Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Prayer Box

Several years ago, someone gave me a prayer box.  Since I was a new believer at the time, I really didn’t understand what it was for or how to use it, so I didn’t give it much thought. Over the course of time, occasionally, when I would find myself going through a difficult or painful challenge in my life, I would write out my prayer request, put it in the box, and then forget about it.  Recently, I pulled down the prayer box, dusted it off, and started reading through my requests.  There weren’t many, about 15, but as I read through them, I realized that God had answered every one of them. Sometimes the answer was what I asked for, other times it wasn’t, but was instead something much better than what I could have imagined at the time.  As I read through each one and saw how the Lord answered them, I am filled with awe, gratitude and love, knowing just how much He cares for me, and that He heard my cries.

As I reflect on the ways God answered me, I am learning more about Him and seeing how His Word is so true and so trusted. I had a few requests that were basically the same, but were asked differently each time. I asked for a good, rewarding job, with health benefits.  The Lord answered that 15 months ago, when I got the job that I am at now.  I am amazed because I wrote some minor details about how I wanted my job to be, and this job pretty much has all that I asked. Another request was for an end to my years of loneliness and to provide me a Godly husband.  This one blows me away.  When I look at my husband, I can’t believe just how good God is. He really did give me the desires of my heart.  The person God chose for me is perfect in every way, and little things that I continue to observe proves that God really does know who or what’s best for us. This answer to my prayer took longer than I wanted, but I know it was because I wasn’t walking fully in line with the Lord or His commandments. Once I completely put God first in my life, and walked in obedience, did God finally answer this prayer.

Was it the prayer box that made God answer my prayers? Did it hold some powers that miraculously turned my prayers into reality? No, I believe that it was because I earnestly sought Him, believed that He would hear me, and had faith that He would answer me. 1 John 5:14 says “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”. I also believe persistence played an important part; I didn’t just ask once and give up, I kept asking. Jesus taught His disciples in His parable about the persistent widow, that they “always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1-8). Also important, I believe that it was having a repentant heart and walking in obedience, that God answered my prayers (Psalms 66:18).

One of the stories in the bible that touches my heart and shows me how much God is moved by our prayers is the story of King Hezekiah. He is one of my favorite persons in the bible and I can’t wait to meet him in heaven. He was a mighty king who loved God and was very zealous for Him; he “did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 31:20).  He boldly tried to eradicate false worship in Judah, destroying all the false idols and pagan alters and temples, and brought back a revival of true and pure worship of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29-32). Later in his life, he had become very sick, and the prophet Isaiah had told him to get things ready because he was going to die.  Hezekiah immediately turned to the Lord in prayer, and he wept bitterly. Before Isaiah even left the building, the Lord answered his prayer.  The Lord told Isaiah that He was going to heal Hezekiah and extend his life 15 years (2 Kings 20:1-6). I remember reading this story a couple of years ago, and it brought tears to my eyes. Hezekiah’s story touched me for several reasons. Here is this mighty, valiant king who loved the Lord and wasn’t ashamed to openly worship Him and do things that were considered unpopular or “politically incorrect” for his time. He boldly and unashamedly started tearing down pagan alters and destroying idols. Can you imagine what would happen if we started doing that today? And as mighty or powerful as he was, Hezekiah wasn’t ashamed to weep bitterly before the Lord, nor was he too manly or proud to ask for more time on this earth.  But what touched me the most were God’s words, “I have heard your prayer, and seen your tears, surely I will heal you” (2 Kings 20:5). What comfort I get from reading this! Our God loves us and hears us. He knows all of our needs, pains, fears, and He wants to help us. Nothing is too small or too big for our God.  Nothing.

During my reflection, I also realized that when we pray on the behalf of others, God hears us.  Another prayer request had been for a co-worker who had been falsely accused and unjustly fired from his job. I prayed that the Lord would take care of his needs and bless him with a better job. About a year or two later, I found out that he had found a very good and high paying job, much better than the part-time job he had before. This was a powerful reminder to me that we should never give up on praying for others. Even though we may not see the final outcome, or feel that anything is happening because we aren’t seeing changes, God is in control, and He is working behind the scenes, in His timing, to answer, according to His will.  This is encouraging to me. We all have people that we pray for, and sometimes it feels like the situation might be hopeless because we aren’t seeing any results. I myself feel like this at times. There are certain painful situations I have been praying for, and I catch myself feeling hopeless and that it is too big for God to handle because I am not seeing instantaneous results.  But I am reminded by examples in the bible, or my past answered prayers, that God does hear and will answer, but in His timing, and His way. This means I will have to wait and trust in Him, and not give up in prayer or in hope.

I encourage you to never give up either.  We can encourage and build up each other by continually praying for one another (James 5:6) and bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We can’t do it alone, and just knowing we have others in the faith praying for us when we don’t have the strength ourselves to pray is uplifting and encouraging.  We may have prayers that we can’t even articulate in words because they are too painful, or we are too ashamed or embarrassed, but trust that God knows our heart and every detail that we can’t express (Psalms 56:8). He is the God of comfort, and will indeed comfort us in our trials, so that we may be able to comfort those in trials of their own.  If you need someone to partner with you in prayer, please feel free to contact me.

God bless you.


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 3-5

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Introduction: The How & Wise

I am an introvert. That can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it.  On the downside, I can be mistaken for being aloof, mad, or standoffish. Participating in small groups and group activities can be a somewhat taxing, and having to speak aloud in front of others can be downright nerve-racking. The positive side, however, is that I am a deep thinker, with thoughts running through my mind a mile minute; I have a calming, quiet spirit (so I’ve been told), and I am a good listener, filing away even the most minor details to be recalled much later down the road.

Because of my introverted personality, I have spent most of my life feeling misunderstood, and as a result, always felt like I never belonged anywhere.  I felt odd, out of place, and socially awkward. It wasn’t until I was in my final year of graduate school, when a professor told me that I was an introvert, and that it was a gift, that I finally understood. A light bulb went off in my head and I said “that’s what’s wrong with me!” I began reading anything I could to understand myself better, and with time, and God’s help, I began to accept myself, and become comfortable with who I truly am. It is still a struggle, but the Lord is helping me grow and overcome the hurdles. He has put people in my life that have given me encouragement to step outside of my comfort zone.

 Last year, I started attending a women’s bible study group.  When I first came to know the Lord, I bounced from church to church, never quite feeling like I fit in.  Then, when I found the church I now attend, I instantly felt at home.  But it wasn’t until about 3 years later that I found the courage to attend a women’s study, a study that would break out into small groups (yikes!).  And what a blessing it has been.  At first, I would do my usual “quiet observer” routine, but then, as I felt the safety and love from the women in the group, I began to share. Trust me, it was very scary at first. I have fears due to past betrayal and hurt, so sharing openly and letting anyone in was truly a very intimidating and frightening thing for me. But because of the love of Jesus that these women showed, I felt welcomed and comforted. 

In my walk with the Lord, I have learned that he loves and uses all personality types. Each of us has our own unique gifts that God gave to us, and we shouldn’t feel bad because someone has the gift to speak, and we don’t, or because someone has the gift of helps, and we can’t.  We should seek the Lord and ask Him to reveal to us what our gifts are, and embrace them, and be ready to step out in faith and use them (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). I am always encouraged by examples in the bible of people whom God used who are just like you and me.   I take comfort in the example of Moses, because I believe he was also an introvert, and he had the fear of speaking and felt very inadequate, much like me. (Exodus 4:10). Yet, with his feeling of inadequacy and limitations, God used him mightily. He led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 14), he was a witness to some of the greatest miracles, the 10 plagues (Exodus 8-12) and the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus: 14:21-22), to name a few, and God gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).

Because of my introversion, I am a better writer than an orator.  In my first English class in college some 13 years ago, my teacher told me I should think about becoming a writer, a thought that has been in the back of my mind ever since. Lately, I have felt a tug from the Lord to share what I have learned and experienced in my walk with Him, in order to bless and encourage others, like others have done for me. It is my hope that I can learn and grow in my walk with the Lord, along with you, being transparent as I share my journey, experiences, and pearls and nuggets of wisdom that I have learned from the wisest of all, Jesus, from His priceless, Holy Word, the bible.



“Therefore encourage one another and build each another up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11