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Lucinda Secrest McDowell is an award-winning author, my fellow co-director of reNEW – retreat for New England Writing and Speaking, and a wonderful friend. Below, Lucinda shares her practice of turning scripture, God’s Word, into personalized prayer. Grab a pen and journal because as you read you will realize how powerful this practice of prayer can be for your own life.

Today our yard was enveloped in darkness by 4:30 pm and I realized that we are now in the midst of shorter days and longer nights. Figuratively speaking, during this past year, moments of darkness have felt more prevalent than the moments of light. 

Are you also struggling with things of the dark – hopelessness, relationship rifts, medical anxiety, spiritual uncertainty or financial insecurity?

When the prophet Isaiah was anointed by God to speak to a people suffering similarly, he offered some powerful words that speak to us today. 

In Isaiah 60,1-2, we are presented with a foretaste of God’s light and glory: 

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.”

When I read such Scripture, my practice is to put God’s Word into personalized prayer:

“Thank you, Lord, for bringing light into this world so full of darkness. Help me to arise and awaken to what You have for me. Help me to shine with Your glory and grace. Amen.”  

Today I was in the next chapter – Isaiah 61.1-4 – where I experienced a powerful takeaway from what the prophet told the people of Israel would eventually happen. 

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.”

First of all, Isaiah reminds us he has been “anointed” and “sent” by God. When have you asked God to confirm your calling and show how He created you uniquely to live out your story in this world? Knowing that makes these words more meaningful.

Isaiah’s “good news to the poor” includes concepts that touch my life and yours:

“Thank you, Lord, that though my heart is broken on so many levels, You promise to comfort me with Your compassion, Your mercy, and Your love. You and You alone know those secret places of bondage where I have been unable to break free on my own. Thank you for the promise that You can provide a release to my captivity, a freedom out of the prison-of-my-own-making. How long will I keep mourning all that has been lost? Today, by faith, I receive Your promise of “beauty for ashes, blessing instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair.” Thank you also for giving me the strength needed to stand and endure; to actually become righteous. My deepest desire is to be Your ambassador, Your reconciler – help me to be one of those who is actively in the work of rebuilding all that has been destroyed. Bring revival, beginning in my own heart, O Lord, and all for Your glory. Amen.”

Why not take some time in your own devotions, to transpose a portion of Scripture into a powerful personal prayer? Writing it down in a journal will be a great way to keep track of God’s answers in the days to come.

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Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the award-winning author of 15 books including Soul Strong, Life-Giving Choices, Dwelling Places, and Ordinary Graces. Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and AWSA, co-directs the annual spiritual retreat reNEW – retreat for New England Writing & Speaking.  Whether building leadership teams, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Through “Encouraging Words Consulting” she offers hourly sessions on writing, speaking, and spiritual growth  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, McDowell shares words from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com

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