Over the last few days I have been busy sorting out all my lists of prayers and decided to create a few new journals in order to tidy things up. I have decided that the most practical journals that I can keep are
Salvation Journal – To pray for everyone I would like to see saved
Healing Journal – To pray for everyone I would like to see healed
General Prayers for Others – Prayers for others, out-with the above categories
My Prayer Journal – Personal prayers
Everyone is different so these journals may not suit you but I thought it best to make them available. Check out the Resource Page for a wider selection of free downloadable prayer journals for adults and for children.
Generally, I write this blog very much based on my personal experience although I try to pre-empt what others may be struggling with or going through in their journey and relate to this also.
What I share with you today is a current personal struggle of mine. I cannot hear God’s answer to my question! The question I long to hear the answer to is this, “God, what am I to do for you?”, “What is my calling?”. If you have read my testimony you will know that years ago, I felt the need to study the Word of God and so I began an Access to Theology Course with Highland Theoretical College. This led to the Theology Degree I am now studying. Unlike many in my class I have no idea why I am there. Of course, I understand the usefulness of this subject and I have gained so much insight into the Word of God already, but what will this lead to? Many of the people I study with are candidates for ministry, they know their goal. People ask me, why are you studying theology? What will you do with this degree? What occupation does theology lead to apart from ministry? My answer, inevitably is, “I don’t know!”, “God told me to do it and I’m doing it!” Not the answer many are looking for I expect!!!
When my grandma’s were both unwell I spent most days with them and, although it broke my heart to see them this way I was able to bear it and I longed to be with them rather than apart from them. When I visited them in hospital, I had a longing in my heart to help others who were struggling around them. I wondered if I was to be a care worker, or perhaps a nurse? I love to look after people, one of the happiest periods of my life has been caring for my children when they were small, I wonder if I am to foster or adopt? Presently, I love to care for my furry babies, Winston, and Molly! In fact, I would have many more furry babies if only my husband would let me!!
When I see people in hospital or care homes, with little to no visitors and no one with time to speak with them, I think perhaps chaplaincy is the role for me, as in this way, I can provide comfort and point people towards Jesus! At the same time, someone recently suggested a Biblical Counselling Course which I undertook and thoroughly enjoyed so is counselling the occupation for me?
In my mind I feel as though I need to know so that I can be gaining the relevant experience meantime, while I am studying. To this problem I know the answer, but I am just not willing to take it on board!!! Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” There is a lovely piece in Corrie Ten Boom’s Book entitled The Hiding Place where her Dad seeking to comfort her says “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you the ticket?” She sniffled a little, and replied, “Why, just before we get on the train.” “Exactly,” her father responded, “and our wise Father in heaven knows when we are going to need things too. Don’t run ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need, just in time.” In this instance, the father is the responsible one who is more able to take care of the ticket, if Corrie were to hold the ticket, in her foolhardy youth, she may lose it. In this way, God holds our plans for us until we are required to know them so that we will not lose our way.
Every day I pray, “God, please reveal to me the plans you have for me and my husband?” and every day I do not hear anything back. Lately, I have been wondering if He is answering and I am not listening! Perhaps He answers without an audible voice! Perhaps I need to take note of what is going on around me and look for God’s voice there? The word of God is alive, it is working all around us, 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” The Holy Spirit is at work around us helping us to understand the will of God, John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” 2 Peter 1:20, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
To help me with this I have decided to create another Prayer Journal, this one will be entitled, “What is God telling me?” Here, I will record instances that suggest God’s hand, for instance, recently I have had many book recommendations given to me which are evangelical and missionary in style and I wonder if God is telling me something in this! I will write this down! I have been thinking about the homeless in our society and what that could be done to help them? This, I will write down. In this way, perhaps I will get my answer!! Of course, my answer may be this!! “It is none of your business.” To which I would respond internally, “What, but it is my life, surely I need to plan it out so I can fulfil what I want to do with it.” Wrong response alert! 1 sentence, 1 my, 3 I’s, yet it is not my or I, I gave my life to Jesus, Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I gave my life over to Jesus and therefore, it is no longer my plans but His and He will tell me only what I need to know at a particular time. If it is not necessary for me to do anything at this moment, then I do not need to know. When you think about it there is a particularly good reason for this. More than likely, I would mess it up! What God is planning for me may frighten the life out of me at this stage in my life whilst in 4 years’ time He will have prepared me for it, and I will be eager to get started! I can see this already. I used to be terrified of speaking to more than a couple of people at once and for this reason, I did not manage to attend my lectures last year as they happened, but instead watched them on a recording. This year I have attended many Bible Studies and built up my confidence each time so that now I am much less anxious when it comes to my turn to speak. Imagine, God telling Michelangelo as a small boy with his paint set that one day he would be commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel, I expect he would have been a little daunted by it and this may have discouraged him! Or telling a small Boris Johnson that one day he would be Prime Minister and as soon as he began the job, he would deal with Brexit followed immediately by Covid 19! He may well have directed himself down another path!
So, all we can do is rest in God’s peace and take life day by day while always being alert to the sound of God’s voice in whatever form that may come to us! We must pick up our Bible daily as the Word of God is alive in Scripture and from this we may discern God’s voice, Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
So, I leave you with my newest Prayer Journal entitled What Is God Telling Me? I have designed one with lines and another blank as some may like to write in sentences whilst others may find images more helpful and, in this way, there is room to draw, doodle, or mind map?
It can sometimes be difficult to genuinely believe what we read about ourselves in Scripture. “You are the light of the world”, “You are the salt of the earth”. If we are to progress in our walk with Jesus, then we must believe what He tells us about ourselves. I find Bible Art can help to reinforce these affirmations. Bible Art is also helpful in order to memorize Scripture and really consolidate it in our minds.
I have made many pictures to go alongside my blogs and devotionals and I would like to share these with you as a pdf in order that you can print out any that speak to you. I confess I am no graphic designer and, as you may remember, I did not undertake a single art project before I began this website 5 short weeks ago so please accept these very amateur designs!
If you would like to make designs yourself, why not have a go with using Canva which is a fantastic site where you can create all sorts of designs with free backgrounds, pictures etc. It is also possible to upload and include your own photos. There are many other similar design programmes you could also check out.
You can also design something just with a pencil, paper, and pen. Look online for hand lettering ideas and use a brush pen to write out a Bible Verse. This is really effective and will look great on the wall.
Good luck if you decide to make your own designs and if you decide to print off one of mine then I hope it speaks to you.
There are so many resources at our fingertips in the Bible. If you are in a season of need, whether you are struggling with anxiety, depression, illness, or heartbreak you will find a passage to help you in the Bible. Many Bibles have a section at the beginning which will guide you to a passage for your specific need. Once you find it, why not create something using this passage so that you see it regularly throughout your day and have it as a reminder of God’s love for you.
You may remember me writing about a Creative Christianity Summit I attend online this summer! It was organised by Menekse Stewart who owns Cheerfully Given, an online store which sells Christian jewellery, stationary, homeware and crafting materials.
This summit literally changed my life!! Were it not for this summit I would not be writing this blog now as I simply would not have had the confidence. Prior to the course I did not believe I was capable of anything remotely artistic. I thought creativity was for those who attended art classes or designed graphics for a living. This course not only removed this false impression from my mind but replaced it with an astounding reality … wait for it!!!:-
Everyone is creative!!!
Yes, absolutely everyone!! I know many of you are shouting at me right now saying “No way, I am absolutely hopeless!”, “Yeah Right, My 2 year old child paints a better picture than I do” or “you want a word with my school art teacher and he will set you straight on that one!”
Bear with me … remember I thought like you too!! What does Scripture say? Let us look at the very first page, in fact let us look at the very first words, Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is a creative!! Now let us look a little further on, Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” When we say we are not creative, either we doubt the creativity of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself or we doubt that we are made in the image of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself!!! The truth is we are God’s image bearers and God is creative, we can see that all around us! Therefore, we are all capable of creating!
If I needed further evidence of the diverse nature of creativity then this was consolidated by those involved in the summit, as many areas of creativity were catered for. Creativity is not merely painting pictures but is in everything we do!! Our lives are one long string of creativity.
Before I speak a little about crafting, let me introduce you to just a few of the guests and what I learned from them.
First up we had a daily sermon from Paul Blackham who is a minister in London. Paul’s creative talent lies in his delivery of the Word of God. He truly brings the Bible to life. His love for Jesus is so evident and his enthusiasm is something to be envied. I learned so much from his sermons but perhaps the most important was that Jesus needs to be everything in your life. Jesus wants to be your identity and will accept nothing less. Jesus wants everything or nothing! We read this in Scripture, but do we live it in our day to day lives!? Luke 14:25-27 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Being a Christian means being a Christian first and foremost. When someone asks “Who are you?”, you answer “I am a follower of Jesus” or “I am a Child of God”, not “I am a Mum”, “I am a student”, “I am a vegan”, “I’m Scottish”, “I’m a Man U Fan”. These things will all pass away, they can be taken from us at any time! Christ can never be taken from us, not in life, nor in death. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, made this point abundantly clear “The only system of thought into which Jesus Christ will fit is the one in which He is the starting point.” Jesus comes first! Everything must fit in with Jesus, we cannot try and manipulate Jesus to fit in with everything else in our lives!
A Life Coach named Breeny Lee reaffirmed to me the need to do everything for the glory of God. That one cannot be one person in one situation and another somewhere else. As a representative of Jesus, we must bring honour to Him in the way that we behave, and this should not be affected on where we are or who we are with!
Thea Muir described how she manages her negative thoughts by removing the negative cassette tape from her mind, placing this at the cross and replacing it with a Godly thought cassette tape. I find this imagery helpful in my ongoing battle with negativity! Thea began doodling as a way of tuning in to the positive affirmations of Scripture and there are many for us to find, all helpful tools to developing a positive mindset.
Kathryn Hitchings spoke about the flow zone which is fabulous for people struggling with mental health problems. This is a place of creativity when you are not really thinking about anything, just being, living in the moment. Another inspiring message was that untaught naïve art can be the most beautiful!
Martha Shrimpton of Nimbus Collective emphasised the importance of a relationship with God. I think we can often get too bogged down with the religious side of our faith, studying the Word, praying religious prayers but not ever just being with God. It is important for us to be still with God, write with Him, journal with Him, create pictures in worship to Him, have a coffee and chat with Him.
Jonathan Self made me look at everything differently. He makes photography look simple! I had never thought of cooking tea as creating before, yet Jonathan made a simple kitchen image of utensils etc look beautiful! This inspires me to take a closer look around me, to look at God’s creation with wonder instead of complacency.
I love this quote by Josie Gambel that says, “if a dream doesn’t scare you then it’s not big enough!” This is because we are not dreaming, really, we are just imagining what we could realistically achieve! When we dream of doing something that terrifies us then we are admitting we are not capable … but we are with Christ … Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
We are all unique and therefore there cannot be a one size fits all rulebook to Christianity. Not all of us are capable of sitting for 5 hours a day reading Scripture or 4 hours a day deep in prayer. With creative Christianity, there is something for everyone! For those with active minds, Bible journaling or doodling is a fantastic way to explore Scripture whilst relaxing our minds. Young children may get a deeper understanding of the Bible through painting!
It was at this summit where I first heard of Sermon Notes! This is a fantastic idea for those who have wandering thoughts in church! As the preacher is speaking draw the main idea of the sermon in the middle of your page and work out from there. Add verses, words or drawings, anything that consolidates the sermon for you. Put lines or patterns around the words and thoughts so they do not get jumbled. You can also use an iPad and procreate for this. You can draw this in pencil at church and colour when you get home. This is a great way of remembering the teaching and being able to look back at it in the future. One lady uses paints at her church!
Another way of doing this is at home using a passage of the Bible. I love doing this as it helps me memorize my Scripture and keeps me focussed on the verse. Begin by measuring out the paper carefully with a ruler so that your lettering is evenly spaced out. Write the verse out initially in pencil and when you are happy that everything is in place, go over with a brush pen. You can decorate a frame around the outside of your lettering with flowers for example.
For Sermon Notes and Simple Hand Lettering you may need:-
Pens or crayons
Felt Tip Brush Pens
Water colour palette
Paper or Notebook
Esther Thorpe of Origami Est demonstrated how to make an Origami diamond. For a complete novice this was very manageable. You will find origami videos on You Tube if this is something that interests you:-
For Origami you may need:-
Paper Square – You will require some of the same size
Bible Journaling is extremely popular and a great way of consolidating your Scripture. You read a passage of your Bible and then make a relevant design either at the side of the writing (if there is a blank section for this) or you can colour the whole page with water colours. The most important aspect to this is spending time in God’s presence and learning the Word of God. You will get lots of great ideas online for this.
For Bible Journaling you may need:-
Journaling Bible – some people find the thought of drawing over their Scripture too much to bear so in this case, you can use a notebook or paper.
Pencils, pens, crayons
Magazine cut outs
Clear gesso to prepare Bible pages
Watered down poster paint
Shakers – You make these by placing some sequence and a small card with a verse or aspirational saying on it inside transparent cellophane (I keep these when I get items delivered inside them) and secure it together and secure it to the page with Washi Strips.
Tip-ins – You make these with a piece of card (could be an old greeting card) and you fasten this to your page with Washi Strips. This provides additional space for more creating!!
For Creative Photography – All you need is:-
A camera or phone
Many men reading this may think this creativity talk is for girls but that is certainly not the case. There are plenty of other creative pursuits for men if nothing above appeals. You could try sketching, creating furniture, learning to play an instrument, gardening or decorating. There is no limit to creativity.
Craft Materials can be expensive so it is important to upcycle what you can, collect a stash in your home which can become your go to box of tricks when you are feeling crafty. I collect cellophane, greeting cards, glass jars, cardboard, wrapping paper (you never know when it will come in useful!). You will find a great supply of craft materials on Amazon, Hobbycraft, Cheerfully Given and Etsy.
You Tube has many how to videos for lots of different creative pursuits. The most important thing to remember is that you can do it. It is not about whether your painting will hang in the Louvre, it is about whether your Father in Heaven likes what he sees and whether it brings Him glory. The importance is in the time spent with Jesus and the peace and enjoyment that you get from switching off from the busines of life and relaxing!
Just give it a go today! I am sure you will surprise yourself!
Always Remember, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
In an earlier blog I suggested using a prayer journal to help you if you are struggling to pray or if you want to develop your prayer life. These are available online in journal format or there are single page designs which you can download for free from the internet. Just type in prayer journal or prayer sheet and then click on images and you will see a large selection that you can print off.
I have designed a simple one based on the “ACTS prayer guide” I spoke about earlier:-
I have attached a PDF link for you to use should you wish to download this.
There is space for the date at the top so that you can fill this in and later go back and check what you have written. You may wish to do this to see how your prayer life has developed over time or how your focus has changed!
The Adoration Section is where you praise God. Write down His glorious attributes or simply how much you love Him.
The Confession Section is where you admit where you have gone wrong. We know that all the sin we confess will be forgiven so do not let this affect you negatively but simply admit your guilt and let God’s gracious forgiveness be upon you.
The Thanksgiving Section is where you write down all the things you are grateful for. I find depending on my state of mind, this can be overflowing to the point I struggle to stop, or I can find it hard to think of anything. When I am feeling negative, I have learnt to think simple, I woke up, so I am alive, I have been granted another day. I don’t know how many of you watched I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here last year, but I was really inspired by Caitlan Jenner’s attitude. Every morning on waking she would shout to the rest of the camp “It’s Another Day to Excel!” What a positive attitude! I think this sort of enthusiasm is something that we all should strive for!
The Supplication Section is where you write your prayer requests. These may be for your own needs or the needs of others.
You may need additional space for any one of these sections, so I have created Individual Prayer Sheets for each of these.
I have included space for your confession and a space for the date of your confession.
I have been lucky enough recently to be introduced into Creative Christianity and it has changed my life! I do not think I can quite put it into words…. I just feel like my life with God is fuller in some way, that rather than giving things up for Christ, I have been given so much more. My life is enhanced by my walk with God. I would like to devote a blog entirely to this so I can hopefully inspire you to have the courage to get creative, so I will not go on too much here! I will just say that the blank spaces on your prayer sheets could be used for further writings, poetry, lettering, drawing, paints, decorating with stickers etc. There are so many fabulous ideas in which you can creatively worship God.