The Work of Passionate Encouragement and Prayer

I firmly believe with all of my heart that Passionate Encouragement and Prayer Uplifts People, that’s where PEP UP comes from.  Passionately encouraging and praying for people is one of the greatest sources of joy in my life.  I can so easily lose track of time in the midst of my prayers, or conversations or letter writings.  I may even make it look easy, but the truth is…

IT TAKES WORK!

It takes energy, strength, focus, devotion, discipline and self control.  There are times where I do not even want to pick up a pen or look at a another card, when the costs of postage nag at me, when the whispers of the “better things” that I could do with my time or energy chip away at my mind.  Let’s face it, there are just some days where I want someone to pray passionately over me, to encourage me with every ounce of enthusiasm they have.

For my selfish and self centered days, for the days when I want to give up and for the times when it feels like it is so much work that I must have lost my gifting, God is so sweet to remind me that I am not the source of the gift and that great things require His strength for the work and effort that it takes.  If there would be anyone to offer me the encouragement that I need it would be the Father, Son and Spirit.

Perhaps it sounds silly that prayer and encouragement would take work.  It does.

Let me compare it to swimming.  It’s summer.  There are so many people who can swim.  Just like many people can write a card or make a call to encourage someone.  All of us can offer up prayers.  But, everyone who gets in the pool this summer will not become an Olympic swimmer because they got in the pool.  Even those with great potential don’t just go from the local pool to Olympic time trials.  They practice.  They train.  They seek coaching to improve their strokes.  They accept council to dietary changes that may help their body adjust to the extra strain of their muscles.  They watch films.  They read books and periodicals.  Then they practice and train some more.

Since really discovering my gifts I have sought help to develop them; to seek training to strengthen my encouragement & prayer muscles.  I have read books, listened to sermons & speeches, attended seminars, acquired mentors, spoken with those who are also gifted and practiced, practiced, practiced.

I have been so very blessed that God has given me these gifts.  I truly hope that I am being faithful in multiplying and strengthening my talents.  There are still those days where I feel like giving up, like quitting and like walking away from it all.

Do you ever feel that way?  Have you reached what feels like the end of your rope and you are feeling ready to let go rather than strain to hold on?

I have been reading through the Old Testament in my personal studies and have recently transitioned from Deuteronomy to Joshua.  I am amazed at how often “be strong and courageous” has been used in the last few chapters.  Recently I was blessed with a focus on one character in the New Testament who is incredibly strong and courageous when it comes to prayer and encouragement.

His name is Epaphras.  He was a key leader in the Colossian church.  His prayers were soaked in concern and love, especially in regards to keep the church together in the midst of growing troubles.  In Colossians 1:7 (NIV) Paul refers to Epaphras as a dear fellow servant.  Colossians 4:12 (NIV) reads, Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

Epaphras is “always wrestling in prayer for you.”  That sounds a lot like work to me.  When I think of one who wrestles, I think of one who is determined to persevere.

Perseverance

Ironically, this is my chosen word or theme of the year.  Perseverance; to continue trying when something is difficult, continued effort amidst failure or opposition.  Persevering in prayer.  Persevering in encouragement.  Continuing on in the midst of everything going a different way than you expected.

How do we continue on?  How do we keep going when we feel like walking, or running away, or screaming “I QUIT”?

We can start by Praying for Ourselves:

Pray with painful honesty.  We need to tell the Lord exactly how we are feeling.  Want to know what this looks like, here’s an except from my diary,

God I want to quit!  I’ve got nothing left in me but tears and hurt.  I feel helpless and alone.  I’m trying God.  I’m pushing and pushing.  I’m trying to be fast and slow.  I’m trying to be relational and trust You.  God, I just don’t understand.  I don’t feel right for this, as if I’ve been set up for failure.  If it’s Your will for me to fail, can we just get it over with?  Is this refinement by fire so that I will be made more like you? 

As I re-read those words that I wrote it occurs to me that there have been many days like that in my life, many times where I asked those questions.  But, I penned those words specifically 1/6/2011 at 6:15am.  Wow, has God so faithfully brought me through much since then.  Yet, I continue to struggle with wanting to give up, even though the circumstances are not the same.

Ask God for a Verse to Hold Onto:

We need to pray that the Spirit would lead us to a verse or passage in the Bible that we could hold to, that we could ponder in our hearts and that would help to transform & renew our minds for the work He has called us to.

For my recent request God opened my heart and eyes to Isaiah 50:4.

Pray that Verse:

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.”  (
NLT)

Lord, please give me words of wisdom, Your words.  May I know how to comfort those who are weary.  Wake me up each morning.  Open my understanding, my mind, my heart, that I may know Your will.  Amen.  

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” 
(NIV)

Lord, please teach me what I should say.  Help me to provide that which is needed to help hold them up against the weight of the circumstances in their lives.  May  I awaken alert to You, Lord, and my I diligently be in tune and attentive to Your instructions.  Amen.  

The Master, God, has given me
    a well-taught tongue,
So I know how to encourage tired people.
    He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears
    to listen as one ready to take orders.” (Message)

Lord, please give me a tongue that speaks life, life that comes from You and flows through me to those who are lacking strength and energy.  Help me to be a follower who stands before You and says, “Send me, Lord.  Send me.”  You are always ready, make me ready too.  Amen. 

So often I write and I share that You may know that You are not alone.  Maybe you have no clue what I am talking about when it comes to encouragement and prayer, but perhaps there is one small nugget that you can take away from the process of me writing down my experiences.

Doubts happen, but please do not think that our doubts determine our value or our ability to persevere.  The process can create opportunities to deepen our relationships with the Lord and can add parts to our story that will be used to minster to others whose paths cross ours in life.

You are a precious gift and a beautiful treasure.  You are adored and cherished by a God who delights in who you are.  God created you a unique and one of a kind masterpiece.  This makes you incredible!

Dear Lord,

Please help us all to persevere, to do the work that You have called us to.  Help us to prepare and train, so that we may be strengthened and ready for when You call.  Help us to seek You when we are doubting.  Help us to seek You when we are troubled.  May we pour out our hearts with all honesty.  May we be determined to wrestle on.  In the strength of Jesus’ name, amen. 

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