Challenge Day 3

It’s day three of the challenge! How are you keeping up? I’ll be honest—it’s a challenge for me (but I think that has to do with me writing the challenges along with doing them).

Review. Days 1 and 2 of the challenge had us thinking of communication with God through prayer—specifically, being deliberate about being thankful in prayer and praising and worshipping God through prayer. Each day, we read a Psalm to help us focus and then spent a few minutes in prayer. Communicating with God through prayer is one way we can grow in our faithand it’s one of the simplest (or, perhaps for some, hardest) ways to start growing.

Inspiration. Our inspiration for these first few days of the challenge is (and has been) Colossians 4:2, in particular the words prayer and thankful:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (NIV)

Today, let’s turn our attention to that little word watchful.

Antique lantern on a mantel. Photo text: Challenge Day 3, watchfulness & prayer. #writinglifeaugustchallenge

When I chose this verse a few days ago and came to that word, I skipped over it to the easier part. Thankfulness. There are numerous places to encounter people’s thankfulness, gratitude, gratefulness, etc.—but how many times in our society do we encounter the advice to be watchful? What does Paul (the author of this book of the Bible) even mean by this?

As I was exploring this idea, I turned to one of my favorite resources, If you haven’t ever used it, try it out! From there I read different versions of the verse, discovered several cross references for it, read different commentaries on it, and even delved into the Greek grammar for the original word used in the text. Basically, the idea of watchfulness here equates to alertness, and to some degree even wakefulness. It’s interesting to me that the Greek form of the word is a present participle active verb—in other words, it’s like an adjective and a verb put together, but one that indicates a continuous tense: Something not merely in the past, not merely in the present, not merely to do/be in the future, but something that should always be so. But it’s also active, meaning simply that there is action involved: it’s not just descriptive (as an adjective could be), but Paul is telling us to take action to BE watchful and alert.

But what are we to watch for? Why are we to be alert? That’s what we’ll explore in today’s challenge.

Challenge. There are two passages in the New Testament I think capture Paul’s intention when he tells us to be watchful in Colossians. Today’s challenge is to first pray that God will help you understand his word. God tells us that he will honor this type of prayer:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5, NIV)

Then, read through the passages: Matthew 26:36-46 takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane immediately before Jesus’ arrest. In it, he repeatedly asks the disciples to watch and pray with him. Ephesians 6:10-20 is the passage where Paul instructs the Ephesians to put on the full armor of God—and urges them to “be alert and always keep on praying.”

Participate. In a comment below or on the Instagram post for the challenge (@rhondalorraineblog), either describe what you think Paul is urging us to do with those two words “being watchful” or provide an example of a way to ensure we are being watchful. An alternative way to participate is to post a pic on Instagram using the tag #writinglifeaugustchallenge and use the caption for your description (I will see public posts, but not private ones).

Challenge Day 2 (& Why, Personally)

Good morning, good morning … 🎵

Happy August morning, friends! Today is a new day, and the second day of the Writing Life Challenge. What’s that, you say? A challenge? Yes, for the month of August I decided to post daily challenges in hopes of building an online community of people dedicated to encouraging each other daily and challenging each other to grown in our faith in Jesus. If you’re just coming to the blog—or coming back to the blog after a hiatus—you can read about it in my previous posts, and you can access any of the challenge posts in the August Challenge menu (👈🏻 in a computer or tablet, 👆🏻on a phone). I hope you’ll consider joining the challenge. But if challenges aren’t your thing, don’t worry—I’ll still be writing regular devotional posts weekly-ish.

In Challenge Me…, I wrote a bit more about my vision for the challenge itself, but when I prepared for this challenge post I realized I never explained why, personally, I decided to do something like this. I’d like to take the time to explain that here, but if you’re in a hurry and just need to get to the challenge, you’ll find that below 👇🏻.

Besides the fact that I just love a challenge—a fact I wrote about earlier this week—my heart’s desire for this blog lately has been to share how to grow in one’s faith. The easiest way I know how to do that is to think about what has helped me to grow—spending time in God’s word and in prayer on a consistent basis—and take that experience and simplify it to fit in a few minutes of your already busy day. Even if you are already consistent about spending time with God, I’m hoping these prompts will help open your hearts to what God is speaking to you. That, in a nutshell, is the most important reason I decided to start a challenge.

But on to today’s challenge…

Inspiration. Yesterday, I introduced the idea of communication and its importance, whether on a vertical level (individual to God, God to individual) or a horizontal level (person to person). The fact is that God wants to be in relationship and fellowship with us, but in order to communicate with God we have to actually talk to—and listen to—him. That talking to piece is called prayer. (Probably obvious to most of you, but some readers may need to know this so please don’t take offense if it is!) The verse that inspired the first few days of this challenge, then, is Colossians 4:2:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (NIV)

Yesterday we focused on that little word thankful. We’ll continue with that today, but add in the natural response when we recognize we are thankful for something: praise.

Challenge. Read one of the Psalms of praise: 18, 32, 41, 95, 96, 98, 103, 104, 106, 111, 112, 113, 117, 118, or 145-150. As you read, consider both what the Psalmist was praising God for, and what about God it is that evoked this praise. In other words, take some time to think about who God is. Then, take a few minutes to pray and acknowledge who God is—tell him that you know this about him, and thank him for it. The very act of acknowledging the truths God tells us about himself is an act of worship.

Purple flower. Photo Text: Challenge Day 2—Praise & Prayer

Participate. Comment below or on the Instagram post (@rhondalorraineblog) and tell us what you read and what it taught you or reminded you about who God is. Or if you’d like, take a photo that represents something you have to praise God for, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #writinglifeaugustchallenge, and use the caption to provide your explanation. (If you have a private Instagram account and aren’t friends with me, I won’t see it but feel free to post anyway!)