We covered the Bible last week, so now let’s turn our attention to prayer. It may seem difficult to eek out “extra” time to pray each day, but is that really what God is calling us to anyway? The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing,” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, that means non-stop. So instead of waiting for imaginary “free time” to come, we need to be praying in the midst of our full and active lives. To aim for this holy ideal (God’s standards are always perfect, anything less and he would not be God), we need to learn to make prayer a natural part of who we are, as much a part of our day as breathing. This is a vital factor in our relationship with God. Prayer helps us to practice and experience the closeness of having our loving Father with us at all times. This incredible access is granted to us only through the actions of Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:19-20). Here are some of my personal tips to encourage this life of prayer in women:
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145:18-19
The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. – Proverbs 15:29
Christian Women, be encouraged today by these straightforward words from the Bible. God hears your prayer! He keeps the wicked (non-believers) far from himself, but gives audience to those who are his chosen (those made righteous by the blood of Christ).
He is listening to your voice as you speak, knowing what you will say. The answers have already been written into your story by the Author of Life. These answers to your prayers will come about in perfect and divine timing just as God ordered them to be long ago. He is Master of your timeline.
With such a direct promise from scripture we sometimes struggle to believe and really think that God cares what “little old us” has to say. Don’t doubt, “…ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord,” James 1:6, 7.
Let the great depth of the meaning of, “he hears the prayer of the righteous” be felt in your soul. Let it be so wild and beyond your full understanding that this supernatural gift could only possibly come from the Living God who ordered the entire universe. Let it demonstrate his grace to you in a personal way - glorious grace underserved and unfathomable.
Exercise the portion of faith that God has measured out to you. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5), pray for more faith (Luke 17:5), pray that God will help your unbelief (Mark 9:24). Know that these prayers will be answered according to his will.
There are ways in which (while still being counted as righteous and belonging to Christ) our prayers to God can be inhibited. God will turn his face from a daughter who has been treading in sin and stinks like the world. This he will not embrace. Do not continue in sin or live with unconfessed sins against others. Place no barriers between your mouth and God’s ear. Check your heart in this so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Desire a closeness to God so that you connect with him in life-altering ways. Turn your face away from the world and look to the Lover of your soul - to him you can joyfully “pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Women of Christ, rejoice today that God hears your prayers! Your praise and petitions are not in vain, they are not disappearing in the wind or falling to the floor. They flow to the ears of the Almighty! He hears you, he loves you, and from him all blessings flow. Let this drive you to a life of wonderful and continual conversation with your God. Trust this promise and pray.
I admit it, sometimes I feel as if my prayers are falling flat. Like I’m trying to do a graceful, awe-inspiring double pike off the high dive and all I manage is a belly flop in the kiddie pool. Sometimes my words just come out all wrong and I can’t seem to communicate what I need. Instead of entering the deep end in aquatic elegance, I’m floundering like a toddler in a few inches of water (yes, I have been to the pool a lot this summer, why do you ask?).
Its days like this that I can get caught up in the lies that the Enemy eagerly offers up:
Does this sound familiar? Ladies, we need to tell that devil to shove off. Is our Christian life so centered on us that we put the weight of answered prayer on our shoulders? Don’t allow it. Re-center your heart on Christ and banish those thoughts.
Take comfort in God’s Word: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
These are glorious words for us to hear! Here is what you (and I) need to understand about prayer:
We need to be intentional in prayer and to honor God in how we talk to him. But never think for a moment that fancy “Christianese” words or how we feel during prayer indicates whether or not God hears our prayers and certainly not how he responds to them. Don’t take God’s place in the orderly gift of prayer.
Our words have no mountain-moving power. Prayer is powerful only because of the Hearer who receives it. He is the one who can move mountains in your life and in those you are praying for. And he does hear your prayers, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29. If you are a believer, God is listening to you (what a crazy-awesome promise).
After having my share of belly-flop moments in prayer (private and even embarrassing public ones), I truly rejoice knowing that the results do not depend on my tongue. God has ordained that prayer be a means by which his great purposes be accomplished in human lives. His grace is not dependent on my verbal prowess or lack thereof. I speak to my Father because he is in charge and he is forever faithful. I encourage you to do the same.
If you read Part One from last week, you know that God has called us, as mothers, to guard the hearts of our children. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) God has specifically assigned to us the young hearts under our care. It was written out before we were ever born (see Ps. 139).
I told you to think of yourself as a gatekeeper to the heart of your child. Is this an easy calling? Not in the slightest.
Everything and everyone is vying for the affections of our children. It is a real-life raging war and you are in the middle of it. Remember - strategically placed there by God himself for this reason. That is why we need to take it so seriously. We will be held accountable for how well we perform this duty we have been called to, so we need to go at it with our whole hearts and minds engaged.
Guarding hearts affects every area of your child’s life. Our senses are bombarded constantly with outside influences; we feel this as adults, how much more is this true for our children? We cannot stay ignorant of the spiritual battle taking place around us. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Your children live in this time of present darkness, right in the midst of a world where Satan reigns and evil runs rampant. If you don’t protect them (as God has commanded) who will?
Be vigilant about who your children are with (adults and other children) especially when you are not with them. Be fully aware of what you allow their eyes to see and ears to hear; remembering that there is no such thing as “neutral” in this world. God is clear about this “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30. If it is from the world it is not good for your children. No neutrality!
This may (should) cause you to rethink many things such as: television (what do you watch or is it beneficial in any way, does it glorify God?), music (God wired us to love music for good reason, but it is also highly influential and has powerful abilities to manipulate our affections) , media of any kind, video games, where they attend school (the world reigns in schools and you are not there to be a gatekeeper, be sure you fully trust those who fill their hearts up for 7-8 hours every day), sleepovers, how you celebrate holidays (be mindful of what are you celebrating), what friends they hang around with, the list goes on. There is so much competition.
Start early and don’t give up when they turn 5 and go to school OR 13 and don’t want to hang around you anymore OR 16 when they begin to have a social life outside the home. These are some of the most important times to remain engaged. Stay vigilant, lovingly vigilant.
Am I telling you to “shelter” your children? Well, duh, yes! Why do people often think sheltering our children is a bad thing? It is our job; anything that causes you not to shelter your child is from the Enemy. Quit allowing him to bend your ear.
Protection and smothering are two different things, exposing children to evil is not the answer for building them up to withstand it. The goal is not increased tolerance. The goal is a heart kept as undefiled by the world as possible until the child is responsible for guarding their own heart.
The only way to train a heart to stand up to evil is to train them with the only weapon capable of defeating it, the Word of God. Teach them how to wield the Sword.
Do not think we are stealing control over our children away from God. Quite the opposite. When you become engaged in this battle like you should, you quickly realize that you have no control. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) You have to rely completely on the one who created those young hearts. God alone can fully guard their hearts. That is the foremost goal we must always keep in mind, we want our children to learn to give their heart over to God. He alone protects hearts because he, as their Creator, is the rightful owner and Lord over them.
Mother, be that active gatekeeper to the hearts of your young children. Train them with the Sword of the Word of God. Teach them how to protect their own hearts by following God’s ways designed for their protection. Show them how to keep their heart soft and ready for God’s directions and how to not harden it against him. Lean on God daily for his guidance in this, he is faithful in giving wisdom to those who ask for it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Mothers, take a stand and take hold of your calling. Lovingly and vigilantly guard the hearts of your children!
I am continually amazed by God. I am amazed by what he has created, how gracious and merciful he is and how he has planned out each person’s life with a purpose. It is important to stay in constant amazement of our Savior and to teach our children and others to do the same. We need to look at the world around us and recognize the awesome handiwork of our Creator. These are gifts that we should enjoy and that point us toward belief in him (see Romans 1:20).
One gift I will always be amazed at is prayer. Take some time to think on this with me today. What kind of God would allow us full access to him at all times and in all circumstances? What kind of God calls us to hand over all our needs and concerns to him to take care of so we no longer have to be anxious about them? What kind of God would send his only son to die to make a way to allow this connection to happen?
What kind of God is this? Only a perfect and loving God who has complete authority and control over every instance of every life is able to offer a gift like this to us. My God is that God. I would not worship any lesser kind, would you?
Through the gift of prayer we have full access to God. We are allowed to present our requests before him as Jesus sits to his right interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:34). What a glorious and humbling picture that is. What an amazing gift that we should utilize and never take for granted. No wonder the Bible tell us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17); don’t ever stop appreciating and utilizing this precious gift!
Can it get better? Yes, for those who have Christ in their hearts, we are guaranteed that our prayers are heard and answered if we pray in accordance with the will of God. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15. Be sure that the word of God abides in you, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” - John 15:7.
I made a promise while in Guatemala; I told those I ministered to that I would be praying for them and would continue asking for God to intervene in their situations. I am keeping that promise and would like to invite others to join me.
Below is a list of real prayer needs that people asked me to pray for. If you have no intentions of praying, don’t read them, just close this page and move on. However, for those that feel called to pray, I ask that you read this list and realize there are very real people behind each of these requests, oftentimes a child. I ask you to use the powerful gift of prayer that God has given to those who truly believe and present these requests before him. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” - James 5:16.
God is the only one who can do the work needed to change the hearts and lives of the people these petitions represent. The good news of Jesus Christ is what is needed above all else. I thank you for joining me in this and enCOURAGE each of you to continually use the gift of prayer in your own life. Trust God with your burdens: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7.
· A husband has left his wife and family and will soon be kicking them out of their home and they have no place to go. One of the children also struggles with hearing loss and illness. They also currently have no water source.
· A man has diabetes and is quickly losing his eyesight. His body has wasted and he is very ill. He is only 38 and has a family to take care of.
· A woman is struggling with a grown, handicapped son who is aggressive at times and they are unable to leave their house because of his behavior. Their family has isolated them. Her husband is unfaithful and cruel, yet he continues to live in the same house and she continues to take care of him too.
· Two sisters that have recently given their lives to Christ and will deal with persecution from family and the community.
· Translators and drivers who receive threats of bodily harm and extortion because they associate with “rich” Americans.
· A young woman whose husband is in jail. She works very hard and is raising two children on her own.
· A little girl with an unknown illness that causes a strange rash all over her body.
· Many children with alcoholic parents.
· Many children with abusive parents.
· Children with siblings in gangs.
· A little boy whose father was killed by mistake when the murderers were actually after his uncle.
· Children with a mom who is rarely home.
· Many children with no father in the home.
· Many children whose parents are addicted to drugs.
· Children who are fed drugs.
· A child whose mom does “bad things”.
· Families that live within the walls of the city garbage dump.
· An American missionary family spreading the gospel in Guatemala City.
· A local church displaying the light of Jesus Christ to a dark community.
· A school in need.
· Teachers and instructors facing difficult situations every day.
· Teachers and a principal of a school and childcare facility in the city dump. They need strength, health, and support. Pray that they are provided with plenty food to feed the hungry children each day.
Easter weekend has passed and I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. The remnants of a busy weekend remain visible all over my house. Thousands of plastic eggs from the city egg hunt are stacked in boxes in the corner, Easter baskets and the treasures that they originally held are scattered on the dining room table. I am still catching up on laundry and the housework that was ignored for other activities. Candy wrappers seem to be everywhere, why did I buy all that candy again?
With the holiday over we can begin to focus on spring projects, gardening ideas and plans for the summer. A nice break from the extra celebrations, services and gatherings. I’m sure that is what the disciples were thinking when all the commotion Jesus had caused subsided. Jesus did the work he had promised to do: he died, rose again and then ascended into Heaven where he belonged. They finally had time to put in a new vineyard, redecorate the messy upper room and go fishing. What a relief to have that crazy Passover celebration behind them.
What did the early Christians do after Jesus left them? How can we know what the apostles were busy with after all this took place?
How convenient that a book was written to address these very questions (and many more). It falls right in proper order after the recordings of the life of Jesus found in the gospels and is entitled “Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles.” The Bible comes through again.
Check out Acts 1:8, as Jesus is ascending into Heaven he promises that they (the apostles) “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in all Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Sounds like Jesus had some serious work for these men to do.
After this the disciples head back to Jerusalem and enter into an upper room. The names of all the apostles are listed and then we read in verse 14, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” The first thing they did was to meet together and seek God in prayer. We need to continue to meet together through church services, Bible studies and times of fellowship. We also need to be in prayer and seeking God’s will, strength and wisdom.
Not many days later was the day of Pentecost, another Jewish festival. The disciples of Jesus were once again gathered together, “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house… And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” Acts 2:2, 4. The promised Helper had come, the Spirit of God to dwell within the believers. The Holy Spirit that teaches us (John 14:26), helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26), and empowers us to do God’s will (John 14:15-16) and produce good spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Yes, this same Holy Spirit dwells in believers today. If you are a true follower of Jesus, these promises of the Holy Spirit are for you just like they were for the disciples long ago. Believe it and act accordingly.
In the days, weeks and years that followed the awesome commotion of Jesus Christ on earth these men became bold and courageously preached the gospel, evangelized the nations and changed history forever. They did not take a season off, they did not let up; they followed hard after Christ giving everything they had in full surrender to his will. What a beautiful example for us today.
When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, it was a decisive victory over death and over our Enemy. However, it is not the ending, it is the means to a beautiful beginning. We need to be more intentional than ever before in maturing in our knowledge of Christ and growing the Kingdom of God, we should never let up in this area. I enCOURAGE you to not lay back and relax spiritually after celebrating Easter, but to dig in and seek Christ with renewed passion this season and always.