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

Would you describe yourself as someone who loves to get up early when the sun rises and the birds begin to chatter or someone who loves the quietness of night when the moon shines through your window?  

I am definitely a night person. I enjoy staying up into the night watching movies, reading an intense book and at times just contemplating the world. It is also my time to study the Bible and converse with Jesus. I have found that the peacefulness of the evening is a time when I can quiet my soul and just be still. I am able to think and really mediate on Jesus and pour out my soul to Him.  

This stillness allows me to also listen to Him. As I read and study His word and communicate with Him through prayer and genuinely listen, I am able to discern His way for me. In Isaiah 30:21 it states, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” My ears have to be ready to actively listen to His voice and not to my family or friends or the circumstances around me. 

In the Bible a man named Elijah surveyed his circumstance and ran for his life from an evil queen, Jezebel, who wanted to take his life. He ran for forty days and forty nights until he reached a cave. God appeared to Elijah not in a wind which tore mountains apart and shattered rock or an earthquake or even a raging fire. God came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. In this whisper, God instructed Elijah to go back from where he came for He was with him. 

So, just like Elijah I have to put away the turmoil of life, be still, and listen for the voice of Jesus and His instructions for me.  

Dig Deeper |

I Kings 18:16-19:18

Action Item |

Take a moment to be still and listen!! 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, You are truly an awesome, powerful God but also an intimate, relational God. At times I find it so difficult to be still, but I know without this I am unable to hear you. Help me to be quiet and listen for your voice. Amen. 

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How Do I Take A Soul Break?

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
How To Take A Soul Break #meditation #prayer #sowandgather

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD. Psalm 104:34 NASB

My coffee brews too fast. What? That's a sentence I never thought I would say.  

Instead of using my drip coffee maker all the time, sometimes I actually like to put on the kettle and have a "cup-a" instant coffee or hot tea. While the water boils, I sit on the worn rug in the entryway of my house with streaks of sunshine dancing across my face. 

In my haste for caffeine, I discovered that one burner heats the kettle much faster. It's only a few minutes before the slow rattle and full blown whistle comes from the spout. If you have an old-fashioned kettle, you know the whistle is loud enough to shock the senses and wake the neighbors. 

In this fast moving world, faster coffee or tea sounds better as I'm rushing for the door each morning.  

What if, for just a day, I decide that while the water heats I'll sit quietly with my God and try and recharge my soul before the day breaks loose? What if, before my coffee break, I take a "soul break"? 

Sitting for just a few moments soaking in the sunshine, stretching my tired muscles, and doing nothing is a luxury – even for a few moments. I know my whole day is better when I take a 5, 10, or 15 minute Soul Break in the morning. 

It's the time in the day when I can have a conversation with Jesus. My Soul Break is the place to praise God and ask Him the tough questions. It's a brief respite where I stop long enough to draw near to Jesus and hear what he has to say. Sometimes I marinate or meditate on a single verse of scripture. Other times I just sit and wait. The real goal of the Soul Break is listening. Wait for what you ask? It's taking the time to wait for and hear that Voice. To hear that still small voice deep inside my gut. The Voice that guides me. If I'm attuned to the Voice, it controls my thoughts, emotions, and actions for the day. 

Do you need some help sitting still and taking your Soul Break? Author Emily P. Freeman has a great resource to get you started. For free you can access Seven Days of Still Moments. Each recording is under 5 minutes. You can listen on the computer or download to your phone. This is a great place to start if you want help creating the habit of a "Soul Break". 

Dig Deeper|

Psalm 139; Psalm 117

Action Item |

Select one or two verses from the Dig Deeper section and write them on a notecard. Use the verses as a starting point each day for the next week for meditating on God's word. 

Prayer |

Dear God, I praise your holy name. Your mercy and loving-kindness are great toward us. The truth and faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! Amen. 

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What I Learned From My Red Shoes

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
What I Learned From My Red Shoes #sowandgather

Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21 NASB

Discerning God's voice is a topic that has been puzzling man for thousands of years, beginning with characters in the Bible such as Gideon.  Perhaps like me, you have experienced times when it felt like God was hiding and you were unable to see clearly the path He desired you to take. 

I have learned that the first step to discerning God's voice is to identify sin that may be hindering my ability to hear Him accurately.  As a believer, I have been made right with God and from His perspective, sin does not change that.  Though scripture is clear I should not sin intentionally.  However, practicing sin is like wearing a new pair of shoes.   

I have always wanted to have a pair of red shoes.  This may sound funny to some but I am not very fashion forward and often my shoes are the neutral colors of black, brown, or white.  So believe me, red is outrageous in my closet.  During one of my web-surfing sessions, I had been looking at cute red flats and I decided to jump in the deep end and buy a pair.  A few days later, I put them on and they felt comfortable.  Being compelled to wear them, I picked out an ensemble to wear with them for the next day.    

About mid-morning, I noticed that my shoes were pinching the back of my heels, and by the end of the day, I had blisters the size of Texas.  When I healed, calluses formed in those places so my feet were less sensitive to the damage the shoe was causing. 

Just like those shoes, sin can seem exciting and fun but it causes us to develop spiritual calluses that reduce our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  The more I practice that sin, the less I am able to hear from God because I am not in tune with His Spirit.   

Through David, God gave us a guide on how to approach seeing sin. Psalm 139:23-24 says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." 

What I find really interesting about this scripture is that David is calling on Elohim.  This is the name of God that encompasses the character of God as revealer.  He knows all things and everything about me so He is able to reveal to me any areas where sin lives and prevents me from being sensitive to His voice.   

Isaiah 30 gives us a glimpse of how God responds to those who turn away from sin.  He promises to stop hiding Himself and to say, "This is the way, walk in it." 

Dig Deeper |

Isaiah 30

Action Item |

Spend time praying Psalm 139 and listening to God as He shows you what needs to change in your life. 

Prayer |

God, search me and know my heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts.  Show me if there is any sin in my life.  Lead me in Your paths for Your name's sake.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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How Do We Hear From God?

Conversations with GodMarci AnthonyComment
How Do We Hear From God? #sowandgather

Moreover He said to me:  “Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears."  Ezekiel 3:10 

When God is speaking to us, He uses most, if not all, of our senses. He tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good…” Psalm 34:8. Many times in the gospels Jesus would reach out to touch someone to heal them. (Matthew 9:29-20, Mark 1:41-42, and Luke 22:51) When we hear God’s voice, we can either be like Adam and Eve and hide from it (Genesis 3:8) or be like Isaiah and respond to it. (Isaiah 6:8)   

Paul tells believers three times in Hebrews (Hebrews 3:7, 3:15, and 4:7) that when we hear His voice, we are not to harden our hearts. Why? Because of rebellion and the deceitfulness of sin, it is easy for us to harden our hearts and not listen to God’s voice. But, when we draw near and respond to God’s voice and obey Him '"For we are to God the fragrance of Christ..."(2 Corinthians 2:15

So, how do I hear from God? He can use His word, a sermon, nature, or a sweet friend.  When my sister was battling cancer, a friend asked a simple question that God would use in so many ways; “What is your sister’s favorite verse?” I honestly didn’t know so I asked her. It was Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…” It wasn’t two weeks later that the Lord called her home to heaven. That night her daughters asked me what their mom’s favorite verse was and I was able to tell them. 

God knew that being able to answer that simple question would not only comfort me, but also my three nieces, in so many ways. It reminded me that God was not surprised by my sister’s death; that God was close to me because He showed me His hand in this; and that God allowed me to comfort my nieces by knowing this answer. 

I have held on to this verse since my sister died and it truly has given me great comfort. Our God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He is personally and intimately involved in His children’s lives – their joys, sorrows, fears, and trials.   

I was able to hear from God at a time when I was hurting most, all because of one question that was asked of me by two different people…”What was her favorite verse?”  That is what helped me to see, feel, and hear from God, knowing that He was holding me in His very hand. (Isaiah 41:10) James 4:8 is so true, when we “draw near to God, He will draw near to us…” 

Digging Deeper |

1 John 1:1-4; Matthew 17:6-7; Isaiah 64:4 

Action Item |

Why do we hesitate? Do you hear Jesus calling to you? Draw near to Him and He promises to draw near to you so that you can hear from Him. 

Prayer |

Lord, be near to me so that I may hear Your voice. Help me to be silent so that I can hear you whisper, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

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Up For the Challenge?

Conversations with God, PrayerMarci Anthony1 Comment
Are You Up For God's Challenge? #conversationswithgod #sowandgather

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:14 ESV

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to serve in a church ministry as a volunteer working with the leadership team.  Coming from the corporate world, I was ready to utilize all my skills in this new adventure, and had already envisioned implementing change and executing new ideas.   

To my dismay, my plans and my ideas were not needed in the area I had envisioned.  What I was being asked to do was totally not what I had been hoping for, and I also felt that I lacked the proper skill set.   

This was not the plan I had envisioned; this was going to be too hard, and this was not convenient.  I’m embarrassed to say I’ve said these statements more than once in my life.  God has a funny way of turning my picture-perfect expectations into challenges.  But, I’ve come to learn that this is one way I know it is Him speaking to me.  I’m sure Noah didn’t expect to build an ark, Moses didn’t expect to lead the people out of Egypt, and Mary didn’t expect to be the mother of the Messiah.  Why should we expect any different?  Maybe because we want the comfortable, easy route-- at least I know I do at times. 

The challenge is part of the plan.  God wants us to reach our full spiritual potential as followers of Christ, and so we will often be challenged by the things He calls us to do.   

Author and speaker Priscilla Shirer says, “Putting extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so that ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them.  That is the purpose behind His challenge – to allow His children to see His power in the challenge.” 

Just taking on the easy things will never grow me, and will never force me to rely on Him only.  Most importantly, He will not be glorified.  I love this verse because it reminds me that the gate is narrow and the path is hard that leads to life.  It is not the comfortable, easy route. 

Maybe you are being asked to do something that seems challenging and are wondering if this could be of God.  Don’t keep trying to ignore what He may be telling you to do.  Keep seeking Him, and He will make Himself clear.  Remember – challenges are part of the plan! 

Dig Deeper |

Exodus 3:10-122 Corinthians 12:9

Action Item |

Take time this week to listen to what God is saying through His Word, His Spirit and through the circumstances around you.  The very thing you thought you couldn’t do, God can. 

Prayer |

Dear Father, I’m so grateful for all the times You have pushed me beyond my own limits to show me Your glorious power.  Who am I that You would allow me to be a part of Your amazing plan?  Give me the ears to hear YOU speak and the courage to take the first step.  Amen

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Be Still and Know That I Am God

Conversations with God, PrayerMarci AnthonyComment
Be Still And Know That I Am God #sowandgather

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…  Psalm 37:7  

I hate waiting. I hate waiting in traffic; I hate waiting for my computer to warm up; and I hate waiting in line behind someone who is checking out with one item and takes 15 minutes because they’re having a conversation with the cashier about yesterday’s weather.  I know we all teach our kids that we should never “hate” anything but as I confess my sins daily, I am not “fond” of waiting.  

When you look at today’s society, everything moves at warp speed, and I “hate” (there’s that word again) to admit it but it appears that society is only ramping up to move faster. So why, with all of the fast paced computers that can answer our questions as soon as we hit search, does God still require us to wait on His answer? The answer lies in His word…All throughout the Bible we see individuals having to wait on God for an answer. Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently.” God is asking us to step away from our computers, put down our cell phones, turn off the TV, find something to occupy our children for a short period of time, and to set everything aside to stop and listen. When we are finally able to find that time of peace and quiet, we can begin to realize all that God has to say to us. Life gets busy and noisy, distractions are everywhere, but we have to turn our attention away from the world and turn our eyes and ears to heaven to seek God’s guidance and direction for our lives. 

The next part of the verse says, “...wait patiently.” (as if cutting out all distractions was easy) now,He wants us to wait?  Really? If we are truly seeking what God wants to say to us, then we have to be willing to wait for His answer. The act of waiting on someone is a humbling experience.  If you’ve ever waited on someone, then you are bending to their will and timing. My husband is humbled anytime we have to leave the house because he is always waiting on me to be ready to go.   

When we humble ourselves and patiently bend to God’s timing, it is in these quiet moments that God can speak to us. He may require days, weeks, months, and even years, of us coming to Him in the still and quiet waiting patiently...but He will answer. This process of being still and patiently waiting is not easy, but over time if we consistently allow ourselves to be surrounded in His presence, we will be rewarded with His blessing and will receive His answer and guidance. I love the Stephen Curtis Chapman song, “Be Still and Know that I am God.” In the song he sings the lyrics, Bow before the Prince of Peace, let the noise and clamor cease, be still and know that He is God. If you are struggling to try and discern God’s voice from what the world may be telling you, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently on Him,” He will listen and He will answer. 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 38:15, Psalm 40:1, Psalm 130:6

Action Item |

Are you struggling for answers? Take time out of your busy schedule this week to spend time daily quietly waiting on God.   

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, allow me to be still and know that You are God. Let me cast out all of my anxieties and cares of the world and listen for Your calling. Allow me to experience the feeling of being in your presence by humbling me before You, Father. Thank You for loving me. Amen.  

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