Is there power in prayer?

I’ve heard the sayings, such as: “The devil fears when Grandma gets on her knees.” “Don’t underestimate the power of a praying woman.” “Prayer changes things.” There are many more, and you’ve probably heard them. We understand the sentiments, and the sayings are true up to a point.

But, what is wrong?

Is the power in prayer?

Nope.

I don’t mean this disrespectfully at all, but even people in false religions, sects, and paganism pray. They are also sincere.

For illustration’s sake, lets describe a scene that might happen somewhere that practices idolatry. A woman kneels with her floral offering and a lit candle in front of an idol. She prays.

Is there power in her prayer? There might be sincerity, but there’s no power. Why? The problem is in the one she’s praying to. The image can’t respond. It can’t hear, walk, talk, or react in any way. Her prayers go absolutely nowhere.

The power isn’t in sincerity.

It isn’t in prayer itself—the words.

Power in prayer is only because of to Whom we pray. God answers in incredible, supernatural ways, because He can. He is God.

Jesus’ model prayer that we call The Lord’s Prayer begins, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth (from Luke 11:2).

Notice, this prayer begins with the acknowledgement of the object of our prayers—God the Father. He’s in heaven and worthy of our praise because of His holy name. The next sentences pray for His kingdom to come—literally praying for the Lord Jesus to return—and for God’s sovereign will to be done in the universe.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with our powerful, holy, omniscient God, who has a plan for all times. That recognition is the premise for powerful praying.

We pray to God. He has the power, and His will will be done. We can count on it.

James was writing to Jewish Christians. He instructed them to pray when they were sad or happy and also for the sick. Then, he gives the example of Elijah’s powerful prayer.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit (James 5:13-18).

Notice where the power came from: the Lord shall raise him up. The promise of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much is because of God’s power. Prayer is effective because the Lord answers.

The example of Elijah was because he knew beforehand God’s will about the rain. God had already revealed it to him. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah was merely communicating the message from the Lord about what would come to pass. Prayer was Elijah’s means of communicating with God.

The power comes from God and God alone. We do nothing magical when we pray. Prayer is a wonderful means of communicating our emotions and petitions to God. It is the way we visit with Him and have a relationship with Him. Then, we watch Him answer.

God’s answers in one of three ways:

  1. Yes. God will immediately answer your prayer. Sometimes, these yes answers are miracles.
  2. No. Knowing better than you do about what is best, God denies your request.
  3. Wait. God wants you to keep praying and looking for the answer. He will answer in His own way and time. By the way, God’s answers are always on time.

I love Jesus’ parable about the lady who bugs the judge. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1-8)

Many times, the Bible exhorts us to pray. In fact, we’re supposed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). All the time, all day long, we’re to be communicating with the Lord.

He has the power.

He can answer.

He will answer.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

Women of the Bible: Who am I?

I am Chuza’s wife and a follower of Christ.

Let me tell you my story. I was very ill, and Jesus healed me. From the day of my healing forward, I joined myself to the group of disciples, along with Mary from Magdala, James’ mother Mary, and Susanna, as well as other women.

My husband is Herod’s steward. His position allows me a standard of living higher than many of my friends. Jesus taught us to give and share with others. I had the privilege of helping to finance His travels as He preached in cities and villages the wonderful news of the kingdom of God.

It is amazing to hear the Lord teach and watch Him heal others—just as He healed me. He cast out demons and totally transformed lives. My life has never been the same. Not only do I feel well and have energy after months of sickness, but I have trusted in Him to save me from my sins.

The day that Jesus was crucified, my heart hurt so badly I could not bear it.

On the Sunday morning after His death, very early, several of us took spices to the sepulchre in order to embalm Jesus’ body.

To our surprise, the tomb was wide open. The stone had been rolled from the opening. We entered the cave. Jesus’ body was gone! As we talked together wondering what had happened, two men appeared, suddenly standing next to us in shining garments.

We were afraid and prostrated ourselves.

The angels asked us—I will never forget their words—“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”

Yes, we remember.

The angel messengers disappeared, and we ran to tell the eleven disciples and those that were with them the good news.

They didn’t believe us, even mocked us as crazy.

But Peter and John ran to the sepulchre and saw that Jesus was indeed gone. Then, they believed in the resurrection.

Who am I?

Why do you think the disciples didn’t believe our story? Was it merely because we are women?

How do you think the disciples felt after Peter and John confirmed that Jesus had indeed risen? Do you think they were sorry they didn’t believe us?

For bragging rights: how did the disciples react shortly afterwards, when Jesus appeared in their midst?

To whom did Jesus appear (three people) before appearing to the larger group of the disciples?

Who is God? the beginning

I’ve been encouraging someone to praise God for Who He Is and decided it would be a blessing for me to renew my knowledge about the identity of God. The problem I faced was where to begin: attributes, names, qualities? I thought of the beginning of the Bible.

No sooner did I recite Genesis 1:1 to myself than I realized I already had two answers.

Who is God?

Eternal. In the beginning God. He was already there before the world was made.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God (Psalm 90:2).

Want a blessing? His mercy is as eternal as He is. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children (Psalm 103:17).

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Jesus is eternal as well. He was right there in the beginning of the world. You can’t divide the Godhead—three persons in one. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3).

The Holy Spirit is also active in creation. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (from Genesis 1:2).

So, God is eternal, He was present in creation: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). What else do we see about God in this first verse of the Bible?

Creator. What did He create? Two things: heaven and earth—the whole universe.

To me, this is one of the most amazing things about God, because the creation of the universe is so absolutely infathomable.

I love choosing one little category and thinking about the variety in the one thing. You can pick anything: birds, animals, flowers, trees, minerals, stars, sea animals…. Study the variety around you, and then study all the other things in that category from other parts of the world. Your list will go on and on—and scientists are constantly discovering more. After thousands of years, we still haven’t seen all the things God created. (On my Pinterest—you may follow me—I have boards on all of these categories and more. It’s just amazing to see the creation in photos!)

One day, when our children were little, we went on a walk in the countryside. As children like to do, they were picking wildflowers along the road, gathering bouquets of beautiful flowers in their little hands. When we got home and put them into vases, we counted the different kinds of flowers. They had picked no less than twelve different varieties of purple flowers, alone, and with them, yellow, pink, and orange. Wildflowers are delicate, intricate, and absolutely gorgeous. They are only one aspect of God’s creation.

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Luke 12:27-28)

God is eternal. He always was and always will be. Only God is eternal.

God is Creator. God created the whole universe by the power of His Word. He spoke, and everything was made—except for man and woman. We are special creations, created in His image.

Praise Him for Who He is, today.

Crushing hard on …

Back when I was a child, people had crushes on other people. These were goofy pre-adolescent ideas about someone—usually only shared with our giggling girlfriends.

Some years pass, and I heard “Crushed it,” to mean, “You did it very well.” Okay….

Now, I see “Crushing hard on __________.” What goes in the blank? A thing, room, or an object. I’m surmising that this saying is close to “woot” (want one of those) from a couple of years back. Correct me if I’m wrong.

So, people are “crushing on” pocketbooks, clothing, home furnishings, and even cars. Does this mean the new objects of our emotional, adolescent-like loves are mere things? Wasn’t it bad enough when we crushed on our teachers and other older, unattainable, handsome men? (Yes, I did, and yes, I’m not exactly proud to admit it. Thankfully, if the objects of my crushes ever noticed, they never let on. They were far out of my teenybopper league, anyhow. You may giggle, if you want.)

But, things?

Crushing hard on things?

Maybe it’s only a figure of speech, but it’s concerning. Our affections should be twofold—on God first and others after Him. They shouldn’t be on things.

We’re not supposed to love things.

  • Jesus said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
  • Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
  • Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).

Now, I enjoy beautiful things. I have some pretty objects, mostly that I received as gifts from my family or from other thoughtful people. Some were wedding gifts. I believe that God gives good gifts to His children, and he lets us enjoy beauty here on the earth.

I have known several people who have suffered fires in their homes and lost literally everything. Some of my acquaintances have had their homes broken into and been robbed of their valuable items. Do you know what each one of these people said? “At least we were not home when it happened, and we have our family.” Or, “Thankful that our family wasn’t harmed, though this shook us up considerably.” What was most important? People.

It wasn’t easy to lose everything, and it wasn’t pleasant to be robbed. But, people are more important than things.

I personally don’t think anyone needs to crush on anything. That’s twelve-year-old, silly behavior.

Our love, though, needs to go primarily in two directions. Jesus said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).

The next time you’re tempted to “crush on” a thing, remember the most important things: God and people.

That’s where our affections belong.

“Vergüenza ajena” and 5 steps towards modesty in dress

To have vergüenza ajena in Spanish means “to be embarrassed for someone, to experience shame that they should experience.”

I personally have experienced vergüenza ajena many times because of someone else’s silly actions, but I’d like to talk about one subject in particular: clothing.

Yes, I know it’s summer, and it’s very warm. There are different ways of dealing with the heat and clothing. We could take our hot weather styling tips from the people in tropical areas who wear colorful, loose cotton dresses and flip-flops. That’s the perfect way to beat the heat.

Being a visual person, perhaps I notice things more than others. One thing is sure: Christian women are not taking as much care as they used to in their clothing choices.

It is not because there isn’t any modest clothing in stores. There is. Midis are in this year in lovely, flowing fabrics, pleated and not. Cute dresses abound. Tops are looser this year. So, it’s not because we can’t.

Getting married? There are more modest dresses now than in many years. Sleeves are back in style. There’s something for every taste for both bridesmaids and brides.

Not very long ago, I asked a large group of women in ministry, “How would you define modesty?” Many replied that modesty begins in the heart with a desire to please God in actions and dress. Some referred to the meek and quiet spirit that God loves (1 Peter 3:4).  

Modesty is more than dress. It’s an attitude.

But, it’s also about dress. God expects women to be dressed in modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9). This passage is talking mostly about a woman’s spirit. I agree. It seems, though, that women who love God should also dress to please Him.

What modesty and pleasing the Lord looks like varies in cultures and climates. For example, a woman living in northern Alaska will dress to be warm, and the lady at the equator will probably wear a sleeveless, loose dress. Is the bundled up woman more modest because she’s wearing more clothing? Let’s not be ridiculous.

So, if a woman loves Jesus and wants to please Him in every area of her life, how should she dress? I believe we have some hints in the Bible.

  • How do the godly women we know dress (and act)? For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves (1 Peter 3:5a). Our clothing examples should be godly women.
  • We’re not supposed to call attention to ourselves by over-the-top dressing. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel (1 Peter 3:3).
  • Good works and dress go hand-in-hand. Both our sensible, controlled lifestyle and our clothing should form a sweet testimony for the Lord. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
  • Modest. The online dictionary defines modest: “(of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention. (of clothing) not revealing or emphasizing a person’s figure.” Granted, different people have differing ideas about what is proper, decent, or revealing.

In a junior-high camp one summer, I taught the girls about modesty. We did an experiment. I had bought a fashion magazine, similar to Vogue—high-class, with full-page fashion photos. We used about fifteen of them, holding one up at a time. I asked the girls as a group, “What do you look at first? What part of the model’s body draws your eye?”

Some of the photos showed off parts of the body Christians would not wish to emphasize. Sometimes it was the cut or shape, and sometimes it was bare skin. A few of the photos only emphasized the woman’s face. The girls responded immediately, shouting their answers. It was obvious in each photo what was emphasized.

I believe it is easy to dress modestly, if a woman desires to do so.

Any Christian woman or girl who wants to please God in her dress can take these steps:

  1. Try the item on in a room with the biggest mirrors you can find.
  2. Ask yourself, where does my eye go first?
  3. Determine: is any part of the item too tight, revealing, or short?
  4. Pray. Ask the Lord, “Does this please You?” Listen for His answer through the Holy Spirit.
  5. Consider if your pastor’s wife or any godly woman you admire would wear this.

Don’t cause other Christians to be embarrassed (vergüeza ajena) for you. Take the time to dress with care.

Modesty in dress is important. It pleases the Lord.