Why pray?

 

Why pray? God is going to do what He wants to anyway. Have you ever had these thoughts? I’m embarrassed to say, I have. Although that isn’t easy to admit, I think it is a valid question….and one I’m going to attempt to answer, but first I’d like to share some recent answered prayers.

I had some old carpet in my living room.  I give piano lessons in that room and it had become increasingly embarrassing to have my students and their moms see that carpet. Because I had a two week fall break, I decided it was time for that carpet to go.  I didn’t realize my piano weighed a ton until my son, Nathan, was helping me move it.

As we were heaving it into the kitchen, Nathan suddenly shouted, Stop! It’s buckling the vinyl flooring! Upon closer examination, it was not only buckling, I was glaring at a three inch tear. We decided the piano was going to have to stay right where it was.  (Yes, it looked weird sitting near the stove and refrigerator!)

The next morning I went to order the new flooring.  They said they were really busy and it would probably be two to three weeks before the installation was possible.  I said, OK, that’s fine, but my heart sank.  How was I going to give piano lessons with the piano in my kitchen?

Just the day before, Nathan had shared with me how God had answered so many prayers for him in the past few weeks.  So I thought that would be a good place to start. I began praying that God would somehow work it out so the flooring could be laid the next week while I was off work.

Then I decided with the carpet removed it would be a prime time to repaint.  I thought I had several days, but decided I’d jump right in and get the painting done.  So first thing Monday morning I started painting.  I had just finished that evening when the phone rang.  It was a person from 21st Century asking if they could come the next morning to lay the flooring!  I was speechless.  I choked out, SURE! I was overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the timing.

Then Nathan came home.  He was beaming and excitedly said,  Mom, I just have to tell you what happened tonight! He explained that a guy (Danny Diaz) had given a speech that morning in class about how to change a tire. Later that day Nathan was to meet a friend.  He needed gas, but decided to wait. As he was leaving, he quickly asked his friend how his walk with God was going.  They ended up talking an hour and a half more.

Finally, Nathan was at the gas station. He noticed a lady at the air pump and then an obvious acquaintance of hers drove up to help.  As he got in his truck to leave, he felt compelled to ask if they needed help.  At first he brushed it off.  They are probably fine and will just tell me they can handle it. He was ready to get home anyway.  But he couldn’t leave.  Something (or Someone) told him he really needed to ask them if they needed his help.  What can it hurt? he thought.

He walked around the car and that’s when he noticed the flat tire. He said hello and asked if he could help.  The man said, These lug nuts are so tight I can’t get them off. Nathan loosened them and the couple was so relieved, grateful, and overjoyed.  It was then that Nathan thought about the speech he had heard that morning, how he had almost stopped earlier to get gas but didn’t, and how he had ended up having that extra hour and a half conversation that put him at the gas station just when this couple needed him. He was overwhelmed at God’s goodness in his life.

Prayer is simply talking with God. Another aspect of prayer that I’ve learned to appreciate is not only talking to God, but listening for His voice. No, I don’t hear an audible voice, but God the Holy Spirit lives inside of me and He is there is teach and guide me.  He doesn’t shout though. We will only hear Him when we are seeking His way and are willing to obey.

 

 

So, why pray?

  • Jesus did.    He is our best example in this life. If He thought it was necessary to commune with God the Father while He was God in flesh living here, how much more important is it for us to pray? And He did lots of it.  After long days of serving others, healing the sick, and going without food and rest, He often spent all night in prayer.  It must be important.
  • God wants us to ask because He wants to give us good things (Matt. 7:11). In Luke 11:5-13 Jesus gave several examples of the benefits of persistent asking.  Verse 9 says Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. And He also deserves our praise and thanksgiving….those are essential parts of prayer.         
  • It increases our faith to see God answer. When we are “wowed” by God, we are encouraged to pray more.  It helps us to trust God more as we see His good heart for us.
  • It builds our relationship with God. Communication is key to any relationship.  There must be both sharing of the heart and intentional  listening.
  • It helps us find our intended purpose in this life.  As we seek God and His direction in our lives, He sometimes leads us places we would never think of on our own. He thinks differently than we do and His ways are much higher.          
  • It encourages others.  I’ve been uplifted during the hard times in my life to know others were praying for my family and me.  I could feel it.  Going through the valley is tough, but knowing good friends and family are praying makes such a difference.  You don’t feel so alone and you can draw strength from them and God when your own is gone.
  • We are blessed and rewarded. God rewards our obedience for living life His way. And we won’t know His way unless we are in His Word and talking to Him regularly.
  • It keeps our life on the straight and narrow. We are spared the negative consequences of going our own way.
  • This is the only way we will have God’s power on and in our lives. Some things can only come by prayer and fasting. Once the disciples came to Jesus asking why they were not able to cast out some demons.  Jesus answered that some things can only be done through prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29)

Prayer helps us live an exciting, abundant life as we see God working in and through us.  It shows me there is more to this life than just me and my little world.  God has much bigger purposes and plans in this world than just what is going on with me.  But God can and will help us make a positive difference if we are willing and are seeking Him in prayer.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

August 2016- God has done amazing things at Muse Montessori this past year!

 

 

 

Do you REALLY want to hear from God?

Recently I was talking with someone who was struggling with their Christian walk with God. I asked her, How is your prayer life? When I have asked God for wisdom and discernment for a situation or for a particular answer, it has strengthened my faith when He responds in a way that I know it could only be from Him.

As I pondered this conversation later, I thought, I’ve been praying about something important for months.  Why hasn’t God answered me?  Immediately, It seemed that God asked, “Do you REALLY want to know what I think?”

The conversation in my head went something like this…

Of course I do!

Then why haven’t you fasted? Every other time in life when you REALLY wanted to hear from God you  fasted and He revealed His will to you. Remember that one life- changing decision you had to make years ago and God said, “No” and even though it made you sad, you knew God was right? You obeyed and now you can see it was the right thing.

Why would I not want to know God’s will in this?

As I searched my heart I realized something.

Well, I really didn’t want God to say no, but honestly, I was scared He would say yes. It had been easier to straddle the fence and just keep praying about it.

That’s when the tears came, uncontrollably, running down my face. I realized I did not completely trust God in this matter.  I had deceived myself into thinking I was submitted to God’s will, but I really wasn’t.

A few days later I heard a sermon about God just wanting our obedience. Most of the people God used to do miraculous things, were not extraordinary people, the pastor said.  They were just ordinary people with faults like the rest of us.  What set them apart was their obedience and submission to God.  They believed God.   They were humble. They knew if anything good happened, it wasn’t going to be because of them or any talent they had.  It would be because of God.

The next day I was determined to pray and fast and get serious about getting some direction from God. Before talking with a godly friend, I  asked God to use her to help me know His will about this matter.  After some conversation, she sweetly smiled at me and said, Gaye, you have asked God for months to direct and guide you. Do you not believe He has?   He has led you.  I can see it. He is guiding you, but you must follow. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean He isn’t answering.  The faith walk isn’t about understanding it all and plainly seeing way down the road.  It’s about stepping out in faith, believing God, and trusting Him with your future.

I began to realize I had a “trust” problem.  Frankly,  I was surprised. I thought I was ok with God about that and maybe I am in most parts of my life, but I wasn’t trusting God in this area. The struggle was real. It felt very similar to my salvation experience.  I wanted to let go and trust God, but…. It’s hard to give up the temptation to logically try to figure out the details. It’s hard to trust when there are so many obstacles and I can’t see any way it can all work out. But faith isn’t about seeing.  I then said, Ok God, if this is Your will, I will trust You. I felt a rush of relief and joy.  The tears came again. Did I hear God’s voice? No, but I believe He was dealing with me…nudging me to trust Him.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us faith is the basis for walking with God and pleasing Him.

A few hours later I was listening to the radio.  The host for the talk show was a lady who the Lord had been leading her and her husband to adopt a child.  Although, they had never considered being qualified to do such a thing, they finally submitted to God’s direction. The very day they signed the papers to adopt, she discovered she was pregnant.  So she soon had a newborn and a 6 month old and life became very difficult.

She later wrote a book about the things God taught her through her difficult journey.  She had to lay down her standard of perfection and be what God called her to be…a loving mother with a less than perfect life. One comment particularly struck me.

We won’t do anything great while sitting still. Often when God wants us to move, it’s out of our comfort zones. Where there is movement, there is friction.  But it’s in the heat of the fire, where God does His best work.

Isaiah 41:10

If you are wanting to do great things for God, earnestly pray for His direction in your life and be willing to follow  where He leads you.

Faith is not the absence of doubt. Faith is the presence of belief. – Author unknown

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Gaye Hughes with my grandbaby, Destin Vara. (9 months old). June 2017

Perfect Peace

l-97608As my eyes opened yesterday morning before the alarm sounded, thoughts immediately rushed into my head. I thought of my friend having serious back surgery this day. I was to be at a new job in a few hours…the first time working outside my home in twenty-seven years. I had just gotten news that my grandbaby needed to do an acrobatic flip inside the womb of my daughter pretty quickly as his quarters were getting more cramped by the day. This day I was to hear the extent of my son’s knee injury.

I was anxious.  I began talking to my Father (God) about these things.  As I asked God to please guide the doctor’s hands during the surgery of my friend and give her and her family peace, I remembered all the many miracles Jesus performed while on this earth and how He continues to heal the sick. He is the Great Physician.

As I prayed about the new job, I thought about how God had prepared me in several ways throughout my life for this preschool teaching job. I began teaching Sunday School to children only a few years younger than myself at age 13. I homeschooled my four children (and still are) for the past twenty-four years. I’ve taught Junior church and Sunday School for years. I gained some confidence as I thought about how God has faithfully directed my steps over the years.

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Concerning my grandbaby, God has been busy forming him in the womb for several months now. He knows all about his character, personality, physical traits, and has grand plans for his life. God loves him much more than even his parents and I do. He is holding this little one in His very capable hands even as I write this.

Nathan has been uncomfortable for close to two weeks with his bum knee. He has learned to better sympathize with those you can’t get around easily.  He longs to run again. He has a greater appreciation for good health.  We’ve had to wait for test results and possible surgery for several days. I asked God to work out the details about getting him on the road to healing quickly. As I talked to God about this situation, my worries began to fade as I thought about all the other times He had come through for me at the last minute.

When I called to get an appointment yesterday (Tuesday), the nurse said she could see us next Monday. I began to plead, My son has been on crutches for twelve days and is uncomfortable.  We really need to get something done. Is there any way you can see him before then?  She told me the doctor was booked, but she would see what she could do and for me to hold.  I began to earnestly ask God to intervene and get me an appointment in the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to ask off work.

She came back on the line and said, Can you be here tomorrow at two?

YES!!! Praise the Lord! Thank you SO much! was my response.

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It is easy for me to take my burdens to my God whom I know longs to hear from me.  As I begin to pray, I envision myself bowing before Jesus’ feet. I see the love in His eyes. I’m empowered as I think about HIS power to change anything and everything. I believe He is for me and has good plans for me. The challenge is to leave my cares with Him and not pick them back up when I walk away.

Sadly, it’s only been in the last months that I think I’m learning what it means to truly rest and hide in Jesus.  I know He doesn’t want me upset and worried.  I Peter 5:7 says, Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you. I have been asking Him to control my emotions and help me have the mind of Christ. I want to think as He thinks. I want to feel as He feels about things.

Because I can’t right all the wrongs in the world, I’ve asked God to give me compassion for the people and ministries He wants me to be involved in and to be somewhat indifferent to the ones I don’t have the resources for. Also, I know I can’t have an intimate relationship with every person I’ve ever known so I’ve asked God to burden my heart for the ones who need me most that day. I want to be where He wants me and use my time in a way that pleases Him.

This is what hiding and resting in Jesus has come to mean to me.  I would love to hear your thoughts on what it means to you. I know I have a long way to go, but my life has become so much more peaceful lately as I’m learning to lean on Him.

I would like to leave you with the lyrics of Perfect Peace by Joe Zichterman.

When life’s burdens get so heavy and it seems I’m all alone,

I cast my care on Jesus and come boldly to his throne.

I find His grace sufficient when His promises I heed.

For His very life He sacrificed, and He lives to intercede.

Chorus:

He is the Lord of lords, and when He speaks, winds and waves obey.

When Jesus whispers, “Peace, be still,” then darkness turns to day.

And as I’m trusting in my Savior’s Word doubts and fears all cease.

And beneath the shelter of His wings I’m at rest in perfect peace.

Verse 2

I will seek for souls in darkness, Calv’ry’s love with them to share,

Empowered by His Spirit I will follow anywhere.

For I know whate’er befall me my Lord is in control.

And as my mind is stayed on Him, perfect peace He gives me soul.

My you have perfect peace today,

Gaye Hughes

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Fast Food or Steak and Potatoes?

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Recently, I was asking God to heal someone. It would take a miracle and I knew it. I said, God I know you can do this. Jesus instantly healed a blind man, made a lame man walk, healed the lepers, healed the woman with the blood disorder and raised Lazarus from the dead. As I was praying and reminding God of all He could do, He seemed to ask me, But do you believe that I will do it? Are you really expecting me to do this?

It’s like the people who gathered to pray for rain, but only one brought an umbrella.

As I searched my heart, I realized I had my doubts. I was challenged. I know God has done many miracles in my life, but did I really believe He would do another one? Most of the miracles God has done for me, I didn’t even ask Him for them! He chose to step in and do exceedingly, abundantly above anything I even thought to ask. I was humbled as I remembered some of the many miracles God has done in my life.

I also asked myself if I was praying for healing for this person for selfish reasons that would benefit me. I really didn’t think so.  Then I think the devil stepped into my thinking with, Well, who do you think you are to think God is going to answer your prayer when there’s probably been lots of family and friends praying and it hasn’t helped? The devil is just good like that to discourage us, isn’t he?  I responded with, But what if God choses to use my prayer to change things? And just maybe the health of this person would be a lot worse had it not been for all those other prayers.

I also realized how lacking my prayer life has been in intensity. Oh, I do the “fast food” prayers pretty often, but I sure don’t do enough of the “steak and potato” prayers. As serious as I thought I’d been with God in prayer at times, it occurred to me that I may not even have a clue as to what it’s like to experience deep communion with God.

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James 5:16 says,…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, here are some definitions that helped me understand this better.

Effectual means the power to produce an effect or ardent, the intense degree of zeal, devotion or enthusiasm.

This isn’t a quick prayer said in passing like a lot of mine are or a “send one up” when you feel like it.  This is getting down to business with God. I think of Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 1: 10-13 where she was longing for a child so much she was “in bitterness of soul,” wept, and cried out to God so much that as she prayed the priest thought she was drunk.  It was an all-consuming passion of hers to be a mother. She was desperate.  She got down to business with God. And God answered in the affirmative and gave her a son.

The-value-of-persistent-prayer-is-not-thatFervent means marked by great intensity of feeling. Hannah was definitely in deep emotional pain. And she knew where to take those feelings…to God.

Now for the righteous part! Does that word make you as uneasy as it does me?  I have a hard time thinking of myself as righteous. What does it even mean to be righteous? Again, Webster’s helped me out.

 

Righteous is acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin.

We learn right from wrong from the Bible.

II Timothy 3:16 says,

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I Corinthians 15:34 says, Awake to righteousness, and sin notSo we need to learn what is right and choose to do it. Do right till the stars fall.  At the university I attended there was a sign that read,  It’s never right to do wrong to get the chance to do right.

The problem is, we won’t ever have the desire to do right without God. But when we repent, believe in Jesus, and ask Him to be the Lord of our life, our “wanter” changes.

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Instead of living for ourselves, we want to live for God and do what pleases Him. Philippians 1:11 says we can be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.  For He (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

It’s only through Jesus that we can be right with God. BUT, when we are right with God, we become adopted into His family and become a joint heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17).

untitled boldly prayAnd then we have an Abba Father or “daddy” that we can confidently, directly converse with at any time when we have a need. We can know He loves us, wants a relationship with us, and is willing and ready to help us when we ask.  Hallelujah, what a Savior! But we must ask!

The prayers of the righteous availeth much.  That means they matter a lot whether we can actually see results or not.

My prayer right now is that the ones reading this will join with me to resolve to get more serious about talking with God more intently and listening to Him better.

Have a blessed, prayer-filled day!

Gaye Hughes

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How Desperate are You?

IMG_20160107_223429Yesterday I asked God for a few very specific things.  Things that I knew were His desires too. Things I knew He could do and eventually would do.  What I wasn’t expecting was for Him to do it so quickly!  Within hours I saw Him do just as I had requested.

Afterwards I stood amazed… and then ashamed that I was so surprised.  So as I pondered this miracle, I thought, “Why would He not do this?” If it is something God also wants, doesn’t He want me to ask for Him to intervene? And the better question is, “Why is He not doing more of this in my life?” I quickly realized it is because I’m not asking Him and seeking His will enough.

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Sunday, I was sobered when the preacher asked, “How desperate are you for God?” Hmmm. Well, I can say this past year I’ve been more desperate by far than I ever have  been in my life. I’ve been desperate for God’s guidance. Desperate for His comfort. Desperate to see and feel His presence in my life. Desperate to know He is right here with me….. and it has been a good thing.

There have been more times that I can count where I could barely communicate my need for Him. Like Peter, when he began to sink, all I could say was, “Lord, save me!” or “Help!” In my sorrow, my prayers have often been boiled down to, “I need you God. I can’t make it without You. I HAVE to have You, now!” But I’m still not where I could be or should be spiritually.

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In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus spoke a parable about a widow who persistently came before the judge asking him to intervene in her life. The judge admitted that he didn’t fear God or really care about the lady, but he helped her because she wouldn’t give up coming to him. She wore him down.

Jesus said if an ungodly judge would intervene, won’t God do the same or better for His children whom He loves? Absolutely!

The preacher made some valid points about what it takes to be close to God.  If we want Him in our lives,

  • Our pride has to go!

We have to want God’s way more than our own way. We have to be willing to let God be the pilot.  Having God as a co-pilot won’t work. He must be in the driver’s seat.

  •  The Word of God (the Bible) must be central in our lives.

We won’t see God working, if we don’t know Him or how He operates. The preacher said,

“If we stay ignorant to His teachings, we will be oblivious to His actions!”

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  • We must be praying often

Praying is more than talking to God.  It is listening to Him. It is slowing down long enough to be quiet before Him. It is listening for that still small voice when the cares of the world are continually screaming loudly.

  • We have to get our priorities right.

What is coming between God and me and my time with Him? If our relationship with God is of utmost importance, our time with Him should reflect that. We must set aside time to commune with Him.

  • We can’t presume that we can live any way we want to and experience God’s blessings.

I feel like this is something our country as a whole doesn’t understand. It doesn’t work to say, “God bless America!” when, as a nation and often individually, we are repeatedly and habitually violating so many of the laws found in His Word. God not only calls sinners to repentance (a sorrow and a turning away from sin), but He also calls Christ-followers to repentance. Sin separates us from God. It creates barriers  between us and God and stifles our relationship with Him and others.

So basically, we have as much of God as we want in our lives. He is there capable, willing, and ready to be all we need Him to be for us. But we have a responsibility as to how often and to what degree He is welcomed to be involved in our lives. He is a gentleman. He won’t force Himself upon us.  Let’s welcome Him in today.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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P.S.  I like birds!