Sticky Note Prayers

Pray

My husband and I enjoyed a spontaneous date last night to see the movie “War Room.” Have you seen it? It’s a heartwarming story of the life-changing power of prayer. The title comes from the example of the elderly Miss Clara, a prayer warrior. Taking the words of Matthew 6:6 literally, she dedicated an actual closet in her home as a “war room,” where she engaged in spiritual battle through prayer. (The King James Version of the Bible translates the word for “inner room” in this verse as “closet.”)

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Now, I don’t really consider myself a prayer warrior. But apparently some of my friends do. I regularly get texts, emails and Facebook messages requesting prayer for various needs and concerns.

I’m humbled. And I care. So I pray.

I don’t have a prayer closet. It’s more like a prayer bed. Sticky notes of various sizes and colors often dot my bedside nightstand. (Only they don’t usually stick because I rarely dust. They’re more like floaty notes.)

I think my little prayer “system” began when I started jotting down names on the nearest sticky note to remind me to pray. And you know what? It worked! Tiny neon rectangles catch the eye and convey a sense of urgency:

Do this. NOW.

At the end of the day, before I turn out the light, I pray. I pray for a couple of lovely ladies who are going through, or recovering from, cancer treatments. Sweet friends who are going through difficult transitions. Precious ones who are grappling with the fresh loss of family members. God-loving parents who are dealing with wayward children.

Writing a name on a simple sticky note has become a sacred commitment to intercede on their behalf. Yes, there are nights when I’m too tired to pray. Other times I don’t know what to pray. I entrust these dear souls to the Faithful One who intercedes for them with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

HE knows what to do. HE knows what they need.

Is God asking you to pray? Don’t let examples like Miss Clara’s intimidate you. Just start somewhere. Whenever, wherever, whatever works for you. God is infinitely creative.

Don’t know how to pray? Just talk to Him. Share your heart. Pray a Scripture. Sing a worship song. His Spirit will guide you.

Are you in need of prayer? I would be honored to pray for you. Just click on the “About Me” link where you will find my email address.

But first…

Let me go and grab a sticky note! 😉

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)

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A Modern-Day Esther

“The person I want to be more like this year is ___________.”

This was the statement we were asked to complete as part of a group sharing activity at a recent MOPS meeting. (In case you’re not familiar with MOPS, it stands for “Mothers of Preschoolers. No, I am NOT a MOP. I guess I’m a MOT: “Mother of Teenager.” But I do serve this local MOPS group as a “Mentor Mom.”)

Ok. Back to the fill-in-the-blank. Because my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of anyone. So I opted for the standard Sunday School answer:

Jesus.

(It’s the answer that’s always right, right?)

And while I DO desire to be more like Jesus, after the events of this past week I now have a new name I would fill in that blank:

Naghmeh Abedini.

Have you heard of her?

She is a modern-day “Esther.”

Naghmeh’s husband, Saeed, a pastor, has been wrongfully imprisoned in his native country of Iran for his Christian faith. Naghmeh has advocated tirelessly over the past two and a half years for his release, boldly approaching visiting diplomats, writing letters, giving television interviews, and speaking publicly about her husband’s plight. This month she organized three weeks of focused prayer and fasting, calling on fellow believers to join her in believing God for a breakthrough in Saeed’s situation.

When she heard that President Obama would be unexpectedly visiting her hometown of Boise, Idaho on January 21, she believed it was no coincidence, but a direct answer to those many prayers. So Naghmeh sent the president a respectful, impassioned letter requesting a meeting. She called on her people to pray that God would make the improbable, possible. Like Esther before she approached the king, Naghmeh fasted and prayed for three days. The day before the president’s scheduled visit, she received word that he had indeed agreed to meet with her and her two young children!

She posted this on her Facebook page last night:

I got to meet with President Obama today! The kids and I were in a small office room with him and he was gracious with his time (we met for over 10 minutes). I told him that I had refrained from food for 3 days and prayed and fasted and God had ordained this meeting. He shook his head and smiled. I told him that the kids and I prayed for him and loved him (that as Christians that is what we are to do). He said he needed prayer. He said that getting Saeed out is a top priority and he is working very hard to get Saeed home back to our family. Jacob then asked him “Mr. President, can you please bring my daddy home for my birthday?” President Obama asked Jacob when his birthday was and Jacob said March 17…President Obama said “I am going to try very hard to make that happen, Jacob. I am going to try very hard…” Praise God!

What an amazing story!

All because of her unfailing love for her husband. All because of her unrelenting faith in an Almighty God. All because she called people to fast and pray. All because she refuses to give up.

Yes. I want to be more like her.

More fierce in my love, more persistent in my prayers, more gutsy in my faith.

Unlike Esther, the end of Naghmeh’s story is still being written. We don’t yet know how it will end. (Whatever the outcome, we know it will be good. Because GOD is good.) But I’m thankful that, in the meantime, God is using her faith and boldness to challenge and inspire us, just like Esther, “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14b, NIV)

Naghmeh

 

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Not-So Special Delivery

Early Tuesday morning I opened the front door to be greeted by a small pile of this, right smack dab in the middle of my “Welcome” mat:

Poop emoji

Only it wasn’t smiling. And neither was I.

(And in case you’re wondering, this is NOT the soft-serve chocolate ice cream emoji.)

Talk about a rude awakening.

I have no idea what deposited this lovely gift on my front porch.

But I’m pretty sure I know who was behind it.

You see, it was a statement.

From the enemy.

Let me explain.

For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been leading a Bible study on Thursday nights with a wonderful group of gals. The topic? “Women Encountering Jesus.” We’ve eavesdropped on a conversation at a Samaritan well, witnessed the mock trial of an adulterous woman and looked on, wide-eyed, at a sinner’s public display of affection at a dinner party.*

We’ve fallen more deeply in love with the Man who met each one with matchless mercy.

The last few passages we’ve studied, however, have involved Jesus demonstrating His power over forces in the spiritual realm. We’ve sympathized with the desperate mother begging for relief for her demon-possessed daughter, and cheered as a dear crippled woman was released from bondage after nearly two decades of demonic oppression.

We’ve been awed by this One who exercised unparalleled authority over it all.

Over the years I have gained some firsthand knowledge of spiritual battle. (So have you, no doubt, if you’ve walked with the Lord for any length of time.) I’ve learned to identify the enemy’s activity and recognize his calling card. I fully expected to meet with resistance as we tackled the subject of Satan and his partners in crime. So frankly I was a little surprised when all remained quiet on the western front.

And then the Special Delivery showed up on my doorstep.

Along with a “note,” signed by the accuser himself.

I’m out here, prowling around, just waiting for an opportunity.

(I should also mention that my husband had just left town. Coincidence? I think not.)

But GOD also had a message for me.

This is as close as the enemy can get to a believer in Christ. He cannot cross the threshold. His garbage must stay outside and he knows it. Nothing can touch you unless I say so.

Wow.

It was quite the visual.

Yes, the lion still prowls and threatens.

We see his tracks and evidence of his presence.

I’ll admit I was a bit rattled by his public display of “affection.”

But

I. Refuse. To. Be. Intimidated.

Because the Lion of Judah guards my life.

And greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!

Hallelujah!

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NIV)
 
Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. (Revelation 5:5b, NLT)
 
He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
(1 John 5:18b, NAS)
 
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, NIV)

 

*See previous blog post for more on the story of “The Sinful Woman.”

 

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Backyard Battles

The other day I was startled by a commotion outside my bedroom window. I looked up just in time to see a hawk streaking across our backyard with two angry, noisy robins in hot pursuit. My guess is that Mr. Hawk was seeking refreshment at the “Red-Breast Bed and Breakfast.” Only Ma and Pa Robin responded with a firm “No Vacancy!”

It’s Open Season on baby birds. Hawks aren’t the only predators. Several of my friends have been blessed with bird’s eye views of nests this spring.  In fact, just this morning one of these friends shared her distress over recent blue jay attacks on the nest that was constructed inside a planter on her porch. Five babies were scattered on the ground as she and her daughter ran interference in an impassioned effort to rescue them. (Three currently remain.)  (Just received an update.  Make that one.)

This past weekend I was outside pulling weeds, soaking in some sun, when, for about the third time this week, a hawk zoomed overhead followed by a squawking robin. Another ambush averted?  I could only hope.

Something inside my maternal soul resonated with the robins’ relentless efforts to protect their little ones from harm.  I could relate, in a spiritual sense, to the sobering reality that a predator also hovers over my nest, with my children in his sights.

“Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion (or ‘a soaring hawk,’ SLS version), looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

He circles the house.  Hungry for his next meal.  Waiting for an opportunity to strike.

I can’t see him, but I know he’s out there.

My offspring, the object of his cruel desire.

That afternoon, as I watched the robin tenaciously chase the hawk out of the yard, I pictured the faces of my own children.  This quiet declaration rose up within me, a mother’s battle cry:

You. Can’t. Have. Them.

Like the robin, I may be small, but I will be unstoppable when it comes to fighting for my babies.  I will stay alert in prayer for them.  I will partner with my faithful God in protecting them, both in and out of the nest.

A second friend recently witnessed another dramatic backyard battle.  Her barn cat had captured a helpless baby bird and was preparing to enjoy his little snack.  Mama and Papa bird were nearby, frantic.  They dove at the cat in desperate attempts to secure the baby’s release.  Then one of them, in a last ditch effort to distract the feline, cleverly feigned a broken wing.

The strategy worked!  The cat pounced on the parent, consuming it instead.  The baby escaped, unharmed.

What a poignant picture of Christ!  He delivered Himself over to the adversary, offering His life for ours and securing our freedom.  His is a love so fierce that He will stop at nothing to save His children.

He looked the enemy square in the eye and declared:

You. Can’t. Have. Them.

“I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28, NAS)

He will fight for us and for our children.

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The Battle of the Blog

I’m baaaaack!

Nearly three weeks, countless troubleshooting hours, one new router (and a hundred dollars) later…

The blog is no longer on the blink!

Victory!

It’s a spiritual victory, because it was a spiritual attack.  I sensed this almost immediately.  My sweet and computer savvy husband spent an hour and a half trying to fix the problem the night it presented itself, without success.  The next morning he left town on a week-long business trip, and there the blog sat, silent and impenetrable.

When every other website works but yours, and everyone else can access it but you, it’s bound to feel somewhat personal.  It was too specific and too strange to be coincidence.  It took Chris another week after his return to isolate the problem.  He still says the whole thing doesn’t make sense.

But bring up the topic of spiritual battle, and people start to squirm.  I feel a little awkward addressing it myself, mainly because of misconceptions I’ve had about the subject in the past.  Can I share a few of my thoughts and fears with you?  Here goes…

Maybe I’m just weird.

I worried that if I mentioned the possibility that a certain situation might be spiritual (or, dare I say, demonic?) in origin, some may think I was losing my grip on reality.  I’ve come to believe that the opposite may in fact be true:  I’m actually more in touch with it.  The spiritual realm is REAL.  Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  The Bible makes this clear in Ephesians 6:12:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Jesus referred often to the spiritual realm, confronted demons and had a face-to-face encounter with Satan.  Call me weird, but I happen to like the company I’m in.

I must have done something wrong. 

I used to think that if I was experiencing a spiritual battle of some sort, that I was being punished or had done something to bring it on myself.*  But in recent years, I’ve discovered that rather than it being an indication that I’m doing something wrong, it just might be an indication that I’m doing something right.  The story of Job certainly gives biblical support to this theory:

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)

He was attacked because he was righteous.  I’ve noticed that spiritual attacks often occur in my life after I’ve taken a step of faith to move out of my spiritual status quo.  When we transition from a defensive posture to an offensive stance, we become a threat to the enemy and hence, a target.

I’m powerless to do anything about it.

In the past, I would cower in fear at the mere mention of Satan or the suggestion of demonic influence.  I was passive, paralyzed.  Now I know that rather than assume a victim mentality, there are things I can actively do to fight back.  I’ll mention just a couple here:

Resist.  “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)  We are told to flee temptation (see 1 Corinthians 6:18 and 10:13), but to resist the devil.  I think we tend to get this backwards: we try to resist temptation while fleeing from the devil!  No wonder we end up defeated on both fronts!  1 Peter 5:8-9a expands on the importance of resistance:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”

We are not to be intimidated, but rather, stand our ground.  I was determined to keep blogging, even if I had to get creative to do it.  I wasn’t going to let this silence me.

Wield the sword.  Ephesians 6 lists the spiritual weapons available to believers in Christ.  “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (verse 11)  The Bible is our sword, the offensive weapon which pierces the enemy’s lies:  “Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (verse 17)  Jesus Himself used this weapon as He was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, responding three times with: “It is written…”  (Matthew 4:1-11)

Years ago, while preparing to embark on a mission trip to the former Soviet Union, I was involved in an intense spiritual battle which led to paralyzing fear and panic attacks.  Victory was eventually achieved after I covered the front and back of an entire sheet of paper with specific Scriptures, written out word for word, combating every fear the enemy could possibly throw at me.  He retreated, no match for the power of the Word of God.

Tonight I am once again doing a victory dance.

And you know what?  I’m not weird, I’m wise.  I’m not doing something wrong, I’m doing something right.  I’m not powerless, I serve an all-powerful God!

Woohoo!  It’s good to be back!

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

* We must be careful not to confuse spiritual attack with spiritual discipline, which is a loving Father’s response to, and a consequence of, persistent sin.

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