What Happens When Women Pray

What happens when women pray photo

Every year or so, there is a theme that God chooses to teach me.  One year it was Biblical Womanhood, another it was Gratitude, yet another was Being Established.  The past 2 years have been on the topic of Prayer.

Have you ever shopped for books written about prayer??  Oh, my goodness, there are SO MANY!!  I have not actually gone looking, but when God picks a topic, it pops up everywhere.  Before I know it, I’ve accumulated a shelf full of resources without even trying.  I’ve read a little in this one and a little in that, however, my all time favorites are

1) simply reading what God says about prayer and the examples we’re given in God’s Word, and

2) Evelyn Christenson’s book, “What Happens When Women Pray”.  I found this little book at a garage sale, full of notes (so it must be good, right?).  I’ve read it 4 times, and I learn something new every time.

The Christian Missionary Alliance Church also chooses a theme every year, and their women’s ministry piggybacks on that.  This year the Alliance Women’s theme is “MORE”.

In my home church, our own Alliance Women are specifically studying how we can experience “MORE” power in prayer.  I’m so blessed to be able to do this study with my own church family, and I am over the moon to see how God is going to use these women and their prayers in the life of our church.

Prayer Is:

*A privilege*  ~My husband’s grandpa taught me that.  He called me monthly, until the day he died, to catch up and find out how he could be praying for us.  I was so blessed by this man who was not a blood relative, but who loved me so strongly in word and in deed.

*A responsibility*  ~Did you know that it is designed by God as part of our relationship with Him, and the health of our prayer life is an indication of the health of our Spiritual lives?

*A gift*  ~Imagine if we could not go to God.  Or imagine if we still, like the Israelites of old, had to go through a priest as a mediator, offering sacrifices, in order to maintain our relationship with God?  When Jesus died for us, and conquered sin and death by rising again, HE became our mediator and now we can go directly to God in Jesus’ name.

What a precious gift, and yet, it is one of the most neglected privileges and responsibilities within the Church Body today.  The truth is that too often we do not give enough thought to how and when we talk to God.  What’s more, many of us are not aware of the stumbling blocks that prevent God from inclining His ear to answer.

As my Jesus Sisters and I go through this study together, I’ll be sharing what God is teaching me in a series of posts entitled, “More Power in Prayer.”

I hope you’ll join me!

How Putting Up the Christmas Tree Turned into a Teachable Moment

I don’t know if it was the colder temperatures and the snow that we had in early October, or something else, but my kids have been waiting impatient to get past fall and on to Christmas.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my in-laws, enjoyed every moment, and got home late. I took Precious #4 into town with me to pick up a co-op order, and we hit a few of the Black Friday Sales.  I survived.  I hate the crowds, the lines, and the hype.  I may win the award for the shopper who spent the least $. Maybe.

When I got home, I found the other “kids” had been deep cleaning, and organizing the living room, WITHOUT BEING ASKED!!!  Wow.  They know me too well.  They knew that if they asked to put up Christmas decor, I would tell them we have to clean first.  🙂

So we have a head start, and my hubby was so surprised when he came home and realized he didn’t have to haul all those boxes up the stairs or assemble the tree.  It’s all done.  He could enjoy helping with the ornaments, read us the story of Christ’s birth, and relax!

The little one was so cute.  She’d pick up an ornament, take a sibling by the hand, and then point out the branch she wanted to place it upon.  She was having so much fun!

Decorating the tree

I had just listened to an interview on the Christian radio, where Phil Vischer explained how our Christmas tree was originally a tradition that was adopted by the Germans in the 16th century when they abandoned their pagan beliefs and came to Christ.  The tree symbolized eternal life because evergreen needles stay, and don’t die.  The branches of the tree point heavenward, and a monk later taught them about the Trinity using the three corners of the tree.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to share all this with my kids!

On to decorating…I put the star on the tree, and my oldest daughter and I were stringing lights.  We used an old string of lights and a new one, and while we were working, the old set had half the lights dimming and another problem had half the lights turning off completely!  I had to figure out how to fix the settings and get all those lights working together.  The littles were watching, and asking me, “What’s wrong with this picture?” And the thought came to me…

What if we thought of this tree as the Body of Christ, while it’s sitting in our dark living-room which represents the world?

And what if we see all these bulbs as the individuals who make up the Body?  They are shining, as Paul commanded in Philippians, illuminating the dark with the light of Christ.  They bring light to the whole room.  These small lights are pointing to the Head of our Body, who is Christ, and is represented by the star which shines brighter than all.  And isn’t that perfect since Christ is called the Bright and Morning Star?

Our Christmas star is plugged into the Power source (the outlet), just as Christ is one with His Father.  The lights strands are plugged into the star so that electricity flows to the light bulbs and powers their light, just as Christ said for us to abide in Him, so that the Holy Spirit can make our lives fruitful.

What happens when one of the light bulbs is disconnected from the strand?  The light given off by the tree is diminished considerably since other lights are hand-capped by that absence.  This is such a perfect way to illustrate 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul introduces Spiritual Gifts and explains how the whole Body suffers when one member suffers…  If we are not cooperating with God’s plan by choosing to exercise our Spiritual Gifts, we do cripple the functioning of this Church Body.  It can’t work at full capacity without our participation, which can also illustrate what happens when Believers stop meeting together as talked about in Hebrews 10, and do not join in worship and service with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And if we are not getting along with one another?

Or we make choices that grieve the Holy Spirit, our “electricity”, who supernaturally powers us to shine?

Or if we make choices that result in ill health, whether emotional OR physical, which cause an inability to serve?

~Then we also cripple the effectiveness of the Church, since God designed us to work together in unity.  Without us, the Church cannot shine as brightly.~

Brothers and sisters, we need God, and we are also designed to need one another.

How putting up the Christmas tree turned into a teachable moment

While unplugging and re-plugging light strands, removing and replacing bulbs, and playing with the dimmer switch on these newfangled lights… my kids grasped, for a few moments, how important they are to the Church Body, and to bringing Jesus’ light to the world…. and this teachable moment is one we can refer back to throughout the year, and relive again next Christmas.

I think we have a new tree-trimming tradition. 😉

 

Let Them Imitate You

I was standing at the sink, scrubbing the residue of Keto-Angel Food Cake from the bundt pan, when I faintly heard the sound of someone miffed across the room.  It wasn’t serious, so I kept scrubbing.

And then I heard my 19 year old Angel Girl speak up.  Her tone was patient and kind.  “Ella, it’s okay for them to copy you.  You’re a big sister.  Get used to it.”

I paused and looked up, surprised by wisdom.  Then I smiled at her.  “Didn’t I used to say that to you?”

“Yes,” she chuckled, “and I hated it.”

Truth.  You just can’t run away from it.

That first born baby learns so much from following mama around.  I even had to teach her how to play… but then the next baby comes, and the next, and they watch how to learn and play from their older siblings, too.

BeFunky Collage

When we moved to this town and this camp, I remember being overwhelmed by the idea that I was the Director’s wife and should be setting an example of a Godly women for other staff wives and campers.  Whether I liked it or not, there were times I knew eyes were on me.

Some constituents of the camp were curious, or concerned, about who we were and what this new director would do with the camp.  Churches we visited were interested in our growing family and homeschooling adventure.  And you can’t forget the cute little girls who sang their way through every store… who can ignore that?

I remember being so self conscious.  I was young and I was living through the most devastating season of my life, emotions raw, and patience thin.  I was so afraid other people would realize how flawed I was, and that would somehow undermine my husband.  I think my worry was magnified by having supported him through an internship that stressed that families were evaluated, and would impact the intern’s final assessment.  Many times I wished I could hide.

And then one Ladies’ Retreat, after being here for a year, I noticed how the women were getting more comfortable around me.  They shared things that concerned me.  Women who were decades older than me were just as self conscious–more so, and I thought to myself, “I thought that by that age women had it together!”  Apparently not, and that was what concerned me.  I wanted to have it together (if that’s possible).  I didn’t want to be in the same place thirty, or forty, or even fifty years down the road.  I wanted to be, well, mature–emotionally and spiritually.

I bought a new Life Application Study Bible and began again at Genesis, reading every single study note.  I read books by Godly authors and blogs that modeled what I had never seen put into practice.

I prayed for a mentor, and God sent me my friend, Sherrill.  She took me through a book called Search for Significance.  It was only 13 chapters, but it was a very hard 13 chapters!  It took me a whole year because when God sets about changing a heart, it’s a process, and he is thorough.  I wrestled and cried through it, as God pried the lies that had shaped my character out of my sweaty hands and replaced them with the Truth of what HE said about me and this relationship I have with the King of the Universe.

Whenever I thought we were done, He would open a new chapter of refinement that  continues, even to this day.  Looking back, I notice how my gaze shifted away from the gawkers and onto HIM.

I stopped worrying what other people thought about me, and I developed concern for what other people think about HIM.

The Apostle Paul said this, in 1 Corinthians 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

Paul is teaching the church in Corinthians what their conduct should look like, and then he tells them to imitate him, as children imitate their father.  Not only that, but he says it in Ephesians 5, and again in 1 Corinthians 11:1, modeling for us how to deal with being under the magnifying glass…

“Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself.”

There are always going to be eyes on us.  Jesus said others will know we are his disciples by our behavior.  Instead of viewing it as a burden, lets embrace the responsibility for what it is: an opportunity to reflect Christ to the world.

Whether at home or without, people learn by watching and by doing.  There is always going to be someone less spiritually mature than you are.  There is always going to be someone more spiritually mature than you are, as well.

Ask someone who is in the “more mature” camp to mentor you, and be blessed by their example.

Imitate Christ, and keep your eyes trained on Him instead of your audience, but take joy in every opportunity to help a less mature brother or sister grow up in Jesus.  Remember that there will be countless times you will not even know that, in letting the Holy Spirit work in you and through you, you touch a life in a powerful way, simply because someone is watching you.

Let them imitate you.