Spiritual Growth

A Month without Podcasts

There’s never a quiet moment in my house. I wash dishes while listening to my daughter sing her memory verses. I grade assignments while Daniel Tiger plays in the background. I write this to the soundtrack of my son’s white noise machine broadcasting through the baby monitor. Even when there’s a quiet moment, I often fill it with another podcast or a phone call or the new Taylor Swift album. There is little time for silence in my life.

It’s hard to hear with all the noise. The roaring oven vent dispelling smoke from burning chicken overpowers my daughter’s cries for help on the potty. My headphones tune out my son’s cooing in his crib during a Zoom call. The voice of the Holy Spirit is overwhelmed by the constant stream of voices coming from my phone’s speaker.  

I love podcasts. It’s one of the first apps I open every morning—queuing up my shows for that day. There’s one recapping the news, one expounding on theology, and another sharing encouragement for mothers. My ears are itching to hear what wisdom they have to give me that day.

These voices have strengthened my faith over the years. They filled up lonely spaces during postpartum and pandemic months. They have connected me with other people who have different perspectives than mine. They have taught me things about God and his Word. But as with chocolate and social media, you can have too much of a good thing.

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A Year of Prayer

I am all about some New Year’s Resolutions. I can make goals and lists until there is no more room on the paper, but this year I decided to do something different. Often in the long lists of ways I can improve myself that year, I lose my purpose. I get caught up in tasks and miss the bigger picture. For 2019, I left behind the resolution list and chose a single word to pursue this year—prayer. While there were many ways I wanted to grow spiritually, professionally, physically, etc., I knew that by centering myself on the pursuit of prayer, I would also grow in those other areas.

What did that look like? I read more books on prayer. I incorporated prayer into the everyday rhythms of life. I realized that even ordinary tasks could be an act of prayer. While I was nervous about this endeavor, I see how God has blessed my intentionality to pursue intimacy with him above all else. Here are a few truths God has taught me in this year of prayer.

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Prayer, Resources

#ThursdayThings: Books about Prayer

At the beginning of 2019, I felt God wanting to teach me more about prayer. I began gathering suggestions for books on prayer, and ended up reading several, but these four were my favorites. I felt like each added something different to my understanding of prayer and challenged me in my practice of prayer. My prayer for you as you read this is that one of these books might encourage you to grow in your prayer life as well.

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3 Reasons to Pray the Attributes of God

I plop down in my favorite chair in our office, and almost immediately the requests start to flow. I’m so busy right now, please help me feel less stressed. Be with Joseph and his big deadline coming up. Help Karis learn how to be obedient. And the list goes on. 

Now these prayer requests aren’t bad. In fact, Scriptures commands us to cry out to the Father day and night (Luke 18:7) and to confidently draw near to God’s throne when we are in need (Hebrews 4:16).

So why, after I “let [my] requests be made known to God” that morning, did I not feel “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7)?

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Spiritual Growth

But First, Coffee…I Mean, Jesus

For Mother’s Day this year, my husband gave me the best gift I could ask for: a French press. Coffee is my love language. I use a local coffee roaster’s beans, take it black, and drink at least two cups a day. I identify with the mug that proclaims, “But first, coffee,” balking at the idea that I could take on anything in the morning before my first cup of joe.

While I might joke at my coffee “addiction,” it’s true that I rarely go without at least a cup a day. At home, visiting family, on vacation, wherever I am, I will make sure I get a cup of dark brown goodness before I start my day. If I don’t get it, I’m plagued by headaches and fatigue throughout my day.

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#ThursdayThings — Prayer Tools I Use

Prayer is such an integral part of the Christian life, so it should come to us naturally, right? While it is true that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray, sometimes prayer is hard. Our minds wander. We don’t know where to start. We push it down on our priority list, forsaking the immediately urgent over the eternally important.

Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” For many of us, we wouldn’t know what to do with three hours of prayer! What do we pray for? How do we pray? What words do we use? I believe that to have truly effective prayer times, we must be strategic. We must learn from Christ how we ought to pray, and we must be intentional with every minute we have on our knees before Him.  

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Without Ceasing

“Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

One of the shortest verses in the Bible, but what seems like an impossible command to follow.

The part of the command that usually causes us to scratch our heads is the description of how we are to pray—without ceasing. We feign ignorance that we don’t know how to do something without ceasing. But I want to suggest that there are plenty of things that we do without ceasing. One of which is social media.

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A Better Intercessor

I started a one-year Bible reading plan this past January and too soon came upon the oft-dreaded book of Leviticus. You know what’s harder than reading the book of Leviticus? Listening to the book of Leviticus (which is how I’m doing my Bible reading plan this year). Not only does it seem repetitive and inapplicable, it can sometimes fill us with questions of how the same God who inspired Leviticus could inspire the book of John.

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Spiritual Growth

The Idol of Sleep

I pulled only one all-nighter in all my college years, the first semester of my freshman year. This wasn’t because I was the best student and never procrastinated, but because I loved sleep. I wasn’t going to stay up late if I didn’t have to, and I guarded those precious eight hours of rest.

When motherhood came, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep seemed like a distant dream. But as my daughter has gotten older and sleep routines have returned to a new normal, I have found that what once was a healthy practice of rest is now an idol in my heart.

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