Well-Watered Women, Part 5: Pray The Word
Breathe in really deep.
Now let it out.
Take a moment to simply stop. I know you might be a blog reader like me who skims and goes from one page to the next. But this time, I am asking you to simply slow down. I recognized recently in my own walk with God that I have been falsely attempting to spend moments of stillness with Him. In the busyness of church, owning a business, growing a baby and preparing for him to arrive in May, moving to a new home, and being a wife, sister, daughter, and friend, I've fallen prey to the "I'm busy for Jesus" excuse. You may know the exact feeling. Your schedule is filled with good things, but is missing the best thing - sitting at the feet of Jesus and praying fervently and expectantly in His name.
This life is so extremely brief. We don't know what today or tomorrow holds. James describes our life as a vapor, "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes the next." It is a humbling thought, isn't it? We won't live in this life forever. The body you have, the home you have, the things you have will all pass away. It is all preparation for the eternal life to come that will never end. I don't know about you, but I want to live this life for the next one. I want to practice worshipping like I will one day in Heaven. There are so many incredible gifts that God has given us to sustain us in this vapor life that we forget to take advantage of in day-to-day busyness.
One of those gifts is the opportunity to pray. As small, finite creatures, God has made a way through Jesus for us to talk to Him. Let that sink in for a second. You, 1 in 7 billion people on this earth, can talk to the God of creation, the God who knit together every single human being, the God who holds the planets in the galaxy and knows the number of stars in the universe. You can talk to Him. You can delight in Him. You can embrace His precious promises granted to us through Christ Jesus. Oh my sisters in Christ, let us not miss this incredible gift that is matchless and eternal!
And yet we keep going without the gift. Often, this is the one thing that gets booted our of our quiet times and forgotten in the busyness of everyday life. And then we wonder why days are lifeless and schedules feel meaningless. It is time we started praying alive.
Praying alive is eating God's Word, believing it, and talking to God at all times. There have been countless times I have come to my morning time with God and been speechless. What do I pray? What words do I say? Hebrews 4:12 says:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word of "living" in Greek is zao and it means to "live physically" the resurrection life. It is full and abundant living. It is also "active" and has the capability to bring change in our life and circumstances. Isaiah 55:11 says that God's Word always returns to Him having accomplished what it set out to do. We can live knowing that anytime we read God's Word, speak God's Word, and pray God's Word that it will accomplish the purpose God set out for it to do. Which brings me to the concept of praying alive. What if we prayed God's living and active Word everyday? What if we claimed His truths over the needs and longings of our life in complete belief and trusted in His sovereignty and grace? I tremble a little thinking of the difference this would make.
We have to note the difference between "praying in faith" and putting our "faith in prayer." The one who puts their faith in prayer is disappointed when the answer turns out differently. Last year, the pastor of the church my husband and I previously worked at died due to a rare cancer. Thousands of people prayed for his healing, and yet God chose to heal him in another way different than the one we asked for. Were we disappointed? Yes. Will we greatly miss him? YES! But we trust in the sovereignty and goodness of God. Before Brother David went to be with Jesus, he shared with full confidence that he believed Romans 8:28 to be true. He knew that if God said no to people's prayers, that "all things" would work together for good. That, is what it means to pray in faith.
Praying in faith is coming to God in full expectation and knowledge that God can do anything. He can say yes, He can move the mountains, He can part the seas, and He owns everything. It is putting our faith in a Faithful God and not our words. To pray in faith is to present our requests to God, leave them at the foot of the cross, and trust Him to answer in the way He sees best. Sometimes the "no's" that come from God are truly "yes" to something greater that we cannot see. Praying in faith is not only freeing and powerful, but it is one of the greatest privileges we have everyday!
What if we rearranged our schedules to revolve around Christ and prayed alive instead of just getting by? My heart leaps for joy just thinking of the things that our eyes would see happen and the way the Bible would come to life in our day to day life.
Breathe in really deep once more.
Let it out.
All those things in your heart, those worries in your mind, those things on your list, let them go in faith and leave them at the foot of the cross. This life is the fastest vapor, a mist that will vanish. I am praying that God would give us eyes that only look straight ahead to eternity and live for the forever worship that is to come. I long for us to pray prayers that move mountains, to choose to sit still instead of chase the world, and to gaze at the cross of Christ everyday in humble adoration. Let's take a moment to look deeply at the practical ways Scripture tells us to pray.
Pray Like Jesus
In Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus gives us an example of how we are to pray. He first tells us we are to pray in the name of the Father, praising His perfect name, and approaching the throne of grace with confidence. Take a moment to read through this prayer and write down everything that Jesus tells us to pray for. How can you pray these things each day?
When I was a little girl, my mom prayed with me every night. I remember she would always pray for things in advance, saying statements such as "God, I thank You for the ways you will provide for us." She prayed expectantly. I thought this was strange when I was little and eventually asked her why she thanked God for things He hadn't done yet. She told me that we be confident in the character of God and thank Him for what He will do. These expectant prayers have shaped the way that I pray. Instead of handing God a laundry list of needs I think He should meet, I pray expectantly knowing He will be faithful to us and to His own character and provide the ways He sees best. Micah 7:7 is an incredible verse on praying expectantly -
"But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
1 Thessalonians 5:17 has always been a bit of a mystery to me. This verses says simply - "pray without ceasing." Literally, never stop praying. There is a command and a promise associated with this verse. 1. We have the "privilege" of coming to the throne of God at anytime to pray. When Jesus died on the cross, He tore the veil that separated us from His presence. Now, the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us and we can be in constant communion with Him. Prayer is not a thing to check off the to-do list. It is a privilege, a gift, a powerful weapon of God. It is a part of the armor of God. (Read Ephesians 6:10-18.) 2. The promise in this verse is that God will do much through our prayer. The reason we often don't see God at work is because we aren't praying. The more I pray, the more I see Him moving, even in small ways.
We just noted that prayer is an incredible gift and a powerful weapon. Martin Luther said that "to be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." Prayer is literally the breath of a believer. We cannot live physically without breathing, therefore we cannot live spiritually without praying. When we pray, we must come knowing that we are human and we are not God. We are approaching the mighty Maker of heaven and earth. This is a humble, powerful opportunity to experience His grace and goodness.
Prayer is also a physical posture. You may have noticed that the Bible never specifically mentions the saying "bow your heads and close your eyes." However, this posture is noted over and over. In the Old Testament, there are countless descriptions of people praying on their knees bowing lowing to the floor. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 also mentions praying with holy hands lifted high. That physical posture is a humble reminder of how small we are and how big God is. One thing I do at times when I pray is to open my hands and place them in my lap. It is a physical reminder to me to let go of all the things I hold onto and to let God take control. It is also an attitude of worship to my holy Father.
Pray out Loud
Prayer is powerful. It is more than just words. It is communing with the Most High God. It is entering into the throne of grace that was bought with the precious blood of Jesus. My parents prayed out loud over us as children. I will never forget my first car accident. I rear ended someone leaving our neighborhood on the way to a Bible study (of all the things!) and was hysterical over what I had done! After the policeman made his report, my parents took me home. I was still a mess of tears and disappointment and couldn't seem to calm down. Then my mom put her hands on me and started praying. By the time she said "Amen" my spirit was calm. Hearing the words of hope and praise coming from her mouth filled my heart with peace and joy. Praying out loud is powerful because we speak God's truth and we also hear it.
Have you ever started to pray and didn't have the words to say? Nothing seemed to fit the moment. Or have you ever told someone "praying for you", only to forget one second later? We are a forgetful, sinful people. God has given us His Word as our hope and life. Romans 8:26 tells us that when we don't know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us! How incredibly comforting! When the words are not there, He is speaking them for us. We serve a personal, caring, loving God.
The Words of Scripture are full of power. They are "inspired" by God and have the power to change lives. When we pray, we should pray the words of God. We should claim Scripture over people and situations and over each day. Praying Scripture over others also does a great work of God in us. It brings us back to the power of the Word of God and not our own words. It also tests our hearts and motives. Praying Scripture is the core of "praying alive." This is one thing I do daily using my "Give Me Jesus" Journal.
This list is only the beginning, friends. There are still countless verses on prayer that are life-changing! (To name a few that haven't even been mentioned yet - Luke 18:1, Matthew 5:44, Colossians 1:9, James 5:16, Colossians 4:2, and so many more!) Today's challenge is to take time going through Scripture and seeing what the Bible has to say about prayer. But not only that. Instead of just studying and thinking about it, let's do it. Let's pray. Let's talk to God all the time, everywhere we are. Let's pray expectantly, humbly, and always. The mountains will shake. Our hearts will change. And we will experience a mighty move of God. Let's take the call of 2 Chronicles 7:14 seriously and move from "what if we prayed"...to "let's get on our knees and pray."
Let's pray alive, friends. God is able. Yes. He is more than capable.
all my love to you,