Praying BIG | For Yourself and Your Kids | Ashley Varner
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How to Pray BIG for Yourself and Your Kids | AshleyVarner.com

Praying BIG | For Yourself and Your Kids

The best way to be a purposeful mom is by praying big, not only for yourself but for your children.

And truly the most powerful tool that you have after the Word of God is prayer. Prayer is powerful.

When we are talking to the King of the universe and we’re talking to the One who made us, it’s powerful.

When we’re seeking Him. We are asking him for things and having open communication with him, it’s powerful.

There is nothing more impactful than praying and praying big.

As I was thinking about this idea of praying big, I started looking at different women in the Bible whose stories we can glean from and really make their stories our own story.

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Learning How to Pray from the Women of the Bible

We can read and take what we’ve learned from the women of the Bible and put it into practice.

Their stories can give us the tools to take the next step forward and know the Lord better and more personally.

One story that really stuck in my mind and I want to share it with you today.

I’m going to share her whole story here, and I know it’s quite a few verses, but I want you to stick with me because God’s Word is so powerful. And whenever we take the truth from His word and we put those truths into action, it’s going to change our lives.

I want to pray big prayers. I want to see big things happen in my life. I want to see big things happen in my children’s lives. And I know that you do, too. So let’s dig in!

1 Samuel 1: 2-11

He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house.10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

Let’s stop reading right there just for a little bit and see what we can learn from Hannah’s prayer life:

 

Come to Your Prayer Time with Intention

If we want to pray big like Hannah, we have to first come to our prayer time with intention.

She came to that prayer time knowing what she was praying for. If you come to your prayer time without a plan, you’re just going to be counting down the minutes. You’re going to leave feeling frustrated, unaccomplished, and you’ll be less likely to make it a habit.

Your prayer time will become more of a habit if you are coming with intention.

Being consistent is a really big part of praying with intention. 1 Samuel 1:3 said, “Year after year they went to worship and sacrifice.” Being consistent isn’t just about coming to the Lord day after day, but it’s about coming to the Lord even when you don’t see results right away.

Hannah had a mindset of no excuses.

Even if it seemed like God wasn’t listening, she still went to pray.

Even if the leadership at the temple was sinful, she still went to pray.

Even if she wasn’t seeing results.

Even if she wasn’t seeing answers to her prayers, she did not let those excuses stop her from being consistent.

How to Pray for Your Family | AshleyVarner.com

When we see the excuses she didn’t allow to stop her, and then we think of our own excuses…sometimes our own excuses ended up looking smaller than we originally thought.

Hannah had some big excuses. She had some things that she could easily say, “I’m not going to try anymore. I’m not going to pray anymore,” but she didn’t

In contrast, how many times have we had something really small happen and it stops us from prayer?

So we need to value that kind of consistency in coming to the Lord day after day, even when we don’t see results right away.

And it all starts with praying with intention and having a plan.

In 1 Samuel, 1:10 it says that Hannah (in her deep anguish), prayed to the Lord. She knew what she was coming there to do.

As you’re reading this today, maybe you have some big needs. Maybe your big prayer is:

  • a child who isn’t serving the Lord
  • a financial need that feels impossible
  • a sick spouse or parent

And I want you to know that if you have big needs, you can come to the Lord with those needs.

How to Pray for Your Family | AshleyVarner.com

One way to be more intentional is to start using a prayer journal.

I have a fairly digitally life. The books I read are on my iPad. My calendar is all digital. My task list is all digital, even my Bible reading is on my iPad.

But there’s one thing that I don’t digitize and that is my prayer journal. That journal is still something that I use a pen and notebook to keep.

And to be honest, there’s something about putting pen to paper, having a physical timeline of what the Lord has done in my life. I love being able to look back and have this timeline of my prayers to Him and the things that I’ve been seeking Him for.

I can look back and see how one day I can be crying and praying and having a need and the I can flip through a couple more days (or weeks or months or years) and see how God met that need.

When I look at my prayer journal, I can see how God showed up in my life, and there is nothing that will make your prayer time more consistent than seeing God move in your life right there in black and white.

 

Pray Boldly and with Expectation

If you read nothing else besides this, I want you to pay close attention. You cannot settle for mediocre prayers because you do not serve a mediocre God.

In 1 Samuel, 1:11, Hannah said, “give me a son.”

She didn’t say, “Oh Lord, just as long as my baby’s healthy…”

No! She knew exactly what she was praying for. She wanted a son.  Year after year she was praying boldly and if she can do that, so can we.

We can pray boldly without wavering.

Praying for Rain

There’s a story about a community that hadn’t had any rain in a long time and the leaders and members of this community decided that they were going to have a prayer meeting and they were going to pray for rain because the land was so dry.

There was such a bad drought. Animals were dying. Crops weren’t growing because there wasn’t any water. There was no relief in sight, so their only hope was praying to God for rain.

One of the men that showed up to this prayer meeting came with an umbrella.

The other people were kept asking him, “Why did you bring this umbrella? It hasn’t rained for months and years.” And he said, “I won’t pray for rain and not be prepared for it.”

How to Pray for Your Family | AshleyVarner.com

Be prepared for rain.

When you pray boldly, make sure your prayers come with an expectation, an expectation that God is going to meet your needs. Hannah had it. She had a plan for when God answered her prayers. We don’t know if this is the first time that she promised to give the child back to the Lord.

She could have prayed that promise year after year and said the same, we don’t know. But we do know that she had a plan for when God answered her prayers and she was ready to obey.

Hannah followed through in obedience. We read in the rest of that chapter. The Bible says that she had a son and she gave them back to the Lord. Even at such a high cost.

When you start to pray with expectation, God starts to open your eyes and makes you more aware of the things that He’s doing. See, God is working constantly in our lives, and if we don’t pray with expectation, we miss a lot of that.

Whenever we start to pray and we say, “Lord, I’m expecting to see You move. I’m expecting You to do something big in my life, even the small things,” what He starts to do is He opens our eyes to see what He’s already doing. He makes us more aware.

 

Practice Hearing God’s Voice

Let’s go a couple chapters forward and find out the rest of Hannah’s story.

Hannah had a son and his name was Samuel, and when he was old enough, she took him to the temple. She gave him to the Lord just like she said that she would.

And if we look in 1 Samuel 3, we read the story of Samuel

1 Samuel 3:1-10

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

I love the fact that not only did Hannah follow through in obedience, but she also taught her son how to follow through in obedience.

I was reading this chapter a while back with my boys and there was something that really stuck out to me and in 1 Samuel 3:7, it says that Samuel didn’t know the Lord’s voice yet.

As my boys and I were reading this verse, I just felt the Lord’s small voice say, “Ashley, your kids need to practice hearing My voice.”

And I would say it’s not just our children who need to practice hearing His voice, but we do, too.

We need to learn how to hear God’s voice and if we don’t practice hearing God’s voice, it won’t happen on it’s own.

Recognizing God’s voice doesn’t just happen instantly. It takes time and it takes practice to hear His voice. And so it’s not just for us, but for our kids as well.

Teaching Your Kids How to Pray | AshleyVarner.com

As we were reading this chapter, I felt the Lord impress upon my heart to equip my children with the ability to hear His voice and to recognize His voice.

So we went to Target and we got some little notebooks for them to use as prayer journals.

And each morning, they got their little prayer journals out and we started this routine where I would read my Bible and they would read their Bibles, and then we would have a quiet time where they would write in their journals.  At the top of the page in their notebook, they would write the date and then they’d write at the top, “Speak, Lord, I’m listening.”

It took some time to get used to the routine. Like I said, it doesn’t come naturally or instantly. There were some awkward times.

But they were learning to hear the voice of the Lord and so sometimes there would be the silly, childish things that you would imagine like praying for their pets or something like that.

But there have been a couple of times that the Lord has really shown up and spoken to my children. There have been things where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were hearing the voice of God.

God Speaks to Correct Us

During this time of learning to hear God’s voice, my seven year old was praying.

At our home, we have a Teacup Yorkie. She’s three pounds and if you know any seven year old boys, then you know that they’re not really known for being gentle.

And we had talked to him about taking care of her and being careful with her. At the time he was praying, the verse that my boys were memorizing that week was the Fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23) and we were learning about being gentle.

So he wrote, “Speak Lord, I’m listening” on his paper and later I looked at it and he had written that the Lord was speaking to his heart that he needed to be more gentle with our dog.

It made me think, isn’t that just like the Lord to meet us where we are but not leave us that way. He meets us where we are, but He meets us there to change us to be more like His Son.

And he speaks to us at a place where we can understand. Just like how a seven year old needs to hear to be gentle with their dog.

God Reminds Us of His Love

Another example with that same son: He came to me and he said, “Mom, I think I’m done. I don’t hear anything. God’s not speaking to me today.”

And I said, “Okay, well, what do you already have in your, in your journal?”

I looked and he had written, “I love you.” God had spoken to my seven-year-old’s heart.

My son had written, “Speak, Lord. I’m listening.” And God had responded by saying, “I love you.”

And we just need that sometimes, don’t we? Forget just being a kid. As adults, as women, as moms, we need to just hear that. We need to hear God say, “I love you.”

And so God spoke to my son’s heart just to tell him that He loves him. (Cue the mom tears now…)

God Speaks into Our Lives so We Can Minister to Others

The last story that I’m going to tell is actually with my younger son. He was five at the time and he had his “Speak Lord time.”

He came to me and he said, “mom, I’m really not hearing God’s voice.”

(Now just a disclaimer: I don’t require them to write something down, it’s not, checking off a list of things. We’re just taking the time to seeking God.)

So I said, “Okay son, what are you thinking about?”

And he said, “Well, I just can’t stop thinking about this friend in my class.” And he told me the friend’s name.

So I shared with him that maybe God wanted him to pray for that friend.

So he wrote that friend’s name in his journal. And since I’m praying with expectation I’m thinking something’s going to happen, he’s going to lead this child to the Lord.

And so when I went and picked him up from school, I was excited to hear what was going to happen and nothing happened.

A couple of weeks went by and I had kind of forgotten about it. But one afternoon, my son came running up to me and told me that this friend had been crying at school. Emmett, my five-year-old (at the time), went to him and asked if he was okay.

This child was trying because his mom had left their family. She moved away with another man and left the kids.

So I asked Emmett if he had asked if his friend was okay. And Emmett said, “No, I told him that God was thinking about him and that God asked me to pray for him even before today.”

Whenever we start to practice hearing God’s voice, He uses us. He uses our willingness to be able to impact the people around us.

We still continue to pray for this little boy. And we may never know until heaven the impact that my son had on him and the impact my son’s prayers had on him.

 

What to Expect when You Pray Big

When you start to pray big, expect God to speaks to you to groom you, to make you more like Him. Maybe some discipline to show you areas of your life that need to change, like being more gentle with a 3lb dog.

Sometimes He speaks to us just to tell us that He loves us. Just to tell us that we’re His children, that He loves us, that He’s here for us.

And the third thing you can expect is that He will show you how to reach a hurting world, like He asked my son to do with his friend.

It’s my prayer that whenever you start to pray big, when you come to your prayer time with intention, when you begin to pray big, bold prayers, that you will live in a state of expectation to hear what God’s going to say and you begin to hear His voice.

That’s what it’s all about, Mama.

That’s what praying big is all about.

It’s about seeking Him. It’s about being intentional and hearing His voice.

Start to implement “Speak Lord, I’m Listening” with your children. It doesn’t take a lot of time. It doesn’t take a lot of money. You can just grab a spiral notebook at the store if you need to. It sets your children up to hear the voice of God and to really start to experience the Lord.

I know it will because that’s what it has done for my boys. They have come to know deep in their heart that they serve a God who loves them and is pursuing them. And ultimately a God who is calling them to be influential in His Kingdom by praying for and reaching their lost friends with His love.

I want that for you. And I want that for your children, too.

Make sure that you grab more downloadable resources to help you build your faith and parent with purpose! My online resource library is made just for you (and it’s completely free by the way!) click HERE to get instant access!

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Teaching your kids to pray, praying big your family | AshleyVarner.com
Teaching your kids to pray, praying big your family | AshleyVarner.com
Teaching your kids to pray, praying big your family | AshleyVarner.com

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