Prayer ~ Does it Really Matter?

022713_1306_PrayerWarri1.jpg

The woman walked over and asked if her name was Jane. Jane hesitantly affirmed the woman’s hunch. She proceeded to tell her she had prayed for her. A couple of years prior to this exchange, Jane had lost a child. Her teen-aged child had passed away because of cancer. Jane was still struggling with the heaviness of the sorrow she felt. But the woman, not even knowing who she was, had prayed. She had been prompted by the Holy Spirit to lift up a sister in Christ she had never met. Here they were, two years later speaking.

Recently, I ran into Jane. She was a different woman. It was obvious she had healed. She was joyful. Her once heavy heart had new life. She was living life again.

I love this story because it shows the vastness of God’s love for us. The woman had never met Jane. At the time she prayed, she had no idea their paths would ever cross and yet she was faithful. Jane, filled with excruciating grief needed the comfort of the Savior.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9 ESV)

We are surrounded by struggling people each and every day. Some have chosen their path while others have been thrust into a journey only nightmares are made of. In all of it, God is there. His work continues when He invites us to participate with Him in another life. What a privilege. We can be assured in our darkest hour, He calls upon the faithful to pray for us.

Keep praying especially when you think your prayers are meaningless. There is a battle raging and your prayer is the ammunition against the enemy!

Advertisements

Prayer ~ Freedom

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44 ESV)

The more I think about the story of Lazarus, the more I’m inspired by it. Here was a man, an extremely ordinary man minding his own business until Jesus showed up. They were friends, especially good friends. Jesus ate with Lazarus and his sisters. They talked and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s no wonder Lazarus’ sisters became upset when Jesus didn’t come to heal their brother immediately. Instead, Jesus delayed his trip.

After his death and renewed life, Lazarus was a different man. He was no longer simply a friend of Jesus; he had become one of Jesus’ miracles. People looked at him with awe, no doubt. He thought of himself differently too. Here was a man weighed down by death only to be resurrected into life again. I think this man, more than any other, understood what it felt like to free from the binding chains of death.

So many things can weigh us down. We can be bound by feelings of insecurity or uncertainty. We can find ourselves overwhelmed by life’s demands. The entanglement of sin can keep us from feeling the peace God has for us. All of these things can hold us captive but Jesus came to set us free. I find freedom to be a great deal sweeter after a time of struggle.

Prayer is a time to talk with God. It’s a time to bring Him our hopes, dreams and fears. It’s a time to sit quietly in the presence of our Savior. Whatever we say to Him stays with Him. He never shares our secret struggles. He quietly listens. Savor the time you spend with Him. He wants you to walk in freedom. He wants you to leave behind the things that hold you back. He wants you to fearlessly trust. Spend time with Him because He loves spending time with you. Know your prayers are heard by a God who longs to set you free.

100412_1347_ARedeemer1.jpg

Gomer. A Loved Woman

gomerThe Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” (Hosea 3:1-3NIV)

Yesterday I shared a little about Hosea and the command God gave him to retrieve his wife. Today, I want to talk about Gomer. She must have had a rough existence that eventually tossed her into the life of prostitution. We don’t know her background. But it seems to me, she had to bury her emotions deeply in order to lead this lifestyle. Perhaps, over time, she felt no one would ever love her. That is until Hosea enters the scene.

Gomer must have been surprised a man as respectable as Hosea wanted to marry her. He married her and had children with her. He took care of her. I wonder if this is the first time in her adult life a man actually cherished her. Unfortunately, this didn’t last because she felt the need to leave. The reason isn’t given, only that she went to live with someone else. Could it be the people in the village shunned and despised her? Maybe she was dissatisfied. Perhaps, she didn’t feel worthy of Hosea’s love.

I wonder what Gomer’s reaction was when she opened the door and saw Hosea standing there. Did her heart leap with excitement? Or was she gripped by embarrassed? Certainly she couldn’t have expected him to chase after her. I wonder if in the depths of her heart, Hosea’s pursuit made her feel more loved.

I think Gomer is like us. She is a woman who was given a new life but decided to trade it in for her old one. We all, at one time or another, wander away from the One who loves us. Oh we still love God, we’ve just moved away forgetting to spend time with Him. If we stay away for too long though, we can forget we are loved. And when we forget God loves us, it changes our perspective.

Our prayer focus is for those we know who have forgotten they are loved. Maybe like Gomer, they have chosen to return to their former lives. Feelings of unworthiness may keep them from finding their way back to the Lord. Let’s pray for God to open their hearts and remember they are loved.

Prayer ~ Lifelong Lesson

090712_0032_PhotoFriday3.jpg

You guide me with your counsel,     

and afterward you will take me into glory.

(Psalm 73:24 NIV)

As I thought about this verse today I thought over the years of walking with the Lord. I thought about the times I clearly heard His voice and followed. I also thought about the times I desired something so desperately, I begged Him to grant my petition. With each decision, I learned more about God and about myself.

God offers to guide us through the decision making process. Sometimes, He reveals the bigger picture. But more often than not, He leads us one step at a time. And it seems to me, no matter how many times I’ve followed His lead; there are still times I want to go my own way. I have my own solution to the problem. I know what I want to do.

A deeper relationship with God means giving more of your desires over to Him. The very thing He asks me to trust Him with is the thing I tend to hold dear. When I insist on my own solution it is because I don’t have confidence in His ability. I am afraid to hand it over to Him because I know what I want. However, with each choice I make to follow His counsel, I willingly present Him with another piece of my heart.

I am reading a book about David these days. He was considered a man after God’s own heart. Regardless of David’s victories, there were times in his life he still chose his own path. He still sinned. He still did as he pleased. And yet God continued to love him and lead him.

Being close to God is a process. Each time we are willing to let God guide, we draw closer. And each time we resist, it’s because God is showing us where we lack trust. Learning to follow God even when the path is cloudy is a lifelong lesson.  

Our prayer today is for willing hearts and open minds.

Lord,

Lead us and guide us. Show us the way. And help us to place those things we hold dear into your capable hands.

Amen

 

Prayer ~ Remember

One thing111412_1758_PrayerWarri1.png God has spoken,     two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,      and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.” (Psalm 62:11-12 NIV)

I remember my first trial as a Christian. I had been a Christian for only a couple of weeks. The house I shared with a roommate caught fire. We were not home at the time but returned to a nasty mess. The house was inhabitable. It was heartbreaking and at the time devastating.  I remember asking God how He could do this. What was He thinking? After all, I was doing all the right things. I was praying, reading my bible and tithing. What more could I do? My “child-like” reasoning had me thinking God was not happy with me.

I have since learned that walking with the Lord has its ups and downs. There will be some magnificent mountaintop experiences but there will be days of walking through the thick of uncertainty holding on to my Savior by a thread. Difficult situations have a way of exposing who we believe God to be. David experienced triumphant victories. And he fought many battles, some including the near loss of his own life.  The words he wrote throughout his life bring focus into murky situations.

I don’t know the circumstances behind David’s choice to write the words in Psalm 62. I do know he had the habit of writing down his feelings during many of his trials. He wrote when he was scared. He wrote when God allowed him to win a battle. He wrote out of the depths of his tender heart. I wonder if he wrote so he would remember the goodness of God. Perhaps he needed reminding. Maybe reading over his own words of God’s faithfulness gave him strength. Whatever the reason, he made a practice of writing things down.

It’s good to recall God’s hand in our lives. Sometimes, when life is hard, we forget. Writing things down is a great way to remember. I’ve started keeping a prayer notebook. In it I have a list of things I am committed to praying for this year. My list continues to grow but it reminds me to pray. It’s also a place to write down answered prayers. I find if I write out the answers to my prayers, I can go back to them and see how God has remained faithful. I can remember.

I had forgotten about that fire until I started writing this post. However, the thoughts and feelings of that day have been overshadowed by something miraculous. I had just bought my very first bible. I had only been a Christian for a couple of weeks and my first paycheck was used to buy a bible. It was left on my dresser that day and when I returned home, everything on my dresser was destroyed except the bible. Other than a bit of water damage, it was completely intact. At the time, I remember thinking the very hand of God had protected something I held dear. Today, I’m glad I had the opportunity to write it down and remember.

What’s it Worth?

howrudeCast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

This morning while he was getting ready for school, Jonah commented on the rudeness of his peers. He told me what they say when he says, “Excuse me” as he tries to move past them. They call him names and show him disrespect while refusing to let him through. But he said he chooses to be polite anyway. He’s much nicer than this Mom, who probably would have given them a piece of her mind for being so unkind.

I know Jonah is where the Lord wants him. Listening to his stories can be hard but there is no doubt in my mind the Lord is sustaining him. However, I don’t think God simply wants Jonah to endure each day. I don’t think He wants that for any of us. I believe He wants him to thrive. God put Jonah there for a reason. He has a purpose for that twelve-year-old. If God is sustaining him, it’s because He wants to use him. I think God wants to show Jonah how to love the unlovable. Sound familiar?

I’m envious of Jonah and his self-control. He has much more than I would in that situation. But I think the lesson isn’t about Jonah. I think it’s about God showing His unconditional love. I think it’s about the Lord using Jonah to honor those who are disrespectful and be kind to those who are rude. I am sure his acts of politeness go unnoticed most days, but you never know. I believe, if there is even one kid who receives a kind word instead of an insult, it’s worth it.

Prayer ~ Encouragement

encourage

By day the Lord directs his love,     

at night his song is with me—    

 a prayer to the God of my life.

 (Psalm 42:8 NIV)

Wednesday mornings I drive Jonah to school. It is our only time during the week where he and I spend some alone time together. Our Wednesday morning drive has become our time to talk about anything and everything. Usually, he asks questions he’s been saving for this occasion all week. But this morning he shared about his teacher.

Yesterday, Jonah handed in his narrative essay. His teacher came to him and asked if she could read his paper to the class. She told him it was funny and his first sentence was a good example of a “hook”. He was pretty proud that she wanted to read his paper. It encouraged him and made all of his work worthwhile. In this case, his homework didn’t simply get turned in for a grade, it made someone laugh. And that made Jonah feel good.

I’ve really struggled with this verse this week. I’ve tried to go to another verse, but keep coming back to this one. “By day the Lord directs his love,” is how it reads in the NIV. The NASB states, “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;”.  My interpretation is that each and every day, the Lord gives us love. He directs it to us in different forms. We may hear His voice directly but most often, I think He shows His love through others.

This morning, Jonah shared his experience at school with a teacher who chose to encourage him. I have no doubt she does this with all of her students. I believe the Lord uses this teacher, where she is, to love her students. I don’t know if she is a Christian, but I do know God has put her in Jonah’s life. And I know that she cares for her students.

The Lord has put all of us in a place where we can share His love. We have the distinct opportunity of sharing that love with anyone who crosses our path. Our prayer focus for today is to be sensitive enough to hear His voice and act on His command. We live in a world of hurting people and we can help ease that pain if only for a brief time.

Lord,

Use us today as vessels of your love and compassion. Direct us to the person who needs to be encouraged. And give us the words to bless them.

Amen