Several years ago, I allowed two of my sons (about 13 and 10 at the time) to walk home from an event at church without looking at a map or formulating a plan.
They wanted to leave early from a picnic that was being held on our church grounds and thought that they could easily walk to our nearby home.
At the time, so did I!
When they asked if they could do this, I remember scanning the horizon in the direction of our subdivision. It really didn’t seem that far away, landing just next to some nearby cornfields.
About an hour later, I headed home in my van, only to discover that my two sons had not yet returned. Panic filled my heart as I raced out the door and across the street in the direction of where they should have returned.
Just as I entered the empty field, next to a cornfield, I saw my two sons emerge from the tall stalks. The older of the two certainly looked worn out but my youngest son looked far more exhausted.
Both of them had dirt covering their faces and walked with labored steps. But when my youngest saw me, he dropped to his knees as if to tell me he couldn’t walk another step.
[bctt tweet=”This memory ranks among my top ten worst parenting moments because of my part in my sons’ disastrous decision. Find out what it is at MM!” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
If only I had truly counted the cost of this venture. Maybe if I had looked at a map I could have known how realistic or unrealistic this hike would have been for them.
But isn’t that what many of us do when it comes to the twists and turns of life?
We look down the road, so to speak, and think all we must do is walk towards what we want or away from what we don’t want.
But God offers the right way to approach these twists and turns in Proverbs 3:5-6 . . .
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Notice how this doesn’t say that God will make your way “smooth.” Instead, we must consult and rely on the best life map of all—the Bible—as well as listening to the best GPS ever—the Spirit, through prayer!
One of the aspects of my Heart Healing Prayer method is that it is a great tool in God’s hands to help you determine a plan that’s aligned with His word and Spirit.
We all travel through seasons of conflict, loss, and confusion in life and marriage. In order to get to the right destination, we need to do some important preparations first and all along the way.
With my prayer process, these preparations culminate in establishing a plan that is based on God’s word and the leading of the Spirit.
But before you get to this step, ESTABLISH a Plan, you must first prepare by completing the HHP steps that precede it.
HEART HEALING PRAYER
First Step—PRAISE God.
This step is like entering your location and desired destination in Google Maps. Praising and thanking God allows you to see who God truly is, getting you to the right location—surrendered at His feet.
Doing this also orients your heart to know who and where you are in relation to God. It humbles you and softens your heart so that you can hear all that God wants to reveal to you.
Second Step—RELEASE to God.
When you release all of your pent-up emotions, desires, and thoughts to God, you’ll feel lighter and less distracted. Reflecting on Scriptures that address your situation will also bring greater clarity and release all along the way in this process.
Third Step—ASK God for help.
This step involves not only asking God for what you want and need but also what Scripture reveals is best. When you ask in accordance with God’s word and will, look what God promises . . .
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. —1 John 5:14-15
Fourth Step—YIELD to God.
At this point, you’ll identify and confess your sins based on the Scriptures you selected and prayed. We need this step so that we can walk without stumbling. See how this verse brings this image to life . . .
“. . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” —Hebrews 12:1
Fifth Step—ESTABLISH a plan.
We’ve finally made it to my focus for today!
Remember how Jesus spoke of being wise enough to count the cost before moving forward in Luke 14:28-32? (Hover over link to read the Scripture.)
Thankfully, our rich and generous God provides all that we need in His power and through a wealth of Scripture to get us to His best destination in our lives.
Now, allow me to share some of the steps in my plan regarding a conflict in my own life. Thankfully, this time it’s not a marriage problem! 😉
The completion of the first four steps has prepared me for this fifth step. It’s given me specific, biblical attitudes and actions that I’m already applying and doing.
- Come to God every single time my emotions, desires, and thoughts overwhelm and burden me.
- Rest in God’s strength and ability to reason with this person. Often that means keeping my mouth shut and my heart open!
- Grieve and surrender my pain completely to the Lord, receiving His comfort and trusting in His redemptive work.
- Commit this verse to memory and recall it when I am tempted to be harsh or pushy with this person.
1 Peter 2:23
- Entrust this person to God in a special “surrendering ceremony.”
A “surrendering ceremony” is similar to the way the Jews offered sacrifices on the altar. You can do this in a lot of ways. The more creative, memorable, and meaningful, the better!
In the past, I’ve done this by writing down whatever I’m surrendering to God on index cards. Then I find a private spot (usually outdoors) to pray, burning each index card as a symbol of my surrender to the Lord.
I’ve even kept the ashes in a jar on this table, reminding me of my monumental shift from worry and, ultimately, idolatry to worship of God alone.
Remember, your plan will look different than mine. But, if you use Scripture, it will always lead you to the best choices and steps. Taking one step at a time, you’ll find your way through your valley to God’s quiet pastures on the other side.
One more thing, the photo above was taken of the same cornfield (many years removed) where my sons struggled to walk home. The field borders a nearby park where I go “prayer walking” nearly every night, often praying for all three of my sons to rely on God to find His right directions in life.