The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
How Do I Pray?

cat-chic asked you:
This seems like a silly question but should I talk out loud when I pray? I usually don’t because I don’t like listening to myself.. Thanks :)

Jed Brewer replied:

Hi Jess,

Not a silly question at all – I’m glad you asked!

To answer it, let’s start by asking a different question: what’s God’s desire for our prayer?  That leads to one of my favorite verses in the Bible…

“That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.” (c.f. John 4:23-24, MSG)

See, what Jesus is saying here is that God wants people to keep it real when they come before him.  He wants us to be ourselves.

Well, what that means is that the “right” way for you to pray is going to be unique to you, because you’re a unique person. 

I think your goal should be to find a way to pray that allows you to relax and be yourself with God.  That might be curling up in a coffeeshop with your journal and writing out your prayers.  That might be going for a long run and praying in your thoughts.  That might be kneeling at an altar rail and speaking your prayers out-loud.  There’s nothing more-or-less Holy about any of those options; it’s only a matter of what works for you.

And that word “relax” is key.  Prayer is meant to be a two-way conversation.  You certainly are meant to pour at your heart to God and cast your cares on him.  But you’re meant to listen for his voice as well (John 10:27).  And being relaxed will help with that a lot.

For what it’s worth, all of this applies to studying the Bible and having a “quiet time” with God as well.  We all need to be in the process of learning more Bible, and we all need to have regular time that’s just us and God.  But what that looks like in practice should fit the uniqueness of your situation, and should celebrate the uniqueness of who you are!

Perhaps the main thing you can do to help yourself in regards to prayer, Bible study, and devotional time is to let go of the idea of “getting it wrong.”  I’ve known so many Christians who feel guilty and ashamed because they don’t have an A+ quiet time.  Well, let’s cancel that.

Instead, let’s start asking, “How good can it be?  What would get me excited?  What would fit me and God in a way I would want to celebrate and keep on doing?”  Maybe you like to cook.  Well, what if you set aside a few times a week to cook some sort of gooey, delicious desert?  And you spend that whole time just pouring your heart out to God, and thanking him for every good thing in your life, starting with what you’re baking.  And, then, when you have that piping hot tray of brownies all done, you and God hop in the car and go deliver them to someone going through a rough time.  Talk about an act of worship! 

Let it be an adventure, Sis.  That’s what you were made for, and that’s the good stuff.

I’m Feeling Less Connected to God – What Do I Do?

Anonymous asked:
Hi! This year has been super tough for me, my mum’s gotten sick, I’m in my last year of highschool and I have some stress and anxiety issues that aren’t helping. Thankfully, unlike previous times, I’ve held on to God through all of this. He’s gotten me through. I’ve gradually improved my devotional life and I feel a lot closer to him… but in the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling just a little less connected, a bit less motivated to read my bible, though I know I should. Help?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey, my friend.  Thanks for your question.

You know, one of the funny things about tough times is that they don’t often “catch up” with us until a bit later.

For example, when I have to deal with misbehaving relatives, I’m able to be strong and resolute in the moment.  But, as my wife will tell you, about a day later, it totally hits me, and then I have to work through the upset, anger, and unpleasantness of the whole thing.

I mention that because it sounds like that’s a lot of what you’re dealing with here.  You’ve been strong in the moments that the problems first hit – and you should be proud of that – and, now, it’s a bit later, and the emotional weight of those problems is beginning to register.

So, then, how do we handle that?

Step one is to be kind and gentle with yourself.  Broadly speaking, a lot of what you’re describing is what folks in a counseling situation would call “grief,” in addition to a whole bunch of stress.  As it turns out, there isn’t a wrong way to grieve, and you’ll want to give yourself permission to be however you need to be.  If you need to be sad, be sad.  If you need to be angry, be angry.  If you need to be oddly happy and find everything funny, do that.

Now, certainly, we want to set some boundaries for ourselves within all this.  This isn’t an excuse to hurt ourselves or others, emotionally or in any other way.  This isn’t an excuse to let go of our basic responsibilities in life – paying bills, showing up for school, etc. 

But, given those broad boundaries, we need to give ourselves space to breathe.  And it’s a good idea to have folks we can trust who are able to stand with us in the midst of that process.  We’re not so much looking for those folks to have lots of smart, spiritual things to say, as we’re looking for them to call and check up on us, make sure we’re getting enough to eat, and telling us to put on our shoes ‘cause they’re pulling up to our house and we’re going bowling.

This leads us to God.  The most righteous thing you can do in this time is to simply be honest with God about how you’re feeling.  If it were me, here’s a snippet of what my prayer life might look like:

“God, life is really, really hard right now.  I hate seeing my Mom hurting.  It sucks so bad I can’t put it into words.  And, truth is, part of me is asking you to do something to heal her, and part of me is mad that you let her get sick in the first place.  I’m not claiming I’m right to feel that way, but it’s what’s on my heart, and I know you want me to bring that straight to you.  On top of all of that, I’m supposed to be figuring out what the heck I’m doing with my life, and that’s stressful as all get out, and I don’t have any good answers.  I know I’m supposed to be still and listen for your answer, but, when everything’s going haywire, that’s the last thing in the world I feel up for doing.  I really need your help.  ‘Cause I’m really having a hard time.  Amen.”

If you can be kind to yourself, talk out how you’re feeling with God and other people, and give yourself some time and space to rest and heal, I think you’ll find things improving.

In the meantime, my wife and I are praying for you.

Lee Younger - Start Here
800 plays

This is another blisteringly good song from my man Lee Younger.  Play this early and often.

leeyounger:

Start Here

I wrote this song to the Lord as a way to put into words what it means to me to go to Him every day and spend time with Him. Some people call this their “quiet time” or their “daily devotional time” but whatever you wanna call it, we need to go to the Lord every single day. And we need to go because we need Him… not because we feel obligated, and not because it seems like the right thing for a Christian to do, but because we honestly don’t have what it takes to live this day unless He comes down here and helps us with a power outside of ourselves. 

My dear friend Jed Brewer (jedbrewer.tumblr.com) produced this track, so that’s why it sounds so good! To find this tune on iTunes, just click right HERE