Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The second hindrance to prayer

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

In the grainy photo to the left, are Lisa Anderson, myself, and Hazel Van Hove at the Joyce Meyer Conference in St. Paul, MN, which ignited the desire to begin this bible study blog.

We are investing time with each other, and with God, as we move through the Joyce Meyer devotional workbook and "field guide," The Revolution."  Let's start again with prayer. I want the Holy Spirit so deeply entrenched in our study we cannot do anything but marvel in the way He moves our hearts to grow in love, and our minds to gain wisdom!

Father, thank you for reminding us to make time with you, the most important time of our day. I am a much more compassionate and patient mother and wife when I have put time with you first each day. Nothing seems worth being upset about when I am still aglow from the filling of your Holy Spirit! In Jesus' name, amen.

I'm going to break this up over several days or this will just be so long your eyes will cross from reading! Let's get started!

Have you read the book, or watched the movie version of "Persuasion," by Jane Austen? In one scene, Mrs. Croft is describing why she enjoyed being with her husband, Admiral Croft, on his ship. She said the only time she ever "imagined" herself unwell, was the time she crossed the ocean by herself, on another ship. Then she was afraid, but "as long as we could be together, nothing ever bothered me." That's the life we can live when we spend time with God and truly seek His input and direction in our lives.

As long as we are spending time together, talking and praying to God, seeking His guidance, appreciating His help and gifts, finding out what we can do to show Him love in return (that's like discovering His love language!) then nothing much can bother us.

I used to know this in my mind, and had glimpses of it when in sincere prayer and praise, but recently, I am experiencing it in such a way that I almost feel my heart will burst with this strange feeling of just wanting to do something loving for everyone, not just those in my house, but everyone! Believe me, I don't get up feeling this way. It's something that kicks in as soon as I start my morning prayer and am thanking God for all the good things going on in my life, and thanking Him for working in all the things that aren't going so great, and for leading my mouth and my intentions today, etc.

I recently went through a period of time when I wasn't spending time with God every morning. Life was fine, even happy, other than the day to day stressors. I wasn't falling away from God, or having a crisis of faith, I was just coasting. Now, Joyce Meyer is no more or less anointed than any other Jesus-loving believer who is called to share God's message of love, but it happens that going to her conference recently gave me an opportunity to dig into the Bible and listen to sincere, practical teaching about my relationship with God, as well as get caught up in the spirit of joy, forgiveness, and worship that seemed to saturate the Xcel Energy Center - for three whole days.

Let me tell you, getting into sincere bible study, singing and praising God with music, and being around people who are determined to demonstrate character, integrity and kindness cannot help but quicken the heart of anyone with even an ounce of desire to know God more intimately.

Sure, it's easy to have an emotional moment during a concert, or in the midst of thousands of praying believers, but what I experienced was more a personal revival, or a revolution. The Revolution message finally got past my head and into my heart, and that's where real change starts, the heart.

Now, some of you need to hear the reassurance that I'm not talking about being in denial of stressors or problems, I'm talking about being less concerned with stressors or problems and more concerned with connecting with the people I love and actively loving them. I am in no way suggesting we not deal with things that need to be dealt with, irresponsibility is not Godly. However, can't you think of some things that you really can't do anything about, yet you think and worry over them all the time anyway, letting these thoughts steal your joy of the life you are living right now?

Turn to Matthew 6:25-34; Psalm 121:1-2; and Proverbs 3:5-6 and record what you learn about Jesus' instructions to believers about worrying:

Is He saying walk around in the buff and trust God to supernaturally slap some duds on you on your way out the door, a'la "Evan Almighty?" Give me a break. Is He saying not to care if your kids don't have shoes that fit and you don't have a paycheck for three more weeks? No. He is saying ask for what you need, trust that God is working on it, let appropriate people around you know what your needs are so someone can be moved to help, and get on with your day knowing it is alright to be happy in the middle of problems.

Problems do not have to control your mood, your reactions, or your faith in God! Did you hear that? Can you name me a time when your life will not have problems of some kind? Stressors? Disappointments? Failures? Deaths? Conflict? So WHEN, I ask you, exactly are you going to choose to start believing God, believing in His love, receiving it, and sharing it with the people in your life? I'll be happy when is never going to happen, folks.

So, let's be happy today even though there are problems. If you have a chance to be kind today, do it! If you have a chance to do something for someone who cannot do anything in return for you, do it! If you have a chance to be interrupted by a child today, do it! Don't be surprised if you get a little shot of joy in return.

Now, what were those remaining 6 hindrances to prayer that Joyce Meyer talked about? Oh yes, the second hindrance is :

Hidden Sin - Yikes, that hurts. Are you saying God knows the tally I am keeping in my heart of my husband's short-comings??? I'm saying He knows it all, sister! Read Psalm 66:18. It just means that you know if you are holding on to desires for the wrong things, or behaviors that interfere with an honest, meaningful relationship with God. He is going to be more concerned with your seeing it for what it is, and letting go of what is not working so He can  move you forward, than He is with letting you sit in your sin and just making you think it's all O.K.

Look at it this way: when you know your children are lying to you, or doing some things you want them to stop, do you keep blessing them with the car keys or do you set up some consequences to give them an incentive to change?

A common way we sin is through strife in our relationships. Churches have broken up over squabbling and gossip, not to mention friendship and even marriages. The quickest way out of sin is to ask God to reveal to you anything you are doing that is hindering your prayers. If you are sincere, He will show you and when He does, believe me, you will be glad to ask Him for forgiveness and experience the joy that comes with it.

If you have a recurring sin that you have struggled with for a long time, sometimes God sets you free immediately, and sometimes you will gain more from working through it day by day. Start each day asking God for help first thing in the morning. It is often helpful to honestly and openly confess your struggle to a trustworthy Christian friend, Pastor or counselor, and allow them to help you to work towards change over time. Paul suffered with a trial like this, a daily trouble, and he was probably the most influential believer in the Bible! Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Now, ask God if you have been holding on to sin. Ask Him to reveal any ways you have resisted Him in your life. Ask Him to give you a heart ready to change. Write down what you discover here, if you like, and if you have a trusted Christian confidant, tell him or her what you have learned about yourself. Most importantly, tell God you are sorry and ask His forgiveness. It feels so good to release our faults and bitterness, it makes me just want to dance! Let's pray together:

"Lord, I discovered I have been sinning and grieving your heart by:

I am so sorry for the way I have behaved, and now that I know, I am so grateful you have forgiven me and are opening the doors of blessing on my heart! You tell us to first seek You, and then You will give us all the good desires of our hearts! Help me to remember the first step, the most important priority in my life, is to seek You, and then . . . Make me desire what you desire, and I know my prayers will be answered. In Jesus' name, amen."

Have a joy-filled day and thank you for commenting and sharing with me your insights and the changes God is making in your  life as well! Love, Karen

Links to bible study posts:
 A good bible study - intro
Something can and must change - day one
Why prayer goes unanswered? - day two

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