Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
Happiness is how I felt every day. I played worship music in my house. I had Bible lessons in my home. I went to church all the time. I hosted the women’s church meetings in my home. I read my Bible. I attended conferences. I started an online prayer group. I made new friends at my church. My energy for God drew people to me. All I talked about was God. I beamed with confidence, and my confidence in God inspired others.
Then, one day – everything changed. It was a beautiful sunny morning. The kind of morning where the blue sky is overpowering. There wasn’t a cloud anywhere. You could tell it was primed to be a glorious day. I walked outside to get something – and there it was, a note posted on our door. It was a note informing me that our house was being sold at a public auction in four weeks. We had been working with a company who assured us everything was fine. Shock was an understatement.
1 Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.”
That day it became evident to everyone that my gospel walk was nothing but a show of words. I completely lost all control of my emotions. I panicked. I was angry. I yelled and screamed. The new friends, the ones I inspired, saw the real me. The one who was throwing a “Christian” party every day, – yet had no concept of how to deal with life struggles.
The situation left me like a basket-case. I stopped all Bible studies. I stopped having the women church meetings. I couldn’t read my Bible with any hope. My appearance even changed.
When I think back on it – I’m amazed at my behavior. I mean seriously, we’re talking about a house; – a tangible replaceable item. Now, I’m not making light of losing a home, because at that time in my life, the situation hurt deeply. It embarrassed us. The memories we had and the hope we had for our future home had slipped away.
But what it all boiled down to was – I had no faith in God. With all my Christian activities, I had never developed a solid prayer life. I never understood spiritual warfare. I did not understand how to hear God – or be guided by His Holy Spirit. I had assumed that all my “works” would put an imaginary hedge around me to protect our family from any wrongdoing. However, the truth is, I had NEVER allowed Jesus Christ to have an impact in my life. I was still living in the world. I was still thinking God showed His love through “things”. My so-called prayer life was all about me – not about God. And certainly not about anyone else.
Acts 9:11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul, for he is praying.”
Let us recall from this verse that this is right after Saul (Paul) had been severely persecuting Christians. He was breathing out murderous threats to them. While on the road to Damascus, he met Jesus Christ and became blind through a brilliant light. Then, only a few days later, while still blind – he was praying. Can we wrap our minds around this? He was killing Christians who worshipped Jesus Christ only a few days earlier, now he is praying to God! Jesus Christ made such a profound impact in Paul’s life from the beginning – that prayer became his lifeline to God!
To Paul, prayer became thanksgiving, intercession, and the realization of God’s presence. The Holy Spirit assisted him as he sought God’s will. My prayer life was shallow at best. It was about what I wanted. It was about my goals and dreams. I lived in a little Christian bubble against an entire world who needs Jesus Christ. And I had no idea how to pray for my life, or that of anyone else.
Acts: 14:23 “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church, and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust. “
My shallow prayer life changed dramatically when I started to die to my flesh every day and live for God. Through more increased personal Bible study, Jesus Christ now meant everything to me. What God wanted, I wanted. What God called me to do – I did it. When I met opposition and suffering – I prayed, and I continued to pray, study, and live with His hope! I no longer sat in my closet crying to God about all of my problems. Instead of my 10 minute prayer meeting with God, I began to wake up at 3:00am to pray for an hour. I started praying for the men in my community to be men of God. I started praying for godly church leaders, city leaders, and our government. I started praying for schools to be protected from violence – for women and children to be protected from harm – and for the police, who are here to serve and protect. I started worshipping God more through prayer. I would ask God questions and listen for His responses. Prayer became so much a part of my life that if I didn’t hear my clock going off, or if my children woke up while I was praying – I’d become disappointed for missing that time with God.
As my prayer life grew, I was finally understanding sacrificial prayer. Have you ever prayed and fasted for someone you don’t know? I did. Two men at my church, whom I’ve never met, have serious forms of cancer. Both men serve in major roles within the church. The pastor referred to them as both wonderful, sweet, godly men. I felt a huge burden to fast and pray for them. I fasted my evening meal for a week. It was hard. I felt hunger pains every night. But I kept saying “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). You see, this verse is about the Kingdom of God – not about my personal aspirations. All I could think about were these two men. What if they are completely healed? What if they continue to serve God? What if they continue to live and be husbands, dads, and grandfathers? What if this is what God is saying when He says, “pray without ceasing!” Not just for my life – but for the Body of Christ!
What’s my evening meal (filled with calories and fat anyway) compared to these two godly men continuing to live serving God?
Oh Lord, help us. We cannot continue to live our lives consumed with our goals, our dreams, and our issues. We need each other. Help us to be prayer warriors – for real! Help us to stop searching for superficial happiness, and help us seek You every day through prayer. Help us learn to stand firm on your Word when we battle spiritual warfare. Help us to be guided by your Holy Spirit. Lord, help us to hear your voice, because Lord, you are always speaking. Help us Lord – to pray for your Kingdom to come and your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, I pray you speak directly into the heart of whoever needs to hear You today!
*In closing this blog is merely my walk and growth with God. In no way do want anyone who reads this to feel they are not good enough if they do not wake up to pray at a certain time. Or pray the way I pray. This post is my effort to inspire you in your walk with God, in whatever capacity that may be* Blessings, Saleama A. Ruvalcaba