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A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1
Most often I am the one who plays the role of household peacekeeper, Lord. This is a double-edged duty. Not only must I pacify the children and my husband on their bad days, I must also see that I don't contribute to the mayhem through venting my own anger. When we're having a "she hit me first" day, Lord, help me hold my tongue until I can reply with a healing answer, not an angry one. When my husband comes home bristling because something went wrong at work, give me calming words, not words that will hurt or make him even more upset. And when I am angry myself, let me be an example of how to deal effectively with anger. Help me be the peacekeeper, never the one who stirs up more anger.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Ephesians 4:26
Father, You know all about anger, because You have felt it Yourself. What You condemn is not anger itself but the sins anger gives rise to. It's what I do when I am angry that counts. Does my fury make me say words that hurt and will be remembered for years? Is my tone of voice a weapon instead of a healing salve? Do I belittle those I love in the heat of anger? Or do I remain as rational as possible, perhaps retreating until I can discuss the problem in a loving manner? The next time I am angry, I pray You will guide me away from sin until I can speak words of peace and comfort once again. Help me be an example to my whole family.
Over the Top
It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. Proverbs 21:19
Sometimes my anger is so overwhelming that I don't like myself, Father. I hear my voice go up an octave and know I am over the top. The children hear that voice and run for the hills, hoping I will calm down before they get hungry. My husband's face hardens into a mask that tells me he would rather be anyplace but here-even in a desert with no bottled water. I am emotionally alone, and I deserve to be. Lord, I need to ask for forgiveness from my family, to admit that my reaction was extreme, and ask to be let back into the family. Give me the resolve to make things better, to ignore my pride, and to do whatever is needed to make us a family again.
Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
A mother always forgives, Lord, even when the offense seems unforgivable to others. Despite their anger and shame, I'm sure that even the mothers of hardened criminals find a way to forgive their children. We have no choice; we are, first and foremost, mothers. My children deserve my forgiveness, too. They are young, and their sins are small-if irritating-when compared to others' sins. When anyone in my family does wrong, admits the wrong, and repents of the wrong, show me how to follow Your example, Father, and forgive for the sake of Your Son, who came to forgive us all of our sins and make us acceptable in Your sight. May I never hesitate to forgive anyone when You have already forgiven me.
Chapter Two Answered Prayers
But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. Luke 1:13
Zacharias and Elisabeth had waited years for a child, and now they both were old, well past the age for bearing children, no matter how much they wanted one. Then Gabriel, Your messenger, appeared to Zacharias with the good news that the son Elisabeth would bear would prepare the way for the coming of Your Son. Father, sometimes it seems my deepest desires will never bear fruit, no matter how much I pray. I go on with my life, but there is an emptiness in my heart that only You can fill. I know not all prayers are answered, but many are, so I continue to petition You, for You are my hope.
Gabriel and Mary
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:36-37
Gabriel told Mary that she would bear a child by the Holy Ghost-Jesus, the Savior the Jews had waited for. Then he gave her the news that her barren cousin Elisabeth was also pregnant, despite her age. Gabriel's using Elisabeth as an example of Your power must have eased Mary's mind, especially when he concluded, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Quite often I pray for what I know is impossible, Lord. I know that in the best of all worlds, most of my prayers will not be realized. But some will, if they are in Your will for me. For You, nothing is impossible.
Elisabeth and Mary
Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. Luke 1:45
Lord, Your promises never go unfulfilled, if we have faith. Elisabeth and her cousin Mary never doubted the words of Gabriel, Your messenger. A barren woman in her old age and a young virgin would both do the impossible because that was what You wanted of them, and they had faith that You can do anything. The births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were out of the ordinary from the beginning; so were the women who gave them birth. Father, I don't know how You will use my life, but I have faith in Your promises and am always ready to do Your will, no matter how impossible it seems to me at the time.
And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. Luke 1:60
Lord, I remember how eager everyone was to know the names of our babies. Family and friends all had their own ideas, just as Elisabeth's did. They wanted her to name her baby after his father, who deserved to have his name carried on, but Elisabeth insisted the boy be named John-the name You had given him through Gabriel before he was even conceived. Zacharias backed up his wife and obeyed Your messenger: "His name is John." Sometimes I have to go against the wishes of others to do Your will, Father, and it's not always pleasant, but Your wishes come before all others, and I will do my best to honor Your name all my days.
Chapter Three Beauty
And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee.... But thou didst trust in thine own beauty. Ezekiel 16:14-15
Your chosen city, Jerusalem, was beautiful because of Your beauty, Father-a city made perfect through You. Its fame spread throughout the world and, as people often do, its inhabitants began to take credit for the city's beauty themselves, forgetting that its true foundation rested on You and believing that its beauty somehow came through their efforts. I tend to do the same today, taking credit for what I did not create on my own. Please don't let me fall into the trap of false pride. Whatever small beauty I bring into this world is only a tiny reflection of Your beauty, Your creation, Your perfection.
The Person Within
For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
We are too conscious of outward beauty today, Lord. Our singers, our heroes, our role models-even our politicians-are expected to meet certain standards of beauty. Even worse, we instinctively trust the beautiful, never looking beyond their bodies, as though perfect hair indicates a perfect brain or a pure heart. When we stop to think about it, we know this is foolish, but we rarely do think about it. Make me more conscious of this error, Lord. Teach me to look through appearance when I choose my heroes or my husband. A perfect hairdo should not unduly influence me-it may be warming a very small brain. An expensive Italian suit may very well be covering a dark heart. Help me see beyond beauty-or the lack of it.
The Beauty of Holiness
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. 1 Chronicles 16:29
Holiness is true beauty, not what I wear or how my hair is done or how white my teeth shine. Indeed, holiness is Yours, never mine. I am fatally flawed, but I worship One who is perfect in all ways, One whose glory alone is worthy of praise and thanksgiving. There is no beauty compared to Yours, no faithfulness like Yours. The little glimpses of beauty that decorate my life are grains of silver sand at the edge of an incomprehensible ocean of beauty. I only see a grain or two in my lifetime, but it dazzles my eyes and makes me turn away blinking. I worship You in the beauty of Your holiness.
The Work of Our Hands
And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. Psalm 90:17
What I do for a living can be either secular or sacred. The choice is mine. The kind of work I do is not important. I can do anything in a way that glorifies You, Father. A worker in the humblest of jobs is just as capable of demonstrating Your beauty as one in the most exalted of positions. The next time I am feeling unproductive or unappreciated, remind me that I am working for Your glory, not my own. A tiny bit of Your beauty is reflected in my work, whatever it might be. May those I work with always see You in my life and be brought closer to You through me.
Chapter Four Blessing
Mary's Song of Praise
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Luke 1:46-48
Of all the women in the world-young or old, rich or poor, of high status or low-You chose a young girl from an unimportant, backwater province to bear Your Son, our Savior. Her response was, appropriately, a song of joy and praise, one of the most moving prayers in the Bible. Mary understood that You had given her a great honor that would be remembered forever, and she welcomed it-as well as the responsibility that came with it-with joy. You bless my life in many ways every day, Father. May I receive Your blessings with a song of thanksgiving on my lips.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:49-50
Mary realized that her honor was not of her own making but came as a gift from You, Father. All she had done was live in obedience to Your laws the best she could, as had her fathers and those before them since Abraham. You had promised to do mighty things for Your people. Sometimes they had obeyed You and flourished; other times they had followed idols and felt the pain of Your anger. However, Your mercy is always on them who follow You, and their blessings flow from Your constant love. Make me mindful of Your great gifts, Father, that my song may praise Your work in my life.
Scattering the Proud
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. Luke 1:51-52
Mary knew that she was not important in the eyes of the world, not in the ways people usually reckon importance. Pride is of no value. It is a false feeling of righteousness that only lives "in the imagination of their hearts." In choosing Mary to bear Your Son, You ignored the proud and powerful, demonstrating Your love for the unimportant people of the world, those who follow Your ways in spite of the world. Mary claimed no part of Your glory. Help me understand that You value faithfulness and to trust in Your love above all else, claiming none of Your glory as a personal reward.
Excerpted from Prayers And Promises For Women by Toni Sortor Copyright © 2003 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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