• Jill Jarrell Newsome

Keeping In Shape

My parents showed me what a prayer life should be. They never told me. Each morning before they woke my brothers and I up, they were sitting in the den having their devotions and prayer time. They got up an hour earlier so they could have time with God, even though they loved to sleep in, this was a priority. I remember so many times Dad reminded me that he was praying for me. When he died I remember thinking, I have lost one of my biggest prayer warriors. My mom started a prayer group at church and was there every Tuesday morning for around 35 years! She continues to have her devotions and prayer time in the morning and continues to serve in the prayer ministry.

I love the quote, "if you only pray when you are in trouble....you are in trouble". You are in trouble because you are missing out on the power of prayer. We are told all through the Bible what we can pray for. We can pray for wisdom, power, strength, knowledge, discernment and the list goes on. Who would not want those things?

Ephesians 1:18-20 says, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength." Paul is praying that God will give wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. When we understand our salvation, we will have assurance about being one of God's people. We will be given the hope and vision that we need to endure trials and tribulation. We will be given the strength to persevere during these times.

Paul prays for us to have the strength and knowledge of God's love. Ephesians 3:16-19 says, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Think about it - God gives each of us a gift that can ultimately prevent us from ever being shaken or defeated! With Jesus, no circumstance, fear nor sin has power over us. He has already given us what we need to live in fullness. Trusting Him will bring freedom. But how do we do that? We need to grounded in Scripture. We need to spend time with God. Taking time to pray, study and worship will increase our faith in Him. As we increase our faith, we will begin to understand our worth and His worth in our life! We will become more of Him and less of us.

Discernment: Philippians 1:9-11 says, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God." Paul prays that their love will grow and overflow with the knowledge of God. He prays that they will discern what is excellent. When we are overflowing with love for God we are able to comprehend the good things of God. We are able to live in a closer relationship to God. As our love for God grows we are filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus. When the soil has been made ready for planting, fruit is a natural occurrence. We cannot make the fruit grow, God does that.

Paul wrote to his friend from his prison cell about being bold in sharing the faith. Paul was praying that his friend would be an effective witness as he shared his faith. Philemon 1:6 says, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Paul went on to pray that his friend would come to a deeper understanding of everything good we have in God's incredible grace! The more we realize these blessings, the more we will want to share our faith with others!

There are so many more things I should be praying for - for myself and others. "A strong person works out every day to keep their body in shape, but a person of strength kneels in prayer to keep their soul in shape." What kind of strength builder are you?


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