We have all heard the scripture, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.” – Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV). But what does that mean? What if you are stressed, worried, facing financial struggles, or things just don’t seem to be working out? We know that we need to trust in the Lord and get out of our own strength, but how do we do it? This post will show you 5 ways to get out of your own strength, draw near to God, and deepen your spiritual relationship with Him.
Step 1: You must pray
What is prayer?
Prayer is a form of communication with God. In prayer you talk to God and listen to His response. Don’t worry about the formalities or special ways to pray. Just talk to God, even if you risk looking crazy. For example, in 1 Samuel 1, Hannah desired a child but was unable to conceive. Instead of giving up, she kept coming to the Lord in prayer. In 1 Samuel 1: 9 – 17 Eli, the high priest, saw Hannah weeping and her lips were moving but nothing was coming out because she was praying in her heart. He thought she was drunk! She must have looked crazy! How many of us would have stopped or quieted our prayers for fear of looking crazy? However, fear of what other people thought didn’t stop Hannah from crying out to God and communicating with Him in prayer. God heard her prayer and eventually blessed her with a son named Samuel.
Why should you pray?
Prayer is important because it is the foundation of a relationship with God. Think about it this way. Have you been in a relationship (friendship, romantic relationship, as a mom, as a daughter) and you felt that you were talking to a brick wall or even worse you had no communication? What did that feel like? It was probably frustrating, especially if you desired a closer relationship with the other person. I imagine that God feels that way about us. He wants to draw near to us but we move further away. He wants to talk to us, to guide us, and to communicate with us, but we don’t seek Him. Just like communication is the key to developing a deeper relationship with our loved ones, it is also the key to developing a deeper relationship with God. Prayer bridges that gap and allows us to communicate and grow our relationship with God.
What if you don’t know how to pray?
Even if you don’t know what to pray for, pray anyway because according to Romans 8: 25 – 28 (NLT), “The Holy Spirit heals us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” The key is a commitment to God, faith in His power, and faith in who He is. Remember, that Jesus Christ died on the cross, reconciled us to God, and is working on our behalf. All we have to do is call out to God and seek Him. Isaiah 55: 6 (NLT) reminds us to, “Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.”
Step 2: Read the Word of God
In order to be able to increase your trust in the Lord, in addition to praying, you must read the Word of God. Reading the Word of God helps us to:
- Understand His Word
- Learn who God is
- Trust that He keeps His promises
I understand the challenge of being able to trust God, because people disappoint us, break their promises, and turn their backs on us. It can be hard to imagine a God that cares so much for us, loves us, and wants the best for us – unconditionally. However, that is what God wants. God doesn’t change and neither does His word. According to Isaiah 55: 11 (NLT), “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” The emphasis is mine, but I do this to draw your attention to the permanence of Gods’ promises.
Another verse that I love is Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV), “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” God is trustworthy not only for you but for the generations to come. Isn’t it great that God is the same God today as He was thousands of years ago? With that being said, don’t get it twisted. God is not your magical genie who will give you everything that you want. You must seek His will and align your will and your heart with His.
Step 3: Praise Him in Advance
This is where it starts to get a little more challenging, in life we learn to:
- Be cautiously optimistic
- Prepare for the best, but expect the worst
- Avoid getting too excited because it might not happen
- Get everything in writing because if not, it doesn’t exist
- Don’t tell people what you were promised because it may not come true and you will be embarrassed
We are conditioned to not expect much or expect to be disappointed because people are….well people. The thought of praising and celebrating for something that hasn’t come true is probably a foreign concept. The thought may even bring fear, because what if you get your hopes up and it doesn’t happen? Remember, God is not human. He’s not a person who is fickle. He’s God, and even if He says no, there is a good reason and it is for your good. Therefore, when we are waiting for God to move we need to praise Him as if it is already done. When you praise him, you have to get out of the way. This may be challenging because, we are typically accustomed to complaining, checking the time, fidgeting, etc. when we are waiting. In order words, we are impatiently waiting. However, full praise shows God that we are grateful for Him, it acknowledges His power, His sovereignty, it shows that we are humbling ourselves to His will and His authority.
For example, in 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat was told to “stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.” – 2 Chronicles 20: 17. How many of us would have asked God, “What does this mean?” How many of us would have tried to jump in and help? How many of us would have started to phone a friend? We would have done everything but stand still! This is why praise is so important – it help keeps us occupied and focused on God! Instead of trying to help out God, King Jehoshaphat and his soldiers worshiped God and started to praise. They were so confident in the victory that the army singers led the army into battle. Keep in mind that the army singers have no armor or weapons. King Jehoshaphat knew that praise is a weapon against the enemy and if he stood in God’s promises and praised him in advance then the Lord would give him the victory. I’m getting excited as I type this because I can feel the burdens lifting off of me as I cast my cares on the Lord and allow Him to fight my battles.
Step 4: Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
Be grateful for what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t. This is how you honor God. You show appreciation for who He is and what He is already done.
The Bible tells us:
- “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell all of your wonderful deeds. “ – Psalm 9:1 (NIV)
- “Rejoice always, pray continually’, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4: 6
Over and over again the Bible tells us to be grateful. In addition to honoring God, practicing gratitude:
- Totally shifts your thought process to thinking about the good. Even if the situation doesn’t change immediately, your perspective changes and you can find joy in the trials or even in the delay.
- Gratitude can position you to have more happiness and joy
- Gratitude can reduce stress and worry
- Gratitude makes us less selfish and more giving
- Gratitude can position us to have more
One example, of an ungrateful spirit, is the children of Israel. They were ungrateful, always wanted more, lacked contentment, and often complained and as a result, a trip in the wilderness that should have taken 4 days took 40 years to reach the Promised Land. The process is the process, but disobedience and an ungrateful spirit can cause delay and additional hardship. Therefore, choose wisely. Choose gratitude. Don’t be like the children of Israel.
Step 5: Guard your heart
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23
When we are developing our faith in God and focusing on increasing our trust in Him, there will always be things that pop up to try to derail us, get us to focus on our own strength, or fix our eyes on what is not happening. This is why guarding your heart is extremely important. This is something that I remind myself throughout the day every single day.
What does it mean to be on guard?
I’m on guard to focus on what is good and on God. I turn things over to God all of the time because if I don’t I risk getting distracted, succumbing to the temptation to complain, impatiently waiting, or relying on my own strength.
How do you guard your heart?
You can guard your heart by:
- Watch the messages that you allow in your mind. This means limiting the messages that cause you to fear and worry or that can be tempting to you. You can watch the messages that you allow in your mind by limiting the news, social media, television, or anything else that is not of God.
- Limiting the access of certain people. This may sound harsh, but some people are toxic complainers who don’t want what is best for you. These people have to get out of your space. Even if you can’t remove them because they are family or co-workers, you can limit your interaction with them.
- Watch the places that you go. If the places that you go cause temptation and sin, then don’t go. Just like people recovering from alcohol addiction tend to avoid the bar, don’t put yourself in a position to stray from the Lord.
I’m not trying to say that you can’t have fun. However, I’m challenging you to think about what it means to have fun. Remember, the focus is on developing a deeper relationship with God, which necessarily requires you to separate yourself from the world. If you are early on your journey it is extremely important to guard your heart because what you allow yourself to be exposed to has the ability to really make or break you. Think about it this way: Have you ever tried to make a craft project that required you to glue pieces together? If you move the structure too soon, then it will fall apart. The same is true with your spiritual journey. We were broken when we accepted Christ as our Savior, but through Christ we became new, and the broken pieces were mended back together. Why risk falling apart, and for what? True joy is in having a deep relationship with Christ and finding the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
If you are struggling with the idea of guarding your heart and separating yourself from the world, think about the words of Asaph in Psalm 73. Asaph was beginning to envy the sinners because of their lavish lifestyles, apparent excitement in their lives, and painless living. However, in verses 18 – 19, he realized that “Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.” Sin leads to destruction. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have any fun or enjoyment; it just means that this must be in line with God’s will. Remember, Jesus had fun too so if you want to learn how to have fun responsibly, then read the Gospel!
Deepening your relationship with God is one of the most powerful and transformative things that you can do for you and your family. Literally, you can shift the entire dynamic in your family just by believing. The book, Praying Circles Around the Lives of Your Children, says:
“David’s influence was still tangible for generations later, and his legacy was the foundation upon which his descendants established their kingdoms.
That is our job as parents – to lay strong foundations of faith that will secure God’s blessing to the fourth generation.”
It’s not just about us. It’s not enough for us to live a great life. As mothers, we are setting the tone and the foundation for our children, grandchildren, and future generations. That is what building a legacy is all about. The Bible frequently talks about the future generations, and if we want to make a positive, lasting impact on our families and communities then we must take these lessons and use them to strengthen our relationship with God.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!