Working Families - Moms Who Pray
2 Kings 4:1-7
Bonnie Miller tells the story of a woman who filled out the new patient paper work at the Doctor’s office where she worked. When it came to the question of, “What’s your occupation?” the woman replied, I’m a chef, seamstress, chauffeur, referee, accountant, maid, teacher, nurse, archeologist, and psychiatrist.
As Mrs. Miller was putting all of her information into the computer she came to the occupation question and she said that it made her laugh. So she started to translate her answer to homemaker but that just didn’t seem to relate what this mom was actually doing. So in the spot marked occupation she typed, the greatest job in the world.
This morning we are beginning a new series called The Working Family. I hope that we can go from Mothers Day to Fathers Day looking at our families and discuss how we can work together to build the families, community, and Church that God desires for us to have.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I am going to spend this time talking about what’s wrong with our families. While, I'll be honest about what's wrong, I'm much more interested in what makes good families work. And as I was planning this series out I was struck with the fact that this may be one of the dumbest things I've ever done. I mean how can I talk about raising a family while I'm in the middle of doing that myself?
I’m not naive enough to think that I have all the answers. Like everyone of you, I'm making up a lot of this parenting stuff as I go. But I want us to talk about it together, We need to look in the Word and find some principles that will bless our families.
Since, it's Mother's Day, I wanted to start with moms. What's mom's role in the family that works? Look with me in 2 Kings 4:1-7. (Read text).
I like this story. For several reasons. One, it celebrates a committed marriage. The woman in the story is a widow, and while that might not register very large on your radar it says that she was committed to her husband. We know lots of people that see marriage as a convenience and when it stops being convenient then they get out. But in this story we see a woman who really believed that marriage was till death do us part.
Next, I like it because it’s about a preacher's wife. It says that her husband was one of the prophets, but we just call them preachers. This is important to me because of Trista, and for a whole list of women that allow their husbands to do ministry. Women that know what it’s like for the phone to ring at 3:00 in the morning and kiss their husbands good by as they go visit with a family in need. Women who understand that there are things there husbands have experienced and hurts they know about that they can never share. And women who work a full time job, raise a family, and are expected to put in 40 hours with the church as well. I believe that a ministers wife is the most difficult job in the church.
Then, I like this story because it is a practical application of Matthew 6:25-26, "So I tell you, don't worry about the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes. Look at the birds in the air. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds.”
Many times I have been guilty of turning to this text and reading that God sees me and He cares about what’s going on in my life, and then doubting that He sees me or cares. Anyone else have that struggle? I have talked with enough of you to know that we all have at different times in our lives.
But here in this text we see a woman that the world didn’t care about. A woman that really didn’t have much to offer if she had anything to offer at all. But God saw her, God knew her needs, and was willing to take care of them.
Finally, I like it because it's an honest portrayal of a single mother struggling against a stacked deck just to take care of her boys. She's already faced a lot of trials and she's on trial still. Which is a good place for us to think about where we are in the story.
First, I want us to notice that our moms are put on trial every day.
Every advertisement you see shows you these thin, rich, happy, shiny people. Department stores pin the latest fashions on impossibly skinny mannequins who stare past you as if you aren't even there. It's pretty bad when you feel judged by molded plastic. Then, of course, there are the real-live supermodels who weigh in on everything from child-rearing to global warming and always look like they just stepped out of the salon.
But you moms are on trial in other ways. It is easier to get a divorce today than it is to get a gun permit. And there may be good reasons for that. But the easy divorce puts every marriage on edge. Daily news reports of the violence and dangers your kids face present another kind of trial. Some of you are awaiting a diagnosis from a doctor. You're on trial physically. Some of you are on trial economically. Will your company still want you next week? Will there even be a company to work for? You're on trial trying to balance your duties as wife, mom and employee.
Right now, Susan Adams and Brenda Lenard are both running for Congress. They live in different states and one is a Democrat and one is a Republican. Both women have a desire to serve their country, both women want to be involved in the process, and both women are under fire because they are single moms. Their dedication to their children is being questioned by their opponents. On a smaller but more personal scale, every working mother in this room faces that same trial.
Moms, you are like the woman in the story; limited resources, children in danger, trial on every hand. With all the competing demands for your time, your energy, and your passion, what is the role of the mom in the family that works? Obviously, there are many rolls you must fill. But being a size four or a successful entrepreneur isn't one of them. I think this old story helps to focus the job description a bit.
Secondly, we see that the single greatest contribution moms can make to working families is to pray.
This woman was in distress and Elisha told her to ask God for His provision. In his book the Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson tells the story of Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones dies and goes to heaven. In heaven he sees what looks like a huge wear house. He inquires about it, but his guide, Peter, says, "I don't think I'd go in there if I were you." But Mr. Jones insists. Once inside, he sees row after row of boxes with names on them. He finds the "J's" and locates his name.
"What's inside," he asks Peter. "You don't really want to know," comes the reply. But Mr. Jones opens the lid and discovers all the blessings that could have been his if he'd only asked.
Maybe that's why after Elisha told the woman to ask for empty jars, he added, "Don't ask for just a few, ask your neighbors and collect as many jars as you can find. Elisha knew that the God we serve is able to give huge blessings if we are only willing to ask for them. We need to learn to go to God and ask Him boldly for the blessings that He has waiting on his children.
What do you pray for your children? Do you petition God boldly on their behalf? Mom’s I believe that the greatest thing you can do for your children is to pray boldly on their behalf. Don’t just ask that they will get older and still be in church. Pray that they will come to know God in an intimate way. Pray that they will do phenomenal things in His kingdom. Pray that God will use them to change the world.
Don't just pray that your children will be protected. Ask that they will become protectors. Don't just pray that they will be good students. Pray that they will become great teachers. Don't limit their future to merely finding a good job. Pray that they will become good people. Trista and I don’t just pray that the boys will find good Christian wives. I want them to marry beautiful Christian girls who will think their father-in-law is the greatest thing since hair dryers.
We limit ourselves and our families not only because we don't ask but because we don't ask boldly. Somewhere along the way, we gave the women in our lives the impression either from the culture or the church or their families, that it's selfish to boldly ask for blessings. But Jesus said, "Ask and you shall receive." James said, "You don't have because you don't ask." The Bible tells us to ask, moms. So ask. And when you ask, ask boldly.
Prayer does some marvelous things for you and your family. It confesses our limitations. All of us, but especially moms, get into trouble because we are deluded into thinking it's all up to me. That roll is thrust upon us. You saw your mom model it. Your husband and kids and jobs expect it of you and it doesn't take long for you to start believing it.
In the movie Rudy, a freshman who wants to play on Notre Dame's football team asks a priest to help him. The old priest says, "In all my years of ministry I've learned two things; there is a God and I'm not him." You aren't God. It isn't all up to you. Prayer helps you remember that. All you have is empty jars. And that's all God needs.
Finally, we see that Moms who pray are blessed beyond their expectations.
In verse 6 we see that God had filled all of the pots and there was more oil available, but she was not able to accept it and the oil stopped. I wonder what this mom was thinking as the oil poured into the first pot and then the second and then the fifth, and then the tenth. If it were me I would be thinking that surely this has to come to an end, surely God’s blessings can’t continue. But they did, as long as she was able to receive the blessing God continued to bless.
God does the same for us today. Paul writes to the church in Ephesians 3:20, “With God’s power working in us, he can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of.” God is willing to bless us if we are willing to ask Him. And His blessings are greater that anything we can ask for or even imagine.
Can you imagine the scene that is playing out in our text? One by one this woman filled the empty pots. One by one they filled up and were set aside. Can you imagine what she felt like when she took a large pot and filled it from a smaller one and the small one was still full? Can you imagine her frantic efforts at getting the pots filled as quickly as possible?
Finally she began to run out of pots. The empty pots were all full and the oil was still full in the source. God is showing us that we can never empty God’s pot of blessings for your life. His source is never ending. As long as you have room to receive it, he will keep pouring it in. Your ability to handle it and to hold it is the only limiting factor.
I want you to picture this woman receiving God’s blessings looking around the room to find every container she could find. Throw out those flowers and dump the dirt, we can sell the oil but not the dirt! Empty out the trash can and lets fill that too! Empty the bathtub and fill it up, and the oil kept coming and kept coming.
I believe that when she woke up that morning she never imagined that God would bless her through the oil well in a clay pot, but there is was and she had no place left to pour it out for storage. God had supplied her need abundantly more than she had asked or imagined.
A quick Google search found 76 million websites devoted on how to help the working mom’s out there. The one thing we most need, though, is not moms who know how to bake the perfect cookies or juggle career and family or who posses the ability to profile your family's personality types; what we need is moms who pray.
Prayer unleashes God's power for your family. This little story communicates a powerful point; the emptier you are, the more God can bless you. All through the Bible, great women of God acknowledged their limitations and turned to God in prayer. With each of those prayers the power of God was turned on.
Hannah, weeping and childless prayed for a son. God gave her Samuel, Israel's greatest prophet. Hagar, exiled and starving, prayed for protection. God made her son a great nation. And when you look at what God gave Mary, just imagine what she prayed for. She didn't just receive a child who would love her, God gave her one who could forgive her sins and the sins of every human who turns to him.
Questions For You To Consider
Have you ever heard the story found in our text this morning? What are your thoughts about the story?
What do you pray for regularly?
Paul says in Ephesians 3:20, “With God’s power working in us, he can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of.” How does that make you feel?
Do you believe that we in the church are taking that passage seriously?
What was required in our text this morning for God to bless the mom?
What is required of us to receive God’s blessings?
What does 1 Peter 3:12 tell us about God’s response to His people praying?
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
What is our greatest responsibility in prayer?