Tag Archives: Ephesians

Bolder Prayer Answered

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Bolder Prayer Answered

This part of the current series began Monday, so if you’re lost, please feel free to go HERE to catch up.

Reminder: Events detailed in the last post happened on a Wednesday evening.

My phone rang Thursday afternoon and Lisa was at the other end.  Not only had she secured the full-time job and was due to start on Monday, she also happened to meet a man that morning who happened to have a 2-bed apartment for rent at a decent price.  On top of it – the apartment was within walking distance of her new job.  Additionally, the landlord waived the application fee (which normally runs $65 – $75) and asked only for first month’s rent and a security deposit.  On top of all of that generosity, the landlord decreased the price of the security deposit asking only 1/3 of what he would normally ask.  Yet, even with all these breaks she was still $20 short.  I agreed to meet her the following day to assist with the $20.

Hanging up the phone I was overcome with excitement.  I praised God so hard my cheeks hurt!  GOD IS ABLE!  We asked and He immediately delivered!  An apartment and a job within 24 hours!  I instantly called the ladies at my table and informed them of the good news.  But we also had more work to do.  Lisa literally had nothing except for some clothes and her car.  She was going to need everything to start a household and food for at least two weeks before she got paid.  We prayed and once again God came through.

The ladies from my women’s ministry table responded with a variety of furniture ~ a bureau and mirror here, a bookcase there, a table and two chairs over here, and someone got two brand new beds donated by a neighborhood shop!  It was amazing.  It was incredible!  The love poured out of us and the community just for this one girl and her son.

This.  Was.  God.

The next day I met Lisa and her son at the local Chik-fil-A and pressed $40 that I could ill afford into her hands.  I told her I’d see her on Saturday because once she got into her apartment we’d be by with food and the furniture we’d managed to locate.  One of the ladies had also gotten a men’s group from the church to help load and unload the furniture and perform any other manly chores that needed to be done.

Later that day, as I was finishing up an emergency counseling session; I told my counselee that I was off to visit some yard sales to see if I could find dishes or pots and pans.  She looked at me quizzically and I filled her in on my young friend’s plight.  The woman sitting on the other side of the table just stared at me.  She told me she was preparing for a garage sale in a few weeks and I could come over tomorrow morning and see if the girl could use anything she was getting rid of.  What a godsend!  I jumped at the chance and arranged to drop by her place on Saturday morning.

I didn’t really know what to expect from what she was gathering for her garage sale, but I had my mental checklist – a couple of plates, bowls, and maybe some silverware and other cooking utensils.  When I arrived at her house it was obviously she’d worked putting together what she thought Lisa might need.  She’d already boxed up an entire set of dishware, an full set of utensils, silverware, 2 skillets, 2 pots, several pieces of bakeware, some platters, a creamer and sugar, plus – plus – plus.  I pulled out my wallet and asked what she wanted for the lot and she waved her hand at me.  She wanted to give them to Lisa and her son.  Her generosity was overwhelming and I couldn’t thank her enough.

I left my counselee’s home and headed toward Wal-Mart for food and other essentials like linens and basic kitchen implements.  I was thinking specifically of a coffee pot. I wanted to ensure she could feed herself and her son for the next two weeks.  On my way there I received a call from one of the ladies at our table who couldn’t participate in shopping but wanted me to have some cash to get what we needed and she met me at the entrance to Wal-Mart.  God is so good!

As I roamed the aisles I marveled at how God provided for His children within the small space of three days.  Each of my steps was filled with praise.  Each item I put into the basket was accompanied by words of gratitude.  People were looking at me oddly but I didn’t care.  I knew I was beaming with joy!  Sure, I was praising and worshiping God for His favor on Lisa and her son, but I was also praying for my bank account which had little to nothing in it.  There were a couple of times when I felt a pesky twinge to stop shopping, to stop giving, but I beat those thoughts back believing them to be from the enemy and let God know that I was looking for His provision as well.  I knew that He would either replace the money I was spending or that I wouldn’t miss it.

But God didn’t stop there.  He was going to give Lisa and her son immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20) whether we liked it or not!  On Sunday (day 4) another woman from our table who hadn’t been present on Wednesday and wouldn’t be with us the next week stopped me in the hallway before church with a donation for Lisa.

Then after one of the services that Sunday I prayed at the altar with an older woman.  As we finished up I watched her eyes flitter back and forth to my name tag.  I smiled and pronounced my name for her.  She smiled and shaking her head, asked me if I knew of a family who needed help.  I’m sure the look on my face was priceless and I briefly explained what was happening with Lisa and her son.  She then took a 20 dollar bill out of her Bible and gave it to me saying that God had told her to give it to me for the young family.

To this day, I cannot adequately explain my delight at being part of God’s blessing on Lisa and her son.  I remember walking out of the sanctuary that day like I was in some sort of dream.

Or maybe I was in heaven.

I could genuinely feel God’s pleasure in my bewilderment at what had transpired over the last four days.  If God were walking next to me at that moment I believe He would have poked me in the ribs and guffawed, “Aha! Gotcha!”

The following Wednesday our table met together and I filled the ladies in on the Sunday’s happenings.  Lisa had appeared to thank everyone for everything they’d done.  But we just laughed knowing it wasn’t us, but God who had performed miracles.

We asked Him for the impossible, trusted Him to provide, and He did.  AND HE DID!!!

When I mentioned the sensation of God being so pleased that He could stun us all into awestruck wonder, I was met by nods.  Seems I wasn’t the only one who’d gotten that feeling.

How great is our God?

Greater then we can ever imagine.

And join me on Friday for the rest of story.  Yes, believe it or not, there is more.

May His love fill you beyond measure.

Stronger in Prayer ~ Praying Boldly

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Stronger in Prayer ~ Praying Boldly

We’re still talking about answered prayer and I wanted to relate this story specifically because even though God did mighty things at the time (2012) in hind sight (natch!) I can see immeasurably more purpose to His answering one simple prayer of a few women.  If you missed …   Monday, Wednesday, and/or Friday.

I looked up to find the women’s ministry director leading a young girl I’d never seen before to my table.  We’d finished our Priscilla Shirer program the week before and were set to see a new, stand-alone Priscilla video this evening.  Deb introduced me to the young woman (whom I’ll call Lisa) telling me that she had just wandered in, was given the option of our program or the Beth Moore study happening in the other room, and had chosen Priscilla.  I welcomed Lisa and pulled out the chair next to me.  Before the rest of my ladies arrived at the table, I discovered that she was a single mom of a 2 ½ year old boy and although she hadn’t quite said as much, she seemed to be in a bad place.

We watched the video which focused on the principles found in Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV):

20Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen. 

Priscilla’s main point was that God is able to do – for you – immeasurably more than you can imagine.  How many times do we squander our time with God asking for the easy?  The video had affected all of us at the table as several women, and Lisa sniffed and wiped away an errant tear or two.  I thought about my own expectations of God.  I realized I was tired of asking God for the minimum because I felt some sort of embarrassment regarding my need.

At the end of the video Priscilla had us turn to each other and speak truth into each other’s lives.  I turned immediately to Lisa and am not really sure what I said (evidence that the Holy Spirit had taken over) I just knew that by the time I was done she and I and half the table were crying.  I laughed as I wiped away the tears that were coursing down my cheeks saying, “Sorry, it’s the Holy Spirit.”  Lisa was smiling brightly and her eyes shown as if lit by some inner light.  It was clear that whatever the Holy Spirit had spoken to her, it was as if some sort of weight had been lifted from her soul.  That was when she told us her story.

Lisa had been a Christian for just a few short years, divorced her husband for adultery, received full custody of her child, and moved back to Florida to live with her parents.  She had been abused by her father when she was a child, but had some hope that he’d changed with age?  Time?  I don’t know, but she was proven wrong.  When her father continued his abuse of her and had included her child, she left.  Now it seemed she was working a part-time job, was unable to find an apartment due to her husband’s poor credit and her non-credit, and was couch hopping between a few friends – and on the days she couldn’t stay with them – was sleeping in her car.

The one bright spot in her tale of woe was that she did have an interview for a full-time position the following day.  One of the ladies at the table said, “We’ll pray for you.”  The same way we Christians always say, “I’ll pray for you,” and may or may not.  But I couldn’t get the message we’d just heard out of my mind and held out my hands to the young girl and the woman on my right and said, “With what we’ve just heard about Ephesians 3:20, let’s pray right now.”

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us …  ~ Ephesians 3:20

I opened the prayer thanking God for bringing Lisa to our table … and then I thought about the promise of Ephesians 3:20 … and then I didn’t hold any punches.  I told God there was a reason He brought her to our table and asked Him squarely for a full-time job and an apartment for our young friend and her son.  She needed it now and not next month.  As the prayer grew and roamed around the table, the other ladies were equally as dynamic.  God had never heard such fervor from this group of women in any of our corporate prayer to this point.  We ended that that evening with my ladies pouring their hearts into this young woman and opening their wallets in aide.

The events in this post occurred on a Wednesday.  We Christians always talk about waiting on God because we’re also human and usually very impatient.  Some of my prayers take months and years to be answered (or at least for me to recognize the answer) and I often remind myself, “in God’s timing, not mine.”  But, it is absolutely refreshing when we can witness God work in an instant.  You’ll hear the rest of the story on Wednesday.

Please come back.

Bible Study ~ Stronger in Prayer

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Bible Study ~ Stronger in Prayer

When I got to Day 8 which is entitled “Stronger in Prayer” I kinda rolled my eyes.  Not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I’m a poster-child for the value of prayer and know I could write a month’s worth of posts about it.  In fact, I think it’s so important that we’re going to talk about prayer all this week.  But how, I thought, could David Arthur break this important issue down to one day of study?  I was not going to be disappointed.

David initially asks if we see our life as a train or a hot air balloon.  A train that is bound by tracks moving in a linear direction or a balloon – soft in shape and form and easily able to change direction.  Paula thinks she’s more like a train, I think I might be a little of both … but more balloon like.  David likens trains to doing their own thing (because they’re rigid and can’t change unless the track is rerouted) and balloons as being led by the Spirit.  I think we would all like that, wouldn’t we?  So in tune with God that you turn at a moment’s notice this way or that depending on His guidance.

My favorite line on the whole day is when David says, “To grow strong as believers, we need to be guided, moved, and shaped by the wind of the Holy Spirit.”  And how do we do that?  Through prayer – by allowing us to speak to Him and through which He can speak to us – God can mold and shape us.  Does that seem funny to you?  Are you one who oft-times finds themselves praying and trying to shape and mold God with your petitions?

Now, I’m not one who will tell someone that they’re praying incorrectly … everyone should pray as they see fit because that’s a conversation between you and God.  But once I was leading a small group and one of the members was asking the group to pray for her to find a home.  When I prompted everyone to bow their heads, she asked me to wait because she hadn’t finished telling everyone how to pray.  My curiosity was piqued and I listened as she gave everyone a little slip of paper to read while they prayed.  I looked at the slip that she shoved into my hand and noticed that she’d taken parts of certain verses and had combined them into a sentence describing what she wanted.  I surveyed the group – most looked like they were in a state of shock.  She explained that finding this in the Bible meant that it was a promise for her to hold on to and she wanted us to remind God of His promise to her.  I looked again at what she’d typed up – it read almost like some sort of incantation – an attempt to influence God to do what she wanted.

I feel quite comfortable saying, “This is not the way to pray.”

God is not a big vending machine in the sky whom you can instruct to do your bidding.

I suggested that we pray Ephesians 3:20 over her situation:

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us … (HCSB)

Praying this verse does two things:  (1) It asks God to do more than we’re asking for in a certain situation; but (2) it is also dependent on the power that works in us – meaning – the Holy Spirit.  If one prays this prayer and isn’t Spirit-filled, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to happen.  After the group had left I spoke to the woman about her needs and prayed one-on-one with her as well.  Sometimes, when we get desperate, we’ll do anything to get the results we want.  It becomes problematic when the results we want are not in God’s will.  Do I mean God didn’t want her to have a house?  No way.  God knows that shelter is a basic need of ours; but do we need our own home on an acre of land with trees and a river?  No, and yet that was what she was asking for.  We prayed that day that she would get a roof over her head, and that she did, within the week.

I’d like to tell you another story about how Ephesians 3:20 worked in my life, and the lives of about eight other ladies, but I’ll hold that until later.

Until Wednesday then … I pray you have a great week!