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Prayer for the Unfocused

kelly stanley

kelly stanley

PRAYER FOR THE UNFOCUSED

[editor’s note: This is part of a series of guest posts by the lovely Kelly O’Dell Stanley. See her previous posts, Prayer for the Weary Parent and Prayer for the Overwhelmed by following the links!]

Dear Lord, I’m so glad you are rock-steady, because I feel like I ricochet from one place to the next, faster than I can catch my breath. But it’s not just my activities—my mind, Lord, spins and whirs. So many distractions, so many thoughts, so many ideas, so much to do. I want to pray. I want to focus on you, to prioritize the things that matter and let everything else drop away. But the reality is that I can’t seem to complete a single train of thought before I’m derailed. My prayers are uncompleted half-sentences. My to-do list grows longer and rarely shorter, but it’s not for a lack of effort.

I need Your help.

I need to learn from You. I need to set my sights on You. Maybe that’s why I’m so scattered—I’m looking everywhere except for the One place where I need to focus.

Lord, draw me in. Gather my stray thoughts. Gently cradle me in that hushed and holy place where You reside. Whisper, and let me stop talking long enough to hear You. Soothe my frazzled nerves and quiet the chaotic jumble of static that drowns out the silence.

And help me to just breathe. To turn my mind towards You. To let my body become aware of Your presence. To let my heart recognize Your love and my mind respond to Your truth.

Help me see what matters. Help me focus my sights—my longings, my hopes, my dreams, my intentions—help me focus them all on You. On my unwavering, always-present, never-changing, solid and true God Almighty.

Thank You, Lord, for who You are. And thank You for letting me see clearly. Amen.

 

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Kelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray(August 2016). She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends. Download free monthly prayer prompt calendars at prayingupsidedown.com.

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Prayer for the Overwhelmed

GRAPHIC prayer for the overwhelmed.jpg

Prayer for the Overwhelmed

[editor’s note: This is the first post in a series that Kelly Stanley (check out her links in her bio below) will be sharing with us! She pitched this idea to me and I felt I personally needed to read this one! Thank you, Kelly.]

God, it’s too much. No matter how hard I try, how good my intentions, how little I sleep and how much I work, I can’t hold it together.

Why do I feel like I have to?

Why do I expect myself to be able to handle it all, fix everything, and do it without breaking a sweat?

Why do I let myself drown in worry and sorrow, sadness and fear?

Wash over me, Jesus. Wash away the emotions that drag me down. Lay Your hand on my weary head and calm the tumultuous emotions. Break the chains of things that weigh me down.

Carry this weight, Lord.

Carry me. And let me not worry that I’ve failed. Let me trust only in You. Renew the drive inside me and give me energy and hope. Make a way. Clear paths, open doors, transform my life.

It’s Yours, Lord, and I give it back to You. Asking—no, begging—You to make sense of it all. To untangle the knots that trip me up, over and over.

And let me know I’m not all alone. Remind me that You are with me, and that even when I don’t see or feel You, You remain beside me.

And no matter how lost I feel, how overwhelmed by the responsibilities I have and the things I cannot control, give me the certainty that it is not too much for You. Never too much for You.

Never too much.

And if this is not too much for You, and if You are right here with me, then I can do this. I can endure the hard moments, withstand the onslaught of too-much, and carry on. I will get through this. And when I come out on the other side (of this trial or sickness or deadline or broken heart or lack of resources), I will be stronger. Hardened by Your holy, refining fire. Made into something better, something more beautiful. Resilient and transformed.

And ready to face the next thing. Because there will always be something more—but that doesn’t have to discourage us, because there will also always be more of You. You endure. Never change. Always provide. Engender hope.

And remain faithful, always faithful. Amen.

 

stanley_kelly_high res.jpgKelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray (August 2016). She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends. Download free monthly prayer prompt calendars at prayingupsidedown.com.

 

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Prayer for Those Stuck In A Rut

Kelly O'Dell Stanley on Devotional Diva

Kelly O'Dell Stanley on Devotional Diva

Prayer for Those Stuck In A Rut

[Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of devotionals by Praying Upside Down’s Kelly O’Dell Stanley. I am so grateful to have Kelly’s posts here on Devotional Diva. You can check out her other posts on prayer by following this link!]

This is for all of you people out there who love God but sometimes get bored. Who have had good prayer lives but sometimes feel like you’ve lost that spark. Will you please pray with me?

Lord, I love you, I do. That has never changed. I long to grow closer to you. I’m excited by the new things I discover in Your word, by the way I see You in prayer and in the changed lives around me.

But I don’t know how to maintain my passion for you. I struggle with staying focused and purposeful in prayer without falling into a rut.

Remind me that I don’t have to have the answers. That You will give me the ones I need, and that the other ones don’t matter.

Reveal Yourself to me in new ways all the time. Let me know You better and better. When I don’t hear from You, or when I feel dry and parched, let me know that doesn’t mean You’re not with me.

Renew my passion for You in ways that will wake up something in my spirit. Excite me, fill my mind with ideas, fill my heart with so much love for You that I can’t just sit back and keep it to myself.

Let me learn that prayer is valuable and I can’t have a good relationship with You without it. But at the same time, don’t let me squander it. I was never meant to keep You all to myself. Prayer equips me to reach out to others, so it shouldn’t stay within the walls of my house. Faith should be active—real, hands-on involvement in changing lives, in helping people carry their burdens, in pointing people to You as the answer for all of their questions and needs.

When I start to have doubts, when I feel bored, when I wonder if it’s worth the effort, help me to remember. Let me look back at the times when I have seen prayers answered in surprising and creative ways. Help me to recall the moments of insight, the surges of passion, the large and small changes You’ve helped me make in my life since I found You.

And when I get too focused on myself—on what I want and need and feel—gently nudge me until I notice the enormity of Your kingdom, the beauty of Your righteousness, the hope that You bring to hopeless and tragic situations, the love that You shower on all your people.

This faith of mine isn’t just for me. It’s meant to change me, and in turn, to change the lives of others. It’s meant to be a witness to nonbelievers, pointing them to the One they long to know. It’s intended to prepare me to live for You—which means to draw people together, to form lasting relationships, to model a content and joyful life. To show people what life can be like when we let You in, when we hand over the controls and break down those barriers and yield all power to You.

It’s exciting to contemplate all that You are and all that my relationship with You can be. I don’t have to bring the passion in to this relationship; I just need to open my heart to You and the passion will come. The ruts won’t feel constraining, but will instead guide me to exactly where I need to be. The boredom will turn to adventure. And You will make all things new. Because You are the God of possibility, of expansion, of miraculous change and surprising answers. And oh how I love You!

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Kelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray. She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends.

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Would you like a colorful reminder to get your prayers started every day? Subscribe to my newsletter at www.kellyostanley.com/downloads and you can download monthly prayer prompt calendars (and other freebies).

 

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Prayer for the Distracted

Kelly O’Dell Stanley on Devotional Diva

Kelly O’Dell Stanley on Devotional Diva

Prayer for the Distracted

[Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of guest posts on prayer by Kelly O’Dell Stanley! Check out the previous prayers for the… OverwhelmedWeary Parent, UnfocusedComparer.]

Dear Lord, I’m so glad that I can come to You at any time. But I wish I could focus more, that I wouldn’t start my prayer and already be distracted before the end of the sentence. I hope that it doesn’t indicate a lack of interest in You. You know my heart, better than I do, but I think my intentions are good. I just can’t still my brain enough to stay on one thought for very long.

And that can’t be the way it’s supposed to be.

God, will You please help me?

Are You laughing at the fact that between writing this line and the one before it, I answered an email, forwarded another, and deleted two more? Probably not, but You see all. You know how my mind works. And You know how I struggle.

In order to go deep with You, I need to spend time with You. But I’ve cluttered my days with too many activities, lots of responsibility, and tons of unnecessary chaos. Straightening out my priorities would help me in numerous ways. If it helps me connect with You, that is reason enough to do it, but if it helps me find peace and calm in my daily life, that’s even better.

I know that wherever You dwell, peace reigns. And that’s where I want to be. Show me tangible steps I can take in order to make smarter choices with my time. Give me determination to keep reaching for You. Strengthen my conviction that time talking with You is important and makes me better. It makes me more fully into the person You mean for me to be.

As You transform me, my mind will focus more on You and will remain more steady. My hope will grow as I believe more thoroughly that You are the answer to all of my questions. My relationships will deepen as I receive (and learn to give) the kind of understanding You have shown me. The love I show others will be more generous and compassionate because I will have been changed by time in Your presence.

And it all starts with more sustained focus on You. Please, Lord, honor my desire to spend time in prayer. Answer my heart’s cry for all You have to offer. Give me wisdom to not be waylaid by unimportant distractions. Help me forgive myself for my inability to do this on my own. And thank You that You want me to come to You in the first place. You are generous and kind. Merciful and powerful. Forgiving and full of love. You are amazing.

And I want to see You more clearly. Amen.

stanley_kelly_high-resKelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray(August 2016). She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends. Download free monthly prayer prompt calendars at prayingupsidedown.com.

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Prayer for the Comparer

prayer for the comparer

Prayer for the Comparer

[Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in a series of devotionals by Kelly O’Dell Stanley. Check out Prayer for the Unfocused, Prayer for the Weary Parent and Prayer for the Overwhelmed by following the links!]

I confess my tendency to look at what someone else has with judgment, envy, longing. I fight feelings of jealousy when I see people who seem to have it all together—happy marriages, successful children, thriving careers, financial abundance.

Wherever I look, I find myself feeling like I cannot measure up. I’m just not good enough. But instead of getting down on myself, I turn my disappointment towards others. I find myself feeling instant dislike toward someone who is prettier, skinnier, younger, smarter, wealthier, or happier than I am.

On the other hand, occasionally I find myself looking at another person or situation and thinking I definitely come out on top in that comparison. When their lives are falling apart, when I judge them for their mishandling of a situation, when I rejoice in knowing that I may have my flaws, but I’m not that bad…

It’s hard to acknowledge the ugliness that resides in me, but it’s there. It’s painful to admit it, to see it in black and white. And those feeling prove, again, that I’m just not very good.

Until I acknowledge it, though, I cannot change it. So I’m doing this right now, because I’m ready to move on from this place of comparison, this constant measurement, these lenses of envy and feelings of inadequacy that color the way I see the world.

Because the truth is I want for nothing. I could fill pages and pages with all of the blessings in my life. All the things I have that are good. But even then, that’s not what this is about. I could easily find myself feeling proud about how many blessings I’ve been given.

The simple reality is that comparison leads to dissatisfaction. Every single time.

When I look at someone else, when I want to be different or live differently or accomplish bigger things, I’m ignoring an important fact. I am already who You made me to be.

Sure, I could be better. (Clearly I could be nicer and less judgmental and more content.) I know You are constantly working on me, trying to make me love more genuinely and live more authentically and worship more deeply. Helping me become the most-fully-me version of me I can be. Forming me into someone who reflects Your goodness, Your generosity, Your kindness, Your grace.

When I come to understand that someone’s differences aren’t better or worse—when I see that we’re on different paths, but that they’re not side-by-side, competing for the lead, but going in totally different directions—that’s when I can stop comparing. It’s not a race or a contest.

You have given me what You have given me. In Your supreme goodness, I have to trust that You know what I need. You know where I can be most effective. You know who I can reach, and how I can get there. And You know what I can become. I’m free to be all I can be within those parameters. To operate fully and completely in the areas You’ve called me to live. To know You, to seek You, to walk beside You.

It’s no use looking elsewhere because the best thing I could want for myself is that thing that You have planned for just me. Uniquely, individually, personally mine. Using the abilities and personality quirks You planted within me.

So, sure, I can look at others and wish I had what they have. I might evaluate myself to better gauge my skills and where I fit in the scheme of things. But to truly compare? To weigh whether what You have for me is enough? I’m embarrassed to have even asked. To wonder if I’m good enough, when I know that I am a child of the one true King? They say comparison is the thief of joy. And I choose not to let anyone—least of all, myself—steal the joy you have planned for me.

Because the only comparison that matters is this: no one, no thing, no being in this universe can begin to compare to You.

Amen.

stanley_kelly_high-resKelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray(August 2016). She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends. Download free monthly prayer prompt calendars at prayingupsidedown.com.

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Prayer for the Weary Parent

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Prayer for the Weary Parent

[editor’s note: This is part of a series of guest posts by Kelly O’Dell Stanley. See her last post, Prayer for the Overwhelmed here!]

Lord, I am so tired.

Yes, of course I love my children. I adore them. I’m grateful for them, for their own unique quirks and personalities, for the ways they make me laugh, for the joys they’ve brought into my life. I sometimes look at them in wonder—usually as they sleep—amazed by Your creation. Awed by their perfection. Humbled by the powerful emotions they bring out in me. Honored to be given the chance to be part of their life, to be in a position to influence and teach and guide.

But at the same time, I’m weary. It’s hard to be a parent, to make decisions that aren’t easy and won’t make me popular. It’s difficult to enforce the rules, day after day, to monitor behavior and ask them to pick things up and remind them to do homework and to not take it personally every time they resist. To not be hurt by disrespect and disagreement and rebellion, whether large or small.

It’s exhausting, constantly fighting to get my kids to see reason. It’s challenging to know that I can’t make all their choices for them. I can’t protect them from bad decisions, I can’t ensure they never face harsh consequences, and I can’t do everything for them.

And really, I don’t want to. I offered them to You when they were born, and I trust You to lead them and take care of them. I want them to learn from their experiences and I believe they are strong enough, smart enough, and capable enough to succeed (in all the different kinds of ways we measure success). I don’t want to overstep my bounds. As my friend Lisa told me once, our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job. To teach our kids what they need to know to live. To love. To respect and honor and obey and be productive.

And to lean on You. Because if there is one thing I do know, it is that life is hard. Even when it looks like we have it all together. The only way to get through is to turn towards You, to allow You to teach us individually, personally, in whatever ways we each learn best.

So, Lord, help me lean on You today. Let my kids see that even though I’m not perfect, my mistakes are made out of a desire to protect them, which stems from the amazing depths of the love a parent feels for a child. Let them see that, no matter what they face, it’s better to go through it with You than without You. You can lift the burdens which are too heavy, and enrich the good moments beyond measure. You will shine light into the darkness that they will inevitably face. You will reveal that which is a mystery in the right time. You will endure that which seems too hard to bear. And You will emerge victorious, with them by Your side.

While I wait, while I watch them develop into the people You knew they would become, let me be gracious. Let me cheer them on and not drag them down. Let me hold my tongue when they need to listen instead for You. Let me be a safe place for them to return, an unending source of love to come home to. Restore my weary soul, physically and emotionally. Remind me that You are in control so I don’t have to be. Show me how to relinquish my grasp on their lives and live in faith, how to turn my worrying into prayer.

As You help them grow, do the same for me. Because if anyone understands the turmoil of a parent’s love for a child, it is You. If anyone knows what it means to watch our kids go through hard things and not step in, it is You. If anyone understands the unending, deep and passionate and desperate love we feel, it is You.

The enormity of that takes my breath away, and I know once again the complete truth: We could not be in better hands. Thank You, Jesus. I love You.

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Kelly O’Dell Stanley: Full of doubt and full of faith, Kelly is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray (August 2016). She lives in small-town Indiana, where she operates her own graphic design business, reads too much and cleans too little, and thrives on coffee and deep discussions with friends. Download free monthly prayer prompt calendars at prayingupsidedown.com.

 

 

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