Day 12 – Show Me Your Glory

“The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14John sums up the Christmas story in one verse, and it is also a unique gospel in the way it ends.

  • Read John 21:18-25
  • What were Jesus’s words to Peter in verse 19, 22

Though I would love to see your faith and prayer life flourish, that is between you and the Lord.  But it is certain that if you make it your life’s ambition to seek the Lord, you will find Him and your heart will become a beautiful quiet garden for sweet fellowship with Him  that you can carry with you every where you go.

As for me, I want to be like John, who obviously had a lot treasured up to ponder in his heart. (see verse 25)  I want my private relationship with the Lord to be so deep that no number of books, blog posts, or public conversations could ever begin to summarize what Christ has done in my life or what the Holy Spirit had revealed to me through the scriptures.

I want to be able to say with John, “I beheld His glory!”  So, I echo Moses’ request, “Show me Your glory!”

PRAYER CHALLENGE:

I hope you will choose to review the summary list of prayer ideas from these 12 days, listed in yesterday’s challenge, and apply them today as you pray one last time over your TOP 12.

Then thank the Lord for any  prayers He has already answered.  (I’ll remind you again, if your prayers are vague, it will be difficult to be specific in thanking Him.)

You are starting a new prayer season after today.  Decided which of the suggestions you want to continue to use.  Think about what changes you want to make in your life before the new year, and make it your ambition to seek the Lord in 2013.

If  you wanted to begin again today with Preparing for Prayer, you can finish another 12 days on Christmas Eve.  Tidy up your spot, make a new list of TOP 12, and continue seeking the Lord.  You can go through the challenges here again or make up your own origional challenges and pick your own favorite songs for evening meditations.

Here is one last idea:

Try using a prayer calendar in the coming year.

You can simply use a page in your journal writing the dates for a week or month down the left side:

Wed.  12-12-12
Thurs. 12-13-12
Fri. 12-14-12
etc.

Or you can use an ordianry clanedar.  (So many groceries and hardware stores give them out for free or you could print one on-line.)

Write one prayer request on the calendar each day.  Then pray over the requests of the week as you have time.  At the end of each month, read over your notes and thank the Lord for His answers.  I am especially looking forward to reviewing my calendar at the end of the year to be reminded again of all that the Lord has done for me in 2012!  (see:Time to Turn the Page“)

(This calendar is by the phone in my prayer corner where I talk with people asking for prayer; so this has turned into an extra blessing of a place to quickly write urgent requests.  Since this calendar hangs on my wall, I am careful to be very vague in what I write, just enough to remind me, but not anything specific to embarass anyone or betray a confidence.)

May the Lord create in you a greater passion to seek Him and bless you with an overwhelming sense of His presence and more intimate fellowship with Him in prayer than you ever imagined possible!

EVENING MEDITATION:

Christmas Offering – Casting Crowns

Adore Him – Kari Jobe

Soon – Hillsong United

Day 11 – O Come All Ye Faithful

“There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”  Luke 2:25

  • copy verse 25
  • then read Luke 2:21-35
  • Who was this “Simeon”?
  • What did the Holy Spirit reveal to him?
  • and Why do you think the Holy Spirit chose him?

Notice the religous leaders are not mentioned in this passage; to them Jesus was just another 8 day old baby being presented by his parents at the temple.

  • choose a couple familiar names below, try to recall when they were first mentioned in scripture and when the Lord spoke to them (Why do you think the Lord chose him/her?)

David – a shepherd boy of a man named Jesse
Mary – a teenage girl, from a family of no particular prominence
Daniel – a young man carried off into captivity
Hosea – son of a man named Beeri
Elijah – “a man like us”, from no particular family
Samuel – a small child, the son of an ordinary couple: Elkanah and Hannah
Moses – a child of a slave couple from the house of Levi
Peter – an uneducated fisherman

  • read Luke 2:36-37
  • make a list of everything you know about Anna

Can you imagine this 84 year old woman’s prayer life?  I’m sure she appreciated Isaiah 54:5 and had an intimacy with God that was inexpressibly deep.

  • read verse 38-39
  • When did when did she come on the scene?  (After what and before what?)

It is an honor to be invited by a Jewish family to their son’s Brit Milah (covenant of circumcision) or Bar Mitzvah, but what an unspeakable privieldge to be personally invited by the Holy Spirit to celebrate the Brit Milah of the Messiah.

  • What was Anna’s new “ministry” and to whom?  (verse 38)

All the people mentioned today were ordianry people, nothing special in worldly terms, but their hearts were sensitive to the Lord.  He chose them, and they chose to respond, to seek Him, and obey what they heard.

Some decisively reject the Messiah, like King Herod who tried to kill him, but others miss out on the blessings of God because they are passive, like the priests and scribes.  (see Matthew 2:3-6)

Unless we actively pursue the Lord, intentionally making prayer a priority and planning time to rest, the business of life will fill up every spare minute, and we will never know all that we are missing.

PRARYER CHALLENGE:

Several prayer “tools” or “habits” have been a huge help to me.

  1. setting up a special place
  2. scheduling a specific time:  daily prayer in the morning and evening; weekly Sabbath to read, rest, pray, and enjoy His presence; monthly prayer days; and my annual Day Pray
  3. using a journal (I have a prayer journal and a “thankfulness/blessings” journal.)
  4. making lists (In addition to my “priority list” that I pray for daily, I have a 3 ring binder filled with lists and phtots of people grouped into categories of prayer:  extended family, friends, missionaries, etc.).
  5. remebering who God is (praying to Him by His names and recalling His attributes
  6. being quiet and unhurried in His presence to wait and listen
  7. visual reminders (like the rocks from Day 7)
  8. and PRAYING SCRIPTURE, which we will practice today

Whether the Lord brings scriptures to mind while you are praying,
or the Lord impresses a verse on your heart while you are reading the scripture,
or you look up key words to find a verse using a concordance,
praying the words of God is a wonderful way to align your heart with His.

The easiest way to start is by saying, “Lord, you said in Your word,….” and then quote the verse back to Him.  Then paraphrase the verse in your words, applying it to your request.  (Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you, helping you choose appropriate scriptures, not twisting them contraying to the intended meaning in their biblical context.)

Here are a couple examples.

Psalm 25:14 “The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.”

– Lord you said, Your secret is with those who fear You.  I want to know Your secrets. Help me to fear You, I want to know Your covenant.”
– Lord, I pray that You will cause ______ to fear You so that he may know Your secret and your covenant.
John 14:26, 16:13 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever;” “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
– Father, I know your Spirit has come. I need Him to be my Helper, to guide me into truth as I _____.
– Father, I know that any advice I receive from man is limited apart from their hearing from You. I need unbiased advice. I know the Helper does not speak on His own initative, but only Your wisdom which is perfect. Speak to me, Lord.  Show me what should I do about ______?
– Father, I know that Your Spirit will guide me into all truth. I want to be led by Your Spirit as I pray today.  Speak to me so that I will pray in agreement with Your will.
– Father, I want to be like Daniel and Zacharias, Simeon and Anna. I want to be included with those that You choose to disclose what was to come. I want to hear what You would say to me through the Holy Spirit. Quiet my heart to listen.

Say or write a prayer of your own with these verses:

  • 1 Corinathians 2:9-10
  • Matthew 11:25-27
Whether it takes a few days or a couple weeks, persevere in finding scriptures to pray for your most pressing concerns.  If there is an issue of sin that you are continually struggling with, this is the most effective way I know to find victory.

EVENING MEDITATION:

You have made it to the end of Day 11,  I commend you on your perseverance and faithfulness.  As we come closer to the end, I want to remind you that you don’t need me. You have the Holy Spirit who will teach you all things.  As you listen to these songs, ask the Lord to stir up a passion in you to continue to seek him in prayer and apply what you’ve learn when these 12 Days are complete.  Ask the Lord to break your heart for what breaks His and to thrill your heart with what delights Him.

When the Saints – Sara Groves

O Come All Ye Faithful – Steven Curtis Chapman

Day 10 – Hearing God in a Cold World

Zacharias, Mary, the shepherds saw the angels,
the magi and Joseph only had dreams,
but they all received their message and obeyed.

Matthew   1:20,   2:12,   2:13,   2:19

What phrase do all these verses have in common?

God chooses to speak to people differently.  He spoke directly to some people, through prophets, through angels, and through dreams to others in the Old Testament, but every believer in Christ now has the advantage of the Holy Spirit in them. The Lord promised that the Spirit would convict, comfort, guide, and teach us. Many of us also have access to the complete scriptures! If we seek Him and quiet our hearts, we will hear Him.

    • Some Christians do not seem to hear the Lord, but what they are hearing may be conviction and they are choosing to ignore Him. Others cannot hear because their lives are too full of business and distractions. Still others have heard from Him, but are impatient to hear something new.

 

 

    • Does God seem quiet or distant? If you have confessed all known sin, been still before the Lord, read His word, and He still doesn’t seem to be saying anything, think back to the last thing You know He told you to do.  What was the last clear message you are certain came from Him? Continue following those instructions until He tells you otherwise.

 

 

    • If you would say, He has never spoken to me; first be sure that you know Christ as your Savior. Then, ask Him to speak to speak to you. Keep asking and seeking and He will answer.

 

 

    • There was a season in college when I was so busy, I felt like I was barely surviving. Every deadline and decision felt urgent. I was so overbooked, I didn’t have time to seek the Lord, and I had no idea which of the things I was involved in were His will. In desperation I told the Lord, “if You’ll get me out off this mess I’ve created, I promise I’ll seek You first before I do anything. I will totally empty my schedule and only say ‘yes’ to the things You tell me to do. And, if You will make it clear that it is You, I will do anything You ask.”  He did, and I am (to the best of my ability).

 

 

    • The self-guided is no comparison to the Spirit led life. There are no “obligations” except to obey the Lord.  At times, I have forgotten to seek the Lord, and it is usually my prayer life, then my home, then my health, my parenting, and finally my marriage that suffers. But, just as when I called on the Lord to get me out of my mess in college, He has always pulled me up out of my muck and set my feet on a rock again when I returned to seeking Him first.

 

 

  • (Feeling swamped or anxious? Read Matthew 6:25-34. And, if this reference is familiar, look it up in an unfamiliar translation and ask the Lord to speak to You anew.)
  • Read Matthew 2

Pharaoh, Haman, Herod, Nero, Hitler,… fearful, wicked, power-hungery, mad-men seeking their own kingdoms.  Throughout History wicken men have persecuted God’s people out of fear or jealousy.

  • Who was troubled and why? (verse 3)
  • Who did Herod gather together and why? (verse 4)
  • Verse 16 says, Herod was “enraged”.   Why?

Herod put to death “all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi.” (verse 16)

Like the baby boys killed in Egypt, the plot to kill all the Jews in Persia, the Christians and Jews persecuted by the Romans, or the 6 million Jews starved and tortured by the Nazis; when Herod put to death the babies in the area surrounding Bethlehem the beautiful children’s Bible story became scarred with the incomprehensibly horrific reality of the sinful state of this fallen world.

The need for a Savior is desperate and Satan goes to extreme measures attempting to thwart God’s plan.  The only voice of sanity in this dark, cold, cruel world is the Truth of God; it is the light that shines hope and sense into the madness.

It seems appropriate that as I write about a world that doesn’t make sense, my daughter is watching Alice in Wonderland. Alice goes from wonder to frustration again and again because she is trying to reason with the nonsense. I know in the end Alice will wake and find it all a silly dream, but my daughter is riding the roller-coaster with Alice, trying to make sense of a it all.

There is nothing funny about a world that calls “evil good, and good evil”, that trades “darkness for light, and light for darkness”, that is “wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-21). But, this is what happens even to God’s people when they stop seeking God first and begin seeking their own way.  Only God, whose ways are higher and knows the end of the story, can turn a nightmare into a dream.  He can rescue us and direct us, even warn us in our sleep, when our hearts are set on Him.

Resting, praying, reading, seeking, (obeying any of God’s instructions for that matter) goes against our better judgement when we’re busy making our own way through this crazy world, but nothing compares to the fruitful, peaceful, eternally significant life of trusting in the LORD, not leaning on our own understanding, and acknowledging Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

PRAYER CHALLENGE:

Do you feel overwhelmed when you look the madness of our world.  Don’t despair.

My greatest weapon as a prayer warrior, apart from quoting scripture which we will talk about tomorrow, is the knowing God’s character.   When I am distraught, I bring my concern to the Lord, praying my way through a memorized list of attributes.

I began with these four, which are easy to remember:
Omniscient – He know everything.
Omnipotnet – He is all powerful.
Omnipresent – He is everywhere.
and Sovereign – He is in complete control of everything.

(An example prayer is at the end of this post, beneath the Evening Meditation.)

Here are 12 attributes from my list:
Holy
Good
Gracious
Loving
Long-suffering
Merciful
Truthful
Wise
Righteous
Faithful
Forgiving
Just

  • Copy this list of attributes, and the four mentioned above, into your journal.
  • Include at least one attribute of God for each of your TOP 12 concerns as you pray today.

EVENING MEDITATION:

Hallelujah – Barlow Girl

O Holy Night – Nat King Cole

Pie Jesu (Mercy, Jesus) – by Andrew Lloyd Webber

An Example Prayer Focusing On God’s Attributes:  

I praise You, Lord, for who You are.  You are here, knowing the words I will say before I speak.  You are Omniscient and understand all the details of this situation.  Though I may be surprised or overwhelmed, You are not.  You know me with all my limitations and weaknesses, and You know how this will turn out to both bring You glory and strengthen my faith.  I trust Your wisdom which is beyond mine; so give me Your perspective and Your wisdom.  Help me to become aware of the aspects I am over-looking and to know how to proceed.

I know that You are Omnipotent and are capable of equipping me for any task. You could accomplish this without my help, but since it is clear that You want me to persevere and face this, I thank You for providing everything that I need.  I trust You to either move the obstacles or help me over them.  Nothing is too difficult for You, and in Christ I can do anything You call me to do.  I am comforted to know Your limitless power is available to me, and You will never leave me to handle this in my own strength.

I am in awe that You are Omnipresent and can manage the universe and still be here with me.  I confess, this challenge feels too big for me, but You are in me and I have nothing to fear.  I am thankful that even at this moment, You are also with all the people involved in this issue, and I pray that You will work in their hearts as well to bring about Your will in their lives.

Because You are Sovereign and nothing is beyond Your control, I accept that You have placed me here in this situation.  You will work this for my good, and I delight to know that You will be glorified through this, as that is both of our desires.  Amen.

Follow this link for all 12 of the Pray12Days Challenges

Day 9 – Holy Silence

 “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak  
until the day when these things take place,
because you did not believe my words
which shall be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Luke 1:20

400 years of silence,  
and God picks up right where He left off.

  • read the last words of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5-6.

This is the moment when the silence is broken…

  • Read Luke 1:5-25.
  • How are Zacharias and Elizabeth described in verse 6?
  • What are “these things” refering to in verse 20?  (see verse13-17)
  • Who delivered this message to Zacharias?  (see verse 19)
  • Where does he deliver the message?  (see verses 8-10)

And, when silence of God ends, Zacharias’ begins.
For more than 9 months he was “unable to speak”.
I bet he did some “pondering” of his own.

  • read Luke 1:57-66
  • What loosed his tongue? (verse 63-64)

On my annual days of prayer, I try to go away or send my husband and children away the night before. Often I wake and do not speak for hours, and when I intentionally choose to speak, those first words feel sacred.

  • read Zacharias’ first words  (Luke 1:67-79)
  • If it seems a little deep, remember, this man has been pondering deep things for 9 months, the prophecies of old which are about to be fulfilled.

verse 78 in the NAS, “…because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us.”  – Sunrise, one of my favorite names for the Messiah! 

Gabriel, the messenger who broke the silence, was also the angel sent to Daniel.

  • read Daniel 9:20-22
  • What specifically is Gabriel’s sencond message about?  (see 9:25,26 – Don’t miss this!)

Gabriel tells Daniel about the future:  when the Messiah would come, His death, and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.  (If you missed that, read those last two verses again.)

If you are at all familiar with Daniel, you know that his influence in his day cannot be overstated.  But, it also seems probable that his legacy reached to the time of the Messiah, when magi, or “wise men”, a title used of the men in Daniel 2,5, and 6, put two and two together to figure out that the time for the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Daniel had come.  Keep in mind that Daniel was in what was know then as the far east, Babylon, in an area now known as Iraq.

  • read Matthew 2:1-2

“Wise men still seek Him” is as profound as it is clever.  Let’s be wise and make seeking God daily, weekly in Rest-Days, and even monthly or annual in special days of prayer, a priority!

PRAYER CHALLENGE:

Are you still marking your starting time when you pray?

Try it again today, but this time, in one blanket prayer say, “O Lord, you know” and set your TOP 12 aside.

Spread out a quilt, get down on the floor on your face, and be silent.  Say, “Lord, speak to me.”  Then be still and wait, and listen.

When you get up, write down what the Lord impresses upon your heart.  If you don’t have anything specific to write, or if 12 minutes seemed like too long of a time to be still, pen a prayer to the Lord asking Him to speak to you, and then try this challenge again later.

EVENING MEDITATION:

Word of God Speak – Mercy Me

Silent Night – Amy Grant

Day 8 – Something to Ponder

“Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”
“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”  
“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge.
A Christmas Carol , by Charles Dickens

  • What did you do (or not do) yesterday to “rest”?
  • write your answer in your journal

“keep Sabbath in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”
“Keep it!” repeated the Lord.  “But, you don’t keep it.”
“Let me leave it alone, then,”…
– Is this what your actions say?

Remember the sabbath day (the rest-day), to keep it holy…
you shall not do any work…
For… the LORD… rested on the seventh day:
therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day
and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11

There is a blessed Sabbath, a holy rest-day, every week.
I we don’t keep it, and no wonder we’re tired.

  • Read Exodus 16:4-5
  • notice the phrase, “that I will test them, whether or not they will walk in My instrustion”
  • What was the test?
  • Now read Exodus 16:14-21
  • Did they pass or fail this test?
  • What was the result of their extra effort to get more or to get ahead?
  • Read Exodus 16:22-27
  • What was the instructions for the Sabbath?
  • What happened when the Sabbath came around? (see verse 27)
  •  Did they pass or fail this test?


God was trying to bless them.  He said He would multiply their efforts and make sure they had “enough”, but they would not trust Him, translation: they did not believe Him.  Still, He gave them another Sabbath (verse 28-30), another opportunity to trust Him, and the Lord gives us another opportunity to sabbath every week, too.

Yesterday was your “seventh” prayer day.
Today (Saturday, December 8, 2012) is the Jewish Sabbath.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is the day the Church worships to remember the Lord’s ressurection.
Many pastors who preach on Sunday observe their “rest” on Monday.

When will you Sabbath?

If the thought of a “Sabbath-day” sounds like a burden that will set you behind, or like an impossible splurge that you can’t afford, recognize that as a lie from the enemy.  He wants to keep you from the blessing of knowing the rest of God.

Don’t let the idea of “rest” make you feel guilty or defeated.  If you have over-booked yourself so that a day of rest is not possible, make it your goal to start observing Rest-Days in the new year and make the necessary changes of dropping a few things from your schedule that God is not asking you to do.

What should you do on a day of rest?
Here is one suggestion:   Ponder what the Lord has said and done.

Read Luke 2:18-20.
Write verse 19 in your journal.

The shepherds come and go, and Mary is left to process the day’s events and all that she has been told.  She treasures and ponders…

  1. “treasured” – observed, kept close, preserved, guarded
  2. “pondered” – has the idea of bringing something to mind and confering or deliberating it over with herself, thinking it through again, to turn it around in her mind to consider, meditate on
+ What are the “these things” that she treasures and pondered?
(see verse 18; see the context:  Luke 2:8-17 )
+ What does Mary ponder in Luke 1:29?
(see the context:  Luke 1:26-28)
+ What does see treasure in Luke 2:51?
(see the context: Luke 2:41-50)
You are treasuring and pondering something:
your “to do” list, goals for next year,
 the opinions of others,
insecure thoughts of comparison,
worries, fears,
bitter or jealousy thoughts…

Ask the Lord for wisdom on how to begin observing Sabbath and choose to ponder the truths of scripture and what God has done in your life.

One last idea to “ponder”:
Luke 1:56 says Mary went to Judah to visit Elizabeth for “about 3 months”.   Sounds a little bit like a Sabbatical.  Is the Lord calling you to come away with Him or to step away from something for a season?  He might use that to prepare yo for your greatest ministry. 

PRAYER CHALLENGE:

Today, let’s combine the instructions from last nights EVENING MEDITATION and the PRAYER CHALLENGE from Day 6:

Lightening your burden today by only carry around the rocks representing the concerns that you are not willing or able to entrust to the Lord.  When you get tired of toting rocks, or tired of those concerns pressing on your mind, choose to set them down and obey this command: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

  • seek God (setting aside time in a quiet place)
  • remember who He is and call on Him by name
  • ask specific requests (pray, not just think or worry)
  • give thanks for what He has done and is doing
  • confess sins, choose to listen, and obey His leading

 

EVENING MEDITATION:

Read Luke 1:46-55  This is a woman who knows and remembers what the Lord has done!

There are a few Christmas songs, that make Mary sound a little overwhelmed, which would be easy to understand given her situation, but scripture doesn’t give us any hint of that. The only person we read about who struggled with the news was Joseph, but once the angle spoke to him, he was all in! (see Matthew 1:18-25)

Don’t discount the overwhelming peace and confidence that comes from a clear calling and knowing that you are in the center of God’s will.  If you do not sense His power in your life, I urge you to come away and seek Him.  Once He speaks to you, follow that instruction, despite how you feel, until He gives you new orders.

I Need a Silent Night – Amy Grant

Captivate Us – Watermark