Today's blog post will be a little different from my usual weekly installment. I guess you could say this is a special "Tuesday Thoughts" edition on a Monday where I will be sharing a lesson learned and a very special link.
In a recent blog post, I shared about prayer renewal in my own life born out of the recognition that I was not fully living for Christ in this most important spiritual discipline. I was allowing activities of my day to take precedent over prayer, even those for the Kingdom, yet missing out on the power that fuels Kingdom work.
The Lord prompted me to focus on the word "PRAY" for 2016. So on January 1, 2016, I set out to make prayer a priority. And not just for the sake of praying, but intentional, unrushed, sincere prayers to my God and Father. Prayers for my spiritual walk, my family, our nation, and most especially prayers for those people and situations outside of my immediate circles.
And then the answers started coming... Prayers that were answered with such specificity. I felt like Sarah, laughing out loud, as I watched God rewarding my obedience. After having come out of a dry season of prayer, the Lord was spurring my faith on through these great and wonderful answers to prayer.
As I shared before, I was not very consistent about praying for situations or people outside of my sphere of family and friends. So many times, I would see on my Facebook newsfeed calls to pray for Pastor Saeed, who had been imprisoned for his Christian faith since 2012; many times enduring harsh conditions, his health suffering terribly. I would scroll by quickly, thinking how terrible his story was, but I confess and am ashamed to admit, I don't think I ever once stopped to pray for him...
In recent months, I personally hadn't heard or read anything about Pastor Saeed. Yet, while reading in Exodus about the harsh treatment of the Israelites during their enslavement by Pharaoh, I was prompted to pray earnestly for Pastor Saeed's freedom. This being the first time I had ever prayed for him...
You can imagine my amazement, when just a few days after praying for Pastor Saeed and his freedom, I heard the news that he had been released and was coming home!
But my feelings about this answered prayer were conflicted...
Of course, I was overjoyed for Pastor Saeed and his family; the nightmare of the past three years finally over. The Lord showed me His power in prayer, even for someone in such dire, seemingly hopeless circumstances, clear across the world, now set free!
Yet I was also overcome with deep conviction... All those lost opportunities that I scrolled past to pray for him, but never did... What if I had been obedient, and prayed right then and there upon seeing the story many months ago? What if I had consistently lifted he and his family up to the Lord when I would see updates about him? Would those prayers have changed the course of his freedom sooner than later?...
I don't mean to imply that because I prayed two weeks ago that I was responsible for Pastor Saeed's release from imprisonment. I know faithful prayer warriors have been pleading for years before the Throne of Grace for Pastor Saeed's freedom, and at the Heavenly Father's appointed time, he was freed for God's Great Glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.
O, there is great "power in the name of Jesus to break every chain".
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened.
Pastor Saeed's freedom has taught me not to scroll past opportunities to pray, but to pray right in the moment; to pray for the lost with urgency; to pray for the oppressed with compassion; to pray for the sick or lonely with tenderness, to pray for the needs of others with the love of Christ, and most especially to pray without ceasing.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and thanksgivings be made for all people
1 Timothy 2:1
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
You never know, God may be waiting for YOUR prayer to usher in His power to do great and mighty things!
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
One of the biggest blessings I have received in this past year of blogging was meeting Cheryl Smith from Homespun Devotions. She is one of the sweetest, kindest Christ-followers I know. Her love for the Lord Jesus and passion for His people exude from every word that she writes. Her blog posts are incredibly edifying and encouraging. You will be abundantly blessed by every post that she writes.
Recently, she began a blog series called Inner Views where she shares about the lives of believers in Christ - believers she has met along the way. Cheryl's thoughtfully chosen questions have Jesus at their center, whose purpose is to bring Glory to God.
I was incredibly humbled and honored when Cheryl asked to do an interview of me. As I began answering her questions, I was actually learning new things about myself and God's work in my life, then I had ever realized before.
I am so grateful to Cheryl for the blessing of participating in her "Inner View" series. If you would like to read more about how God has worked in my life from childhood to the present, you can read Cheryl's interview here.
All Glory and Honor to my Lord and Savior.
You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-up, Woman to Woman Ministries, Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4e, Inspire Me Monday Titus 2 Tuesday, A Wise Women Builds Her Home, A Look at the Book, Sunday Stillness, The Weekend Brew, Spiritual Sundays, Soul Survival, Give Me Grace, A Little R&R, Testimony Tuesday, Women with Intention Wednesdays, Still Saturday, Good Morning Mondays, Tell His Story, Faith & Fellowship Blog Hop, Motivate and Rejuvenate Mondays, Be Salty, Monday's Musings, The Art of Home-Making Monday, Tuesday Talk, Waiting on Wednesday,Dance with Jesus, Reflect His Love and Glory Words of Comfort Link-up, Wholehearted Wednesdays. Tell it to Me Tuesday, Faithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N Friends, TGI Saturdays, Sitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential Fridays, So Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith