Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Lifestyle of Prayer

Leslie Basham: Jesus talks about praying in an inner room. Holly Elliff says, “You should go to the inner room any time possible.”

Holly Elliff: I think, especially for moms sometimes, that inner room may be the laundry room or it may be your car while you’re waiting on kids to get in it. But you know it can be any place where you are able to get a few minutes with the Lord.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, October 12.

The disciples of Jesus asked, “How do we pray?” His answer was profound. It’s the topic of our current series, The Lord’s Prayer. Last week Nancy unpacked the phrase “Your kingdom come.” Earlier in the series she talked about some of the preliminary words of Jesus, about the motives for prayer, and the need to get away and pray alone.

Some friends have been listening to this series, and they’re about to reflect on the challenges and joys of getting alone with God. We’ll hear from Nancy, along with Kim Wagner, Jane Green, and starting us off, here’s Holly Elliff.

Holly: We had the experience this week with an older woman named Lorene that we’ve known for a long time. She is a precious woman of God, loved prayer. Her funeral was this week; my husband led the service.

Her son, who is now in his forties, gave a eulogy for his mom, and it was so sweet. One of the things he said was, “Everything was a matter of prayer for her. Every detail of her life.” He said, “She didn’t make coffee in the morning without praying while she got out the coffee pot.”

He walked in two days before the funeral and found her already dead in her home. She was on her knees beside her bed with her hands up on the bed, her head on top of her hands, her glasses in her hand, her Bible right next to her. That’s how she died. She knelt down there to pray and the next thing she knew when she opened her eyes again . . .

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: She’s seeing the Lord!

Holly: . . .was the face of Christ. That’s just an astounding thought.

He said, “It was such a fitting end to her life because that’s the way she lived. Every moment of her day was about getting to God. And it was just a neat picture of that.

Nancy: A picture of prayer as a lifestyle. When you live that way and you pray that way, then really death becomes for the believer, for the praying believer, just the next step into the presence of the God that you’ve been living with and talking to all along, to the physical presence of the Lord.

Kim Wagner: We’re in His presence right here, right now. But it is so exciting to think about when we are removed from this flesh and this restraint and it is just the next step for a believer. I can’t wait.

Nancy: We tend to think of heaven and eternity as so removed from life here and now. So we live with this very detached, I think, sense of not being connected to eternity, to the presence of Christ. Really, the Lord’s Prayer calls us to live a life that is lived in the light of God’s presence and in the light of eternity and in the light of spiritual realities, to live, not this secular disconnected life, but a life that is all about the kingdom of God, the will of God, the power of God, the glory of God.

I’ve been very convicted as I’ve been studying this series of the whole thing of motives. I’m seeing this is such a huge issue in my life. How many things through my life have I lost all hope of reward because of doing them to be seen by others, doing them to make an impression? I could just want to curl up and never show my face again.

But that’s when I’ve got to get to God for grace and say, “Lord, You see what a mess I am. You see how unlike Christ I am. Thank You for shining Your light and Your Spirit and Your Word in my heart. I repent. But even that’s a gift from You. To change my heart is something that only You can do.”

This is not a matter of me striving or struggling to become a better Christian. “I’m not going to have impure motives.” Well, I do have impure motives. So I lay my heart before the Lord. I say, “Lord, You know all things. Wash me. Cleanse me. Change me. Sanctify me.” Only God can change my heart.

So I don’t want to put people under bondage of trying to live up to one more law. I want to say, we are law breakers. I am a law breaker. This Lord’s Prayer has shown me more ways than I ever realized that I’m a law breaker and not praying and living in a way that’s pleasing to the Lord. But hopefully what that will do is get me to Christ, get me to the gospel, get me to the cross, to that which can liberate and change my life.

Holly: I think the life of Christ is such an example of His constant confrontation of wrong motives. I mean, it’s all through the New Testament. We talked about it earlier as you were teaching, Nancy. You talked about how controversial it was to the Jewish world that Christ could call God His Father. What a controversial statement that was.

And I sat there thinking. All of His life was controversial. Everything Christ did as He came to earth was controversial. But it forced men to examine their hearts and to think about why they did what they did. When He confronted the rich young ruler about his wealth, Jesus was looking at his heart. And when he confronted the Pharisees, it was because He could see the motivations of their hearts, and they couldn’t or hadn’t thought about the motivation of their hearts.

That’s what I love over and over in the New Testament. If we’re reading, studying God’s Word, we’re going to be constantly confronted with truth that doesn’t let us get too far down the path if we’re really asking that question, “What's the motivation of my heart?”

Kim: If we bear the name of the holy God and yet we’re living in unholiness, we’re negating the truthfulness of that statement that we are bearing the name of a holy God. But this quote really hit me strong from Nietzsche that says—and of course he was an ardent antagonist to Christianity—he says, “Show me that you are redeemed, and then I will believe in your redeemer.”

I fear that the church today does not reflect that we serve a holy God. My greatest burden and concern today is that I want people to know what my Father is like. We as a church, I believe, are not showing them what the Father is like, what Jesus is like.

Nancy: In fact, then, they oftentimes choose to reject Christ because the ones who bear His name give such a witness that is unwinsome, unholy. And they say, “If that’s what a Christian is, if that’s who Christ is, then I don’t want Him.

Holly: I do think it’s tragic that, as believers, we so many times look so much like the world; there’s no distinctiveness in our life. There’s nothing about us that draws other people in, a winsomeness that makes them say, “What is that in that person? I want to know what that is.”

Jane, it’s like you said, when you first came to Christ you assumed that every believer did everything you read in Scripture. How tragic is it that so many times we look so unlike Christ and so unlike Scripture that we’re not even recognizable as believers.

Nancy: It’s easy to settle into that and think, “Everyone else around us is living that way. Nobody’s really living at this supernatural level of the Christian life or so few are, and then to begin to rationalize, justify, make excuses for our own subpar Christianity. We think, “Well, I’m doing as well as people around me, most of them anyway,” when God is calling us in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Lord’s Prayer to a lifestyle that is radically other than the way of the world and its kingdom and its righteousness.

For us to be content to live in the world’s kingdom or the way that the world’s kingdom does is to betray the name of Christ our King.

Holly: It’s really an amazing thought to think of how much God would desire to do in our nation if we were listening, if we were praying in accordance with His will. If those of us who are genuinely believers were actually getting up every day and praying through the course of our day, “God, we desire for Your kingdom to come.” I think we have missed so much of what God desires because we have lost the mindset to pray in accordance with His will.

I love that Jesus so well exemplified that balance of the need to get to God about everything in His life while He walked the earth, so much so that His disciples saw it and said, “We know that You pray. Teach us how to do the same thing.” They knew it was important to Him.

I love reading through the New Testament. For somebody who doesn’t understand this concept, I would encourage them to just get their Bible out and start reading through the New Testament, recording what they see about the life of Christ in relationship to prayer. Because I think that does show us how to take the moments that we’re living out on earth and see them in light of eternity, which is what Jesus was all about.

Kim: Jesus wasn’t living in a monastery. He was dealing with the dirty junk of society. He was tired. He was hungry. It was difficult. Even so He was able to keep that continual fellowship with the Father.

Jane Green: Holly, we would see that if we would do what you said, take our Bibles and just start going through and marking them about the life of Jesus. We would see that He got up early in the morning and He went away by Himself to pray. Nancy, I don’t think that’s something that most people do. Their mornings are filled with getting the kids ready and getting out the door and going to work. Sleep in as late as possible because they’ve watched TV so long the night before.

I remember when I first saw that Jesus went away to pray. . . I personally like to get up in the morning. I was also very pleased when I saw that Jesus did that because I thought, “Okay, then it’s all right for me to do that.”

Holly: He also prayed all night.

Jane: Yes, that’s true.

Kim: Nancy asked me how can people cultivate this? I think you just mentioned a couple of practical things. People are so busy, but what do they really want to do? If you really want to meet with God, if you really want to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer, you do have to choose to turn off the TV or not stay up late doing whatever kind of activities. You have to choose to go to bed in time to get up and meet with God or to . . .

Holly: To make adjustments in your life.

Nancy: And, Jane, you did that as a young believer.

Jane: I did.

Nancy: You made some choices that people today, in many cases, would consider very radical.

Jane: Yes. I still get comments on the choices that I have made—to not have a TV is one thing. We just recently got a computer and I can definitely see where email, thinking that I need to check those before I go to bed and then you respond to them. It’s a choice.

I can remember one young woman saying to me that she couldn’t do that because she didn’t have the time. She wished that she could develop the relationship with the Lord that she saw that I had, but she didn’t have the time. I asked her, “What do you do in between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning (because that’s when I’m doing this)? So what are you doing then?”

Nancy: Another thing that God prompted your heart, as I remember. You were a runner. You were a marathon runner.

Jane: Yes.

Nancy: And you made some choices—not that running was wrong—but I remember you telling me that . . .

Jane: It was taking up too much of my time, time that could be better spent.

Nancy: So we’re not saying that running is wrong or that doing email is wrong. It’s choosing your priorities and living your life by them and saying, if you don’t have time to cultivate your relationship with God . . .

Jane: Something’s wrong somewhere if you don’t have that. It comes down to self-control, too.

Kim: It’s a discipline of the heart.

Holly: And going back to realizing that it’s critical. I think we do what we want to do lots of times. So what really matters to you, you will find time to do.

Jane: Yes. It’s like Dorothy said. She’s had a heart for revival for all of these years, and she’s been praying.

Nancy: Dorothy is an eighty-year-old woman who’s been attending these Revive Our Hearts sessions.

Jane: Yes. When I heard that she had that heart and that she’d been praying for that for all of these years, and when I look at the United States, I don’t see it going that way. But it’s not stopping her from praying. You said something earlier, that sometimes prayers are sowing seeds that are not rewarded for years to come.

We live in such an instant society that we want to see results right now. I think if we’re not getting an answer to a prayer, we have a tendency—I’ve had a tendency—to quit praying about it then. To hear about how Dorothy’s been praying has really encouraged me.

Kim: Jane, when Nancy started the sessions on the Lord’s Prayer, she brought up the idea about going to the inner room, the inner closet. I thought of Jane immediately. Did you, Holly? The first evening we ever shared with Jane, she shared with us about how literally she took that.

Jane: When I became a believer, I started reading through the New Testament, and I got to Matthew 6, and it says, “Go into your inner room and shut the door.” I was sitting at the kitchen table when I read that. I looked up and I thought, “Well, the inner room in this house is going to be the bathroom or the basement.” So I tried the bathroom for several days and found it to be uncomfortable.

So then I went down into the basement and in the basement of this home—I was renting a home that was furnished—there was a rocking chair down there. So that became my prayer chair. What I found was that while I was there, I was not distracted by other things. When I went there and I shut the door, I was going there to pray. In that scenario, I was not distracted.

Holly: I think, especially for moms sometimes, that inner room may be the laundry room or it may be your car while you’re waiting on kids to get in it. But it can be any place where you are able to get a few minutes with the Lord.

Nancy: And you know it’s more than a physical place. I was reading this morning a quote by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, and I just so related to the need for this. He said, “We must have a selected place for prayer and when we get there, the plague of flies begins.” He’s, of course, talking about being distracted. You can go into that inner room and all of a sudden you have these thoughts come whirring around you from every direction.

He says, “The plague of flies begins. This must be done and that.” I’ve said often that my “to do” list all of a sudden multiplies when I sit down in that quiet-time chair, and I start thinking of all the things that need to be done.

So Chambers is speaking about Matthew 6:6 where it says, “Go into your room and shut the door.” Chambers goes on and says, “Shut the door.” It’s not just the physical, literal door. It’s concentrate, set your mind and your heart on the Lord. He said, “A secret silence means to shut the door deliberately on emotions, and remember God.”

So I have a place, I have a chair. I live alone. It can be quiet. But my heart can be not quiet. That’s where it’s a call, not just to shut the literal door but to shut the door of your heart. Shut the world out and say, “Lord, I want to concentrate and focus on You.”

That does not come easily for me. But it’s a battle I find I’ve got to wage. That’s why we’re calling women in Revive Our Hearts to a counter-cultural revolution. Even within the Christian world, what it looks like as a woman—single, wife, mom, empty nester. All four of us women sitting in this conversation are really in varied seasons of life.

What does it look like? What does it mean to be a kingdom-minded woman? Even in the Christian world today, it is going to go against the grain. It’s going to go against the flow. You’re going to look like a salmon swimming upstream. People are going to, even in the Christian world, think you’re nuts.

I talked with a woman in the last week. She and her family have changed churches within the last year. But she said,

In the church we were in, our marriage issues were not getting resolved, our life issues were not being dealt with. I would look around and I would hear all these great sermons and I would say, "Is anybody doing anything about this? Is this changing anybody’s life?”

It wasn’t changing my friends. We would be in our small group, but nobody wanted to talk about spiritual things. Everything was material things, temporal things, earthly things. Here we were with marriage issues. My husband and I never had a good marriage all those years. We would actually say to people, "We need some help." And they’d say, "That’s nice" kind of mindset. We just decided we wanted to get serious about our faith.

So they went to a very small church, not because it was small, but it happened to be. And now people are getting into their life. They’re getting into the Word. They’re making choices.

She said, “Everything about our lives has changed—how we look at everything, what we do,” their marriage issues, the way they're raising their children, their whole value system. Everything is different. Well, they now have got an eye for the kingdom of God. They’re taking God seriously.

I’m sure some of their friends at their former church—and I’m not saying there aren’t godly people in that former church. But I think some of the circle they were running in are probably looking at them now and thinking, “You have gone off the deep end. You’ve become a fanatic. You’re taking this way too seriously.”

Holly, the way you’re parenting your children I’m sure a lot of people look at and say, “That’s just too extreme.” But you’re doing it with joy. You’re doing it under the leading of the Holy Spirit. You’re just saying, “We’re not going to just let our kids grow up.”

Holly: The fact that we have children . . .

Nancy: The fact that you have eight children is counter-cultural because for so many, that would be, “You’re nuts! You’re crazy.”

Holly: Some days we believe that.

Nancy: And some days you probably feel that. But under the Lordship and the leadership of Christ, you’re saying, “We’re not only going to have the children God blesses us with.” That’s radical enough.

“But, we’re not going to let those children just grow up and fit into the world system. We’re going to be intentional about the way that we shepherd their hearts, about the way we parent, about the way we model Christ to our children. This is not going to be a category of our lives that we reserve for Sunday because my husband’s the pastor and my kids are pastor’s kids. This is the way we’re choosing to live our lives for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.” And that’s living the Lord’s Prayer.

Holly: I think the word intentional is a key word to really wrap up what we’re talking about because it is an intentional lifestyle choice. To live in light of eternity, to live governed by God’s Word and by His Spirit and to be connected to Him in prayer is intentional. It has to be intentional or it does not happen.

Nancy: And you may not have a lot of company on that journey, but you will have the company of Christ.

Leslie: I’ve been listening, thinking, “That’s the kind of life I want.” I’m so grateful for other women who encourage me to pray and explain the deep meaning in a passage like the Lord’s Prayer. Embark on a lifestyle of prayer with the help of Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her series called The Lord’s Prayer, Part 2.

When you order the series on CD, you’ll hear today’s conversation Nancy had with Kim Wagner, Jane Green, and Holly Elliff. We had to cut the conversation short because of time restraints, but you can hear the entire dialogue when you order the CD. Plus meditate with Nancy on the Lord’s Prayer. When you order this teaching series on CD you can listen whenever a quiet moment presents itself—in the car or wherever—and you can pause the CD about prayer, to pray.

To order Nancy's complete teaching, The Lord’s Prayer, Parts 1–3, visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959. “Thy will be done.” It’s one of the most difficult and meaningful ways to pray. Find out why when Nancy picks up her series on the Lord’s Prayer. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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