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Author Archives: ljthames

About ljthames

For Laurie, few pleasures compare to vacationing in Colorado, spending time with family, and teaching kindergarteners to read...unless it's ministering to NHBC Women. She has served as a part of the leadership team for the last six years.

Chapter 23: Experiencing the Joy of Waiting

Luke 10:42  “. . . . but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Main Idea

That we can experience joy in the midst of waiting on God and what he is doing in our lives.

My Story

Many years ago I had planned to marry a fine young man. When things did not turn out the way I had expected, I went through a long time of wondering what had happened. I wanted God to answer me in my time frame and give me what I wanted. When He did not, I began a journey of waiting. It was not easy—at times a real struggle—but as I began to spend much time with God and in His Word, I began to have a different perspective. God ultimately brought another wonderful man into my life who is now my dear, beloved husband. If I had not waited, and if I had demanded my own way, I do not think things would have turned out as they have. Nor would I have learned some deep lessons on the goodness of God’s love and direction in my life.

Discussion

How can we learn to enjoy life fully, be free of anxiety and worry, and know true love? When we learn to wait on God. This is not always easy, but it is something the Lord desires for us to learn and know.

Thrasher shows us in this chapter how waiting on God develops in us characteristics that teach us how to find joy in the waiting. He uses the story in Luke 10 about Jesus visiting his friends Mary and Martha. They each desire to serve Jesus but do it in different ways. Martha wants to serve Jesus and Mary waits at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Jesus speaks to Martha and is not necessarily upset that she is wanting to serve. He is more concerned with her attitude about how she is serving and the motive behind it. Martha is distracted, worried and anxious. Jesus wants to calm Martha in her frazzled state.

On the other hand Mary is waiting in expectancy to what her Lord will teach her.  She is willing to do whatever Jesus would ask of her but her state of being is in waiting. Thrasher reminds us that waiting is not inactivity but obedient faith, and can also be found in an attitude of prayer. This is what God calls us to. Most of us live in a “frazzled” state as Martha did. Jesus does not want us to be in a frazzled state, but waiting on Him, abiding in Him, as He teaches us to lean on Him.

Throughout Scripture we are shown that we are to wait continually (Hosea 12:6), to wait silently (Lamentations 3:26, to wait patiently (Psalm 40:1) and to wait eagerly (Isaiah 26:8). In this day and age waiting is hard for any of us to do. We want things done “right now.” Or we want to know “why?” right now.  The Lord teaches us deeply in the waiting. But how we do it determines the blessing of gaining the joy of the Lord. We have to abide in Him, rest in Him, and not demand that God show us what we want. He is the master—we are to love and serve Him.

The benefits of waiting are numerous as Thrasher shows us. We gain freedom, courage, strength, deliverance, vindication, God’s favor, salvation and support. When we can let go of our agenda and wait on what the Lord may have for us, then and only then do we begin to experience the joy the Lord gives in knowing Him and seeing the good He has for us in a given situation. Then we can know the joy of waiting!

Challenge

Where in your life are you being demanding of God and His timing in the activities and situations of your life? Do you feel like you are waiting? Rejoice! This is a good place! God is teaching and loving you! Lean heavily on Him, spend time hearing and listening to His Word and know the JOY that only He can bring in the waiting!

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Chapter 19: Understanding How God Works

Luke 11:1—”…one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray'” (NET Bible).

Main Idea

Thrasher comes to us with the idea that one of God’s ways of accomplishing His work is to place a prayer burden on someone’s’ heart. If that person is sensitive to the prayer burden, she can pray in response, and the work of God is set in motion. As A.B Simpson wrote, “There is no wonder more supernatural and divine in the life of a believer than the mystery and the ministry of prayer…the hand of the child touching the arm of the Father and moving the wheel of the universe.”

My Story

What an awesome thought—that we have the ability to work with and alongside God in accomplishing His work and His will in others’ lives. I do not think any of us fully understand or comprehend the power that is at hand when we come humbly before God to help in His work through prayer.

When I was going through my treatments for breast cancer, my husband and I were consistently amazed at daily situations that in our own strength were difficult, but easier, less stressful and not as overwhelming as they could have been. We attribute that to the power of prayer from many others who were praying on our behalf.

Thrasher tells us some points that are pertinent to God’s working in one’s own life or in the lives of others. First,  prayer is to be of first importance, not just for ourselves but also in the church as it gathers together. We need to be drawn into His presence as He impresses on us that for which we should pray. Secondly, we see that what God impresses on us is prayer burdens for others. What we do not realize is the magnitude of the power of God through prayer. Andrew Murray said so well, and it should give us much to think on, that “we understand then that our true aim must not be to work much and have prayer enough to keep the work right, but, to pray much (emphasis my own) and then work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us to men.” Thrasher finishes by encouraging us once again that the fruitfulness of God’s ways comes through us realizing that God “desires you and me to commit to Him the prayer burdens that He entrusts to us.” This is an amazing concept that God would entrust us with prayer burdens to accomplish His work in the world. “Prayer strikes the winning blow” says S.D Gordon. When one fully comprehends this truth, it should sober us to be more diligent in acting upon the prayer burdens with which God impresses us.

Discussion

We need to ask ourselves—what prayer burdens has God put on my heart? We need to realize that others are blessed beyond measure by our desire to pray for them. But it will be a battle. Corrie ten Boom said, “The devil smiles when we make plans. He laughs when we get busy. But he trembles when we pray, especially when we pray together.” Richard Foster encourages us in saying “that just because you do not think that your prayer life is important does not mean that God thinks it is not important.”

Therefore, Thrasher encourages us to be wise in asking God to “teach us to pray.” As we do this we can trust that God will work and lay on us the prayer burdens for which we need to be praying. This will accomplish His work in the world as we are faithful to Him. There is nothing more important! We need to lay hold of this incredible opportunity: that we “can cooperate with God and lift the spirit of an individual, half a world away” from ourselves.

So I ask you—what prayer burdens is God putting on your heart? You need to ask yourself—am I sensitive enough to “hear” God’s spirit and to be praying for what He asks me to pray for? Do I follow through with actually praying and continuing to pray (I Thess. 5:17) for those He has placed before me? Be aware this week as He brings prayer burdens to you and “just do it!.” This helps us begin to understand how God works in other’s lives and in our own.

Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal!

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2013 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Chapter 14: Learning to Pray Scripture

1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Main Idea

This week Thrasher helps us to understand what it means to learn to “pray scripture.” For many this is an idea not often used when we pray. We just come with our laundry list of needs and people, and we pray through the list of “I want…” or “please bless these people.” Thrasher tells us regarding the practice of prayer that “the greatest help did not come from these excellent books [on prayer] but rather from the Scriptures themselves. The most significant aid came from going through the Bible and praying the prayers of Scripture” (95). That is a powerful statement!

The prayers that Thrasher lays out are the beginning examples of what he learned. He writes, “there is a difference in knowing a truth of God’s will or desire and being controlled by this truth” (102).

He shows us in Ephesians 1:3-14 that this prayer is praying for spiritual enlightenment through praying for hope in “one’s own life and the lives of others.” This prayer also brings about the understanding of the “inheritance among the saints”—how God considers us and communicates to us about being His treasure and that we also would know His power. This power is shown through the resurrection power, which gives “victory over sin and death,” and the power of His authority over all creation and that all things are under Him.

The prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer for us who have the Spirit living within us, to lay hold of God’s power and to embrace the depth of the riches of His love for us.

Philippians 1:9-11 is another way in which we can know and understand God’s great love for us and how “God would help us put our stamp of approval or choice on the most excellent ways to express our love” (101). Thrasher goes on to say that “we will never be able to make these correct choices apart from the help of God” (and His love).

The last prayer that Thrasher shows us is Colossians 1:9-12. In this Scripture we see that God’s desire for us is to know Him. In knowing Him we will bear fruit for others with whom we are in contact. This becomes abiding in God, which is our ultimate goal as we glorify God through our walk with Him.

My Story

I think for many as well as for myself we do not think to pray, either silently or out loud, the prayers that God has given us in Scripture. As we look, read, and then fully give ourselves to embracing and internalizing the prayers that God has given us, we will begin to sense more of what God wants for us in and through His will, and not so much what we may think we need to bring before the Lord. There is nothing wrong with bringing our needs before the Lord. Scripture tells us that in many places. I think, though, that as Thrasher has shown us in this chapter and the prayers that he lays out, there is great depth that comes in our walk with God when we pray through the prayers He has given us through Scripture. We come to know His will in a defining way as opposed to wanting our will to be brought to God and have our way accomplished.

Discussion

The quote at the beginning of chapter fourteen I think is an excellent thought to bring all of this to a focused conclusion.

“The key is to pray according to God’s will. To know His will we must know His thoughts. To know His thoughts we must saturate our minds with His word. Then we will begin to experience the authority of God in our prayers.”—Charles Henley

I do not know about you, but for me this has been enlightening and encouraging to make the effort, take the time, go back, focus and pray through these prayers in Ephesians I:15-23, 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11 and Colossians 1:9-12. This week take some quiet time and pick one of these prayers. Read, embrace, digest and pray through these scriptures so that your spiritual eyes may be opened to the depth of God’s love for us and the understanding of HIS will in our lives!  There are many more prayers in the Scriptures that continue to teach us more of who God is and His will for us—search them out! Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Chapter 9: Receiving Help in Prayer from Others

I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.” (NET Bible)

Galatians 6:2 “Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (NET Bible)

Main Idea

In chapter nine, Thrasher brings us the idea that one specific way of aiding our prayer life is cultivating the affirmation and and blessing of godly companionship to help us cast our cares upon the Lord.

My Story

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, my world came crumbling down. “Overwhelmed” is an understatement when faced with the prospect of cancer and one’s own mortality. Had it not been for the many who came alongside as my husband and I cast our care (of this diagnosis) on the Lord, I think my we would have despaired of life itself. Many prayed for our well-being, our strength both emotionally and physically, discernment of options, and perseverance along with simple, gentle comfort from God.

We can honestly say we have never felt more uplifted in our spirit, strengthened in our resolve to fight on, and clarity in the decisions we had to make than at this time. If we had not had others around us who took on, felt our pain, and fought the battle alongside us we would have had a much harder time walking the path the Lord had set before us.

We had a peace and strength that “was beyond our understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  We knew it could only come from casting our cares and burdens upon the Lord with others right there alongside us. The Lord asks us in I Peter 5:7 ” to cast all our cares on Him (the Lord) because He cares for us.” While He cares for us and wants us to bring everything, humbly, before Him, we also need to grasp how important it is to have others stand beside us, praying for us and with us. Even the Lord himself in crisis (in the garden of Gethsemane), asked his friends to “keep watch with Him in prayer” (Matthew 26:37-38). God also encourages us in Galatians 6:2 “to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Thrasher states “the Bible clearly affirms the blessing and need of godly companionship. Iron sharpens iron so a person sharpens his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Having others pray for and with you is a mighty powerful thing. Others can pray for your situation, strength, discernment for the road ahead, protection and comfort.

Discussion

How important is it for you to live in this crazy, busy world with a peace that passes all understanding? Do not be a lone wolf. Cast ALL your cares on the Lord but also have someone in your life come alongside and walk with you in prayer, sharing and caring as you walk this earthly life together.

On the flip side, be always aware of who you can come alongside and be in prayer for. Do you have someone you can pray with? If not seek and search out someone you can share precious prayer time before the Lord. Do it today! If you have someone you do pray with, touch base with them and continue to spend precious prayer time with them and with the Lord

Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal!

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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Chapter 2: Praying With Confidence When You Feel Unworthy

Psalm 115:1 “Not to us O LORD, not to us but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” (NET Bible)

Main Idea

When we feel unworthy, not confident, and admittedly needy, we can know God’s love and faithfulness and trust Him fully.

Reflection

In coming before God when we have had a bad day, or feel unworthy or needy, we need to know that we can come with confidence despite our feelings. This is admittedly hard to do on some days. But if we come humbly, acknowledge what we lack, and lay down (sometimes physically) our needs through prayer in His name, God is there with us, desiring to listen and work through our circumstances. As the saying goes, “Let go and let God.”

Thrasher states that the concept of “name” in scripture refers to one’s character, reputation, or authority. Saying “in His name” is no mere incantation, as if we could control God’s response to our want. Instead, praying in God’s name means confidently relying on His character, His reputation, and His authority.

Too often we take our challenges on our own shoulders and do not give them over to the Lord.  This is taking on too much in our own power and strength. When we pray genuinely in His name, we call on the character and reputation of our Lord. We honor who He is and the work He can do in our souls and circumstances. This ultimately gives God the glory and should be our bottom line for every action and thought. As Thrasher said, “When a sheep ends up in the right place, discerning people do not praise the sheep but rather the loving and caring Shepherd.”  It is not about us—but how we come to Him and let Him work. We can do this by confidently praying in His name.

We enjoy the “awesome privilege of living for God’s name!” We should pray in such a way that to “draw attention to Him—even in the routine of the life”—what I like to call the “dailies” of life. We need to call on His name and trust Him.  When we do this it truly brings Him glory and avoid the appearance of being accomplished in our own names. John the Baptist said in John 3:30 “He must become greater and I must become less” (NIV).

Discussion

What do you need to let go of to truly trust and “lay yourself and your circumstances in His good and loving hands?” What is it in your life that needs to change? What have you not let go of in even the smallest way to come before Him with complete confidence?

Let us know your thoughts. And don’t forget to journal!

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Book Study, Prayer

 

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