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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Woman After God's Own Heart - Lesson One

Our Bible study, "A Woman After God's Own Heart" had its second meeting last night. What a blessing it was as we gathered first in our small groups to discuss what the Lord had taught us all month as we studied about the blessings of prayer. Our group leaders were all well prepared and excited to get with "their" ladies and begin this journey of having a greater heart for God!

At the close of our small group discussion time each group had prayer together. It touched my heart to hear the soft murmuring sound of ladies' voices lifted up in prayer. I thought, "If it touches my heart to hear this, how must it touch God's heart to hear His children pray?!"

As we gathered together to hear Elizabeth George teach from the DVD, we learned some very practical lessons on prayer. I'll try to summarize her teaching. What a blessing her life is! She's warm and bubbly and certainly walks with God!

On Elizabeth's 10th spiritual birthday she asked the Lord what area of her spiritual life needed attention . Immediately the Lord brought to her mind her prayer life. She had tried praying. She had gimmicks, 3x5 cards, and acrostics to help, but it would dwindle down eventually to the simple prayer, "God bless me and my family today."

She knew she should pray fervently, frequently, continually, in and about everything, but she was failing. But that day she knew what she would do. She found a little wordless book that her daughter had given to her and that she didn't know what to do with, until this day. She took that book and began to use it as her prayer list. On the inside cover is a note that says, "Big things can begin small." She wrote on the first page a commitment to dedicate the next ten years developing a meaningful prayer life.

As she began writing in the little book, it didn't take long for her to realize that her life was bigger than this little tiny book. She's graduated to a three ring binder filled with requests and answers to prayers. She also has a file cabinet filled with folders of answered prayers!

She shared with us that some of the wonderful blessings as we pray are:

1. Greater faith - Luke 18:1 - Jesus was speaking two parables about prayer. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. As we pray we become women of great faith because we learn more about our God. As we pray we are less likely to fear, to worry, to give in to anxieties of life. We learn that God is our Rock, and through prayer we become like Him - miracle of miracles! We become strong. Psalm 144:11-12 Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace. This is a beautiful description of what happens to us when we pray. God is a rock and as we pray we bear a resemblance of Him. We must hold up the family, the church, the problems just as the cornerstone holds up the foundation of the building! When we pray we are like our Rock.

Yes, but how? As we pray we must understand that something is better than nothing. We're always looking for that "sweet hour of prayer." We wonder when it's coming. Perhaps unlike Chef Emmeril we need to kick it down a notch. Could we pray thirty minutes a day? How about 15 minutes? Elizabeth shared that when she has gotten out of the habit of prayer she gets her kitchen timer out, sets in on the table and sets it for five minutes. As she begins, she finds that five minutes isn't enough as she takes the family, the problems, the difficulties to the Lord, and it slowly becomes the sweet hour of prayer.

2. Greater peace - Think about all the little details of life that come in to steal our peace. In Ecclesiastes we learn that it's the little foxes that spoil the vine! Philippians 4:5,6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. I Peter 5:7 - We're to cast all our care on Him. We cast our little cares on Him. We roll the bigger concerns. What do we do if we don't have the energy to roll it? We commit it to Christ. If we give it to God's shoulders we're going to have perfect peace and rest.

What about at night? The worries seem bigger and "badder" at night! Corrie Ten Boom says, "As a camel kneels before his master to have him remove his burden at the end of the day, so kneel each night and let the Master take your burden. As we do that it will be as David said, I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. Psalm 3:5

Yes, but how? Identify your number one problem. It has to be either people, events, or circumstances - there is nothing else! "One thing you must remember, this one thing you must know, I cannot take your burdens until you let it go." That's how we handle the worry and the cares. We pray.

3. Greater purity - I John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. Through the act of confession in your prayer time you purify yourself, just as He is pure (I John 2). Elizabeth shared that at one time she had a problem with gossip! As a pastor's wife and elder's wife she knew everything and everyone knew she knew, so they would "prime the pump" and out it would come! She tried human ways to help - putting sticky notes on the phone reminding her not to say something that wasn't true, helpful, or kind. Soon the sticky wore off and there she was gossiping! However, as she took this sin to God in prayer, she asked God to do radical surgery and cut it out of her life. One of the results of her prayer was greater purity as she saw God answer and enable her to get rid of the gossiping.

Pray without ceasing. "It's spiritual breathing. Every breath in should equal a prayer out."

As we continue our lessons we will be doing Week Two for the month of November. We will learn more blessings that are ours through prayer. Keep at it, ladies. Keep studying, keep growing in your relationship to your God as you learn to pray.

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