February 20, 2011

Week Three Cultivating a Heart of Prayer

The Lord awakened me this morning with you and this week’s lesson on my mind. I prayed fervently for God to be at work in and through our next lesson as we learn to take His Word and pray it back to Him.

Prayer is one of my passions because praying God’s Word has completely transformed my prayer life. Through this transformation, I have witnessed specific and powerful answers to prayer. Why? Because when we pray God’s Word back to Him, He must honor it. True to His character, He cannot go back on His Word.

Think about these two questions:

Mom, can I have a piece of candy?

Mom, remember yesterday you promised me a piece of candy? May I have it now, please?

Which statement resonates more strongly in your heart…the one in which your child simply asks for a piece of candy, or the one in which your child reminds you of your promise? The latter, of course. When we pray God’ s Word back to Him, we are reminding Him of His promises.

It is important to realize that God’s honoring His Word does not always result in a “yes” to our prayers, but be assured that His answer will be in line with His Word and true to His character. This is why KNOWING the Word is so important in prayer.

So, after a few housekeeping details, let’s begin today’s lesson.

Registration: To register for the study and for announcements of future on-line studies, please leave a comment on my blog with your first name and e-mail address or e-mail me at Deuteronomysix@aol.com.

Subscribing: I encourage you to subscribe to the study via my blog. When you do, you will receive each week’s lesson in your in-box. Receiving it in your inbox makes it easy to print the homework and transfer it to a notebook. If this link does not work, you may also subscribe by clicking on the “Subscribe via e-mail” link located at the top of my sidebar. However, you will not be able to see the videos, make a comment, or read comments. You must visit the blog directly to access the video and comments.

Now back to the lesson. Below please find this week’s lesson and homework.

Homework Questions: Please do as many questions as time allows. Your time reading and studying is when God will do His greatest work!

Prayer:

Lord, this week we dig into Your living and active Word. We invite You to speak in very personal and powerful ways as we seek hard after You. Listening is hard for us. Quieting our hearts, being still seems impossible in this busy world. We are driven to do and to go…to accomplish and to achieve. This week enable us through the power of Your Holy Spirit to REST…to BE STILL…to hear Your still small voice. Help us to be and not to do. We want to sit in the Light of Your Presence and soak up all that You have for us. Make us comfortable as we sit at Your feet. Teach us to pray, Lord. Teach us to pray!! We ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

1. Praying powerful and effective prayers begins with incorporating God’s Word into your prayers. This week we read John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my Words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” The key to answered prayer is knowing God’s Word. Take some time to find these verses and note what each says about God’s Word.

a. Deuteronomy 8:3

b. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

c. Deuteronomy 11:18-19

d. Psalm 119:9

e. Pslam 119:105, 130

f. 2 Samuel 22:31; Proverbs 30:5

g. Isaiah 55:11

h. Hebrews 4:12

i. James 1:22

j 2 Peter 1:19-21

k. Matthew 24:35

l. Jeremiah 15:16

m. Colossians 3:16

2. Take some time to sit with God’s Word. Pray before you open your Bible, “Father, open the eyes of my heart so I can see the wonderful things in your Law.” Perhaps you will choose a familiar book…. a gospel, the Psalms, or a book whose name you don’t even recognize. Whatever book you choose, as you gaze into God’s Word, ask for ears to hear and a heart to receive what He is speaking to you. Search the Scriptures. Listen for His voice. Seek His perspective on what you read. When you pinpoint the Scriptures that speak to your heart, write them down, and spend some time pondering and praying through them. Ask the Lord what He wants you to do with what you have read and learned.

3. For our final excercise this week, we will choose some verses of Scripture and pray them back to God. Let me share a personal example. Lamentations 2:19 says, “Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him in prayer, pleading for your children.” In this verse, God calls parents to pray for their children. In response to this, I felt led to pray for my children. I started with baby steps and selected a few verses and prayed them for my children. Here are a few examples of the short prayers I have written for Lauren and Bo.

Lord, please hide Your Word in Lauren’s heart so her desire is to please You and obey You in all she says and does. (Psalm 119:11)

Help Bo trust in You with all His heart and lean not on his own understanding and to acknowledge You in all his ways. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Remind Lauren when she feels discouraged and like she cannot accomplish what is set before her that she can do all things through You who strengthens her. (Philippians 4:13)

Clothe Bo in humility and teach him to put others first. (Ephesians 4:2, Luke 18:14)

Grow Lauren and Bo in wisdom, stature, and favor with You and with man. (Luke 2:52, Daniel 1)

Assignment: For the next few days, search God’s Word for verses that address concerns in your life (marriage, fear, anger, anxiety/worry, depression/hopelessness, lonliness, doubt, unforgiveness, bitterness).

For example, if you struggle with worry, look up the word anxious or worry or peace in the concordance in the back of your Bible and find verses that include those words. Write them down, personalize them, and pray them back to God. When I searched, I found Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. The you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Your prayer could read like this:

Father, I have so much on my mind right now. I cannot even sleep at night. I feel so anxious. Your Word asks me to pray about everything. So right now, Father, I am coming to You with my worries, especially___________. Father, I thank You for Your faithfulness. I thank You that You are in control of all things. I want to experience Your peace. So right now I am giving all of my worries to You, Lord, and claiming Your promise that in doing this, Your peace, the peace that passes all understanding, will guard my heart and mind. I thank You that I will be filled with Your peace from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I trust You for this.

[The prayers in Question 3 are taken from Chapter 9 in my book, Hidden Joy in A Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story. You can find it at Proverbs 31 as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many Christian bookstores]

Please share bits and pieces of your prayers on the blog this week. Reading each other’s prayers will not only be a great encouragement but also a wonderful way to see practical application of this lesson.

Blessings,

February 13, 2011

Week Two Cultivating a Heart of Prayer

What a sweet and precious week I have had reading through your comments. Your hunger for a deeper prayer life clearly shows God’s Hand in the selection of this topic. How honored I am to walk alongside you in this prayer journey.

Julie, your comment, “Hurry is the death of prayer,” is a great way to introduce this week’s lesson on abiding. We will spend our time in John 15 and study Jesus’ words on abiding. To “abide” is to remain or stay, to continue in a particular state for a long period of time. To “hurry” is to proceed with haste, to expedite. Abiding is the key to a powerful and effective prayer life, thus hurrying and abiding cannot coincide.

Before we jump into the lesson, here is some helpful information for this on-line study:

Registration: To register for the study and for announcements of future on-line studies, please leave a comment on my blog with your first name and e-mail address or e-mail me at Deuteronomysix@aol.com.

Subscribing: I encourage you to subscribe to the study via my blog. When you do, you will receive each week’s lesson in your in-box. Receiving it in your inbox makes it easy to print the homework and transfer it to a notebook. If this link does not work, you may also subscribe by clicking on the “Subscribe via e-mail” link located at the top of my sidebar. However, you will not be able to see the videos, make a comment, or read comments. You must visit the blog directly to access the video and comments.

Now back to the lesson. Below please find this week’s lesson and homework. My heart is full of anticipation for what the Lord will do through our time with Him this week. I am praying Ephesians 3:20 for every one of you joining us this week…

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more, abundantly more, exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…Father, make this verse come alive in each one of us this week as we seek to spend time with You…to abide in You…to receive the fullness of all You have for us!!

Homework Questions: Please do as many questions as time allows. Your time reading and studying is when God will do His greatest work!

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, You alone are my delight. Only You, Father, satisfy the cravings deep in my soul. As I commit to abide, to sit at Your feet, detain me there through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Keep me still before You. Quiet my heart. Speak to me. Cover me with Your Love; wash me with Your Truth, and fill me with Your Spirit. Help me make Jesus’ walk with the disciples on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane and His message to them a reality in my life. This week as I spend time in Your Word, make it come alive to me. Work in and through me in very real and powerful ways so that I know that I know it is You. Father, as you mold in me a heart of prayer, I praise You every step of the way. I praise You as our covenant-keeping God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I praise You as the Maker of all things…the King of kings, the Lord of lords…Lord Most High. I submit my schedule and my time to You. Help me to KNOW the power of John 15 abiding in my life. Make Your living and active Word come alive in me. I claim victory in this in the powerful Name above all names, Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

In this week’s homework, we learn to practically apply what we have learned. We will spend time each day abiding and being still before God. I hesitate to give you a time frame within which to complete each day’s assignment. Instead, my prayer is that the Lord will lead you as you carve out time each day to spend with Him. Each day has Scriptures with a general theme. Open your Bible and locate the verses. Then spend some time reading, meditating, and listening. When you are done, respond with what God has laid on your heart…what His Spirit has spoken.

Day One: Get still before the Lord and simply spend time in praise.

a. Psalm 27:4

b. Psalm 84

c. Psalm 90:1-2

d. Psalm 145, especially 14, 17-20

Write a response to what you have read today.

Day Two: Sit with the Lord and acknowledge the gift of the cross.

a. Isaiah 1:18 and Isaiah 53:1-12

b. Psalm 51

c. John 8:36

d. Romans 8:1

e. 2 Corinthians 5:17

f. 1 John 1:8-9

Pray this prayer:

Lord, the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit, and a contrite heart You will not despise. Today, I confess my sin, especially _______________. Thank you that Your Word promises that when I confess my sin, You are faithful and just and will forgive me my sin and purify me from all unrighteousness. Thank You that Your blood, the blood You shed on the cross sets me free and Your Word promises that when You set me free, I am free indeed! Thank You that according to Your Word there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thank You that You see me through the blood of Your Son Jesus. Thank You that all things old are gone and the new has come. Thank You that You have washed me white as snow and that my sins are as far away as the east is from the west! Today I receive Your forgiveness and cannot wait to live in the fullness of all You have to offer. AMEN.

Write a response to what you have read today.

Day Three: Sit before the Lord and draw near to His heart.

a. Proverbs 2:1-15

b. Proverbs 4:20-27

c. Isaiah 55:1-3, 6

d. Hebrews 10:19-25

Write a response to what you have read today.

Day Four: Sit before the Lord and simply spend time in His Presence…no agenda just you and God.

a. Joshua 1:8-9

b. Psalm 1:1-6

c. Psalm 63:1-8

d. Isaiah 30:15-18

e. Isaiah 40:28-31

f. Exodus 33:14

Write a response to what you have read today.

Day Five: Sit with the Lord and rejoice in all He has done in and through your time this week.

a. Jeremiah 9:23-24

b. Matthew 11:28-30

c. Philippians 3:7-10

Write a response to what you have learned today.

The winner of the Target gift card is Desert Mermaid, Toni Brown. God’s Word promises that he who humbles himself will be exalted. Sweet friend, what an example you set this week… humbling yourself before us with your request for forgiveness. Robin Jones so aptly quoted this verse in her comment to you…there is nothing God desires more than a broken and contrite heart. You are at the perfect place for Him to reach down and reveal Himself to you in amazing ways you could have never imagined. I join her in praying that for you. Toni, please send your home address to deuteronomysix@aol.com, and I will send you your gift card.

Blessings and Happy Valentines Day,

February 6, 2011

Week One Cultivating a Heart of Prayer

Welcome to week one of our newest on-line study, Cultivating a Heart of Prayer!

I am so excited to start our journey today! Be sure to read through to the bottom because there is a fun giveaway today.

Please know that as I have been preparing, I have been praying for you. Your words of encouragement and your excitement to begin this study have blessed me beyond measure. We have over 2400 women from across the globe signed up. How AWESOME is that!!!! Oh, how I wish we could all sit together in one place and see each other’s smiling faces. But this is how God has chosen to bring us together, and I know He will be at work in and among us!!

We are about to embark on a four week journey to learn to cultivate a heart of prayer. My prayer, sweet friends, is that as we come together and commit our whole hearts to this study, God will stretch us and grow us in such a way that not a single one of us will ever pray the same again!

We will have homework each week. Do not be overwhelmed…you have one week to complete the questions. Remember, it is the time you spend with God in His Word that will teach, bless, and transform you.

To register for the study and for announcements of future on-line studies, please leave a comment on my blog with your first name and e-mail address or e-mail me at Deuteronomysix@aol.com.

I encourage you to subscribe to the study via my blog. When you do, you will receive each week’s lesson in your in-box. If this link does not work, you may also subscribe by clicking on the “Subscribe via e-mail” link located at the top of my sidebar. However, you will not be able to see the videos or comments unless you visit my blog directly.

Below please find this week’s lesson and homework.

Homework Questions: Please do as many questions as time allows. Your time reading and studying is when God will do His greatest work!

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I know how often I fail to give You first priority. I allow the busyness in my life to push You aside. Yet, I also know how I long to be with You, to hear Your voice, and to know Your Presence. Will You reveal the places in my heart that keep me from hearing You speak? Make my heart tender to see my faults and my sins. Touch the places in my heart that are strangled by thorns, free them, and allow me to grow deeper in my relationship with You. Lord help me to be still and know that You are God. Give me a heart of worship. Please help me to truly KNOW how wide and high and deep and long is Your love. Father, I invite You this day to cultivate in me a heart of prayer. Fill me to the fullness of You. I love You, Lord, and thank You in advance for all You will do in my life as I open Your Word, study, and pray. I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

1. Did you pray as a child? If yes, how did your family incorporate prayer? If no, why did you not pray as a child?

2. Do you pray now? If so, is it different from when you were a child? Describe your current prayer life. If you do not pray as an adult, why is that?

3. Read the following verses. How do these verses align with your thoughts on prayer and how you currently pray.

a. Colossians 4:2

b. James 5:16

c. Psalm 46:10

d. Ephesians 6:11, 17-18

e. John 15:7

4. Let’s begin with an all familiar story from Luke Chapter 10. But as you read it, ask the Lord to speak a fresh Word to you. Jot down what you hear Him speak to you. Ask Him to show you new truths and how these truths apply to your life. Ask Him how they can help you cultivate a heart of prayer. Read Luke 10:38-42.

Jesus says, “Martha, Martha….You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Martha simply wanted Jesus to tell Mary to help in the kitchen. But instead of giving her what she wanted, Jesus gently rebuked Martha. As you read His words, how did they make you feel? What did they speak to your heart about your life’s priorities?

5 What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better?”

6 Jesus did not want Martha to change who she was; He simply wanted her to make a change in her priorities. Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus before she did anything else. We all face distractions or barriers to our time alone with God. Put a check by the one(s) with which you struggle.

a. busyness: always on the go

b. too many responsibilities: job, mom, wife, volunteer…not enough time in the day

c. trials/hardships: feeling like you cannot count on God due to your circumstances

d. pride: not feeling like you need time with God

e. tiredness/weariness: cannot wake up early

f. depression: feel hopeless, God can’t help anyway

g. unworthiness: Feel God has more important things to worry about than you

7. Prayerfully examine your priorities. A helpful way to do this is to look at your daily schedule and ask yourself what takes precedent in your day/what do you spend most of your time doing during the day. What do you do with any “free” time you have? Where does Jesus come into your daily activities?

8. Wake up every morning and before you even set you feet on the floor, take 2-3 minutes to greet the Lord and praise Him. Praise Him for who He is. Below are some Words and character traits to help you begin.

King of kings, Lord of lords, Abba Father, Faithful and True, Lamb of God, Bread of Life, Living Water, Savior, Redeemer, Prince of Peace, Holy One, Comforter, Son of God, Good Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Defender, Strong Tower, Rock, Salvation, King of Glory, Strength of my heart and my Portion forever, Lover of My Soul, Rock of Ages, Emmanuel, Messiah, The Word, Name Above All Names, The True Vine, Teacher, Light of the World, the Resurrection and the Life, the Great “I Am,” the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever!!!

As you praise God each morning, ask Him for the ability to experience Him through your praise in very real and personal ways. Please come back and share on the blog how God used your time of praise. I will select a winner from the comments to receive a $20 gift card to Target!!

Today we have lots of introspective questions. Please sit before God with an honest and open heart. Hear what He has to speak to you. Don’t shut Him out if you don’t like what you see or hear as you examine your priorities. He is ready and waiting to help you reprioritize. He is waiting for you to come to Him.

Blessings to you today!!