Mrs. Zebedee Got It Right

You may remember Mrs. Zebedee–she was the mother of Jesus’ disciples John and James.

Mrs. Zebedee, in her zealousness for her children, sometimes gets a bad rap.

In Matthew 20, she came to Jesus, asking special consideration for her sons.  She made no bones about it! She wanted the special places on Jesus’ right and left to be given to John and James, to rule alongside Jesus in His future kingdom.

In light of this Jewish mother’s request, the other disciples were recorded as being “indignant.”  Although Jesus did tell Mrs. Zebedee that she didn’t know what she was asking for, I can so relate to this woman.

I see her as a mother who only wanted the best for her kids and went about directly approaching God about it. She was bold; she was forthcoming. I don’t want to ever be accused of never asking for the best for my very own!

It’s been my privilege, my directive, to pray for my three children, now 21, 24, and 27.  Besides asking the Lord to secure their salvation, I’ve prayed over all aspects of their day-to-day needs.

And although they’re grown up now, surprisingly I find I spend even more time now praying specifically for them than I did when they were younger. It’s been an ongoing journey of discovery. . .

As I said before, the MOST important thing you can do for your children’s spiritual welfare is to grow in your own deep personal relationship with Jesus. Seek to grow ever closer to Him through worship, confession, and thanksgiving. Live obediently and joyfully before the Lord. That’s the BIGGEST favor you can do for your children! (And yourself!)

There are great lists all over the internet to help you begin praying for your child, no matter their age. Here I’ve listed a link to D6 Curriculum’s excellent the “31 Ways to Pray for Your Child,” a list very similar to one I’ve used with my children. Just be sure to use the PDF link for a downloadable and printable list.

(Sorry, you’ll have to cut and paste this one into your browser bar for now:)

http://www.d6curriculum.com/teacher/previous-quarter/fusion-31-ways-to-pray

Don’t fret if you’ve not been consistent in this practice of prayer before; just get started and ask God for His grace to enable you.

Another point:  please see the list above or similar ones only as a starting place. Ask the Holy Spirit to search your child, and in His all-knowing wisdom He will reveal specific other things to pray for your child. (Especially important when they reach those teenage years and you can’t always know what’s going on .  .  .  He always does!)

May the Lord bless your prayer sojourn .  .  . may He grant wisdom where it is needed to understand. . .and may you see God’s abundant answers to your specific prayers .  .  . as your children grow to love the Lord with all their hearts and lives.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn

The Prayer Closet

“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father Who is in secret, and your Father Who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6, NAS

The best, most important thing you can do for your children is to pray for them.

Lately God has been re-instructing me about prayer, and it has spurred me on to make some noticeable changes in how I approach Him. If we’re honest, we believers must admit to requiring reinforcement in the basics from time to time . . .

Humbly, we should be like Jesus’ disciples, who came to Him after they’d observed Him at a distance praying to His Father, simply asking: “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) This pleased Jesus, Who immediately following this request, gave us the rich pattern of praying in the Lord’s Prayer.

What true prayer is. . .It is relationship with the LORD God. First and foremost, it is a proclamation of Who God is. . and what He’s done on behalf of the human race . . and what He’s done for me personally. Then it’s a forthcoming about my own insuffiiciencies, my sin. Lastly, it’s a detailing of needs–mine and others’.

It’s a two-way street and requires much more listening on my part than my talking. (Oh, so hard to do!)

In our church’s recent University of Life class on prayer, we’ve been studying the excellent little book, How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life by Dr. Gregory Frizzell. It’s short, pithy, and to-the-point—in which he explains different kinds of prayer and why saturating your prayer with Scripture reading is SO important. (Here’s an Amazon link:)

http://www.amazon.com/How-Develop-Powerful-Prayer-Life/dp/1930285000/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1332432564&sr=1-2-catcorr

Frizzell suggests the importance of a prayer closet, and I’ve taken it to heart. This said, please do not infer that I am an expert on this subject by any means. I do think this extra step may encourage you, as a parent, or as a fellow believer, to take the necessary steps to obtain a deeper walk with Him, to know Him more intimately through prayer. May He receive all the glory!

Jesus tells me in Matthew 6:6 to go to my “inner room” to pray. My inner room, which I’ve specifically repurposed for this, is my walk-in closet.

Yes, I know not everyone is blessed with a walk-in closet! But God has given you an “inner room” somewhere. . . You just have to ask Him to reveal it to you! He will never ask us to do something for which He’s not equipped us already. So ask God where He’d like to get away to pray, alone with Him . . . .

Another possibility of an inner room for a young mother might be. . .the bathroom. Teach your children that when you withdraw in there for short periods of time, you are to be by yourself. No interruptions, if possible.

Or, perhaps in your car, when your little ones are down for a nap or during lunchtime if you’re in the workplace outside the home. . .anywhere where you can be alone, “in secret” with Him is where He wants us to meet Him.

This is key. . .it needs to be a place without distractions and where you can pray aloud, if God so leads you.

I have some favorite things I’ve put in my prayer closet. . . First, there’s a seat and writing area. Because I will be writing stuff down.

I ask the Lord quiet me and fill me with the Holy Spirit, otherwise I can’t pray what He wants me to—Psalm 86:10, James 4:8.

I use a couple of Bibles there, a couple of translations. . . I start off my prayer time reading a significant portion of Scripture (from one of my One-Year Bibles or a Bible-reading plan) and I let God speak to me through it, taking notes.

I ease into praise and worship, through even more Scripture. A dear lady recently gave me this little book, 31 Days of Praise by Ruth & Warren Myers. I find I like to read it aloud to God, one portion a day. I know this book is going to become a staple for me! (But you could just as easily use any favorite Psalm or passage that describes or praises God.)

I go through the different kinds of prayer, following wherever the Holy Spirit leads. Praise. Confession of Sin. Petition. Intercession. Meditation. It’s never the same way twice!

Sometimes a prayer need weighs heavy, and I find God wants me to dwell there for a while. I use a notecard to write key things He reveals to me about this request, and then allow Him to bring to mind any Scriptures that pertain to this request, using the Strong’s concordance to jog my memory. I write out the Scriptures on the back of each card to help me easily pray them back.

I would suggest you use a separate card for each child–changing and adapting the specifics of whatever the Lord urges you to pray for them!

I then have a prayer journal in which I record the date and the major things I prayed for that day, perhaps a quick thought or two God has left me with.

Although we humans most definitely have needs that we can bring before Him, we pray to know God BETTER. We pray not to receive the gifts He from His hand, but because we love Him and want to please our Heavenly Father.

I challenge you—find and equip your prayer closet. Pray, like you’ve never done before. And God, Who sees all, will surely enable you to see answers to those prayers, to His glory and His praise. Let me/all of us know how it goes!

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn

Children and Sanctification: Guest Blog by Liz Chasteen

I am a stay-at-home mom to four children ranging from age 7 to 1.  Some days I can’t believe that I’m a Mom and these four kiddos are mine!  It’s funny how God uses children to bring much humility to us as moms!  Just today I was scheduled to serve in the nursery at church so I was there 30 minutes early, which is saying a lot for me, and right when I walked into the room my daughter starts crying because she wet her pants!  Like my good friend says, “Children are a great humiliater!”

I remember a conversation with an older woman when my first child was about 10 months old.  We were talking about how motherhood really causes you to die to yourself and serve others.  I’ll never forget what she said next….”Yep, I died a long time ago.”  We laughed but that comment has come back to me time and time again over the years.  The reality is I didn’t fully know what she was talking about then but in God’s providence and kindness I too am dying daily through my mothering journey!

Of course the “dying” isn’t physical (although some days you think it is….or may even want it to be!) but it’s more so the very real battle against my flesh.  It’s the truth that we all deal with…the already/not yet reality of the Christian life.  In Christ we are fully forgiven and made a new creation and justified before God.  Yet we still have sin within and we still live in a fallen world.  So our redemption is not complete until we are with the Lord and know Him fully.  Until then He is faithful to use His Word, His Spirit, and the Church to conform us more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  And He is so kindly doing that in my life primarily through mothering my precious children.

With each child the Lord has added to our family I have seen more of my sin and depravity and my need for my Savior.  It makes me think of the sponge analogy.  When a sponge is filled with water nothing comes out until it is squeezed and whatever is inside the sponge is what spills out.  It’s the same with us.  Sin is within our hearts and as life circumstances “squeeze” us the sin spills out.  We often like to blame our circumstances and people for making us act a certain way.  But the truth is that it comes from within and the circumstances are just the agent of allowing these sins to be exposed.  It’s a lot easier to stay controlled and appear put together when you live alone for example.  No one is messing with your stuff and you can pretty much plan your schedule according to your own desires.  Children shatter this ideal.  Whether you want to or not, you spend your days serving others and the truth is, in my flesh, I don’t want to.  I am daily reminded of my selfishness and sin as I desire comfort and peace and order.  Daily I see impatience and am reminded that I cannot do this life, much less live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, apart from His help and the power of the gospel every moment!

I consider it a great privilege to stay home with my four children and be the primary caregiver and influencer in their life (although sometimes I do wonder if I’m ruining them by the second!).  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!  I’m so grateful the Lord has given me these children and I long to be faithful to this calling as their mother and I truly desire to live out the gospel before them.  They know better than anyone that Mommy fails and she needs a Savior.  There are many opportunities throughout the day with my kids to talk about Jesus and what he accomplished on the Cross for us.  I’m consistently asking their forgiveness and together reflecting back on the gospel.

Whether you are a mom or not, God is using life circumstances to squeeze you and show you your sin so that you will confess and repent and run to the cross of Christ over and over again.  I’m so thankful that He is allowing me to work out my salvation within the four walls of this home with these precious people.  Yes, children are a blessing from the Lord and they are such gifts.  But they are also hard work and show me my sin daily.  To God be the glory as we do life together with those who are closest to us.  May we as moms be faithful to live the gospel before our kids and point them to the Savior.

Liz is a proud pastor’s wife to Jeremy Chasteen and grateful mom to 4 young children, Carson (7), Bryn (5), Lydia (3), and Spencer (1).  She and her family live in Clemson, SC where they serve with Crosspoint Church primarily in college ministry.  She is a sinner saved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and by His grace she desires to glorify God in and through her life.