The Warning of Watchman Nee

I wish I had read the quote below as a young woman. But, I wouldn’t have been able to grasp the heart of it.

Spending time with God.

Deliberately. Always. All the time.

Constant, consistent Prayer.

Gut wrenching, pleading Prayer.

Hallelujah, jumping up and down, hands raised, singing Prayer.

Is the One you are talking to the convenient God you send arrow prayers to in the middle of traffic, or as you walk into a meeting?

Is He your backup, your last resort?

Is He the one you turn to when you just can’t face the day and what you know it brings?

I look back and realize that I have missed the point of talking with God many times in my life.

The One we are talking with is at the heart of the matter of Prayer.

I want this generation to know the reason we pray is the same reason we talk to our family, our friends.

Connection.

In order to keep our family and friend relationships vital, we connect as often as we can. In those relationships we are limited by the physical world.

But with God-He is present. Always. Even when we choose not to talk He is here. Now. When we believe in Jesus and His Holy Spirit is in us we always have access. We can always connect. Our relationship with Him that can not be severed

When we get busy, things are hectic and scheduled for us 24/7 we begin to ignore that connection. Like human connections- time passes and distance increases in our hearts and minds. We find more and more we are relying on our own abilities. And this is why this quote hit me in my conscience. I am guilty of just getting on with life in the everyday. I’m doing just fine under my own power.

Until I’m not.

In reading this quote I began to understand. I slip away under my own power. Deceived.

“He [Satan] will take away your prayer life little by little, and cause you to trust God less and less and yourself more and more, a little at a time. He will make you feel somewhat cleverer than before. Step by step, you are misled to rely more on your own gift, and step by step your heart is enticed away from the Lord.” —Watchman Nee

Only when I stay connected in prayer do I find my confidence, my trust in God increases. I can rest in Him. In knowing He does all things well. I stop being confident in myself and in the letting go I can be the me He designed me to be.

 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18

Questions, Questions, What’s With All the Questions?

 

When I was a little girl and questions were a large part of my day I would ask my mother a questions and she would respond {in rather a smart-aleck tone}: “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.”  Profound.  I know. {rolling my eyes}  It didn’t take me long to figure out, when she answered thus, there would either be no answer from her to my question or the answer was “no”.

I didn’t get many answers from her that I could use; however, I did get quite a few examples of what not to say and, I suppose, from her actions I saw many answers to my questions that she gave without realizing.

I hadn’t thought about that quote for some time until the past couple of weeks. I’ve been pondering questions and answers since my Bible Study leader made this statement:

God is not afraid of our questions but we may be afraid of His answers.

And then, this week in my notes on the lesson came this gem:

Pressure from changes and threats in personal life or the world around them make people look for answers.”  

That quote came on the heels of this verse:

“Watch out that no one deceives you.” Matthew 24:4. 

The wheels started turning just about then and I began to think about what it is I question and who I ask for the answers. My mother is no longer around to “not” answer my questions. I am no longer a child who asks those childish questions either. Somewhere in the middle, between my child’s mind full of questions and my mother’s non-answers, lies the “answers” to questions I still have.

I realized as I began to grow up that I had to ask questions of myself. First the basics: What? Why? How? Where? When? Who? And then more complex questions that brought me back to the basics. And most of the time I didn’t get the answer. Because I didn’t have the answer and no one else did either. Like being on a merry-go-round. 

I came to the conclusion that I can take all my questions to God. He has the answers to all of my questions. 

Oh, but, You don’t want to bother Him with that…(insert any subject here).  He doesn’t want all of your questions. It’s impertinent to ask God questions”.

So you say.

Pardon me, but He does want me to ask questions and keep asking! If I choose to seek Him and to look for the wisdom that is there in His Word I will get the right answer at the right time. 

No, I’m not talking about answers to the next physics question in the book or what’s on TV tonight. It’s really much bigger and better than we could imagine.

Aha‘ moments abound.

Answers to what really matters. Like: Who is God? Who am I? Why Jesus? What does He want from me, really?  Who can I trust? What am I supposed to do with my life? How do I know whether it’s true, right or correct?

All these answers and more He will answer.  Simplistic? No.  Just Simple. We tend to make things hard on ourselves, don’t we?

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 6:7-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

How about your questions? where do you find answers?

A Mother’s Day Gift

As this Mother’s Day draws to a close I’m reminded of a gift I was given several years ago when my kids were young. It was a list.

Strange gift?

Yes and No.

It was a list of things to pray for your children. I was given this list in my Bible Study group as we looked forward to Mother’s Day that weekend. The list contained some deep character building, responsible adult producing and God-sensitive traits that I saw at once were what I needed to pray for my children. I was already praying for their salvation; but I must admit my prayers were simplistic and global in the way I prayed. True Confessions time: I was unorganized and to tell the truth a bit in ADHD mode in my prayers. I was easily distracted and other thoughts flitted around my head like starving butterflies.

We were asked to pray for each item on the list for a solid month. And then, we were asked to pray these, once a month, every year! What a challenge! 

To pray over one aspect of your child’s life for an extended period of time takes time. 

What mom wouldn’t wonder where that time could be had? Ahh, but what better investment?

Instead of praying all over the place, here were specific, God defining things that I should have thought of myself.  {It takes some of us longer to mature in Christ than others- no matter how long we’ve been believers!}

These twelve areas made an eternal difference in my children’s lives. My adult daughter still talks about one of the things on the list. I’ll let you in on it later!

Here is the list:

  1. Pray that your child would know Christ as savior early in life. 
  2. Pray that your child would have a hatred for sin.
  3. Pray that your child would be caught when guilty.
  4. Pray for your child’s protection from the evil one.
  5. Pray that your child would have a responsible attitude in their relationships.
  6. Pray that your child would respect those in authority over them.
  7. Pray that your child would desire the right kind of friends and for God’s protection from the wrong kind of friends. 
  8. Pray that your child would be kept from the wrong mate and be kept for the right mate. 
  9. Pray that your child, as well as the one he/she is to marry, will be kept pure.
  10. Pray that your child would totally submit to God and resist satan in ALL circumstances.
  11. Pray that your child would be single-hearted and sold out to Jesus.
  12. Pray that there would be a hedge about your child so he/she would not find wrong people or places and they will not find your child.

 

Although this is obviously not an all-inclusive list, the issues in this list are issues of the heart and mind. And eternity is at stake. In a world where it seems that everyone and everything is competing for our children’s attentions and affections we must see this is a battle for our children’s eternity. Not only for their present condition.

I also discovered that God brought so many other specific things to my heart to pray for them every day. Over the years I have seen God accomplish the shaping of their lives and He continues to shape their lives as they pray for their own children. I also discovered that I was a beneficiary of this time spent in specific prayer.

There are no magic potions, no magic cures; no quick and easy have perfect children solutions. Even the most obedient child has a misstep {or two} along the way. Whether that event is small in the bigger scheme of things or it’s a game changer and causes deep pain, praying for our children is the most important thing we can do for them.  

Ok, drum roll please –

The one she still talks about is #3. And, the truth of it, she and her brothers were each caught at one time or other. Not every time, but they did learn that very real, sometimes serious, consequences were the result and they understood how the poorly thought out and even flat wrong choices and acts were harmful to them and harmful to others around them as they matured.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 2 Timothy 1:3

 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Words Overheard

I was sitting in my local coffee establishment the other day, tucked away in a sunny corner sipping my non-fat latte when I over heard these words from a woman to her male colleague:

“Girls who have sex feel something in their hearts. It’s not just hello, goodbye. This generation, they feel nothing. For them it’s like going to Starbucks and ordering a coffee: “You want to have sex?” “Sure.”

Such sadness I heard in that mother’s voice from deep in her heart. She wanted something more for her daughter. Respect. Relationship. Commitment. Something down deep that she has recognized is missing. She’s heard it when she listened to her daughter talk about her friends. “So and so went home with K last night.” “Are they serious?” mom asked. “No” said the daughter with a laugh in her voice. “People just sleep together, mom. There’s no relationship, no strings.”

Mom is reflecting on what her daughter has said to her. She wonders, ‘is my daughter doing this too?’ She sees no emotional attachment whatever from them. She wants to know ‘What is this generation thinking?’

There was no way I could interject myself into the conversation that day. They moved on to talking about their professional lives after they left the subject when the male colleague commiserated with her saying that he just didn’t understand what they were thinking either. He expressed what it was like for boys when he was growing up. Words like respect, in the locker room and other words came from his mouth. No help there. I could see it in her eyes when she looked up, her reflection in the window.

 What I could do I did.

 I have become a clandestine pray-er. When I’ve heard things or saw things occur I’ve turned to the Lord to ask for provision for that person.  There have been occasions when I’ve been able to insert myself into conversation, but that was not to be that day. My heart was breaking for this mom. Her child is an adult, she can make her own decisions. Yet this mama’s heart recognized that what was happening was not right.

These parents are concerned for their children and their hearts; yet they do not understand what is missing because they themselves are missing Him in their own lives. In the end, because they have no answers, they will throw up their hands and claim they just don’t understand.

But, I’d like to say this to that young woman, to any young woman, be she 16 or 26:

“Hey there, sweet thing, you there, with your whole life ahead of you. There’s vast horizons ahead, full of hope and dreams of success. I see the anticipation in your bright eyes for what’s to come. I also see something else there, in the corner of your eye peaking out; the desire to be loved but not sure where to go or who to go to.  You look up. Across the room, I see it. Your eye catches his.

That one there–him.  Your heart whispers: ‘Would he love me?’ or ‘Would he use my body and walk away?’

Would you even realize that he had taken something from you that you don’t know how to get back? Will you be stolen from, like your friend there? I see it in her eyes, too- it shows behind that all-together look she presents to the world. I also see bewilderment-wondering how she ended up where she is and is this all there is?  She’s whispering to herself: ‘I guess I’ll always feel this way. That’s just how it is in this world.’

Oh dear one, there’s more, so much more for you. I don’t know you. I probably won’t ever even pass you on the street. But I can pray for you, for your friends, for your hearts to be protected by His love and grace. For someone to bring that word you are longing to hear-He Loves You, He Made You, He has a plan for You, He won’t ever leave you. He can take those feelings away and give you new feelings and He can remove that insecurity forever. You are His Child and don’t know it. Yet.”

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 6-8

My friends, become a clandestine pray-er with me? You may be the only person who prays for someone today.

 

St. Paddy’s Day

I know the day is almost over but i must share my favorite quote attributed to St. Patrick.

It is a portion of a prayer said to be his. I first came across this several years ago in England. We visited a small church that had beautiful note cards for sale for missions by the door.  This one touched me, not just for the beautiful scroll work around it but for the prayer itself:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

The thought of being surrounded inside and out with Christ was so powerful to me and has stayed with me through the years since. May you be blessed by the reading of it. 

“Praying Circles Around Your Children” {a review and a giveaway}

 

Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. has written a new book: Praying Circles around Your Children. In this book, He expands on the concept in his book The Circle Maker of the legend of Honi, the Circle  Maker.

 

            “Pray hard. Pray bold. Pray through.” 

   

Mark equates the drawing of Prayer Circles to praying without ceasing. He says that praying circles is all about resolving in your heart that you will pray until the day you die-ALAT- “as long as it takes”.

I agree that the most important thing we, as parents, can do for our children is to pray. Pray for them. Teach them to pray. Pray with them and ask them to pray for us.

Here he presents a simple and clear method to pray for and teach our children to pray. As a young parent, my prayers leaned toward Arrow Prayers. You know, the ones that speed to God in the middle of the crisis: “Help!”  It wasn’t until I had been a parent for a while that I began to pray with scripture when praying for my own children.

His five prayer circles include:

  • The importance of praying promises from scripture for our children
  • Making prayer lists for our children
  • Creating prayer mantras to pray over our children
  • Forming prayer circles with other parents
  • Praying through the Bible for each child individually and specifically

The one place where I find myself balking is the prayer mantra. The word, mantra, comes from the original Sanskrit meaning of a sacred message or text, charm, or spell. It is the word used in Hinduism and Buddhism to indicate any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration; and embodying some aspect of spiritual power. I equate it with another religion. This word has become a part of the vernacular of our culture; but I have a problem with its use in relation to our prayers. However, I do know the inherent power of the Word of the Lord-spoken and prayed.

The importance of praying scripture for and with our children ”your children need to hear and see you praying”, the concept of praying through the Bible with our child in mind and praying certain scriptures that apply specifically to our child’s personality are the jewels in this book. Because Mark’s bottom line is praying for God’s Will and for His Glory, I can say this little book would be an asset in any parent’s library.

get your own copy here

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in the review are my own. They have also graciously given me a couple of copies to give away to others.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the book, please let me know in the comments.