Sunday, February 27, 2011

Prayer notebook

3:46 p.m. Today's project was to reflect in amazement on the way God has blessed this short, wintry, sparse month called February 2011! I actually have been blown away the entire month, overwhelmed with praise reports.

For the last 25 years, I have kept a plastic 3-ring notebook (replaced a few times) with pages for prayer requests and praise reports. I write in my praises just before bedtime, and prayer requests as they come to my attention throughout the day. Two months are covered at a time. At the top I write a Bible verse, song lyric or phrase that I heard somewhere or just made up, that encourages me, like "My God is twice as good!" or in reference to the enemy taunting us with bad news, "A Christian doesn't take the first answer." It's whatever the Spirit leads. The upcoming page for March/April has two: "His gospel is peace," from the carol "O Holy Night;" and "God hasn't fastened your soul to a dead-end dream," by Dick Eastman in The Purple Pig.

I allow two or three lines each for each of the following categories:

  • Salvation
  • The Body of Christ throughout the world (including missions and crusades)
  • Our church
  • Steve (my husband)
  • Sean and his family
  • Kriss and his wife
  • Heidi and her fiance
  • Heather and Nick
  • Steven
  • Myself (personal, household management, ministry)
  • Extended Family
  • My business
  • Needs of others (healing, employment, etc.)
  • City
  • State
  • National and world issues
  • Other needs that come to my attention as the months progress

When I began keeping this notebook, I would put the prayer requests on about 3/4 of the width of the page, and the praises on the right-hand 1/4. Even using the most minuscule chicken scratch, I needed more space for praise reports. So I changed the set-up, devoting the back side of the college-ruled paper to two months of praises. A title for the praise side might be "My God is able to deliver me" (Daniel 3:17) or "Take no thought for tomorrow" (Mark 6:14).

Normally, the praise reports take up half a page for each month and remain within the margins. But for some divine and blessed reason (see above), February's praises for God's answers to both momentous and momentary prayers, overflowed out onto the sides. Then the praises went over the top of the page, crazily crowding out the title "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6)! There isn't a millimeter of space left to scribble on! But since February isn't over yet, I'll have to find a smidge of room before I go to bed tonight and tomorrow!

February was terrible for us financially, almost reaching a state of literal pennilessness after our big bills and car repair were paid. Yet God was so generous with His love, His gifts, family time, and fellowship. He blessed ministry endeavors and caused wedding details to come together. Through the Helping Hands ministry, I actually was able to help organize meals for invalids and even took a meal despite our own lack! I truly felt that He "opened the windows of heaven and pour(ed) out for us such blessing that there was not room enough to receive it" (paraphrase of Malachi 3:10). The blessings were not necessarily material, although groundwork was laid for future increase.

As promised by Jesus Himself, we felt the overflow of living water, the power of the Holy Spirit. And I by no means deserved one bit of it--God loves His children so much that there is no way to deserve it! Oswald Chambers' February 26 devotion in My Utmost for His Highest tells of the way we look at our circumstances like the woman at the well in John 4:11, and complain that Jesus can't possibly provide, because "Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep." When has Jesus ever had any lack whatsoever? But we humans can be so foolish, mentally dense and our perspective so limited that we just need to be picked up in our Father's arms and carried to a place of rest, peace and TRUST!

If the praise reports for the last two months were not down in black and white, a testimony to the greatness of God, I almost wouldn't believe it.

We serve an amazing, all-powerful, all-loving God!

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