Monday, July 03, 2006

Take time to be holy

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . . (Titus 2:3).

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct his likeness shall see
--William D. Longstaff

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, emphasis mine).

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).

I confess that when I was a young Christian, I did not have the habit of prayer. I did not really understand what prayer was all about, and had no idea what an essential part of the Christian life prayer is. The last verse quoted above is in the context of spiritual warfare, another topic I didn't know much about. I certainly didn't understand how the two were connected.

I married a man who prays. I didn't know anybody prayed so much until we were married. One evening after we'd been married only a few weeks, I walked into the bedroom and found him on his knees. I was surprised, and felt like I was interrupting something personal and private. I started to apologize for intruding, but he invited me to come and kneel with him. As I listened to him pray, I was in awe of this man. I already knew that he read and studied his Bible far more than I did. Now I was convinced that he had attained spiritual heights I would never know about.

Did I know that I could attain such spiritual heights as well? Maybe I sensed it, but I didn't really expect to. I know that for years afterward I compared myself to my husband and always came up short. I often felt a sense of loss, as if he was going on in his spiritual walk without me. He and God were going somewhere, somewhere very special, and I was being left behind.

But instead of spurring me on to prayer, this only made me feel sorry for myself. I whined to God about why couldn't I go along without praying so much. Surely five minutes of "God, bless my day" tacked on after reading the required chapter-a-day two or three times a week should be sufficient to make me a good Christian! Besides, the babies started coming, I had a lot to do, and surely God understands moms and their need for sleep! Surely God would not ask me to get out of bed early to pray!

I don't know when the turning point came. But I know that the Lord used three verses to convict me of my prayerlessness.

And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? (Matthew 26:40).

One hour? One whole hour? When I was a kid with my first digital watch I used to pass the time during prayer meeting by timing how long people prayed. Two or three minutes was about average, with some of the men praying as much as five minutes or more. I thought those were long prayers! But an hour? Whatever would I say in an hour? And where would I get an hour in my busy day, anyway?

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, [Jesus] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed (Mark 1:35).

Have you ever really studied the first chapter of Mark? Two words stand out: straightway and immediately. In 45 verses, our Lord is baptized, is tempted, begins preaching, calls his first disciples, teaches in the synagogue, casts an unclean spirit out of a man, heals Peter's mother-in-law, heals many that were sick, casts out many devils, hikes into the next towns to preach in their synagogues, casts out more devils, and heals a leper. It almost makes me dizzy just to read about it. I have never been that busy. All right, so I carve an hour out of my day. But does it have to be so early in the morning?

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me (Proverbs 8:17).

Here are some reasons why I've found early morning to be the best time for prayer:

1. I'm not so tired. A little sleepy, maybe, at first, but not weary like I am at the end of a long day.

2. I can focus. Nobody else is up yet; there are no distractions.

3. I need help. If I've learned anything in the past 20 years, it's that I really can't be a patience wife and mother without spending a lot of time in prayer. And when Mom's not patient, the whole house is in turmoil!

4. It sanctifies the whole day. I get an "attitude adjustment" through early prayer that carries through the day, enabling me to meet any situation that arises with cheerfulness and grace. This works best if I pray every day, not just a few times a week.

This has been a long post, and I just realized that time is slipping away. It is now 7:17 a.m. Most of us have eaten breakfast, and my two medium boys (ages 10 and 12-in-two-weeks) have the kitchen cleaned up. They've also done their chores without being reminded, and have "reported for duty" (their words; they are into soldier stuff lately). I've got yard work for them to do, and need to do some laundry. I'm off to be Martha, but with Mary's attitude.

You will notice on the sidebar a new link. My good friend Twinklemoose started a blog on what the Lord has been teaching her regarding prayer. Like me, she is a busy home schooling mom (though she only has three children ;) ), so she doesn't write often. But I hope you'll check out her blog now and then. When I first began to read her blog, it convicted me to pray more, and I told her so. She surprised me by saying that God had used me to convict her, and that was part of what got her started on this! But isn't that the way it is sometimes? When a brother or sister is down, we help them up. When we are down, they help us up.

Going forward on my knees,


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