Monday, March 29, 2010

More suggestions for praying wives and mothers.

Day 5 Thirty Days of Prayer...

1) When you are folding clothes, pray for the person who's clothing you are folding. Or, if you are cleaning someone's room, pray for the person or people who sleep there.
2) Make a mental or written list of things you admire or are grateful for in your husband. Thank God for these things. Do the same for your parents, your children, and for other people in your life. Cultivating prayerful gratitude for the relationships in your life will not only do wonders for your attitude, it will help you to love others more deeply. At some point, you will most likely feel tension or experience conflict in one or another of your relationships. If so, it's good to remind yourself that a relationship which may be painful in the moment also has its blessings. Follow Paul's example. Even when he needed to address serious failings in various churches, he began and/or ended his letters with expressions of love and thanksgiving for the good things that God was doing in the lives of the Christians. 3) Pray for sin to be revealed in your own heart. Pray for God to grant you repentance and forgiveness. Pray for the faith to see your sin in the light of God's grace and with the heart to repent, so that you will not be overwhelmed by it. Pray to be humble, no matter how your sin is revealed to you. Pray to be able to put off sin and to put on righteousness. Seeing our sin is painful, but it's better to see it and turn to the Lord in repentance than to let it fester in the heart. Remember Proverbs 28:13 -- People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Remember also I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Recognizing and repenting of sins is freeing and refreshing. The opportunity to repent is a blessing from the Lord.
4) Likewise, pray for sin in your children's heart to be revealed. Pray that God will bring to light anything that you need to know. Pray that your children will recognize their sin and turn from it. Pray that God will reveal any dangers in their lives that need attending to. Sometimes, your children may innocently find themselves in situations which could be harmful to them, so pray that will be brought to light as well.
5) Pray when you are cooking. Whether you love to cook or whether you don't, pray to prepare this meal with love. Ask the Lord to help you enjoy preparing the meal. Pray that your mealtime will be a time when your family connects with each other. Pray for your and your family's daily bread, including spiritual and physical nourishment. Meditate and pray about Jesus being the true bread from heaven.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day IV. Moms and Prayer

I once met a woman who had questioned her faith during her college years. She had actually tried to walk away from the Lord. Yet, her parents had raised her to pray before every meal, and she could not quit doing that. God's answers to her prayers at mealtimes during her period of struggle saved her faith. Even though she was going through the motions, it connected her heart to God's.

It's vital that we teach our children to pray. It's also vital that we, as moms, stay connected to God in prayer, as well. Here are some ideas for praying Moms.

1) From birth, bathe your baby in an atmosphere of prayer. Sometimes, you may find it a struggle to find a quiet moment. Yet, you can always pray when nursing or feeding baby a bottle, changing baby's diaper, taking baby for a stroll, etc. If you develop a practice of praying for your baby as you go about your day, you'll find it more natural to teach your child to pray along with you at times.
2) Begin to pray early for your child's future spouse (or for the Lord to make it clear if your child is to serve him as a single person). Pray for the family of your child's future spouse. When the child becomes old enough, you can teach your child what to look for and pray for in a mate. You can also teach your children how to surrender the time of waiting or even lifelong single-hood to the Lord.
3) As soon as your child is old enough to say even the simplest of prayers, pray with the child at meals and at bedtime. Pray together as a family before leaving on a trip. Pray together for relatives, people at church, people in your neighborhood, people in need. Pray and thank God when happy things happen. Pray prayers of rejoicing for your family and also for the good things that happen to others. Use different occasions as times to pray.
4) Set up a world map somewhere in your house and pray for the people in different countries. Select a country for each day, or pray about a country for a week or so in order to have time to study and learn about the country you are praying for.
5) As is age-appropriate, help your child memorize portions of the psalms, especially portions of praise and thanksgiving. Look for great prayers of praise and thanksgiving throughout the scriptures and memorize those portions.

Thirty Days of Prayer -- Day III

Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!!

Jesus told us, "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions." (Mark 11:25) He also told us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44.

Jesus demonstrated this for us when He was on the cross. "But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."" Luke 23:24. He also demonstrates His merciful forgiveness to us every day, whenever we ask Him to forgive the sins we commit.

Jesus is the standard by which we live. Stephen followed Jesus when he prayed for those who were stoning him to death. "Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" Having said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:60.

If we wish to be forgiven, we must forgive. We can forgive in an instant. All it takes is a decision to forgive. Since our minds are associate, something may trigger the pain of mistreatment even after we have forgiven it. We must not panic and assume that our decision to forgive did not stick. We can remind ourselves that we have, indeed, forgiven the matter and, thus, the incident is settled. We can choose not to re-hash the incident in our minds. We can let go of whatever thought has brought the matter to mind, and we can trust the Lord to heal any lingering pain.

Again, forgiveness is a decision and that decision can happen quickly. Our journey to healing from deep hurts must begin with a desire to forgive from the heart. We may need the prayers of others to help us. We may need the wise counsel of someone who can help us work through feelings of anger and pain and move on to the joy of forgiveness. We may need someone to step in and help us re-build a relationship with someone who has hurt us. The process of healing may take time, and it may involve pain. Yet, through it all, our desire should be to forgive, rather than merely to vent our pain or to use our pain as an excuse for our own sin.

We forgive for the Lord's sake and for the sake of the soul of the person who has offended us. Such forgiveness works far more powerfully for good in this world than human retaliation ever can. Though we forgive for the Lord's sake, a side benefit is that forgiveness also frees us from the chains of bitterness and enables us to freely enjoy our intimacy with the Lord. Forgiveness brings great peace.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thirty Days of Prayer -- Day II

5 suggestions for prayer...

1) Study how and when Jesus prayed. We can learn much from what the gospels ell us about His prayers. Read also Hebrews 5:7.
2) Study the conversations that Jesus had with people while He was on this earth. Pay special attention to the requests they made to Him and how He responded. Consider that when we pray, we are appealing to God, just as these people directly appealed to Christ. We can learn much about God's heart from gospel accounts of the way that Jesus interacted with people.
3) Study the "Lord's prayer". Study what Jesus taught about prayer.
4) Cultivate righteous motivation in prayer. James 4:1-4. Also, honor and thank God in prayer. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18
5) Luke 11:1-13 The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They had probably prayed all of their lives, since they had grown up in the Jewish culture. Yet, they saw something in Jesus' prayers that they wanted to learn. Jesus answers their question, and that answer is recorded for us so that we can be instructed, too. We can also humbly admit to God that we, too, need to learn to pray, just as the first disciples did. If we remain humble and ever learning to pray, that will help us mature in our relationship to the Lord. We can ask Him to teach us to pray and to help us to pray. We can also seek help from others who can pray with us and pray for us, as well as share insights from their own study and prayer with us. Of course, just as reading marriage books and seeking wise counsel regarding your marriage is no substitute for actually having a relationship with your husband, likewise, reading books or article about prayer and listening to the counsel of others is no substitute for actually having a relationship with God. Such counsel is vital to our spiritual growth, though.

Remember, in studying prayer, we are seeking not just to acquire intellectual understanding, but to deepen our relationship with the Lord and to put what we learn about prayer into practice. It's one thing to know facts; it's another to allow God's wisdom to change our hearts and our lives.


Thirty Days of Prayer in the home:

Day I

Luke 18:1-8 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Thought #1 -- Pray for the faith to pray persistently and to never give up!
Thought #2 -- Pray persistently!
Thought #3 -- Help your children to pray persistently!

Have you ever been attacked with the temptation to quit praying, either with regard to a specific request or just in general? I know that there are times when I am eager to pray and times when I have to repent of a lack of devotion in prayer. I'm so thankful that the Lord taught His original disciples this parable about the persistent widow and that the Holy Spirit recorded it for us, who are the Lord's disciples today. In this parable, Jesus teaches us to be faithful in prayer.

There are many reasons why we might flag in our prayer life. In this parable, Jesus deals with two major temptations to prayerlessness: faithlessness and discouragement.

When we are beset by temptations to slack off in prayer, our thoughts might run along these lines:

1) I prayed and prayed for my family member to love the Lord, but he's still not interested in spiritual things. I just don't think he'll ever change.
2) I've prayed for help with my temper, but I just blew it again. I don't think I can ever change.
3) I've prayed and prayed about situation X, but it's still here. I don't think it will ever change.
4) I have so much to do today. If I take the time to pray deeply, I won't get it all done.
5) Does the Lord really want to hear from me? I am so weak and have so many shortcomings.

Or, we might faithless in prayer, because deep down, we are afraid that the Lord will actually answer our prayers with a "Yes"! We might fear that a positive answer to our requests will require us to take new steps of faith or to deny ourselves in some area.

Most of us know that these are not the thoughts that we should be thinking. As a result, we might not fully acknowledge a faithless mindset even to ourselves. Instead of letting fearful or discouraged thoughts rise to the surface so that we can pray about them specifically, we stuff them down and end up feeling generally blah without quite knowing why. The effort to pretend that we are not facing faithlessness or discouragement only harms us. Any type of fear or doubt -- whether it be at the back of our mind or in the forefront of our consciousness -- can interfere with our faith in the Lord's concern for us. We can begin to doubt God's perfect wisdom and power in answering prayer. The antidote is to recognize our temptations and sins in this area and to pray specifically about them.

It takes faith to be persistent in prayer. It takes faith to keep praying no matter what our circumstances are, especially if we do not see by sight that God is working in our circumstances. It takes faith to believe that whatever time we devote to the Lord in prayer is never wasted. It also takes faith to seek God, His kingdom, and His righteousness first in our lives. (Matthew 6:33)

So, what do we do if we find that our practice of prayer is faltering? Jesus tells us to pray and not lose heart. We need not fear persistently asking Him to help us. In fact, the faith that it takes to pray persistently, without giving up, pleases Him. We can ask God for the faith to help us keep praying persistently. We can pray, as the father who was troubled for his son prayed, "I believe, help me in my unbelief". Mark 9:24

We can also identify and pray through any twinge of anxiety, fear, faithlessness, or discouragement. We can beg God to change our hearts so that we will not be anxious or doubtful. If we are not sure why we are being down or faithless, we can ask Him to reveal to us anything that we need to see. We are to pray about everything, even our difficulties in praying. (Phil. 4:4-8) Once we've laid out doubts, anxieties, and discouragement before the Lord, we can turn our thoughts to matters that build faith.

It's also helpful to remind ourselves of the ways that the Lord has answered our prayers in the past. Also, it's vital to study the scriptures with the desire to know the Lord to whom we pray, as well as to remind ourselves of His infinite wisdom, justice, love, and power. We can gain strength from meditating on His mighty works.

We must remember that our faith rests not in prayer itself, but in the Lord who answers prayer. We must also keep in mind that the Lord works through even a mustard seed of faith. Matthew 17:20

To keep on being persistent in prayer, it must be one of our core convictions that God is good and that He deserves our prayers and praise whether we "feel like it" or not. It must also be a deep belief within our heart that our relationship with the Lord is to be desired and cherished above all other relationships and pursuits in our life. We must also believe, as Jesus teaches us in this parable, that God will bring about justice for his chosen ones. Most of all, we must have deep convictions about what God accomplished through the cross of Christ.

In praying persistently, we must be open to whatever answers the Lord gives. The Lord knows what is best. Sometimes, He will answer our requests with a resounding "Yes". At other times, His answer might be "No" or "Not now". If this is the case, we must rest in the Lord's sovereign wisdom and perfect timing. We must that He is working all things, even suffering, for the good of those who love Him. We must trust that, ultimately, God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11.

Paul prayed earnestly for the thorn in his flesh to be removed. Yet, for Paul's own good, the Lord chose not to remove the thorn -- at least not during that portion of Paul's life that is recorded in the scriptures. Paul accepted the Lord's will. He realized that God's grace was sufficient for him in all circumstances, including dealing with this particular problem.

We can follow Paul's example of resting in the Lord's grace. We must guard our hearts, though, to make sure that we truly are submitting ourselves to the Lord's will and are not just throwing up our hands in faithlessness and discouragement. We aim in our prayers to surrender out of trust and loving obedience, not out of joyless and disgruntled resignation.

Children, especially older ones, can be attacked with temptations of faithlessness and discouragement, just as we adults can be. Because of their tender youth and inexperience, children may be even less equipped to handle doubts or fears than we are. They may be inwardly frightened by temptation and also may not be able to differentiate between temptation and sin. We help them by listening patiently to them and by asking questions that draw out their deepest thoughts. We help them by loving them, even when they express things that surprise us. We also help them by praying with them and for them, and by lovingly encouraging them to remain faithful in prayer. We must maintain faith that the Lord is working for good in their lives, even if they are struggling with their own faith about this.

Jesus asks a question at the end of the parable about the persistent widow. "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" The question for each of us is, "Will he find faith in me?" Persistence in prayer has everything to do with the answer.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied

moderation think or maintain, that a man can search too

far, or be too well studied in the Book of God’s Word, or

in the Book of God’s Works—Divinity or Philosophy. But

rather, let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience

in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity,

and not to swelling [pride]; to use and not to ostentation;

and again that they do not unwisely mingle or confound

those learnings together.

Francis Bacon

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Journal Day....

Outside my window: The birds are singing like crazy. Our cat has been in a spring tizzy, wanting outside as much as possible. And, I am loving the warmer weather, myself. I think rain is moving in, which will be good for the garden but will mean that I will need to take all my activities indoors.

Homemaking tasks: I tried to get the jump on spring cleaning, but was lagging a bit. The weather is inspiring me to get going! There are cabinets to clean out and closets to organize and...

What's cooking: An organically grown, fee-range roast chicken.

For my quiet times: I'm still focusing on Jesus. I've chosen Jesus as the theme and focus of my year.

I am happy: I'm happy because jury duty is over. I sat on a felony murder trial last week; the situation was very sad.

In the garden: I'm turning a salad garden into a rose bed. I'm taking it very slowly. I also planted some gladiola bulbs and some peonies.

What's your day like?