Prayers for My Home

A couple weeks ago I was going through some prayers a wonderful sister in Christ from my church wrote up for my house blessing when I bought my house.  They were good reminders of the purpose of my home and how it is to be used to glorify God and refresh both believers and unbelievers. As I thought of these Scriptures and prayers my friend wrote, I thought of more.  Hopefully, they are encouraging starter points for thinking about any single woman’s home, whether it’s a house, an apartment, or a dorm room.

Front Door: Leaving for Work. May she commit her plans and long hours to the LORD. May the strength of her work come from the LORD.

Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established. Prov. 16:3

Front Door: Pray that she will be a Gospel light in her neighborhood

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Front Door: Pray that she would leave the house each day in assurance of the Lord’s Sovereignty in all things.

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD. Prov. 16:33

Front Door: For God’s protection over the house and those that live there, that they would be kept from danger.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2

Living Room: For strength and wisdom as she exercises hospitality.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.1 Peter 4:8-11

Living Room: That she would rest in the sufficiency of Christ to meet her guests’ needs — both spiritual and physical

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:5-6

Living Room: That it will be a place where others are encouraged and built up. Pray that she would be encouraged and edified through her company. Pray that God’s name would be glorified.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. Hebrews 3:12-14

Put on then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord as forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14

Living Room: That it will be filled with joy and laughter.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.     James 5:13

Dining Room: For likeminded friends to share life

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42

…so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. Romans 15:32

Dining Room: For this to be a place laughter and good company

This also, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:25

Kitchen: To be a place of service and joy in the LORD

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh. 8:10

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7

Kitchen: For God’s provision of food

These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.  When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. Psalm 104:27-28

Kitchen: To be a place of service strengthened with joy. That she would see the results of her labor and that those she serves will be blessed.

And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.  Hebrews 13:16

 

Renter’s Room: Mutual Encouragement

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Prov. 16:24

 

Master Bed Room: For her time in prayer and Scripture reading to refresh and strengthen her relationship with God

… my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help… Psalm 63:5-6

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

 

Master Bed Room: For protection during sleep. That she would retire without anxiety.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

Yours is the day, yours also the night… Psalm 74:16

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm56:3

 

Master Bed Room: That she would have rest and refreshment

Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Psalm 116:7

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3

 

Master Bed Room: That she would wake in the morning with hope and strength.

She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong. Prov. 31:17

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come. Prov. 31:25

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:22-25

 

Master Bed Room: As she gets ready each day to remember that God looks at the inward appearance. That she would remember that while beauty and youth are fleeting, that there is an imperishable beauty in a heart that trusts in the Lord.

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3

 

Office Area: As she works from home that she would do so with the right perspective

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Col. 3:22-24

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands! Ps. 90:17

 

Office Area : Planning lessons, planning schedules, and making financial decisions.  That she would have wisdom and discernment for the choices she must make.

… but those who plan peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness… Matthew 6:33

 

 Guest & Media Room: For her heart to be glad to accept guests

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.  Romans 12:13

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. Luke 10:38

 

Guest & Media Room: As she rests and relaxes, that the entertainment would be uplifting and encouraging to her heart and mind.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

100,000 Miles

This past weekend, my eleven-year-old car hit its 100,000 mile mark.  Since this is my first car, and I’ve had it since about mile 0, this was a big
occasion for us.100000 miles 2

This car is an answer to prayer.  God was so gracious to answer my prayer – and doing so in a way that showed He didn’t need my help at all. Maybe that’s why I am so fond of this little car.  I made it through my first year of college without a car, depending on friends for rides to my teaching practicums, church, and the grocery store.  After my first year, I realized that, with the many teaching practicums ahead, I would need my own car. I started saving like crazy and putting almost every penny from my summer job towards a car. I scoured the ads to see what I could get for a couple thousand dollars. I figured that my parents wouldn’t be happy with the car I bought for $2,000, or that I had bought one behind their backs since we agreed I would not get a car in college, but I was desperate for a car.  As I worked, saved, and searched, I prayed fervently for God to provide a car. One night as I was working, a car pulled up to the drive-thru and rang the bell.  I opened the window and saw my parents in a little blue car. I immediately burst into tears, because I thought this meant I got to have our gray Lumina minivan – and I was so happy!  Little did I know that in response to my prayers, God had planted in the minds of my parents (without our discussing the matter) that I needed a car.  One day mom woke up with the urgent thought, “Katie needs a car.”  When she talked with Dad, unsure of what he would say, he responded that he had wakened with the exact same urgent message.  And I got the blue car.

As a dedication, I prayed that God would use my car in his service to help with others’ needs as a reminder that he had met mine.  100,000 miles later, God has faithfully brought friendships that I will forever value in response to that prayer. He has shown deliverance by sparing it in a tornado (with a little roof fixing), allowing it to be covered in ash only – and no more – from a fire, and working in each blown tire so that I was never stranded.

Now, we are on a summer road trip that, so far, has included Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas.  Tomorrow we plan to add another state or two, Lord willing.

So, happy birthday, little buddy. And thanks to God for his provision and protection.

… his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning… Lam. 3:22-23

Single and Barren

Author’s Note: (Before beginning this topic, I want to clarify my thoughts on two areas.  First, I can only experience barrenness as a single woman.  I don’t know what it is like to long for a child as a married woman.  I don’t know how it feels to try to conceive, have my hopes raised, and then have them crushed as I am faced once again with the realization that my husband and I cannot have children. Second, I have never known the life-altering pain of the loss of a child, whether through miscarriage or otherwise.  I grieve with those couples who must walk through the valley of the shadow of death with their children. I am thankful for the grace God has given to the mothers and fathers who have been called to those trials.  Through them I learn more of God’s sustaining mercy and love for his children.  What I desire is to share how God works in the barrenness of an unmarried woman to testify to God’s sustaining mercy and love through a different kind of childlessness.)

Meet the dreamer

How many kids do you want?” my friends and I often asked each other. Raised as a conservative, home-schooled girl, I was not shocked by large families or the idea of having a lot of kids. My family was average-sized, but some of our best friends came from a family of twelve.  As I grew up, I never really wondered if I would have children.  I started dreaming of my marriage while playing with my plastic bride happy meal toys at the age of 5.  Then there came the legions of dolls to name, clothe, feed, educate, and mother. “I don’t know… maybe somewhere between 4 and 6,” was my usual answer. “Less than 13,” was my joking answer. “As many as God wants to give me,” was my more ‘spiritual’ answer. I had unspoken conditions to that last answer, though. I would accept whatever number God gave me as long as I got married by 23 and started having kids by 26. What my 20-year-old self didn’t stop to consider is that God may choose to give me none and he would still be good and loving to me.

What’s a (single) girl to do?

I noticed my childlessness more and more as I grew older. I started doing mental math and comparing. The girl I sat next to at graduation already has four kids. So-and-so is only two years older and she has five. I bet people are wondering if I realize I’m running out of time. If I get married in the next couple years, maybe I can have a couple before menopause sets in. The pain also grew as the years passed. More than once I have run my hand over the couple boxes of favorite childhood toys I have saved to share with my daughters.  Was I foolish to save them? Will I get to share them with my children even still? When should I give up hope?

If I felt left out because my friends were getting married, I felt almost unwomanly because I had not given birth.  I felt guilty for not giving my parents grandchildren.  I felt only partially sanctified because I did not know the sacrifices of motherhood.  I felt incomplete because I did not know the love and joy of motherhood. Motherhood seemed the best, most wonderful station in life. And I had been excluded.

“You will make such a good mom.” “You’d be a great mom.” “You’ll feel differently when you’re a mother.” I was thankful for the heart behind those comments, but I still felt that I was missing something. I felt that the person behind the comment thought so, too. Conversations with other older single girl friends revealed that I was not alone in this feeling.

I might be able to have kids; I might not. For my good, God has commanded that I remain sexually pure until marriage, which means no kids. So, I’m barren because I don’t have kids, and I can’t.

The Scripture and Barrenness

On the surface level, it even seems hard to find the comfort for my barrenness in Scripture:

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God… Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb. Deuteronomy 28:2-4

And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. Deuteronomy 28:10-11

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.

Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the LORD.

The LORD bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!

May you see your children’s children!
Peace be upon Israel!   Psalm 128:3-6

Throughout the Old Testament, God blesses Israel’s obedience with offspring (Psalm 113:9, Proverbs 17:6, Isaiah 65:23). Death of children and barrenness are a sign of judgement (Gen. 20:3-18, Deuteronomy 28:18, Hosea 9:14, Psalm 109:13, Isaiah 49:20). Scripture also makes it clear that the Lord gives children and the Lord closes the womb (Genesis 49:25, 30:22).

What am I missing? Am I less blessed because I don’t have children? Am I under judgment? Is God not pleased with me?

God used a Bible study through Isaiah to help me understand the role of barrenness and blessing.  More understanding came again in my pastor’s exposition of barrenness in the lineage of Christ. In these I began to realize the key for my hope and learned more of God’s nature.

Barren Women of the Bible

Sarah was barren, yet God made a covenant with her husband that in him all the families of the Earth shall be blessed (Genesis 12).  “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him” (Genesis 17:19).  At ninety years of age, the barren woman gave birth to Isaac.

Isaac’s wife could not have children, but Isaac prayed and “God opened her womb” (Genesis 25: 21).  She gave birth to twins, one of whom was Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel.  God continued his covenant with Jacob.

One of Jacob’s wives, Rachel, was barren, but Jacob prayed and Rachel gave birth to Joseph (Genesis 29:31).  Joseph later saved his family of promise from famine. And the family grew to become the nation of Israel.

Later, when the nation of Israel was oppressed by an enemy, God gave a barren woman a son, Samson, to deliver his people.

God raised up another leader for Israel – Samuel – from a heartbroken, barren Hannah.

From the Biblical account, it seems that Ruth lived sometime with her husband without having any children before he died. She moved to Israel, a childless foreigner with her widowed, childless, mother-in-law. God gave Boaz as the kinsman redeemer to keep the line from ending. Through them came David. God made a covenant that through David’s descendants would come a King who would reign forever.

God used broken, barren women to continue his covenant to Abraham and David.  To an aged, barren Elizabeth was born the last prophet to tell of the coming Messiah. The Messiah, Christ, came through a woman who was an unwed, childless, virgin.  Christ was the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham.  Through Christ comes forgiveness of sins and salvation from God’s wrath.  Through Him are all the families of the earth blessed.

Through these stories, God shows that he is a God who listens.  Jacob prayed, Isaac prayed, Hannah prayed… and God opened the womb. That brings me comfort.  God did not reprimand the men and women who prayed for children.  They knew God had closed the womb and they knew he had the power to open it. The God of the Bible is a God who listens to the ones outcast or mocked by society.  And in their cases, he granted their prayers.  This means that nothing can thwart God’s plans and promises, not even barrenness.  Not even my barrenness.  If God wills that I have children, at some point he will give them to me.

However, I would be selling myself – and God – short if my take-away was “Keep praying and God will give you kids, cue happy ending, and roll credits.” In the Bible stories, prayers were not answered and then all things were fine. Samson was seduced by a Philistine woman and died as a blind, shamed captive.  Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Hannah’s grandsons through Samuel were killed by God because of their sins. Elizabeth’s son was beheaded for his testimony. Christ’s mother watched her first-born die on a cross. The point is not that these women were made complete by becoming mothers. The point is that God came with a promise of salvation to Abraham.  The theme of barrenness makes clear that it was the will and power of God bringing about His plan, there is no other explanation.  The Messiah was born from a virgin to show that he is the promised One of God.  The point is Christ Jesus, the son of a woman who was beyond barren.

“I and the children God has given me.”

Of Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote that he was “cut off from the land of the living” without descendants. An Old Testament hearer would have understood that being ‘cut off’ was a sign of being cursed by God because of faithlessness.

How could the promised One of God be cursed by God? Because “upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace” and “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5, 6).  He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people… although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:8, 9).  The Messiah took the condemnation, so the sinner could have peace.  Through him are all the families of the earth blessed.

The same prophet, Isaiah, also writes that the Messiah will see his offspring.  But Christ had no children. The New Testament writer of Hebrews references Christ with another verse from Isaiah “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” This is a sign of blessing.  The children are children of promise through faith.  The Old Testament family-nation of Israel was a representation of the true family of God: a family comprised of believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone. Ephesians 2: 19-20

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, than an heir through God.  Galatians 4:4-7

The Creation Mandate and the Single Woman

When Christ came, he echoed the language of the Genesis 1:28.  Instead of telling the man and woman to be fruitful and multiply, Christ told his followers to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. He told many parables about trees producing good fruit and those producing bad fruit. The former were pruned to bear more, the latter were cut down and destroyed in judgement. In Galatians, Paul writes that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In Colossians, Paul urges his readers to walk as ones fully pleasing to God, bearing fruit.

I may be childless, but I am by no means cursed by barrenness.  Rather, I am the barren woman singing aloud in Isaiah 54 because my shame – not my shame of childlessness, but my shame of my own sin – was taken away.  Christ did not give me a command to be fruitful and then withhold from me the ability to walk in obedience.

Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 5

 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11

A single, childless woman abiding in Christ’s love with fullness of joy is a far cry from one who needs to hide her face in shame.  Married or unmarried, childless women are called to participate in the kingdom of God, to share in his sufferings, to bear fruit of repentance, to abide in him, to have fullness of joy.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide… John 15:16

The dreamer lives on

At one point in my late twenties, I began to be desperate that my parents become grandparents. It didn’t have to be me… it could be my brother or sister.  I’d settle for being aunt if mom and dad could be grandma and grandpa.  I usually got desperate like this around mother’s day, father’s day, and my parents’ birthdays (and Christmas, but who’s counting?).  One particular time I remember was before my dad’s birthday.  At that time, I had a close friendship with a couple from church with four young boys.  I felt almost like an adopted aunt and visited their house weekly.  One visit I told the boys I had to leave early because it was my dad’s birthday.  The boys quickly got to work making cards for my dad – one with an airplane and air traffic control tower and one with a Robin Hood book decorating the cover.  I was overcome with happiness at the little construction paper cards made perfectly for my dad.  The boys hadn’t known that my dad had worked in an air traffic control tower most his life or that Robin Hood was his favorite book as a kid.  But still, they just “happened” to make them. God used these providentially coincidental cards to whisper reminders to my heart that he sees my desires.  Even if my way seems unanswered, it is not unnoticed and it is going perfectly according to God’s plan. The next year, one of my 5th graders made a card that read “From Ms. Watson’s kid, Luis.” I am blessed with children.  I am not their mother, but I am their teacher.  I cannot raise them, but I can love them and help train them.  This is God’s good plan, not second best.  And with his good, pleasing, and perfect will, all will go as it should.

Are baby showers still going to be painful? Sure.  Will my desire for children ever cease? Probably not. Will there still be awkward moments and comments because “my biological clock” is ticking away with no children on the horizon? I count on it and embrace it.

Life comes with thorns.  For many good and different reasons, God can choose not to take all our thorns away, at least not right away.  They teach us to hope and to be patient in prayer. They teach a watching world that the hope and joy found in Christ is greater than the hope and joy found in earthly blessings – even husbands and children. Even while I may sometimes grieve the thorn of childlessness and pray for God to take it away, my faith is not grounded in that he will, but that his grace is sufficient and that his power is shown to be perfect in my weakness.

Even more than praying for biological children, my hope is that I – and other single women – will pray for spiritual children.  Pray for the opportunities to witness, for God to bring salvation, for other young women and children to encourage and help train in truth.  I pray that I and other childless women – married or single – will not abide in the shame of barrenness, because it has been taken away.  I pray we will abide in the love of Christ.  We are not barren; in him our fruit will abide.

Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5

Spurgeon on Prayer

The man who has his mouth full of arguments in prayer will soon have his mouth full of benedictions in answer to prayer.

Dear friend, do you have your mouth full right now?  What of?  Full of complaining?  Pray to the Lord to rinse that black stuff out of your mouth, for it will little help you, and it will be bitter in your bowels one of these days.

Oh, have your mouth full of prayer, full of it, full of arguments, so that there is room for nothing else.

— Prayer and Spiritual Warfare