A “60-minute” reflection (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) and my experience at IHOP, the International House of Prayer, NOT Pancakes

 

 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Today, out of a desire to find a quiet and peaceful space to read, pray, and reflect, I decided to go to the International House of Prayer (IHOP). IHOP is a church model that started in the 1990s, based off of the temple worship in the Old Testament. Their mission comes from Leviticus 6:9, which states: “‘Give Aaron and his sons the following instructions regarding the burnt offering. The burnt offering must be left on top of the altar until the next morning, and the fire on the altar must be kept burning all night.” (New Living Translation)

IHOP has multiple locations. Its headquarters are in Kansas City, Missouri, where it was founded. I visited the house of prayer in New Jersey. Unlike the Kansas City location, which operates 24/7, the NJ location does not–at least, not yet. However, the same motivation applies. People volunteer to lead worship whenever their schedule allows. They have musicians, worship leaders, devotional leaders, intercessors, and people who offer other types of prayer. Anyone can apply as long as their church leadership approves and they are willing to abide by IHOP’s standards of purity, which are pretty much traditional Christian standards of “holiness” and “set-apart-ness.”

I spent a few hours there. My usual devotion schedule involves reading and interacting with a pre-written YouVersion Bible devotional and then just journalling anything that comes to mind. These can be anything from prayers to word studies. Since I had already completed my morning reading, I decided to resume my attempt to read through the Bible in a year. (I don’t know how well I’m doing if I’m in Job and 1 Corinthians at the end of July, though). I read 1 Corinthians 7-14 and focused on 1 Corinthians 7:32, 34-35. Let’s look at it together:

“I want you to be free from the concerns of this life….A woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” –the Apostle Paul, New Living Translation

I’ve always known that I want to serve God, since I was six years old. I suppose if we’re speaking “Christianese,” we could say that I received a call from God to ministry when I was a child, about 18 years ago, but I still haven’t received the professional “call” that happens when someone finally settles into the specific church, missions base, or community that God wants them to serve.

I wanted to be like Anna in the temple, or like David, when he wrote in Psalm 27:4-5 that the one thing he sought from the Lord was to dwell in His house and to “seek Him in His temple.” I wanted to be like an IHOP worship leader. There was something about being in church that I never wanted to leave when I was six. At the time, I think I was associating church with the presence of God. (Now I know that the presence of God is everywhere God’s people are and everywhere He is welcomed).

So, I’ve always wanted to serve God. I’ve always wanted to seek God’s presence. BUT, I’ve also really wanted to be married. Now, considering Paul’s words above, do you see my dilemma?

I’ve had this image in my mind for years–probably since college, maybe even my senior year of high school–of myself and my husband serving God together and raising all 3-5 of our children to seek Him as well. (Yeah…I want a lot of kids. God willing, I hope I can be a good mom). I’ve always admired the couples who lead ministries or do missions together.

What about you? Have you ever planned your family around your call to ministry?

Considering these desires I’ve had since childhood, I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship if it will distract me from my sense of call, which is also my source of joy and fulfillment. If I start dating, and my person of interest doesn’t share my values or my commitment to raising God-fearing children and seeking God together as a family–he ain’t the one.

So, my prayer for myself and any ladies who may come across this blog entry is this:

God, please send us men with whom we can serve You. Men who share our devotion to You and who also prioritize a strong Christian home. We don’t know what You will have us do specifically, where we are called to go, or if we are called to work with a partner. But we pray that You will help us to serve You singlemindedly and wholeheartedly, “with as few distractions as possible.” And for those of us who are not called to marriage, we thank you for the grace to truly give our hearts, bodies, and spirits to your service. Whichever way you would have us serve, we say “Here I am!” Amen. 

God’s heart for you: “Better is One Day” – Trey McLaughlin Cover

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