So first let’s get a little backstory on this time that Naomi is living in.
Naomi was married to Elimelech and they had two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. They were an Israelite family that lived during the time of the judges. So we know from Judges 21:25 that there was no king and people lived as they saw fit. Basically they just did what they wanted to. Well because of this God had placed a famine on the land where they lived which was Bethlehem. So the very place that some hundreds of years later Jesus would be born is the place they decided to leave. Not only did they pick up and leave but they moved about 40 miles east of the Dead Sea to Moab, a city completely opposite from Bethlehem. The Moabites served little g gods. The main one they worshiped was Chemosh. So just to give you a quick comparison of this god they served you can consider him very similar to Baal who was another little g god worshiped by the Canaanites. Have you heard the phrase “Baal worship”? Well just like Baal worship the worship of Chemosh was an abomination and it’s recorded in 2 Kings 3:27 that he even demanded human sacrifice. So Elimelech and Naomi took their two sons and the city of Bethlehem where they worshiped our God with a big G and they left for Moab. Smart decision? or no? Yeah probably not. They basically stepped out of the will of God instead of prayerfully seeking Him to end the famine and continue alongside their relatives.
So to run through the story in a nutshell. They move to Moab. Elimelech later dies of an unknown cause. Her two sons then marry Moabite women (Ruth and Orpah). After being in Moab about 10 years both of her sons die as well. Naomi hears that the Lord has blessed the land and she decides to return back to her homeland of Bethlehem. She demands for her daughter-in-law’s to stay in Moab with their families. Orpah agrees and returns. Ruth doesn’t. They return with nothing. Ruth goes to a field to glean wheat. Boaz discovers Ruth and takes kind to her. Naomi directs Ruth in what to do in regards to Boaz. Boaz is the family redeemer and does what he needs to marry Ruth. He marries her and they have a child called Obed. Obed is the grandfather of David who is in the direct lineage of none other than Jesus!
So now you have where they were at. You can kind of see what Naomi was dealing with in that season of her life. Read the Book of Ruth here!
During this study we are going to breakdown three characteristics of Naomi and the woman that she was. Today we learn about the first characteristic…you ready? Let’s do this!
- Naomi was a praying woman
Naomi means “my joy” or another phrase was “pleasantness of Jehovah”. From what we read about Naomi she was rooted deep in her faith. She was a strong woman who was well loved by the people of Bethlehem. We see at the end of chapter 1 when she returns to Bethlehem the people were stirred and they shouted with excitement. Can this be Naomi?!?! Also Ruth wouldn’t leave her for her own family. This says something about Naomi’s character and the person she was.
Times of prayer: (Watch the transition of how her heart was breaking during this)
- To be a woman of this time and going through a famine with two sons I can imagine she was praying to God for some relief. Praying that there would be enough food on the table. Praying they would survive. Naomi was also a positive influence on the other women in Bethlehem and was able to pray and lift them up during the famine as well.
- Women of this time followed their husbands lead without question. So when Elimelech made the decision to move the family to Moab, Naomi would have prayed hard about it. Is this the right thing? Watch over and protect us God.
- Elimelech, her husband, dies. Her very heart and soulmate that she would obviously follow anywhere is now gone. Her heart was crying out to God for peace and comfort in such a hard time.
- Both sons die. We don’t know the reason but I cannot imagine as a parent having one child die but to have both of them. To be left with no husband and no children. I am sure she was asking why God. Why me?
- Tells her daughter in law’s to leave. She prays for them. “8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.” To be left without a husband and without any sons but then to tell probably the closest two women to you to leave and go back to their families must have been hard.
- The trip back home. This was a 40 mile trip that could take anywhere from 5-7 days. She was determined to do it alone. For a woman in this time to make a trip like that alone was very very dangerous. Thieves would hide in the bushes ready to attack and being a woman what they would possibly do to her was horrendous.
- Literally left with nothing other than what she had on and could carry with her which probably wasn’t much. She went from having it all to nothing. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Naomi was broken and buried in defeat. But she states specifically that the Lord has brought her back.
So we can see that there were several different opportunities and several emotional/physical changes that Naomi prayed through. During every challenging circumstance she was faced with she stayed in communication with God. She faced the consequences of her family’s sin however God never left her. He was always with her.
So as women today why is prayer important and how can we make sure we are doing it right? Well obviously it’s important because if you are a blood bought believer of the Lord Jesus Christ we are called to be in constant communication with Him.
Basically #1 is do it! He calls us to pray and be open with Him. Yes He knows our thoughts and desires but He wants to hear it from us. I am so guilty of making the statement “God knows the desires of my heart.” Well yes He does but He wants to hear you request them and He wants you to take time to make them known to Him. We as women today have become lazy. Now don’t take offense and let me explain. I’m going to be speaking on women as a whole so you may be on either end of the spectrum or you may be in the center. Wherever you are we can always be better. So take it as that. As women today we are busier than ever. Yes I know I just said women have become lazy but with work, family, activities, church, hobbies, volunteering, this/that. We live in a go, go, go society. We are constantly transitioning from one thing to the next and we are leaving out that crucial time with God. That is where we have become lazy! Y’all I’m speaking to myself here. You may be sitting there and thinking well I spend my 15 minutes in prayer so she ain’t talking to me. Well think again. Ok! Time to get real.
Mark 1:35 – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Matthew 14:23 – After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
Luke 6:12 – One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
I have to assume that Jesus didn’t walk off to a solitary place or up a mountainside to pray for just 15 minutes. Now I’m not saying you need to spend the majority of your day in prayer.The line of communication should always be open, yes, “pray without ceasing” it’s biblical. We as daughters of the King have got to stop, slow down, and make our requests known to Him. We have to spend quality alone time with our Father. Now that could be 15 minutes if it’s literally all you can spare. But I challenge you to do more. 30 minutes, an hour. Start where you are and try to add 5 minutes a day or if you don’t transition that fast add 5 minutes a week. Try it and I guarantee you that you’ll begin to notice a difference. You’ll have more peace, more calmness, and you’ll be more relaxed in your day to day.
So yes spending time with God is crucial but we have to make it count. Going to God with our same ol’ repetitive prayers of “Thank you Lord for this day, allow me to follow you and point others to you. Keep me humble. Watch over my kids, my husband, and my family.” Blah Blah Blah. Yes we need to pray those things but we need to get specific. How thankful are you? How are you going to follow Him and what are you struggling with that has hindered that? What is causing you to not be humble? What do you want for your kids, your husband, your family. I won’t go over the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) prayer agenda but we have become hurried in our prayers and I completely 100% believe that our daily walks are suffering because of it. I may go even as far to say the daily walks of those around us are suffering as well. We have gotten our priorities flipped upside down and it has to change.
So lastly on this I want to share something I personally do and I would like to challenge you to do it as well. Write them down. No not every single prayer. But the ones where your heart is broken. Where you are truly struggling with something. When you are standing at that crossroad and you are pouring out to God for guidance. Also when you have praise in your heart for what is happening. Trust me. Being able to go back and look at them and how God answered them will encourage you like no other. I have prayers written down from our time of struggle and decision when we were at the crossroad with moving to Nashville. I look back at those now and see from the beginning our indecisiveness and our concerns. I see how I poured those out to God. He answered each and every one in one way or the other. For that I am so grateful and thankful. So try it and see what happens.
Til next time….Blessings y’all!