Where I’m at today and What I’m learning

Where I’m at

I’m over at Exemplify Online’s blog today with my LOGOS series, talking about longsuffering. Come visit me and the other ladies at Exemplify!

Oh, and be sure to download your FREE copy of February’s Exemplify e-zine. It’s loaded with love and lovely articles!!


What I’m Learning

Gina is the hostess for What are YOU learning? at her blog Chats With an “Old Lady“. Be sure to head over and read what she and others are learning, and even join in by sharing what you’re learning too!

Thanks to all you who answered my little prayer and fasting poll.

Looks like most of us are like me, we fast and pray when there’s a need or a crisis.

I wanted to share some of what God is teaching me personally about prayer and fasting since I recently (at the start of this year) began dedicating some time to regularly doing just that, rather than only resorting to prayer and fasting in a crisis.

Over the next couple of “What are you learning?” fridays, I’ll share on this topic.

Today I wanted to share a little bit of treasure I discovered in the back of the book Edges of His Ways- Daily devotional notes by Amy Charmichael.

Before I do that though, real quick, I just want to say I realize that there is definintly a place for prayer and fasting in a crisis or need and that’s not to be discounted. Daniel, Ezra, Esther and others all model that for us. But what I’m learning is that there’s a place for the initmate time of prayer and fasting on a REGULAR basis in our walks with Christ. I’m learning that this regular practice really builds up our spiritual muscles. But more on that later.

On one of the first days of prayer and fasting this year I was overwhelmed with confusion and doubts and bondage about HOW to fast and pray. Then I discovered the section below. I’m only going to share some key pieces of it because it’s four pages long. But I HIGHLY recommend the book! I pray it helps you as much as it has me:

Note on Prayer and Fasting

This not is to those to whom the idea of “prayer and fasting” is new, and who are rather puzzled about it.

First, what does it mean?

It means a determined effort to put first things first, even at the cost of some inconvenience to oneself. It means a setting of the will towards God. It means shutting out as much as possible all interrupting things. For the thing that matters is that one cares enough to have time with God, and to say no to that in oneself which clamors for a good meal and perhaps conversation. It is that which is of value to our LORD. Such a setting of the will Godward is never a vain thing. “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain.” (Isa. 45:19)

But we must in earnest. “When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” (Psa. 27:8)

A few simple Dont’s:

  1. Don’t get into bondage about place of position of the body. Where did our Lord spend His hours of prayer? We know how crowded and stuffy Eastern houses are; we know that sometimes, at least, He went out into the open air to a hillside; to a garden. Where did Elijah spend the long time of waiting on his God? Again, out in the open air. I have known some who could kneel for hours by a chair. I have known others who could not. David “sat before the Lord.” (2 Sam. 7:18) Some find help in going out of doors and walking up and down; this was Bishop Moule’s way. Some go into their room and shut their door. Do not be in bondage. Let the leaning of your mind lead you; a God-directed mind leans to what helps the spirit most.
  2. Dont’ be discouraged if at first you seem to get nowhere. I think there is no command in the whole Bible so difficult to obey and so penetrating in power as the command to be still- “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psa. 46:10) Many have found this so.
  3. Don’t feel it necessary to pray at all times; listen. Solomon asked for a hearing heart (1 Kings 3:9). It may be that the Lord wants to search the ground of your heart, not the top layer, but the ground. Give Him time to do this. And read the Words of Life. Let them enter into you.
  4. Don’t forget there is one other person interested in you- extremely interested; he will talk, probably quite vehemently… As far as I know the only way to silence his talk is to read or say aloud (or recall to mind) cournter-words, “It is written… it is written… it is written”; or to sing, for the devil detests song… But let the Spirit lead as to what to read. “Let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness.” (Psalm 143:10)
  5. Don’t give up in despair if no thoughts and no words come, but only distractions and inward confusions. Often it helps to use the words of others, making them one’s own. Psalm, hymn, song- use whatever helps most.
  6. Don’t worry if you fall asleep, “He giveth unto His beloved in sleep.” (Psa. 127:2)
  7. And if the day ends in what seems failure, don’t fret. Tell HIM about it. Tell Him you’re sorry. Even so, dont’ be discouraged. All discouragement is of the devil…. Then let your soul hang on Him. “My soul hangeth upon Thee” (Psa. 63:9)- not upon my happiness in prayer, but just upon Thee. Tell Him you are sorry, and fall back on the old words: “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee”- unworthy as I am. Let these words comfort your heart: “The Lord lifteth up all those that are down.” (Psalm 145:14) “CAst not away your confidence,” there is a “great recompense of reward” waiting for you a little later on. (Heb.10:35)

Maybe it will be quite different. “Sometimes a light surprises the Christian when he sings,” or waits with his heart set upon access to his God; and he is bathed in wonder that to such dust of the earth such revelations of love can be given. If so it be, to Him be the praise. It is all of Him.

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21

Redeeming the time

What I’m Learning About Prayer and Fasting

I touched on prayer and fasting last week, just enough to say I wanted to share what I’ve been learning on the subject and was surprised that some of you wanted to hear what I was learning about that. I’m excited to share, but I’d also love to hear your thoughts, so I set up a little survey over there on the sidebar. When the survey ends I’ll post the results and am thinking about doing a series on the subject… we’ll see.

Okay, so now on to what I’m learning.

You may or may not know that I’m in an unequally yoked marriage, one that God has reconciled, shows me much favor and grace in through my husband, and one in which I have little to nothing to complain about, so when I speak of my husband in this post in regards to prayer and fasting, I just want you to know… I’m a blessed woman. Nevertheless, I am an unequally yoked woman and our loving Father has good reason for warning us not to yoke ourselves together with unbelievers… He knows the lack of fellowship, loneliness and consequences we’ll experience, and He doesn’t want us to get tangled up and lukewarm. But that’s another post, so I digress.

One day, after church services, one of the sweet, leading “older” ladies at my church (one of only 2 or 3 who know my marriage situation and pray with and for me faithfully, as well as encourage me with their fellowship) said, “Hey Sheila, would you like to pray and fast for this upcoming Christmas Eve service since your husband is planning to attend?” Honestly, I was taken back. I thought to myself, “Of course you should do that Sheila!!! Why didn’t you think of that? Why haven’t you been doing that?” So I confessed that I had kinda gotten, well, numb, to praying when it comes to my marriage. At times I’m fervent, and at times I’m forgetfull, but in general, after 15 years, I’ve grown dull to it. I despised that revelation in myself at that moment and grabbed on to my sister’s suggestion to fast and pray eagerly. So we set a date and that was that.

When the day came I was surrounded. And I remembered times past when I’ve set out to pray and fast and recognized the pattern. I realized that there’s probably nothing else I do in my walk with Christ that is more opposed by the enemy than prayer and fasting. Mentally, physically, emotionally… spiritually, I felt like one of those starving children in Africa you see pictures of. I realized, that this was a spiritual muscle so to speak, and I was starving and neglecting to excercise it, and had for so long that each time I tried I fell limp, surrounded by accusations, doubts, fears, lies, etc.

So I clung to a scripture my sister in the Lord had emailed me as she joined me that day, along with a LIFESAVING writing (in my opinion) by Amy Charmichael (which is in the back of her book The Edges of His Ways– thanks Gina 🙂 on the subject of prayer and fasting. And much like an atrophied muscle which can barely tolerate lifting itself, much less lifting added weight, I collapsed in the arms of my Lord that day in utter dependence upon His love and mercy. I heard His quiet instruction, “I don’t desire you to deprive yourself of food Sheila… that’s not why I call you to fast and pray. I desire to strengthen your spiritual muscles. It’s much like why I call you to give of your income to Me. Is it because I need or want your money? No. It’s because I want to make you a giver.”

It was the begining of a spiritual “rehab”, so to speak, of my atrophied prayer and fasting muscles.

Since that day, I’ve set aside one day a week for the exercise of prayer and fasting. I didn’t really know why God calls us to do this. I didn’t really understand its significance. I still don’t fully realize or understand those things. I also don’t fast in maybe a way that others would, and am throwing off that accusation which the enemy hits me with right off the bat. So far I’ve just put aside one meal, or just snacks, or just computer time, etc. Maybe as I grow stronger in this that’ll change, I don’t know. But I’m just going to continue by faith because I want to grow strong in that which my Father is strengthening me in.

The days that I’ve had this “workout” with the Lord, I’ve been so blessed!

These scriptures are what I’m “lifting” right now in prayer during these times, especially praying about my role in the lives of my husband and loved ones:

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will Say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations
of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In
.” Isaiah 58:6-12

Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me–for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South* and the Lowland were inhabited?’ “Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.‘ – Zechariah 7:5-10

But last week, was especially special! It was past “lifting” a weak spiritual muscle and on to intimacy in the secret place with God! Here’s the verse that the Lord drew me to, and though it is one I’ve read and heard many times, this time, it was the call of the Lover of my soul to get away with Him:

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:17-18

Appear to be fasting to your Father who is in the secret place. Aaaah! An invitation to meet with the Father in the secret place through prayer and fasting!

It never struck me like it did last week. And don’t get me wrong. I didn’t get away to a mountain top or off to a tropical island for my secret place meeting with the Father.

I was in my closet ironing (our ironing board is in our closet), and then on the floor talking to the One I can’t see. I was in my backyard with open journal and Bible while my boys played war games with their nerf guns on the trampoline.

It wasn’t a “perfect” setting. But it was perfect!

He hooked me. Maybe He knew that I don’t go to the gym with much motivation physically, much less spiritually, and that if He was gonna strengthen me in this spiritual discipline He was going to have to give me a taste of something worth “working out” for.

He did.

NOTHING. I MEAN NOTHING compares to meeting the Creator of the Universe who calls Himself my Father in “the secret place” of prayer and fasting. By His grace I’ll keep coming back. Who knows what He’ll do.

If you care to join me… Thursdays are my “secret place” days if you know what I mean 🙂

I’d love for you to email me and let me know your joining me. We can hold each other up in this.

My email is AWomanFound (at) gmail (dot) com.

Redeeming the time

What are you learning?

Whoa! What a day!

What am I learning?

Where do I start?

I’m continuing my reading through the Psalms and have been really impressed by the emphasis in the Psalms on God’s trustworthiness when it comes to making sure right is done by His kids… even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

I’ve also been recalling Bible prophecies as I see the news unfold and it seems that the tiny plot of property, Israel, is increasingly a cup of trembling to the world. I’ve been just listening and praying for discernment so that I can give an answer to those who ask a reason for the hope that is in me in the times I live.

But as I pause to really think about what I’ve been learning from the Lord this week 2 MAJOR points come to mind:

1. God is sovereign and is able to accomplish the good He desires in the lives
of those I love even when I’m not there (Imagine that! 🙂


2. There is something really special and really spiritual-muscle building about
secret times of prayer and fasting.

I’m at a time in my life where I’m being asked to go back to work, and not just asked, led. Led by the Lord. And I have as much nervousness, excitement, and peace about it as I did about His leading to stay home 4 years ago. Only this time, I’m not going to make the same mistake I did when He led me to stay home by trying to make a doctrine about whether a woman should or shouldn’t work outside her home… that is just not part of God’s word. (But that’s a whole ‘nother post)

Today, as I was getting ready to leave to take a class that I needed to be able to go back to work, God sooooo reminded me of the heart-work HE’s accomplishing in my children and husband’s lives, and that “Unless the LORD builds the house…” the wise wife who labors to build it is building it in vain. He reminded me that HE IS building my house and so I can trust Him as He leads me in being away from them for hours at a time.

Here’s what happened:
I had just gotten out of the shower and I heard my husband in the living room playing his guitar… some Dave Matthews tune he’s been working on for awhile. Anyway, then I heard my sons, who were at the table say, “Dad, play, (singing) ‘Our God is an awesome God He reigns from heaven above with wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God!‘” Then I heard my husband saying, “No, Connor, why don’t you sing that ‘Blessed Be the Name’ song and I’ll play it.” So there I was, fighting back tears with a big grin on my face and a heart full of flutters, with my husband playing “Blessed Be the Name” on the guitar, and my two sons belting it out as loud as they could at the breakfast table. I joined them. And I found myself singing with my imperfect family, praises to the God who “gives and takes away.”

He has given me this home. He has given me 4 years to be solely at home. He has given me the call to serve as unto the Lord in homemaking whether I’m working or not. He has given me the call to “build” my house. And He has also taken away some of the time I’m present with them, calling me to trust Him. And so I am.

As far as the prayer and fasting this is something I’ve been struggling to grow in for sometime. And since my kids are up from their nap and I’m home now, I think I’ll save the neat stuff the Lord is teaching me about prayer and fasting for next week. 🙂

Our God is good. He is Sovereign. His goal is not to kill our “Isaac’s” but to build our faith in His character, knowing He is able to raise from the dead that which we see as a loss. And I’m learning to trust Him!

Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; He will not be afraid…” Psalm 112:4-8a

Head over to Gina’s (Chats With an “Old Lady”) and share what you’re learning.

Redeeming the time

What are you learning?

I’m late in joining the “What are you learning?” segment at Gina’s place today (Chat’s With an “Old Lady”). But I really need to sit down and reflect on what I was touched by this morning. I so want my heart to be changed! Be sure to go over to Chat’s With An “Old Lady” and share what you’re learning as you feed on God’s word.

I read Psalm 100 and 101 this morning. These words really spoke to me:

Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we
; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture
.” -Psalm 100:3 (emphasis added by me)

I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know
.” – Psalm 101:2-4 (emphasis added by me)

This new person I am in Christ, God made. Not me. I am part of the family of God now… His flock. And He who began this good work in me will be faithful to complete it! Oh what hope this gives my weak and faint heart! I worry and fret and become overwhelmed with the mess I’ve made, the choices others make, the mountains that seem to lie before me, but God started this new life in me and He will finish it. I’ll just keep trusting in His promises and working hard to cast off every sin and weight that so easily entangles me and keeps me from walking by childlike faith in who He is, obeying what He says, and running to Him for forgiveness when I don’t obey.

Then I move onto Psalm 101 and read those terrible (terrible in an awesome sort of way) words that make me tremble. They are the desire of my heart but I’ve already fallen oh so short of them and I fear I’ll continue to. So I rejoice in the implications of the question in the middle of those “I will’s”. “Oh when will You come to me?” It’s by HIM, His coming, His reigning in me that I may behave wisely in a perfect way, walking in my house with a perfect heart.

Oh come Lord Jesus come! Come reign in me! If I’ve held back any part of my heart I plead with You to come to me and conquer it now! Take it for Your possession and set up Your kingdom in my entire heart!

Redeeming the time

What are you learning?

I’m really excited about this new feature over at my friend Gina’s place (Chat’s With An “Old” Lady). I need, I think we all need, to turn our eyes often to what the Spirit of the Lord is teaching us through His Word. And it seems right now I need to more than ever!

Reading this blog a person might think I’ve got it all together… the little tidy, favicon homemaker, thinking on Jesus all day long, smiling and singing while she cleans her toilets. But it’s not the case at all!

I struggle just like the next person, in fact, often I get caught up in that pitiful place of thinking I struggle MORE than the next person and that they’ve got it good. It’s so easy to start comparing myself to others, or to start getting my eyes on my life circumstances and begin faltering in believing, and pressing on in personally knowing and being changed by the Lord. That’s why I NEED, DESPERATELY NEED, to frequently look into His word praying and listening to what He’d speak to me.

So, part of what I’m learning lately is the danger of setting expectations for what God should do in my life. Now, I’m not saying I shouldn’t believe that God can do great things, in fact I should believe He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that I ask or think, according to the power that works in me(Ephesians 3:20). But when I put God in a box of my “great” expectations, I really put Him in a small confinement He refuses to stay in, and I set myself up for disillusionment and even offense at Jesus.

Scripture the Lord has been teaching me this through is:

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ” And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” – Luke 7:19-23

John the Baptist found himself in a position that caused him to question Jesus, even be offended at Him (as Jesus was exposing). After all He’d spent His life making a way in the desert for the Lord, and now here the Lord had come and John was possibly in prison, about to be beheaded by Herod.

Another person in scripture was let down by how Jesus turned out for him. Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus and took money instead of the gift of simply following Christ. Maybe he thought Jesus would take the throne of Israel and drive out all the Roman oppressors right then and there, but instead, Judas watched the One who was claiming to be Messiah go into Jerusalem to take up His cross, even submitting Himself to the abuse of the Roman government. His dissatisfaction with who Jesus turned out to be led to him betraying Jesus to find some personal satisfaction in temporary riches… which of course turned out to be no satisfaction at all, just a haunt he couldn’t live with.

This is kinda heavy I know. I pray its not coming across in a hopeless way. Because it’s through the example of John the Baptist, and Judas, and all of the disciples for that matter, who fled from Jesus or denied Him when it came down to the cross, that the Spirit has been using the Word to exactingly, and sharply discern the thoughts and intents of my heart (Hebrews 4:12)- exposing them that I might agree with what He says about them (confession) and let Him wash me with the water of His Word from them.

I’m learning that Jesus wants me to lean all my weight not on what He’ll do in my life or how He’ll do it, but on WHO He is! Despite my circumstances He wants me to be pure in heart, single minded, fixed on Him, pressing forward by faith not by sight! And oh how I desire to do be and do just that! And so I trust that He’s not exposing these maladies in my thinking to condemn me but to wash me clean and change me a little bit more on the inside into His own image.

To help me press on and not get caught up in fear and unbelief I’ve written out a list of clear instruction which deals specifically with me in regards to how I am to conduct myself in the house of God from 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 2 Corinthians 6-7. Staying focused on reading, even memorizing some, and praying over these verse that deal directly with my calling as a child of God and as a woman, is helping me to be so occupied with what God wants me to do in walking by faith. That way, I can’t be looking around at what I think GOD should be doing in my life circumstances. Doing this is freeing me to walk by faith and worship the Lord no matter if even like John the Baptist I found myself in a prison cell facing death.

No matter my circumstances, by the grace of God, I have plenty to do in following Jesus personally, trusting in WHO He is, and I need to shed all the weights and sins which easily entangle me, so I can endure the road ahead with my eyes looking to Jesus.

Redeeming the time