Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Set Apart Femininity - Chapter 6, Part III

Sacred Cultivation

Unearthing Femininity's Valiant Strength

What Christ Says About Prayer:

He asks us to be relentlessly persistent.

Matthew 15:21-28 tells a story about a woman who persisted in asking Jesus for something, and was rewarded for her faithfulness.
"Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, 'Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon possessed." But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us." But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and began to bow down before Him saying, "Lord, help me!" And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from the Master's table." Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once."

Instead of rebuking the woman for pestering Him, Jesus rewarded her for her faith.
Here's what E.M. Bounds wote on this story:

"The case of the Syrophoenician a notable instance of successful importunity (persistence)... At first, Jesus appears to pay no attention to her agony, and ignores her cry for relief. He gives neither eye, nor ear, nor word. Silence, deep and childding, greets her impassioned cry. But she is not turned aside, or disheartened. She holds on. The disciples, offended at her unseemly clamor, intercede for her, but are silenced by the Lord's declaring that the woman is entirely outside the scope of His mission and ministry. But neither the failure of the disciples to gain her a hearing nor the knowledge - despairing in its very nature - that she is barred from the benefits of His mission, daunt her, and serve only to lend intensity and increased boldness to her approach to Christ. She came closer... falling at His feet, worshiping Him and making her daughter's case her own, cries, with pointed brevity, "Lord, help me!" This last cry won her case; her daughter was healed in the self-same hour. Hopeful, urgent and unwearied, she stays near the master, insisting and praying until the answer is given. What a study in importunity, in earnestness, in persistence, promoted and propelled under conditions which would have disheartened any but a heroic, constant soul."

He delights to give good gifts to His children.

Christians are often afraid to pray about the things that we need or want because we think we're praying to some scary guy in the sky, not our loving Father who longs to care for us. He wants to bless us far beyond what we could ever imagine.
We often pray, "Lord, if its your will, will you please do this or that?" However, this keeps us from being bold and specific in our prayers. Leslie relates her uncomfortableness when she first began to pray with boldness:
"To be honest, it makes me a little uncomfortable to make such bold statements about the manifold blessings of God because I have seen many professing Christians abuse this principle, asking God to give them the selfish cravings of their flesh...Scripture makes it clear that if we are living for selfish pleasure instead of for Christ, we will not receive the things we ask for."

He wants us to ask for big things - and have faith that He will answer.

"Jesus said to him, "...all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

God wants us to be bold enough to ask for specific things. Charles Spurgeon said, "There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed."

He asks us to pray "day and night" without ceasing.

When our spiritual lives are thriving, and our prayer becomes the foundation of our existence, every other area of our lives begins to thrive as a result. We will not only have victory in our personal lives, but we, like the virtuous women in 1 Timothy 5 and Proverbs 31, will be strong in order to pray on behalf of others.
When prayer is missing in our lives, we spend countless time nad energy trying to make our lives work in our own strength. But, as Psalm 1 says, when we meditate on the Lord day and night we become like a tree that brings forth much fruit - and everything we do just works out.
"Our time is multiplied. Our effectiveness is multiplied. Our energy is multiplied. Life becomes fruitful instead of frustrating."
I think all Christians have experienced this at one time or another. I know I have.
One time, several years ago, I was feeling very confused inside. My mind was like a bowl of spaghetti, all of my problems and issues so twisted around one another that I couldn't decipher one from the other. I decided I needed some time of quiet. I bundled up in one of my mom's coats and walked down the path to our pond. Sitting on an old stump, I sat, the wind blowing my hair, the leaves floating through the air. It was a beautiful fall day. I started pouring out my heart to God, sometimes with tears, sometimes so quiet, that only God's ears heard my words. I spent over an hour down there praying, and when I finished, it was as if my mind was completly clear. I had given all of my burdens to God, and in his majesty, he took them on himself. It was an awesome experience, because I have an awesome God.
He wants to do the same thing for me every time I have a problem. Imagine how much time and suffering I would've saved if I had gone to God when my problems first started. We are called to "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thess 5:17). That isn't impossible, or a exaggeration. You can pray before you wake up, pray as you brush your teeth, as you're making and eating meals, riding in the car, during the shower, while playing music, etc. Make prayer the highest priority in your life.
"Don't get bogged down with complicated formulas. Don't wait until prayer seems convenient. And, as Corrie ten Boom said, "Don't pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it."

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