Bear with me as I borrow a little from my post on the women's ministry blog from yesterday. I asked 3 things:
- "What if you woke this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" Christine Williams
- When I think of prayer I think of…
- When I think of my prayer life I feel…
Did you realize that praise and worship should start our prayers? My husband says he doesn't sing, but he does in the shower once in a blue moon. Praise and worship, however, doesn't have to be music. Praise and worship during our prayers focuses our attention on God. It is so easy to get distracted when praying…can't we? It's like that dog on the movie "Up" ---The dog will be in the middle of talking and then he says "Squirrel?" And then has to start over in the conversation. Sometimes our prayers are like that, but praise and worship helps us to direct our attention on God. So, how do we praise and worship…Tell God what names you love to call Him – Redeemer, Savior, Lover of my Soul, my Deliverer (Those are my favorites). Next tell Him what how you feel about Him and His unending, unchanging love for you. This is praise and worship.
Something amazing happens when we start with praise and worship. We enter God's presence, recognize His holiness, and we realize just how unclean we are. Then we enter that time of confession. This time of confession for the believer isn't for salvation, it's for restoration. It restores our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Isaiah was in the presence of God Almighty when he realized just what a mess he was in Isaiah 6:5. In today's terms and my version of things, "God, I've been talking some smack. I've gossiped. I've told lies. My lips are UNCLEAN." Unclean. Unclean. Asking for forgiveness restores our relationship with God, and we can stand before Him clean, righteous and holy. Think you haven't sinned? I dare you to ask God about that!
Next comes our petitions. Praying for the things and the people who are burdening our hearts. We had some good conversation about this today. I wish you could have been there. Women often have a hard time praying for their own needs because they feel selfish, but the Bible says, you have not because you ask not (James 4:2-3). When we are praying for the things the Spirit has placed on our hearts, we are communicating back to the Heavenly Father the desires He has placed on our hearts. Did you catch that? That's why He can give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
Now what if God answers your prayer with a "no?" Does your faith grow or do you waver? One of the ladies in my class, Criss Marley, shared this story with our class. For months now she has been praying in earnest for rain. It wasn't for her own selfish benefit. She knows the farmers need it too, but she has difficulty watering her lawn. She said it has rained several times around her home. She said it would rain a block away but not once at her own home. This past week she had a handy man come and paint her trim work. He called Criss outside and showed her a hole in her roof. He repaired the hole for her, and within 2 days it was raining at Criss's house. Did God want to bless Criss's home with rain? ABSOLUTELY. But did He see the big picture? Did He see that she couldn't afford for it to rain inside her house or the repairs to the interior? Why, yes, he did. Did He arrange for her to get notice about her roof? Without a doubt. Did He then give her the desire of her heart? Yes…He…Did. Can I just say that I love the women in my small group that meets on Sunday morning? They are the best. They are authentic. They are transparent. They are unique. I love their willingness to share their hearts and expose their weaknesses giving the others an opportunity to encourage her. It is truly an awesome thing.
They have their "faith work" (instead of homework). They each selected a prayer to read and study this week, and when we meet again we will share what we've learned. I encourage you if you are not part of a small group, find one. Get connected. Dig deep and grow. There is nothing like it.