Prayer Series – Finding that Solitary Place

Finding that Solitary Place
Jesus sought time alone with God on many occasions, especially in times of momentous decisions.  In Lk. 6:12, we find that Jesus went to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying.   After this particular time in prayer, He had incredible results.  He chose the twelve who were to be His apostles, He healed numerous people, and preached His most recited sermon (the sermon on the mount).  You may have heard about the famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  He actually stood up, had his notes just inches from his face, and read that sermon.  It sure doesn’t sound too impressive, does it?  What made it impressive?  What brought about such awesome results from this message?  Mr. Edwards spent the night travailing in prayer over the message and the people who would hear the message.  You see, it wasn’t him that brought the results, it was GOD!

In Mt. 26:36 we find that Jesus tells His disciples to sit there while He went off a short distance to pray.  In Mk. 1:35 we see that He got up very early in the morning to find a solitary place to pray.  Lk. 4:42 mentions that at daybreak, Jesus was going out to a solitary place.  Lk. 5:16 reveals to us that Jesus OFTEN withdrew to lonely places to pray.

I know that as mothers, many of us find that it is so hard to find a solitary place to pray.  One thing I have started doing is to turn my thoughts upon the Lord as soon as I waken in the morning.  I commit my day to Him, asking Him to lead me and to show me what is truly important for me to do that day.  Many times, the important things are as simple as listening to Rachel when she wants to talk.  Sometimes it is being diligent in disciplining her.  Too often, I find myself punishing, rather than disciplining.

Other times, it is learning to stay at home that day and focusing on the house since another day is going to be packed with lots of activities.  I tend to stress out quickly on the days when there is much to be done.  He has taught me to play soothing gospel music.  That has helped me to focus my thoughts heavenward a lot more.  I find that in the middle of mopping the floor or cleaning the bathtub that I am worshiping my Master.  I am pondering on what the words of the song say, turning them into my own prayer.  I am training my mind to focus on Him when unseen things happen during the day.  How many of us will put something in a certain place so that we won’t lose it, only to find out later that we have lost the item?  I have learned to pray for His help at those times.  I walk around, praying, listening to hear His voice.  I ask Him to give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation to think where the item is.  WHEN I take the time to ask for His help, it never takes more than five minutes to find it.  Then, I just have one more thing for which to praise the Lord!  It’s also teaching Rachel to look to Father for the everyday things in life.

In I Th. 5:17, we are admonished to pray continually.  This refers to abiding in His presence.  In Jn. 15 we are told to abide in Him.  This is to become a lifestyle for us, not of constantly uttering formal prayers, but rather prayers of all kinds and on all occasions.  It can be as simple as hearing a siren, then praying for the people involved (the victims, the police, the fire department, the ambulance drivers, the doctors who are going to be treating the ones being helped….)  I recently took Rachel to a local event where she got to climb up inside an ambulance.  While there, I told the paramedic that we pray for them anytime we see or hear their sirens.  He was touched by that; you could see the surprise in his eyes.  I proceeded to let him know that we aren’t the only ones praying.  I know of many mothers who are making this a habit, and then passing this godly heritage on to their children.

Father, as the disciples asked You to teach them how to pray, we ask You to teach us how to pray, but we also ask of You; teach us to abide.  In the midst of the chaos, the frustrations, the noise, the busyness, teach us how to abide.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

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Prayer Series – Outline for Prayer

Outline for Prayer

I know that many of us struggle with having a consistent prayer life.  There may even be some who don’t really see the importance of prayer.  Yet, Jesus said in Mt. 6:5 “WHEN you pray.”  It becomes pretty clear that prayer is something that we should do; otherwise, it could have been stated “If you pray.”  Our Lord took time out to pray.  If the Master needed time alone with the Father, then shouldn’t we who are often so fleshly, and who so prone to sinning, need time alone with the Father as well?

We find the Lord’s prayer in Mt. 6:9-13.  I used to attend a church that would quote this “prayer” every time we attended service.  However, this isn’t really a prayer at all, but rather a model of how we are to pray.  You could easily make an outline from this model like this:
I.  Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name.
A.  Worship the Lord.
II. Your kingdom come, Your will be done.
A.   In my life
B.   In the lives of my family members
C.  In the lives of those who rule this nation.
D.   In countries around the world.
E.   In my church
III. Give us this day our daily bread.
A.   Pray for God to show me more of Himself today.
B.   For Him to provide for our physical needs.
C.   For our financial needs.
D.   For our emotional needs.
IV. Forgive us our debts.
A.  Take time to be still before Him.
B.   Be conscious of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
C.   Repent of the sins that come to mind.
D.   Pray for His direction in making restitution and apologizing where necessary.
V.   And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
A.  For Him to put His word deep in my heart so that I might not sin.
B.  For His strength to help me remove myself from places of temptation.

We can use the above outline and pray a long or short prayer.  We can do a brief prayer and still cover most subjects, or we can MAKE time (it’s our choice), to pray longer.  This outline can easily be modified to fit the needs in your own life, or to fit the burdens that are on your own heart.

In Mt. 7:7-8, we come upon the scripture which mentions asking, seeking, and knocking.  From the Full Life Study Bible, p. 16, it says:  “Jesus encourages perseverance in prayer.  The tense of the Greek verbs in v. 8 designates continued action.  This means we must keep on asking, seeking, and knocking.  Asking implies consciousness of need and the belief that God hears our prayer.  Seeking implies earnest petitioning along with obedience to God’s will. Knocking implies perseverance in coming to God even when he does not respond quickly.  Christ’s assurance that those who ask will receive what they ask is based on: (1) seeking first the kingdom of God; (2) recognizing God’s fatherly goodness and love; (3) praying according to God’s will; (4) maintaining fellowship with Christ; and (5) obeying Christ.”
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

POWs

POWs

In reading the Word, we quickly discover that we are in a war.  Our spirit daily wars against our flesh.  We war against principalities and powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places.  (Eph. 6:12)

Of all the wars I fight in my Christian walk, I have found that the war against my thoughts is one of the most intense battles I face.

We are always thinking about something.  Our mind has this incredible capability to drift.  Before we know it, we are thinking about someone who offended us, then setting out a very fleshly plan to put them in their place, or get even with them.  If our husband has ticked us off, we may start mulling over the idea of giving him the silent treatment.  After all, look at how many times he’s done that to us!  If we begin to rehearse all of our tasks for the week, it can cause our stomach to become knotted up because our thinking quickly turns to worrying and fretting.  If our mind starts to ponder on the news of all of the terrorists plans, we may be setting ourselves up for panic attacks.  What can we do?

We are told in II. Corinthians 10:5 that we have the power to demolish all arguments and pretensions that go against God’s ways and enter our minds.  We are to take them captive.  In other words, any wrong, untrue, ungodly thoughts need to become our POWs.  When we take them captive, we are to treat them in the most inhumane way, starving them and letting them die of thirst.

To be a good soldier, we not only need a good offense, but a good defense.  Once we use our defense to take POWs, we must go on the offensive.  It is critical to have a plan in place, ready to be put into action. For our thoughts, our best plan is to have God’s Word hidden in our heart so that we have His powerful, life-changing truths deep within us.

When thoughts of what terrorists may do assail us, we can tell ourselves that we don’t need to fret because of evil men, for they will soon wither.  (Ps. 37:1) When we begin to rehearse what we want to say to the one who offended us, we can remind ourselves that we are to love our enemy and pray for them.  (Mt. 5:44) When our mind wants to rehearse the list of perceived wrongs by our husband, we can remind ourselves that love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. (I Cor. 13:5) When we begin to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of errands, tasks, meetings, and appointments that must be done this week, we can tell ourselves to commit our ways to the Lord because God will establish our thoughts.  (Pr. 16:3) We can pray, trusting in God, leaning on Him, and acknowledging Him, knowing that He will make our path straight.  (Pr. 3:5-6) We can ask God for wisdom to help us see if there are some things on our list that we need to just let go for now.  (Jas. 1:5)

We don’t have to let our thoughts take us captive and make us their POW  We are to be the ones taking POWs.  How about you?  Do you need to change tactics and begin to capture some POWs?
© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

Where is Your Pulpit?

Where is Your Pulpit?

Titus 2:4,5 “that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

As I was reading in Titus 2, I thought it was interesting to note that in verse 4, the first item on the list was for a woman to love her husband.  When we make a to-do list, we usually put the most important items at the top of the list.  For this item to be first on the list in scripture, the Lord is showing us that it is very important.  In verse 5, we find that she is to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to her husband.  In today’s society, men don’t get much respect.  Television makes husbands and fathers look like complete idiots.  Sadly, that attitude is even permeating Christian homes.  That must be why we are commanded in Eph. 5:33 to respect our husband.

For those who are newly married, or are struggling in their marriages, I wanted to give some practical advice on how to ‘love your husband,’ as the Word mandates.  We need to understand that our love for our husband is seen by how we speak to him and how we speak about him.  It is seen by how we take care of him and what we do to serve him.  Mt. 6:21 tells us that where our treasure is, our heart will be found.  Where is your treasure?  Do you see your husband as a precious treasure from the Lord?  Do you treat him as such?  What we do and say about our husband is often our ‘pulpit.’  People can learn much about us, just by observing how we treat our husband, whether he is present or not.

I try to honor my husband by having my daughter straighten up the family room before he comes home.  I try to have a meal fixed and ready for him.  Entering a house that has a sense of order, and the pleasant aroma of food is inviting to a man. (I am ‘preaching’ to him that he is important to me, simply by what I do for him.) Sometimes I will even turn on some soft, soothing worship music to greet him as he walks in the door.   My daughter will often question why it’s so important to make the house look nice “just for Daddy.”  From my ‘pulpit,’ I am trying to teach her that Daddy is important, and that when he comes home at the end of a long day, he doesn’t want to see messes everywhere.  Chances are high that he probably spent most of his day working in ‘messes.’  He needs a nice, quiet, inviting place to relax and unwind.

Just a few nights ago, Dean didn’t get home until around 10PM.   I have to admit, by 10PM, I was tired.  I didn’t feel like entering my ‘pulpit’ again, but because my desire is to honor my Christ in all that I do, I hopped up from the couch the minute I heard his truck door slam shut.  I met him at the door and asked if he had taken time to eat supper.  After he stated that he hadn’t, and that he was very hungry, I began pulling things out of the refrigerator, and in a matter of minutes, I had a big plate of hot food fixed and ready to eat.  I literally felt a second wind come into my body, giving me the energy to serve him, and to do it gladly.  I would venture to say that my attitude in serving my husband as if I were serving the Lord had a lot to do with that added burst of energy.  I enjoyed putting the meal together for him.

In Titus 2:4, the children were listed as second on the priority list.  While in the middle of trying to get Dean’s meal together, Rachel approached me, wanting some attention.  I gently, but firmly told her that I was taking care of her Daddy, so she would need to wait until I was finished getting his food fixed.  This was another way of honoring him.  He heard me telling her, in so many words, that my husband comes before her.

You can probably think of some things around the house that your husband likes done, just by thinking of comments he has made.  If he complains of the clutter, enter the ‘clutter pulpit’ and try to work on reducing that clutter.  I don’t mean doing it all in one day, but do a little every day.  Before you know it, the house will look much better, and you will be honoring your husband.

If he complains that supper is never ready when he walks in, try your hardest to ‘preach’ from the kitchen by at least having the meal started when he walks in the door.

In Titus 2:5, we are admonished to be busy at home.  So Sister, discover where your ‘pulpit’ is in your home.  Now get busy showing your husband that he is your most precious treasure, next of course, to your wonderful Savior!

Copyright Dec. 2003
By Stacy R. Miller

Protect Yourself

Protect Yourself

Every fall, we start hearing ways in which we can protect ourselves during flu season.  Just as there are ways to protect ourselves in the natural, there is also a spiritual way to protect ourselves.

Of course, the number one thing you hear is the need to wash your hands frequently.  In a spiritual sense, we also need to wash our hands with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

When I worked at the hospital in a secretarial position, there were times when I had to interact with patients.  Occasionally, I would need to cover my clothing with a gown and gloves before entering the patient’s room.  As Christians, we need to cover ourselves with love, compassion, mercy, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. (Colossians 3:12-14; First Peter 4:8)

We have been taught to cover our mouths when we need to sneeze or cough.  In a spiritual sense, by allowing the Holy Spirit to set a guard over our mouth, it prevents us from speaking spiritual poison into the lives of others.  (Psalm 141:3)

When someone is ill, they are told to get lots of rest.  To avoid spiritual illness, we must learn to rest in the Lord. (Matthew 11:28; Psalm 27:14)

If you have a cold, doctors will tell you to drink plenty of fluids.  As God’s children, we must drink the water of the Word. (Ephesians 5:26) Doing so will keep us spiritually hydrated so that we have something to offer others.

Another piece of advice we often hear is to follow the doctor’s orders.  Spiritually speaking, this would be the Word.  We must be diligent to read the Word, not just to say we have done our good deed for the day.  We must read it, meditate on it, and memorize it so that it becomes a part of us.  Getting God’s Word deep into our hearts will protect us, just as getting a flu shot will protect you from the influenza.

If you have been lax in protecting yourself, what can you do today to change that?
© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

Power Outage

Power Outage

Early one morning, our power went out.  I had no idea it was out until I opened my eyes and saw the lights flashing on my alarm clock.

Samson had a ‘power outage,’ and he was also unaware that he had lost his power. (Judges 16)  Just like Samson, we can also suffer from a power outage that can be very subtle in sneaking up on us.

Samson thought that he could ‘toy’ with Delilah and the Philistines, yet maintain his power.  He didn’t realize that day by day, as he played with them, he was becoming self-sufficient and even arrogant.  Next, he became less dependent upon God.

We do the same thing.  We play with worldly passions, and when we don’t see an immediate consequence, we continue in that path.  We think we can handle things on our own, so we quit committing our daily work to the Lord.  Finally, we face a power outage, and we never saw it coming.

The power outage may start like this:

A major event takes place, so instead of reading the Word in the morning, we turn on the TV instead.  We only intend to watch it for a few minutes.  Suddenly, we hear the rest of the family arising and we realize that we’ve been engrossed in watching the TV for forty minutes.  Now it’s too late to read the Word.

We manage to go through our day just fine, so we don’t feel too bad about missing out on our quiet time with the Lord.  It makes it easier the next morning for us to sleep in when we’ve had a rough night.  After all, we did just fine yesterday without our quiet time, so what’s one more day?

Since we still have some spiritual oil in our reserve tank, we manage to gracefully get through another day, even if we didn’t read the Word.

The following morning, we decide to quickly check our email before doing our devotions.  Before we know it, we’ve been online for over thirty minutes.  We realize that we still need to jump in the shower before the rest of the family awakens.  Devotions will have to wait again.  Now we feel a little pressured to get our shower finished before the others start yelling, “Mom!  I need the bathroom!”  The pressure builds during the day, making us feel like a pressure cooker that is ready to blow its lid.

The next morning we still remember the stresses of the previous day, so we opt to get a jump-start on our day.  We get our shower done early.  Next, we focus on finishing some chores.

By this time, we are having a severe ‘power outage.’  It manifests itself later when one child is facing a crisis with a friend at school.  With our power gone, we have no mercy to offer this child.  Our youngest child falls and gets hurt, and we lack in compassion.  As if this isn’t enough, another child is struggling with a new math concept and our patience is waning very thin.  For the friend who is in desperate need of a listening ear, we fail to notice that God wanted to use us to minister to her need.  Instead, we ask her if we can return her call later since we are busy.

The only way to defeat the Delilahs and the Philistines in our own life is to guard our time with the Lord.  We must remain connected to the Power Source so that we don’t experience a power outage.

What Delilahs and Philistines are leading you toward a power outage?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller