The War Room

The new film The War Room is out. Have you seen it?

I just finished a Priscilla Shirer Bible study this summer, so I was excited to see her in this movie.

Though the movie at times seems to preach a little in the dialogue, and though there are things I have since read that people are critical of in the movie, I left with a full heart desiring more prayer in my life.

I was encouraged not only to pray, which was the major theme, but to tell the next generation what we believe, just as this older woman was passing along to the younger woman what God had shown her during her life.

I realize things don’t always wrap up as quickly and neatly in life as they did in the movie, and sometimes it takes years to see a major breakthrough on something we’ve prayed for. But when we are in prayer — intentional, focused, deliberate prayer, praying Scripture and believing God for His promises to us that we see in the Bible — even if the answer isn’t what we hope or is long in coming, we see Him involved along the path as we wait with hope for Him to act. Our hope isn’t in the outcomes, but in the God who knows all things and is sovereign over all and powerful to deliver.

We don’t always start praying and see instant results. It’s not something magical if we utter right words. But my heart still resonated with the overall message of the movie. We don’t want to be quick to dismiss the film as some might because it didn’t develop everything as fully as they would like (who can build a full theology of prayer in two hours?) or perfectly explain every aspect (some asked how he made that much money, or complained that many people don’t have an extra closet to make a war room, etc.). Catch the overall themes and go find your war room, be it a bedroom or small corner of the house.

Then pray. Pray Scripture. Record God’s answered prayers and the ones where you can’t yet see the answer, but where you see Him working. That’s part of why I have this blog – to remember, to proclaim, to record what God has done. Yes, tell of God’s mighty works. Encourage one another. Pray for one another.

We can go to the Bible and study everything we find about prayer — how to pray, when to pray, where to pray, why to pray. We can develop what the movie didn’t have time to. We can pray for more faith as we pray (“increase our faith, Lord”). Ask God to teach us to pray, to show us how.

Let’s pray in full faith believing that God is who He says He is and God can do what He says He can do.* We can trust Him. He is powerful and strong. He is our Deliverer. Let’s become prayer warriors.

*Thank you to Beth Moore for showing me that in her Believing God study. Her brief appearance in The War Room was also fun to see!

Prayers for a New School Year

This week marked the start of a new school year for my children. I wondered about what prayers and verses I should pray for them. Last year I had a verse for the year for them from Psalm 86:

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

The first day of this year, I was drawn to Psalm 121 and the Lord keeping them, protecting them, with them looking to Him.

As the week went on, I continued to consider prayers for my children. Then yesterday while I was in Walmart looking for school supplies, I ran across this box for index cards and decided to start a prayer box for the year for the kids.

prayer cards
Not exactly Pinterest-worthy, but it’s practical & works!

Each day on the front of the card, I can put the date and a verse. On the back, I can tell what is happening that day (i.e., first day of school or first football game, etc.). Also on the back I can include a short prayer based on the verse(s) for the day. In this way I can hope to have focused, intentional, deliberate, biblical prayer for my children. I also made a list of my children’s friends so I can remember to pray for them, too.

Last night I went to see the movie The War Room with my mom and another couple. It was excellent and surely a motivation to pray.

What are you praying for your family?

Verses for the Day: Phil. 4:4-7, 1 Thess. 5:16-18

I love it that “the Lord is near” and we have nothing to fear. Instead, we can rejoice, give thanks, and pray.

Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

A Place to Pray

I am taking a break from the verse for the day to think about today, Good Friday. We are in the week that is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. We hopefully live every day with an awareness of what Jesus has done for us and live in light of that, but this weekend is a special time to reflect.

Take time this weekend to read from the Gospel accounts (in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) to remember what Jesus did not just for the whole world, but for you.

One thing I was thinking about the last day or two is the value of having a place to pray. We see throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry that he made it a priority to go away to a quiet place to pray.

Mark 1:35, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

In Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46 (parallel passages), after they have celebrated Passover and the Lord’s Supper, we read that Jesus came to a place called Gethsemane and told his disciples to stay in one place while he went over to pray. Jesus fell on his face and prayed about the things that were about to take place, his betrayal and crucifixion. Three times Jesus returned to his disciples to find them sleeping.

Jesus tells them, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

They have arrived at the most significant time in human history, and they slept, unaware yet fully of what was to happen.

I wonder if Peter had taken time to watch and pray if he would have later denied Jesus. Certainly Peter’s flesh was earnest and desirous of defending and acknowledging Jesus (Matt. 26:31-35), yet even after having been told by Jesus that he would deny Him, and saying he wouldn’t, Peter went on to deny Jesus three times (Matt. 26:69-75).

Watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation. That’s a good reason to pray.

We see Jesus’ life of prayer as an example – rising early, going to a quiet place, praying. If the Son of God needed to pray, don’t we? He faced temptation (Matt. 4), and he could have stepped away from the mission he was here to do. But He prayed, He did His Father’s will, He sacrificed so that you and I could be saved.

Can we likewise pray, do our Father’s will, and live our lives for Him?

I encourage you to find a place to pray. Of course, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), being prayerful and alert at all times (Eph. 6:18), but we also need focused time to pull away and pray. The best time often seems to be the morning, before the day begins, but it can be any time. In Matt. 6:6, Jesus tells us, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

So we go to a quiet and private place, we spend time in prayer, and the Father rewards us! That’s another good reason to pray – for the reward! Maybe that sounds self-serving, but it’s just taking God at His word. He says He will reward us. That reward could be peace; it could be having our hearts and will aligned with God’s; it could be seeing God work in powerful ways as He answers those prayers in supernatural ways, oftentimes ways we wouldn’t have expected, but better than our ways. While I don’t know what the specific reward is, there is a reward.

I want that reward; don’t you? I want freedom from temptation, don’t you? I want my weak flesh to be made strong by the Spirit of God; don’t you?

As always when I finish these posts, it feels incomplete. I know there is much more that could be said, much more in God’s Word about prayer, many more reasons to pray (it gives peace, shows our dependence and confidence in God, etc.). There is much, much more that could be said about Good Friday that we will hear tonight at church when we go to worship. God Word is rich and full and always supplies us with more than we could ever take in. These are just little nuggets of truth, but let’s study and know God’s Word, let’s believe it, let’s follow Jesus and live it, and yes, let’s pray.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we praise you for the gift of prayer, for access to the throne of grace through Christ. We thank you for this Good Friday, this day in which Jesus carried our sin in his body on the cross and took our punishment, paid our price, so that we can know You, Lord, so that we can be free from sin and death and live abundantly now and eternally with You. May we take advantage of this privilege you give us to pray and be people of prayer. I pray now as you taught your disciples to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us as debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:9-13)

The Deceitful Heart, Day One

I watched Beth Moore’s video devotional (below) yesterday. She challenged us to pray for 10 days and ask God how our heart is deceiving us (Jer. 17:9). She also encouraged us to listen for the answer. So I’m doing this because yesterday was a hard day where I felt like I was listening to lies and being deceived.

So I prayed about it, and this morning, while I rode the exercise bike (part of my exercise plan for my knee), I got out the Bible and decided to work on a chunk of Bible memory, returning to James from this summer.

I was biking and reading it out loud. As I read, I came to this verse in James 1:26:

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

Did you catch that? “… but deceives his own heart,….”  Well, that seemed pretty pointed. I’m deceiving my own heart when I don’t bridle my tongue. And that tells something about my faith.

I was expecting the answer to my prayer to be some sort of answer to my pathetic self absorption and “woe is me” attitude from the day before, but this went a completely different direction. I thought of all the ways I use my words and what they reveal and the trouble they cause when I don’t bridle my tongue. I wouldn’t have thought this a big problem for me, but as I thought about it, I could see areas where I need a greater obedience on this.

I don’t want to linger long here. It’s late and I’m tired, and my husband is calling for his computer, but I wanted to capture this first day and continue to ask God to reveal where I am being deceived.