How to Pray to God

The “ACTS” model is just one way to enter into a time of prayer with the living God. I like it because it helps me set my heart straight before God as I am praying and not just spew out some vague prayer. Not that I don’t do that often, or that short, simple prayers are wrong or not specific enough for God to understand, but I love the way the ACTS model makes prayer more worshipful.

silhouette photography of hanging rosary
Photo by Vanderlei Longo on Pexels.com

I think it is important to reiterate that this model is not the only way to pray. Prayer is talking to God. Simple. The ACTS model create an in-depth prayer posture and is a helpful tool for organizing one’s thoughts and covering all the bases in prayer. That is not to say that one prayer or one prayer session is lesser than another if one part of ACTS is not mentioned. Let’s not get legalistic about praying, people. The truth is, some of y’all may love the ACTS, while some of you find it entirely unhelpful. That is perfectly okay, and each person is entitled to their own opinion. However, on this post, I pray that you read with an open mind and leave encouraged. Let’s jump right into explaining the acryonym.

The “A” stands for adoration. This is a time of lifting up God and acknowledging His attributes. Adoring God just sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s a time of speaking the truth about God back to him. It’s affirming truths about God that help expand one’s vision. An example of adoration might sound something like this “Lord Jesus, you existed before the beginning of time and created the stars and the galaxies. You are God over the entire universe and also the God of each of your people’s heart. You are mighty to save, the Lion and the Lamb. We worship you, O God!”

The “C” stands for confession. This is a time to humble oneself before God and confess any sin before God. It’s a time to admit where we have wronged God or others and fallen short of His design and His glory.

The “T” stands for thanksgiving. Transitioning to thanking God helps grow our faith and belief in God’s abilities. It helps us focus on how God has kept His promises and always been faithful. Thanking God helps us trust God more by purposefully acknowledging the goodness that He has blessed our lives with. Thanking God and believing Him for what He will do is part of this segment of ACTS.

And finally, “S” stands for supplication, aka presenting our requests to God (Phil 4:6). At this time, we ask God to meet our needs and the needs of those around us. We cry out to Him and ask for His protection, provision, wisdom, guidance, etc. We call on the great and mighty power of the Lord God who was and is and is to come.

grayscale photography of people raising hands
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

My own example of ACTS praying earlier this evening:

Adoration: God. You alone are wise. Your wisdom is different from the “wisdom” of the world. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts. Your ways are higher than my ways. You are high and lifted up and 100% good. You are sovereign, just, perfect, righteous and holy, holy, holy. Father, you are the living water and forever satisfying. You are my strong tower, my rock, my refuge. Father you are the vine from which all life grows out of. You are the Creator of life and all that it entails. You are so creative and awesome.

Confession: Father God, I confess that I do it wrong so often. So often I am led astray by my desires and don’t wait on your provision. God I feel like I’m wandering around in the wilderness sometimes, having passed the same rock over and over again. Sometimes I wonder if I’m ever going to reach my goals. Father I confess that I don’t trust you a lot of the time. I don’t trust your timing since I confess that I’m always running ahead. Lord I feel double-minded at times and hypocritical. I feel deceitful and paint things in a way different than they actually are because I don’t feel like using my brain to voice the words correctly.

Thanksgiving: Father thankyou for loving me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who is my guide and my Comforter. Thank you Jesus for rescuing me and showing me how to walk. Thank you for your grace, your forgiveness, your justice, your mercy, your unending love, your forever plan of redemption and justification and salvation. Thank you for leading your people. Thank you for calling each of us by name. Thank you that you have given me a name. Thank you for giving me purpose.

Supplication: Father lead me. Lead us. Have mercy on your people. Thank you for your mercy, your grace. But thank you also for your justice. Lord, do whatever it takes to make us a people fit for your service. Prepare our hearts as good soil to receive your word. Help us apply it. Lord fan the flame in our hearts that burns for you. Lord grant your people a measure of faith so great that we would be yearning for you. Burning for you. Desiring You more than anything in the world. Lord I pray that we would think of you first in the morning. Lord I pray that we would turn to you first in times of thanksgiving and necessity. Father you are all-powerful and almighty and more than able to answer these prayers. Thank you that you hear our prayers and thank you that the prayers of a righteous man are effectual. I love you Lord. Thank you so much for using me for your glory. Bring glory to your name! In Jesus name, Amen.

I hope this was helpful brothers and sisters! The point is to start somewhere in your prayer life with God. Start praying more. Start talking to God more. Make time for God. What if you ceased for 5 minutes a day before God and talked or listened? I’ll do a post on listening soon. God bless you all… If you liked this post be sure to “like” it! xoxo!

<3 V

I thought he was getting trafficked.

His name was A, and he was nine years old. He lived in a motel up the road and his parents were nowhere to be found. They said they were painting, but they wouldn’t answer the phone. His mom and dad shared one phone number and didn’t have a car. They had been gone all day and it was 10:30 at night when I found him.

man walking on the empty street
Photo by Alex Fu on Pexels.com

He was on a street corner and a man was talking to him through his car window. Immediately I felt that something wasn’t right and came to a stop. I waited and watched for a minute as another car pulled over and two Hispanic men got out of the car. From where I was sitting, it looked like all parties involved were trying to find directions to a place. I decided to step in.

assorted map pieces
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

“Everything alright?” I said as I walked up to this group of three men and one little boy at 10:30pm. We were on a busy street corner and I wasn’t worried about being a solo woman. I wore sweatpants and old, ugly t-shirt that doesn’t belong to me. I sized up the scene and saw that the two Hispanic men were probably in their late twenties. The older, white man was preppy and appeared wealthy. I was going to threaten him if necessary. If I sensed any sort of funny business at all.

.

.

.

As the story goes, apparently A was left alone and told to stay in his motel. He got scared and was on his way to a friend’s house. He would have to cross a couple of major roads to get to his friend’s house. Late at night. As a nine year old. Where he could easily get picked up and taken away forever. But he didn’t know. He was nine years old, after all. Nobody sets out to be trafficked. But it happens all. the. time. Trafficking is most common in the United States. It’s said that there are between 20 and 40 million people in this type of “modern slavery” internationally. 50k new people are trafficked in the U.S. each year.

.

.

.

So A agreed to let J (the white guy) drive him back to where he was staying. The Hispanic men and I followed behind him in our cars. The motel was right around the corner and the door was unlocked. Inside, it smelled like dog urine. A small, barking dog was in the back corner of the room. God knows how long it had been in its’ cage. I wanted to take the dog outside but there was no collar and no leash.

black confident man in hat on street
Photo by Jacob Pilatoe on Pexels.com

It grieved me, seeing the state of this room, this boy’s life.

“A, you have to stay in this room. Will you promise to stay here?” J asked A sincerely.

“I don’t like it here. I don’t want to be here.” A said with sadness in his eyes. He was lonely and scared, and his parents weren’t responding to any messages. The man at the front desk said that A and his parents checked in five days ago. God knows how long his parents had been away or when they were coming back.

A looked at me and said something that about broke my heart. “Will you stay here with me?”

“I can’t…” I told him with sad eyes. It was such a tough call but we had to call the police. A wouldn’t stay in the motel alone (he shouldn’t have done so anyway) and his parents were M.I.A. We didn’t want A or his family to get in trouble but there was nothing else we could do. The police arrived on the scene soon after.

closed eyed man holding his face using both of his hands
Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

After some questioning and phone calls, and thankfully, even a couple of laughs, it was discovered that A had been in this situation before. In fact, more than once. CPS had been in and out of A’s life. They came and took A away that night. They left a note for his parents and at the front desk.

.

.

.

Meeting A made me wonder how many other children are in the exact same position as him. He was tired, lonely, scared, confused. He could’ve been trafficked or killed. His parents had to work at night to make some money (supposedly, though God knows all the details). They didn’t have a car. Maybe they had been kicked out of their prior residence. A had been left alone times before. I wondered how it was possible that they really had nobody to help. Not even one person? How does somebody get into that situation?

I don’t know. But I do know this: I thank God that I was in that time and place when I was. I thank God that A is okay now. I thank God for my life and friends and connections and opportunities. I thank God for the ability to make a difference in a child’s life and to make darn sure that my future children will NEVER suffer in that way. No matter what, as long as I can help it.

I’m praying for A. I’m praying for his parents. I’m praying for his little dog. I’m praying for all of the people and families that A represents; people that are suffering in the same exact way. And maybe worse. With drug abuse or sexual abuse.

I was only able to give A a few hours of my time, but I wish I could have given him more. I wish I could have stayed with him. But I can pray. And God moves when we pray according to His will. And it’s His will for all people to be saved. Therefore, He will do it 🙂

Don’t give up hope. If you know someone in a seemingly hopeless situation, remember these words: while there is breath, there is hope. And if something doesn’t seem right, stop. Help. Lend. Serve. Look. Listen.

<3

xxx

V

christian thoughts on masturbation.

These are a few christian thoughts on masturbation. Masturbation is a sin. This is me describing how it makes me feel and why I decided to stop!

The blue light blocking glasses I use: https://www.pixeleyewear.com/

Save with code “VelvetYoung5”

Download my free guide to 7 healthy habits you can implement today to start feeling better IMMEDIATELY: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/5f56b5…

Check out my website: http://www.velvetyoung.com and subscribe to stay updated!

My camera setup:

Camera: https://amzn.to/3h9O6iu

Ring Light: https://amzn.to/3h3Z2y9

Audio Interface: https://amzn.to/2EYe9wl

Condenser mic: https://amzn.to/33a3sif

Headphones: https://amzn.to/335EDUG

Cable: https://amzn.to/3bB7ZOj

Follow me! https://www.youtube.com/user/skizaref

https://twitter.com/velvetmeryoung

https://www.instagram.com/velvetmeryo

https://www.velvetyoung.com

https://www.facebook.com/velvetmeryoung

Listening to God

requires stopping the ongoing thought train in my own mind and being attentive to what God is saying to me. Sometimes stopping the train is difficult, but I have found ways to help me listen to Him speak.

Velvet. I have something to show you. Will you come and eat with me? Will you join me for a moment so I can share my heart with you.

If God is everywhere, how come it seems so hard to hear Him sometimes?

I think it’s because we’re not waiting in His presence for long enough.

It’s like working out. You can’t go to the gym for 2 minutes a day and expect the same results as someone who goes for 2 hours a day. Building up our faith muscles takes time and effort. Distinguishing between God’s voice and the enemy’s or our own is a skill to be honed. And it happens through time spent with God.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
         Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
         If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
         If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me,
         And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

Psalm 139:7-10

He is everywhere. When we are at home, He is there.

When we are at work, He is there.

At the grocery store, He is there.

At the gym, He is there.

Alone in the car, He is there.

At the beach, He is there.

In the dark, He is there.

And He is waiting to commune with us. We have the choice. To choose spending time with Him, or not. To choose hearing from Him, or not.

Lord, I thank you for your pursuit of me. I thank you for never giving up on me. I thank you for always sending me to the right places at the right times. I thank you for sending me the right people at the right times. I thank you for always taking care of me in the best way possible. Even with challenges and suffering. Thank you for making my ears attentive to you and for teaching me how to trust you. I wish I could trust you more easily. I wish I could believe your Word like I say I do. But I know that this will become easier the more time that I spend in your Word and in Your presence. Your word unto my ears and mind is like a fresh lens. The more I “put it on” and “put on Christ” and apply your teaching to my life, the more clearly I can see the design that you have for your people and for the world. Forgive me for always running ahead of you. Forgive me for choosing to focus on my problems and not trust you in this season. Forgive me for choosing to focus on what I DON’T have instead of all that I do. Thank you that you are my shepherd, and I lack nothing because of you <3

Listening to God. How could I not want to listen to Him!!! The Creator of the Universe… my goodness! The creator of all wants to commune with me. The God of everything is also the God of each person. My God. My Father. And He wants to commune with you too. He has a message for you. Will you carve out time today to listen to what He has to say? What is more important than communing with the One who knows you better than you know your self?

God Bless! <3

If you’re running away from God, He has a message for you

If you’re running away from God, He has a message for you. What are you willing to sacrifice to grow your faith in God? Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

 

The blue light blocking glasses I use: https://www.pixeleyewear.com/ Save with code “VelvetYoung5”

Download my free guide to 7 healthy habits you can implement today to start feeling better IMMEDIATELY: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/5f56b5…

Check out my website: http://www.velvetyoung.com and subscribe to stay updated!

My camera setup: Camera: https://amzn.to/3h9O6iu

Ring Light: https://amzn.to/3h3Z2y9

Audio Interface: https://amzn.to/2EYe9wl

Condenser mic: https://amzn.to/33a3sif

Headphones: https://amzn.to/335EDUG

Cable: https://amzn.to/3bB7ZOj

Follow me! https://www.youtube.com/user/skizaref

https://twitter.com/velvetmeryoung

https://www.instagram.com/velvetmeryo

https://www.velvetyoung.com

https://www.facebook.com/velvetmeryoung

The Link Between Idolatry and Apostasy

I have a very literal brain, so when I think of “making idols” I picture a potter in a shop making things on the potting wheel.

Little cups and bowls, pitchers, vases. Some smooth and well-shaped. Others bumpy and misshapen. I picture the messy process of wearing the apron, hands covered in wet clay. The air smells earthy.

But when the Word of God talks about making idols, it is referring to the human heart.

Humans are very good at “making idols” on the regular. An idol is something you greatly admire and love and revere. Something you can’t stop thinking about. Something at the forefront of your mind. Think of how cartoon horses have been driven by a dangling carrot.

Our idols are like those carrots. Idols can be our motivation. It’s okay to have things that motivate us. People, goals… The problem lies in loving that person or thing or goal more than God. Because when that person, thing or goal becomes an idol, unbelief starts to take place.

.

..

.

So how do idols cause unbelief and how do we determine what’s an idol?

Idols cause unbelief in this way:

We start to put our hope in the idol. We start to attempt to glean our happiness and satisfaction from that idol. It becomes our catch-all. The thought we return to at the end of the day or first in the morning, or if we’re having a bad day. Idols actively fight to take the place of God.

When we’re living for an idol instead of for God, we are heading in the wrong direction. Our motives become catered towards our idol instead of God’s will. They become selfish and self-centered. Whatever it takes to uphold the idol.

When we’re living for God, everything else is secondary. Living for God means elevating Him to the highest position of authority. When we recognize His authority and have a reverence for Him, we bear obedience to Him, no matter what.

If we’re looking through a tainted lens, we might call an act of idolatry “obedience”.

.

..

.

So what determines an idol? I think the most simple way to understand an idol is this: anything that you think about more than God.

If you’re somebody who doesn’t believe in God, you might be thinking: well gee, I guess every thought that crosses through my mind is an idol. Let me be more specific.

An idol is your love for any person, thing or goal that is greater than your love for God.

Believer or unbeliever, you may be thinking: what thoughts and actions determine loving something more than God? Or you might be thinking: that’s ridiculous, I could never love something more than God.

My responses to those two hypothetical responses:

  1. When your motives for doing something is out of concern for this idol and not for the glory of God, you are practicing idolatry. For example, I am a salsa dancer. Let’s say that there is an event coming up that I really want to go to, but the Holy Spirit is giving me a nudge that I should not go. However, I am convinced that I NEED to go to this event. I am idolizing salsa over listening to God.
  2. If you think you could never love something more than God, think of the last time you committed a premeditated sin. That in itself shows a lack of belief and love for God. (Hey, we all sinners hahah I’m not the judge, there is only one judge!).

 

So.

.

..

.

The takeaways are this: idolatry is sin. God hates sin. We make idols. We mustn’t bow down. Every part of our lives should be continually offered up to God. People, things, goals. God wants to be in all of them. He wants to reign over them. He wants us to trust Him with them.

I dunno about you, but I do NOT want to be a part of ANYTHING that contradicts God’s will for my life. The way idolatry leads to apostasy is scary. And incredibly easy.

 

Will you join me in bringing every aspect of life before God and offering it up to Him? He is our sovereign Lord who will ALWAYS lead us in the way we should go 🙂

<3

xxx

V

 

The Summary of Surfing

“So like, where are the waves?”

Was the question running through my mind yesterday afternoon. The answer soon came from this summary of surfing: Surfing is 80% paddling and 20% surfing. 😂 #patience

Patience on the water seems easier to have because you’re anticipating that next perfect wave that will be both challenging and satisfying. And you get to enjoy God’s beautiful creation simultaneously 🌊 the glittering sunlight in the water… The beautiful people surrounding you. The wind over the water. Maybe an occasional dolphin or whale 🐬

Patience off the water can seem so frustrating. Being in a slow-moving line at the grocery store or in traffic or wondering why somebody in your life just “doesn’t get it” when you think they should have by now. It’s SO incredibly easy to take on the “let’s GO!” mindset of hurrying and being busy. So I have a challenge:

Will you join me in living a life of hopeful expectancy? That the waves (whatever “waves” you’re hoping will come) will come? That you’ll be able to ride them out and enjoy them?

Sometimes God puts us in a place of waiting, and it can seem like the thing will never be resolved or will never come around. I’m here to encourage you to wait, patiently, and enjoy what’s around you while you’re waiting 🙂

& coming from that mindset of gratitude and grace, you’ll then be able to ride whatever wave comes your way… Strongly and satisfyingly 💙 and encourage others along the way 🙂

❤️ If you’re with me!

xxx

V

Thankyou

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

I thank You

Thank You

THANK YOU

THANKYOU

THANK YOU

Thankful.

Grateful.

Cared for.

Heard

Comforted

Loved

Blessed

Adopted

Included

Made righteous

Equipped

Taught

Trained

Provided for

Thank you. Thank you so much. I know that you heard me and answered. After all this time, which is like a blink to you, you answered. You gave me a reply. You protected me and guided me. You brought me to this point, to this place. You’re so full of mercy and so full of grace. All other things my mind can erase. Til there is only you. Til all I see is you, and all I know is you. I know you to be true. I know you to save. Your word is the only thing that staves off my hunger and thirst. I yearn for you and you fill me up.

I take a breath and gasp no more. I look over to my bedroom door. I’m thankful. I know I’m here because of you. I’m thankful. Thankful. Thankful. Thankful.

You have made me so free. Not carefree, because you taught me to care. But you teach me what to care about and how to care. You give me the tools and give me the wisdom and then you coach me through it. You’re so personal and present… Just what I’m looking for. Just what I always am asking for. Thank you for your attentiveness to me.

Thankful. There’s not a single place I would rather be than here with you. Father. Thank you for meeting me in this place.

xxx

<3

V

You Reap What You Sow

You sow carrot seeds, you’re not going to get cucumbers.

You sow cucumber seeds, you’re not going to get peppers.

You sow pepper seeds, you’re not going to get lettuce.

Does this make sense?

Clear. It’s very, very clear. Yet I am still surprised at the fruit in my life sometimes. When you pour your time and energy into something, it grows. Whether it’s something productive or not. When you pour your time and energy into something… it grows.

Worry? yep.

Fear? Yep.

Procrastination? Yep.

Laziness? Yep.

Doubts? Yep.

And now onto the positive.

Hard work

Physical fitness

Eating right

Relationships

Hobbies

.

..

..

.

The more time I spent on something, the more it grows. The more time I spend with someone, the more I think about them. The more I do, the more it do. Hahahah I dunno about you, but I’m fond of that last sentence. 😊

That being said, consider this.

Time is not infinite. Each day only has so many minutes and hours. Every day is the same length of time. So how shall we spend it? I repeat, how shall we spend our days?

It’s an easy answer. We should spend our days by doing what we ought to do. That looks different for everyone. Spending time with God, working, taking care of our body, stoking relationships, praying, enjoying, giving thanks. Worshiping, working, waiting.

There is always something to be done, and we are always doing something. Resting and sleeping are activities too. And so are worrying and grumbling, Complaining, comparing, putting others down, being divisive.

Also, inciting cohesiveness, encouragement, inspiration and motivation are ways of being.

I believe that God has gone before me and laid out every step, if I will only look to Him to see which way I ought to go. I’m constantly battling doing the next right thing or the best thing versus doing the first thing that comes to mind. Prioritizing is important. And we shouldn’t just do any old gold thing on a whim. Not every good thing is a God thing.

Lord, show me the way. Show me where I should invest my time. Thank you for your faithfulness to cleaning me up from the inside out and making me a servant better fit for your service. I love you and want to serve you in any way capacity that will bear fruit for you kingdom. Lord, help me to not sow seeds that will bear fruit for death, or won’t bear fruit at all. Help me sow seeds that will produce fruit that many will enjoy the benefits of. I love thee. xoxoxo <3

V

The same moon.

Dear N, 

Remember when …

we both looked up at the sky from different places and saw the same moon? You were on one side of the island, and I was on another. And we saw the very same moon. 🙂 Big, bright, beautiful. It glowed in the sky and shone so brightly that if it had breath, I could feel it breathe on me.

How close I felt to you, dear one, as we considered life and love and relationships and what we deserved. It was a magical moment. So filled with joy, I didn’t know what to do with myself but sing out to you through the night sky and wonder if you could hear my voice from a faraway distance. 

Can you hear me? Do the vibrations of my voice carry through the noise and the hustle, the bustle. Did my words make it all the way to your ears, entering into your stream of consciousness, one at a time, formulating phrases and sentences that hopefully demonstrated how much you mean to me.

Can you hear me now? As I reminisce on the times we gallivanted through the picturesque streets of West Side and contemplated what it would be like to date different people and end up in different places. You were living in that mansion at the time, and I, on the island. What beautiful times. What beautiful memories; like of your little lime tree growing in the open room. Or was it a lemon tree? 

N, I think of you often and wonder what it would be like if time travel were possible; what I would have said to you, or not have said. The time I pretended to smoke pot with you instead of telling you that I didn’t want to do it anymore. 

I saw that same moon tonight. The same exact moon, only a little bit older. The moon doesn’t change. It’s the same one that comes every single night faithfully and can be seen from all over the world. 

Beautiful. Magical. Accessible. I wonder why God created the moon? If not to make me feel closer to you and closer to Him. Those two reasons are good enough in themselves.

Goodnight Moon. 

<3