Everyone has a story to tell. When we make the connection between our story and God's great story, we come away with HIStory, which involves each and every one of us.
I have felt The Lord leading me to share a bit more with you of the journey I am on that has ultimately led me to becoming a prayer advocate. Of course there are obvious reasons and let's face it, who isn't a prayer advocate? But this isn't a phase for me, this isn't a momentary habit, desire or hobby. This has truly become a life-changing experience and I feel like I just want to scream from the top of my lungs: PRAYER IS THE ONLY SOLUTION!!! So please allow me to share my journey with you.
I was raised in a Christian home where my parents and family went to church every Sunday, Wednesday and any day in between to fellowship with other believers. In my high school years I attended a Christian school where I was on fire for The Lord and went on mission trips. From a young age The Lord had stirred a love for missions, however, I wasn't all too dedicated to the cause and I was quickly drawn to the world in my college years. I did not attend church all through college and I did not seek out other believers to grow in my relationship with The Lord. I always felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me but I was able to suppress that voice and eventually ignore when He spoke to me. Over time I believe I suppressed Him so much that I did not hear Him so clearly. But God had some big plans for me and He wanted to use me in big ways and I just wasn't listening. Well fast forward a decade later. I'm a wife and mom of 2 amazing, sweet, little girls. Boy did motherhood change me. It was then that I saw the need to teach my girls about God the same way my parents had taught me. I slowly began getting back in the Word - I was hungry after being in starvation for nearly a decade. As I started searching for a church I kept thinking about the girls and how I wanted them to learn more about Jesus and grow in Him - I honestly wasn't even thinking about my growth as much. Well I finally found a church where I had the opportunity to join their Bible study. My walk with The Lord has never been the same.
In the beginning of my second year at Bible study, The Holy Spirit started His great work in me. We began by studying the women of the new testament. It was during my study of Elizabeth that I felt a profound and deep desire and calling to be in seclusion with The Lord as Elizabeth had experienced. When Elizabeth found out she was pregnant with John the Baptist, she went into seclusion as we see Luke 1: 24 NIV says:
"After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion."
Wow! 5 months in seclusion! Her husband, Zechariah could not speak to her for the duration of the pregnancy as The Lord had taken away his ability to speak. Luke 1:20 NIV says:
"And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
So she was in real seclusion not even able to speak to her husband. If we stop to think about what this looks like, it's hard to understand and imagine - especially in this world of over stimulation with all the technology. But you see, Elizabeth needed to prepare for what was to come. Raising John the Baptist was a tall order and it was only through seclusion that they could be prepared - through total meditation on The Lord with zero distractions. There was a clear purpose for Elizabeth's absence from her social life. She was to meditate, pray and prepare for the birth of her child. He would prepare the way for Jesus' coming. This was God's perfect plan! Well as I read this story and studied this notion of seclusion, I knew God was calling me to this. However, little did I know it would be so soon and under what circumstances.
Shortly after praying to God to use me and show me what He wanted for my life, I became ill. The timing did not seem right. I wanted to serve Him and was so ready to be led into a time of blessings and growth. Well that is exactly what happened, however, not in my timing and not in my way, but in His. In October of last year I started my seclusion. I was bedridden for 2 months unable to take care of my girls or my husband. And it wasn't for another 3 months that I was able to get out of the house again. My dear friends, it was a 5-month seclusion plan God had orchestrated for me. But during these 5 months, I felt and lived out His healing power and strength like never before in my life. You see, being in total seclusion allowed me to depend on Him with every breath in my being. From morning to night I prayed, read His Word, and prayed some more. I hit rock bottom 1 month in and remember being on my knees in the bathroom in total desperation. I needed His strength as I didn't even have the energy to walk back to my room. It was in that moment that I received a call from my aunt and uncle and was given this verse: Isaiah 49:10 NIV:
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
And that is exactly what He did - He lifted me up and strengthened me. Each and every time I felt I could not go on any longer, He sent an angel to lift me up. I begged Him to take me on multiple occasions, but He was not done with me yet. I was living out Philippians 1:6 NIV
"being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
When we feel disheartened, frustrated and wanting to give up, God is telling us that He is all we need. He is our strength. As hard as it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel or the logic behind why things are happening to us, God is working, He is not disconnected from us. He is orchestrating a plan for our lives that we could not fathom. This is what He was doing to me. He wanted my eyes fixed on Him. He wanted me in full meditation on Him - in the Word, in prayer. And all while working in me, He was working in the lives of others. This caused every member of my family to be on their knees in prayer, my husband and two daughters, sisters, mom and dad, extended family, friends, churches. I literally had an army of warriors praying - some I have not even met. This is God's master plan, that as a church we intercede for one another. That we love one another and lift each other up. And I truly believe that He is calling His people to prayer. Deep, intimate, on-your-knees prayer from all of you. Now is the time, not tomorrow, not next week. He longs to be near us where He can show us His love and will for our lives. It is in total meditation and surrender to our Lord that He can do His greatest work in us. Let us give Him that. He deserves nothing less than our devoted hearts.
Prayerfully ask The Lord to direct your life. It is never too late to start a life of prayer and meditation in His Word. If you would like to join a weekly prayer group or would like someone to pray for you, please contact me.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Damaris U. Avila lives with her loving husband and their two inquisitive and sweet girls. Through personal storytelling, she invites women to share and see themselves in God's story. She leads young girls through BeYOUtiful Girl Time, a sisterhood where girls are encouraged to become the women God designed them to be.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."