what’s been missing

On January 1, 2012, I committed to read the entire Bible in a year. Our church gives us a reading plan every year in October so we can pray and prepare to commit to this year-long process.

I rarely use the word proud to describe how I feel about anything I’ve done, but I am proud to say that I am still sticking with it. I’m right on track. It’s a great plan that has me reading two Old Testament chapters and two New Testament chapters at a time. Sometimes I don’t want to put it down.

In addition to this reading plan, I also do a daily devotion out of the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Whenever anyone asks for a devotion recommendation, this is it. The sense of peace that I feel every day just from this devotion is indescribable. It somehow always manages to have a short message that is exactly what I need to hear for the day, and gives some recommended scripture reading.

On Monday, June 18, we had a house showing. I’ve stopped really getting my hopes up, and have really started to feel a little bit like, “what’s the point?” But when we have a showing scheduled, we clean and pick up and mow the yard and do our best to make the house smell great. We give it our best shot.

And then after every showing, I dwell. And I worry. And I start going through the “what ifs” and it’s just a ridiculous cycle. I am rolling my eyes at myself, believe me.

So I called my mom on Monday and I was talking through all of this with her and I’m sure she was rolling her eyes at me. And she said, “Have you read your Jesus Calling today?”

“No,” I said.

“Hang up and go read it. Then you can call me back if you want to.” My mom always has an answer for everything. Usually a right answer for everything.

So we hung up and I ran upstairs to grab my copy of Jesus Calling. And the words on the page for June 18 left me breathless.

via Sarah Young

“Concentrate on keeping in step with Me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you. If you trust that My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, you can relax and enjoy the present moment.”

Ouch.

My hope and my future are rooted in heaven. In heaven. Not here. Not in this house and not in our future house. In heaven.

And. AND! What am I doing trying to predict the future? Why do I continue to waste time wondering who is going to buy this house and who will put a house on the market that will one day become ours?

Why do I spend time anticipating the future for anything at all?

So what’s been missing?

Despite spending time every single day in God’s word, and feeling Him with me as I go through my day, and being committed to my faith…

My prayer life is seriously lacking.

I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to keep myself from getting distracted and I don’t know how to quiet my mind. This is why I removed Twitter and Facebook from my phone. I don’t need anymore distractions.

And while I love Jesus Calling, I want to feel that peace all throughout the day in my conversations with Him that aren’t read in my favorite devotional book.

I used to pray in the car while I was driving. With my eyes open, of course. But my car time was my quiet time. This was three years ago when my car was a quiet place.

I spend a good bit of time praying for other people and other families. But not enough time praying about the every day stuff and praying about the things I can’t see. Certainly not enough time praying about this move and the preparations being made for our ultimate landing spot in this process.

How about you? Do you ever feel like you have almost all of the pieces coming together?

What’s missing? What is your best advice for carving out time for prayer and quieting your mind for that time?

 

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  1. Jason and I were JUST talking about this. We each pray and study on our own, but not as a couple. If we’re going to raise a family centered around God, we must start praying and reading the Bible together. So we did. Each night this week, after dinner was put away, we’ve been getting on the couch together and spending some time in the word, then reflecting and praying together. It’s been wonderful.
    Molly at Duchess of Fork recently posted..Your Questions Answered- This & ThatMy Profile

  2. Last night in bed I was thinking about how I needed to start a new devotional book. Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. Funny how God works and shows us what we need:)

  3. How funny! I just wrote a blog about the power of prayer! As I’ve gotten older and (hopefully!) wiser I have had to rely on prayer so much more because most of what happens in our life is out of our control. I have always struggled with anxiety and in a Bible Study I just participated in, the leader mentioned how anxiety is the result of not trusting in God. DING! The lightbulb went off over my head. Of course! Anyways. I have found that it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant my prayer might be, or the “bad” timing of saying a prayer, it always gives my heart comfort and peace when I’m done. I don’t think it really matters where or when you pray as long as you’re speaking from your heart.

    http://lifeinlalasland.blogspot.com/2012/06/purposeful-and-productive-prayer.html

    And…..great new layout!
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  4. Allison says:

    Doesn’t it make life feel so much easier when you realize that you can just sit back and let God lead the way? June always told me to cast my burdens on the Lord and she was exactly right! I, too, needed to hear the excerpt from your book and God chose YOU to deliver that message to me (and others too, I’m sure!). Thank you!

    In the last three years, things have fallen right in place for me MULTIPLE times. I lost my job of 10 years and was able to secure a new job making 25% MORE MONEY in no time. I was able to sell 2 houses (both of which State Farm had given me a new roof right before the sale) in less than 30 days for a profit. Those things are just unheard of in today’s economy but I attribute it to my giving up on trying to control God’s plan. These things didn’t come without a price, though. God had to break me down first. What a blessing!

    Allison

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I needed this reminder right now. It is so hard to be patient. I keep trying to remind myself to trust in God’s timing. And I’m going to check out that devotional!
    Jen K recently posted..It’s ok to be thankfulMy Profile

  6. hollie says:

    Would you be able to share your reading plan? I always start reading on my own but never follow through. Maybe if I had a guide I’d be better about sticking to it!

  7. Shannon says:

    We are waiting to adopt again for the 2nd time and I needed your post today. I need to go out and buy Jesus Calling. It is so hard to be patient and that is exactly what I need to be. Blessings!

  8. I definitely struggle with this too!
    Heather recently posted..An Unexpected GuestMy Profile

  9. I hope you don’t mind me giving a suggestion/something that has worked for me. I have a really hard time making time to pray and keeping myself IN the prayer. I found an idea that works well. Get a stack of index cards and write an individual card for each person you normally pray for (husband, son, daughter, mother, father, best friend, pastor). I also have a card that says “work”, “close friends”, etc. Then, keep a few blank cards handy to add anyone that needs adding. Be specific – for example, I have a card with my son’s name on the front with Sharpie and I write in pencil on the back things that are specific for today. It keeps me focused (I keep my eyes open, which helps) and I am praying in a consistent, systematic way. It is great to watch the items being erased as God answers those prayers. It is also great to see things I have written on my card be erased when I decide that God answered that one by saying, “no”.
    I do have a card for myself, but I try to keep it at the back. I will pray for specific things. Usually, by the time my card comes up, I just say a prayer of thanks for all the people in the stack and my wonderful life.

  10. Hi! I’m not usually good about commenting, but I know exactly how you feel, so I have to recommend Beth Moore’s “Praying God’s Word.” It truly transformed my prayer life and in such a practical way! It teaches you how to use scripture to speak to the Lord (seems so obvious when I type it out…), and it highlights the power of speaking your prayers out loud. Have a lovely day!

  11. I think one way to do it is to journal your prayers, especially if you like to write, or have time. But it could be as simple as on one page in a notebook write 5 things that you’re praising God for, 5 things you want God to “take care of” (so you don’t have to worry about them any more) and 5 things that are on your heart for others. You could make it 3 things, or ten things, but sometimes just writing things down is helpful in getting them on paper and out of your mind. It also takes just minutes a day, and it’s a good place to start anyway. Also a bonus to this is that you can ‘track’ how God takes away your worries, because you can see when things change from the “take Care of it” list to the “Praise you Father” list!

    • I agree Julia, I have found writing my prayers in a journal the most helpful thing for staying focused. It’s also wonderful to be able to sit down and look back and see all the ways God has been working and listening to our prayers. I do this a couple times a year and it’s almost always rewarding.
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  12. I’m feeling the same way right now. I have done really good the last 3 years reading through the Bible. I’ve used 3 different daily Bibles that have helped me stay on track and have told me what to read each day. I feel like my prayer life is what is lacking. We aren’t trying to sell our house, but I am trying to find a new job for the next school year and even though I KNOW God has it already planned out, it’s hard waiting and not thinking about what that job might be like or where we are going to live (because we also will have to move). I was so hopeful about a recent job interview that didn’t work out when it seemed like everything, including a place to live, was all falling into place. I just have to remember that God has something else planned even though I felt like that was the plan.

  13. Thank you! Thank you for speaking (er, typing) exactly what my heart needed to hear. On my long commute to work, I listen to a past sermon from my church and pray. It is a time I appreciate, especially when a long commute can become wearing on you but I have recently been feeling like I need to make more time to read my bible and I need a good devotional to direct me. I will be picking up Jesus Calling today! I am still amazed at the ways He uses to reach me and to tell me just what I need to hear – even if I do not realize it at the time.
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  14. Erin,

    Perhaps praying would become more a part of your day if you let go of the need to pray for something or someone. I find that I pray a lot more often throughout the day when I’m just prasing God for who He is and all He does. If you let go of having to pray for a specific thing or person and focus more on prayers praise and thanksgiving just because, you might find prayer happening all the time. Because who can’t think of a 1,000 reasons to lift up praise and thanksgiving on a daily basis? Just a thought…

  15. Carrie says:

    I have also been seriously lacking in my prayer life for quite a while now. It’s not that I don’t think prayer is important (becuase I know it is); it’s just that it is easy to push it to the back burner when there are so many other things I feel that “have” to get done.
    In the past, though, when I was better about praying, I tried using a method that someone shared with me which was three steps: first pray for what you’re thankful for; then pray for what you need to be forgiven for; and, finally, pray for what you/other people in your life need help with. This approach always worked well for me because it kept me focused and prevented me from daydreaming while trying to pray.

  16. Sarah O. says:

    What an amazing passage and so perfect for this time in your life. I haven’t read Jesus Callin but I think I need to purchase it. It sounds wonderful.

  17. Crewladedrinka says:

    I read Jesus calling while I was in college and everytime I picked it up, it seemed the message was perfect for whatever I was struggling with. I loved that devotional.

    I understand what you mean about not being able to quieten things down ( and for me) not being able to focus and keep ur eyes on the ultimate goal while keeping and feeling at peace with it. It is hard and I struggle with it everyday. When it gets too much, I just wait til I am alone(usually once i am in bed at night) to pray and then just really try to focus not just on what the problem is but what I can do to make things better. For me, it is how to deal with my 4 yr old and what i expect my sahm life to be and the life i am giving my kids.

    I think about how it makes me feel and how I really want to be, how God wants me to be and I just really try imagine myself doing better and it really does work. If I start to rely on myself too much though and stop this “meditating”/ praying with God, I always lose my focus.

    Sounds like you are on the right track. The further you dig into the Word the more calm and focused you will be, b/c of the constant reminder of His grace, and His Plans.

  18. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and have since been inspired to start my own. I love the way you write, and today’s post was right on time for me. I’ve been wanting to read the bible in a year and I feel the same way about my prayer life. Something is definitely missing for me! I’m going to pick up Jesus Calling as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Erin,
    Sounds like you are on track. :) . It seems the closer we get to God, the more humble we become and see our faults and areas in which we can improve.
    Reading God’s word and a daily devotional are excellent ways to jump start your prayer life. I think that in our life here on Earth we will always be battling to stay in God’s presence. I know I do by trying to take some time each day during my normal tasks (dishes, laundry, etc) to think about God. Praise him, send him petitions. Ask for his help trusting in his plan.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Honestly, I think with kids this is HARD in general. A few things that have helped me…

    A Sunday school friend reminded me that prayer doesn’t always have to be formal. Just remembering throughout the day that “Kelly is seeking peace” or “Erin is working on patience, Lord help her” – He hears ALL of that. Ever since she shared that, I find myself remembering friends and my own petitions as I wash dishes or take T on walks, etc.

    I think first thing in the morning is the best time for formal prayer, for me anyway. A book we read in Sunday school encourages you to write down ALL of your blessings big and small and add to it as you remember more. Turn to it whenever you are in need to change your perspective/outlook in the harder moments.

    Also, another book we read encourages memorizing and reciting Psalm 23 as much as possible. It’s amazing how Thatcher will be fighting me to get in his car seat and I hear myself “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” and my soul is quieted immediately.

    Just a few thoughts – the day-to-day stuff is hard for all of us, I think!
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  21. Love Jesus Calling and so needed to hear this reminder to stop trying to constantly anticipate/manipulate God’s plans for my life. When will I finally learn how much easier it is to simply trust Jesus? Not sure I’ll ever “get it” but I certainly am reminded of it on a daily basis and love the immediate sense of relief recognizing His sovereignty brings.
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  22. Natalie says:

    Jesus Calling is a great devotional. After the death of my brother, it was a huge help to my mom. I’m so glad you posted that excerpt. I needed to read that today. I got some bad news yesterday about my fertility and that was the perfect passage for this walk my husband and I are about to embark upon. We just need to walk with Him day to day and trust in his timing. Thank you for this post.

  23. Oh my goodness Erin! This post is so powerful and that excerpt from Jesus Calling completely ministered to me. WOW. Just this past month, I have been realizing how important it is to carve out time to pray. It always convicted me when I would read in the Bible where Jesus would always make time for prayer daily… If the Son of God, my Savior, made it the utmost priority to pray, how could I think I can survive without that quiet time with Jesus? The Holy Spirit has been convicting me about it so I made a choice this past month to make a time for daily prayer. It was just hard for me to actually make the time to do it before the boys wake up. My oldest son Josiah always wakes up around 6:30, so I have been waking up, telling him that Mommy needs to pray fora bit, and he needs to play by himself. I always pray, of course, in the same room with him, but he knows Mommy is talking to Jesus. I wish I could make that time to pray alone, but for right now… it’s just not a possibility and actually… I like that Josiah sees and knows that the first thing I do in the morning is pray. It is something that he will remember for the rest of his life and hopefully he will emulate. God bless you,Erin, and I have been praying for your house situation! I will continue to pray that God continues to give you the peace that you need. :)
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  24. Oh, it’s SO hard. I struggle with this a lot. Like you, I read a devotional every morning, and it automatically brings me a sense of calm and the Holy Spirit always seems to know what I need to hear. But then the day begins, tantrums start, and my mind wanders too. I find myself going to sleep and realizing, “Wow, I didn’t pray once today. I didn’t look to God for guidance when I truly needed Him, and now the day is over.” So I’ll pray then for help. Help on how to be a better Christian. I actually prayed the other night and asked “how do I do it?? I don’t know how to be close to you, Lord.” God knows our hearts–and that’s the most wonderful, peaceful thing to remember. Thanks for this honest post–I know so many Christians can relate!
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  25. I’ve found for myself – there is very little actual QUIET time with two little ones. :) So I pray throughout my day…out loud…no matter what I’m doing. When I see on Twitter that someone asks for prayer…I stop right then and with Amelia right beside me say, “we’re going to pray for…” Praying outloud just helps me focus, I think. And if I tell someone I’m going to pray – it’s best I do it right then because otherwise I’ll forget. My memory is terrible these days and I don’t want to tell someone I’m going to do something and end up not doing it. I do this throughout the day with my worries and concerns as well…I just load the dishwasher or make the bed while praying out loud to Him and I take that time to ask Him to show me things. I found while going through infertility that I was praying for a baby but never actually asked Him if I was going to have children. Honestly, because I was afraid of His answer. Once I finally had the courage to ask Him – I found peace. I asked…listened…waited…waited some more…and the day came (before ever getting pregnant) that I heard Him tell me that I was going to have a baby. No one could tell me otherwise after that…because I HEARD Him. That’s what I’ve found comes from prayer with Him…a close walk…where you can hear Him as if He’s standing in the room right there with me. When I’m not in His Word and spending time with Him every day…I can tell that I start to drift. My ears get clogged. The noise of this world and life become so loud that I can’t hear Him. I find it best to get rid of anything that’s going to create that “static.”

    I also agree with one of the commenters about going to Him with thanksgiving and praise before taking my needs or someone else’s to Him.

    Psalm 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

    Not that there is a right or wrong way to pray but I believe going to Him with a thankful/humble heart pleases Him. That’s one of the reasons He created us.

    Prayer is just a conversation with Him…I forget that sometimes. Doesn’t have to be big, fancy words…He just wants me to share my heart with Him. And if it makes you feel any better (because it does me) even His disciples who had the privilege of actually walking with Him, learning from Him, they could see Him face to face, asked Him how to pray.

    You have a heart to please God and He sees that, friend. Great post…made me stop and think about my prayer life! I’m thanking Him for you right now. :)

    Sorry my comment is so long.
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    • I love your heart, Jill, and I love that you are always so willing to encourage and uplift. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me. After reading your comment earlier, I spent my quiet time during the boys’ nap praying out loud and it helped me stay focused.
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  26. Wow! I’m on the exact track you are on with my quiet time this year. It is challenging and exciting at the same time. I hear you on the prayer life, though. That is the hardest thing for me, I think, because I’m not a good listener or a good waiter. Prayer requires both. I have been trying to keep an open dialog with the Lord and it is helping. Thank you, Lord, Your mercies are new every morning, because I need them so! Love your blog!
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  27. Jenna says:

    wow, thank you for posting this! I LOVE this book and find it meets me where I need to be each and every day. God is good. We also have our house on the market and I’m experiencing many of your same feelings. It’s one thing to say God is in control and a whole other thing to truly believe it. Thanks for sharing! I give this devotional to everyone I can!

  28. Marcie says:

    I really needed to hear this today! I have to remove Facebook from my phone now. I have a 9 month old LO that I need to focus on, along with Jesus and my sweet husband. Thank you for this post today!

  29. I could have written this post myself. I identify with so much of what you said but especially your comment about not knowing how to pray. Jesus Calling is my favorite too. I need to read it in the morning though rather when I am completely exhausted at bedtime. You should be proud of keeping your reading commitment. I have hard time using the word proud too but that’s what it is. Saw this on a church sign, the other day. Perfect for reminding us who to discuss our fears, worries and struggles with- “People give advice. God provides guidance.”
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  30. I seem to have the exact opposite problem. I am constantly in prayer…while cooking, doing dishes, in the shower, as I go to sleep but I haven’t been setting aside time to spend time in the word. Also, this passage you posted also goes right along with a study in Ecclesiastes that we are currently doing in our Sunday School class. It’s called A Life Well Lived by Tommy Nelson and it is awesome!

  31. I love this! It is such an encouragement. Yesterday I read similar words in Angie Smith’s book and it ministered to me so deeply. We have been trying to have a child for 3 years now and sometimes I am left feeling so desperate and deflated. But my hope is in the Lord. And He has the very best in mind for me. And He longs for me to trust Him completely and live in the very moment He has ordained. It’s not easy and sadly we have to continue to surrender day after day. And with friends, moms (love that they always know just what to say and how to direct us!!), blog posts, every person and every thing God places in our lives to get our attention, He slowly reminds us and shows Himself faithful. Praying for you guys as you work to sell your house!

  32. That book is answered pray. It is on my night standard has literally saved me from myself.

  33. Erin, this post is speaking to my heart today. I love hearing about your faith and you do it so wonderfully, it has been an inspiration as I started going to church in the winter. I love Jesus Calling and it is the perfect way to start my day focusing on Him! Thank you for sharing your relationship with Him with all of us! Your boys are too precious. I’ve been thinking about you trying to sell your house and praying that it all works out for the best!
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  34. I love this post, Erin!
    I get easily overwhelmed with so many things to pray for, as well as distracted by my daily mental to-do list, so I came up with something that has worked well for me over the past year or so.
    I have little index-card-sized accordion coupon holder that I have divided into sections. One for Josh, one for kids, and one for each day of the week. I keep index cards with things I pray daily for Josh and the kids on cards behind their dividers. Each day of the week I have a card for specific things I pray for on certain days (Sunday-church, Monday-our families, etc.) Each day I sit down to pray and pull out the index card for Josh, the card for the kids, and the card for the day of the week. I pray over those requests on the cards and it helps keep me focused.
    I also continually pray though out the day, but this helps me with specific things I would like to pray for each day.
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  35. Becky says:

    Loved this post, as I struggle more with quieting my mind than just about anything else! Seriously, it’s like I’m having a nice conversation with God and then I interrupt myself and move on to other things and forget what I was even talking to Him about! I know it’s SO RUDE, as if I made a cell phone call right in the middle of our time together! UGH!

    Do you find you can quiet your mind better at night or in the A.M.? When do you do your devotional and Bible reading? I, honestly, have a hard time either way.

  36. Angie says:

    Our pastor’s series the last couple of weeks has been on prayer: what it means, what to pray for, how to do it, & what happens when we think God hasn’t answered our prayers. As someone who has struggled with it, I’ve found it very helpful & let me tell you, our pastor can preach! You can check it out & watch the series online at NewSpring.org the series before was on parenting which was equally fulfilling.

  37. I’m a worrier, and I tend to spend way more time worrying than praying. Plus when I do pray, it seems like it’s at night when I end up falling asleep right in the middle of my prayers. God has been dealing with me on this. He’s been showing me how important it is to set aside some time to talk to Him, but I’ve also realized lately that I do all the talking. I often say, I can’t hear God, and honestly it’s because I need to shut up and listen. So yeah, you’re not the only one that struggles in this area. :)
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  38. Erin,
    I think so many of us have felt the same way. One thing I do to help me focus for prayer time is to journal prayers- to write them out keeps me focused and makes them seem more real. When listing prayers for others in that section of my journal, I find my mind will wander, so I jot down those “I need to’s” at the top or on a little notebook so that I can come back to them after I pray. Memorizing scripture and praying it throughout the day is also helpful; I determined that I was in the kitchen so much, that I found a place my eyes would look at often during that time and copied my verse to put on a tray there. Lastly, ask the Lord to show you practical things to do so that you can learn to delight in Him as much as He does in you.
    Blessings!
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  39. I need to get back on track with my reading! I committed to starting June 1 and while I am doing pretty well, I have def missed a couple of nights of reading. I have the house to myself and I am hoping to be able to curl up after work and connect again.

    Have a great weekend!
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  40. I used to journal faithfully. I could have written the words that you wrote about my prayer life lately. I have spent so much time being anxious, that I got shingles!!! I think this was God’s way of telling me to sit my butt down and PRAY! I started journaling this week and REALLY praying! It’s hard when the kids are home from school, but I can’t make any more excuses!!! I need to buy Jesus Calling. I keep hearing about it over and over again. Thanks!
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  41. I read this the other day at work and couldn’t comment but had to come back and tell you how badly I needed to read this the other day. I know I’m not alone in my worrying, but I do tend to forget that things affect us all and I love hearing about how God is using other women as it really helps me. My quiet time has been suffering lately and it’s obvious in every aspect of my life. And that’s not okay. I spend too much time focusing on the wrong things and not enough time with Him. Thank you for the reminder. I also need to pick up that devotion. I’ve read so many rave reviews on it.
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  42. There is an app for jesus calling too!

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