The holidays are rapidly approaching, and for many it ushers in a season of blessings garnished with stress. The holidays can be a hectic time, where shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, and party planning are added to already impacted schedules. The stress level increases when we choose to meditate upon where the time and resources will come from to fulfill everyone’s holiday expectations. This increase in stress that often detracts from the reason and joy of the holiday celebrations.
Women in particular need to be mindful that their responsibilities may have more consequences than they realize. The additional responsibilities that potentially stimulates what I define as a “downward stress spiral” frequently results in unhealthful responses including neglecting one’s spiritual nutrition, poor eating habits, damaged relationships, and failure to get adequate rest.
Acknowledging that the holidays could be stressful and identifying potential consequences of the stress can actually create additional pressure if a solution is not offered. The most significant solution I have found is drawn from 1 Thessalonians 5:17—“pray without ceasing.” What this simple verse communicates to me is that to experience a holiday season that brings glory to my heavenly Father I must wrap each experience with prayer before I commit to it!
Scores of books instruct the believer about prayer, from purpose to posture. As well, multiple Scriptures encourage us to cultivate an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father through prayer (my Exhaustive Strong’s Concordance lists a minimum of 464 verses under the topics of "pray" and "prayers"). As we consider prayer and its role in a God-honoring holiday season, let’s take a moment to analyze why we should pray. John MacArthur, in his small but significant book, Lord Teach Me to Pray,* offers at least five reasons that we ought to pray:
- Prayer is commanded (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17).
- It is a sin not to pray (1 Sam. 12:23).
- Prayer gives glory to God (Dan. 9:16–19; John 14:13–14).
- Prayer aligns us with God’s purposes (Matt. 6:9–10).
- Prayer results in answers (James 5:16; 1 John 5:15).
*John MacArthur, Lord Teach Me to Pray (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2003), 19.
Having identified why we should pray, let’s move the theological reasons into practical application. We’ll title our prayer rationale:
I wrap the holidays in prayer because I
- should have a sincere heart when I begin to make holiday plans (Phil. 1:10).
- know that for the holiday to bring glory to my heavenly Father, I must have his strength (Phil. 4:13).
- want to have a heart that submits to my heavenly Father’s instructions (Rom. 12:13b).
- need to approach any opportunity to minister with a "hearty attitude" (Col. 3:23).
- have a desire to wear "the garment of humility" during the season (1 Pet. 5:5).
- desire to have a gracious spirit in the midst of unforeseeable circumstances (Prov. 11:16).
- long for my extension of hospitality endeavors to have far-reaching implications (Heb.13:2)
- need to be excited about allowing others to catch a glimpse of my character where it is most graphically displayed—in my home—especially if I am in a position of leadership (1 Tim. 3:1–2; Titus 1:7–8);
- desire to stimulate conversations that are edifying (Rom. 15:1–2) and encouraging (1 Thess. 5:11) to my guests.
As you transition to Kelsey’s Korner remember that communicating with your heavenly Father through prayer, shows your desire for His direction and dependence on Him for the season. Will you choose to wrap your entire holiday season in prayer?
Prayer is an incredible gift- we, as sinful humans, are permitted to stand before the King of kings and offer requests and praises to Him freely! As we close out this year and begin a new one, let us endeavor to obey the command of “praying without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) by praying through the season. Use this prayer calendar for a weekly guide as together we venture to pray from October through the first week of January. Each week has a different theme, like the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5) as well as other timely attributes, like thankfulness and contentment. Each day let's pray for growth in that week’s topic. And “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13)! Blessings on your holiday season!
Topics of Weekly Prayer and Meditation
Week One (Oct. 1) During this first day of October in our first week, take some time to focus your meditations on understanding God’s will and desire for prayer by studying Matt. 6:5-15, Luke 11:1-4, Rom. 8: 26-27, Phil. 4:6-7, and 1 Thess. 5:16-18. Pray that God will soften your heart and give you the dedication to “pray without ceasing” through this busy holiday season.
Week Two (Oct. 2-8) Focus your heart this week on growing in love by meditating on Luke 10:27, Matt. 5:44-47, John 13:34-35, and 1 Cor. 13:4-8. Begin to pray daily for the different aspects of love that may need to be sharpened in your life, such as loving God, your enemies, and even your not-so-charming relatives more!
Week Three (Oct. 9-15) Joy is an expected emotion for the holidays; however, it is sometimes elusive to find. Christian joy is not derived merely from our environment or situation (those things change and fade) but stems from Christ and our sure standing in Him! Meditate and pray on these truths of joy in God’s Word: Hebrews 12:1-2, John 16:20-22, and James 1:2-4.
Week Four (Oct. 16-22) When most people think of peace they often equate it to modern man's misguided quest for “world peace”. In Scripture, however, peace is not often demonstrated as a lack of strife but rather a calm in the storm that believers can have in Christ! Meditate on Phil. 4:6-7, John 16:33, John 14:27, Rom. 5:1, and 2 Thess. 3:16, and pray this week that God would give you His peace that surpasses understanding in all of your stressful holiday circumstances.
Week Five (Oct. 23-29) From holiday traffic and unending shopping to extra time spent with extended families, the holidays often create the perfect environment for a believer to grow in patience! Take this week to pray about areas in your life that may need extra patience this season. Ponder the various ways patience is taught in Eph. 4:1-3, 2 Tim. 2:23-25, and Prov. 15:18, and endeavor to apply these truths to your life.
Week Six (Oct. 30- Nov. 5) During this last week in October and first week in November, make kindness the focus of your heart by meditating on Rom. 2:4, Eph. 4:32, Luke 6:35-36, and Prov. 3:3. Pray daily for areas of kindness in which you can grow. Ask God to reveal times in the past where you have been unkind and need to seek forgiveness as well as those in the future when you are tempted not to act in kindness to others.
Week Seven (Nov. 6-12) Most believers would proclaim with the Psalmist “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8), but personal day-to-day goodness is often a more difficult path on which to commit. Read and reflect on these truths from God’s Word and pray that you will be a woman of goodness: James 3:13, Gal. 6:9-10, and Matt. 12:34-36.
Week Eight (Nov. 13-19) This week, meditate on God’s faithfulness to us and His desire for us to remain faithful to Him. As you read though this week’s verses, pray that God will help you remain faithful to him during every season of life. Also, pray specifically for faithfulness during this holiday season (such as remaining faithful to God around unbelieving friends or family). 1 Cor. 1:9, Romans 3:3-4a, Heb. 11:1, 1 Sam. 12:24, and Luke 16:10-12.
Week Nine (Nov. 20-26) Thanksgiving is a special time for remembering all the good things with which God has blessed us; however, Scripture calls us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18), not just the ones we like. As you think on these verses, pray that God will give you a true heart of gratitude in both the enjoyable and difficult circumstances of this season (and in life): 2 Cor. 9:15, Ps. 106:1, Ps. 100:4, 1 Thess. 5:16-18, and Eph. 5:20.
Week Ten (Nov. 27-Dec. 3) For this last week of November and first week of December, allow gentleness to be your mindset and focus. Consider ways that gentleness can turn away wrath in your personal life- maybe with your spouse, children or customers at a job? Meditate on these truths and pray that God will soften your heart to bring forth gentleness: Matt. 11:28-30, 2 Tim. 2:24-25, James 1:19-20, and Prov. 15:1.
Week Eleven (Dec. 4-10) Nobody likes self-control during the holiday season! There are just too many exciting things to buy, eat, and do. However, sin can easily creep into our lives without proper and constant restraint. Read these Scriptures and pray that self-control may be strengthened in your life: Prov. 25:28, 1 Peter 4:7, Titus 2:11-14, Rom. 12:1-2, and 1 Cor. 10:13.
Week Twelve (Dec. 11-17) For those in need, the holiday season can be a very dark and depressing time. Often they lack family and friends, a place to fellowship and celebrate with others, and even food and clothing. Meditate on our calling to help those in need as shown in Prov. 14:31, Prov. 19:17, and Matt. 25:31-46. Pray each day for the poor and for your heart toward those suffering and in need.
Week Thirteen (Dec. 18-24) Christmas can often become a time of competition among people- who has the most beautifully decorated house, how many presents are under the tree, who gets to go where for the holidays... Instead, focus on praying for contentment this week in order to put aside the desire for self, and make Christ and His Gospel the focus of Christmas. Meditate on these passages: Phil. 4:12-13, Heb. 13:5, 1 Tim. 6:6-10, Luke 12:13-21, and Matt. 6:19-21.
Week Fourteen (Dec. 25-31) Merry Christmas! This is the week we get to celebrate the birth of our Messiah! Take time to read through the following passages (in order) and ponder on just what it means that we have been given the Lord of our salvation. Pray this week for Christ’s Gospel message to be spread across the world and for the salvation of the lost. John 1:1-18, Isaiah 7:14 & 9:6-7, Luke 1:26-56 & 2:1-35, Matt. 1:18-25 & 2:1-11, Isaiah 53, and John 3:16.
Week Fifteen (Jan. 1-7) It’s a brand new year and time for resolutions! Pray this week for your upcoming year and resolve to cover 2017 in constant prayer. Meditate on these passages as you consider what lies before you! Phil. 3:7-21, 2 Cor. 5:17, Heb. 12:1-3 & 12-14. It is indeed a Happy New Year for those who are in Christ Jesus!
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “I am your refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though it waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Psalm 46:1-3).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “God’s answer to me when I am crazy busy is brief and straightforward: stop and remember who I am and that I am on your side.”
A GIFT FOR YOU!
If you would like information a sample chapter of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook simply click on “Contact Pat” and request your copy.
Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!