Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

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Filtering by Tag: prayer

{Little | Day 16 of 31}

Ready? Go.

Julia is four-years-old. She provides plenty of opportunity for silliness and laughter. She’s kind and compassionate and a little bit strong-willed. Though sometimes I’m guilty of thinking she’s the smartest kid on the planet, she’s still very much a little girl. She’s a little girl who prays what may seem like simple, little prayers and God hears her. She speaks out profound, important truths that sometimes leave me amazed at her four-year-old-faith. Here are a couple of my favorites. 

Several months ago, she went upstairs, alone, to fetch something from her bedroom. We heard her feet running as fast as they could down the hallway. While she ran, she was singing at the top of her lungs, “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” She sang it all the way down the hallway, into the bedroom, and back. We asked her why she was singing. “Because, when I’m scared I sing to God. He helps me not be scared.” Sigh. 

Here’s another. I occasionally suffer from migraines, sometimes for several days. After a few days, I get aggravated that my headache won’t go away. I get to the point where I’m willing to try anything to get relief. I made a hot bath with salts and essential oils and was complaining to Brian through tears that I couldn’t take another second of this dreadful headache.  Julia walks over to me. And the conversation went something like this:

Julia: “Mommy, I’m sorry you have a hedge - ache.” Me: “Thank you, sweet Julia."  Julia: “But, Mom, did you know God can take your hedge-ache away, and then you don’t have to be sad? You can pray and ask Him.” (She turned right around and scurries away.) Me: (Blank stare)

It actually hadn’t occurred to me. Silly, isn’t it? 

Then just last night during bedtime prayers, she prayed that I would sleep well. I’ve been having some sleepless nights the past few weeks. “God, you can help Momma have good sleep. So, help her sleep good tonight. Jesus name. Thank you. Amen.” And, I did. 

There’s something about her matter-of-fact tone that exudes faith. That’s what this little girl of mine is teaching me. Her prayers aren't fussy and complicated. They aren’t embellished with big words and religious lace.  And, they aren’t a last resort. I know, she’s four. But, she’s living Philippians 4:6 out right before my eyes. "Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He's done."  Yes.

I am so thankful for her four-year-old faith. Even the tiniest bit of faith in the hands of a mighty God can move mountains. 

STOP.

{Silence | Day 5 of 31}

Day 5 {Silence}

Ready? Go.

I’ve always appreciated the silence. Maybe that has something to do with my introverted tendencies. Yeah, there’s that. I used to think of silence as the absence of something, like noise and/or activity. But, it’s really more than that. Silence creates space. In our daily routines, silence creates space for rest. In our conversations, it creates space for listening. I’m all about creating space these days. I find that my heart and soul crave room to breathe. 

It’s funny, isn’t it? In the silence you hear things you might otherwise have missed. I find that particularly true in my prayer times. See, there are times when I run out of words. The Lord has graciously reminded me again and again that I don’t have to always have words to fill the silence.  But you know what? He hears the cry of my heart when my words won’t do. He knows me. Some of my most beautiful and meaningful moments have been wrapped in the silence and stillness that comes just from being in His presence. Not saying a word. Just being with Him. Kneeling down. Setting my heart and mind on Him. Meditating on His word. Remembering who He is and what He’s done. When I grab hold of Him like that, words don’t really cut it anyway. That kind of silence creates space for awe and wonder. I never want to lose that. I never want to get over Jesus. I never want to become bored with the truth that the Creator of all things knows my name. Yours, too. And He loves us with an everlasting love. Go ahead. Find a quiet place and just let that sink in. 

STOP.

{Proof Prayer is Working}

Prayer is a privilege. A gift. Sometimes, though,  it seems like prayer is one-sided conversation with an imaginary friend. Or even worse, it seems like you're talking to yourself. We know better - we've been taught otherwise. But, do you ever wish there was one tiny indication that your prayers are working? You know, something that would bolster your faith and confidence. Yeah, me too. We know what Scripture says about prayer. But, there are times when it seems like you pray and nothing happens. Nothing. Crickets.  Might I suggest, though, that one of the functions of prayer is to remind us that He is God and we are not. And perhaps, one of the functions of prayer is to change us even before changing our circumstances or without changing our circumstances at all. Maybe that's our proof, our sign, that it's working. Yeah, what if it's that? 

Meet Hannah. Hannah was wife to Elkanah. (Let's call him E. from now on.) But, Hannah wasn't the only wife in E.'s house. Meet Peninnah, the other woman. (Let's call her P. from now on.)  There were two important distinctions made between these women. First, P. had children and Hannah did not. Hannah was barren. Second, E. loved Hannah; she was his favorite. Maybe the complexity of the situation isn't obvious. First, having children back in the day was a big deal. It was such a big deal that women who were unable to have children were considered failures. So, there's that. Then, add to the mix that the other woman in the house made it her business to provoke and irritate Hannah and the situation seems unbearable.  See, P. treated Hannah as a rival. And poor E., he didn't get it. He didn't understand Hannah's plight and was convinced that his love for her should be enough to soothe Hannah's sad heart.

So, here's what we know about Hannah so far. Hannah was barren, misunderstood, provoked, ridiculed, bitterly angry, wept openly, and wouldn't eat or sleep. Her heart was grieved and her soul was in deep anguish. She was physically ill. Have you ever been in such anguish that it physically hurt? This is the Hannah we find in verse nine. Scripture says she was at the temple of the Lord and guess what she does? She prayed. No, wait. Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord. Poured out her soul. Then, she went on her way and ate and her face was no longer downcast. And, there it is. She poured her heart out honestly to the Lord and was changed. Her circumstance didn't change immediately, but she did. That's what it looks like when we leave our stuff at the feet of Jesus. When Hannah got up, she wasn't carrying the weight of her anguish and grief, and you can see the difference on her face and in her behavior. She wasn't carrying it, because the Lord carried it for her. Early the next morning, Scripture says the family worshiped. Hannah worshiped though everything around her remained unchanged.

The Lord did give Hannah a son, the one she asked for when she poured out her soul. She named him Samuel. What's more remarkable than that is that when Samuel was still young, she took him back to the temple at Shiloh (the same temple where she poured her soul out) to live and serve. Samuel was Israel's greatest judge.

Here's what Hannah teaches us:

1. Prayer and intimacy with God will change you. Pray honestly and specifically. The Lord can handle our deep anguish and grieved hearts. He expects us to be honest with Him. In my life, the most healing comes only when I'm willing to be honest with Him. When we refuse to see our real selves and cooperate with His process, when we refuse to be honest with Him, we are rejecting the work He wants to do to change us. 

2. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, choose to worship. When presented with the choice, don't choose to wallow in your anguish and trouble. There's a difference between going-through-the-motions worship and honest-straight-from-the-heart worship. Perfunctory prayer often cultivates going-through-the-motions worship. Hannah could worship honestly before the Lord because she prayed honestly to the Lord. And, she chose to worship though her circumstances remained unchanged.

3. Open-handed living is the best way. Hannah recognized the child she was given was given to her by God. Samuel was His before he was her's. Just like everything we've been given. Hannah gives us a beautiful example of open-handed living. What's mine is not mine. What's mine is His. That's why she took him to the temple. God did great things through the life of Samuel.

4. God's timing is impeccable and there is a bigger picture that reaches beyond what you want. Scripture says the Lord closed Hannah's womb. Until just the right time. God had very specific purposes for Samuel, just like with all of us. He places us in a specific space in time -- no sooner, no later -- than exactly when He wants us. There was something bigger going on here, something that would impact an entire nation.  Maybe if God had answered Hannah's prayer a few years earlier, she would have been less likely to bring the child back to the temple. You never know. But, you can be sure God knew. The same holds true for us.

May I encourage you and challenge you today? Are you're sitting in an impossible situation waiting for God to "birth" something of substance? Pray. Pray about it more than you talk about it. And, don't wallow. Let your prayers be honest and let them do the work of changing you while God does the work of changing the circumstances. God will equip you to sit in the same impossible situation and be filled with joy. He will, if you let Him. Be like Hannah. Be brave. Be honest. Be steadfast.

After Hannah left her son Samuel, she prayed again. "My heart rejoices in the Lord. . ." When we land there, we can be sure our prayers are doing exactly what they are designed to do.


 

 

{God Take Me Back in 2016}

The Lord has been reminding me of something this week, and I am so thankful. I appreciate that He graciously and lovingly corrects us when necessary. I am especially grateful for those times He drops something right in front of me and whispers, "Beloved, this is for you." See, there has been ALOT going on. The last half of 2015 was challenging. I sat across from a sweet friend this weekend and she said, "You must feel like you've been through the ringer." And, I do. Mostly because there has been too much noise, too many voices, too many things competing for my attention. That's when He does it. That's when He drops that just for me something right in my lap. I can't ignore it. I can't explain it away. I can't deny it's exactly what I need in that particular moment. This time He used a song. 

I heard the song the Sunday after Thanksgiving at Passion City Church. They were leading it for the first time ever in a worship service. In a moment, one song said everything that needed to be said by me to the Lord. So I sang it prayerfully during that sweet time of worship and tears rolled down my face. He heard and saw. 

Somewhere between the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas tree, I forgot about the song.

On New Year's Day I saw something on social media about the release of the new Passion album. It was available! That's new. The album is normally recorded live at Passion Conference and released in March or April. I was so excited! Please Lord, let this album be available on Apple Music so I can download it with my monthly subscription. And, it was. YAY! I immediately added it to my music and started scrolling through the track list. You know where I'm going with this, right? 

Song number five. The title caught my attention. It was weird, ambiguous. Now, it makes perfect sense of course! I tapped the title, and as soon as I heard the first note, the Lord reminded me of that moment in a room of a thousand people where He saw me. And there were tears. Then He reminded me again a few days later when I was chatting with a friend. 

So, it's my prayer focus as I head into the new year. Here it is. Simple Pursuit. One that changes everything. What are you pursuing into 2016? 

 

Simple Pursuit | Ben Catelon, Matt Redman, Nick Herbert, Sam Bailey | Passion: Salvation's Tide is Rising  © 2016 Ben Cantelon Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Bespoke Records (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Said And Done Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Simple Pursuit | Ben Catelon, Matt Redman, Nick Herbert, Sam Bailey | Passion: Salvation's Tide is Rising

© 2016 Ben Cantelon Designee (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Bespoke Records (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Said And Done Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing), worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)