Encouraging One AnotherEncouragement Through Prayer
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 the apostle Paul says, “Now we exhort you, we encourage you brethren, comfort the fainthearted, encourage, strengthen those who are fainthearted” (v. 14).
Leslie Basham: This is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy: That word fainthearted comes from, in the original language, two Greek words. They literally mean "small-souled" S-O-U-L-E-D—someone whose soul is shriveled up. They become weak and faint. They're despondent. They're fainthearted. The apostle Paul says we are to encourage, to comfort, to exhort those whose souls have gotten small, those who are discouraged, those who are despondent.
Leslie: You’ll hear how to do that today on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, January 30.
Nancy: We've been talking this week about encouraging one another, and how this is a ministry that all of us are to have in each other's lives. We started talking yesterday about some categories of people who need to be encouraged, to open up our eyes to people around us that we should be intentionally seeking to encourage.
Let me mention today something I didn't get to yesterday, and that's encouraging your children. Your children need to be encouraged—especially if you have children in the home, although not just if they're in the home. It's so easy as a mom having to deal with situations that need to be corrected. It's easy for a mom to forget how much her children need to be encouraged.
By the way, not just your children, but other people's children. Jesus took little children in His arms. He put them on His lap. He blessed them. One of the things I try to do with other people's children, not having any of my own, is to touch them in compassion, in meaningful and tender ways, to ask "How are you doing? How's your day going?" To inquire into those children's lives and not to just pretend like those little people don't exist, but to be an encourager in the lives of children.
Here's another person or set of people that we need to be encouraging, and those are our pastors and our spiritual leaders—the elders, the deacons, the church staff members, and their wives. We have come into an era today where it is so hard to be in a position of spiritual leadership because the "in vogue" thing is to criticize. All around us we're seeing the wreckage of churches and lives because, among other reasons, we're not encouraging one another. Your pastor needs for you to be an encourager—not his critic.
When you see a need in their lives that should become an opportunity for intercession, not to talk to others. I'm just astounded at the things that bring pressure to bear on pastors and churches today that you say, "You're tearing up the church for that?"
I've loved over the years being an encourager to the pastors and the church staff members that God has put into my life who have spiritual authority over my life. I work hard at writing notes, at sending anniversary checks for "date nights" for those husbands and wives to get out together and have an evening, especially if they have children and maybe don't get out a lot. Look for ways to verbally speak to your pastor, to his wife, to them as a couple, to others in positions of spiritual leadership to honor them, to encourage them.
Here's another group of people we can encourage, and that is other mothers. There are lots of different types of mothers in different seasons of life. I think of a woman in my church who just found out that she's expecting her fifth child and she came to me the day after she learned that she was pregnant.
She said, "I was lying in bed last night thinking, 'Who could I tell that we're having a fifth child that wouldn't think I was nuts, that would encourage me?'" And she said, "You were one of the few people I could think of." Well, I'm glad to be one of those people, but I'm sorry there are so few.
Expectant mothers need to hear us as women come around and say, "I am so thrilled for you." Ladies, it may be her fifth, it may be her first, it may be her fifteenth. But do not be a voice of discouragement to that woman. She doesn't need that. We need to encourage one another and say, "I rejoice with you in what God is doing in giving you this gift."
I met in church a couple of weeks ago a woman who has a number of children, but just has a newborn recently. She is so tired right now. I mean, it's just that season of life when that's the way it's going to be for a little bit. I just said, "How you doing, Christy?" She said, "I'm just tired."
I put my arm around her, held her baby, embraced her, and said, "Let me just pray for you." We stood in the aisle of the church there and just prayed that God would strengthen and encourage and bless her.
Encourage single moms who are struggling with being the provider financially for their family and raising that family. They need encouragement. Moms with lots of children need encouragement. Women who would love to be a mom but have not been able to have children—a woman who is barren. She needs encouragement. She needs to know that God has a role and a purpose and a value for her life. She needs encouragement. So as women we need to encourage other mothers.
Encourage people who have invested in your life—a whole different category here. I have tried over the years to think back to the teachers, the pastors, the friends that have invested spiritually in my life. I have tried to as much as possible to write those people notes, to thank them.
I've been thinking recently about the woman who helped me edit my first book. I've been thinking this week, I need to write a note to Carolyn and just thank her for what she taught me and how she invested in my life in that process.
People who invested spiritually in your life. You need to encourage them. People who are lonely. This may be singles. It may be elderly people. A woman who has been widowed and may be lonely—just needs someone to listen and encourage.
Someone who is new to the area. I've had people do that for me as I've been new in an area, who've invited me into their home, taken me under their wing. We need to do that for others. College students. They can be lonely away from home, especially international students! What an opportunity for ministry and for encouragement. These students who are so far away from home, to bring them into your home for a meal, to love them. In many cases you can love and encourage them to Christ.
Other categories of people. People who are struggling financially. People who are struggling with physical weakness or sickness, those who are hospitalized, those who are elderly. New believers. They need to be encouraged in their faith.
People who are struggling with a sin habit, and they want victory. But this is so long ingrained that they haven't really stepped through into having new habit patterns of giving in to the Spirit rather than to the flesh.
Now it's one thing if they're willfully disobeying God—and Paul says in 1Timothy 5, "Warn those who are unruly, those who are willfully unrepentant." But those who are just fainthearted, who are struggling to make it, comfort them, come alongside and encourage them.
People who are grieving or who have experienced loss. We've all been there and known what it is. I think about when I got the news that my dad had died of a heart attack. I'd seen him just that afternoon, and he died while I was en route back to Virginia. A new friend in my life at that time, a colleague there in the ministry where I was serving, came to me and she said, "I don't really know what to say, but I just want you to know that I'm here for you." I still remember that word that encouraged my faint heart at that moment. Just to be there, to hug, to love, to encourage those who are grieving.
I think of last Mother's Day. I thought of four kids I know who lost their mother a couple of years ago. I just felt impressed to send an email to those kids and to say, "I'm thinking about you on this Mother's Day. I know what a precious woman your mom was, and she touched my life in so many ways. I want you to know that I loved her and that I love you, and that I'm praying for you and just want you to know what a special woman your mom was. I want to encourage you with that on this Mother's Day."
It's easy to think about our own holidays. I think on Father's Day when I miss having a dad and wished that I did. There are other holidays that may be hard for you. But if we can get out of our own selves, out of our own self-pity, and look for people who may have a greater need around us and encourage them, then we can become not only a means of grace in their lives; but I believe as we impart grace to them, as we impart encouragement to those who are despondent, those who are small-souled, fainthearted, whose souls have kind of shriveled up—as we do, then God is going to enlarge not only their soul, but He will enlarge our own soul.
The greatest means to experience the encouragement that you need, and that you long for in your own life, is to be an encourager. So ask the Lord, "Who is around me? Who is in my life at this moment who is small-souled? Who’s despondent? Who’s fainthearted? Who’s weak? Who can I comfort? Who can I come alongside of? Who can I encourage?"
Ask God to help you see them with His eyes, to love them with His heart, to encourage them with His helping hands. And as you do, God will enlarge and encourage and strengthen your own heart.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of today’s program. She’s been reminding us how important it is to encourage others. Did someone come to mind you need to encourage? To help you act on that idea, we’d like to send you a set of Choosing Gratitude notecards along with a Choosing Gratitude Journal. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send these to you as our way of saying thanks.
You can use the journal to keep a list of people who have blessed you and need encouragement. Then you can use the cards to encourage them. Ask for the Choosing Gratitude cards and journal when you call with your gift of any size. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. At our site you can also order a copy of Nancy’s book Choosing Gratitude.
Now Nancy’s picking back up with the series, “Encouraging One Another.” She’ll begin by talking about what happens when we don’t encourage.
Nancy: I think a lot of us are having to look to other things to fill our hearts and to meet our needs because, in part, we are not functioning as God intended that we should as a Body of Christ realizing that we are a part of each other, that we need each other, and that we really can help each other in our faith if we will encourage one another in the Lord. We talked about some of the different kinds of people that we can encourage—different categories of people—and we said that we need to be encouragers above all in our own families.
Those of you who are married, I hope that you are your husband’s number one cheerleader and encourager. There is nothing more discouraging and disheartening to a man than to have a woman who is belittling him, demeaning him, putting him down. That may be a bad habit you've gotten into, but as you let the Lord encourage you, then you can become a channel of encouragement, God's encouragement and God's grace into the life of your husband—even if he may not be, and he undoubtedly is not, all that God wants him to be. He may be real far from being all that God wants him to be.
But you can through the gift of encouragement speak grace and help and comfort and strength and motivation into his life to become all that God wants him to be. The same with your children, the same with other family members.
We talked about lots of different categories of people in the Body of Christ who are in need of encouragement. Now I want to talk over the next couple of days about some practical ways that we can encourage one another. Maybe you are already doing that. I know that many of you are just really natural encouragers. But if that’s not been a habit for you, it is something you can learn. Some of you came from families that were not very encouraging and you didn’t have the benefit of modeling of how to encourage others, and so you grew up maybe in a discouraging atmosphere.
I’m thinking of a dear friend who grew up in a home where her parents were more critical and negative. She just took on some of those characteristics—she will tell you this today—and found herself then as a wife and a mom being given to negativity and a critical spirit and discouragement.
God began to deal with her about this a number of years ago. She purposed in her heart to become an encourager in her home. She was just telling me on the phone the other day that she and her oldest daughter who is a teenager have put this on their to-do list every day, to be an encourager (actually, I think they said they do this every week), to encourage someone three times in the week.
This woman has become one of the most encouraging friends I have. She’s become an encourager of her family. So you can learn to encourage others. Make a list of people that you want to encourage or that you need to be encouraging, and then set out to do it.
Let's talk about what some of those ways are. I have to say that perhaps the number one way that people have encouraged my life is through prayer. I don't know anything more encouraging that you can do for your family, that you can do for me or that I can do for you, than to pray for one another.
I got a real precious voicemail several days ago from a friend who said,
I was making my children’s beds. You gave me some blankets for my children’s beds. I was making those and I was thinking of you. I just want to encourage you that the Lord prompted my heart that every morning as I make my little girls’ beds and I see those bedspreads, that I am to pray for you and for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.
And I know this friend. She will pray. She does pray. But she said, “I want to do that for you every day.” I am always encouraged to get notes, voicemails, emails from people who say, "I'm praying for you. I'm praying for you in these specific ways."
Let me just take this opportunity to say, "thank you," to many of you who have let me know that you’re praying for me, that you're praying for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. I don't think that God would be using this ministry anywhere close to the way He is, to change lives, to impact women in their hearts and their homes if it were not for many, many women all across this country who are praying for this ministry.
I don't think I would be surviving all that's involved in doing this ministry, humanly speaking, if it weren't for many of you and others that I think about all across this country who have said, "I'm praying for you." So I thank you. You have encouraged me with those prayers, and it just reminds me of how very great a ministry of praying for one another can be.
Praying with others, not only for them but with them, that's a way to encourage others as well. You can do this on the phone; you can do this in person. I find myself trying to take advantage of opportunities that just present themselves to pray right here and now if someone says, "I'm struggling with this, or this is the need."
I was out walking with a friend the other day, and we were talking about some burdens that are on her heart. As we got to the end of our walk, I said, "Let's just pray." We just stopped right there outside my house and prayed about that specific situation.
I do it in church aisles as I see someone after church and they say, "There is this burden on my heart." I say, "Let's just pray about it." You know it's easy to say, "I'll pray for you," but I find if I don't stop and do it right there, then I'm much less likely to go away and remember to pray. And this is such a means of grace and encouragement.
I find that as a sister comes alongside of me, puts her arm around me and says, "Let's pray" and she prays for me or together we lift up our burdens to the Lord, I find that that becomes a channel of God's grace being poured into my life. God ministers grace through us as we pray for each other.
I have a friend who is in another ministry who has made it a practice, I don't know if he does this with every single phone call, but I think every phone call I've ever had with him, and I know it's a regular habit for him, he always or virtually always ends that conversation on the phone with prayer. It doesn't matter how busy he is, what his next appointment is, he just says, "Can we pray together?"
Wouldn't it be great if as much time as we women spend on the phone talking about all sorts of things, if we would just make praying for each other a regular part of that phone conversation?
I wonder if it wouldn't help make sure that the things we are saying on the phone are appropriate things, things that are okay to be talking about if we knew we were talking in the atmosphere of prayer, lifting up one another. You cannot know the deep burden or need that somebody else may be carrying on their heart that you can help lift as you pray with that brother or that sister or that family.
You can do this, by the way, with even non-believers. I have on occasion been with others or done it myself (in a restaurant for example) to ask the person who is waiting on our table, "We're going to be praying in just a moment and thanking the Lord for the meal He has provided here. We'd like to pray for you. Is there anything special that we could pray about for you?" I've seen people just be so moved and just quickly say, "Yes, I'm dealing with this issue or this situation in my life," and we stop and pray for that person.
I've been trying to minister recently to an older couple that I've met who I don't think know the Lord. They've been telling me about some of the issues they're facing and some of the situations they're in. I have been in their home and actually said, "Can I just pray for you?" I prayed for them right there. Not too long ago, I saw that woman and she said, "Please keep praying for us." So even with a non-believer, God can use that to encourage and to draw people toward Christ.
Praying for one another is such an incredible way to encourage one another because you know what we're really doing when we pray for each other? We're saying, "I don't have the resources to give you what you need, but I know someone who does. I know a God who is sitting on His throne, and He calls it a 'throne of grace.' So I want to go with you right now, I want to take you, I want to lift you up to that throne of grace."
I have found times in my own life when I was too weak or too heavy-hearted to even pray for myself, when God has brought someone alongside of me to say, "Let me lift you up to that throne of grace." At that throne of grace is everything that we need. That's why He says, “Come boldly so you may obtain mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
There are a lot of things we can do for each other, but there is nothing more vital or more valuable that we can do for each other than to take each other to that place of grace.
So even when you find yourself in a conversation with a person who’s got a need in their life and they're asking you for counsel or help, and you say, "This situation is so big. I don't know what to say." The problem is, oftentimes, we just talk anyway even when we really don't know what to say.
Rather than just talking anyway, why don't we say, "You know, I don't really know what to tell you to do about this situation. I don't know how you ought to respond in this situation, but I know Someone who will give us wisdom if we'll ask Him. So let's just pray about it."
I have a little motto on my desk that says, "Have you prayed about it?" We need to keep that in mind as we're relating to others in the Body of Christ, to pray for each other and to pray with each other. What a great means of encouragement.
Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the teaching series, “Encouraging One Another.” She’s been reminding us how important your prayer is to others. Nancy, I know you’re getting excited about encouraging Revive Our Hearts listeners this spring.
Nancy: I really am, Leslie. We’re calling it the Revive Tour. I’m hoping to get to meet as many of our listeners as possible when the Revive Tour comes to eight different cities this spring. In March we’ll be in Texas, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and in Houston. Then in April we’ll be in Grand Rapids and Chicago. In May we’ll be in Cleveland and Indianapolis. Then in the month of June, we’ll be in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Each of these stops will include a free evening event that’s open to the whole family. I’ll be sharing from God’s Word, and I’ll also be sharing an update on the ministry and some testimonies of what God is doing through Revive Our Hearts ministry. That event is open to everyone, so I hope you’ll bring your family and your friends and join us for that evening celebration.
Then a special invitation for women to a second event—a free event also—this time it’s during the day. It’s a Revive Our Hearts recording session. This is a great chance for you to get a behind-the-scenes look at how our daily program is recorded. I’ll be teaching through some of the many different names of Jesus during this series. I hope that you’ll join us and come to see what the names of Jesus mean for you in your daily life.
If you’re involved in women’s ministry—maybe a small group leader or a counselor or a pastor’s wife—any woman ministering to other women—I hope you’ll join us for a special leaders’ luncheon right after the recording session. Now, there are lots more details about the Revive Tour and you can find those by visiting us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Scripture tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” In tomorrow’s program we’ll discuss ways we can use words to build up rather than tear down. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.