The Power of Prayer

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” – – James 5:16-18

The Bible doesn’t make light of the power of prayer, and if the Word says it, I am going to take it on faith.

Beyond that, I have seen the power of prayer evidenced in my own life in more ways that I can count. So for me, it isn’t so much of taking it on a blind leap of faith, as knowing and having experienced God’s matchless power.

God answered prayers that I was nervous even to pray. In times when I felt like my prayers were too little, too insignificant, to selfish to bring before and Almighty Creator — He proved to me that He loves me and really does care about even the smallest details of my life.

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” — Corrie ten Boom

I prayed prayers that were answered to the T years later, and I can truly feel God smiling on my life when I see those prayers come to fruition years later. It has brought me to tears this week. The detailed prayers I prayed that were answered so clearly and completely.

So why am I saying all this?

Pray for big things, y’all.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with praying for health, with praying for forgiveness, with praying and thanking God for things. God commands that kind of prayer. And God also asks for the kind of faith that asks big, specific, bold prayers in Jesus name knowing that He loves to answer His children.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:20

Pray for unrealistic things. Pray prayers that put you out on a limb with God. Pray for bigger faith, and know that He is going to answer full well.

Pray that God would take anger and bitterness from Your heart in every situation. Pray that you wouldn’t fight or be angry with those closest to you. Pray that no anger would reside in your heart.

It sounds crazy, right? It sounds unrealistic. But it isn’t. It lines up with God’s will, He asks us to turn away from anger and do good. So ask boldly in Jesus name.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” — 1 John 5:14

God is sovereign. His will always prevails and He is going to do what is right and just and good. But God loves to love His children. God delights in making Himself known to us, and when we pray according to His will, He answers, I promise you He does.

My youth minister once told me that God’s will isn’t one precise dot, one specific situation down to the most minute detail. If that were the case, we would have screwed up God’s will thousands of years ago and never gotten back on the right track.

On the contrary, God can work things for good and according to His will and for His glory in every situation. Even in situations when and where we have messed up. Even in situations that are less than perfect. When we pray and ask for the Spirit’s power in our lives, He shows up.

I’m not trying to say that the only good things that ever happen in this world are because of prayer and that those that don’t pray fervently can not have a good life.

But I would be lying to say that God hasn’t blessed me specifically, directly, and abundantly through answered prayers.

What do you have to lose? Pray big, pray bold, pray often… and expect God to work. I can promise you that He will.

— Taryn

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10 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

Hey everyone!

So technically, I’m not done with college until next week, but as I’m in the midst of finals and projects and all of that fun stuff *not* I had all of these things bouncing around in my mind and wanted to go ahead and get them out there:) Some are basic college tips, some are about life and growing up, and as always, God has revealed some pretty awesome things to me about Himself as well. Thank you to everyone who has come on this journey with me through reading my thoughts a couple times every week, you’re brave 😉 Here we go!
1. Use Rate My Professor — Just do it. Of course it’s beneficial to stay away from the bad professors, but also, look around and figure out who those professors are that you just have to have. This may be just me, but it’s much easier to get myself up and to class in the morning when I’m actually excited for the lectures. I have two professors whom I absolutely love and that gets me to class on days I really don’t want to go.

2. You have to be proactive about making friends — In high school, especially going to a small private school, making friends came naturally. Here on a campus with 30,000 people, I could easily go all semester without speaking to anyone *guilty as charged* I told my Mom I have one and two-half friends on campus, and even that is a stretch. Honestly, I know some of my professors better than any classmates! I’m pretty upset with myself and how I let this semester get away from me. Be willing to start conversations, get to know the people around you, it won’t just happen if you don’t put any effort in.

3. Go to office hours and ask questions — I already mentioned that my two “best friends” on campus are professors, and this may sound really nerdy, but talking to professors excites me so much!! They are such smart people! I love asking questions after class or going to office hours to talk about things in more depth. They love when students come to talk to them about things other than makeup exams and late assignments. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your disposal!

4. I’m no longer a slave to fear — I have sang these lyrics for years, but honestly sang them without much thought. It seemed like a no-brainer because I had never felt enslaved to fear in the first place. Until this semester. I have no idea how or why, but anxiety has been taking hold of my life bit by bit this semester. And honestly, it seems like it is still getting worse before it gets better. The littlest things can set me completely off, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely sure that something terrible has happened. I worry about anything and everything, and yes, I know the Bible says “do not worry” 365 times. But when I go into panic, I have no control over that. I make myself physically sick and life seems completely and utterly overwhelming.

Now all that sounds really negative and not at all like something I’ve learned this semester. But God has been right here leading and guiding me through. Even though I can’t always feel His presence. He keeps reminding me through His words and promises that His grace is still more than sufficient, He has a hold of me and is never letting me go, and although Satan wants me to be afraid, I am no longer a slave to fear. He has called me by name and I am His. I am His child, and nothing can ever change that. He wants me and loves me just as I am, anxiety and all. And that is something worth rejoicing and celebrating about.

5. Don’t take all your classes on one day — Especially seven. Don’t do seven classes in one day. Because inevitably exams and group projects come up and you will be at school for 14 hours straight. I won’t make that mistake again.

6. You’re not a failure — In a way, these next three all flow together. I have always been a perfectionist and put way to much pressure on myself. But I finally had to realize that I’m not a failure by Christ’s standards. I can’t make everyone happy. Not my friends or family or professors or even myself — and that’s not the goal. The goal is to pursue Christ with everything I’ve got and let that be enough. And when I do that, “failing” is irrelevant.

7. Push yourself, but give some grace too — I had to realize this semester that I couldn’t push myself in absolutely every area or I was going to crash. I pushed myself to take a lot of classes, so I had to realize I couldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t keep a 4.0. There’s balance in life. I worked incredibly hard and studied for all my exams, but some nights I just needed to read and eat ice cream and forget about it all for a few hours. You won’t survive without the grace, so don’t feel guilty for it.

8. To say no! — Yes, that extra Bible Study on Thursday nights would be great. Yes, going to the grocery store every single week would help my family out a lot. Yes, I would love to be able to take my siblings to McDonald’s and the library all the time. My two best friends are captains of their soccer and basketball teams and I would love to be at all of their games. But I can’t do everything. Even all the good things. Even all the things I want to do. So sometimes I have to step back and say no to things, even good things, so that I can say yes to the things that are really most important.

9. Group projects aren’t pretty – -True story. I have a group project due on Monday for a group that has seven people in it. We had our first meeting three weeks ago and four people showed up. The next three still haven’t ever done their parts. Some people don’t care, some people never text back, and that’s going to have to be okay. You aren’t responsible for all of them, just do your best and let it go:)

10. God has already won — In a song by my favorite band, Anthem Lights, they sing Our King has won the war, He reigns forevermore, Hallelujah Hallelujah

The lyrics are simple but so true. God has displayed that truth in my life over and over this semester. When I struggled with health issues, He reminded me that He was the ultimate healer and His ways are so much higher than my own (Isaiah 55:9). When I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, He reminded me that He was my peace and He was never ever leaving me (Isaiah 26:3). When Satan threatened to attack, when I ran out of time to study for my math exam, when everything around me tried to knock me down… God had already won. He is so much bigger than anything I faced this semester and then anything I will ever face. He speaks victory over me, and I get to live in that victory every day for the rest of my life.


Wow, as much as I wanted to share all of this with you guys, it also reminds me of how faithful my God is and makes me realize how much He has brought me through and taught me over these past four months. I can’t wait to take on whatever He has next, however crazy, I know that His grace will be more than sufficient for all of it.

Taryn

Will It Ever Be Enough??

I’m really good at playing the Thanksgiving game.

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“What are you thankful for?”
God, family, friends, health, education…
*10 minutes later*
Making my Christmas list, complaining that the wifi is slow, asking if we seriously ran out of milk. 

—-
Wow. We laugh it off by calling them “first world problems” and attempting to justify our lack of thankfulness. But changing how we label it doesn’t change what it is.
Discontentment.

Selfishness.

Entitlement.

I like the idea and thought behind Thanksgiving. I’ve written posts in the past about thankfulness and choosing to have joy which I still completely agree with. But a fault I’ve started recognizing in myself is that I tend to convince myself I’m “being thankful” when in actuality, my heart is far from it.

“In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content. Whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” — Philippians 4:12 (HCSB)

Contentment. Joyful contentment. I think that’s the key. Not just being thankful for what we have, but letting that be enough. Not pining after or basing our happiness on what is next, on what will satisfy our earthly longings for one more day. But rather digging wholeheartedly into our Savior who is more than enough for us.

This world will never be enough.

All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.” — Ecclesiastes 1:8 (HCSB)

I like to convince myself that I am being thankful, I can make my list of things I’m thankful for a mile long, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Honestly, it helps my attitude a lot to think about things I am grateful for. But I have let it become a ritual an routine and the true joy and contentment that I am supposed to have in Christ has faded into extinction. I am often “thankful” because I am supposed to be, all the while taking for granted all that I have and all that God has blessed me with.

What kind of message is that sending to God and to this world?

God, You aren’t enough. You sent Your Son to be brutally killed for my sake even though I could never deserve it. You have gifted me with life and loving family and friends around me. BUT that’s not enough. I want more. I think I deserve more. Can’t you just make my life easy?

Wow. I would never verbalize it in that fashion, but is that not what I’m saying? I wouldn’t ever want to be that way. I wouldn’t ever want to be that selfish and shallow. And yet I am and I’m not even noticing it because I am still “being thankful”.

“And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” — Colossians 3:15 (HCSB)

As long as I keep living with fake gratitude, I will never think anything is enough. I will always feel entitlement and contempt. But God has already provided so much more than enough. His gifts, are more than I could ever need. His faithfulness is everlasting. I want to start living in recognition of that. I want to live in recognition of the fact that I do have enough, and I want to live consciously in awe and amazement of what my Savior did for me. Because that… is so much more than enough. And that’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

— Taryn

Being a Steward of Strength

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” — 1 Peter 4:10

Growing up in church, I heard the words “steward” and “stewardship” get thrown around a lot. Usually, people use them in reference to money. You are a good steward of your money if you use it wisely and in a way that would glorify God. When we are really stretching our minds, we say that we should be a good steward of our time or our possessions. Using them in the most astute manner as to please the LORD. But when I was lying in my bed one day extremely sick, I felt God nudging me saying, “Taryn, I need you to be a better steward of your strength.”
“Wait, umm God, I know You know what You are talking about, but what do you mean a good steward of my strength? I’m doing everything I can with my strength to glorify You, isn’t that what You want?”

I’ve told the story before of having mono and all the long term affects that has had on my health, my life plans, and everything else. My game plan through the whole thing was to try to prove someone or something wrong. Whether that was the doctors, people who told me I couldn’t keep doing everything, or the diagnosis itself. I wanted to prove that I could still juggle high school, working, pursuing a professional piano career, volunteering at church and school, my social life, and everything else. Well guess what? I couldn’t. But I adamantly refused to admit that until I was flat on my back unable to move for two days just because I went to the park with my friends.

Still, I was determined to do everything that I possibly could and never stop to rest when I could have been doing something for the kingdom of God. It took God completely knocking me out of commission to get a point across. 

“Taryn, you need to be a better of steward of your strength”

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometimes, God doesn’t give us abundant strength. But He always gives us what we need for what He has in store for us. What would happen then if we wasted all of that strength before we got to what God wanted us to use our strength on? That’s what I have been convicted of so often recently. 

My mentality has been to use up every last ounce of strength that I have or “hit the bed hard” as my youth pastor likes to say. But here’s the problem, I’m using the strength just because I have it and then I run out… and then I completely miss what God wanted to do through me. 

When I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed and run errands just to prove I can, I waste all my energy and make myself sick. Then that night when God asks me to go help out a friend who needs encouragement, I can’t because I’m too sick to get out of bed. 

So yes, God asks me to do things for Him. And He gives me the strength for them, He promises His grace is more than sufficient, but that doesn’t mean I can’t waste that strength. I want to learn to be a good steward of the strength I do have and use the gifts God gives me the ways He wants. Time, money, resources… and strength. 

Land of the Free, Because of the Brave

“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

On Monday, I was feeling very patriotic sitting on the top of my car listening to “The Star Spangled Banner” and “I’m Proud to be an American” while watching fireworks and celebrating my country. But here I am, Friday, devastated and speechless over the events that have unfolded since then. Not only in my country, but in my city, way too close for comfort.


Since Monday night, I have had the phrase running through my head — land of the free, because of the brave — because of our armed forces, our police department, our fire department, our country is able to experience the freedom and protection that we have today, but no matter how great of a job these people as a whole perform, corruption and evil continue to put up a strong fight. 

There is corruption everywhere. There are corrupt police officers, there are corrupt truck drivers, corrupt men and corrupt women, corrupt whites and blacks, corrupt people claiming every religion under the sun. And Jesus told us to expect nothing less.

There is evil running rampant in this world, and I hate it, especially this week. Dallas is my home. The skyline whose pictures are plastering every social media site is one that I drive past regularly. I have a friend who is training to become a Dallas Police Officer. To say that last night’s shootings hit too close to home is an understatement. It brought me to tears and to asking way too many “why?” questions that I will never have an answer to. So I could talk all day long about how awful these tragedies have been, how much hate is blanketing my country, but my Heavenly Father keeps gently prodding me with 2 things. 

1. He has already claimed the ultimate victory

“And He said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things and I will be his God and he will be My son.” — Revelation 21:6-7

After the Christina Grimmie shooting last month, I watched her cover of “In Christ Alone” on repeat. I cried over and over hearing her sing “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny” Her final breath was way sooner than anyone would have expected, but as I listened to that song wash over me time after time, God began to wash over my heart with peace. He reminded me that He is not only the Creator of the Universe, but also the Sustainer of the Universe. No matter how dark the night looks, He still reigns victorious, and He is coming back one day to claim this world that He has never let go for a moment. In times like these, I have to cling to that hope and have faith in the promises of my Savior that He will never leave us alone. 
2. This is my chance to be a light in a dark place

As I began to think about that hope that I can have, even amidst all the chaos, hate, and darkness cloaking my city and my world, I began to realize how selfish I must be not to be proclaiming that hope everywhere I go. This world needs hope and peace and healing, and more than ever, they know that. Christians have been handed the golden opportunity to be the vessel God uses to bring that hope and restoration. The world is looking for hope and peace like never before. We hold the gospel, we hold that hope, and it’s our job to share it. 
It hurts that this happened. It makes it hard to feel safe even in my own city. It sparks despair and fear. But I have a choice. We have a choice. We can talk about the problem all day long, or we can look to our ultimate solution. Our Father that already reigns victorious. So join me in praying for Dallas and even more in being a beacon of hope to our dark world. Here in America we live in the land of the free because of the brave like those police officers who risked and lost their lives for us; and as Christians, we live free because of Jesus who paid the ultimate sacrifice of His life for us. So let’s start living like it. Not taking advantage of our freedoms anymore, but using them to spread our light. 

“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost it’s grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

Prayer Changes Things

Today is the National Day of Prayer and so I wanted to write an extra post today about what God has been teaching me over the past three years about what prayer really is and the impact it can have on our lives—–

 

I walked into the break room behind my coworker that had just gotten off of his last shift before moving away to college. I closed the door behind me and mumbled nervously,

 
“I want to pray for you before you leave”

 
I think I completely astonished him. Even though he has grown up in church, people just don’t do that. He consented, and we stood there awkwardly looking at the floor while I prayed in a shaky voice for his future, for God’s will to prevail in his life, and for all the people he would be able to be a light to on his university campus. I finished and he left, and I haven’t really talked to him since then.

 
That’s a silly story, but it was the beginning of an incredible journey for me. The beginning of God showing me the power of prayer, and that He really does know what He is doing.
I knew that day, I’d known for that whole week, that I was supposed to pray over my friend. To this day, I don’t know why, but I am so glad that I did. That was the catalyst that made my prayer life something beyond whispers in my bed at night.

 
That is one of many poignant experiences with prayer I’ve had in my life. I can point back to five off the top of my head that have taught me how powerful prayer really is, how it draws people together, and how it shapes and molds our hearts to be sensitive to God’s plan for our life.

 
Prayer changes my heart. Jesus understands me when no one else can, and He is more than faithful to work in my heart when I ask Him. Sometimes, I’m limited to a few broken words,

 
“Jesus, I don‘t know how to pray. Help me.” 

 
And He always, always answers. He give me the words to say, and I can point back to so many times He’s asked me to pray for faith, and I can see the resulting events. This bridge of Hillsong’s “Oceans” has been my prayer so many times…

 

 

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander so my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

 

I can see how God allowed me to walk through deserts and desolate places. Through valleys and up mountains that I never thought I could be strong enough to climb. I wouldn’t have chosen them, and I didn’t have the strength for them. But the same God who brought me to them, gave me faith to make it through them. He carried me up the mountains and through the storms, and strengthens me to come out on the other side more like Him, more of the person He wants me to be.
Prayer has profoundly impacted my life, and I know that God uses prayer not only individually but corporately.

 

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” –Matthew 18:20

 

I don’t want to be afraid of praying over people. I remember one special day two years ago when my youth group surrounded a young woman fighting cancer, we all had tears streaming down our faces, as we prayed aloud simultaneously to the Creator of the Universe to bring healing to this woman’s life. I remember feeling awkward initially. I remember being self conscious of the people around me hearing my prayers. But I also remember God’s presence in that moment. I remember His Spirit moving and the bond He created between the people there in that moment.

 

Prayer is powerful! Prayer is the power of God. Why should I ever be self conscious of asking God to intervene? Of allowing God to do a miracle through my humble words?

 

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” — James 5:17-18

 

If prayer has this kind of power, why aren’t we crying out? Why aren’t we praying over everyone we know that’s hurting? Not just a sentence prayer whispered in the confines of our own room, but laying hands on our brothers and sisters in Christ and crying out for God’s power. Making prayer a normal, consistent part of life while still rendering God the awe and respect He’s due.

 

I don’t want prayer to be something I do to check off a list anymore. I want to marvel at the power of prayer and the glory of God it reveals. I want to pray without ceasing, and I want to pray fearlessly. Whether that’s praying for things that sound too big and too crazy, or praying out loud over someone who thinks I’m strange, I’m ready to invite God’s power into my life through prayer. Will you join me?

Just Keep Walking

“God, please make Your will abundantly clear. Please give me peace about what You would have me to do.”
This is a prayer that I’ve prayed more times than I can count. With every twist and turn of life, I want to make sure I’m following the plans God has for me. I want to make sure my actions line up with His will for my life. That’s good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be… Right?

Well yeah, of course. But what happens when I don’t feel God’s divine voice speaking into a situation? Am I supposed to wait idly by until God decides to reveal to me exactly what I’m supposed to do? Am I supposed to wait until I haven’t the slightest sliver of doubt before I do something? I had honestly never thought about that until this past week. I was lying in bed praying that God would give me perfect peace about which path to take. And all of a sudden, God made something crystal clear. The right path to take… is the path where I keep walking.

My biggest fear has always been that I will do things outside of God’s will for my life. That I will somehow mess up His plan. But as my best friend likes to remind me, God isn’t going to fall off of His throne if I make a wrong choice. He’s still God, and He’s still faithful to work things for good. I realized that God wants me to keep moving, keep serving, keep loving, a lot more than He wants me waiting around to make absolutely sure I don’t make the wrong choice.

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” — Eric Metaxas

What I felt God was pointing out to me, was that Satan wanted me just standing here waiting. Not doing anything because I was scared of doing the wrong thing. Being an inactive Christian and not doing anything for the kingdom of God. But I know what God has called me to do. He doesn’t need to send a special revelation for me to know that. I know He has called me to love everyone, I know He has called me to make disciples, I know that He has called me to glorify Him in everything I do.

“Make Your ways known to me, LORD; teach me Your paths.” — Psalm 25:4

God has already made so many of His ways known to me through the example of His Son. Jesus is my example, and as long as I’m doing my best to follow Him, to go out of my way to serve and love passionately, I’m following Him.

If an opportunity is placed before me that I know lines up with what He says to do in the Bible, and that I have peace about doing for His glory, I’m ready to take it. Yes, I’m still going to pray first, but I’m not going to spend weeks and months wavering in uncertainty before I take the first step. I’m going to keep walking, and knowing that God can show me if I need to redirect my steps. I don’t want to be a Christian that does nothing for the kingdom anymore. I want to run towards Jesus. Whatever that looks like.

“Think about Him in all you ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” — Proverbs 3:6