Praying With A Purpose: Developing a Prayer Strategey.

praying-with-a-purpose

I am sure many of you are familiar with the movie War Room and also the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. Several months ago I watched the movie which then led me to hunting down the book (I was way too impatient to wait for it to arrive via online order.) I was floored by the concept of “strategic” prayer; it was something I had never heard of. Before, my prayer life was dismal at best and non-existent at worst. My prayers were mostly “Good morning God, I need….. (insert a long list of things I didn’t need but wanted.)” After devouring Fervent (and then re-reading it slower and taking notes so I could really absorb the content), I realized that I needed to make a change; I knew I needed to start praying strategically if I ever wanted to see spiritual growth in my life.

What is a prayer strategy?

A prayer strategy is taking God’s word, His promises, and praying them over each of the needs in your life and in the lives of others. For example, someone close to me struggles with depression and anxiety so when I pray for them I use the scripture “Cast all your cast-anxietyanxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 and pray that this person will learn to give their anxieties and fears to God so they can experience peace. When I am praying for the strength to stay pure I use the scripture “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galations 5:16 and I pray that I will learn to walk in and obey the Holy Spirit so that I will not give into my impure desires.

How can you develop your own prayer strategy?

There are probably hundreds of ways to go about forming your own prayer strategy so I am just going to share what personally works for me:

  • Identify how Satan is attacking your life and the lives of others

Satan is a manipulator and his main goal is to keep you as far away from God as possible. Learn to identify how he is attacking the different areas of your life and the lives of those closest to you so that you will know what to pray for. I have a separate post, Profiling the Enemy, that discusses several ways that Satan attacks.

  • Write your prayers down

For each need in your life and the needs in other lives you are praying for, write it down a long with your chosen scripture(s). You do not have to write them down everyday (though I occasionally do), but this way you are not struggling to remember all of the prayers and scriptures and you can also look back and see the prayers that God has answered. I keep all of my prayers in a three ring binder so that they are together and protected (if I had a dollar for every time I’ve spilled coffee on something I would be rich!)

  • Create a schedule

Pray for specific needs on specific days so that you are not scrambling to fit a ton of stuff into your prayer time. I find it best to divide my prayers into categories (prayers for myself, prayers for others, and prayers for my country/world. You can divide any way you see fit.) Each day I pray over a specific section so that I am not rushing to include every single prayer and therefore, I am able to truly focus on what I am praying.

 

What scriptures do you use?

You can use any scripture that applies to the situation you are praying over. I’ll include some scriptures applicable to various ways Satan may choose to attack. (All of these scriptures are ESV translation)

Passion:

  • Mark 12:30, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
  • Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
  • Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Family:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
  • Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
  • Romans 14:19, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”

Past:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
  • Ephesians 2:1-5, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. By God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ- by grace you have been saved-“

Fear:

spirit-of-fear

  • 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
  • John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

 

Purity:

  • 1 Peter 2:24-25, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Forgiveness:

  • Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Relationships:

  • Hebrews 10:24-25,” And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Recommended resources:

  • War Room movie
  • Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (lead actress in War Room and a wonderful woman of God.)
  • Battle Plan for Prayer by the Hendrick Brothers (directors of the War Room movie.)
  • War Binder Facebook Group – this group has a ton of tips for creating a binder of prayers and developing strategy.

Since I have started praying strategically and with a purpose, my relationship with God has completely changed. I am stronger in my faith and I feel more connected with God. For a lot of my years as a Christian I felt like I wasn’t really close to God and I can now see it was because I wasn’t praying- not really. I hope this post inspires you to seek a more fervent prayer life!

-Sierra

Follow me:

Twitter

Facebook

One Year Bible Reading Group | Facebook

 

 

Top Five Affordable Beauty Products

top-5-beauty

I love makeup. There’s is hardly anything better than finding the perfect shade of lipstick, foundation, or blush- especially when it comes at an affordable price. Though I occasionally indulge in a luxury beauty item, I prefer scouring the aisles of my local drugstores to find that special “wow” product.

I’ve compiled a list of my five absolute favorite affordable beauty products:

1. Say Yes To… Moisturizers

I am an avid believer that good skin care should be a priority in everyone’s beauty routine and the Say Yes To line has some amazing (and organic) skin care products. I am in love with the Say Yes To Grapefruit moisturizer. It keeps my face soft and smooth while soothing any redness along my cheeks and nose (I strongly resemble Rudolph at times.) Also, it smells yummy. Of course, everyone’s skin is different so you will need to pick a product that works for you.

2. Rimmel Kate Contour Palette

You would have to be living under a rock to not know about contouring. I enjoy this palette because it has a contour shade, highlight shade, and a blush all conveniently together. The contour shade (at least in the palette I purchased) is a tad too warm to be a contour and is better suited for bronzing. I mostly use this palette for the gorgeous blush and highlighter.

3. Maybelline Better Skin Powder

better-skin-powder-2I can appreciate a full face of makeup but most days I just don’t have time for that. I like this powder because it has enough coverage to mask my Rudolph nose and it keeps my oily skin matte. This powder is very light coverage but you can easily achieve medium coverage by layering it over a BB cream.

4. CoverGirl TruNaked Palettes

pp-3The TruNaked palettes are CoverGirl’s version of the Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palettes which are priced at $54 a piece. I have the Nudes, Goldens (pictured left), and Roses palettes, all of which I like but the Goldens is my favorite because I feel like it has the best pigmentation and blend-ability.

5. CoverGirl Katy Kat Matte Lipsticks

dh-3

I am not a fan of  Katy Perry, nor are these lipsticks matte; however, the colors and pigmentation of these lipsticks are very nice and they do not break the bank price wise. My absolute favorite shade is Sphynx, a pretty pink nude (middle shade on right.)

 

 

What are your favorite affordable beauty products?

-Sierra

(P.S. The Glam Gala (watermark on photos) was my old beauty blog which is no longer in existence.)

Follow Me:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Let’s Talk About It… Temptation

lets-talk-about-it

 

Let’s Talk About It… Temptation

            I started this blog because I felt God leading me to create a safe space for young women and teen girls to be able to talk about the “real stuff” without fear of condemnation or embarrassment. For a lot of my walk with God I felt completely on my own. I thought something was wrong with me because I seemed to be going through things that no one else was. However, as I matured (both in age and in faith) I began to see that what I had experienced was normal, people just didn’t talk about it.

I will be starting a new blog series called “Let’s Talk About It…” and then discuss a subject that I have struggled with or am still struggling with (you guys can feel free to share a subject you would like discussed.)

First in the series is temptation. If you have read my post on Profiling the Enemy then you know that Satan is a no good, rotten scoundrel and one of his favorite things to do is trip up Christians by tempting them to do something that isn’t Christ-like. Satan will use anything and everything to tempt a child of God, however, you should know that the devil isn’t stupid; no, he’s quite smart. Satan knows you and your weaknesses; his attacks are personal and are meant to hit you where it hurts.

john-10

Everyone is tempted by different things in different ways (i.e. what tempts you may not be able to tempt me.) I have always struggled with lust and Satan constantly tries to exploit this. However, if he were to try and tempt a greedy person with lustful thoughts it wouldn’t work as well as tempting them with money.

I used to be embarrassed to admit that I was tempted because no one else seemed to be going through it but then I discovered even Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 4:14-16 (Amplified) says, “Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted on every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].”

Jesus is the only human in history not to give into sin and temptation which tells me that everyone else has been tempted and has sinned. You are not alone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you (I wish I had realized this when I was younger!)

We’ve established that being tempted is normal. Now let’s talk about what you can do to fight back against Satan’s attack. Well, verse 16 from above is a good starting point. I know the Amplified version of the Bible can be a lot to swallow, but I chose it specifically for this post because of how it included the original meaning of the word “grace” (“God’s unmerited favor to us sinners.”) The above verse says that we must “approach the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners” and seek His mercy and unmerited favor.

If there is one thing I have learned about temptation (other than that it is something that everyone faces) it’s that I cannot resist it on my own. I need God’s help. James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I didn’t find triumph over temptation until I admitted that I need God’s help and then gave Him complete control over all areas of my life. In other words, the more you try to fight on your own, the more you’re going to fail; let God do the fighting for you! (P.S. I love reciting James 4:7 in times of weakness!)

Ephesians 6:13-17 (ESV) says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” God has literally given us everything we need- an entire suit of armor- to withstand Satan’s attacks! We have the built of truth to stand against Satan’s lies, the breast plate of righteousness to protect our heart from deception, the gospel of peace so we need not fear where we step, the shield of faith to defend against everything Satan throws our way, and the helmet of salvation to protect our minds which have been transformed into a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17.)

As I close, I encourage you to let go of any guilt or embarrassment you may harbor over being tempted (I know I had a lot.) Instead of worrying, start focusing on dressing yourself in the full armor of God!

God, I pray for each and every person who reads this. Touch their hearts Lord; let them know that they are not alone in this struggle and that You too have once been where they are. I pray that You will give them the strength to submit their lives to You, to let You start fighting for them. Let them be dressed in the armor you have given them!

In Jesus’ holy name,

Amen!

Thank you guys so much for reading! Is there anything you would like me to discuss in my next “Let’s Talk About…” post?

-Sierra

Follow Me!:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Choosing A Bible Translation

choosing-a-bible-translation

Choosing the Right Bible Translation for You

Reading and studying the Word of God is vitally important to the Christian walk; it’s what connects us to God and His promises. Reading the Bible may seem easy enough however it can become difficult if we are reading a translation of the Bible that is difficult for us to comprehend. I want to make it clear that this post is not saying one translation is better than another, nor am I intending to bash a particular translation. I simply want to provide information on various translations so you can choose what will work best for you! I will also share what translations I use and why!

There are countless translations so I am only going to cover some of the most popular. I will be also be explaining the different types of translations: word for word, thought for thought, and paraphrase.

Let’s start with the different types:

  • Word for Word: A word for word translation, or a formal translation, is considered to be more accurate and literal because each word from the original text is translated into a language used today (in the instance of this post, English.) Word for word translations are often used for studying because they stick closely to the original text. In most case, formal translations have a higher reading level than other translations.
  • Thought for Thought: A thought for thought translation, or dynamic translations, is translated phrase by phrase and often use a more contemporary form of language. Dynamic translations are great for every day reading because they are written in a way that is easy to read yet they do not compromise the meaning of the text.
  • Paraphrase: Paraphrase translations focus on the readability of their text rather than the accuracy. In some cases, paraphrase translations may sacrifice the original meaning of the text in order to make it read more smoothly. For this reason, paraphrase Bibles are mostly used for devotional reading and not studying.

 

Popular translations:

  • Amplified: The Amplified Bible is a word for word translation that attempts to be as literal as possible. This version includes added context by including the meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek words in parenthesis and clarifying text in brackets to help break down the language barrier.
  • English Standard Version: The ESV Bible is a word for word translation. It is modeled after the King James Version, but is much easier to read and comprehend. It is well noted for its word for word accuracy.
  • King James Version: The KJV Bible is one of the most popular word for word translations. It is translated well but can be hard to understand because many of the words used (this Bible was first printed in 1611) are not found in today’s English language.
  • New International Version: The NIV Bible is a phrase for phrase translation and is one of the most popular translations is history. The NIV Bible balances word for word and phrase for phrase translation so that the text is easy to read but stays true to the original meaning.
  • New Living Translation: The NLT Bible is a phrase for phrase translation. The goal of this translation is to have the same impact on people today as the original text would have on people in biblical times.
  • The Message: The Message Bible is paraphrase translation. This version was designed to encourage people to simply read the Bible rather than to encourage studying. No verses are used which make it difficult to look up specific passages.

 

With all of this being said, I would like to share the three Bible I use the most:

  • Amplified: I use the Amplified Bible (specifically Joyce Meyer’s Every Day Life Bible) every day for the deep studying of scripture. I love how it includes the original definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words right there beside the English words. This Bible has an added depth that helps me to understand exactly what God is saying. However, this Bible can be difficult to read (especially aloud) because of all of the parentheses and brackets.
  • English Standard Version: I use my ESV Bible for both studying and memorizing scripture. I usually use this Bible for lighter studying because it is highly accurate while being easier to read. I use it to memorize scripture for the same reason.
  • New International Version: I use the NIV Bible for reading and journaling purposes. I love this translation because it is so easy to understand. I am currently reading through the Bible in a year and NIV is the translation that I am using. I also have a journaling Bible in NIV.

I would again like to state that I am not promoting one version of the Bible over another. The Bible versions that work well for me may not work well for you. I recommend praying earnestly and asking God to reveal what translation you should be reading and studying. You can also visit a website like Bible Gateway or Bible Hub and read through different translations (for free) and get a feel for what you like the best. Also, don’t be afraid to have more than one Bible for different purposes.

What are your favorite Bible translations?

-Sierra

 

**Information on the different translations of the Bible from Family Christian.**

God’s Not Dead

You guys know the God’s Not Dead 2 movie where the teacher is prosecuted for talking about Jesus? Something similar is going on in my community.

My county has offered an optional Bible class to elementary and middle school students for 75 years, a class completely funded by outside sources (not the school board.) On January 18th, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a law suit against Mercer County Schools and want these classes removed.

I ask that you please stand with me and pray that my county decides to fight to keep these classes rather than give in to the FFRF’s demands. In a community overcome with drug addiction and alcohol abuse, the  Mercer County Bible in the School’s program is an amazing thing and needs to be preserved!

Please pray with me! I will update as things progress!

Here is a link to the article released by the FFRF: FFRF Sues Mercer County Schools

-Sierra

Spending Time With God

study-cover

Today I am writing this post because I have seen countless Christians who go to church, join small groups, and volunteer wonder why they aren’t growing closer to God. In fact, I’ve been in that very situation myself and here is what I discovered:

You can go to church your entire life and never have a relationship with God.

When you’re dating someone you spend personal time with them so that you can get to know them and develop a relationship with them. If you do not spend time with the person you’re dating then no attachment or intimacy is formed.

The same is true for having a relationship with God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Note the word seekThe original word was baqash (pronounced baw-kash’), a verb meaning to search out by any method, to strive after (Strong’s Concordance.)

We are to be active in our pursuit of God. You will not form a relationship with Him by simply sitting on a pew in a church. You have to strive after Him.

Last year (2016) I became tired with my mediocre relationship with God (I was literally raised in church.) I no longer wished to sit on the sidelines anymore, I wanted a passionate relationship with Christ too. I began to pursue Him. Not only have I grown closer to God, but I have changed as a person (1 Corinthians 5:17 took place.) I literally am not the same person as I was at the beginning of 2016 (praise God!)

I am going to share a little bit of how I spend time with God but I want to make it clear that just because this is what I do, it doesn’t mean this is what you need to do. It took me months to get into a routine where I felt I was actually connecting to God and growing. Don’t try to force yourself into my mold but instead seek God and see what He is leading you to do!

I’ve found the best time, for me, to spend time with God is in the mornings. This way God is the first thing on my mind in the mornings and the time spent with Him sets the tone for my day.

study-2061

The One Year Bible is new to my alone time (I just started January 1st, 2017.) I felt God calling me to read the entire Bible this year and I figured this would work the best for me. The first thing I do each morning is read the entry for each day which consists of a section of the Old Testament, New Testament, a selection from Psalm, and Proverbs.

study-2065

Next I read one chapter from my current Christian living book (currently Breaking Free by Beth Moore.) I take notes as I go. I am also reading a devotional called Men and Women of the Bible in which each day you study a new person from the Bible.

study-2068

I do my daily scripture writing plan, occasionally journal, and then last of all pray. My prayer time is my most intimate time with God. I usually have some worship music playing (currently I am in love with We Dance by Bethel Music.) Sometimes I stand and worship, sometimes I’m on my knees, and sometimes I am so overwhelmed with God’s presence that I have to lay face down on the floor. Sometimes I pour my heart out to him, talking a mile a minute, and sometimes I just sit silently in His presence, taking all of Him in.

You may wonder why I don’t pray first and then do my Bible study. Well, for me Bible study kind of prepares me for my prayer time. Studying the Bible helps me to hone in and focus on God so that when it comes time to pray He is all that’s on my mind. Reading the Bible is my preparation for battle and then prayer is my battle (or at least how I let God right for me.)

Spending more time with God is one of the best decisions I have ever made and though it was hard in the beginning, I now cannot imagine starting my day without it!

How do you spend time with God?

-Sierra

 

Embracing My Season of Being Alone

embracing

I’m single. There, I said it. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but as someone who has always struggled with feelings of loneliness. it’s huge. I always thought that by 21 I would at least have an idea of who I am going to marry, if not already married or engaged. But here I am pushing 22 with no prince charming in sight. I won’t lie, it kind of sucks seeing all of your friends and classmates getting married and announcing pregnancies while you’re sitting around taking selfies with your dog (no? that might just be me then.) However, as bitter as it may sometimes be, I am coming to appreciate this season in my life and here’s why:

It’s just me and God

Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.”

Being single, my main focus is my relationship with the Lord. If I were dating/engaged/married I would also have to focus on my partner’s wants and needs. However, my heart is free to focus solely on building my relationship with God.

I’m maturing

Ephesians 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

I’m not spending my single years being idle. I’m studying to be the godly wife and mother that I long to be. Every day, after I pray for my future husband, I pray for myself as a future wife. Proverbs 31 (the chapter about a woman of noble character) is one of the most read passages in my Bible. I’m using the time that I have before marriages to prepare myself for what it will take to be a good, godly wife.

I’m not truly alone

Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Though it may seem like, I am not truly alone. The more I mature in my faith and focus on my relationship with God, the more I begin to realize that He is always by my side. He has never left me (thought I have sometimes tried to flee from Him) and He will never turn His back on me.

I’m learning to trust God’s timing

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

We live in a society that craves instant gratification. For example, a common conception today is ‘why wait until marriage to have sex when you can do it now?’

I yearn to be a wife and mother. I long for the intimate companionship of a husband and the unconditional love of a child. I know God isn’t keeping me from these things that I want so desperately just to be mean. The Bible says that everything that God does is for my own good so I am trusting that right now, at this point in my life, marriage isn’t what’s best for me.

All in all, I think the best way to get through a season of being single is to look as it as an opportunity; an opportunity to grow, change, and trust.

-Sierra