Let me introduce you to my friend, Carol. Carol Kent's love for the Lord and her passion for equipping, encouraging, and empowering people to live for things that matter shines through. Her readers are irresistibly drawn to see God’s astonishing “grace places” in the middle of their roadblocks. A sought-after speaker and teacher, Carol is the author of many books including her latest, Unquenchable. Carol and her husband live in Tampa, Florida. I had the privledge of meeting Carol at an Extraordinary Women event this spring.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I've invited friends to share their words in this space as we explore the mysteries of prayer during the Summer Bible Study.
by Carol Kent
As a teenager I wanted to live for something that would outlast my life.
I remember saying, “God, I’ll do anything for you.” After I graduated from college and got married, I began a home Bible study. A couple of years later I was directing women’s ministries in a large church, followed by an opportunity to teach a city-wide Bible Study Fellowship class.
But in the middle of saying, “Yes” to a speaking ministry, I was stopped in my tracks when my only child, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was arrested for a serious crime.
Suddenly, I felt like my once vibrant faith was turning into an ash heap as I wrestled with God over why he would allow something so devastating to happen.
I had prayed for my son since he was in my womb. I covered him with prayer as he grew. I tucked him in and prayed aloud over him, asking God to use him in a powerful, transformational way for his glory. But he made a devastating choice and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Didn’t God hear my prayers over the years?
How about you?
Do you sometimes wrestle with disappointment with God, deep discouragement, or diminished trust in God’s faithfulness when he appears he is not answering your prayers? Each one of us has our own trigger points for what wears us down to the point of feeling like the fire of our faith is going out. For some, it might be great personal loss or a series of losses; for others, it might be the burnout of working hard in business or ministry without visible results or much-needed breaks. Sometimes it’s dealing with debilitating health issues, or even handling the “daily” part of life. We don’t intentionally let our faith turn into a small flicker; we simply and slowly quit talking to God.
Here are 7 Steps to Connect with God:
1. Identify the current state of your faith.
Is it an early spark, just beginning to flicker? A raging bonfire? Smoldering coals? Does your love for God burn so brightly that others are drawn to the radiance and warmed by its heat?
2. Embrace the power of embers.
I used to think of embers as the sad remains of a dying fire. However, embers are the glowing, hot coals that remain after a fire. If you’ve experienced a personal firestorm that threatened to quench your faith, ask the Holy Spirit to blow on the embers of your faith as you hang your weakness on his strength.
3. Document what God has done.
Every time I get discouraged, I’ve started listing what God has done in the past and it reminds me that even if my current challenging circumstances don’t change, he’ll walk with me through the heat of the crisis.
4. Remember your first spark of faith.
I came to know Jesus when I was five years old. Remembering that day reinforces my desire to stay close to him.
5. Tend the fire of your faith.
I’m learning that prayer is much more than me talking to God. I write out verses and listen to his voice. Right now, a verse I’m memorizing is Rom. 12:11-12: “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times…” I have a friend who challenged me to plan DAWG Days (Day-Alone-With-God Days). She encouraged me to plan ahead for a full day, or even a half-day when I could go to a quiet place (a park, a library, or any place where I wouldn’t be interrupted) with my Bible, a devotional book, and a journal. I read God’s Word and then wrote out what I believed he was saying to me.
6. Pierce the darkness.
Matt. 5:14 says, “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.” Begin doing one tangible act of kindness for someone else every day. (Examples: offer to babysit for a single mom so she can have a break; visit an inmate in a jail or prison; take a meal to a friend who is recovering from surgery (or send a gift card); or pray with someone who needs encouragement (over the phone, via a text message, or through an email).
7. Develop unquenchable faith.
Wildfire faith springs from God’s Word and burns itself into your own story. As you ask him to give you a passion for living for things that matter, act on what you know to be true about God. Review his attributes and his names aloud and worship him.
Does prayer work?
Yes, but I’m learning that God often answers my prayers in a different way than I expected.
Instead of getting what I prayed for—that my son would receive an eventual end-of-sentence date, God is freeing him to be a missionary on the inside of a maximum security prison—teaching, mentoring and using his leadership skills to positively impact other inmates by introducing them to a faith that endures.
When firestorms come, keep open communication with God and be assured that when the fire of adversity meets the God of the Flame—He wins…and so do you!
This week, we're giving away THREE copies of Unquenchable: Grow a Wildfire Faith that Will Endure Anything by Carol Kent.
We all have a choice to make. Go through life lukewarm and half-hearted. Or, begin a burning, lifelong passion for Christ.
How much do you want a faith that endures?
Throughout history God has chosen fire to represent his awesome power, his judgment and wrath, his protection, and his Shekinah glory: the flaming sword guarding Eden, the burning bush, the pillar of fire, the fiery furnace, the chariot of fire, the burning coal, the flame upon the altar, the lake of fire, and the flaming eyes of the Son of Man upon the throne---these are only a few of the images he has seared into our minds that we might know him more fully.
God is the source of that first flicker that sparked your faith and one day you will stand in his holy presence, look into the flaming eyes of Jesus, and see his burning love for you face to face. But between that first flicker and that heavenly meeting, there is life to be lived on this earth. The challenge we all face is that life can dim our fire or even quench it, whether by the soggy mist of the mundane, or the quenching downpour of crisis.
Author and speaker Carol Kent will take you into God’s word, and into your own story, to reveal the true power of the fire God has placed in you, to fan the flames of your faith, stir your passion, and embolden you to spark wildfires that will spread to forever change the landscape of this world beyond your wildest imagination. God’s fire is in your life. Fan the flames. Burn brightly. Start a wildfire!
To win, click here to leave a comment on the original blog post at MargaretFeinberg.com. The three winners will be selected and announced on Friday.
Congratulations to the winners: Judy Wesson, Gina McIver, LaDonna English