The call to pray more, and more specifically, was heard loud and clear by our planning team this year. I shared a bit about our specific prayers in an earlier blog post, you can read it here.
I knew God would answer our prayers for Rise & Shine, but what amazed me is the way praying for these women blessed ME, the pray-er (and others who prayed as well).
“What a wondrous thing it is when God changes us! says Cheri Fuller. “As the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the focus of our lives, the eyes of hearts are opened, and we see more clearly His faithfulness and His loving-kindness…As we walk with Him, talk with Him, and behold Him daily in our lives, transformation comes. We are drawn closer to Him the more we come into His presence to intercede for others - and in His presence is fullness of joy.”
I agree! I have been changed as I’ve prayed for these dear women, and not only that, I have seen His faithfulness displayed clearly as I’ve heard and read the comments women have made about the ways these specific prayers have blessed them. It’s obvious that God guided our hands (just as we asked Him to) to assign their names to the fruit of the Spirit…and guided our prayers to effect them greatly. God revealed Himself in BIG ways…and I am blown away by His GREATNESS! I am blown away with how FAITHFUL He is to answer our prayers! I am blown away with what a PERSONAL, LOVING Father He is to each of us!! He knows each of us personally and knew right where our names needed to fall on that list…including my own!
I realize that we will probably never know on this side of Heaven about all of the seeds that were planted at Rise & Shine. I believe God was at work in mighty big ways! And I don’t need to see all of it to believe it. However, I did ask God to show us some very obvious answers to our prayers (like He did with the fruit of the Spirit prayers) so that we would know He heard, He answered, that He is faithful…and so that we could give Him all the glory. He did! He is faithful to answer!
We asked God to draw women by His Spirit to Rise & Shine…not a particular number of women, just every woman that needed to be there. There were women there from every part of the state of Iowa and also women from Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, one from Indiana (my mom!) and one from Nebraska who specifically told me that she felt drawn to attend Rise & Shine! :) It’s not about numbers, but it’s about having the opportunity to minister to women. God is faithful to answer!
We prayed that when women walked through those front doors that morning that two things would be felt strongly there His love and His Holy Spirit. Although we wanted the retreat to be full of depth, we also wanted the women to feel loved on by providing fun things like flavored coffees and cappuccinos, homemade cinnamon rolls, comfy seats, chocolate and pretty decor. I am in awe of God’s goodness as I’ve heard women say that they felt pampered by all the details, were blown away by the love they felt there and how the Holy Spirit was felt so strongly that it couldn’t be denied. Thank you, Lord! You are so faithful to answer!
We asked the Lord to draw women into a closer relationship with Him at Rise & Shine. In the first morning session, our fabulous guest speaker, Lysa TerKeurst, shared her very powerful life testimony. Lysa clearly pointed women toward God. At the end of this time she asked women who had never entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to do so. Each time a woman raised her hand to let Lysa know they had made a new commitment she acknowledged them by saying, “To God be the praise.” I sat at my table with my head down listening to her say, “To God be the praise” over and over and over…31 times she said it. Tears flowed from my eyes as I realized that each, “To God be the praise” represented a brand new life for one precious sister. Later, Lysa told us that she didn’t even say, “To God be the praise” for every woman who raised her hand. This blew us away! How overwhelming! Truly to God be the praise!! God is faithful to answer!
Lysa TerKeurst’s second talk was titled "Prayer-full"! When we first started planning this event and felt the call to pray, pray, pray, we didn’t know Lysa would be speaking on being “Prayer-full,” a talk based on I Thessalonians 5:16-18. Nope, we found this out just a couple of weeks before the retreat. As a few of us met to pray a few days before the retreat, I read the entire chapter of I Thessalonians 5 aloud. Imagine our delight as we realized the chapter surrounding Lysa’s talk mentioned EVERY ONE of the fruit of the Spirit. It boggles my mind to think of how God prepared us and all of the women who attended Rise & Shine through prayer for this Spirit-led message from Lysa TerKeurst. How cool is that? We didn’t know what Lysa would speak about. Lysa didn’t know what we were praying about. He knew!! He is faithful to answer our prayers as we are obedient in the asking! (P.S. I want to share more about Lysa’s “Prayer-full” talk in another post soon. Lysa spoke Truth straight to our hearts! The Lord is really blessing Lysa and her ministry as she conintues to obey and follow His lead. Fabulous!).
At the end of the day we asked the women to write a letter to themselves expressing what they had learned at Rise & Shine. We then asked them to seal up those letters, address them to themselves and bring them to the front. They left their letters there and picked up “a letter from God” (a few sentences taken from scripture…along with the scripture reference) to take back to their seat with them. We will mail the letter they wrote to themselves back to them sometime in the days to come. It’s going to be so cool to hear how the Lord uses their own words to remind them of His faithfulness! It has already been so neat to hear from women that the “letter from God” they picked up was just the “right one” for them. This was true for me personally as well! God is faithful to answer!
We prayed that God would be in every part of Rise & Shine…and He revealed Himself in every detail! I was amazed by the way He was seen and heard in the words of Lysa TerKeurst as she shared with us 3 times, the worship team, the smooth transitions of the sound and production people (and all the working equipment), the special music providers, the prayer room, the mouth-watering lunches from Scratch Bakery (you ain’t never had a cupcake ‘til ya had one from there!!), the wonderful volunteers who gave of their time, the beautiful décor, the “breakout reflections” time. Yes, His glory was revealed through every detail…big and small; through the talents and time given to honor Him! When we do the work He asks of us, He is faithful to answer!
On Monday, after the retreat, Lysa TerKeurst shared on her blog a story that she shared with us at Rise & Shine Women’s Retreat (and mentioned meeting some of us crazy women who live amongst cattle and fields and 45 miles from Wal-Mart! hee hee) Her post was titled, “Our Job is Obedience. God’s Job is Results.” Oh, how true! Oh, how appropriate! As we’ve been obedient to follow God’s promptings in our hearts, He has been faithful to answer! Thank you, Lord, for working through so many people to make Rise & Shine happen. The results are Yours and we are thankful!! To God be the glory!!
Rise & Shine was a lot of work, but it’s such a privilege to have a “front row seat” to bask in God’s glory…to see direct answers to our prayers, how God blessed women and every part of the day!
I’m now praying that each seed that was planted at Rise & Shine, whether it be a new commitment or a deepened revelation of who He is, will be watered and come to full fruition in the lives of the women who attended. I pray that all of us will remember that "rising" up to who God created us to be and "shining" His light with our life is more than a one day event! And I know God definately is faithful to answer!!
Is God asking you to be obedient in a certain area in your life right now? What is God prompting you to do? What BIG thing are you praying for right now? God is faithful to answer when our requests are pleasing to Him and we come to Him in faith believing!! Go to Him and keep going to Him again and again…leaving the results in His hands!
And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. I John 5:14-15
A few more personal notes (I just can't stop!!):
I loved the personal connections that I made with other women and the connections I saw others making! This was an answer to prayer. He is faithful to answer!
I loved how God prepared me as a breakout facilitator…I didn’t know how to prepare, but EVERY subject that came up during that time was something He had been working on in my heart in the days prior. WOW! He revealed Himself to me personally in that way as well! He is faithful to answer!
As we gathered in the prayer room to pray on Saturday morning, one of the gals from the prayer team said something like, “Before this day is over, this is going to be Holy Ground! They’re going to want to take their shoes off when they walk in here.” I thought, “Wow!” and said a quiet prayer in my mind that those words would be true. At the end of the day, a new friend of mine said to me, having NO IDEA what was said earlier that day, “Earlier when I walked in here (the prayer room) the Holy Spirit was so strong that it about knocked me off my feet. I felt like I needed to take off my shoes. This is Holy Ground!” Wow, wow, wow! God, you are so good!! You are faithful to answer!
Sorry this is soooo long, but I have so much to say…so much more I could share, but I have to stop somewhere. More to come soon.
Thank you, LORD, for the way you work and move in our very ordinary, very real lives! I am amazed and blessed to be part of something so beyond me!! Thank you for hearing us and being faithful to answer our prayers!!