CULTIVATE . . .
My Cultivate Story…
Nothing has impacted my Christian life more than making the decision for the early morning watch with prayer and the study of God’s Word. Nothing!
One evening many years ago while at a Bible study leadership retreat, the Lord spoke directly and distinctly to my heart, “Christi, you are a praying woman but you don’t have a prayer life.” I knew exactly what He was talking about!
Yes, I was a praying woman. I prayed every day. But I didn’t have a prayer life. I prayed when I found time in the day to pray—instead of praying first, and then making time for everything else! Sound familiar?
Make The Decision
Just like any other discipline—you must decide first, then do it!
For me, making the decision really was the result of gaining an understanding. I understood that I was destined to know God. To really know God! And I really got it that night! I was destined for more understanding, knowledge, wisdom; a life of service, than what I had already experienced.
Developing a disciplined prayer life is key! Because this is how you get into the flow of the dreams and the plans that God has for you. Yes, God has dreams and plans for you! This is also how you experience the daily fresh filling of the Holy Spirit, and this is how you gain the mind of Christ. We need His power and His mind for the tasks and challenges of each and every day!
I simply understood that I was destined for more of Jesus, and so are you!
Keep It Simple
Keeping it simple was the key to my success for many reasons. I knew if I bit off too much or tried to make my prayer life overcomplicated by trying to emulate a seasoned prayer warrior, I would be setting myself up for frustration and perhaps failure.
I began my mornings by reading my favorite devotional by Oswald Chambers, MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST. Then I would read a passage of Scripture. Sometimes an entire chapter, other times just a single paragraph, keeping to one book of the Bible. I read until I felt the Lord had spoken something to my heart. I often re-read the same portion of Scripture for several days. As long as the Holy Spirit was speaking and ministering His Word to me, I remained there. Because if He was speaking, I listened, and I kept on listening.
I kept everything simple, including my prayer journal. I was unsure of what might work best for me, so I asked the Lord to show me, and He did! I was inspired one morning to use a three-by-five card which I had scored off vertically, front and back, labeling the seven days of the week: i.e. Monday / Tuesday . . . . Then I recorded names under each day of the week. I didn’t need to record requests because the name was sufficient enough a reminder.
I began that system with just twenty five names for the week, which I felt was a lot! Within a year I had more than one hundred names on that little three-by-five card; souls that I had prayed for! It was such an incredible encouragement for me. A little three-by-five card became my first prayer journal!
Another thing is that discipline helped me to gain the mind of Christ for those of whom I was praying! As I faithfully met with the Lord each morning I began to have new thoughts and words to pray over those on my prayer list, and for myself too! I began to realize that I was praying His desires, and not my own. So really, I was the one who gained even though I was interceding for others! Speaking names to God with the mind of Christ! It really doesn't get any better! Wow!
Maintaining a designated place of where you meet with the Lord is so important. It might be an obvious place; you may already have an office or some other place that would be ideal for this purpose. When I began my prayer life, I had a designated place in our living room. It was my holy corner! In fact, when our son was a toddler he would refer to that place as, “Mom’s prayer chair.” I guess I had my own time out chair!
I had a chair and a small table with all of the obvious essentials: my Bible, a devotional, pens, pencils, highlighter, notebook, and even Post-Its. I also had: tissue, emery board, and nail clippers! Yes, manicure implements! For some reason when I went to prayer I frequently discovered that I needed a manicure! It just amounts to distractions.
To this day, I still have all of those items close by so that I can take care of any distractions immediately and move on. Whether it’s a chipped nail, an item that I need to add to the grocery list, or just a thought that I want to jot down, I can quickly take care of it and get back at it with the Lord.
It really works!
Distractions are real, diverse, and constant. That never changes! When our son, Steven, was a toddler, he would inevitably get up soon after he heard me get up, no matter how quiet I was! So I would just scoop him up in my arms while he wrapped his arms around my neck and legs around my waist. (Aren't monkey-hugs the best? Oh, what would I give . . .) Then I would continue on with my prayers, even praying out loud, adjusting my words for his baby-ears. One morning the Lord stopped me and ministered to my heart this way: “Pray the way you always pray, Christi, because that’s how he will learn how to pray.” Wow!
That was a bit intimidating. It was intimidating to pray out my heart in front of anyone, including my baby boy! But I did. And so, our son learned how to pray. Even as a toddler, he would pray, “Most High God . . .” Talk about melting this momma’s heart! I can still hear his sweet little voice now . . .
One morning while he was watching Sesame Street, I had been sitting in a chair behind him weeping quietly. We had just received some really sad news and I was just heartbroken. I had to cry even though I didn’t want to knowing it could upset our son. But he heard me and came over to me placing his precious little hand on my face, “Momma, you crying?” And then he began to pray for me!
I was so overwhelmed with what God had done in my baby boy while I was simply obeying His voice by praying out loud in front of our son! We just never know what God will do with our small gestures of obedience, do we? And yes, "out of the mouths of babes!"
Morning Is Best
I am a morning person so it would seem easier for me than for those who are not morning people to develop this early morning watch. Not! Because I am a morning person it’s easy for me to get distracted with things that I think need to be done, or that I just plain old want to do: Dishes, dusting, laundry . . . even decorating (true confessions!).
When the weather is good, uh-oh! I have been that woman that you have seen in her bathrobe pulling weeds or deadheading roses! Sorry!
So this is what I do: Get out of bed, get the coffee, and get to prayer! If I start doing too much—I get distracted. That’s the best way for me to experience success!
Whether you're a morning person or not, it really doesn't matter because it still comes down to discipline!
May the Lord bless you richly as you pursue Him with your whole heart through the early morning watch!
2014 © CULTIVATE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED