Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How Do You Pray Without Ceasing?

Leslie Basham: When you’re connected with God in prayer, you start to become more sensitive to what He is doing around you. Here’s Kim Wagner.

Kim Wagner: People are constantly pouring out their hearts to us. You cannot go into Walmart or into the grocery store hardly without running into someone who is in need. You may not even know that person, and God may lay it on your heart to pray for them.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for Monday, June 18, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’ve often said that if I could only share one message with women, it would be on the importance of spending time with God each day in the Word and in prayer. Last week we covered that topic in a series on the True Woman Manifesto.

As you know, we’ve been exploring the Manifesto point by point in several series throughout this year. Last week we looked at a couple of points in the Manifesto which, by the way, you can read or download at ReviveOurHearts.com.

We began looking at what we’re calling the "declaration" section of the Manifesto. Here are two of those true woman declarations that we looked at last week:

We will be women of the Word, seeking to grow in our knowledge of Scripture and to live in accord with sound doctrine in every area of our lives.

We will nurture our fellowship and communion with God through prayer, praise, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and supplication.

If you missed any of the teaching segments that go along with those points, you can hear them or read them at ReviveOurHearts.com.

After teaching through those declarations to a group of women, I wanted to explore more of what being a woman of the Word looks like in real life and also some more practical aspects of how to develop a vital prayer life.

So I talked with my friend Kim Wagner. You’ve heard her before on Revive Our Hearts, and perhaps read her posts on the True Woman blog. Living a life of communion with God in His Word and in prayer is a life message for Kim. As you listen to our conversation, I think you’ll get a lot of practical ideas on how you can connect with God day by day.

Now, early in this conversation we’ll talk about a man named Brother Lawrence who lived in the seventeenth century. He wrote what’s become a classic book called Practicing the Presence of God. It’s all about staying connected with God even while doing mundane tasks.

You’ll also hear us discuss the Valley of Vision. That’s a book of prayers by the Puritans, one I’ve found very helpful and have passed out to many friends over the years.

Kim began by talking about some questions that she had as a child.

Kim: I do remember in fourth grade asking my Sunday school teacher, “What does it mean to pray without ceasing? What does that verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 mean?”

I remember the teacher looked kind of startled and perplexed, like she wasn’t sure how to answer that. Then she just very firmly said to me, “It means you have an attitude of prayer.”

So I went home and I thought about that: “An attitude of prayer. What does that mean, an attitude of prayer?”

It’s interesting how often prayer is talked about, is spoken of in the context of a father/child relationship. I think God was very gracious to me in calling me to Himself as a young child, as a five-year old little girl. Although, of course, as a child I didn’t have Scripture memorized; I didn’t know all of the different components of prayer, for effective praying, but just to have conversations with God, that began pretty early, and I delight in that.

At some point, God brought into my life the little book of Brother Lawrence’s, Practicing the Presence of God

Nancy: Tell a little bit about that book. It’s not a modern book.

Kim: He was a seventeenth century believer. In that book he just talks about incorporating a conversation with God. I think that’s really the beginning place for us to recognize, as someone said earlier, that it is a conversation. It is not a monologue. It is a dialogue with our Creator, and to incorporate that into every moment of our lives.

He talked about how he would do that in the kitchen peeling potatoes, washing pots and pans. What I love so much is the fact that we can talk to God at any time; we can incorporate that. Whether I’m having a conversation with Sandy even or with you, Nancy, over the phone, or with a woman needing counsel, we can be having a conversation with them. But inwardly, as Romans 8 talks about, we may not even know how to pray, but we’re seeking the Holy Spirit for wisdom, for insight to be able to minister to them, ultimately to bring God glory.

I wouldn’t sit here and say . . . I am not a prayer warrior, as you said when someone contacted you and asked you to pray because you were a prayer warrior. I’m not a prayer warrior, but I do delight in conversing with the Father. I have my set time of prayer in the morning when I first get up.

Nancy: Give us a peek into that set prayer time. How do you structure that? How do you do that practice?

Kim: When my children were little, they would tell people if they called too early in the morning, “Mom can’t speak to you yet. God is still dealing with her.” (Laughter)

Nancy: And you don’t want to talk to her until after God has dealt with her, right?

Kim: Exactly, and that’s what I would tell my children. I would say, “Mommy needs to talk to God, and He needs to deal with her first before she even starts her day.”

So that is the first thing in the morning. As you mentioned in your session on prayer, your habit of going to your knees at some point during the day. The first thing I do in the morning is to drop to my knees and just cry out to Him for grace. Many, many times I pray back Psalm 46 to Him, “You are my refuge and strength, my very present help in trouble” (see verse 1). I thank Him that I don’t have to be shaken that day because He is my mighty fortress, and I take my refuge in Him.

I begin my prayer time in that way, just reflecting on and talking to Him about how good He is and looking forward to the day with Him. Then as I move into my really structured time, what I would say is my daily practice of prayer, who I pray for regularly, I begin with my husband first.

There’s several Scriptures that I have prayed for him throughout the years. That changes, too, with our different seasons of life. One verse that I pray for him now that he’s older is from Psalm 92, that “the righteous shall flourish in the courts of our God, they’ll still yield fruit in old age” (see vv. 13–14). I pray that for him that he and I both will yield fruit, we’ll be fruitful until the very end of our days.

I pray for my children specific things. That’s changed over the years according to what they’re going through.

Nancy, I have prayers that I have recorded and Scriptures that I’ve prayed for you, and some of those have changed through the years.

The night before the first radio taping for Revive Our Hearts, we met together over at Tim Grissom’s house. One of the Scriptures, I remember, Nancy, that you had mentioned that God was using as you were preparing for that first radio taping . . . If you’ve listened to Nancy very much on Revive Our Hearts, she is a strong, bold, courageous teacher. It doesn’t sound like she would have ever been fearful about teaching the Word of God over the radio, but she was very dependent on God’s grace.

Psalm 18, verses 28–36 was something that she was asking God to do and clinging to.

For You light my lamp; the LORD my God illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped (NASB). 

Nancy: So you wrote that Scripture out. Do you use those Scriptures as part of your praying for people?

Kim: I don’t pray through these Scriptures every day for people, the same Scriptures every day. I have several different Scriptures that I pray for different individuals, but there is a set group of people that I pray for daily, and then there are some I pray for weekly.

Monday is normally my day to pray for my friends who are all across the country. As the week is divided up over days, different people, different individuals, different ministries . . . Life Action Ministries, Revive Our Hearts ministry, other ministries . . . specific things that are going on with them.

My prayer journal has little pockets and flaps. As I get a newsletter, a Revive Our Hearts email or newsletter or Life Action’s newsletter, I notice what their needs are and I keep that in that flap to be able to refer to that when I pray.

It was interesting this week, as I was looking back over my prayer journal . . . It concerns me when believers say, “Well, God doesn’t really answer my prayers.” I think that perhaps God doesn’t answer our prayers if we’re not praying in line with His will. That’s one reason I like to pray Scripture because John 15 informs us that if we ask anything according to His will and we’re abiding in Him and our word abides in Him, that we can pray according to His will.

But I think it’s good, too, to just go to Him and ask Him a lot of questions. Ask Him questions about Himself. Ask Him questions about certain passages of Scripture we’re reading through. Ask Him, “Why did You write this? Why did You want this particular verse inserted here? What does this mean? How do You want to apply this to my life?” Then at different points in our life, to just spiritually evaluate where we are.

About a year ago I wrote this out, and I said, “This list is composed of areas in my life that do not reflect an accurate portrayal of the triumphant work of Christ.” I was thinking about 2 Corinthians 2:14, being a fragrance of Christ, and that He leads us to triumph in Christ. So, “Are there areas in my life that do not reflect the resurrected Christ? What are those?”

My prayer was, “Father, give me discernment to recognize the difference and to know what weaknesses or challenges You’re bringing into my life for the sake of spiritual refinement, for the sake of sanctification, and what things are actually fiery darts or attacks from the enemy sent to disable, harm, or hinder my effectiveness in Your kingdom.”

I listed the top four biggies that I saw in my life right then. What was interesting was as I looked back at this list which I made just over a year ago was that God had answered three of these in a major way, one of them just this past week.

Nancy: Do you write out a lot of your prayers?

Kim: I do that with my journaling in my daily time. I like to write them out. I also use something I find that is real helpful, and that’s the Valley of Vision. I start out my morning with Puritan prayers. It's not that I pray these prayers perhaps like a religious ritual, but I feel like the Puritans have a good grasp on our sinful conduct, our fleshly way of thinking, worldly way of thinking, and of God’s glory and of God’s greatness. So as I read those prayers, it helps to form my praying to be more biblical, to be more scriptural.

One of the prayers I pray for you, Nancy, from the Valley of Vision is,

Sanctify me in every relation, office transaction, and condition of life, that if I prosper, I may not be unduly exalted; if I suffer, I may not be overly sorrowful. Balance my mind in all varying circumstances, and help me to cultivate a disposition that renders every duty a spiritual privilege, thus I may be content, be a glory to Thee and an example to others.

Nancy: I know that you are a woman who loves the Word. Do you find that your time in the Word is . . . Are you doing that at the same time as your prayer time? Are those intermingled, or do you go to the Word and then pray? How does that look for you?

Kim: I pray first for my regular time of prayer with the Lord. Then my prayer time is intermingled all through study of the Word and as I go through my day. You asked me one day whether I pray mainly out loud or whether I pray silently. More times than not, it’s probably out loud because I’m by myself so much now. I’m alone a lot in the house, so I do pray out loud to the Lord because it’s a conversation. I’m having a conversation with Him, and in my car out loud a lot. But even when the children were home, they would walk in often thinking I was talking to someone. I was talking to the Lord.

Then, here in this room, while all of you are here, I’m praying inwardly, as I’m sure many of you are. No one hears that but the Lord. So it’s a combination.

Nancy: You say you start the day with the Lord. How did you manage that when you had little children?

Kim: I got up really early, very early. Sometimes it would start when I was nursing, early in the morning, a child in a rocker. At that season I had preschoolers, I wasn’t able to have the amount of prayer time that I have now. One thing that I did that was helpful to me, because I didn’t have as long a time to just sit with the Lord, I would just write out a Scripture that was meaningful to me, or a verse I needed that day, something I was praying, on a 3 x 5 card and just tuck it into my pocket. It might even be my robe that I didn’t get out of that whole day as I was taking care of preschoolers. I would just look at it throughout the day, and it would bring that refreshment.

Jesus says in John 4 that the Father is seeking out worshipers, those who will "worship Him in Spirit and in truth" (v. 24). That is one of the first prayers that I began to ask Him, to teach me how to worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

Then, as you said earlier, I ask Him to give me greater love for Him, and ask Him to teach me how to pray. He loves for us to ask Him questions like that. He loves to instruct us in spiritual disciplines, to train us in righteousness. That’s the desire of His heart. So I think we need to ask Him things like that.

I think we need to ask Him about basic decisions, daily decisions. Even this week, and some people may think this sounds odd, but I was coming home after a long day of ministry. I was going to be counseling later that evening. I just wanted to go home for a bit to rest, and the Lord just really impressed me that I needed to go to the grocery store. He is living, He is alive, and He is not silent. He speaks through His Word. He also impresses and leads us daily in the steps He has ordered for us.

So I went to the grocery store to buy a few groceries. Well, I found out later in the week why I needed to buy those particular groceries. Thursday morning, as I’m preparing a meal for that evening, the Lord impresses a family on me. That came from Him impressing on making this meal that they needed that meal. I didn’t understand at first, yet He kept bringing them to mind.

So I called the mom, and sure enough, she’d been in the emergency room with a child late the night before. There was a lot of upheaval in their home right then. The Holy Spirit knew what was going on in their lives. I didn’t. And He led in that way.

I think a lot of times we miss out on how God wants to use us—I miss out on how God wants to use me—because we’re not connected in conversation with Him; we’re not watching for Him at work; we’re not listening; we’re not recognizing His hand at work around us or those in need around us.

People are constantly pouring out their hearts to us. You cannot go into Walmart or into the grocery store hardly without running into someone who is in need. You may not even know that person, and God may lay it on your heart to pray for them. But so often we’ll run into someone in our daily activities who pours out their heart to us, they just have a need, and I believe God wants us to pause right then. If you think they might be uncomfortable with it, I always say, “Would it be alright if I pray for you right now?” Since it is in a public area, but just, “Would it be alright if I pray for you right now?”

I’ve never had a person refuse that to me, whether it’s in a busy grocery store aisle, out on a parking lot, a public place. God is able to minister to them in ways that I cannot, but through interceding and prayer, as the Holy Spirit fills your heart and mind with what to pray for them as it’s needed, and it points them to Christ. That is what we want to do. That is what we were created for, to bring God glory.

As we are asking Him to allow us to be fruitful for Him, which John 15 says, that is how the Father is glorified. When we bear fruit for Him, then we can do that just in praying for individuals. As that ministers to them and points them to Christ, then that glorifies God.

Nancy: I just think about women all across this country that I believe God wants to make fruitful beyond anything they’ve ever dreamed possible, but you can’t produce what you don’t have in you.

So I think God is wanting to raise up a generation of women who really are walking in union and communion with the Lord, taking seriously the developing of their spiritual life, saying “no” to some other things. I’m not any great paragon of virtue on this front, but there are things I do have to say “no” to—good things—because there’s just not time to do everything.

So you’ve got to make your choice and say:

  • Do I want to be a woman of the Word?
  • Do I want to be a woman who really knows God?
  • Do I want to be a fruitful woman?
  • Do I want to be a true woman of God?

If so, then you’re going to make choices, priorities to pray for your family, to be filled with the Word and the wisdom of God, so that you can, as you become an older woman, be pouring that into others’ lives.

That’s all part of being a true woman of God. It’s not just that you do certain things or you look a certain way or you line up with a certain image of a true woman. That true woman can look very different in many different seasons of life. But one thing that is consistently true is that she is a woman who is getting to know God. She’s seeking Him with all of her heart. He’s teaching her, and she’s responding. She’s being shaped by the Word of God, and as a result her life is going to be fruitful and have an influence.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Kim Wagner about developing a consistent habit of prayer and Bible study.

Do you relate to some of the struggles or the joys you just heard about? We’d like to hear from you on the Revive Our Hearts Listener Blog. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, click on today’s program, scroll to the end of the transcript, and add your thoughts. You’ll also read other women’s comments and interact with them.

Again, it’s available at ReviveOurHearts.com, and, Nancy, that’s not all. If a listener hasn’t visited ReviveOurHearts.com, I think they’ll find it to be a rich resource.

Nancy: Yes. I’m so thankful that God has allowed us to speak into women’s lives on many important topics over the past seventeen years or so. When you have a question or topic that you’d like to explore, you can search through the archives. I often find myself sending women there. The needs you are dealing with now, the challenge you are facing, the area you are interested in; there are resources available for you. In fact, I said that the other day to a woman in an airport who was dealing with a difficult relational situation. I wrote it down: ReviveOurHearts.com. You can go there and find transcripts of our past radio programs, you can stream most of those. Plus, there are many other practical, helpful resources.

This vast archive library exists because year by year, month by month, day by day listeners like you have supported Revive Our Hearts. I'm so thankful for friends who have found the program helpful, and have thought, I really should support Revive Our Hearts. Then they took action and donated generously, so the ministry and the blessing could be passed on to others.

Maybe you’ve been blessed through this ministry, and you’ve come to the “I should support Revive Our Hearts” stage, but you’ve never actually gotten around to making the donation. Well today would be a good day to take action. Typically we see a drop in donations during the summer, and that's why we really need to hear from you.

This week when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we want to say “thanks” by sending you a set of three booklets I’ve written. I think these could jump start your personal Bible study, taking you into God’s Word and helping you learn how to display the beauty of godly femininity. The booklets are “Portrait of a Woman Used by God,” (a study in the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus) “A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood,” and “Becoming a Woman of Discretion.” So ask for these three booklets—the “True Woman Essentials Pack” when you call 1–800–569–5959 and make a donation of any size, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, femininity is a gift. Each of us as women is called to trust the God who invented male and female, and to gratefully accept that gift. Find out why tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help your passion for prayer to grow. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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