Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Worry or Worship?

Tonight concludes the bible study that I have been doing these past eight weeks. This week's homework has been on worrying. At first, I'll admit, I thought to myself, 'oh, that is something that I used to really deal with, but I don't really struggle with that anymore.' HA! I should realize that anytime I arrogantly think or make a statement like that, God is going to come along and set me straight. Of course, He did just that through my homework this week. With His sweet grace and gentleness, He showed me that worry is still indeed an area of struggle in my life. While, yes, the Lord has done a great work in me since the time I became a believer thirteen years ago, I still have areas of my life that I am more prone to worry through rather than giving over to God.

Just to name a few: I worry about my children's salvation. I worry about Eric's health. I worry about my children's health. I worry about my health. I worry that we will be in a terrible car accident. I worry when we have to drive in bad weather. I worry that my parenting is messing up my kids. I worry about Eric losing his job. I worry about teaching my kids everything that they need to know for school. I worry about finances... and mind you, I am just getting warmed up!

Oh my--and I thought that I didn't have a problem with worrying???

When I first became a believer, worry was such a stronghold for me that the first verse I memorized was: 'do not be anxious about anything, but everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, submit your requests to God. And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7'' This verse gave me so much comfort and it still does. When I say this verse outloud when I feel myself start to fret, I can tangibly feel His peace begin to wash over my being. Oh, how I love that about God's Word! It REALLY IS living and breathing and able to transform us from within!

While worry is still a weakness for me (I can spiral down the 'worry tube' in a heartbeat!), I do feel like I have a better grip than I used to on this area--that God is sanctifying me. I have learned (and am learning!) to not fret and to take all of my worries immediately to the Lord. As I pray and even thank Him for life's difficult circumstances, my worries begin to turn to worship. Oh, how I praise Him for this!

This poem was in my morning devotional. I must share it as it is so fitting for this topic. And it is absolutely beautiful:

Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great length;
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength;
Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,
Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.
Pressoure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pray, pray and pray some more

Yesterday my Thursday morning bible study lecture was on 'prayer'. Interestingly enough, it fell on the National Day of Prayer. Our homework leading up to this lecture was on prayer. When I opened up my daily devotional this morning, it was also on prayer. Do you think God is trying to tell me something :) ???

Yes, I think God speaks quite often in this way when He is trying to get a point across. He brings it up in your bible reading, through a sermon at church, through a speaker on the radio, through your children's devotionals...

My devotional this morning was built around the scripture in Luke 18:1: 'Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.' In fact, the devotional was so helpful and soul-stirring that I must share a portion with you:

'The failure to persevere is the most common problem in prayer and intercession. We begin to pray for something, raising our petitions for a day, a week, or even a month, but then if we have not received a definite answer, we quickly give up and stop praying for it altogether.

This is a mistake with deadly consequences and is simply a trap where we begin many things but never see them completed. It leads to ruin in every area of life. People who get into the habit of starting without ever finishing form a habit of failure. And those who begin praying about something without ever praying it through to a successful conclusion form the same habit in prayer. Giving up is admitting failure and defeat. Defeat then leads to discouragement and doubt in the power of prayer, and that is fatal to the success of a person's prayer life.

People often ask, "How long should I pray? shouldn't I come to the place where I stop praying and leave the matter in God's hands?' The only answer is this: Pray until what you pray for has been acccomplished or until you have complete assurance in your heart that it will be. Only when one of these two conditions has been met is it safe to stop persisting in prayer, for prayer not only is calling upon God but is also a battle with Satan. And because God uses our intercession as a mighty weapon of victory in the conflict, He alone must decide when it is safe to cease from petitioning. Therefore we dare not stop praying until either the answer itself has come or we receive assurance it will come.' from The Practive of Prayer

I was refreshed yesterday by my bible study teacher's important reminder to us HOW IMPORTANT PRAYER IS. She stressed it over and over again. Because most of us in her bible study are married and mothers, she specifically discussed the importance of prayer in regard to our husbands and children. I was so refreshed by her message because I have been to many parenting seminars that stressed everything BUT prayer. 'teach your child this, don't do that, etc. etc.' ...I always left feeling like something was missing and thinking, 'shouldn't it all start with and be under the umbrella of prayer? Isn't it all in vain without the intervening Holy Spirit?'

I wish I had time this morning to write more about this, but my kids need breakfast. In closing, I want to share two great quotes on prayer I heard on the radio yesterday:

'I'd rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach' --Charles Spurgeon

'A praying man stops sinning and a sinning man stops praying' --unknown