Monday, March 10, 2008

First Annual Prayer Retreat

I've mentioned this church before. We've been attending for several months now. This past weekend they had their first annual Ladies' Prayer Retreat. I CANNOT believe I only paid $5 for that!! It was beyond priceless!!! Let me share what happened there so maybe you can get an idea of it.

Well, all day Friday I was so excited about going, and usually when it's actually time for an event, I have doubts about going, but not this! I can't remember if I told you, but we were given the name of another lady to be praying for all week, and we were also given a blank card to write down what we prayed for that person. I had NO idea who the lady was. I was about to turn around and ask another lady, but God suggested that rather than doing that, this could be a faith walk for me as well, to be praying for someone that I knew absolutely nothing about! So, that's what I did, I prayed knowing that God would have to guide it. Each day I'd think of something different to pray about and amazingly, each day as I prayed, it kept somehow coming back to this lady's witness, her testimony to those around her. On Thursday I found myself looking up scripture to back the prayers, and even decided to write out those scriptures with her name inserted in them to give her.

Well, Friday night I got there and really didn't know anyone really well. There was about 12-15 ladies there and I had to consciously make the decision to mingle (really, it IS hard for me to be outgoing, but God's been working on that in me for years now). Well, we went up to the sanctuary for opening prayer, worship and stuff. Things weren't going exactly according to "the outline" which I later learned was a lesson for the lead pastor's wife, who worked on the whole thing and admits to being a "control freak"....but God had awesome plans ready for us!! Anyway, a lady stood up to give her testimony, and WHAT a story it was!! She used to be a druggie and even became a dealer!! She's a Mom!! With lots of kids!! And she got into Meth and things just went south fast (that's when she became a dealer to support her own habit). Eventually her house was raided and her kids taken and stuff, and before going to jail, she realized that God was calling her back to him (she's a pastor's daughter!) The raid happened just a couple years ago (just before we moved here) and God has brought her so far since that time!! It is INCREDIBLE!!!! And........that was the lady that I had been praying for all week!!!!!!!!!! We didn't give the cards we had written until the next day, and she said when she read what I had been praying she just cried and cried and cried, because she is now an advocate for Moms who have been caught doing drugs. She's very involved in working with people who are involved in the stuff she had been doing! I'm telling you, that was SO AWESOME for me as well as her....what a giant step in faith that all was!

BUT that's not even all of it....skipping forward to Saturday, we were given about 1 1/2 hours of time to get into the Word and just seek God and what He wanted us to get out of this weekend. Earlier in the week I had realized that God wants me to work on being gracious. I had read some scripture about that, but not a whole lot yet. See, I do have a problem with gossip sometimes and the time has come to make a clean break from that very bad problem. Yeah, talk about a YIKES moment! So I knew that this was what God wanted to hash out with me in my own little time. I found a quiet corner and started reading on grace and graciousness, but everything talking about that was mostly talking about God....I held that up in puzzlement knowing it was a beautiful quality of God, but was it something that I needed to do?? And of course, was my answer, of course, because we are to put on the likeness of Christ. With further digging through my concordance and glossary, I discovered gracious and merciful are basically the same thing, and in looking up merciful in my concordance, there was a lot of "meat" to chew on!! I wrote several verses(**see below) down in my journal, and the more I wrote and prayed, the heavier my heart became, until I literally was scrawling (through tears) in my journal, begging God's forgiveness and asking Him how in the world could *I* become a gracious person. I just kept rolling that over and over in my mind without an answer....and then Jenipher, the pastor's wife, came over to me to give me the card written by whoever had been praying for me. I took it and went to return to my pleading with God for answers and God told my heart that I needed to open that card. This is what it said,
Amy, God is so amazing! Even having you come to Utah is a blessing from Him. This week as I prayed for you, I prayed for hope. The strength that you have in the Lord will be such a blessing to this desert. You are here for a purpose and the body of Christ will be blessed by God's purpose for you. (Read Romans 15:13) Thank you for stepping out in faith. Hold on to the hope of things to come, always walk forward in the Lord. We need you here in the desert! In His service, Jenipher
And there it was, such peace washed over me. And it was as if God gave me a pat on the back and said, "Go get 'em!"....My prayer time was done (beside the thank yous coming over and over like breathing in and out!!) I went down to help get lunch ready with Jenipher and she said that she didn't know why, but God needed me to have hope. I told her that what she didn't know was what that hope was for! That hope was the answer to my pleas for forgiveness and pleas for a changed heart. Wow!!! I'm telling you, so amazing.

After lunch we all went up to the sanctuary to share what we had learned this weekend, and it was SO obvious that God was SO involved in the lives of every woman there that weekend (we ended up with only 8 that stayed for the whole thing). Many people made comments about how absolutely accurate the prayer had been for them that week. One lady kept praying about smoking for another lady, and she was so confused as she was fairly certain that this lady didn't smoke. She almost doubted what she'd been praying, but decided to trust. Well, the lady she had been praying for has a husband who smokes, and due to the extreme winter we had, he's been smoking in the house and it has really begun to be an issue for the wife!!! She needed prayer for that wall that was going up! I'm telling you, amazing!!!!

Oh, and lest you fear it wasn't fun too.....oh wow!!! Friday night we visited, painted nails (each of mine is a different color, including a blue, green and an orange one!!---couldn't help myself!) we played games and laughed. Oh it was such a HUGE blessing!!

Oh, and another thing. It was supposed to be held in October, but Jenipher kept fighting it, until it finally got done for now. Had it been in October, I wouldn't have been there!! God is good all the time!!!!!

Now aren't ya glad I'm done!!!
**oh, here's those verses: Exodus 34:6; Psalm 18:24-25; Psalm 37:25-26; Matthew 5:7; Luke 6:35-36

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