NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Christians get so bogged down in the questions of prayer that they don’t pray, Fern Nichols told women ministry leaders and potential leaders at the Women’s Leadership Consultation, Feb. 8-10 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
She listed the questions that often distract the woman who wants to pray: “Do I have enough faith? Am I sure all my sins are confessed? I haven’t really prayed in a long time; will God really listen to me? Is it really God’s will?”
“Oh my goodness, just pray!” urged Nichols, president and founder of Moms-in-Touch, International, a ministry uniting moms to meet for weekly prayer for their children and schools.
“Satan wants to get us so confused, but God will help you work it through when you start to pray,” Nichols continued, stating that women must resolve to pray. “Even when you don’t feel like it, pray. Even when you don’t understand all that is involved, pray. Even when you don’t see the consequences you expect, pray.”
Nichols and other women from nationally recognized women’s ministries spoke to more than 200 women from local New Orleans churches and from as far away as Utah and New Hampshire for this year’s annual Southern Baptist seminary-sponsored WLC.
This year’s theme, “Share Life: the life of a woman … poured out into others,” signifying the Titus 2:2 concept of equipping women to reach women, was presented in inspirational plenary sessions, panel discussions and specialized workshops.
“Christian women today have the opportunity to influence generations through the power of prayer and one-to-one ministry,” said WLC coordinator Rhonda Kelley, wife of New Orleans’ Seminary President Chuck Kelley and NOBTS adjunct professor of women’s ministry. “It is such a joy to see women committed to prayer and sharing the love of Jesus with others.”
Noting that a prayer habit is more important than the glow, Nichols reminded WLC participants they are being fashioned into a person who is measured by principles rather than pollsters and by decisions rather than delights.
Why pray? Nichols asked the women, before giving seven reasons.
First, Christians should pray because it brings God glory, she said. Noting Proverbs 15:8, which states that the prayer of the upright pleases God, Nichols said that every time prayer is answered, God is glorified.
Second, Christians should pray because Jesus commanded them to pray. Even the prayers of the most ignorant person have power, Nichols pointed out, citing Jeremiah 3:33 in which God commands his followers to call unto him and he will show them great and mighty things.
Third, Christians should pray because it gives hope, she said, noting that in Hebrews 11 God says he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Fourth, Christians should pray to have fellowship with God Almighty. “The sovereign Lord and creator of this earth is our Dad,” Nichols shared, “and children naturally want to talk to their dad.”
Jesus is asking if he can come in and have dinner with his followers, she continued. “He wants to join us in our lives. He wants to cradle me in his arms.
“There’s just something in my soul that compels me to talk to him,” she said.
Fifth, Christians should pray to follow Christ’s example. What better model and mentor for prayer than Jesus? Nichols asked.
Sixth, prayer is vital to spiritual maturity. “You become like the person you spend the most time with,” she said.
Finally, Christians should pray because it defeats Satan. “The greatest ploy of Satan is to keep us so busy doing wonderful, godly things that we don’t spend time with God,” she said, using the circus hoop-spinning act as an illustration. Christians run back and forth to keep all the hoops spinning and end up being overwhelmed, she explained.
On the other hand, prayer will defeat Satan’s attempts to distract Christians, she said.
“The message is this: God hears our prayers. They are power over Satan,” she emphasized. “Why aren’t we praying?” she asked.