We will soon finish Anything by Jennie Allen
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February starts the very timely:
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
by Joanna Weaver
Weeks ago we began a journey to gain a deeper understanding of how prayer works, and to practice tools that lead us into VICTORY over the enemy's plans. We know now how to pray with power and effectiveness!
Here are a few of my 'take-aways':
In the Introduction Priscilla writes about the plots of the enemy that can exist in the background of our life. Is every challenge from the enemy? NO. But we cannot ignore that possibility because Jesus taught, 'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..." [emphasis mine] John 10.10a.
Priscilla writes, "He [the enemy] want to see you passionless, powerless, and prayerless." p 14. So my number one take-away is: BE CONNECTED PASSIONATELY WITH GOD AND HIS WORD. REMEMBER TO KEEP MY EYES OPEN. REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR MYSELF, MY RELATIONSHIPS, AND FOR OTHERS.
So how does that passionate connection and fervent prayer happen? In the chapter, Your Focus, Priscilla talks about the "full armor of God," Ephesians 6.14-17. "The needed weapons and protection for actively defeating the real enemy (vv. 14-17) --- the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of gospel peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation , and the sword of the spirit, better known as the Word of God." [emphasis mine]
She writes: "Truth is God's standard. ... the benchmark of the Bible. Righteousness means right living --- the process by which we apply this truth to our lives... Peace is the deep, inner, eternal stability ... by virtue of relationship with Jesus... Faith is the application of what one believes... Salvation is both our eternal security ... as well as the full inheritance, [and finally] The Word of God is His present, relevant, personal Word for us today." What does all this mean?
RELATIONSHIP with Jesus and the Word equips me with power to defeat the enemy's plots!
The book then focuses on a number of areas in our life. Each chapter offers us the opportunity to look more closely at our circumstances, reactions, relationships, hopes and dreams, and to recognize flaws and areas where we might be vulnerable. There are chapters that were more relevant to me than others, perhaps it was the same for you...
This book is a 'primer,' a beginning place for understanding the HUGE POWER within prayer... and how to get to that place where your prayers CAN EFFECT CHANGE ~ not just in your life, but in the lives of all those you love and pray for.
You can leave your thoughts about the book or prayer by clicking the "Comments" button below. What did Fervent mean to you?
“If I were your enemy, I’d work to create division between you and other Christians, between groups of Christians, anyone with the potential for uniting in a battle against me and my plans. I’d keep you operating individually, not seeing your need for the church…”
There's very little more comforting or peaceful than a quiet puppy, warm and cozy in your lap or hand. It's a heart-warming feeling of peace. Our church can also be that same source of peace. God created Her to give peace, companionship, comfort, etc.
But, have you ever witnessed a church split? That time when God’s children separate into camps, choosing up sides while digging in for the long haul. Each group convinced of their innocence believing the other is tearing God’s church apart. The situation has the potential to make mortal enemies of those who were brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some important thoughts in this chapter:
"So starting today, we craft a prayer strategy with peace in mind, leading to peace of mind for ourselves and the ones we love."
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, ... having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
, "If I were your enemy, I'd use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events and circumstances that caused them. I'd try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness..."
In this chapter Priscilla shares an important story. It's a tale of misunderstanding, growing anger, all eventually ending in deeply-rooted bitterness and hurt.
I've lived through it, that revolving doorway of hurt. Just like the revolving doors at the airport we have opportunities to simply walk out, but instead we continue going around in that circle.
When remembering some of my most painful hurts it seemed that after a while what caused the misunderstanding didn't matter as much to me as the woundedness I blamed on someone else. But if we could see behind the scenes we'd realize that while we're going through all this suffering, the enemy is laughing!
The enemy enjoys layering on injury and imagining - encouraging the creative 'blaming' on everyone but us to run wild! Soon a sad situation has become a mess. We're playing right into the enemy's hands. Holding a grudge? Feeling abused? Unforgiving? Convinced of the absolute worst we could 'imagine...?' Blaming others... We're headed straight into an attitude of bitterness and hurt...
On page 161 Priscilla writes:
"Prayer gets at the truth. The truth of what happened? Yes. If that's really what took place, then yes. The real facts and details don't change as you get real with God in prayer. But get ready for some other pieces of information to bubble up to the surface as well..."
It's true that when we come to a place of wanting healing - God will help us. (But He never said it would be pretty.) You may see, as Priscilla did, as I did, your own complicity in the misunderstanding. You may see that your unforgiveness caused an escalation of the hurt you and another suffered. You may even see that your mistaken impressions fostered an attitude of false impressions that had nothing to do with the truth.
Then, when God lays all the evidence on the table, you can pick up the pieces that are yours. You can ask for His forgiveness and watch those pieces vanish. You feel the freedom and peace of forgiveness and are able to then focus on forgiving.
"If I were your enemy, I'd make everything seem urgent, as if it's all yours to handle. I'd bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn't tell the difference between what's important and what's not. Going and doing, guilty for never saying no, trying to control it all, but just being controlled by it all instead ..."
I may have mentioned this quote before, but it's ingrained in my head because this has, at times, been MY life!
“Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.” ~ Carl Jung.
You may have had similar thoughts about scurrying here and there, never enough time, too much to do for one 24-hour period. Jung points out this is not just a condition of life today, it has a real source, an ill-intentioned power bent on draining our joy and hope by stacking up so much pressure in one day that it's impossible to win.
I hesitate to say this (because eyes-roll), but it's really true: In order to squash the pressure of never having enough time WE MUST TAKE TIME!
Here Priscilla takes up an old concept that's SO worth implementing. The tradition is called: the Sabbath.
Sabbath is a day of rest. A stopping of the going. An end of pressure for one 24-hour period each week when you unwind, de-stress, rest and re-evaluate life, connect with loved ones, your goals, whatever may need your time. It's a period for family and self. Read. Hobby. Sleep. Whatever! It's ok. Priscilla writes:
"Why does this concept of stopping, resting, shutting off, stepping away, pulling back, taking a deep breath--the biblical command of Sabbath--why is it so hard..."
"Because to some degree, we're slaves just as they [the Israelites] were. The thought of deliberately choosing a time of rest ... around our full slate of activities feels almost unthinkable--because ... [we] still think the way a slave thinks..." OUCH!
One final word from this chapter, "When our lives are packed to the brim with things that squeeze God to the periphery, its a sure sign we've replaced our devotion to God with a love for something else."
I'm guilty. Are you? Time for Sabbath. Time for re-ordering priorities. Time to evaluate what really matters? Time to TAKE BACK CONTROL!
If I were your enemy, I’d tempt you toward certain sins, making you believe they are basically (even biologically) unavoidable. I’d study your tendencies and proclivities till I learned the precise conditions that make you the most likely to indulge them…”
The very personal nature of this week’s discussion is undeniable. For where we might ask for prayer for healing, for safety in travel, for blessing, prayer involving our struggles against our favorite sins is a totally different thing. So what in this chapter helps?
I noticed some things that really spoke to me. Three sin groups are:
Moral compromise can lead to a host of bad choices, which can lead to inappropriate or un-Christian actions, leading then to guilt, leading to cover-up.. You get the idea.
Unhealthy habits, like the insatiable cookie habit of Cookie Monster, can shackle us in SO many ways. I have a sweet tooth. It’s a huge nemesis for me. I don’t know if sweets are a trigger for you, but whatever the habit is that gets to you, we all need to realize WHO is behind it ~ and it’s not divine.
Even good things can become an addiction when taken to an extreme, given inappropriate priorities in our life, that 'good thing' can become a chain holding us back from God’s best for us!
Finally, on page 124 Priscilla writes:
“The devils’s strategy is to make us believe impurity is, well … normal … that nobody’s hurt if we keep a few forbidden things on hand and enjoy them from time to time. No big deal. But if we steadily engaged in fervent prayer--with our strategy counteracting his strategy---we’d see… unrighteousness is not “no big deal.” It’s a house of horrors. It’s a totally upside-down way to live.”
It can’t be any simpler. Believing that whatever impurity you might be involved with, and to whatever degree, we should as Christians desire to be FREE of it! Life’s best is not found in upside-down Christian living, but in right-side up looking! Looking to God for direction! Looking to God for healing and strength. Look to God through the POWER of prayer to prevail!!!
Amen and thank you Jesus!
"If I were your enemy, I'd magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driven motivation. I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyze you, leaving you indecisive, clinging to safety..."
I've felt like the woman in this picture. Maybe you have too. You were climbing that mountain, headed in an exciting direction in your life and career, and then - you're STUCK! You were moving upward but now you're just hanging on for dear life! Fear of falling! Fear you'll lose your grip! Fear that help is not coming! Your whole life summed up by that one word: FEAR! Well -- that's the enemy's game!!!
In this chapter we learn about how the enemy uses fear. Fear if we fail. Fear if we don't try. Fear of being shut down. He can instill fear in us using just about any situation. I can relate to a number of thoughts Priscilla had here. These are my top 3:
On page 108 she writes: "What if no avenues crop us where I can get my work published or distributed? Even if I can, what if people don't find it helpful ... What if the financial adjustment we'll need to make in order for me to do it means my kids will have to give up some of the activities ... What if it all ends up being a total waste ... What if it's all just some sort of ego trip or head game..." The word if shows up 6 times in this short passage. Sometimes life if FILLED with if's it seems. Does that word ever had an impact on you? But I love the Scripture she follows up with, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1.7 NKJV
Page 111: "I know the kind of paralysis that can harden around you when you're scared to death about going through with something you've committed to do, and you just don't think you're got what it takes to do it. I've known those times..." Maybe you have too? Then Priscilla reminds us that God told his children three-hundred times in different way, DO NOT BE AFRAID.
Page 113: "... fear is the antithesis of faith." Then she writes: "In fervent prayers, we discover something: Our God is fearless. And because He is fearless, we can be fearless too." I love this Scripture: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4.18
“If I were your enemy, I’d constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices. I’d want to keep you burdened by shame and guilt, in hopes that you’ll feel incapacitated by your many failings and see no point in even trying again. I’d … convince you that you’ve had your chance and blown it…”
Did you know that shame is considered the most effective tool the enemy has? Think about the deepest secret you have. You know, the one NO one knows but you. The one you don't even tell your deepest, dearest friend. What would you do to keep that secret -- to keep everyone you love from associating you with that sin? If right now you’re considering that cost, well, that’s a by-product of shame you feel over something you did.
So now matter how old the sin is, it still has power over us if we experience shame when we think about it. The sin could be forty years old and still feel as fresh and shame-producing in your mind as if it happened yesterday. The truth is that shame never wears out. It’s not like sorrow that softens with time. And, it’s not like anger that mellows with reason into some form of understanding. It’s not even like regret that can morph into growth when God gets ahold of it and us at the same time. Shame lives on. It doesn’t diminish. It doesn’t mellow and it certainly doesn’t soften as we age. It tastes just as nasty as the day it was born! And nothing, nothing short of Christ can transform shame into anything good!
We all have experienced shame. I’m not going to share mine and I won’t ask you to share yours, but we all need to realize ONE thing: Christ died for our sins and when he did not only our sin died --- SHAME for our forgiven sin DID TOO. The key is asking for forgiveness and turning away from that sin. After that we don't need to carry shame around!
He died for all my sins. All at once. For good! And forever!
NO SIN - no matter WHO did it - is more powerful
than the work He accomplished to END sin's shame for good!
What in this chapter has helped transform your prayers and bring about a resolution to shame?
“If I were your enemy, I’d seek to disintegrate your family and destroy every member of it. ... I would make sure your family didn’t look anything like it’s supposed to. Because then people would look at your Christian marriage, your Christian kids, and see you’re no different, no stronger than anybody else---that God, underneath it all, really doesn’t change anything.”
Priscilla writes our family ‘is a billboard for the eternal, unchangeable love story between God and humankind.’ How could that be? We’re so un-perfect. We routinely let our Father down. We seem to be focused on self way too often. We fight. We lie. What is there about our family relationships that resembles God’s love story with us?
Even though our children may drive us crazy - they are our children. They are part of who we are. They look like us. They remind us of ourselves, and in them we find great joy. Once they come into our life we could never imagine being without them. And because of that great love we would do anything for them. Sacrifice. Support. Encourage. Protect. That’s just what God, our Father, did for us. That's what He wants us to give our family.
Here’s what Satan wants us to do to our family. He wants to keep us from the Christ-like behavior of loving, sacrificing, protecting, and encouraging our family. Why? Because it makes us (a child of a loving Father of mercy and grace) look just like every other fallen individual who denies salvation and grace!!!
When we pray for insight and wisdom, He, the Helper Christ gave us, gives us understanding of what’s going on, and why. He can show us the schemes the enemy of our soul - the one who only desires to destroy us. It’s the part about prayer that the enemy desperately wants to keep you from knowing AND USING!
Jesus said, "The thief [the enemy] comes only to steal and kill and destroy..." John 10.10a
If we ask for wisdom and God’s grace to see ~ AND PRAY ~ the real enemy WILL BE CLEARLY SEEN!
I'm supposed to tell you a little about myself ~ So here we go: