Hello friends! Wow I can’t believe it is August already! My July was jam packed between work, travel, weddings, and wedding festivities! It flew by, but you know what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun!”
A little update of life lately:
July always starts with my birthday on the 1st! We had a little birthday celebration, and birthdays always make you feel so loved!! My friends and family celebrate well, and I am so thankful for that!
The first weekend of July was a Nashville wedding for my cousin that has been dating his wife now for about 6 years. She was already like part of the family, and all of my cousins are so stinking close so it was quite the celebration of love, family, and life. We had our second and third cousins come in from all different states, and our family roots run deep!
The next weekend was my best friend’s bachelorette party, and the third weekend of July was another wedding in Boston for a more distant cousin on that same side of the family! Again both occasions had me counting my blessings more than usual because there is nothing quite like family or friends! Those are the best vacations: the ones where you just can’t help but spend the next week on cloud 9 in thankfulness for traveling and the people you venture with.
Then last week of July was pretty uneventful; I worked!
Here are some pics from these adventures. HOWEVER: I am no photographer, so please don’t critique these cause I am sure they are terrible. I also can’t keep my hands still to do a panorama to save my life, but they are my new obsession, so I try no matter how blurry they look! Again forgive me all you photographers out there!
In attempts to continue with my breaking down the verse 1 Thessalonians, we are going to step forward to “pray continuously”. We talked about rejoicing always and how it’s possible by putting our hope in things bigger than our immediate struggles or feelings. Now prayer: this part of the verse can be misleading or seem discouraging because of the word continuously. You may think there is no way to be bowed down in prayer continuously and still carry on life (job, relationships, responsibilities, etc). However, there are many different forms of prayer that allow us to stay in a constant spirit of prayer, so stay with me here.
First off, the reason that it is important to “pray continuously” is because prayer is a big catalyst in being able to rejoice always. Being able to come to the Lord with our immediate troubles and worries give way to having hope in what is to come. Also our God is a relational God meaning that at his core He wants to be pursued whole heartedly by his children, and He wants to know us fully. He wants a relationship with all of us!
Now as I’ve said I am no expert, but I’ve learned there are many ways to pray. I pray in many different ways and forms. In more formal settings and out of reverence, we bow our heads, close our eyes, fold out hands, and center ourselves on the prayer. This is the most common way known to pray. However, he wants to be a part of every aspect of your life. He wants to talk/hear updates from you as if you were telling your friend a story. Our prayers do not have to always be this reverent form of prayer. It can simply be driving in your car thanking Him everything in your life. It can be journaling our biggest fears or biggest blessings! It can be seeing a wreck on the road and sending a prayer request for those effected.
When I was a kid before bed every night, my mom would say, “say your prayers”. I would always have a conversation to God before bed every night: thanking him for my day, asking for forgiveness for my sins (mainly those sins being fighting with my bros that day), and asking for comfort during any of my struggles (like an A on a test! ;)). One night, my curious self asked my mom to pray with me. I never knew if my prayers were “right” so I wanted my mom to say a prayer out loud with me. I wanted to know HOW to pray?! We began praying together every night for the next couple of months. I loved doing it because it was a sweet moment with my mom and a fond memory I have now. However, I learned that there is no real “right way” to pray. God simply wants to hear from His children. He cares about the small things, the big things, and everything in between. My mom taught me that the more detailed our prayers, the more intimate our relationship with God becomes. He wants our raw, vulnerable selves.
As my faith and relationship with God grew with vulnerability and intimacy, I found myself beginning to thank the Lord in the middle of the day. I found myself enjoying talking to the Lord more. It wasn’t a chore, but my raw, non-judgmental relationship with the Lord had become a constant conversation throughout my day. It is just as simple as saying “thanks for this close parking spot as I am running late!” or “thanks for this shirt on sale!”. Being in the midst of a family gathering like at the weddings this past month, I was constantly acknowledging the Lord with thanks in the midst of the gathering.
The “continuously” part of the verse makes it very hard, but it is there for a reason. God is our biggest advocate, comforter, and source of strength. He wants to comfort us in everything, so let Him know those struggles. He wants to rejoice with us over our successes, so let Him know your joys! He wants to ache with you over your sins, so let Him in. Talk to Him. Pray Continuously. It does take practice to have this continuous prayer. However, the more we pray, the more intimate the relationship becomes, and the more it becomes a constant desire to bring the Lord into every aspect of our life. Simply begin with the “say your prayers” reminder before bed. Then place an emphasis on a phrase throughout the day to bring our mind to the goodness of the Lord like: “Thanks for these moments”, “God, I am yours” or “Be with me in this place”. Small steps lead to big changes, and these changes with allow for a more intimate, raw, vulnerable relationship with God: one of the greatest things we can experience on Earth.
Lets all pray for each others encounters with God. Lets pray that we become closer and closer to a continual prayer with God.