Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chapter Nine- Persevering in Prayer

  Becoming A Woman Of Prayer-Online Study

Chapter Nine-
Persevering in Prayer
(Becoming A Woman Of Prayer, © Cynthia Heald, June 2005.  Used by permission of NavPress, all rights reserved.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." COLOSSIANS 4:2 NIV

I opted to use this weeks verse in this translation because of one word: devote. 

What do you think of when you hear "devote"? What comes to my mind is Olivia Newton-John belting out her heart singing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and if you don't know what song that heart breaks for you. I recall singing loud in the car some song of heartbreak over one boy or another. Fortunate for many, that no one ever had to hear it. As silly as it is, most of us can remember a time in our teen years when we declared some sort of teenage devotion to someone, whether it had been a boy crush or crazed infatuation for a star or band, we get it.

Now in my adult years, devotion looks different. It is rarely propelled merely by hormones or emotion, but by a sense of responsibility, a wisdom of the greater purpose or simply love. Some examples would include laundry (sense of responsibility), wisdom of the greater purpose (paying off debt) and love (my husband and children). Some of these things overlap and some don't (ie. I will never love laundry). The point here is that almost anyone can relate to devotion. 

In this verse, the author (Paul) is telling the Colossians to "devote (themselves) to prayer"and I wonder if we take it seriously. Similar to the reasons I mentioned above we pray out of a sense of responsibility (it's what "good" christians do), out of a wisdom of the greater purpose (this is my face time with God) and sometimes, and I would dare to say, not nearly enough do we do it with an attitude of love for our God or for others. If we are devoted to prayer then we do it because we ought to, we see the greater purpose of presenting our hearts and requests to God and because love those who need Him and we love Him and His purposes. We, then, will pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) until our prayer is answered (yes, no or wait) or He changes our hearts. This is not as easy as it seems. 

"When we feel least like praying is the time when we most need to pray. We should wait quietly before God and tell Him how cold and prayer less our hearts are, and look up to Him and trust Him and expect Him to send the Holy Spirit to warm our hearts and draw them out in prayer. It will not be long before the glow of the Spirit's presence will fill our hearts, and we will begin to pray with freedom, directness, earnestness and power." R.A. Torrey (1)

This chapter is about Persevering in Prayer and is divided into two sections:

Devotion to Prayer (2)

Cynthia shares two example of devotion to prayer in scripture. In James 5:13-18, it reads:

"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."

Elijah prayed "earnestly" and the rain stopped for more than three often do we pray for a week and give up. God's timing and will are not ours. We should pray as if tomorrow is the day He may answer and if isn't, keep praying until He shows us a different plan. 

Gratitude in Prayer (3)

The second half of this week's verse is "be watchful and thankful." Elijah told his servant each day to go out and look (1 Kings 18:41-44) in the direction of the sea for the rain the Lord promised. SEVEN times the servant went and looked and it wasn't until the seventh time that the storm cloud was seen. God asks us to trust Him, to be watching for His promises and to give Him thanks for His faithfulness. 

"Praise and thanksgiving do not magically change my circumstances. they radically alter my viewpoint. Praise and thanksgiving bring me back into the presence of God, where there is fullness of joy and pleasure evermore." -Jennifer Kennedy Dean (4)

For years I prayed that we would be allowed to move because I believed it would be better. I also prayed acknowledging that the Lord my tomorrows and I did not and prayed that if moving would be foolish to stop it. He did. Every single time. We tried to move at least 3 times. The last time was about 6 years ago and I could not understand His will and yet my prayer remained until He changed my heart about a year ago and helped to show me His purposes for us here. The relationships, the ministry, the daily dependance on Him are all a part of His plan for us that we can see...I know there is more at work which we do not even know yet, but I trust Him and I thank Him for His answer and that it was no. Scripture tells us God is not slow in keeping His promises (1 Peter 3:9) yet He knows our impatience and His answer is trust me and seek me every day. 

Persevere. Devote. Watch. Give Him Thanks. 

Don't be Hopelessly Devoted. Be devoted to the God of Hope. 

This weeks challenge: 
Examine your life and observe what draws your devotion. Is it our Lord or has life's distractions or wants taken His place in your life. Pray without ceasing. Pray for the things that seem ridiculous. Pray for the things you gave up on and all the while pray for your heart to know His plan. He hears us. He answers us. He helps us. 

Lord Jesus, You are not slow in keeping Your promises. Forgive my impatience and foolishness for believing that I know better than you. Help me to know Your heart and seek Your will and to do it every day. I ask for Your Spirit to guide me in prayer to offer up anything in my life that I put in front of my devotion to You and how to pray as an intercessor for those who need you. God you are good. You are so good to me. Thank you Father. I love You and trust You. 

**See the this post for a schedule and a preview of 2013. 

(1-4) Becoming A Woman Of Prayer, © Cynthia Heald, June 2005.  Used by permission of NavPress, all rights reserved. 

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