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Overcoming Prayer Struggles


Mentor Mama:

Today we're going to be talking about overcoming prayer struggles. Let's face it, we all know we should be praying more, and we usually try to make that happen. But before we know it, the day's worries and demands often distract us from conversations with God, and then we're left wondering why we don't hear from Him. It happens to all of us, so fear not! Our guest today, Asheritah Ciuciu, author of the upcoming book, "Prayers of REST," will be sharing with us the importance of not letting distractions pull us away from God. So, be encouraged, you can overcome prayer struggles, which will help you develop an intimate relationship with the Lord.


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Mentor Mama:

Asheritah Ciuciu is a best-selling author, national speaker and host of The Prayers of Rest podcast. She is the founder of One Thing Alone Ministries, an online ministry that helps women all over the world find joy in Jesus through creative and consistent time in God's Word. Asheritah grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women's Ministry at Cedarville University. She is married to her high school sweetheart and together they raise their three spunky kids in Northeast, Ohio. Asheritah is the author of several books, including the best-selling advent devotional, "Unwrapping the Names of Jesus." Her writing and speaking have been featured on Focus on the Family, Revive our Hearts, Moody Radio, Relevant Magazine, Proverbs 31 and MOPS International. Please welcome Asheritah.


Asheritah:

Thank you so much for having me.


Mentor Mama:

It's such a joy to have you. I absolutely loved your advent book, "Unwrapping the Names of Jesus," and I actually highlighted it in one of our former podcasts. You're an amazing writer and obviously have such a deep relationship with the Lord, so it's just a joy to have you. Thank you so much for being here.


Asheritah:

Well, thank you. I love what you and your daughters do, and it's so fun that we get to spend some time together today.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. Well, let's dive in today, and I want to talk about just prayer overall, the big picture, and why do you think prayer sometimes feels so natural, it seems like for some people, yet is a struggle for others, even those of us that were raised in the church?


Asheritah:

Sure, well, I grew up in a Christian family, so I can remember from a young, young age just knowing the importance of reading my Bible and praying every day. I mean, we had this little song with hand motions that went along with it, and so, I knew that, man, this is an integral part of my relationship with God, but I did get the sense that my prayers often felt stilted and rehearsed sometimes, and sometimes it felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling. I grew up, as you mentioned on the mission field in Romania, and it just seemed like some people had this direct line of communication with God and it felt like God was so personable to them and they prayed with passion and power and confidence, and I remember even as a young teenager, I was 13 when I was thinking, I want to pray like that, and I wrote in my journal, just kind of appropriating the disciples' prayer, saying, Lord, teach me to pray. I kind of feel like I should be an expert at this by now because I've been doing it for so many years and yet, even as a 13 year old, I realized, I'm missing out here on something that God has to offer us in prayer, and over the 20 years that have followed since then, the Lord continues to teach me how to pray. It's not an arrival as much as a journey, as cliché as that sounds, but what I've found is that prayer, much like any other spiritual rhythm or habit, it's something that comes with practice. The more we pray, the more confident we become in prayer, the more time we spend talking to God about what's going on in our lives and being honest about hard emotions that we're struggling with, or bringing to Him a tricky relationship where there's tension and misunderstanding, the ins and outs of our daily lives, when we start weaving that into conversation with the Lord or we start weaving conversation with the Lord into those daily moments, it starts to feel more natural. Even now I'm 33, 34, I think. I stopped keeping track of how old I am once I hit 30, but even now I feel like God continues to teach me things about conversation with Him, and I look back at 13 year old me with such compassion and really seeing that God had placed in my heart a desire to pray, and it's not that I'd been praying wrong. Anytime we come to God with an open and honest heart that wants to please Him, Scripture says those prayers are a pleasing aroma to Him. So, as we start out, I just want listeners to be encouraged, that there is no guilt, there is not shame, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. He has flung open the doors of Heaven, and we'll talk more about this in Jesus and what He's done for us, so we can come to the Father boldly and with confidence, knowing that He will receive us and we get to continue to grow in that conversation with Him day by day, year by year, until we finally see Him face to face.


Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. Your words are such an encouragement because it is an area of struggle for a lot of people. I'm in a mom's group and I see it year after year, so be encouraged. I'd like to take a step back and just talk about the main challenges that people in the 21st century face in prayer versus the first century Christians. Help us understand how we can overcome some of these challenges.


Asheritah:

Sure, and I'm not saying that prayer would've been easy for first century Christians because I'm sure they faced their own unique struggles that we don't necessarily face today. Few of us are being threatened with imprisonment or death or loss of our jobs because of our love for God and our commitment to follow Jesus. So that's a challenge that would've been unique to first century Christians that most of us in the Western church today do not face. But one thing that I think is probably one of the biggest struggles for 21st century Christians is distraction. We are a distracted people from the moment we wake up in the morning and our hand reaches over for the phone, to the moment we fall in bed, exhausted still with the phone in our hands until our eyes finally shut. There's just a constant bombardment of information and of entertainment, actually, what we're learning recently is changing the makeup of our brains, the chemistry. This is beyond my pay grade, but I read and am fascinated by how our attention spans are getting shorter because our brains are being trained to only pay attention to things in shorter and shorter increments, and so our behavior during the day and other things that we might necessarily count as prayer absolutely affects our ability to stay focused in prayer, and I see this in myself, again, I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, I'm saying, I get it because I've struggled with this too, and I find myself like 45 seconds into my prayers, Ellen, I'll be praying through whatever's on my heart that day, and then I remember like, oh, I need to pull the meat out of the freezer for dinner and defrost, and I need to switch the laundry over, and, oh, there's that text message I didn't respond to yet, and a friend's birthday is next week and I need to buy her something. What should I get? And so, I jump on Amazon really quick just to look for something and then I'll go back to praying, and 45 minutes later, here I am and I have not prayed, so I get it.


Mentor Mama:

I can relate.


Asheritah:

Yeah, in fact, a study by Crossway in 2018 showed that the number one obstacle to a thriving prayer life is distraction. We get distracted, whether it's by our phone notifications or just our own thoughts that are distracting, and so we'll talk more of about how to deal with distraction in prayer, but, we at least need to be honest about it to say that this is a struggle that is pretty unique to our generation and to those who are living in 2022 and beyond, and so we need to be aware of it when we come into prayer and not compare our prayer lives to the lives of Christians who lived a hundred years ago or 500 years ago. It's so easy to romanticize people who woke up before dawn to spend three hours in prayer, not really mindful of like, oh, some of them had maids that made their beds and brought them breakfast. Some of these people that we idealized lived a different lifestyle than we do, and so instead of comparing, instead of again, feeling guilty and ashamed, let's look at Jesus' invitation to us and take Him up on that and see how does that look like for our lives today? Because Jesus' invitation from Matthew 11 is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago, and He looks at the people who were following Him, who were busy and frazzled and carrying heavy burdens, just like you and me today, and He says, "come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest, take my yolk on you and learn from me. I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." That is what Jesus wants to offer us, and it's going to look different for us than it did for our great-grandmas than it will for our great-grandchildren, but we can still experience a thriving prayer life with God today.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, we absolutely can. I completely agree, we have so many distractions and things in media and all the things that are going on in our lives, and I think back to women, let's say, in the times where you had to actually go out, they probably actually did have a lot on their minds, like if they had to go out and catch the food and clean the meat and prepare the food and they had so much less kitchen equipment, if you will, than what we're used to, I mean, it was like an all day affair just feeding their families, so I can imagine to some degree, they had distractions as well, but we are completely bombarded, for sure.


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Mentor Mama:

Let's talk about, for people who maybe say, one of the struggles that I have is that I just don't even know what to say in prayer, and maybe they have actually prayed, but they don't feel like God is listening.


Asheritah:

Yeah, so a few things with this: one, my encouragement just off the bat would be tell God what's on your heart. I think sometimes we have this again, ideal of how we think our prayers should sound based on maybe what we hear from the pulpit or what we imagine prayer warriors pray like, and we think that our prayers are somehow less than, but prayer is at its most basic, a conversation between us and our Heavenly Father and there's time for us to talk to Him and there's time also to be still and listen to what He has to say to our hearts, and again, we can talk more about what that looks like practically, but if you're feeling like, I just don't know what to say. Just start with whatever you're thinking. We referenced earlier being distracted in prayer, this is something that I actually found so helpful once I changed the way I thought about distractions. So I'm here, I'm praying, and I love to pray Scripture. That's another way that I think helps give us a vocabulary of worship is looking at a verse or two from the Bible and saying, what does this tell me about God, what can I praise Him for? What does it show me about me, about my need for Him? What can I confess, where do I need His forgiveness and His help? I love praying Scripture and that's the way I formatted my, "Prayers of REST," book is everything is praying Scripture and training you how to do that, but say I'm sitting down, I'm praying Scripture and here we are 45 seconds in, or maybe it's a good day, and it's four minutes into my prayer time, and I get distracted by, oh yeah, my daughter's kindergarten teacher is going on maternity leave and I need to make sure that I get her that gift card that I bought her before it's too late. And here I go on this rabbit trail of destruction and worry and wanting to not forget something. So two things that are helpful with that: one is, I love to have a little sticky note next to me when I pray or a planner or agenda, and I will write those things down so if something comes to mind that I have to get done, by writing it down, I release it mentally. It actually is amazing how quickly my brain will settle down because I know I can come back to it and I won't forget because I write it down. So that's one thing. The second thing is: instead of being frustrated by that distracting thought it then becomes a prompt to pray, and so if you're wondering, what do I pray for? Sit down and start praying, and then those thoughts that distract you, those can become your prayer. And so, I can start by thanking God for my daughter's Kindergarten teacher and I can pray for her labor and delivery. I can ask for God's protection over her and her baby. I can praise Him for the ways that He used this teacher in my daughter's life to teach her how to read, to give her a love of reading and writing. This thought that 10 years ago would've brought me so much guilt of, why can't I just stay focused in prayer? I'm trying to pray Scripture here. Why am I distracted by all these thoughts? Now this becomes a prompt from the Holy Spirit to bring this teacher in prayer, and there might be no one else praying for her or maybe there are a lot of people praying for her. I don't know, but God works in such an incredible way that when we look at these distracting thoughts as His prompts to pray about these things, it actually makes prayer more natural, and so I can pray for her and then when I've entrusted her into God's care, I can come back to praying Scripture and continue with the REST prayer format that I love to use. Then I keep going and I'm praying and then I remember something else that pops to mind that, oh man, yeah, I need to get that thing done, and then I can pray about that too. I jot a note in my planner and I go back to praying Scripture. We'll talk about how to pray the REST way, how to pray God's word and rest in His promises, but if that's where you're at right now and you're like, I just don't know what to pray. Just start somewhere and then continue bringing everything that comes to mind, continue handing it over to God, you'll be amazed how much time you can spend in prayer when you are free to pray about whatever comes to mind.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, I love that. Your suggestion about the sticky notes too; I have something that I call the brain dump, which is just basically, a little legal pad that I put things on. Exactly the same thing, and it does definitely release it from your mind, for sure. Regarding what to pray, I remember I had a discussion with a friend a long time ago when I struggled with that, and it was just as you said at the beginning, it's just as if you were talking, let's say, to your own father or mother and telling them about your day or your struggles and developing that relationship. So, for those of you that may be struggling in that area, rest assured that it can just be a conversation with God.


Asheritah:

I'll also add something, Ellen, because for a long time and still, honestly, I'm still uncomfortable praying out loud by myself. I have no problem praying out loud with other people, but praying out loud when it's just me and God still feels awkward to me, and so one thing that I found helpful is to write out my prayers, because that doesn't feel awkward. I know God hears it either way, and so one thing that I'll encourage listeners to do, is to experiment with creative ways to pray. Pray out loud, and if that just doesn't feel natural to you, try writing down your prayers, and if that still doesn't feel like it's a good fit for you, maybe go for a prayer walk. Some people need to be moving their bodies as they talk to God, instead of being stationary. Try different postures, try different expressions, try praying the Psalms. I love, "The Valley of Vision," is a collection of Puritan prayers, try using other people's prayers as a prompt to then start praying in your own words. There's no right or wrong when we come to God with a sincere heart that seeks Him. He will be found by us, and so rest assured that there is freedom in praying in creative ways in the name of Jesus.


Mentor Mama:

Amen to that. You saying that too, reminds me of when you're reading the Psalms, you can actually just insert your own name in different spots and it makes it just so personal as if you were talking to the Lord. As people maybe reading this and are potentially just getting going and learning how to pray, why do you recommend starting small when growing a prayer habit? Like how do we get into this habit of prayer? We put so much pressure on ourselves that we should be praying an hour a day or something like that. Tell us about your thoughts on that.


Asheritah:

I'm so all or nothing. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it all the way, and I'm going to do it the right way, and somewhere along the lines, I had picked up this ideal that good Christians pray for an hour a day, and so that's what I have to do, right? That's the measure of success or faithfulness, and again, just in recent years, continuing this prayer, Lord teach me how to pray. I've not stopped praying that for 20 years, and what I have found recently is, we've made just groundbreaking discoveries in brain science and how God has created our brains and wired those synaptic connections in our brains to create habits, and what we found is that if we want to start a new habit, we're much more likely to be successful if we start with something small, something tiny, because it lowers our brains perceived resistance to that thing. There's a Stanford University research professor called, BJ Fogg, who did a lot of research on this. He calls it tiny habits, and the example that he's used is with flossing your teeth. So if you do not have the habit of flossing your teeth and you want to develop the habit because you know it's good for you, and all the different reasons you might have, there still might be a resistance, a perceived resistance in your brain that it's like, ah, I don't feel like flossing my teeth, it's 10:00 PM, and I can just brush them and call it a day. So what Dr. Fogg did is, he broke it down into what he called tiny habits. So instead of feeling like I need to floss all my teeth, he said, why don't you start by flossing one tooth, which feels ridiculous, right? Like what good can flossing one tooth do, like will the other ones just rot? But in this experiment, what he did with students and over years of research is, if you take the habit you want to develop and break it down into its smallest increment, suddenly the brain is like, oh, I can do floss one tooth, that's going to take all of like three seconds, it's fine. And, you floss that tooth and you can mentally put a check mark that you've done it, but chances are, if you're there flossing one tooth, once you start, there's this momentum where you're like, well, I might as well floss two teeth and I could just finish the bottom row and you are already moving toward this development of the habit. But even if you only just floss one tooth, you've done that thing. You're creating a stronger connection in your brain that after I brush my teeth, I floss a tooth, and you do that enough times that repeated action becomes automatic, where suddenly flossing one tooth is your default. That's what you do. But now you're going to floss more teeth. Now you're going to floss the whole bottom row. Maybe in two months, you get to the point where you're flossing your teeth every night and you're not even thinking about it, but because you started tiny, you started small, you're actually working with the way God created your brain instead of fighting against it especially when it's something where we feel like, oh, I should do this good habit, I just don't have the motivation. And every time I try to start, I get a few days in and then something comes up and I'm just not consistent. I hear that so many times when it comes to prayer and Bible study, like I start strong, but I'm not consistent, and so we can take the same principle of tiny habits and apply it to Spiritual habits to ways that we can grow closer to the Lord to say, okay, maybe ideally we want to get to an hour of prayer. Maybe not. I mean, that's another conversation, but if your goal is to be praying and talking with the Lord more consistently, let's start tiny. How about we start with a one minute habit. One minute of prayer and everyone has time for a minute of prayer. Something else with the habit formation, what we're learning about the brain and how it works is, when you link that tiny habit to something you're already doing, it's a stronger connection in the brain. So kind of like flossing that one tooth after you've brushed your teeth, if you are already brushing your teeth, that's established and you link your new tiny habit to it. So what I encourage readers and people in my online community to do when they're starting a new prayer habit is think of something you're already doing. Do you love making coffee in the morning? Is that your thing? Will you not like start your day until you've had coffee? Well, then link your prayer habit to making coffee and as soon as you start the coffee maker, or you're doing your pour-over, or however you like to have your coffee, that is your brain signal that it's time to pray and pray for a minute. We can pray the REST way, you can pray, just praise and worship. You can just tell God what's on your heart. You can tell God about the dream you had last night. However you want to start that conversation, start tiny, but create that tiny habit that's linked to something you're already doing. And then the more you do that, you do that for a day, you do it for a week, you do it for a month. Maybe you miss some days, but you are more consistent than not with your one minute prayer habit. Over time what's going to happen is, you're going to lose track of time and that minute is going to become two minutes and five minutes and ten minutes because you've developed momentum. You've started talking to God and now you want to tell Him all the things. That has worked in my life, not just with prayer, but with Bible study, with intercession, with fasting, with all these different spiritual disciplines that had seemed so difficult for me to incorporate into my life, once I ran them through this lens of tiny habits, it became so much easier to become consistent. So that's what I recommend for those who are not in the habit of talking with God is start tiny and link it to something you're already doing, and why not have five tiny prayer habits throughout the day, right? Instead of feeling like I need to pray for this hour chunk in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, how about if you prayed for five minutes while you drink your coffee, and then five minutes on your commute to work, and then five minutes when you walk the dog, and five minutes when you're brushing your teeth at night, or you are washing off the makeup on your face. When you link prayer to habits that you have throughout your day, you kind of weave in conversation with God throughout your day, you'll be more consistent. And two minutes here, and five minutes there, and three minutes over there, add up to a lifetime of being in conversation with God.


Mentor Mama:

That is so beautiful. I didn't know the brain science behind what you just described, but I actually do that with exercise, because sometimes, I know I need exercise and sometimes I'll be like, alright, I'm just going to do five minutes, that's all I got in me, and inevitably every time I do five minutes, of course, then I keep going because it's just that mental block to try to get you past that. That's an amazing tip, and it brings to my mind that, I actually have ADHD and I struggle so much with keeping focus, and I love your suggestion about breaking it up throughout the day because some people, their brains just don't work that way for sitting for long periods of time and trying to stay focused it is extremely difficult, and so I think that is a fabulous suggestion, even, when you wake up in the morning, before you go to bed at night, and those other suggestions that you had are just fantastic. I want to shift gears for a minute and talk about one of the methods that you suggested in helping you with prayer is knowing the names of God. How can knowing the names of God change how you pray?


Asheritah:

Yeah, this is something I stumbled on when I was writing, "Unwrapping the Names of Jesus," my advent devotional, because again, I'd grown up in the church, familiar with the idea that there are different names by which God has made Himself known in Scripture, but, if hard-pressed, I don't know that I could have told you what, "Lion of Judah means, yeah, we called Jesus, "Lion of Judah," but what's the significance of that? And, what about Alpha, Omega, Emmanuel? All these beautiful names that when I sat down to study them, it really felt like each name individually was a gift, a way of describing a different facet of God's character. So kind of like, if we have any listeners who are recently engaged, there's that brilliant cut diamond in your setting and just the way it catches the light and the refraction, that rainbow that it casts on every different cut of the diamond reflects a different color of the rainbow, and in the same way, I think when we study God's various names, we see different aspects of who He is and who He's revealed Himself to be, so again, there's no right or wrong. I'm not saying you have to use a different name of God every time you pray, but what I have found in my own life is that I've just found such comfort in praying God's different names for different situations, so if I'm going through a time where there's just a lot of anxiety and everything happening in the news lately and the unrest on a global scale and wondering what does this mean economically and there are listeners wondering, can we afford a house and how are we going to pay the medical bills? There just seems to be so much weight. I love praying Psalm 46:1 that God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. So just meditating on that name, "refuge," God is our refuge. What does that mean? What word picture does that paint about God and how can I draw strength from that in this situation that I'm in and what does that reveal about my own need? Am I running somewhere else for refuge? Am I trying to find protection or am I trying to avoid my problems instead of running to God, the only one who can truly provide that protection and that refuge that I'm looking for, so this is a great way to pray God's Word when you don't have the Bible in front of you. So again, I'm a big fan of praying God's Word and praying Scripture. I think it corrects our view of God, it corrects our theology. It gives us a vocabulary of worship, but if I'm in the car, driving home from grocery shopping, I'm not going to pull out my phone to look something up, because that would just be dangerous, but I can think about what situation am I facing right now that's causing anxiety in my heart? And then, what is the name of God that matches that, that I can rest in? And, what I found so powerful, again, just in the last two years or so, is praying in preparation for those situations that I might not be facing today, but I know they're coming, and this is where even praying the names of Jesus, they're 20 names in the advent devotional, which can be prayed any time of year, right? Jesus says, The Lion of Judah, The Protector, the One who stands against the enemies and those who are behind Him are safe, and praying Emmanuel, God with us, that we are never alone, we are never abandoned. It doesn't matter who turns their back on us. Emmanuel means God's commitment to His people and in Jesus taking on flesh, He's never not going to be human, like this an eternal commitment that God has made to us because Jesus took on flesh, and so praying those names on "good days," just prepares my heart, it gives me that vocabulary to learn how to address God as the one He's revealed Himself to be so that on those "bad days," when I feel like I have no words, when nothing comes to mind, I've already primed my heart, I've already prepared it by reciting God's names, and so they're quick to be on my lips, because the Holy Spirit has made that commitment that He will teach us, He will guide us, He will counsel us, and so, when we hide God's Word in our hearts, when we meditate on His names, when we rest in His character, then in those difficult situations, the Holy Spirit has committed to bring those back to mind and to give us language of prayer. And here is like the absolute, most incredible part, is that even when we have no words to pray, God is committed to us and the Holy Spirit will intercede with groanings when we groan. When there's nothing. There have been those moments, Ellen, there was one time, two weeks into the lockdown, when I was on my laundry room floor, just repeating over and over again, I can't do this. I was in the middle of a panic attack, which I'd never experienced a panic attack, and it felt like my body was betraying me, and I had spent a lifetime praying and studying the Bible and knowing things about God, and yet, in that moment, there were no words to pray. The only thing I could say over and over again, I can't do this, I don't know how we're going to make it out of this. This is so dark. I can't do this. And in that space of darkness, the Holy Spirit, those words from Psalm 46, God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in time of trouble. And my response was, I can't do this, and God's Word spoke louder. God is our refuge and strength, and over about 15 minutes my, I can't do this, got quieter and quieter, and God's promise that He is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. His promise grew louder and louder until finally my body had calmed down. My mind had calmed down. My heart had calmed down and I could rest in the assurance of who God was. There are times when you will not know what to pray, and in those times, rest assured that the Holy Spirit Himself is praying for you. Also, Hebrews 4 says that, Jesus lives to always intercede for us. Jesus himself is praying for you, and so you can rest in the promise of His love.


Mentor Mama:

Asheritah, thank you for being so vulnerable. What you shared is true for so many people, just in so many different ways, we get to spots of just deep sorrow or darkness in our life where we feel that way, and if you're listening today and you're in that moment, it's something that's normal. It's not something that anybody wants to go through, but just as Asheritah said, the Holy Spirit will intercede for us and it's okay that you don't have the words to say, we can trust that God is working even when we can't feel it. As a follow-up to Asheritah's talk about the names of God, I do have a couple of good resources I'll be sharing in the blog. I'll be sure to put Asheritah's book that has the names of God in her Advent book, and then also, I have a couple other books that I absolutely love, too, that will teach you the names of God and the meanings behind it that will help assist you in your prayer time as well.


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Mentor Mama:

In wrapping up here, Asheritah, I wanted to talk a little bit about Jesus and how He really was the role model of prayer for us. What can we learn from Him?


Asheritah:

In preparing to write "Prayers of REST," the daily prompts to slow down and hear God's voice. I spent some time looking at Jesus' prayer life in the Gospels, and His response to the disciples saying, Lord, teach us to pray, was to give us the prayer that starts, Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. And so He provides a model for us to follow in how to pray, and yet, also when we look at His life and we look at how He talked to the Father, how He prayed, we see that. indeed, there are times when He pulls away for secluded time with the Father. This comes typically either right before or right after a really intense season of ministering to people. There's another moment that I just feel so seen when I read this, Jesus had sent out His disciples, to proclaim the coming kingdom of God, and they come back, they're so excited about the miracles that God was doing through them and Jesus rejoices with them in that and tells them, rejoice that your name is written in Heaven, it's not about your performance, it's the fact that you belong to the Father. Like that is what we rejoice in even more than all these exciting ministry things. But then He turns to them and seeing their exhaustion, He says, come away with Me for awhile and get some rest. Let's go to a secluded place together and let's just rest. And, they can't even do that because there are thousands of people that are now flocking them, and that's when follows as the feeding of the multitudes, the multiplication of the bread and the fish, and yet, right after that, we see that Jesus sends the disciples off and He retreats up on the mountainside to pray. He needs time to be with the Father. He needs to process what just happened. He wants to praise the Father for the ways that He has miraculously provided for all these men, women, and children. He's in prayer for the disciples, for what they experienced and what has yet to come and chronologically He's then going to walk on water, resulting in the disciples saying, truly, this is the Son of God. There's so much happening, and yet, in the midst of this narrative, Jesus is pulling away to be with the Father, to talk with Him, to process with Him. We know that Jesus prayed the Psalms, we see this multiple times, but especially on the cross that the Psalms are not just prophetically pointing to the Messiah, but they would've been Jesus' vocabulary of prayer, and so when He says, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" That's a quote from a Psalm, but that's not where it ends. It ends with, I entrust Myself to You, which is where Jesus ends His words on the cross, "into Your hands I commit My spirit." So in a time when even words failed Jesus, He doesn't necessarily pray spontaneously on the cross, He's praying the Psalms. The Psalms are acting as a guide to give Him language, to process the grief and the heaviness and the turmoil. We can do that too, we can turn to the Psalms when we don't know how to pray. In the book, I have a section of 50 prayers for every emotion and it's mapping the emotional wheel that we experience onto the Psalms and saying, where can we find bitterness, or anger, or celebration, or loneliness, or sleeplessness, where can we find these in the Psalms? And can these give us language to pray because that's how Jesus prayed. And then we see also just spontaneous prayers that Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus, "Father, I praise you that You're going to do this, and it's not because of Me, but because of the people who are here, and so I'm just going to thank You for that and have confidence in trusting Your faithfulness, that You are who You say You are, You're going to do what You said You will do." And there's this heart of joy and trust in Jesus in these spontaneous prayers as well. So there's just so much that we can glean from the way that Jesus talked with the father and also modeled for us. One of the most beautiful prayers is in John 17, His high priestly prayer, when He has this honest conversation with God about what He had accomplished in His ministry, and then entrusts His disciples to the Father because He knows what's coming next. And there, He also prays for you and me. He says, "I pray not just for these disciples, but for those who will believe because of their testimony, God, would you keep them in unity? Would you draw them close to you just as you and I are one that they would be one?" I mean, I could go on and on and on, but it's just such a beautiful way to see Jesus talking with His Father and then offering us kind of a roadmap, a way that we might continue to learn and grow, not just by praying, Our Father in Heaven, but building a richer prayer life from there.


Mentor Mama:

Yes, the actions, the words, of our Lord and Savior indeed are the role model that we have, and we have it in God's Word. I just want to encourage our readers, as you read the Bible and you learn these different things, make a mental note of how Jesus did use prayer, and even though He is part of the Triune God as a human being, He did take time for prayer in meeting with His Father through prayer. Tell us how people can find out more information about you, and your podcast, and your book.


Asheritah:

Everything "Prayers of REST," is at prayersofrest.com. You can find the book there, you can find the podcast linked there. The podcast is called, "Prayers of REST." Every week we share a 10-minute guided prayer to help guide you into God's presence and resting with Him. We also have a challenge that's happening in the month of May called, Resting in God's Promises. It's a five-day invitation to pray God's promises and to rest in His power when we rest in Him. So you can find information about that also at prayersofrest.com.


Mentor Mama:

Wonderful. Before we go, I want to ask you some of our favorite Bible study questions. What Bible do you use and what translation is it?


Asheritah:

I use the, "She Reads Truth," Bible and it's the Christian Standard Version. I love that it has wide margins for taking notes. I tried my hand at like, coloring and drawing stuff, and God has just not gifted me that way, so most of the margins are filled with just me taking notes about what I'm learning about God, or what I'm bringing to Him that day. Oftentimes I'll write the date in the margin and just write a prayer of rest in the margins there, and so it's become a beautiful journal of God's faithfulness at work.


Mentor Mama:

Do you have any favorite journaling supplies that you like to use to enhance your Bible study experience?


Asheritah:

I use these pens, they're called, Pilot G-Tec C4, which makes me sound really nerdy, but they're the type of pen that I love to use, it doesn't bleed through the page of my Bible and it's also a very thin line, the .04. And then, I love using mildliners for underlining in my Bible. In fact, I have a chart in the back of my Bible that has a different color for different themes. So I'll use yellow for God's character and I'll use blue for God's promises. As I'm reading Scripture, it helps me pay attention to have my mildliners and my pen in hand and I'm just underlining, what is this telling me about God? What does it tell about His commitment to His people? It's just such a beautiful way to engage Scripture.


Mentor Mama:

I love that idea. We will put links to both of those in our notes. And lastly, what is your favorite app or website for Bible study tools?


Asheritah:

This is more of a prayer app. I've been using the app called, Pray as You Go, which was an inspiration for, "Prayers of REST." It's from our Anglican brothers and sisters. So a little bit different from my church tradition as I grew up, but God used that in a season where I felt so far from Him and feeling like my prayers were hitting the ceiling. It is a daily guided prayer and a time of reflection. And so, I kind of took that and adapted it for, "Prayers of REST," based on Scripture, bringing us into God's presence. But the app, Pray as You Go, I'll still occasionally go back to it, and it's just such a wonderful way to remind myself that God is wherever we go. We can talk to Him all the time.


Mentor Mama:

Excellent. I haven't heard of that one before, so I'll have to check that out. Asheritah, thank you so much for being here and for sharing your insights on prayer and all that you're doing through your various ministries to advance God's Kingdom.


Asheritah:

Thank you so much for having me. It was my joy to be here.


Mentor Mama:

For our readers, I would just encourage you to pick up a copy of Asheritah's book called, "Prayers of REST." You'll find the link in this blog and please share your comments with us on how you tackle your struggles with prayer and what you do to slow down and make intentional time to rest in God's presence. Lastly, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at coffeeandbibletime.com. Thank you so much for visiting us on our blog. We love you all and have a blessed day.



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