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“Parachute Prayer” Is Here!

Giveaway!It’s here! It’s finally here!

Parachute Prayer: the Practice of Praying Continually is now available on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle. Within the next few days, it will also be available at other on-line retailers such as BN.com and BooksaMillion.com.

Here is what it’s all about:

In her new book, Parachute Prayer, Janet helps readers understand what Paul meant when he urged people to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and encourages them to develop a regular habit of prayer, one that will help them keep their prayer concerns before God as they enjoy a greater sense of His constant presence. Janet hopes that her book will help readers discover how “the practice of praying continually” can draw them closer to their Savior, benefit their people and their world, and launch them into deeper, more focused times of prayer.

To celebrate this book’s release, I’m running my very first ever giveaway here at Wildflower Faith. I’ll be giving one winner two signed copies of Parachute Prayer: one to keep, one to give to a friend. Follow instructions below to enter. (Don’t forget to click on any tasks you do to tell Rafflecopter you did them and claim an entry in the giveaway.) Thanks for celebrating with me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions: Giveaway ends February 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM EST. Open to Residents of the US only. Winners will be selected randomly via Rafflecopter.com and notified by email. Each winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Janet Benlien Reeves will send the prize to each winner directly. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. Facebook and Twitter are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to Janet Benlien Reeves alone. She will not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send Janet an email!

I’m sharing this post with the Friendship Friday Blog Party and A Little R & R. Visit either of those sites to see what creative endeavors other bloggers are up to this week.

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Four Days to Book Launch! “Parachute Prayer”

Dear Reading Friends:

Cover RevealI’m so excited to announce the upcoming release of my new book, Parachute Prayer: The Practice of Praying Continually. It is my heart’s desire to encourage people, through this book, through this blog, through my life, through whatever means possible, to pray. God loves to hear our voices (and thoughts) directed toward Him, conversing about anything and everything all the time. He loves it when we pray because He adores us. I am praying that Parachute Prayer will help the people who read it to understand this and practice it in a new way.

Here is the back cover synopsis of the book:

Have you ever wondered what Paul meant when he told us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? Do you long to develop a regular habit of prayer, one that helps you keep prayer concerns before your God while also reminding you of His constant presence? He is with you. He loves you. He wants you to talk with Him!

Through a personal prayer concern, author Janet Benlien Reeves discovered that God has planted prompts to pray all over the place. Training herself to notice them and respond became a fun and meaningful exercise—one she’s eager to share with you.

In the pages of this book, you’ll read Janet’s story, learn the concept of Parachute Prayer, and find more than one hundred Parachute Prayers to try yourself as you begin to develop this simple habit. You’ll also discover how “the practice of praying continually” can draw you closer to Your Savior, benefit your people and your world, and launch you into deeper, more focused prayer times.

I am writing this post today to let you know that Parachute Prayer will be available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle this Friday!!! (The Kindle version is even available for pre-order right now!) Friday is just four days away, so I’m doing everything I can think of to spread the word about this book.

Would you like to help? I would absolutely love it if you would like to help!

Prayer Prompt for BookMy first request: please join me in praying about this book’s release. I’ve even turned this request into a Parachute Prayer prompt to remind you. When you see a dandelion, real or drawn or photographed, please pray that God will use the book Parachute Prayer to call people to pray, to draw them and their loved ones into a closer relationship with Him, and to strengthen His kingdom. Please ask God to get this book into the hands of people who will benefit from the practice of Parachute Prayer, from the practice of praying continually.

Thank you so much!!!

Here is a short list of other things you can do to help me if you’d like to:

1. Rumor has it that Amazon is more likely to promote books whose author pages have a following. Did you know I have an author page? If you visit it, here, and click follow, Amazon will be more likely to help me to promote this book. (And you’ll receive word from Amazon once the book is released.)

2. If you have a Goodreads or Shelfari account, add Parachute Prayer to your list of books to read.

3. If you are a fellow blogger who likes to review books, send a link to your page along with your mailing address to me at Janet@WildflowerFaith.com. I would love to send you a complimentary copy of Parachute Prayer in exchange for an honest review on your blog. (And if you wanted to post that review in other places like Amazon.com, BN.com, Goodreads, or Shelfari, I would love that, too!) (U.S. addresses only, please.)

4. If you know a fellow blogger who might like to review Parachute Prayer, please let that person know about this offer.

5. If you have a Facebook profile, like my Facebook page, then like, share, and/or comment on announcements about this book and on any Parachute Prayer prompts. (I usually post these on Mondays. Please feel free to share them to encourage your friends to pray!)

FluParachute6. If you have a Twitter account, use #ParachutePrayer to encourage people to pray and introduce them to the concept of the book. For example, using a prompt I posted on Facebook this morning, you could Tweet: When you see a box of tissues, ask God to help people with the flu to recover quickly. #ParachutePrayer

7. Tell people about this book! Word of mouth is still the most effective means of recommending something.

These are just a few ideas, but I’ll appreciate anything you come up with. I only have one little voice, so your voices help me so much!!!

I’ll be back tomorrow with another post about Genesis. On Friday, I’ll be launching a book giveaway to celebrate the release of Parachute Prayer: The Practice of Praying Continually. I hope you’ll come back then!

Thank you, my friends–

Janet

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A Parachute Prayer for Groundhog’s Day

Parachute PrayerHappy Groundhog’s Day!

I feel so sorry for that rodent. Punxatawny Phil must be the world’s most famous scapegoat. According to the calendar, Winter doesn’t officially end until March 19. That’s six and half weeks from today. Yet when February rolls around, many of us start longing for Spring—especially if we happen to live in a snowy climate. We become dissatisfied with Winter and look for someone to blame. I just learned that Phil isn’t even the one who decides whether he will see his shadow or not. The outcome is predetermined by an elite group of groundhog handlers known as The Inner Circle on Gobbler’s Knob.

Poor Phil doesn’t stand a chance! . . . except that he’s probably the most pampered and prized rodent on the planet, so I can’t feel too sorry for him.

Genesis 3 shows us that since the Fall, it’s been in our nature to blame. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. God saw the truth and disciplined them all. Which was a good thing because if He’d let Adam or Eve off without consequences, they’d have stayed in Eden, eaten from the Tree of Life, and been stuck living in a fallen world for all eternity. God loved them too much for that. God loves us too much for that. His “curse” was an act of grace.

Groundhog Day ParachuteSo in honor of Groundhog’s Day, let’s practice a new Parachute Prayer. Whenever you’re reminded what day it is, pray that hurting (or hurtful) people will stop looking for someone or something to blame, even if that blame is deserved, and take responsibility for their own choices and actions. Pray they’ll learn to offer forgiveness where it’s needed, to ask for it when they should. Pray that they’ll move forward to make things that have gone wrong right (as far as they are able) and that they’ll look toward a better future while letting go of any resentment toward what’s past. This is where healing begins. Let’s pray this for them.

The groundhog doesn’t determine how long Winter will last. Neither does The Inner Circle of Gobbler’s Knob. Blaming them won’t make the snow go away, so let’s be thankful for each season’s gifts and rest assured that Spring will come someday.

Father, when people use their energy to find scapegoats to blame, they get stuck in bitterness and pain. Please help them to move forward. Help them to forgive or ask forgiveness. Help them look for ways to make things right no matter who made things wrong. Please bless their lives with peace. Amen.

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Praying for People Who Don’t Feel Thankful

Parachute PrayerThough Thanksgiving is a time set aside for giving thanks to God for all He’s given us, I know with certainty that there are many people among us right now who are struggling to do this—if they’re even trying at all. Some are grieving. Some are lonely. Some are desperately in need. Some suffer from depression. For whatever reason, they just aren’t feeling thankful, and, though people can offer thanks to God whether their emotions are involved or not, this is a choice they must wrestle through, one that requires great trust and determination. It’s one that many give up on or refuse by settling for bitterness. As we give thanks for our blessings this week, let’s boost these people with prayer.

And since we’re praying for people who aren’t feeling thankful, let’s let the most unthankful one in our midst remind us to pray for these. When we see our Thanksgiving turkey (or ham), let’s remember that not everyone gets to enjoy a happy Thanksgiving. We make jokes about the poor turkey’s sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice just the same—and we’re thankful for it as we enjoy our dinner with all the fixings!

When God gives us reason to celebrate, we honor Him by doing so with all our heart—especially at Thanksgiving. We’re thanking Him by enjoying the blessings He’s provided, by inviting Him to be present, the Guest of Honor at our feast! But we honor Him even more when we remember in the midst of our fun that some aren’t experiencing it. Let’s take time to pray for their needs.

Father, Thanksgiving is a curious thing. It’s a matter of the heart really. On this soon-coming day, You will watch as some of the most wealthy grumble and complain while some of the most impoverished thank You for whatever they can all day (and the other way around). Circumstance isn’t what enables us to give thanks. So please help people who are struggling to be thankful to find reason for gratitude. Even the turkey, if turkeys could be thankful, might be grateful to discover the purpose of his sacrifice. You created him to feed someone hungry, to be the main course at a meal that honors You.

And Father, as those who are struggling to be thankful wrestle with this, please send comfort their way. You care about heart attitudes, but You also care about circumstances. Please provide what Your people need. Encourage them on their way. Let them know that You are the God Who sees and that You are taking care of them always. For this and so much more, we thank You, Lord. Amen.

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The Giving Prayer

Parachute PrayerI once read that Charles Spurgeon, a great Christian minister known for his amazing sermons, had an interesting practice of giving.* It was simple. Whenever he bought something, other than a necessity, for himself, he’d give an equal amount of money to someone else. For example, if he bought a book for himself with a cost of $13.00, he’d donate another $13.00 to charity. The purpose of the practice was to keep him from spending too much on himself while helping him remember to give generously to people in need.

Today, I’d like to suggest we turn the concept into a Parachute Prayer. Whenever we pray for ourselves, let’s take a little extra time to pray the same for someone else. For instance, if we’re praying about a personal health concern, let’s remember others with related concerns. If we’re praying about a financial need, let’s pray for people we know who are struggling financially. If we’re asking God to give us something or to help us solve a problem, let’s ask Him to do the same for someone else. If we’re praying for parenting wisdom, let’s pray for friends with kids.

God wants us to ask Him for the things we want and need. He also wants us to trust His wisdom in answering yes or no. He is our loving Father, Creator, and Provider. We show our confidence in Him when we take our concerns and desires to Him daily. But as we do, let’s take the concerns and desires of others to Him, too.

Father, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And so, we bring our daily requests to You, knowing You will provide generously and with our best interests in mind. As we trust You for the concerns of our own lives, please remind us to entrust You with the cares of others, too. You have more than enough for all of us. Thank You for Your love above all. Amen.

*Note: I read this story a few years ago. I’m not sure what book I found it in. My memory says it was Charles Spurgeon, but it may have been another well-known minister of the time. The idea is what’s most important. Please forgive me if I’ve given credit to the wrong person.

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Appreciating the Master

Parachute PrayerThe next time you see a work of art—a painting, a sculpture, or some such masterpiece—pause to consider the work the artist put into it. Each brushstroke, each cut into stone, each smooth curve—the artist puts serious thought into every detail of a creation. (“Just as a writer deliberates over every word,” she realized as she rewrote that last sentence four times.)

When I pause to reflect on the artist at work, my thoughts naturally turn to my Creator and His work and all we take for granted. He plans. He designs. He configures. He molds. Sunsets. Flowers. Creatures that fly and crawl and run and climb. People—every one as unique as the legendary snowflake.

Today’s Parachute Prayer is to let the works of art you see draw you from appreciation of the piece to thoughts about its creator to worship of Your Creator, the greatest artist of all.

Father, Your works are wonderful. We know that full well.* Thank You for giving us all things to enjoy* and for using this enjoyment to draw us closer to You. We love You, Lord! Amen.

*Psalm 139:14, 1 Timothy 6:17

 

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Praying for Those Held in Addiction’s Chains

The song Set Me Free by Casting Crowns played on my MP3 player the other day and prompted a Parachute Prayer. If you aren’t familiar with this song, the melody is haunting, making the message even more powerful. It’s the story of a demon-possessed man healed by Jesus (Luke 8:26-39). As you read the first verse and chorus, consider how this man would have felt:

It hasn’t always been this way
I remember brighter days
Before the dark ones came
Stole my mind
Wrapped my soul in chains

Parachute PrayerNow I live among the dead
Fighting voices in my head
Hoping someone hears me crying in the night
And carries me away

Set me free of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free

We don’t hear a lot about demon possession in our society today, but there is a group of people living in chains, sometimes living on the streets instead of home with their families. When they are in their right mind, they long for the former, brighter days. But then they give in to what has stolen their minds, wrapped their souls in chains, and left them fighting voices in their heads. These are the people who’ve become enslaved to their addictions, who will give up everything of value in their lives for more, just a little more, the more which is never enough.

This week, when we see chains of any kind (holding fences closed, keeping bicycles safe, blocking off driveways, worn as an fashion-statement accessory), let’s ask God to set people free from their addictions. Jesus set the demon-possessed man free and sent him home (verse 39). He can do the same for those held tightly in chains today.

Father, the chains of addiction are powerful, but You are stronger. This we know! Please set people free today. Amen.

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Praying for Our Hearts

Parachute Prayer“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”Ezekiel 36:26

Though most Parachute Prayers are meant to remind us to pray for other people, sometimes we need to pray for ourselves. And if we’re trying to follow Jesus who told us to love God above all others and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:29-31), I think praying about the condition of our hearts is one of the most important prayers we can pray for ourselves. This world is designed to harden our hearts, to turn them to stone, to keep us from loving anyone well. This is something we must guard against (Proverbs 4:23).

Keeping this in mind, when we see stones, whether pebbles in a stream, rocks used as decorations outside a store or home, or boulders built into monuments, let’s pause and ask God to soften our hearts. Then, when time allows, let’s use that time to examine our hearts more thoroughly, giving God the time He needs to fully answer that prayer. Heart surgery can’t be done in a moment, but the Parachute Prayer can initiate the process, so God’s Spirit can begin to work, to let us know what attitudes need to change, so He can soften our hearts.

Father, thank You for designing us with a great capacity to love. Help us to protect our hearts, so we can continue to love You and others well. Please reveal any hardness in our hearts. Then show us how to cooperate with Your Spirit, so You can bring healing. Teach us to love as You do. Amen.

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Praying about Angry Words

Parachute PrayerNot too long ago, my youngest son brought a blog post to my attention. It was written by a Christian entertainer who wanted to encourage Christians to do as Augustine and Wesley and others have encouraged: to be united in the essentials of our faith, but to show love in all else. This young artist simply wanted to see Christians love each other and get along in spite of different points of view.

Sadly, in offering examples of controversy among Christians, he made some vague statements that led some of his readers to question his personal beliefs. He didn’t actually come right out and say what he, personally, believed or didn’t believe about such things. But some of his readers, misunderstanding or misreading his intent chose to fill in the blanks themselves. Next thing he knew, this artist who had simply asked for peace found himself under attack. It was a great big, ugly mess.

It broke my heart.

This artist wrote one response to defend himself which only brought more painful comments from readers. Since then he has been quiet.

This breaks my heart, too. I fear he’s facing the temptation to build a wall, to hide his gift, to protect himself when he has so much to share with the world. This would be a tragedy.

How amazing could the situation have turned out if those who questioned this young man’s words would have taken the time, first, to try to see his heart, then, if necessary after gentle questioning, to prayerfully respond as Priscilla and Aquila did when Apollos didn’t quite have all of his facts straight? (See Acts 18:24-28.)

Today’s Parachute Prayer comes from this unfortunate situation. Knowing that behind every blog post, tweet, FaceBook update, news headline, and book is a flesh and blood human being created in the image of God, let’s pray fervently for those who come under attack for the words they write—especially for those who come under such attack for simply trying to say something helpful, encouraging, or good. When we see negative comments or hear verbal criticism about something we’ve seen in print or published on the internet, let’s pray both for the heart of the one receiving the criticism and of the one who delivers it. Let’s pray that God will give wisdom to both, that He’ll help the one who receives the negative words to hear anything necessary and to disregard the rest and that He’ll guide anyone tempted to deliver a painful blow to take a step back to prayerfully consider the most Christ-like response. If they’ve already delivered the painful blow, let’s ask God to open their eyes to the wounds they’ve inflicted and lead them to set things right, if possible, and learn a better way for the next time.

People are imperfect, and their words can be messy, jumbled up, and completely misunderstood. Let’s take the time to see the intent behind the words, to clarify what confuses, to show grace and compassion before jumping to judgment, and to correct (when it’s called for) only as Christ would. And when we see angry words appearing in the comments about what we’re reading on our computer screens, let’s always remember to pray.

Father, please help people remember that there are people behind words they see and to respond to those people with love instead of to words indiscriminately. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Praying as Things Change

Parachute PrayerAlways with Autumn comes an abundance of seasonal shopping displays: back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas . . . One of our local stores got so carried away with this last year that they actually started putting out Valentines before the New Year! I guess they just couldn’t wait to start promoting the next big thing.

Personally, I love the Autumn displays. Except for when I’ve lived in climates where I knew Autumn leaves meant I was about to be buried in snow for months on end, I’ve always appreciated all signs of the end of Summer—including store displays.

When we notice these, let’s let them remind us to pray. Changing displays signal other changes, too: changes in season, changes in activities, changes in temperature, changes in clothing styles, changes in décor. So let’s pray for people we know who are going through some kind of life change. This list could include people who are moving or going to college for the first time, people who are changing jobs or struggling through divorce, and people who are adapting to changes brought on by illness or injury.

As we recognize changes in familiar store displays, let’s remember that lives all around us are ever-changing, too. Let’s ask God to help the people we love to adjust.

Father, change is inevitable. Some changes are welcome, but others bring pain. When we notice the subtle changes all around us, please remind us to pray for those who are struggling. Thank You, Lord, for caring. Please make us aware, so we’ll learn to be caring, too. Amen.

Note: If you struggle to find contentment whenever life begins to change, my book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, is full of devotionals I wrote to encourage you. I wrote most specifically about the change that comes with a move, but I’ve discovered that these lessons are relevant to other life changes, too. Click here to purchase your own copy at Amazon.