Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Walking and Talking with God

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says if you don't have an hour to pray, spend the time that you do have.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It doesn’t have to be a sweet hour of prayer. It can be continually sending up to the Lord short bolts of prayer.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Friday, June 15, 2018.

Do you feel like you're good at prayer? If not, you're in very good company. Let's listen to a woman who doesn’t feel like a great prayer warrior, but she does know the importance of talking with God. Here's Nancy.

Nancy: A couple came up to me that I had not seen in many years. The husband said to me, “I have prayed for you every day for the last ten years.” This is not a couple I have ever known well. And he said to me, “When I saw you ten years ago, you were getting ready to start Revive Our Hearts radio, and you said to me, 'Would you please pray for me?'” And he said, “I said yes. And then I left and I realized I told her I would pray for her.” He said, “Every day for the last ten years I have prayed for you.” Someone I hardly know.

Well, I thank the Lord for people like that man and other men and women, couples that I hear from, some of whom I've never met, who pray for me, who pray for this ministry. And I said to him, “Thank you so much.” Let me just take this opportunity to say thank you to many of you in this audience and many of you listening to this program today who pray for me. You pray for our team. You pray for our ministry. God hears those prayers and answers them.

That’s why I'm excited about this session we're coming to today as we're walking through the True Woman Manifesto, through the fifteen “we will” statements that come at the end of that Manifesto. We come to the fourth one today that says,

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

Now, one might wonder why include a statement about prayer in the True Woman Manifesto? I mean, men need to pray, too. Men and women need to pray, and that's true of a number of statements in the Manifesto. But we included that statement in the Manifesto because a true woman is a woman who walks with God and who lives in His presence. Her heart beats with His heart. She lives in union and communion with God. A true woman is a woman who knows that she cannot manage her own life, and so she lives in utter dependence upon God. She longs to see His will done in her life, her family, her church, her community, and in our world.

She realizes that prayer is the provision God has given us to make all these things possible. A true woman realizes that she cannot do anything of eternal value or significance apart from abiding in Christ and that who she is as a woman is determined by the source of her life, whether she's connected to, abiding in Christ, living in His presence.

And so this point of the Manifesto says, “We will nurture our fellowship and communion with God.” That word nurture suggests that we have to give it attention. We have to give it focus. We have to help it grow, tend it. A prayer life doesn’t just naturally happen. In fact, I have found that as I've been working on this session, God has used my study and my preparation, my meditation, to help nurture my own prayer life, to help encourage it, to help it grow.

Now the purpose for praying is suggested in this point where it says, “We will nurture our fellowship and communion with God through prayer.” The purpose of praying is not to pass information on to God who knows everything or to tell Him something that maybe He has forgotten. The purpose is to cultivate a deeper more intimate relationship with our heavenly Father.

Many of you have read Oswald Chambers over the years, My Utmost for His Highest. And he says,

We look upon prayer as a means for getting something for ourselves. The Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

And so I would ask you, what drives your prayers? Is it your grocery list of needs, or is it your desire to know God, to have intimate communion and union with Him?

When I lived in Little Rock where we recorded Revive Our Hearts for the first eight years, I had a walking partner. We enjoyed spending time together. We planned it. We both had different schedules. I'm studying for radio recordings. She's a mom of several kids. So we had to adjust our schedules to make it possible and plan to fit that time into our day.

Most of the time we looked forward to walking together. I will say that there were days—both of us would say—when we did not look forward to it, when we did not want to get out of bed. We didn't want to move, or we didn’t feel like getting out, or we didn’t feel like talking to anyone. But we did it anyway because we knew it was good for us. We knew we needed it.

We needed that walking not just for physical exercise though that certainly is one of the benefits. But we needed it for the purpose of staying connected and engaged in each other's lives and sharing what was going on in our lives, building our friendship. We shared our blessings. We shared our burdens. We walked a lot of miles in Little Rock over those years, just two or three miles several times a week. But that adds up over a period of years. We shared things we were concerned about on that particular day or that season of life. We shared failures with each other. We shared things with each other that we did not share with many other people.

Now when we started walking I think there were probably for both of us those times when the thought was, What are we going to talk about? But over time as we talked, as we walked, we developed a close friendship. And we talked on the phone last week and we said to each other how much we both miss those times, how much we realize we needed them, how valuable they were.

I think of that season of walking with that walking partner. There's a picture of what God wants in His relationship with us. If I could say it without meaning any disrespect at all, God wants to be our walking partner. He wants to walk with us, to talk with us, to share His life with us, and have us share our life with Him—on days when we feel like getting up and walking and talking with Him and on days when we don't feel like getting up and walking and talking with Him, sharing our blessings, sharing our burdens, sharing our failures, over time developing a close friendship.

And just like my walking friend in Little Rock, in those early days we didn't know each other real well. We'd kind of have to think of things to talk about. But the more we talked, the more we got to enjoy each other, and the more things we found we had in common. We developed mutual interests. There were things we found we had to talk about. It just got easier over time.

I think with prayer as we get to know God and we talk and we commune with Him, we'll find that that friendship grows. That’s a picture you see in Genesis chapter 3 where Adam after he had sinned heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Verse 9 says, “The Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'” Aren't you glad that God is the one who initiates our walking together? He says I want to walk with you. I want to know you.

I think of my friend who often would call me or email me and say, “Are we going to walk tomorrow? Do you want to walk?” "I've got a lot to do, but I need to walk. We need to talk. Let's do it." God is the one who initiates relationship. And remember when that first took place? After Adam and Eve had sinned, when they were hiding, when they were ashamed, when they were guilty. God called Adam, and He said, “Where are you? Time for our walk. Let's walk. Let's talk.”

Through the shed blood of Christ the sacrifice that He made for us, we can come back into God's presence even when we have sinned because the sacrifice for our sins has been paid. And God says, “I want to walk with you. I want to talk with you. I want to know you.”

And yet truth be told, many of us find it difficult to pray. I hear this from many of our listeners. I got an email recently from one listener who said,

I find that my prayer life is so dry and lacking life. It seems routine and stale. I know that it's the most important activity that I can do, but prayer has always been the most difficult thing for me to do in my Christian life. Give me a good Bible study to do or teach or a good book to read or good Christian music to listen to, but spend time in prayer? It's a real effort. I know I'm not alone in this.

How many of you would say that she's not alone in this? I can relate. Many, most of the hands in the room. I would have to raise my hand and say, "That woman is not alone.

In fact, it's really tough for me to speak on the subject of prayer because I've always loved to read and study and meditate on the Word. But prayer has always been so tough for me. I find it hard to get still enough, long enough to really commune with the Lord in prayer. In fact, recently I was asked to pray at an event that our local pregnancy care center was having and the woman who emailed me to ask if I would come and open this event with prayer said, “I know that you are such a great prayer warrior.”

I had to email her back and say, “I am not a great prayer warrior, believe me. I will be glad to come and pray at your event because I believe in prayer, but I'm so much in the learning and early stages of growth in what it means to be a woman of prayer."

Some of you are familiar with the name Andrew Bonar who was one of the great nineteenth century Scottish Evangelicals. One of the recurring themes in his life and diary was the fact that he struggled greatly in prayer. He felt many times like he was a total failure in prayer. There's a pastor in our area named Brian Hedges who has written an article on some of the strategies that Bonar developed to strengthen his prayer life. Brian summarizes those lessons in this way.

He says Bonar learned first to pray while traveling. Bonar's diary says,

God has been impressing on me the way of redeeming time for prayer by learning to pray while walking or going from place to place.

And then he learned to give prayer first place every day. His diary says,

By the grace of God and the strength of His Holy Spirit I desire to lay down the rule not to speak to man until I have spoken with God; not to do anything with my hand till I have been on my knees; not to read letters or papers until I have read something of the Holy Scriptures.

When I read that excerpt I thought of my dad, Art DeMoss. The rule for his life was: No Bible reading, no breakfast. And . . . not reading of others materials before reading the Bible. You say, "That sounds so legalistic." I'll tell you, it wasn't legalistic for my dad. It may be for someone else, but for him, it was a joy. It was a delight. It was his necessary food, more necessary to him than breakfast, and he found breakfast pretty necessary. But he found God's Word even more necessary.

So pray while traveling, give prayer first place every day. The third lesson from Bonar's diary is to take advantage of short but frequent praying. His diary said,

Led to think today that my way of praying is chiefly to be by bolts upward, not by very long prayers at one time.

Some of you love praying for very long periods of time. But for some of you, maybe that will take some pressure off your prayer life as you think it doesn't have to be a sweet hour of prayer. It can be continually sending up to the Lord short "bolts" of prayer, as Bonar called them.

And then the fourth lesson that was pulled out of his diary is to pray every hour of the day. His diary said,

I have been endeavoring to keep up prayer at this season every hour of the day, stopping my occupation, whatever it is, to pray a little, seeking thus to keep my soul within the shadow of the throne of grace and Him that sits thereon. 1

In other words, never get very far from prayer. Just consciously take time through the course of the day whatever you're doing to stop and pray.

Prayer expresses an attitude of dependence upon God. There is a pastor who has a wonderful blog. His name is Kevin DeYoung. I follow that blog. It's something that would be of benefit to you if you’re looking for a really biblically grounded blog to follow. He had a great post on prayer not too long ago. Let me just read some portions of that post. He said,

The simple act of getting on our knees (or faces or feet or whatever) for 5 or 50 minutes every day is the surest sign of our humility and dependence on our Father in heaven. There may be many reasons for our prayerlessness—time management, busyness, lack of concentration—but most fundamentally, we ask not because we think we need not or we think God can give not.

Deep down we feel secure when we have money in the bank, a healthy report from the doctor, and powerful people on our side. We do not trust in God alone. Prayerlessness is an expression of our meager confidence in God's ability to provide and our strong confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves without God's help.2

So why don't we pray more? Why don't I pray more? Well one key reason is because we're not really desperate. We're not really conscious of our need for God. And you think about it. Most of us have never had to wonder where our next meal is coming from. So why would we pray desperately, “Give us this day our daily bread”?

From a human standpoint, the fact is we can survive without God's help. Now we really can't. We can't take another breath without God's help. But from the human vantage point of things, it looks like we can operate on our own efforts, our own resources apart from God's grace and intervention, which is why I have often said, anything that makes us need God is a blessing.

That's why your lost job may be a blessing if it makes you need God. That's why your husband's lost job is a blessing if it makes you need God. That's why a bad report from the doctor is a blessing if it makes you conscious of your need for God.

Let me read just a little bit more of Kevin DeYoung's blog post. He said,

Almost all of us want to pray more frequently, and yet our lives seem too disordered. But in God's mind our messy, chaotic lives are an impetus to prayer instead of an obstacle to prayer. You don't need an ordered life to enable prayer. You need a messy life to drive you to prayer.

And I'm going yes! Then I can do this!

You don't need to have everything in order before you can pray. You need to know you're disordered so you will pray. You need to think to yourself, "Tomorrow is another day that I need God. I need to know Him. I need forgiveness. I need help. I need protection. I need deliverance. I need patience. I need courage. Therefore, I need prayer." If you know you are needy and believe that God helps the needy, you will pray. The heart that never talks to God is the heart that trusts in itself and not in the power of God.2

You say, “I want to pray. How do I become more a woman of prayer?” Let me just make three real simple suggestions. First, ask the Lord to teach you to pray. That's what the disciples did. When they saw Jesus' prayer life, they were moved to say, “Lord teach us to pray.” And He did. So say, “Lord teach me to pray.”

Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray. The apostle Paul, you think of him as a great prayer warrior. He said,

The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for. [Even the apostle Paul. We don’t know what to pray.] But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will (Rom. 8:26–27).

Ask God to teach you pray, and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray.

And then number three, pray the Word of God back to God.

That's what happened at the beginning of this session when Martin Jones, who is the executive director of Revive Our Hearts, came in and prayed for us. He had Colossians 3, those first verses in his heart; he had memorized them. He didn't have a Bible with him, but he said let me pray the Scripture over you. He prayed through those first couple of verses of Colossians 3.

Listen, you may not know what the will of God is for someone that you’re praying for or for a certain situation in your life. But you can be sure that when you pray the Word of God, you are praying the will of God.

We have one man on our staff who invariably if we have staff prayer time, which we do often, spontaneously and often he invariably has an open Bible before him as he's praying. Often he's praying through the Scripture, praying the Scripture back to God. You can do that alone. You can do it with others.

In the book of Esther there's a scene that gives a beautiful insight into prayer. Remember how Mordecai discovered the plot to annihilate the Jews and he appealed to his cousin, Queen Esther, to use her position to intercede with King Artaxerxes on behalf of her people. Now Esther knew that no one dared to approach the king without being invited. If you did so, you risked death unless the king was to have mercy and extend his golden scepter.

But finally after three days of fasting, Esther put on her royal robes and she went into the inner court of the palace where the king sat on his throne. And I love these next two verses, Esther 5 verses 2 and 3.

When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. Then the king said to her, "What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom it shall be given to you.”

I think what a picture this is of the relationship between an all-powerful God who sits on His throne in heaven and desperate, helpless, needy believers on earth who approach His throne and at His invitation come near to share their needs and to intercede on behalf of others. Now of course the analogy fails because Artaxerxes being a pagan king cannot possibly represent God accurately. But I still think there's a glimpse here of how we can approach God and obtain favor because we come in the name of Christ clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Like Esther, we may be reluctant to approach the King of the universe with our puny needs and burdens. We forget that this is a King who loves us, who has chosen us, who delights in us. And amazingly, He is determined to accomplish His purposes here on earth in union with the prayers of His people. In fact, He is waiting for us to come and ask.

And sometimes, especially when we know that we've blown it, we could be fearful to approach One who is so powerful who could destroy us with a flicker of His eyelids if He chose to do so. But when we approach His throne clothed in the righteousness of Christ, even as Esther prepared by putting on her royal robes, wonder of wonders, we obtain favor in His sight. He extends His golden scepter toward us, and He invites us to draw near and touch the top of that scepter.

Then having granted us access into His presence, as if that's not enough, this amazing King of the universe says to us, “What's troubling you? What's on your heart my beloved one? What’s your request?” Ask and it will be given to you.

So as we seek to become true women of God, we commit ourselves to nurture our fellowship and communion with God through prayer. I have on my desk a carved piece. I brought it for show-n-tell today. But for those who can't see me, it's just the letters P-R-A-Y, carved out of a piece of wood.

This piece sits on my desk. It's a constant reminder as I'm dealing with challenges of the ministry, with preparing for recording days, with dealing with family issues and concerns, dealing with relational issues and concerns, my own personal struggles, temptation, and sin. It's just the simple reminder to pray. Have you prayed about it. We talk about it; we worry about it; we stew about it; we ask for others' counsel about it. The question is: Have you prayed about it? 

Scripture says, "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call on Him in truth" (Ps. 145:18).

There's an old hymn we rarely sing anymore that was written in the 1800s by Joseph Scriven, but I think the words are just such an important reminder

What a friend we have in Jesus,
[Not just a King, He is that, but a friend.]
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer! 

And Lord, I'm mindful of the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 4 where he says, “Pray about everything. Don't worry about anything. Tell God your needs. Don't forget to thank him for his answers. And if you do this, the peace of God will garrison, surround, protect, safeguard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (see Phil. 4:6–7). 

So Lord, I pray that You would make us women of prayer, women who link arms with Your omnipotence to believe Your will to be done on this earth as it is in heaven, to see Your kingdom come in this world. And Lord, I think of the power of my great-grandmother's prayers. I never knew her, but I'm here today as a long-term result of prayers that she prayed for a wayward grandson, Art DeMoss, who You saved, brought into Your kingdom—my dad. Now my life is a fulfillment of prayers she prayed and prayers my dad prayed. He's now in heaven, and I'm living out the answer to his prayers.

And Lord, I pray that my prayers and our prayers would be such that generations from now there would be those on this earth who would say, “I'm here today walking with the Lord and serving Him because of a praying mom, a praying grandmom.” Lord, would You please teach us to pray? I ask in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been providing insight into a topic each of us needs. If you’re ready to learn more you could listen to the entire series Nancy taught on the Lord's Prayer. Read the transcripts or stream the audio at ReviveOurHearts.com. You'd be surprised at the depth of material that's available on all kinds of topics that you need. Today's teaching on prayer is part of a series on the True Woman Manifesto. We're learning to be God's true woman in every area of life during this series.

To help you in the process, I hope you'll get a copy of a devotional booklet called A 30-Day Journey Through the True Woman Manifesto. If you’ve been intrigued by the teaching you’ve heard, imagine spending thirty days focusing on this material and really getting it deep into your life. That’s what this study will help you do. You’ll consider one portion of the Manifesto each day, read related Scripture passages, and answer a few questions to help you apply what you’ve read to your life.

We’ll send this booklet when you make a donation of any amount to help Revive Our Hearts come to you each weekday. Donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, and we'll send you A 30-Day Journey Through the True Woman Manifesto. Or ask for the study when you call 1–800–569–5959. We’ll send one booklet per household for your donation and today’s the final day we’ll be making this offer. 

Well, we'll stay on the topic of prayer Monday. Learn some practical approaches to consistently connect with God. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes in the power of prayer. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1 Brian Hedges, "Devoted to Prayers: Lessons from Andrew Bonar," PastorConnect (Life Action Ministries email), Oct. 13, 2006. From Bonar's diary: 9/19/1840, 9/29/1848, 8/25/1849, 1/3/1856.

2  http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/ “Prayer is Unbelief” -- 11/6/09

 

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