Prayer in Three-Part Harmony

prayer-1I was invited to join a Facebook prayer group the other day and it got me thinking of what prayer means to me. For some reason, I remembered a song by an old band that told of “an old-fashioned love song coming down in three-part harmony.”

This basically is what the basis of prayer should be, a desire to be in harmony with God — attuned with his will and walking in step with his ways. There are three parts in my daily prayer and I would like to share them with you.

1. Listen to God
The first thing I do is be still and be quiet for several minutes. I allow myself to come into his presence slowly and lovingly. I let the sounds of nature waking up remind me that the new day is already a miracle from God. Without saying a word, I express from my inner being gratitude to God for another day. Then I open┬áthe Bible and contemplate God’s word as if he were speaking directly to me.

Listening to God takes up a greater part of the harmony. An old hymn comes to mind:

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
the Son of God discloses

He speaks, and the sound of his voice
is so sweet the birds hush their singing
and the melody that he gave to me
within my heart is ringing

And he walks with me,
and he talks with me
and he tells me I am his own
and the joy we share
as we tarry there
none other has ever known

2. Talk to God
This is when I let God know of my requests, mostly of which are prayers for others, because I believe that God already knows my own needs. I have a prayer journal wherein I list down prayer items that are requested of me and this is the time I open the journal. Remember that prayer is attuning one’s self to his will and not the other way around.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh;
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near

3. Sing to God
I believe prayer is never complete without worship. And I worship God through singing. I awake the dawn with singing. It doesn’t matter whether I believe I have a good voice or not. My voice is not as important as my heart.

And I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free,
For his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know he watches me

Prayer. It’s not an activity. It’s a melodious encounter with God.

What It Means to Let Go and Let God

Many people like to say, “let go and let God.” It’s a nice catchy phrase, especially when we find ourselves in a difficult situation. But can we really apply that phrase in our lives? I believe we can.

What does it mean to let go and let God? Allow me to share three ways.

1. Let go of negative thoughts.
This is where it all begins, our thoughts. Our thoughts can make us worry or bring us peace. Our thoughts can agitate us or make us calm. Thus, if we carry with us negative thoughts, how bleak indeed will our outlook be.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

When the apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, he was in prison. So it is quite remarkable to read the verse above, with the apostle even exhorting his readers to be joyful (Philippians 4:4). We can conclude, without a doubt, that Paul had very positive thoughts in spite of his circumstances.

In another letter he lets us know how to let God take control of our thoughts. We … take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We simply surrender every thought to Christ; and it begins by meditation and reading God’s word the first thing in the morning.

2. Let go of destructive emotions.
With negative thoughts come destructive emotions. There is nothing wrong with emotions. We were created to be emotional. What we need to do is let go of destructive emotions. The Bible tells us of a particular emotion that can become destructive. In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry… (Ephesians 4:26). Anger can lead to bitterness, and bitterness not only destroys the one carrying it, but relationships as well. Destructive emotions are those that fester and lead to hurting one’s self and others.

When we learn how to let go of negative thoughts, we must also learn how to let go of destructive emotions. We do this by letting God love us through our obedience to him. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love (John 15:9-10). We obey his commands by being true to his word.

3. Let go of bad habits.
One result of destructive emotions, if not curtailed, is the formation of bad habits. Ungracious words, sarcasm, sulking, temper tantrums, cursing, and many others; all these are bad habits. They make malice out of our lives and bring down others. We have to let go of bad habits and let God build into us good habits. One good habit is to read the Bible every morning. The Bible creates good thoughts in us. Another good habit is to be filled daily with the Holy Spirit. This would allow his fruit to flow from us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23

We let God build good habits into us when we surrender ourselves to him.

What we want is to make a positive impact on others. And the best way to do this is to let Christ move within and through us. One of my favorite verses is this: For in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

So, it’s really about letting go of the self and letting God take over. Let go and let God!

Covet Learning

November 21, 2012

covet learning I was bitten by the writing bug when I was around 9 years old. My grandfather then was an ambassador to Switzerland and my mother encouraged us children to regularly write to him.

Before he accepted the ambassadorship, my grandfather was the editor-in-chief of one of the major dailies in my city. So when I would write to him, telling him about what 9 year olds did, he would send the letter back to me with editing marks and annotations on how my sentences would be more interesting. Then, at the bottom of my letter would be a hand-written note thanking me for the letter and the exhortation to continue to write and read, read, read.

My grandfather was a wide and voracious reader and he passed on that legacy to me and my siblings. He said reading would allow me to get through life and become successful. I certainly believed him, because he wasn’t able to enroll in college because of the war. He only finished high school, yet he went to become an editor-in-chief and an ambassador.

So I read and I learn. And the learning has never stopped. I covet it and it is what I pass on to the younger generation.

Covet learning and you will succeed in life!

A Cool Productivity Tool

I’m always on the lookout for productivity tools to help in my work as a writer. So I was delighted to discover a cool productivity tool called, Evernote.

Evernote is a software that allows you to store text, images, videos, audio and even whole web pages as you do your work. You store them in what they call, “notes,” and you can divide them into “notebooks.” For example, I do a lot of research as a writer. So I read a lot of articles from blogs and web pages. I then write down the points in the articles I like, along with URLs and other related sites and blogs. With all that I try to store, I forget where I place what and the connections with one another. It can be daunting.

With Evernote I can easily organize my web browsing and research. I can also write text directly into Evernote instead of using a separate text editor. Whatever I place in Evernote, it gets saved automatically. But the one thing I like about Evernote is its powerful tag and search functions.

In case you have stored hundreds of notes, Evernote narrows down your search to a tee, so you’re able to retrieve what you’re looking for without frustration. And as I mentioned earlier, Evernote allows you to divide your notes into what they call, “Notebooks.” This allows you to organize your work better.

Evernote even has this function called a web clipper. It’s a small button that you can add on to your browser. When you want to save a blog or web site, you can click on the web clipper and you can save the URL or entire web page into your Evernote notebook. I don’t have to bookmark the site and then forget about it later on or spend time trying to find out what I bookmarked and where I bookmarked it.

Evernote has much more functions than what I’ve described above. I’m just scratching the surface. To experience Evernote for your needs, you’ll have to download the software. Don’t worry it’s free and there are versions for all operating systems.

But the coolest thing about Evernote is that it’s a cloud software. This means you can also install Evernote in your desktop, laptop and mobile phone, and access your notes anywhere you go.

Go ahead and try out this cool productivity tool.

Read to Write

November 16, 2012

The best advice a writer can receive is read and read. The second best advice is to write and write. But lets take the first advice first.

Read as much as you can. There are many reasons why.

1. To increase your vocabulary. You can’t be using the same words over and over again. What I do when I come across a word for the first time is write it in a notebook and then look up its definition. I then write the definition beside the word and try to write a sentence with the word.

2. To study writing styles and forms. How does the author weave a story? How does the author relay his information? How does he describe his characters? There is so much to learn about how the author writes to help you develop your own style and form.

3. To study the moods of the book. What bored you? What excited you? How did the characters speak? Will you be able to convincingly convey moods, emotions, thoughts in your writing?

4. To be informed. Many books, whether they be fiction or non-fiction, give out facts and figures. If they don’t, you can still apply nos. 1-3 above.

5. To enjoy. Reading should be a pleasure and not a burden. But make a habit of reading.

I suggest that you join a book community such as Goodreads and Wattpad, which are free to join. You can see what other people are reading and get ideas for your own book. I have accounts there so let’s hook up.

Reading helps you become a better writer.

Why I Call Myself a Christian Author

I embraced the Christian faith because I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of my life. But this is only one reason why I call myself a Christian author. I even believe that I need not write Christian books to call myself one.

In fact, one of my Kindle books is entitled, “How to Raise Funds for Your Ministry.” It is not Christian, per se. While it addresses Christian pastors and ministers, it can be for anyone who wishes to raise funds for whatever purpose.

I call myself a Christian author because I believe my God is a God of excellence personified in Jesus Christ.

Christ was no mediocre man when he walked this earth. He was radical, yes, but he made a positive difference in those who followed him. The religious leaders in his time went against him not only because they deemed him blasphemous, but because they knew they could not be the person he was. And, yet, they could be.

We could be!

Jesus’ call to one such leader named, Nicodemus, was to be “born again.” This was a call for transformation, not only in the spirit, but in the total person. It was not enough for Nicodemus to change his religious beliefs. He had also to change his beliefs about himself.

To be excellent in all we do, we have first to believe we can be excellent within. “Be” should first come before the “do.” Edmund Hillary, the first person who reached the peak of Mt. Everest, said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

There are many things I personally conquered within me. I know there will be many more. The path to excellence is never smooth. But I chose to traverse it because I desire to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I can preach about Christ better this way.

I am, after all, a Christian author.

Develop Yourself to Develop Your Writing

November 14, 2012

I have always believed that writing is not only an activity of the mind, but more so an activity of the heart. While you are revealing your thoughts, you are also revealing your passion; and it’s passion that many readers are attracted to.

You are not only selling your books, but you are selling yourself. Through your books, you are indirectly telling your readers that you are an author who can be relied on to get a good story from (if you’re writing fiction) or who can provide trustworthy information (if you write non-fiction).

In other words, your written works are excellent, because you are excellent. Excellence is not what you do. Excellence is first who you are. This means that you have formed within you the character to achieve excellence in all endeavors, which of course includes writing.

Excellence is about developing your mind so your thoughts have clarity. It’s about developing your vocabulary so your words have depth. It’s about developing good work habits so you produce quality work. It’s about developing your spirit so you’re able to reach out with godliness.

Excellence has many aspects. Choose what you need to develop in yourself so you become a total person who makes a difference in other people’s lives, whether they encounter you personally or through your books.