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

Thoughts on Father’s Day

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man

who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew

and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”  Matthew 7:24-25

 

This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day, a time when our thoughts focus on our fathers, still living or gone on ahead.

I am thankful for my own daddy who came to know Christ while I was still a child; who saw the necessity to bring me up in church amongst my fellow believers; who has lived out before me a physical example of how to grow in God’s grace.  He has been a wonderful provider, an active participant in his children’s and grandchildren’s lives, and a ready help to others whenever needed. My father has served through various capacities in the many churches he and my mother have attended through the years. He steadfastly carries on,  in spite of formidable health issues that swirl about him, and does so with the same German precision and good humor that God’s always blessed him with.  He is a wonderful picture of what an earthly father should be.

The other father in my life is my husband, Al.  He is a minister of the gospel, so not only is he a believer in Christ but a “professional Christian” by trade.  God, in His unfathomable inscrutability has given us—like so many of you—many unanticipated bumps along the way.   The rain has fallen, the floods have threatened, the winds have lashed.  Despite brief moments of sheer terror when it looked like all might be lost, God preserved the house.  Our Heavenly Father graciously replaced the siding that was stripped, the windows that were shattered, the shingles that were lost.

Never once did the foundation of the house quiver.  When your life is built upon Jesus and His Word, it will stand the tests of life.  The house that God built still stands, still serves, still joyfully proclaims the good news of Jesus, because my husband long ago built his house on the Rock. Thank you, Al, for being the man of God that you are.

May I end with a prayer?  Our Heavenly Father, thank you for our daddies.  Whatever their influence may be, the good and the bad, we can thank You for them.  You assigned each one specifically to us in Your wisdom.  They are flesh-and-blood lessons to us of what You, a perfect Heavenly Father is—by their legacies of obedience or disobedience to You.  May we see You more clearly through the light of their lives, or the stark contrast of their dark to Your Light.  And may You receive the glory in all these things, Lord—because we come in Jesus’ name only.  Amen.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Romans 15:5-6

The Holy Spirit – An Introduction, Part Two

First, a short prayer—Thank You, Father God, for the compass of Your Word.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Who distills and instills Your Word into our lives.  We want to know You, Lord, in a more intimate, deeper walk.  Teach us how to be truly teachable. We ask these things in Jesus’ precious name because they will honor and glorify You. Amen.

I asked in an earlier post why it is that we believers in the conservative American church know far less about and acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s daily role in our lives, as compared to the Father and to Jesus.  I received some interesting answers.  Most folks can’t really seem to put their finger on the reason.

Maybe it has to do with what we believe about God:

  • The Holy Spirit is not set forth in Scripture as the Object or Initiator in the work of atoning salvation as the Father and Son are.
  • Or because the Father and Son are constantly associated with each Other in Scripture, and no personal declarations are ever recorded as coming from the Spirit.
  • Or better yet, the Spirit’s work as Executor of God’s will is often attributed in an impersonal way to God in general, instead of specifically to Him.

Each of these reasons has its own merits.  However, I think it has less to do with theology than it does our own deep-seated fears.

  • Fear of swinging too far towards emotionalism in the Spirit realm.  Please don’t make us like that charismatic group down the street that gets all hyped up and “lets loose” in the church house.
  • Fear of what God might want or require of us, should we really get to know Him in an intimate way.  Please, Lord, I don’t want You to send me to be a missionary overseas.
  • Perhaps it’s just due to our comfortable-where-I’m-at, laissez-faire way of living in the States.  American Christians (and I include myself in this) have become attendance-driven, entertainment-seeking consumers.  Too many times we often look like, act like the world.  We don’t relate well at all to the picture of a self-sacrificing servant, keenly attuned to the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice.   That level of Christianity is best suited to the most dedicated, to the most spiritual among us.  We’re not ready to go to that kind of trouble. Yet.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear.  The something that most of us feel is deeply missing from our churches and lives is actually a Someone, the third Person of the Trinity, God’s palpable presence in our world.

Frances Chan in his excellent book Forgotten God says:

Without Him [the Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results.  The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation.  And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit.  But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.  The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.

If we are honest, we admit we’ve missed the boat much of the time in experiencing the Spirit.  To see this first-hand, one only needs to travel any of several places around the globe where God’s Church is Spirit-rich.  Those local bodies are full of His workings and there in their midst, we are the real paupers.  These impoverished, often persecuted believers have no recourse but to depend on the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, or they perish.  The evidence?  Outpourings of spiritual blessings abound.  Lives are supernaturally changed.  Laid side-by-side next to a description of the first-century church, they resemble the early church much more than we do.

Then how do we, the American conservative church,experience the Holy Spirit more richly? How do we change the status quo?

Or is the real question:  Do we want to change?

God wants humble hearts.  Teachable spirits.  We may already possess some biblical head knowledge of the Spirit.  But unless that knowledge makes its way down into the heart, and into a tender heart at that, the Spirit’s work in us will be stunted, repressed, quenched.   God wants so much to display Himself through His people.  And to what end?  You know this already—it is because He intensely desires to draw all men (and women, and children) to a saving grace of Jesus Christ.

So a fervent desire for more of Him, in cooperation with a thorough examination of the Scriptures— to make sure we’re seeing things the way God sees it—is the path to discovering the Person of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit reveals His special work from the beginning of Genesis creation, until the end of days in Revelation’s apocalypse.  In future posts, we’ll examine the Holy Spirit’s attributes and roles throughout Scripture and glean what this means for us as believers.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Eph. 5:16-17