Sunday, July 26, 2015

Intercessory Prayer can be an Important Aspect of ARCM

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you,
And you will honor Me.”
– (Psalm 50: 3. NASV)

“Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to You
when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
– (Psalm 61: 1-2. NASV)

God has given us a valuable tool for communicating with Him. It is called prayer. Prayer is a way for us to make requests, praise Him and receive comfort from our LORD when we need comfort and strength. We can pray in groups, we can pray in our closet or quietly pray while sitting on a beach. In other words, we can pray anywhere and at anytime. 

Among the many types of prayers we can pray, is that of Intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is when we “press in” and diligently intercede for a particular person or situation before the LORD. We cray out for the Lord's help! Many times the Holy Spirit puts a spiritual burden on our heart for our mentee, for someone else that we know or for a particular situation that needs God's direction and help.Through Intercessory prayer we can take our spiritual prayer burden before the Lord; crying out for help and answers. 

Intercessory prayer has more depth and devotion than our regular prayers to God. It is a fervent diligent prayer in which we passionately pray "pressing in" to receive God’s answer to a problem or situation. Whether we are burdened for our mentee’s physical or emotional needs, or we are simply burdened about a negative situation in the life of someone we know, we can take our own spiritual burden or the person’s needs (even including the needs of our nation) before God; fervently, diligently and passionately praying for God's answer. But, we must set aside the time to pray and be willing to pray until we are prayed out!

Although we can say a quick prayer anytime, and God will hear it, Intercessory prayer is not usually quick. In fact, Intercessory prayer by its very name means we are devoting time to intercede on the behalf of another for a particular situation or need. Intercessory prayer, then, requires a greater amount of time to be set aside for this type of prayer. It is also usually not a prayer prayed in public, but instead is prayed in a quiet place where one can hear from God, as we prostrate ourselves before God interceding for another. It is through Intercessory Prayer that we cry out for the needs of others. God delights in showing His strength, compassion and love to anyone who is in trouble or who is facing a difficult situation. But sometimes the person in need cannot cry out to God, or the situation requiring prayer needs the dedicated fervent prayers of more than one person. This is when other Christians must step forward to cry out for that person or their needs through Intercessory prayer. 

We can see an example of the difference between regular prayers and what Intercessory prayers entail when we read how Nehemiah prayed passionately throughout an extended amount of time and with devotion, as recorded in the writings of the prophet Nehemiah. Nehemiah used Intercessory prayer when he discovered that the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed along with the Temple. Nehemiah was given a spiritual burden to pray for the problems surrounding the city of Jerusalem.

In chapter one of the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah says:

“I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. ‘I beseech You O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night.’”
 -- (Nehemiah 1: 4-6. NASV).

Notice that Nehemiah prayed day and night beseeching God to hear his heartfelt prayer about the restoration of Jerusalem. How many of us have ever prayed day and night about something that God has lain on our heart? Whether it is a problem or situation within your own family or the fact that your heart is burdened for a need or a problem of someone else's, we can certainly can do more than just pray for five minutes here and there. Moreover, Intercessory prayer should be something that we are willing to pursue when we are actively and relationally mentoring another woman. In other words, we should be willing to include Intercessory Prayer as part of our mentoring process. This means that we must be willing to take the time to go before God interceding on the behalf of our mentee. However, even if the person is not your mentee, God may place a spiritual burden on your heart for another Christian. So, whether you are burdened for someone close to you, your mentee, or someone you have not personally met, you can still intercede on the behalf of that person.

We are told in Galatians 6: 2 that we are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Part of bearing another’s burdens is to commit yourself to Intercessory prayer when your heart is heavy for the needs of another. You should also thank God and praise Him for His actions and answers in regard to the needs of the other person. Moreover, you may find that God may work through you to answer the mentee’s problem. That is, you actually become part of the answer to the spiritual burden you feel for your mentee. First you are burdened for prayer, but then in the process God shows you how you can help the mentee. But whether you are part of the answer or God steps in to answer as only God could, you are not to be anxious, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – (Philippians 4: 6).

We must remember, though, that it is Christ who takes our prayer requests before the Father, and it is Christ to whom we are to address all our prayers. For, Jesus Christ is our Intercessor before God!  Moreover, Christ is always ready to receive our prayers. We just need to remember that we can go before God anytime through Christ, our Lord and Savior. In fact, there isn’t a time or place where we cannot pray to our Father in Heaven through His Son, Jesus Christ. Even knowing this, unfortunately, many Christians fail to understand the depth for which they can pray and the importance of their prayers for others.

Even though the Holy Spirit often prompts us to pray and gives us a spiritual burden for another or for a particular situation, we often take only a few minutes to pray, or we promise ourselves to pray at a later time; only to forget to pray. We are always in a hurry to get things taken care of and that includes praying. However, with ARCM, the mentor must not only be willing to pray at a moment’s notice but also be willing to pray for an extended time, if needed, to intercede on the behalf of her mentee. In other words, the ministry of active relational Christian mentoring requires commitment to the mentoring process and to the needs of the mentee, which also includes Intercessory prayer needs as well.

There are so many different things for which we can pray. We can pray for strength, health, happiness, protection, financial help and so much more. In fact, there isn’t subject about which we should be afraid to come before our Father in prayer, as we go through Jesus Christ, the Son. God is waiting for your prayers. For God is delighted when we acknowledge His strength and power after we have acknowledged to Him that we cannot make it in our own strength. We glorify God when we acknowledge that we need Him! We glorify Him when we come before Him through His Son, our Savior and Intercessor, Jesus Christ. 

Christ is part of the Great I Am. He is the Great Intercessor! He is our Savior and Lord!  Do you know Him? If not, NOW is a good time to get to know Christ!  Just call upon His Name and repent of your sins. Then believing that Christ is the risen Son of God who can cleanse you of all unrighteousness, ask Him to cleanse you and come into your Heart. You Can Do it! Then go and tell someone that Christ has “Saved” you! Be sure to also make time to pray to God, praising Him and glorifying Him even as you communicate your needs.  He will hear you and answer you!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Receiving Blessings through Active Relational Christian Mentoring

“How blessed is he who considers the helpless;
The Lord will protect him and keep him alive,
And he shall be called blessed upon the earth, …
The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed;
In his illness You restore him to health.” 

– (Psalm 41: 1-3. NASV).

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in Truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and save them.
The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”

– (Psalm 145: 18-21. NASV).

It has been about four weeks since I last wrote. This is because; I had a total knee replacement and have been recuperating and doing therapy. Early on after the initial surgery, there were times when my trust in the Lord was what actually got me through a night of pain. You see, God is always there for us, and we can call out to Him when we need help. We can call upon the Lord even when we are sick or in physical pain. In fact, the Psalmist tells us that the ‘Lord is near to all who call upon Him’. – (Psalm 145: 18). In my particular case, I called upon God for His help in handling the pain. But we can call upon Him no matter what the problem or concern is. Whatever our need, through Jesus Christ the Son, we can speak to our Heavenly Father. He will bless His children.

Psalm 41 speaks specifically to Christians who reach out to those that are helpless or to those who can’t do for themselves. It is in this particular Psalm that we are told that those who reach out to the helpless in the world will be blessed. Indeed, “He shall be called blessed upon the earth.” We are told that the Lord will help us and bless us even when we have troubles of our own or when we are on our sickbed, if we have blessed others. I can certainly vouch for the fact that the Lord helps the Christian who serves Him and others and that He blesses us even when we are sick.

Obviously, Christians can always do more to help the helpless, but if we love others the way that we love ourselves then we will actually look for and find many ways to help others; sometimes without realizing that is what we are doing. Many times those that we have helped will have knowingly or unknowingly blessed us through their empowerment from ARCM or by the giving of their time to help us or others.

We can always find ways to help another woman if we really want to do God’s work. Moreover, we are to “… not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  -- (Hebrews 13: 16. NIV). But, one act of kindness should not be our last. Even though I have helped several women over the years, I know I can always find even more ways to help others, if I truly want to be of service to God’s Kingdom. In fact, all of us can always find one more minute in the day to share our life with a mentee. Whether we are very healthy or even if we have a physical handicap, we can always find ways to bless others with our kindness and help or find ways to bless someone through the sharing of the Gospel message. This pleases God.

Over the years, I have had to deal with many surgeries and great deal of pain. My health situation could have made it harder for me to be there for others when they needed help. However, I have found that if you desire to be a servant for God and if you truly want to help others that God will find ways for you to serve Him and other women. Some of the ways that I have been able to serve God is through both Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) and the Bible Studies that I have held in my home; trying to  help women grow closer to God. Whether it was an individual that needed mentoring or a group of women that I could teach and then mentor individually when needed, I have been able to live for God and help others at the same time. Invariably, when I least expected it, God would place someone He thought I could help within my path. At other times God would put me in a particular situation wherein my knowledge of the Bible could be of help. Certainly, though, I had to be open to those situations, which I encountered, and be willing to listen to and then mentor the individuals God placed in my life, or I could have missed blessing others or missed receiving the blessings that come from helping others.

Our blessings can come in many different forms. For example, we can be blessed by the friendships that are made through ARCM, or we can be blessed by not having to worry about money. Certainly, too, we can be blessed by the women we have helped, who turn around and help us when we are in need. Among the many ways that God can bless us for serving Him and others, is the reciprocal help that we can receive from someone whom we have previously helped. Indeed, I have often been blessed by the people that I have come to know or by those whom I have served through ARCM and Bible studies that I have held. In fact, in looking back at my life, I can see many different types of blessings all along the way. Most recently, though, I have been blessed by the ladies that attend my current Bible study.

The recuperation from a knee replacement can take from six to twelve weeks depending on the type of replacement, the health of the individual, and the ability of the individual to do the therapies needed to get the knee to work at full capacity. The first three weeks are the most painful, and you really have to rely on others to get things for you and help you in so many small and large ways. 

My husband took two weeks off from work to be with me and help me. He isn’t a cook nor does he know much about food preparation or even grocery shopping. He is a quick study, though, if someone shows him how to do something. Even so, that first week or two we both needed help. The ladies in my Bible study brought food in and even helped prepare some meals. Seeing their kindness and desire to help us did much for my recovery. They cared and they showed that they cared. We were truly blessed during our time of need.

After the first two weeks, my husband had to go back to work. He shortened his work day so that I would not be alone for a long period of time, but still I was going to be alone in the house for six to seven hours a day. So, the Bible study ladies got together and decided that they would take turns coming in to fix my lunch and sit with me a couple of hours each day. Although, I have thanked each one of them personally, they will really never know what a blessing that they were and still are to me. Their presence and conversation helped me to focus on what is important in life, i.e. God! Although we talked about many things, which kept my mind off the pain, we always ended up talking about God. When God is at the forefront of your mind, you do not have time to feel sorry for yourself or time to focus on the pain. Also, when God is at the center of your recuperation, you will get well much quicker. “For the Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. … In his illness You restore him to health.”  -- (Psalm 41: 1, 3. NASV).

As Christian women, we need to focus on God and Christ often throughout the day. Whether we are recuperating, playing, working, or helping another woman through ARCM, we need to think about ways that we can serve God and others. You may not think that a simple conversation with another woman can be mentoring, but if the words that you speak touch the woman’s heart or give her knowledge or information that can empower her to be better than she was before, then you have blessed her and in turn you will receive blessings from God. The Bible says: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” – (Proverbs 25: 11. NIV).

So, please take a moment to look at your life and look for those times when you have, through kindness and caring, helped another woman or young lady. Perhaps you simply gave her a ride somewhere, or you listened to her problems and prayed with her. For, whatever you do in the love of God for another is service for them and service to the Lord. Even helping a woman see Christ for Who He is and for what He can do for her can be not only a blessing to that woman, but a blessing to you for sharing the Gospel message. If you haven't helped someone recently, step forward and bless another woman with your time, resources, knowledge or skills. Remember, God is watching all of us, and He sees even the smallest acts of kindness that we do for another. ARCM is kindness expressed within a Christian relationship. You can do it!  You can bless another and in the process receive God’s blessings on your life as well.

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who does not lift up his soul to an idol
Or swear by what is false,
He will receive blessings from the Lord
and vindication from God His Savior. 

– (Psalm 24: 4-5. NIV)