Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5–7 ESV

Those of you who attended our April conference will know that Baptist Women is entering a year-long prayer initiative called Room To Pray:
•    We will publish blogs and resources on this website and articles in live magazine.
•    Our book club list includes Prayer by O. Hallesby.
•    We are encouraging women to set up interactive prayer rooms surrounding LOVE DAY on November 4. We will teach you how to do that too.

Why would we do all that? Because we see God moving this way in ourselves and in many of you. Some of you have already set up prayer rooms or held worship nights, and your response to the prayer conference last November was amazing. Most importantly, we are calling you to pray because prayer is a vehicle for us to genuinely encounter God.

Psalm 84:5 (ESV) says “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” These phrases describe someone who has chosen to regularly set aside their normal tasks in order to go and meet with God. It is not just an external activity, but a dedication deep in their hearts. That pattern of pilgrimage expresses a longing to truly connect with God.

The route is not trouble free. There are times we will pass through the Valley of Baca (the place of weeping). But if we have created a lifestyle of seeking God, then we turn that dry valley into “a place of springs.” In the midst of trial there will be sources of life and refreshment. Eventually the rains will come and cover that dry valley with pools. In other words, even the wilderness place of weeping will eventually receive so much rain from the Spirit that the ground will not be able to absorb it all and standing water will remain on the surface.

Verse seven says, “They go from strength to strength.”  Normally if we walk through a barren place we gradually get weaker. However, if we regularly experience God, we get stronger and stronger—even during difficult times.

Notice that they succeed in their quest: “Each one appears before God in Zion.” Their goal is meeting God. Their method is regularly meeting God.

Let me encourage you to establish many highways of pilgrimage in your hearts.

Notice that the word highways is plural. I am not saying there is more than one way of salvation. God paid a drastic price to make a way through Christ and He doesn’t plan to waste that sacrifice. However, once we are through that gateway, there are a number of ways we can draw near to Him.

Perhaps there are new habits you may want to make:
•    You could make it a habit to call a friend to pray.
•    You can make worship about encounter. Stream a worship set (or put on a CD) but instead of leaving it in the background, use those worship songs to guide you to God. Sing to Him. Recognize the truth about Him that you hear in the words.
•   Consider letting prayer also be a time for listening. Try taking two minutes each day to sit in silence with God. Just invite His presence and then sit quietly. The goal isn’t fireworks—it’s companionship.
•    Perhaps you have a space in your home that you could set aside as a special place for meeting with God. It can be as simple as one chair with a Bible, notebook and something to play music.

When we first come to Christ, the message is often a simple, “Hear and believe.” (John 5:24)

Sometimes it’s good to return to a simple hear and believe.