19 March, 2018

God is Always There & Hello!

Sometimes your hair is dirty, and your eyes squinty, and the sunset faded before you could get out there with a camera, and you’re actually cold because autumn in on its way. But you laugh anyway because God is right there in the little everyday things. He created smiles and sunsets and shirts that make you feel happy.  

Sometimes you feel down, and life seems overwhelming, and even things that are considered normal stress you out, and you feel like you’re living in a fog because even thinking takes effort. But you learn anyway because God is right there even when it doesn’t feel like it. He promised pain won’t last, and goodness and mercy for every day of your life.

Sometimes you feel ordinary, and everyone seems to be able to do life better than you, and look prettier, and write better, and reflect Jesus more.  But you share anyway because God is right there revealing Himself. He whispered that anyone can be used of Him, and no one is mediocre because He hand designed every facet of us all for a specific purpose.

Sometimes life is good, and sometimes it feels terrible. But you keep going anyway because God is there during great times, and hard times, and exciting times, and depressing times, and  shameful times, and ordinary times. And the truth is, He’s always going to be.


Hello people! It’s been a while since I appeared here, and I’ve been missing it. I guess the above paragraphs are a brief summary of my life lately: I was down and too focused on myself to think about blogging; I was caught in the trap of thinking I had nothing valuable to share. But God was there, and life is good. He still is there, and I’m learning to laugh. I feel like a big lesson God’s been bringing to my attention during this time is faith – the importance of faith, the relevance of faith, what faith even is. I’m planning to share about that next!

Seriously though, tell me how your life is going! Anything new or exciting happening? And if you’ve been feeling down or alone too, please know that God is there and you are so loved. Feel free to share (blog.applesofgold@gmail.com) too, because I’d love to support you in whatever way I can. Stay strong, friends. I pray for you all!

19 February, 2018

Asking for Others

While I was away canvassing, one of my friends shared some powerful thoughts. She explored the context of Luke 11:9, a familiar verse: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Luke 11:9) 

From the beginning of the chapter, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. He presents the Lord’s Prayer, and then tells a story to illustrate. There was a man who had a guest arrive at midnight one night. The man was ashamed to find he had no food to feed the traveler, so he went to His neighbour and asked to borrow three loaves of bread. The neighbour wasn’t impressed, and made excuses: It's late! I’m in bed! But, Jesus said, because of the man’s persistence the neighbour got up and gave him the bread, and he was able to feed his visitor. It’s then Jesus says ask, seek, and knock. Because, He concludes, if we’re willing to give each other good gifts, how much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.

I’ve always seen that story as a lesson in persistent prayer – which it is – but my friend brought out something else: the man in Jesus’ example wasn’t asking for himself. He was begging for sustenance, but it was so He could give it away. 

I decided to try it out this principle of prayer. When I’m canvassing, I pray for others, but I mostly pray for myself. I pray God will give me opportunities, and that I’ll have wisdom, discernment, courage, and what it takes to represent Him. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I decided to go one day not praying for myself at all. I made it my mission to plead for one of my friends who was also canvassing. Every time I wanted to pray for myself, I sent up a prayer for her instead.

At the end of day, my friend told me it was one of her best days! She had some great experiences, and was able to share with lots of people. It was so exciting, because God answered my prayers, and worked mightily for her.

But what surprised me about the whole ‘experiment’ was how I felt. God gave me everything I would’ve asked Him for, and more, because I was able to share more any other day. The best part, though, was my attitude. I didn’t have time to dwell on my inadequacies, even in prayer, because I was asking for someone else. I was enthusiastic the whole day, because I didn’t have thought space to get discouraged. If a negative feeling came into my mind, my response was to pray about it – but then because I wasn’t praying for myself, it turned into prayer for my friend, and the thought left my mind.

Other places in the Bible counsel us to pray for ourselves (James 1:5), and there are examples of spiritually great people who prayed for themselves in a God-centred way. But there’s something so powerful about pouring your heart out for someone else, and then watching God work. 

I’m thinking it might be the antidote for the self-centredness I’ve been struggling with. Since I’ve gotten more commitments – things I have to remember and get done by certain times – I’ve become primarily focused on myself. My mind is full of things I have to do, and how I feel about doing them. Even when I’m with people, I’m still thinking about my own stuff. But there’s something blessed about self-forgetfulness, and I think I'm going to try making this a habit. Next time I feel overwhelmed with my commitments, I’m going to pick someone and pray for them. Every time a selfish thought, or a lie about who I am, tries to get me discouraged, I’m going to pray for someone else. Maybe it's in asking for others, we find for ourselves.

So, that’s something I’ve been learning! What about you? Have you ever experienced praying for someone else to the point of self-forgetfulness? Am I the only one who hadn’t noticed that aspect of Jesus’ parable?

13 February, 2018

How to Make Prayer a Part of Life

It’s common Christian knowledge that prayer is important, prayer is the lifeblood of the soul, prayer is how we communicate with God. We discuss how to pray, look at Jesus' example, and study thanksgiving, confession, intercession, praise. But the hardest part for me is making prayer a part of my life. I know it’s important, I know how to pray, but I don’t pray a lot; sometimes I don’t pray every day. Sometimes I pray snippets throughout the day, but never pour my heart out to God. So firstly, if this is you too: don’t be ashamed. It’s tempting to hide, thinking what kind of Christian doesn’t pray?! but Jesus doesn't shame us about our choices. He simply offers something better. 

Our world is geared to squeeze prayer out of our lives, but we have the all-powerful God on our side, and with Him everything’s possible. Here are a few things which practically help me make prayer a part of my life:

Going for a walk
I talk to God more easily when I'm in His creation. I talk out loud, and that helps me stay focused and not get distracted by other thoughts. There are so many things in nature to praise God for too, and beginning with gratitude is a great springboard to prayer.

Journaling in nature
I feel God closer when I’m outside, and, if I’m facing a problem or decision, journaling about it while talking to Him makes things much clearer. 

Using a prayer journal
This is something I’ve recently started doing, and it's been helpful to keep focused, especially if I can't go outside. I’m also excited about building tangible proof of answered prayer. Mine is slightly different, but I got the inspiration and layout out from these Coffee and Bible Time videos: My Prayer Journal Walk Through, and How to Make a DIY Prayer Journal.

Writing lists/writing down prayers
This is part of prayer journaling, but I do it in other journals and notebooks too. I like to write lists of things I’m grateful to God for, ways He’s blessed me, aspects of God's character, prayer requests, answered prayers, etc.

Talking to God as I study and read the Bible
This is one of my favourite ways to pray. As I’m reading through a Bible passage, I take a moment to ask God to apply it to me. For example, if I’m reading Psalm 16, verse 1 says, ‘Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.’ I then pray, ‘God, please help me to trust you more, to trust you will preserve me, whatever happens.' I might apply to a specific situation too: 'Please help me to trust you regarding this decision I have to make.' It makes the Bible personal and relevant. Sometimes I'll also write out a paraphrase of a passage, applying it personally and making it my own prayer.

Praying as soon as I’m asked to, or a thought comes to mind
When someone asks for prayer, I’ll say a prayer for them right away (or while the thought’s still in my mind if they’re asking in person). I can't remember where I heard this suggestion, but it's been helpful, because I forget easily. I also apply this to my thoughts; if I’m thinking about what I should be doing next week, I try to remember to say a prayer about it right then. It doesn’t have to be long; just making prayer a part of my thought life.

Praying with friends
Praying audibly with a friend or in a small group, and having people pray for you, is so, so powerful. It’s one of the most encouraging things to me; the most beautiful type of community. It also good for accountability.

I hope these suggestions might aid your prayer life too! We’re in a war between good and evil, and the enemy wants us to forget about prayer or think it’s too hard, because it’s one of our greatest weapons against him. Let's use it, friends, and in God’s strength overcome! xx

What do you find helpful in making prayer a part of your life? What could I add to the list? Is prayer something that comes naturally to you?

If prayer seems to you a diversion from productivity, remember God does more in five seconds than we can in five hours. John Piper