pausing to pray


a note from brooke to dawson preschool volunteers and dawson kids investors

image[3]I was thrilled when danielle asked me to join her efforts on this prayer project for our Preschool Ministry and dawson kids leaders! I must confess, that prayer is a spiritual discipline that I struggle with. We often tell our preschoolers that prayer is simply talking to God. Those of you who know me can probably guess that part is easy for me. I talk to God all the time! That definition is true, but in reality, prayer is conversation with God, which requires not only talking, but also listening. This is the area where I am growing.

Two Bible verses immediately come to mind:

 “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

 I want to be still in His presence. I am weary. I am burdened. I know I need His rest and I want it. Yet, too often I lead one sided chatter with my loving Heavenly Father and miss all the precious things He has to say to me because I am distracted with other relationships, daily responsibilities, and even good, God honoring activities and tasks.

Bill Hybels’ book, Too Busy Not to Pray, has helped to put a few things in perspective for me and I want to share a few of his points with you. He says, “the archenemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness.” Amen! Right? He goes on to say:

I can think of at least three ways God speaks to followers who are willing to listen:

 First, God speaks through His Word. As we read the Bible and meditate on its truth, God helps to apply it to our lives.  

 Another way God speaks to us is through people. “I care for you,” He says through the arms of a friend who understand our grief and seeks to console us.

 And a third way God speaks to us is though direct promptings of the Holy Spirit. According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is ready, willing, and able to communicate with us. He leads, rebukes, affirms, comforts and assures Christ’s followers.

It is my prayer for myself, and for all of you, that we will begin this new year of ministry with a great desire for two sided conversation with God and that we will thirst to hear His voice, experience His presence, and act obediently in response to His promptings.


Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 1.28.07 PMBrooke loves ministering to preschoolers and their families. She believes it is important for parents and church leaders to work together to teach children to love God, His Word, world and son, Jesus. Brooke’s family joined Dawson when she was just 6 months old and she is thrilled to be on staff in the church where she was dedicated, baptized, called to ministry, married and saw her own children dedicated and baptized.  Brooke is a graduate of Samford University.  She is married to Darrell Gibson.  They have two children, Shae and Hannah.  Brooke loves family time, reading, music and all things Disney!  Brooke’s favorite Bible verse is “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

Day 5 – Supplication
Written by: Bill Johnston

image[3]One of the best ways you can invest in the lives of the children with whom you are called to minister is to pray for them and their families. Prayer is the means God can use to help you grow in a deeper concern for and love of each particular person. As the year unfolds and you come to know them more and more, your prayers will become more personal and specific.

The weekly habit of praying for each child prior to Sunday will make their presence with you all the sweeter and their absence all the more noticeable. One suggestion is to divide up the list of students over the days of the week and pray for that smaller list rather than a daily or weekly “bless them all” generic prayer. During the day, be sensitive to a name or face that comes to you mind and offer up a brief prayer even if you do not know the reason to do so.

Ask them “how can I be praying for you?” Send them a note during the week letting them know that you have prayed for them especially if you know that they are facing a particular challenge or celebration. This will communicate to them just how important they are to you and to Jesus.

Years from now, they may not remember all of the fantastic lessons from God’s Word that you will share with them, but they will remember your personal concern and dedicated prayers for them.

James writes in his small letter “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call the elders of the church; and let them pray over them, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:13-14.  The word “sick” in this passage can also mean “weak or weary.” It carries the idea that when someone is struggling spiritually or physically it sure is a blessing to know that there is someone that they can count on to be praying for them. Will your students know that you are willing to invest in them by praying for them?

Right now as a servant of Jesus Christ, make a commitment to be a person of prayer specifically for your students and their families.


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Bill Johnston is a native of Mobile but has lived most of his life in the Birmingham area. A graduate of Hewitt-Trussville High School, Jacksonville State University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (D. Min), Bill is married to Janet Dickerson Johnston with two sons, Will and Rob. In his free time, Bill enjoys playing golf, watching Alabama football and UAB basketball, and reading and spending time with his family. Bill has served in churches in Texas and Alabama and has been the Associate Pastor at Dawson since August of 2006.

Day 4 – Thanksgiving
Written by: Kathy Nolen

 Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.


image[3]As we begin this new Sunday School year we want to start well – to do it “right”. We want to be the best, “always pointing to Jesus” teachers we can be, but we quickly realize on our own we will probably not do it well or right, not without God’s help and enabling. That is why our prayers are so very important.

The verse above from Philippians gives us an important element of prayer we often forget. As we ask God for his blessings on this new Sunday School year and new group of children we must not forget to thank Him for blessings already received. With thanksgiving, we are to make our requests to God. Thankfulness should be our default prayer posture.

Thankfulness is a key that unlocks our spirits as we acknowledge God’s goodness and provision in our lives. It tunes our hearts to sing His praise. It changes our prayers from reciting a wish list to a loving, collaborative exchange with our gracious, giving Father. Our trust grows as we remember and recount His faithfulness and deeds of grace and mercy in our lives. It opens our eyes to His bounty.

Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, challenges us to dare to live fully right where we are by acknowledging the power of thankfulness in our lives, counting the ways God loves and blesses us through the small and ordinary things of life. Every breath is a battle between grudgery and gratitude, according to Ann, and thankfulness is the way we welcome the Kingdom of God in our lives.

What if we applied some of those lessons to our Sunday School planning and class time? What if we remember to thank God for shy, sweet smiles, for cute freckled noses, for children’s’ laughter and loudness? Would becoming more aware and thankful for each small and ordinary gift give more power to our prayers? Would it help “Thy Kingdom Come” in our Sunday School rooms and in the lives of the students we pray for? Would it bring us more contagious, holy joy to share with the children? As we pray for the big things – the Sunday School year, the Children’s Ministry – let’s also train our hearts to notice and be thankful for the small things, to make sure gratitude precedes our petitions and thankfulness turns our eyes from self to our good God.

1 Chronicles 16:34 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 105:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.

Colossians 3:17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

 Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.


Kathy Nolen serves faithfully as a Dawson Preschool Ministry Sunday morning teacher, but her sphere of spiritual influence reaches many more ages. She has taught women’s Bible studies, been a conference speaker, is active in the dance community and also wrote daily devotionals for all of Dawson’s KidLife (VBS) leaders this summer. Her heart and passion for Jesus are evident and her words lead you right to the throne of grace. 

this post is part two in the “pausing to pray” series.  you can find part 1 here and part 2 here

Day 2 – Confession
Written by: Jan Jones
Letting Go of Sin

Hebrews 12:1
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, …”

image[3] I take my coffee each morning on my front porch.  The porch provides a beautiful view of my “front yard” garden – yaupon hollies, autumn ferns, pots of annuals and hydrangeas.  In early June, I noticed a vine sprouting up between two hollies.  I thought to myself, “I need to pull that up.” I repeated that thought for over 60 days, but would promptly forget about it once I put my coffee cup down and began the day’s activities. The vine steadily grew and began to intertwine itself within the holly. One morning, I reached down to pull it up but the root was very strong, and all I was able to accomplish was to break the top six inches of the vine and strip several leaves off a branch. It also had developed small slivers of thorns. My effort to pull it up by myself convinced me I would need a small spade, garden shears, and gloves. And so, I didn’t put anymore effort into removing the vine.

I got use to seeing the vine in the yaupon. It began to blend in quite well with the shrub. It wrapped itself around the main stem and its tendrils began to reach out for branches and leaves. It became completely embedded to the yaupon. The yaupon is still there but all I see now is the vine – the price a lazy gardener pays for not pulling the weeds and vines while they were small.

The writer of Hebrews warns us in Hebrews 12:1 that sin “easily entangles” itself in our lives – it attaches itself to our heart, our thoughts, our actions. Usually our first interaction with sin is easily recognizable. We realize and admit that we must remove the sin. But life gets in the way and we never “get around” to addressing our sin. Other times, we feel that it really isn’t that big of a deal –  it’s not like we are thieves or murderers.  And so the sin entangles a little more into our lives, wrapping members of our body and holds our every thought captive.  Before we know it, sin (just a little sin, you say) has overtaken our lives and we have become use to it; not really noticing it anymore.

It takes work – some sins are easily “pulled up.” Others require additional equipment and effort (fervent prayer; Bible study; fasting; a willing heart and confession). This week, let us focus on sin in our lives that might be hindering us from running with perseverance.

 Ephesians 4:30:  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
As you pray, thank God for the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin.  Ask Him to reveal to you the sin that has entangled your life.

 Psalm 36:2:  “For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.”
As you pray, ask God to open the eyes of your heart to recognize that your unconfessed sin is a form of self-flattery.

 Psalm 38:18, David wrote:  “I confess my iniquity.  I am troubled by my sin.”
As sin is exposed and we agree with God, ask God for the perseverance needed for Him to completely remove the sin from your life.

 Psalm 66:18-19:  “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened, but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.”
Praise God for changing your heart by revealing your sin.  Thank Him for hearing your prayer.

 Psalm 119:97:  “Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long.”
Ask God to strengthen your resolve to study His Word thereby enabling you to easily recognize sin in your life.

 John 1:29:  “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
How glorious it is that God uses us, sinners, as spiritual investors in the lives of children.  We must remain diligent in eradicating any personal sins that hinder our usefulness in God’s Hands.  We have the privilege of introducing children to the Lamb of God who takes away their sin.  Ask God to keep you close to Him in the coming year – convicting you, loving you, and molding you into the image of His Son.


Jan Jones recently retired after 28 years of ministry. She has served in countless roles including Minister to Children, Minister to Adults, and Minister of Christian Education. Her impact on children, families, women, adults, and other ministers is quite broad and continues as she now serves weekly as a faithful 3rd grade Sunday School Investors. You can see a glimpse of  her gift of leadership on another blog post found on this site here.

this post is part two in the “pausing to pray” series.  you can find part 1 here.


Day 1 – Praise
Written by: Kristen Torres

A Psalm of Praise

image[3]The book of Psalms has always been an irreplaceable devotional guide, prayer book, and hymnal of the people of God. The Hebrew title is “the book of praises,” but Psalm 145 is the only psalm actually called “A Psalm of Praise.”  Spend time praising God for who He is. Begin by reading Psalm 145.  (Pause to read this passage) David mentioned several attributes of God. Who could not praise a God with these wonderful characteristics? Take a moment to meditate on them—maybe even choose a posture of reverence to read the passage again.  David not only tells why we should praise the Lord, but when we should praise Him:

• Praise God from Day to Day (v. 1-2)

• Praise God from Generation to Generation (v. 3-7)

• Praise God from Nation to Nation (v. 8-13a)

• Praise God from Need to Need (v. 13b-16)

• Praise God from Prayer to Prayer (v. 17-21)

Dawson Investor and volunteer, (fill-in-this-blank with your name), thank you for being found faithful as a servant of Jesus Christ by teaching the next generation the truth about God. Whether we admit it or not, every local church is one generation short of extinction. My prayer for you for this coming year is Psalm 34:11, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

Psalm 145 A psalm of praise. Of David.

1 I will exalt you, my God the King;

    I will praise your name for ever and ever.

2 Every day I will praise you

    and extol your name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

    his greatness no one can fathom.

4 One generation commends your works to another;

    they tell of your mighty acts.

5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—

    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—

    and I will proclaim your great deeds.

7 They celebrate your abundant goodness

    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

    slow to anger and rich in love.

9 The Lord is good to all;

    he has compassion on all he has made.

10 All your works praise you, Lord;

    your faithful people extol you.

11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom

    and speak of your might,

12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts

    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

    and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises

    and faithful in all he does.

14 The Lord upholds all who fall

    and lifts up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you,

    and you give them their food at the proper time.

16 You open your hand

    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways

    and faithful in all he does.

18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,

    to all who call on him in truth.

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;

    he hears their cry and saves them.

20 The Lord watches over all who love him,

    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.

    Let every creature praise his holy name

    for ever and ever.

kristenKristen Torres has been a member of the Dawson Family of Faith her entire life.  She began serving on staff full time as the Associate Children and Preteen Minister in 2007. Kristen has experienced many spiritual milestones with her Dawson family including: baptism, youth mission, teaching as a young adult, marriage and the dedication of her son. She holds an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Berry College in Rome, Georgia and a Master’s in Education Administration from Samford University. Prior to becoming a minister, Kristen taught in the Homewood School System for 10 years.  As a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, Kristen’s prayer is that the Spiritual Development Ministry reflects that life in Christ is truly life to the fullest. (John 10:10).

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