Prayer

With my theme for the year being prayer, it’s on my mind a lot, and I have a feeling my blog posts may center around this often this year. Here is something that happened this past week.

My friend called me one afternoon asking me to pray for her 6-month old niece who was being diagnosed with a serious form of cancer on her hand called a sarcoma. Her parents were being told that an amputation might be necessary, but it could be worse. They were waiting to do the biopsy which would help them know how best to treat it. There was hope that possibly chemotherapy would be effective.

We joined them in praying. As I was running errands that same evening, I was praying aloud, hoping to be focused in prayer for them. As I prayed for many things surrounding these circumstances, there was a passage of Scripture that came to my mind clearly. Psalm 18. This was the only one that came to mind during the prayer, but was very clear. I was thinking of the early verses knowing God is our Rock.

When I pulled into the Chick-fil-a drive through (a far too common experience for me, I might add!), I looked at the car in front of me, and they had on their license plate “Psalm 18:6.” I felt for sure the Lord was speaking through this.

That portion of Scripture is about death encompassing David, but he cries out to the Lord and is heard and delivered. Now I didn’t know what to make exactly of it, but loved the reminder that in crying out to God, He hears.

Later that week, I got a call from my friend. She said they had just learned that the biopsy had shown it was not cancer! Rather, it was something very rare that the doctor had only seen one other time in 35 years — it was an aneurysm in her hand which would completely heal!

Who knows God’s ways, whether He healed her or gave another diagnosis because of the many prayers for her — or whether it was this way all along and He wanted those involved to walk through it for good and glorious purposes (or both or more?!). But what I do know is that He heard the cries of His children. I do know that through prayer, I got a window into His heart and saw the story differently than had I simply received a call to pray, said a brief prayer, carried on, and then heard she was fine. Praying opened my eyes to see God at work and to trust Him more.

I am encouraged to keep bringing my requests before Him. I know He doesn’t always answer each situation the same way, but He does seem to speak and lead in the midst of them. And that is a mercy, a grace, a peace, a comfort. God — living, breathing, caring, loving, involved!

Part of prayer includes praise, and that is what I want to do tonight — praise Him!

2012 Theme: Prayer

It’s Friday, January 13, and I’m sitting at the park while the kids and a friend sled. We finally got our first big snow of the winter. January 12 was pretty late for it to arrive, but this Southerner has enjoyed the first warmer winter since I’ve lived here, now 10 years! We had temperatures in the 50s just two days ago! I stood in the sun outside talking to a friend and loved every minute of it.

The last few years I’ve had a theme for the year. Last year it was the Lord as my Shepherd. Every year, it’s such a blessing to ponder a theme, study more, and it seems to go with the circumstances of the year.

Last year as I was faced with a decision I didn’t know how to make, I realized I wanted to know the end answer immediately. But I had to trust that God knew that answer, and I simply needed to let Him show me one step at a time, to lead me as my Shepherd. Over the course of a few months, it became obvious and unmistakable what His plan was. He led me step by step, revealing just what I needed for each moment.

My theme this year is prayer. I had been in a bit of a rut lately, and two days ago, I finally took time to pray. I was amazed at the things that happened that very day after specifically praying about some things. I asked the Lord for wisdom about a friend, and she literally emailed me less than an hour later telling me the very answer I had prayed about!

I had asked him some things about purpose, like “am I missing anything?” I see some of my friends doing amazing things, adopting, moving around the world — and I was wondering if I was being faithful and pursuing all He wanted me to. It seemed so clear as people came to mind that the Lord was wanting me just to be faithful to the ones He has put in my path.

I needed to go out to get some books at the library, and ordinarily when I need to do that, I just go at lunch. But I decided to go out at 10:30 a.m. I debated this back and forth, this out of the ordinary timing. I was so close to turning around. But I went, and when I arrived at the library and parked, a lady was by her car beside me. When she turned around, we both looked at each other shocked. She is someone I haven’t seen in a while, who doesn’t live in the area, who I only knew through a previous work relationship. She went on to share some heavy burdens, and she said she had thought about calling me to pray for her. She felt sure God had brought us into each other’s path that day. And of course, I had no doubt about that. It was an answer to prayer.

I also was convicted by something the Lord had shown me to do in the past, children He has me outreach to, and its been awhile since I took the initiative. So today at the park, we are all together again, 3 sledding while one sits with me playing on the iPhone. I canceled dental appointments for my kids so we could invite them today after school.

Prayer. God used prayer to open my eyes to things I would have overlooked. He hasn’t asked me personally (at least yet!) to go on the mission field or adopt, though I can love and support those who do, but He has placed before me people to love and encourage, alongside my commitment to my family and my work. I am thankful that the Lord is gracious to lead me as my Shepherd, and I pray I will have ears to hear and eyes to see where He is leading. I pray I will pray with consistency and belief that those moments are powerful and effective because of Him.

A quote from Spurgeon to end: “Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer. We must be immersed in prayer as in our element, and so pray without ceasing. Lord, teach us so to pray that we may be more and more prevalent in supplication.”

School

From time to time, I have people ask me how we got involved with the classical Christian school that my children attend. For months, I’ve wanted to write it down because it was such an amazing display to me of God’s power. As we are at the 5 year mark, it seemed a good time to do so:

Just before Thanksgiving 2005 — My brother-in-law was leaving town for Thanksgiving, but ran by our house to drop something off. He had just been to breakfast with a business acquaintance, and this man (now our head of school) told him about a school that he and his wife were hoping to start. He gave my brother-in-law a small envelope of information, which my brother-in-law brought directly to me and told me he thought I would be interested.

I read the flyer about the classical school that was starting. Having sent my son to public school for Kindergarten and homeschooling him for first grade, we were unsure what to do for the following year. We had liked both of those options for different reasons, but were not settled about what we should do long term. (And let me note here that this is not a commentary on which educational option might be best for a family. This is a story of God’s amazing power and work in our lives! I know He calls different families to different schools, sometimes even for different children, and it can all change year to year. I’ve seen and experienced that, so I just want to clarify that.) Anyway, this possibility definitely interested us!

I immediately emailed my friends telling them about the upcoming informational meeting. I called my friend Mindy to see if she would be interested; I still remember her saying at the end of our conversation: “It’s like the Lord is creating a school just for us!” Isn’t that how personal God can be?

December 5, 2005 — I believe this was the date of the school’s first interest meeting; we attended with many of our friends, and I was pretty much sold! We had things we would need to figure out, though, before we could jump on board, such as how to afford it. I remember at some point calling Julie, the woman who had the original vision for the school, and asking her if I could be part of the prayer group for the school even if I wasn’t able to send my kids there. She said that would be OK!

December 30, 2005 — While at my mom’s house for Christmas break, I woke up that morning with the words “one eighteen eight” going through my head loudly over and over. It was like the words of a Bible verse: “118:8; 118:8; 118:8” over and over. Only on a couple of occasions had I had verses in my head like this, and in both those cases, it would become very obvious what the Lord had in it! So I went and looked up Psalm 118:8, knowing this would be the only Bible verse this reference could mean as no other book of the Bible has that many chapters.

Psalm 118:8 said: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

So I began to ponder what application that might have for my life. But I knew that though I could apply it to many things, there would be one clear thing. I told the Lord I would wait to see what He wanted to show me.

December 31, 2005 — I believe this is the first prayer meeting that the school had, on New Year’s Eve. We were still in Memphis, so we did not attend, but God was doing His own work on our hearts at that time.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 — Before church, I did a short devotion with the children on Jacob & Esau. They were then sitting on the floor in my mom’s den watching a Scooby Doo and eating pop-tarts (at grandmother’s house, remember?), and I was sitting in the back of the room on my mom’s sofa reading my Bible. I was trying to decide what to study next as I had just finished a Beth Moore study on the Patriarchs and Genesis. (I had been given an advance copy and studied it alone, without the videos, and was absolutely fascinated by the connections between the Old and New Testaments!) As I sat there, it seemed like Exodus would be the next logical place to go.

While I was sitting there thinking, my 7 year old son stood up from his food and TV, walked across the room to some bookshelves (my mom has floor to ceiling bookshelves on either side of a fireplace), scanned around and grabbed a yellow book and walked it over and laid it in my lap, then went back and sat back down to keep eating and watching TV.

I looked at the yellow book in my lap, and it was entitled A Devotional Commentary on Exodus, by F.B. Meyer. I was in shock! I asked my son, knowing full well he would have no idea that my intent was to study Exodus as I had been alone in the back of the room in my thoughts, but nonetheless, I said, “Did you see what I was reading and happen to know this book was on the shelf?” And he replied, “What? What do you mean?” And I called him over and showed him how the book said “Exodus” and I pointed to my Bible and showed him “Exodus,” and he said, “Oh, neat.” He had not / could not have seen this and had no idea and didn’t even know why he went to get the book! It was as though the Lord was giving me something He wanted me to have while I studied Exodus. It became the perfect book for me to study over the next several months as we were led out of something into something new that God was doing, and we were being called to trust Him, even when things would be hard and it would be easy to complain or want to give up (like the Israelites in the desert)! God used that study in the most remarkable ways!

January 4, 2006 — The question on my heart was school. I knew we didn’t want to homeschool long term, but wasn’t certain of God’s will. I went to read an email we had received from Doug (who was starting the school). He put the website on the email, and when I clicked to go there, when it came up, it said, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Then there was a picture of a tree and another verse from Psalm 1:3.

The reason all of this was significant to me is that the verse there from Jeremiah 17:7 is the exact same verse as found in Psalm 118:8, the verse I had been woken up with the week before. I looked it up in my Bible, and beside Jeremiah 17:7, it said in the column “Psalm 118:8.”

Then we had been been homeschooling, we were studying Psalm 1, and we had drawn a tree and studied a tree in our yard and named him “Roots” and talked about all of these very themes that were pictured on the website!

To me, all of these things combined were clear calling that I couldn’t resist. I wrote in my journal, “I believe this is from the Lord as confirmation to pursue this. But Lord, You would have to provide. But I know You are the Lord who provides manna and water from the Rock! Let me see You do this!” I continued to pray for His confirmation and that He would use a lunch that my husband was having with Doug that Friday morning. What I did not want was me to lead the way and insist we go after this if my husband wasn’t for it, too. We had done that with homeschooling, and that is just a miserable thing to be in two different places on something.

January 6, 2006 — My husband had lunch with the head of school and learned that I could possibly work at the school, and his heart was completely on board, having no reservations.

I wrote in my journal, “Even as I write this, I feel excitement at how one day, I’ll look back at this and see how and what You did and glory to Your Name!”

Thus began our journey! We were convinced it was from the Lord. We continued to see Him do mighty things:

  • I prayed my son would have good friends, especially some boys since all his cousins and our neighbors and his sister were girls. By the time the school started, there were not only 5 boys in his combined 1st/2nd class, but they were the sons of some of my closest friends. By 2nd/3rd grade, there were 10 boys and 4 girls. I’d watch the class file out down the hall for a break or playtime, and just pause with wonder as those 10 boys would walk past — good friends! (I should note the girls were — and still are — his good friends, too, 3 of them being the daughters of close friends in my prayer group; but what struck me was how God had so lovingly answered that request for boys in his class — He just went exceedingly, abundantly beyond what I asked or imagined!)
  • There were challenging days, hard days, days you want to give up. Each time I’d question, the Lord would immediately confirm His plan and give me the strength to press on. I asked myself one day in my prayer time, “Well, what do you want?… do you just want an easy life, no working, just drop off the kids, go work out, eat with friends, or such things as seemed more desirable?!” I answered “No!” I went to my Bible study that very night, and it was the first video in the series, and Beth Moore spoke to this very thing. She turned to the camera and said, “Easy lives don’t make great stories! Your life was meant to be a great story!”
  • The 4 couples who were first involved with the school met weekly to pray each Saturday morning from January to August 2006 before school began. We saw God do mighty things! Some of them deserve their own post sometime. We have an awesome, mighty God!

There is more, so much more. I could write and write and write. But I’ll just say this was the clearest calling I had ever known, confirmed at every step, so to turn back was never an option! It’s been an adventure, a means of our sanctification, a struggle at times, wrestling through things, but a joy as well, seeing God work and move and use this little school for His glory. One of my favorite verses in this journey has been:

“Not to us, not to us, but to Your Name be the glory!” Psalm 115:1

He has done this. We have not. We want to be His willing servants, but He has shown His power and might and done this. Praise You, Lord, and thank you for your willingness to reveal Yourself so clearly when we seek you through Your Word and prayer!

A Woman of Prayer

My friend told me today that her aunt died last week. This lady was 78 years old and a very godly woman, a woman of prayer, a woman who was not often seen, not in the spotlight, but committed to prayer. When she didn’t show up to a doctor’s appointment last week, family members went to check on her. They arrived and went in, and the lights were off in the house. They found her in her bedroom, on her knees in prayer, with her Bible before her, having died unexpectedly and suddenly, in that position. It struck me all day… what an amazing way to leave this life… talking to her Savior, entering into His presence and seeing Him face to face. What a blessing!

I love her example. I’d love to know the things God had shown her through the years through prayer. I’d love to hear her testimony of the power of prayer and what it was that brought her daily to her knees. Surely it was something powerful, yes, an encounter with God Himself during those times spent daily in prayer.

My children are studying the Lord’s Prayer in chapel at school for about 12 weeks, taking a phrase each week. They’ve been encouraged to make prayer a part of their lives in the hallways, throughout their days, and wherever they go. Make it a practice. We’ve learned that prayer is first about God, not about us. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This is how the Lord’s prayer begins, before it ever gets to us…. then it’s “Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Prayer. Power. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b

Something kept this woman on her knees. I believe she knew the power of prayer. I pray we know it, too.