Starting a Prayer Journal

Abraham Lincoln said it best, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” I can so relate to this quote! 2000 years ago, Jesus modeled a pattern of prayer to the disciples. It is traditionally called The Lord’s Prayer. It is the most famous prayer ever spoken or uttered. What is the pattern?
It is praise (glorifying God), confession (this is where we open our hearts to God and ask Him to reveal our sins so we can cleanse our hearts), thankfulness (being grateful for who God is and what He has done), and petition (telling God of our needs for protection and provision).
If all we do is tell God our needs, it becomes like a wish list or a Christmas list. It is imperative that we follow the model Jesus gave us when we are praying. This will fuel our prayer life.
What we are talking about here is daily devotional prayer journal.

Jesus begins by saying, “Our Father.” Jesus declares to the world who God is.
Here are some names of God you can use to add variety to your journal:
My Father; My faithful Father; My faithful Lord; My Lord; My God; My Father and my God; My Lord and my God; Glorious God; Wise God; Mighty God; Father God; Merciful Father; Wonderful Father; Lord God; God; O, God; O, Father; O, Lord; O Lord my God; Sovereign Lord; You, my God; You, my God; You, my Lord; You, my Father; Dear Lord; You, Lord; God Almighty; God of all people, Most High God.

Praise
Jesus praises our Father.
Matthew 6:9-10- “Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’”
This is called adoration-Praising God for whom He is. When we praise God, we are expressing our love and respect for Him.
Psalm 100:4 states, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”
There are over 365 verses of praise to our Lord in the Bible. One of the books I have written entitled, A Heart of Praise, has a verse of praise for each day of the year.
From Jesus to Mary to David to Paul and Silas, the Bible is filled with examples of men and women praising God.
In her book, Lord, I want to be Whole, author Stormie O’Martian writes, “The best way to focus on God is to thank Him continually for all He has given, praise Him for all He has done, and worship Him for all He is. It is impossible to be self-focused with self-pity while you are glorifying God in that way” (29-30).
Praise helps move our focus from outward (that is our current situations) and inward (that it is up to us to fix our situations) to upward (that God is God Almighty who is bigger than our situations)
Here are some words of praise to help you begin:
Admire, Adore, All-knowing, All-powerful, Almighty, Alpha and Omega, Amazing, Appreciate, Awe, Awesome, Bless, Caring, Comforting, Compassionate, Creator, Everlasting, Giving, Good, Great, High, Holy, Honor, Jehovah, King, King of kings, Lord of lords, Loving, Merciful, Messiah, Omniscient, Perfect, Powerful, Praise, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, Respect, Revere, Rock, Savior, Shepherd, Sing, Sovereign, Value, Wise, Worthy
In addition to these words of praise, I will sometimes write the words to a hymn, Bible verse, or worship song. This morning I wrote, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:9

Confession
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
We need to examine our hearts and ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every sin. Often, I know exactly what I have done wrong. Daily, we need to confess each wrongdoing specifically. God will pardon us when we ask. We need to accept His gift of forgiveness when we truly repent.
Stormie O’Martian writes in her book, Greater Health God’s Way, “Remember, God doesn’t have laws for Himself-they’re for us. Confession is not for Him. He already knows the truth. It’s for you!” (42).
“Search me O God, and know my heart! Try and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Here are a few words of confession to consider:
Anger, Arrogant attitude, Attitude, Bitterness, Boasting, Complaining, Critical spirit, Deceit, Doubt, Envy, Exaggerating, Gossiping, Greed, Grumbling, Harboring resentment, Haughty, Impatience, Inappropriate language, Jealousy, Laziness, Lying, Moodiness, Pouting, Prejudice, Pride, Quick-tempered, Rudeness, Self-centeredness, Selfishness, Spite, Stealing, Unforgiving, Vanity, Worrying
Recently, the Lord recalled my jealousy of a classmate who 25 years ago won all the scholarships at the honor awards night. If I hadn’t repentant of this sin, I would not have been able to fully support her successes on Facebook. Don’t be surprised if God brings up a past sin so you can repent and move on in freedom.

Thankfulness
We need to thank God for what He has done in addition to praising Him.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” Colossians 1:3
I used the category also to thank God for answered prayers. Then, I have written record of God’s goodness.
Here are some words of thankfulness:
Bible, Church, Clothes, Common sense, Creation, Creativity, Education, Eternal life, Everyday blessings, Family, Faith, Flowers, Food, Fresh air, Friends, Grace, Happiness, Health, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Hope, Houses, Imagination, Jesus, Jesus died for us, Jesus rose, Joyfulness, Knowing God, Life, Love, Mercy, Music, Nature, Parents, Peace, Pets, Relationships, Salvation through Jesus, Sunshine, Water
We also need to give heartfelt prayers of thanks to God for who He is. As I have done some research on the attributes of God, I have found at least 123 named in the Bible. Here are just a few attributes of God to ponder and write down:
Bread of life, Comforter, Cornerstone, Counselor, Creator, Deliverer, Father, Fortress, Friend, Guard, Guide, Healer, Help, Helper, Hiding place, Joy, Judge, King, Lamb, Lamp, Leader, Life, Lifter of my head, Light, Love, Maker, Master, Mediator, Peace, Prince of peace, Protector, Provider, Redeemer, Refiner, Refuge, Rescuer, Restorer, Rock, Ruler, Salvation, Savior, Shelter, Shepherd, Shield, Strength, Stronghold, Strong tower, Support, Sustainer, Teacher, Trust, Truth, Way, Wisdom
There is always something to be grateful for. Giving thanks is a healthy way to start each day.

Petition
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11. It is important to ask God to meet our needs. This part of the prayer demonstrates the Father’s concern for His children. It shows a deeply personal relationship with the God of the universe.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“You do not have, because you do not ask.” James 4:2
Nancy Leigh Demoss writes in her book, A Place of Quiet Rest, “God does not promise to eliminate all our problems or to change all the difficult people in our lives. But He does promise to listen to the cries of His children and to act in accordance with His holy, eternal purposes” (81).
We can pray about all our needs. Again, be specific! He hears the cries of our hearts. We can trust our heavenly Father. He cares about every detail of our lives. God already knows about each personal crisis, each tear, each heavy burden, each shattered dream, each stressful situation, and every difficult decision. Expand your prayer list of each burden you have. Listen to His voice guide and direct your steps. As you record your prayers, you will become delighted as your panic turns into peace. Write down your requests and watch God answer in His perfect way!
I have prayed for thousands of requests for myself, my family, my friends, my church, and our world.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph Scriven

Protection
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13
In Luke 22:40, Jesus teaches the disciples “to pray that you may not enter into temptation.” If Jesus felt it was necessary to help the disciples to pray for protection, shouldn’t we be praying as well?
He also prayed for protection for His disciples. In John 17:15 He prays to the Father, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” Asking God for help in resisting temptations assists us and our family members to stay strong when we are weak.

Plan for prayer. I pray that you will put into practice some of the ideas presented today. As you take practical steps for intercession, may you develop a richer prayer life. Don’t feel guilty if you must skip a few days. There have been a few dry spells over the course of the past years. When my father died unexpectedly, I took time off from many activities as I grieved. Also, don’t get upset if something comes up to interfere with your time of praying/journaling. Fit it in wherever and whenever you can. Find what works to develop a dedicated prayer time. Find your quiet space and begin to maintain a daily prayer habit.
Your faithfulness of prayer affects future generations. As you complete your first journal, you will see the documentation of praises, confessions, thanksgivings, provisions, and protections. May you experience a deeper prayer life as you journal your thoughts to God.

Pornography and Children

By Judy Groters

Judy Groters is the mom of four adult children and is grandma to three going on four grandchildren. She’s been happily married to Doug for over 30 years, and spent the first 20 of those years living in beautiful places with her family via the navy. Trained as an R.N., she’s done some nursing as well as abstinence education and child-care over the years. Her passions include mentoring, reading, keeping up with friends, any activities outside, cooking, and enjoying being a new empty-nester!

A note from Tena: I had the opportunity to meet Judy when I spoke at her MOPS group where she serves as a mentor mom. At the MOPS meeting, Judy shared about this topic. After the meeting, I asked her to write about this topic and inform us. Thank you, Judy, for writing this piece with grace and wisdom.

Pornography and children -two words that we don’t want to see together at all… ever. And yet I want to raise your awareness with a few thoughts on this subject. My name is Judy and I’m a mom of four growing children all in their 20s, three of whom are married and I am the grandmother of four. I have been married to Doug for over 30 years and I’m very passionate about mentoring and engaging with moms of young children. And that’s how you find me here today. I was invited to share a few thoughts about this subject and I take very little pleasure in doing so. I’m sorry that it’s a topic we need to bring up at all but it’s becoming more and more relevant in the day in which we live.
   What would you do today if before your kids walked out the door for the bus stop or you had to load them in the car you were alerted to the fact that a real lion was prowling outside your door? The answer is obvious to us all. But let that resonate for a moment. Because pornography is loose in your neighborhood, your church, your school, very potentially your home, and it is prowling to devour anyone it can lay hold of. It does not matter how big or small the person, how smart or savvy, it is looking for victims.  I know this sounds dramatic but the threat is as real as a flesh and blood lion loose in your neighborhood. What is greatly exacerbating this problem is the internet. Internet pornography does not have to be sought out like a magazine in a store or a book on a shelf. It is pushed onto the screens of our kids computers, IPADs and smartphones as an interesting looking advertisement or a pretty looking girl, or a coaxing message to explore. One ignorant and innocent click is all it takes. Your child may not even be the one clicking. They may be sitting next to a friend who says, “hey check this out!” Because of it influence on the brain, Internet pornography is likened to crack cocaine addiction. Children and young adults are especially vulnerable.Those on the money- making side of pornography understand what many of us don’t and that is, the younger they can create an addict the more money they will make. 

An excellent article from the American Society of Pediatrics on the effects of pornography on children. https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/the-impact-of-pornography-on-children

 So what’s a mother/parent(s) to do? My goal is to convey awareness that causes you to act but also to leave you with hope. For God in his sovereignty is always one step ahead of the next evil plot that Satan is hatching to destroy God’s people who are created in His image. So how will God use the pornography epidemic to glorify himself? It remains to be seen, but I suspect he will use our brokenness in this area to draw us again to Himself. Having said that, here are a few practical tips to help you navigate what is impacting every family in our nation.

1) Be willing to learn and talk about the problem of pornography in all of its horrific darkness. A book suggestion would be, Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle by Michael John Cusick. While not specifically about children and pornography, it gives insights into the problem of pornography that we would all do well to become versed in. I find in conversations with people there is a general ignorance about how this problem is overtaking us. Part of that is it’s a scary topic to think about. Satan loves our ignorance and uses it very much to his advantage. So become more aware.

2) Put off as long as possible putting into your kids’ hands phones with internet service. You will be especially unpopular with young teens. This really isn’t a very good idea but if you are struggling to believe how Insidious the problem of porn is and how it is trying to find your children and young people, just do a quick experiment on your own. Go to any internet domain, for example Twitter, Google or YouTube, where children and young people are spending plenty of time, and click on any advertisement or picture that is suggestive. And there are plenty of them. If you follow those down there natural path, they can very quickly lead you to pornography. And think how readily available this is to young and developing minds who are trying to learn impulse control. My husband does not spend time in these places because the visual temptations are very great to him. He knows it will not have a good ending. But most children and young people are unsuspecting. They make easy prey for that prowling lion.

3) Conduct random audits. What do I mean by this? 
If your children have phones with internet service, remind them often that the phone they have is to serve you as parents not them for their pleasure. Every now and then, without warning, take their phones from them and peruse their website access history. If it has been deleted there is probably a reason.

4) Establish early that their phones/IPADS do not go to bed with them. All phones are handed in after a certain hour. You decide the hour. Also, please get the televisions/computers out of their rooms. Pornography initially is rarely viewed in a group or public setting. It is an activity of darkness and aloneness. Men who regularly visit strip clubs generally started out as viewers of pornography. But to satisfy the addiction they keep needing more. 

 5) As soon as possible and as is appropriate for your individual child, start having conversations about the reality of pornography in our culture, the ease with which it can be accessed and how it is trying to find them and destroy them. Just to give you a perspective (and this comes from someone I know who was addicted to porn and a believer) the very beginning steps of breaking a porn addiction requires at the very least 3 months with no screens whatsoever. I can hardly wrap my head around that. We are a culture that lives by screens. And we will die by them if we are not proactive even though the topic is distasteful and unpleasant.
  Explain to your young person the new research which verifies by MRI the new dopamine pathways that are laid down by exposure to pornography. Dopamine is a natural, body produced chemical that gives us a natural high. Each time someone looks at pornography their body has a chemical reaction in which dopamine is released. We can now prove that new pathways in the brain are established in addictions of any kind. John Michael Cusick talks about this in his book that I mentioned before. This is stunning evidence of the addiction model. 

I mentioned hope at the beginning of this blog. So what in the world do we have to be hopeful about with this mess? One of our primary roles as parents and mentors is to shepherd our children’s hearts. This epidemic is a wonderful opportunity for us to do those very things, but it starts with becoming aware and educated ourselves. Invite the Savior into the journey you are embarking upon. No one will be untouched by this growing problem.
And get on your knees for your kids and this new reality. God can and will use this issue to draw us closer to Him and each other as we stay close to Him in humility and brokenness. 

Attached are a few articles or links for your information. Please take the time to read them. The very lives and hearts of your children are at stake. 

To God be the glory!

Judy

An excellent article from the American Society of Pediatrics on the effects of pornography on children. https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/the-impact-of-pornography-on-children

This article describes how pervasive child searches for sex or porn were in 2009. https://www.huffingtonp ost.com/2009/12/18/kids-top-searches-in-2009_n_397501.html

This link provides access to some of the more current statistics about pornography and how people perceive it.

What are the most up-to-date stats on pornography?

10 Ugly Numbers Describing Pornography Use in 2017

Some other resources include:

Good reads for parents of daughters
– Kissed the Girls and Made Them Cry – for junior high and high school girls by Lisa Bevere
– Sex and the Soul of a Woman – for 16 and up by Paula Rinehart

With sons:
– Good Pictures, Bad Pictures – by Kristen A Jenson and Gail Poyner
– Every Young Man’s Battle – by Stephen Arterburn
– The War Within – by Bob Reehm