Choose to Stay Mindful in Prayer with Ben Fuller
Start each day with gratitude
As believers, it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget the importance of staying mindful in prayer. Contemporary Christian Music artist, Ben Fuller, shared in a recent interview with Family Life Radio, when you take the time to intentionally connect with God each day, you experience a profound sense of peace, love and joy that can only come from Him.
One of the most significant ways you can stay mindful in prayer is to begin each day with gratitude. Ben said, “I need to tell myself that I’ve been made brand new every single day. I wake up and I say, ‘thank you God for waking me up. Thank you for another chance to go out and to tell people about your love – to tell people about your goodness.’”
“If I don’t start my day with it, I noticed a difference” Ben said. “By the end of the day, I’m like … why am I so frustrated? And I know it’s because I didn’t allow myself to have that time to talk about who I am, being a new believer. I gave my life to Christ November 10, 2019.”
When you choose to start your day with gratitude, you invite God’s presence into every aspect of your life, you acknowledge that He is the source of your blessings, and you trust Him to guide and lead you throughout the day.
You can also remind yourself every day of your identity in Christ. As a believer, you are a new creation in Him, and your past mistakes and failures do not define you. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV).
When you remember that you are made new in Christ every day, you experience a renewed sense of hope and purpose.
Worship music can give you a deep sense of who you are in Christ. Songs like Ben’s “Who I Am” can serve as powerful declarations of your faith and help you stay connected to your identity in Christ. Ben says, his song, “Who I am” has become his own personal declaration of who he is in Christ. “It literally has become a reminder of who I am in the eyes of the Father. Who I was. I left at the altar. I am yours Lord. I believe. And just saying those things is like it just gives me peace and comfort.”
And as you sing these songs, you declare your belief in God’s love and power. You allow His truth to permeate every aspect of your life.
Ben said one of his favorite worship songs is “Gratitude” by Brandon Lake. “That song just puts me in a special place … and it makes me want to be grateful. But it’s definitely not easy to do, especially if things are going wrong and you’re in a tough place.” Ben said, “I just have to ask God, ‘Can you keep me in this place gratitude. Can you hold me here?’ Because I feel like I slip away so fast.”
Prayer is not just about asking God for help or guidance. It’s about inviting His presence into your heart and asking Him to use you as His vessel in the world. Ben said, “before I write [music], I pray, ‘God I want to be your words. I want to be your message. I want to be your voice.’”
When you pray, you acknowledge that you cannot do anything on your own, but instead, you surrender your plans and desires to God’s will. You can ask Him to guide your words and actions and trust Him to use you for His glory.
Staying mindful in prayer is not always easy. Ben admitted, “It is so easy to take things for granted.” In difficult times, it’s easy to slip away from gratitude and focus on your problems. In these moments, it’s necessary to ask God to help you stay in a place of gratitude. Ben said he tells God, “Just let me be grateful for what you’ve done.”
Philippians 4:6-7, reminds us “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). What a powerful promise from your heavenly Father!
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God’s Design of Motherhood
God wants to help you grieve and celebrate at the same time
We have a whole day to celebrate and recognize the powerful influence of mothers. I’m especially filled with joy that we can celebrate all of you who call yourselves “Mom.”
Happy Mother’s Day.
God’s design of motherhood is so worthy to be celebrated. Sometimes as moms it’s easy to push away the applause and the celebration because we can easily think of areas that we missed it, times when we could do better, where we could talk nicer to our kids and just get it right. But in the midst of all your highs and lows, your heavenly Father wants to celebrate you, as well as the influence and established role of His design of motherhood. It’s powerful.
My mom went on to be with Jesus November 1, 2021. And Mother’s Day weekend is one that I was not looking forward to because I knew what those waves of grief would carry to the shore.
On Mother’s Day 2021, my mother stood on the platform with me in celebration of Mother’s Day. I was pregnant with my fifth child, Gianna, and it was just four months before my mom unexpectedly went into the hospital. Little did we know then that it would be the last Mother’s Day with our mom here on earth. We can still celebrate and honor my mom, even as she’s in heaven. But those of you who have lost people, you know it’s definitely not the same.
Because of all the COVID restrictions while she was in the hospital, we weren’t able to visit her right away. Finally, when we were able to go in and see her, she immediately had to go on a ventilator, and she was unresponsive due to the paralytics. The longer she was nonresponsive in the hospital, the more days went by that I wasn’t able to experience her being fully alive and engaged in my life. Her absence made me realize more and more how powerful her daily presence truly was in my life and my kids’ lives.
One night after coming home from the hospital, I went upstairs to sit in my son’s room in his rocking chair. I started to cry, thinking about the reality of my life at that moment.
A Heavenly Influence on Earth
I sat there just thinking about the influence my mom had on me, how I missed her daily presence and the empty spaces that now existed. Instead of generalizing the empty space of what I was missing, I began to write down specific ways that my mom, Terri McAuliff filled up my life, naming the empty space that I was feeling.
I also was so overwhelmed, thinking about the powerful role of a mother and God’s desire for that role to be represented here on earth.
It’s a calling for all of His daughters, whether it’s with our own children or spiritual children.
It’s His purpose for us to show up in our world and represent His character through His tenderness, His ability to provide a safe space for His nurturing Spirit, His attentiveness, His delight in the details, His spoken truth and love and His compassion and protectiveness. All these things show up when we say “Yes” to be a godly mother to those around us. It’s not limited to whether we have our own kids or not.
On previous Mother’s Day weekends, when my mom was here, and I had the opportunity to celebrate and encourage all the moms, I have been so sensitive, and at times, so overwhelmed with the pain and the grief that this day can bring for people. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive to the emotions in the room, but not at the expense of downplaying the celebration and honor due (Romans 13:7). It’s more so just a posture of my heart of genuinely not wanting to stir up any more grief or pain this day may represent as I thought about people who:
- Did not grow up with a mother.
- Didn’t have a godly mother.
- Long to be a mom of your own kids.
- Have experienced a miscarriage, like I have.
- Or carry the personal shame of where we’ve missed it as moms.
When grief and pain are present, it can make us want to hold back from celebrating what we have, because of what others don’t have or because of what we don’t have. When we hold back our celebration because of our pain and our grief, we also hold back honor when honor is due.
So, in the painful moment of thinking about the space that my mom occupied and her influence, I decided in that rocking chair while my mom was in the hospital, that no matter what happened to my mom, I would never allow grief to overshadow or downplay the celebration and honor of motherhood! Even though I miss my mom greatly, that doesn’t mean I need to tone down the celebration and the honor of being a mom to my own five kids.
You and I serve a big enough God that we can fully celebrate without diminishing or denying our pain or grief. God can help us do both! Just because this day reminds me and perhaps you too, loss, it doesn’t make it any less of a day to celebrate. I think it is a part of God’s process of making beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
My five kids (all under the age of 8 at the time of this story) are so funny. They make me laugh – when I’m not annoyed by what they’re doing. It’s hilarious. I was watching my 10-month-old, Gianna crack up at my four-year-old, Beniah. He came into the room with his boxing gloves. I guess he just came out of the shower because he was naked. And he was doing his thing with his little punching bag that he got for his birthday. Gianna was laughing – her little 10-month-old self thought it was so funny.
I have so many moments I miss sharing with my mom. One of the things I miss the most is the shared joy from the experiences with my kids. I have moments with my kids that I actually enjoy more knowing my mom would enjoy them as well. Of course, I can share these moments with my dad, my husband, Paul and my great friends and spiritual moms. But nothing compares to sharing it with your own mom. My mom would think it was so funny.
An Invitation from Heaven
I asked myself, What is the emotion I want to share with my mom right now? It’s not just the memory but the bond that connects you with people, just being able to share the exact same emotion at the same time. I realized that emotion was joy – I just would love to share this joy with my mom.
Then, I felt this invitation from heaven. God does not force His way in, but He absolutely is knocking at the door of our hearts. And I felt this impression from heaven that said, “Can I try?”
It wasn’t an audible voice. Jesus didn’t show up in the room, but it was like when I’m cooking in the kitchen and my kids want to be a part of it. And they say, “Can I try that too?”
That’s what the message from heaven felt like to me. Like, “Can I try the joy that you want to share with your mom in this moment? Can I try, as your heavenly Father?”
It means so much to me because it wasn’t abrupt. It wasn’t like He was saying “Shouldn’t I be enough?” No, it was a sweet invitation. When God comes into the emptiness of our hearts, He brings His full self in. He is so graceful, sweet and tender. When I bring my full self into a room, my passion can be misinterpreted as anger or frustration.
I began to say, “Yes, God, I want that. What would that look like?”
He is so capable of sharing that emotion with me. Why? Because He is joy; He created joy. Not only did He create joy, but He also created the very beings that I was enjoying. The reality is He was actually able to share the joy of the moment even more with me than my mom ever did or ever will.
Sharing Emotions with God
And God loves to share the other emotions that you would call negative with us too. How can we call an emotion negative when it was emotion that God created? Because He is just as much in sadness as He is joy. He is just as much in grief as He is in celebration. He is just as much in anger as He is gratitude. Why? Because He created our emotions. Sometimes we don’t know how to handle those negative emotions. So, we run away from them, or we deny them.
I serve a big enough God, who meets me in my emotion.
This is a permission slip from your heavenly Father that says, “I am big enough so that whatever emotions come with your daily life, let me meet you in all of it because I can! I can in the aftermath of grief and disappointment and loss and betrayal and rejection.”
It can feel like a crater that’s so deep you can’t even see the bottom. If you open the door to the knocking of your heart from your heavenly Father, He will absolutely fill the gaps and overflow your cups.
It doesn’t make me miss my mom any less. It doesn’t make me more glad that she’s in heaven. I would love for her to be here right now. But God proves to me – over and over again – that until heaven, we do not have to keep living with empty glasses. The Holy Spirit is on this earth to bring comfort, to bring joy, to bring peace, to bring life and to help you move from anger to joy. There’s a part of celebration that really does bring beauty from ashes.
As a dynamic speaker, Ashley Daugherty has a passion for people to know Jesus and have a life-changing encounter with Him. Ashley and her husband, Paul, lead a thriving community of believers at Victory Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a mission to connect people to God and each other, equip them to fulfill their God-given purpose, and empower the church to reach out locally and globally with God’s love. In addition to her ministry work, Ashley is a devoted wife and mother of five. victory.com
An Undeniable Call
Meredith Andrews shares candidly about fostering
Although Meredith Andrews, singer, song writer and worship leader, was an only child, she grew up with many foster siblings. When she was eight years old, she began begging her parents for a sibling.
She felt “alone in the world” because all her friends had siblings. She prayed her mom would have a baby.
Soon after, Meredith learned her parents had been praying about adoption, but felt confidently led to do foster care. A little two-year-old girl came to live with them, and Meredith was “in heaven” with her little “sister.” Eventually, there were five children all together – three in diapers.
The first little two-year-old girl who came to their home was considered a “failure to thrive” child who wasn’t walking yet and had some health complications. By the time she left to go home with her biological mother, she had outgrown these issues and was running around playing.
Meredith became very attached and had thought her family would adopt this little girl. She will never forget the day she came home from school and found out her little “sister” had gone home.
The most difficult part of fostering was when the children would leave. Whether the children were with them for a weekend, a week, a year or more, they experienced love. Meredith is certain these children enjoyed the presence of God in her family’s home. She is convinced God has not wasted what they experienced.
“It has met them somewhere along the way and brought back to their memory who Jesus is,” Meredith shared. “They saw a picture of how much He loves them and what a loving family looks like.”
Over time, Meredith’s family fostered about twenty children. They eventually adopted her three brothers.
Meredith believes the call from God to foster or adopt is undeniable. There will be difficult times since many children have been through really tough situations. “Things no child should have to go through,” Meredith described. You can tell by the way they act out.
As a follower of Christ, it’s in those challenging times you ask God to show you how He sees these children. He is faithful to not only give you grace and strength, but also the ability to move forward in love.
God teaches you dependence on him through uncharted waters, whether it’s through fostering children or another scenario. As you confess to Him your inability, He displays his power in your weakness.
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Take Time to Trust
Spending time with God grows our trust
I had the opportunity to take a quick flight from Arizona to Seattle to see my mom and I took my son with me. I was looking forward to it, but my son, 12 at the time, who hadn’t done much flying, was leery.
But I didn’t know he was anxious about flying. That information came out, literally right before we left for the airport, on the day of our trip. He said, “Dad, I don’t know if we should go. What if something happens at the airport?”
I told him I’d flown a lot, and I was sure everything was going to be fine.
And then at the airport, when we were about to board the plane, he expressed more concern, “I don’t know about this, Dad. What if something happens to the plane while we’re flying?”
I reassured him again and told him there are hardly any major airline accidents, and it’s pretty safe. After talking a bit, we prayed together and got on the plane.
We had a layover and halfway through the whole thing, my son looks at me and says, “Dad, this is easier to thought it was going to be.”
Then it hit me. Why does my son trust me? He trusted me enough to follow me onto that plane, even though he had some apprehension. I think it’s because he’s spent a lot of time with me, and he knows my nature. We’ve experienced a lot of life together, and that’s added up to trust.
So, why don’t I trust God like that? Maybe it’s because I’m not spending enough time with Him. In fact, how can you trust anybody if you haven’t spent any time with them? If I spent enough time with Him each day, I would also know His nature and I wouldn’t question His plans. I’d just know because of my time with Him this morning, He’s got me with each step of this day.
If you focus on who God is and how much He loves you, there is no question whether you can trust Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” in Proverbs 3:5 begins with Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
We all struggle to take enough time to be still. The challenge for me is to focus on that more. If I do, I know my trust will grow.
Let’s do it together.