Soul Nudging Truth Nuggets: Responses to “Choosing Real” by Bekah Jane Pogue

I’m lounging on my couch sipping Yogi Chai Green with a plop of honey, it is yummy. I have been chewing on a variety of ideas for my next series of posts and just settled on one. Yay! I recently finished reading Choosing Real by Bekah Jane Pogue. Her words tug at a lot of truths that have been lost in what bogs me down in life. There are so many principles that just get lost in busyness and distraction. We forget to celebrate in life, especially when life seems troublesome, difficult, painful, or overwhelming; when life doesn’t go as planned.

Pogue says that “Choosing real” is “opting to see how present Jesus is in real-life circumstances”. She is talking about all of them, in death, in frustration, in overwhelm, in loneliness, and so much more. It is too easy to lose sight of Jesus’ with-ness in life’s hard times. Her book shares so many great ideas of how to celebrate. She shares suggested ideas to try, and shares those she has tried. This is truly a book of encouragement.
I intend to share my responses to some of her ideas in my next series of posts. The soul nudging truth nuggets she shares have spurred me on to want to live life in greater awareness and closeness to the Lord.
Here is a little preview of what my upcoming posts will be about:
TRUSTING IN THE STORM: It is no surprise to anyone who has lived on this earth for any length of time that often God does not meet our expectations as we desire or expect. Pogue suggests that the Lord is inviting us to celebrate how His manifestations end up possibly looking different from what we expect. This sounded familiar to me after having read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Niequist describes a time when someone is going on and on complaining about his life, when he is stopped abruptly by the listener telling him, “These are the terms, what’s the invitation?” Life gives us many invitations depending on our perception of what is happening. Pogue suggests that as we get ”comfortable relinquishing… control for [the Lord’s] plan” we have a choice to intentionally celebrate His peace offerings no matter how they come. She says that “Faith offerings shift my perspective from me to He.” So the question is how will we respond to what comes to us in life? Pogue suggests that we can know the Lord more intimately as we lean into Him and celebrate our trust in the Lord. I want to share my exploration of these thoughts as I try to live out her suggestion to celebrate the realness of the Lord in life, and how He draws near to me as I seek Him more intentionally.

HOPE IN THE HEARTACHE: Pogue begins her book sharing the unexpected loss of her father. She shares how she had been so intent on her agenda trying to keep everything under control, and then suddenly nothing seemed to matter. Life stopped. She shares the truth that the pain in our life insists that it is attended to, and our God shouts to us in our pain (C.S. Lewis). The Lord definitely gets our attention when loss, and pain come our way, it makes us stop. Pogue shares that it is in heartbreak that faith is reignited. She says “Pain is the most unchosen catalyst to an authentic faith journey.” I have experienced this truth in my life and want to share how the Lord’s compassion has touched my life.
LOVE IN LONELINESS: Another area discussed in this book is the truth of how we can feel very lonely in life, in the mundane, in the everyday. We go about carrying out our tasks, trying to make it through our to do lists, and end up living solitary lives in the process. Pogue suggests that “Maybe solitary isn’t something we need to run away from” but rather “an indicator to run toward Someone.” She also suggests that in our loneliness we need to be looking to the Lord to see who He is putting in our lives, because He may be giving us community. What needs is He revealing? What people is He surrounding you with? How can you show love in the midst of your loneliness? These are worthwhile questions to explore. I know for me when I am feeling lonely I often pull into myself, rather than really looking to.

CONNECTION NOT CONTROL: Feeling the need to be in control is quite common in us humans. Many times it is not just control of our agenda’s, but it overflows into wanting control others close to us. Poque discusses the difference it made in her life to try to stop being in control and being honest about her needs. What is the need for control really say about what you are feeling? What do you really need? It is not easy to share neediness, it is a big risk. But Pogue found deeper connection with those in her life as she took that risk. Is it worth the fear, worth the risk? I want to consider that.

Well, that is a start, there is so much more to think about, but these will be food for though for the next few posts. I hope that you feel pulled in and will explore with me how to draw near to the Lord in these areas, how we can began to see with His perception, and how we can learn to grow in love and transparency in all of our connections, including our connection with Him. Join me in learning to celebrate the life He gives and to know Him more as we do.

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Various Methods Used in Praying

Have you found a method of prayer that you find useful? People have come up with many methods to help them in their prayer lives.  I am currently praying Scripture, using the Psalms.  I am especially enjoying this method because of the benefits I mentioned in my previous post, What Benefits Scripture Praying Brings. 

A prayer list is probably among the most common. Sometimes because of the number of prayers we want to bring before the Lord we divide our prayers into themes such as family, friends, those in government, missionaries and so on. Then the themes are assigned to specific days to keep the prayer list from becoming overwhelming. Our prayer lists may also include personal requests, those of our church family, the persecuted, issues in the news, and so much more.

There are also many acronyms to help us focus in prayer. Some of the common ones are:

ACTS:   A-Adoration, C-Confession, T-Thanksgiving, S-Supplication

CHAT: C-Confess, H-Honor, A-Ask, T-Thank   -or-

C- Cheer God on for who He is, H-Humble yourself, A-Appreciate what He has done, T- Tell God your needs

PRAY- P-Praise, R-Repent, A-Ask for others, Y-Your own needs

These acronyms incorporate many of the types of prayer we see demonstrated in the Bible. If you would like to read more about prayers of the Bible please see one of my recent posts entitled, Prayer as Demonstrated in the Bible.

One of my favorite methods of prayer is to write my prayers. I have a journal that I use specifically for this purpose. There is as much freedom in writing payers as in speaking them. I often just write what is on my heart almost like a letter to the Lord as I read through a Psalm. Reading the Scriptures may prompt confession as it convicts my heart, or bring new recognition of a personal heart need, or at other times the neediness of another may be brought to mind. It is beautiful and amazing the way the Lord uses His Word to prompt our hearts in prayer.

One other method of prayer that some people use is a prayer board. this is simply some kind of bulletin board with a combination of pictures of loved ones, Bible verses, and notes of prayer needs pinned or taped on it. Some people even use a world map to remind them to pray for certain areas of persecution or for missionaries and their work and needs.

These are a few methods I am familiar with there are probably many others available. The method which you choose is only a tool, it is most important for prayer to be that heart-to-heart time with the Lord.

I have found that I come to know myself better and to know the Lord in deeper ways during my prayer times. He shows me the depths of my heart often things I am unaware of. He knows me better than I know myself.

How about you? Do you use one of these methods, or is there a different method not mentioned here that is helpful for you? All that matters is that it draws you into intimacy with the Lover of our soul.

Open your heart, allow the Holy Spirit to have His way as you bring your requests before you loving Heavenly Father. He desires to commune with you.

I hope that this series of posts on prayer have been helpful to you and your relationship with the Lord. Seek Him with your whole heart, He will meet you wherever you are.

What Benefits Scripture Praying Brings

I have found that praying the Scriptures is invigorating to my time with the Lord. I have used this method much more recently than in the past. I had used the scriptures for prayer in the past, but mostly by reading a prayer I found in the Scriptures and putting in names or praying it specifically for myself. But the game changer came when I read the book, Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney. He helped me to learn so much about prayer, as well as a wonderful way to pray using Scripture. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling in their prayer-life or just needs some encouragement.

There are many benefits to praying Scripture, and Donald Whitney especially highlights using the prayer-book in the Bible, specifically the book of Psalms. He explains how to use other portions of Scripture for prayer as well.

Let me specifically share the benefits I have found.

First of all, the most obvious benefit is it gets you into God’s Word. There are so many books about the Word, and studies that use the Word to answer questions, that it is easy to just use the Bible as a reference book. When you use Scripture for prayer, you choose a portion and read it slowly. You meditate on what the author says. So for me right now that means I choose a Psalm and I read through it once to become familiarized with its content, and then I begin the process of praying through it.

Donald Whitney explains in his book that as we read the chosen Psalm, you slowly read and use it to prompt a prayer need, and you pray that need then go on reading. You may have many prayers for one verse and none for others, but it is not about using all the verses, it is about being drawn into God’s Word and praying it back to Him. Whether that means worshiping Him in a praise of the Psalmist or confessing how much you do not feel like worshiping because of the overwhelming concerns in your life. Praying the Scriptures may mean recognizing more about Who God is in ways that are new to you. It may mean your heart becomes burdened for the lost because of what you read. It means being open to the Holy Spirit prompting your heart with His Word to pray whatever He brings to you, and that brings us to the next benefit.

I have found in praying Scripture I have a new openness to the Spirit. My heart and mind are fully focused on God’s Word, and the Spirit uses His Word to touch my heart with Truth that easily relates to my life and the lives of those around me. The Psalmist may share the thanksgiving of his heart in a portion of the psalm and one word he says may prompt me to recognize so much that I have to be thankful for.

For example, Psalm 9 begins “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart. I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” Well reading that made me realize first of all that I was distracted and overwhelmed, I wasn’t attending to Him with my whole heart, so I had to ask for help to concentrate and really be present with Him. I had to quiet my soul, my heart, and my mind. It was then I could share all that I had on my heart to be thankful for, telling Him of the great wonders He had shown me, being glad and exulting in Him, and even being drawn into songs of praise. Later in this Psalm David speaks of the Lord being a “Stronghold.” Here I asked the Lord to be a stronghold for certain people in my life who were going through difficult times and needed Him even more than we need Him every day. I shared my own troubles, and how my heart needed protection because of certain hurts. Just one Psalm gives us an open door to so many prayers of our hearts as the Spirit opens our eyes to what He sees and knows and reveals things we have missed in our busyness or distraction.

I also have found praying the Scriptures beneficial because there are so many Psalms, with the Psalmist’s sharing their hearts out of different circumstances. Each prayer-time is new, a different perspective, a different way to bring my needs before the Lord highlighting these needs in a different way.

And finally, always amazing to me, but a known truth is the fact that the Lord makes His Word fresh and new to me each time I read it. I am in a new place each day emotionally, and spiritually. My outlook on life may be different, my neediness for the Lord may be different, my understanding of the Word may touch my heart in a different way dependent on my perspective on life that day.  I may reread a Psalm I did a different day and totally different words and truths stand out to me and my prayers are voiced in a new way about the same people and the same things. It is never boring.

God’s Word gives us all we need to learn to pray and to pray from the depths of our hearts with earnestness and also finding the depths of our very real desperation for our Father God.

His Word is written for us and we can benefit so much as we read it and use it in praying. I hope that your heart is encouraged to open up your Bible and use it for prayer.