Arlyn Lawrence's Posts (4)

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Pray ... or Check Facebook?

9651005884?profile=originalOur pastor preached on prayer at church yesterday. It was good for all of us in the congregation, I think,  to do a bit of a self-check on how well (and how regularly) we’re communicating with God these days.  It’s easy, isn’t it, to get stuck in a rut? Or get sidetracked all together! (Hmmm …  Should I pray, or check Facebook …?)

Don’t laugh.  I’ll bet it’s a more common choice than you think.  Both give you a relational fix but I’ll bet the devil is sure hoping we’ll all pick Facebook! (Don’t get me wrong. I like Facebook. I’m just talking priorities here.)

So, I’ll pass along to you the question we considered in church yesterday. How’s YOUR prayer life lately?  Are you on a roll … or feeling kind of dry? If it’s the latter,  don’t be too hard on yourself! And don’t give up entirely. We all have seasons where prayer is more of a challenge than at other times.  Thankfully, we have a God who loves to make “streams in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19), especially when those deserts are our own hearts.

Here’s a little self-evaluation I developed a few years ago when I was a columnist and editor for Pray! magazine. I’m posting it here so you can use it, if you like, to assess and figure out if (and where) your own prayer life might need a boost.

If you’re “booming”—great! But if your prayer life is a bit of a bust lately, I hope you’ll be encouraged to pick up the Conversation again.


  • I consider my prayer life a unique and important expression of my own individual relationship with God. It’s okay to be different from other people because I am unique to God.
  • I know God’s answers sometimes look different than I expect, and sometimes His no’s simply mean, “Be patient; trust Me.”
  • I know when I walk through dark valleys, God is there to comfort and protect me. I take advantage of His promises and presence as much as possible.
  • I am delighted that God allows me to be a part of His human-divine cooperative. I believe He uses my prayers to accomplish His purposes on earth!
  • God is so much more than a heavenly 911. When there’s no crisis, I spend time thanking Him, listening for His voice, and praying for other people’s needs. After all, it’s not all about me.


  • I think God’s already mad at me for how little I pray, so why bother to try to make up for lost time?
  • I compare my prayer life to others in terms of my desire and perceived ability to pray—and I come up short every time. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as they are.
  • I prayed hard for some important things and never got the answers I was looking for. I’ve given up trying.
  • God seems remote in the midst of this hard time I’m facing.  I’m really not able to connect. My pain, grief (resentment, injustice, etc.) are the only things I can feel right now.
  • God’s in control of everything, after all.  Why should my prayers make any difference? Whether I pray or don’t pray is immaterial.
  • I pray when there’s a crisis, but things are going fine now so I don’t find myself  needing to pray much.

If you checked any items on the BUST list, recognizing them is the first step to walking out of wrong thinking about prayer and into alignment with God’s heart and mind. I think, for me, the most important thing to remember when it comes to keeping up a regular flow of communication with God (i.e., “prayer”) is that it’s NOT ABOUT PERFORMANCE.  It’s not about meeting some kind of standard, or measuring up to anyone’s expectations.  So no condemnation!

Prayer is first and foremost about relationship. David (whom the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart) had it right when he said, “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming” (Psalm 27:8). I love that verse!

If you’re “booming” when it comes to prayer—great! But if your prayer life is a bit of a bust lately, I hope you’ll be encouraged to pick up the Conversation again. It’s better than Facebook.  Really.

Here’s a thought: If you51cqrdjkz-l-_aa115_.jpg?w=157&h=157&width=157 want to work on developing your relationship with God through prayer (or help someone else work on theirs), you need to check out Cynthia Bezek's new book, Prayer Begins with Relationship.  It’s an easy, engaging read designed to walk you (and a group of friends, if you want to do it as a group) through growing your prayer life in a wonderfully life-giving way.

I hope you’ll check it out.  But most of all, I hope you’ll check IN with God if you’ve not been doing so much lately.  I think you’ll Both be glad you did. 


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Got Kids? Pray First, Open Mouth Second

9651006274?profile=originalIt’s been said that the family that prays together, stays together—but do you know just how true that really is? Seriously! A 1993 Gallup poll revealed that among married couples who attend church together regularly, the divorce rate is one out of two.  How sad. That’s the same statistic as for marriages anywhere. But get this: among couples who pray together daily, the divorce rate is one out of 1,153. [i]What a difference!

One of the best gifts a couple can give their children (and each other) is the gift of a strong marriage and family life knit together through prayer. Prayer builds unity and intimacy. We become intimate to whom we pray, for whom we pray, and with whom we pray. Prayer is the key to unlocking extraordinary blessings for children and families the way a key unlocks a gate.

Years ago, my husband Doug came up with a slogan for our family that, in our house, prayer should always be “the first response, not a last resort.” I’d go so far to say that prayer has not only been our lifeline to heaven (and sometimes to sanity!), but it’s also been our greatest and most valued parenting tool.

What that's meant for this mom, specifically, has been to make every effort to pray first, open mouth second. I've had to work on it even harder as my kids have grown and become adults.  More often than not, my role is not to fix, not to correct, not to express an opinion … but to pray.  And then step back and trust God. (Yes, hard to do I know. But He always comes through and I’ve learned to trust Him.)

Proverbs 31: 27 says, “She watches over the affairs of her household.” I skipped merrily over that verse for years until one day I just happened to read it at the same time as I was reading elsewhere in the Bible that day. Isaiah 62:6-7 says, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest.”

That jumped out at me. I’m a word person. Both roots of those words—watches and watchman—have similar meanings, “to peer into the distance, observe, watch; to hedge about (as with thorns), guard, protect, attend to”[ii] They can also be translated “lookout” or “doorkeeper.”[iii]

How very cool.  I realized way back then that prayer is one of the most powerful roles a mother can play in her children’s lives. So much more can be accomplished for my kids from my knees than from my mouth! Correction, instruction, suggestions, and advice are all very well and good—and necessary.  But years of experience tell me (and I know many other praying moms who will agree with me) that some of the most powerful breakthroughs I’ve seen with my children have been when I prayed instead of only trying to fix a situation with natural means.

My friend Cindy has a sign posted in her family room, where she can see it every day, that says PRAY BIG. I love it.  I think it's the perfect mom-slogan. :-)

Have you PRAYED for your kids today?


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No Presence, No Power

I’m still reflecting on my commitment to spend more one-on-one time with the Lord. It’s one thing to talk about it (or write about it). It's another thing altogether to follow through and actually DO it.

I love Psalm 27:8: My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” I notice David didn’t say, “Sorry, God, I’m too busy doing (and praying) all this other stuff for You.” He responded immediately to God’s invitation to come into His presence. Once he was there, David prayed, “Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path” (vs. 11).

David’s strength and direction for life, obviously—like Jesus’—came directly out if His intimate
conversations with God in prayer. In fact, Jesus’ amazing, supernatural ministry was absolutely rooted in intimacy and time spent with the Father (Lk. 6:12; Jn. 8:28, 12:49-50, 14:9).

Why on earth do I think I can get away with any less? I think I’m really finally understanding (and experiencing) the bottom line—that intimacy and power are intricately and inseparably intertwined.

How many times have we all prayed for wisdom, direction, strength, or provision … first? As for myself, too many times to count. The reality is that God's favor and blessing toward His people have primarily been demonstrated
first of all by His presence. And it’s His presence that results in manifestations of His power. Presence first, then power. Not the other way around. How many people (or ministries) have we all seen “go into a ditch,” as one of my friends like to put it, because they got it backwards? Again, probably too many to count. Yikes! Jesus flat-out warned us about that. When His disciples experienced some of the privileges of living in God’s power, Jesus reminded them not to rejoice in the privileges, but rather in their relationship to the One who granted them (Lk. 10:28).

Take Moses, for another example: as much as he had seen of God's incredible power, Moses knew he couldn't live without God's intimate and
personal presence in his life. He asked God, “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth” (Ex. 33:15)? I appreciate the fact that he didn’t ask for more miracles. He asked for more of God Himself! And I love God’s response to Moses. He said, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (Ex. 33:17).

I need more of God’s power in my life—don't you? But instead of going for the power first—instead of asking for the strength, wisdom, direction, provision, or even miracles I need first—I am learning to go for the presence first.

Amazingly, all those other things seem to come a lot more easily after that ...

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The Prodigal Pray-er

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say (or said myself), "I know I need to pray more ...," I would no doubt be a great deal richer than I am, if not a millionaire! I just found myself saying it again yesterday, which prompted my thoughts in that direction afresh. Why don't I?

Surely it’s not simply that I don’t have time. We all take time for the things that arepleasurable for us, don't we? I certainly do. Is it that, despite my good intentions, prayer is just not a enough of a delight to me?

Kind of ironic, isn't it? Prayer is all around me. I write about prayer. I lead prayer. I'm involved with prayer ministry. But that doesn't mean it's any easier for me than for the next person to slow down and spend that one-on-one time in intimate conversation with God. When life gets busy and I get distracted, I can be as guilty as anyone of slipping into a religious routine,and prayer becomes something to check off my to-do list (never a good motivation for me). Or I need something, which makes it all about me (also not a great motivation). God, HELP!

I love it that God is gracious. (Translation: He is undeterred by my ambivalence, laziness, busy-ness, or mixed motives.
) Isaiah 30:19 says, “How gracious (God) will be when you cry for help. As soon as Hehears you, He will answer you!” What a relief! When I get encouragement like that, it inspires me to drop my reticence (and my crazy schedule), run into His presence, and tell Him all the things that are on my heart and mind. No condemnation. He sees my frailty; He is mindful that I am dust (Ps. 103:14). Whew!

So what brings me back to the place of prayer--intimate prayer--with God? It's not guilt. It's anticipation. I find it
helps me to think of Him waiting for me expectantly, the way the father waited daily at the gate for the prodigal son (Luke 15). I may not be prodigal in life, but there are times when I know I have been prodigal in prayer. Yet God is always waiting for me, thinking of me. I love how David calls it out in Psalm 139:17-18, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" (NASB). Prayer is not just about me telling Him what's on my mind. It's hearing all the amazing things that are on His!

Wow. Why waste my time counting a dollar for other people's thoughts? It's God's thoughts toward me that are the immeasurable treasure. That's the motivation I need to keep me coming back into His presence daily to find out what those precious, vast, and intimate thoughts are. He delights to share them with me--if only I delight to sit down with Him and ask...

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