Do not be anxious about
anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your
requests to God.Philippians 4:6
I rest my worries in constant prayer
LORD, I confess that I can cite Philippians 4:6 quite easily but it is the actual doing that I struggle with. In fact, when I get very distressed, I forget about you and turn inward to try and solve my problems. Or I call friends and family to lay all my worries upon. Too often it seems you are my last gasp when all else fails. Thank you for giving us your Son to remind us that you are the only source we need to turn to in times of trouble. With His guiding words I will place you front and center of my difficult situations. Through constant prayer and communion with You I will find everlasting peace. I lift this up in Jesus’ name. Amen
My ever-positive husband used to call me his “woulda, coulda, shoulda” wife. It confounded him how often I could worry about something I just did or said, something I was about to do, or something I needed to say or do. Peace can be as elusive to me as the Loch Ness monster is to photographers.
I can even carry over all this worry to purchases I made or need to make. My kids know quite well the meaning of “buyer’s remorse” because I would buy a blouse, bring it home, and then fret over whether or not I should’ve bought it. At times, I’d have buyer’s remorse before I even left the store.
Nowadays my frets and anxieties rest in bigger issues such as the state of our country or my children’s future. And yet, there’s little to nothing I can do about any of it.
Can any one of you by worrying
add a single hour to your life?Matthew 6:27
This verse hits home for me. I’ve spent a lot of precious God-given hours worrying – about things I did and didn’t have control over. On the outside, I appear to be a decisive person. But on the inside I worry about hurting people’s feelings, whether or not I “did the right thing,” am I being a good enough friend/wife/mother. And on and on.
But I’m done. In human years I’d say on average I have about 148,920 days left in my life, if all goes well. Of course, I could be called to God tomorrow. And worrying won’t add any more time. In fact, worrying will take away some of that time. I’ve got a lot left to do here on this planet – weddings, births, travel, great meals to eat, and kisses I still want from my husband. I don’t want to waste another day keeping my worries from God’s capable hands.
I tried this plan out the other day. I said a small conversational prayer to God: “God, I don’t want to think about this for one more minute! Please take it off my mind and off my desire to even want to think about it.” About an hour later I suddenly realized I had forgotten all about that particular concern. I didn’t feel that familiar lurch of my emotion to grab it back.
Friend, the gift of peace is right up at the top of precious God gifts. I want more of it and less heart wrenching, mind scrambling worry. With putting God front and center of each and every situation I know the scales will be tipped toward peace.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
To the weak I became weak,
to win the weak. I have become
all things to all people so that
by all possible means I might
save some. I do all this for the
sake of the gospel, that I may
share in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:22-23
A prayer that I would share the Gospel with others
Merciful God, your Word has healing power for the sick and your Word gives hope to the downtrodden. Your promise of eternity is a promise for all who believe. But I allow my worries and my fears about worldly judgement guide my discipleship. I keep your holy and powerful gifts to myself, not sharing them with those who need them. LORD, our one true purpose here on earth is to serve you and by doing so we are asked, even required, to speak of you to all who will hear. Help me to succumb to your strength and guidance rather than that of the world. I know you will put the right words in my mouth at the right time. I just need to be willing to speak them. Each day place someone who needs to hear from you in front of me. With the strength of the Holy Spirit urging me on I will be faithful in spreading your gospel of Good News. In Jesus name, Amen
A few years ago, my husband and I led a Bible study of about ten Christians. Inevitably the topic of sharing the gospel arose. All but two people felt uncomfortable with this subject. Those two people had their own techniques or gifts when discussing their faith with others. One was able to employ a lot of clean humor while the other was comforting and sincere. The other members of the group, just like other Christians I’ve encountered, didn’t see sharing the gospel as a requirement of being a Jesus follower. And yet, isn’t that what the entirety of the New Testament is really about?
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signsthat accompanied it.Mark 16:20
One of the group, whose husband loved sharing the gospel, went so far as saying that sharing the gospel was too pushy. Like being a used car salesman. It wasn’t her “right” or “place” to share the message of God’s love and salvation. And while you may scoff at her, she’s not alone.
I had us do an unusual activity that night to try and get people more comfortable about what sharing the gospel really looks like. Hint: it’s not standing on a street corner screaming “the end is near!” I paired everyone up and gave them a scenario to act out with each other – a role play. For example, one pair were to be a couple of longtime friends. Friend A, the non-Christian, was to share a problem that she kept having over and over and over. Nothing she did seemed to work to fix it. And the other, Christian friend B was to share the way her faith had helped in a similar situation. Sounds simple enough. But boy did that make people uncomfortable.
If we cannot figure out how to infuse our everyday conversations with our faith, why do you think God will give us the responsibility of helping Him save a soul?
As we found out in 2020 being a Christian cannot be limited to a Sunday church service. Because that church might be taken away from you at any time. Our friends need to know we turn to prayer when we are in distress. They need to hear us talk about God’s promises. They should see us acting in Christ-like ways. And when we fail to obey God, they must hear us ask for forgiveness. That, my friends, is sharing the gospel. At home, with our neighbors, at work, while we volunteer, at school and wherever we live our lives.
Our personal testimony of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness of sins is the gospel. It’s not a bunch of fancy words. And if the fear of being asked a tough question about God holds you back, just remember we can say the magic words: “I don’t know. I just have faith.”
I for one, am asking God to place people in my life that He can trust that I will speak the words He wants me to speak. We should wake up every day asking Him to give us the opportunity to speak in His name.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
Be completely humble and gentle;
be patient, bearing with one
another in love.Ephesians 4:2
A prayer to be a patient person
Faithful Father, I get so caught up in the busyness of life that I forget that my needs and desires are not the same as everyone else’s. When I’m running late, I want to yell at the drivers in front of me for not moving quickly enough. The slow grocery store bagger receives my glare when she doesn’t work at the same speed which I expect. Or when a friend doesn’t respond to my text as prompt as I need, I get frustrated. I’ve come to realize, LORD, through your holy Word that my impatience is an outgrowth of my lack of humility. Your admonishment to love one another needs to be on my lips when I feel that frustration and anger well up inside me. LORD, I know there is nothing more important to you than having your children express compassion and love for each other. Rest your loving hand on my shoulder as a reminder for when I forget this. Quell my impatient heart and mind and replace it with grace. In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.
When my children were younger, I found myself praying daily for patience. My youngest had the unique ability to press all my “hot buttons” at one time. But patience seemed to allude me. I heard a pastor during this time give the advice to stop beating our heads against the wall if something we prayed for wasn’t manifesting and to pray for something else. It made me realize that maybe God wasn’t answering my prayers because He had other work still to do in me.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve finally come to realize, through God’s nudging and conviction, that I first needed to figure out why I was always so impatient. And as the verse in Ephesians today tells us we need to be “completely humble and gentle.” It was a hard pill to swallow when I pulled back the curtain to see my inner Wizard of Oz working away trying to control everything. And when people aren’t acting as I want them to, I become angry and impatient.
Whoever is patient has great
understanding, but one who is
quick-tempered displays folly.Proverbs 14:29
Great understanding. Understanding of our why’s – not just because we obviously have somewhere much more important to be than everyone else – but our “why” of why we think that. Why do we think our time and our talent or even treasure is so much higher on the scale of importance that we need to tap our feet in obvious disgust? Or we need to blare our horns and use our fingers in un-godly ways. If we are late, who’s fault really is it? If we are up against a deadline, who needs to truly take responsibility for that situation?
God’s Word is great at convicting, correcting and revealing our “why’s.” The next time you find that old foe called “impatience” welling up inside you stop and dig deeper. Pull back the curtain on your wizard and ask God to show you what’s causing so much distress. He will show you. And then He will test you, over and over.
If we all can learn, through a renewed humbleness, to be patient and bearing with one another in love just think how much kinder this world will feel. I’m asking God to start with me.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
I have told you this so that
my joy may be in you and that
your joy may be complete.John 15:11
A prayer to live a joy-filled life.
Gracious God your gifts and blessing to me cannot be counted. And yet so often I turn to the negative parts in my life and place my constant thoughts in them. When I rise I forget to be thankful that I have yet another day in which to serve you and be blessed by you. And as I go about my day when you place joyful moments at my fingertips I take them for granted. When I lay my head down to sleep I can easily recall all that went wrong in the day rather than what went right. But your joy is there for the taking. I want to live basked in your greatness, your beauty and your joy. I can and will, with your help, find joy in every circumstance. You are working for my good at all times and I just need to remember that promise. Thank you for giving us your Son who implanted the Holy Spirit in us – a spirit of joy and of goodness. I pray this in your Son’s Holy name, Jesus. Amen
I always called her a Pollyanna. The term comes from the movie of the same name in which a young girl arrives at a small town filled with bitter people. But her neverending, cheerful spirit wins them over. Nowadays, a “Pollyanna” seems to be said as a negative. That, along with wearing “rose-colored glasses” are attributed to people who just want to see the positives in everything. I know, makes you sick, doesn’t it?
But my mother-in-law truly is such a person. And this last year that cheerful, joy-filled spirit was truly tested, not only with all the lockdowns but with a diagnosis of cancer. On her worst days she was a bit dispirited. Yes, worst days. I mean the woman seemed to look forward to her cancer treatments because she would probably run into a friend and chat for hours while the poison did its deadly work.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up
the bones.Proverbs 17:22
At times being a “bit dispirited” can seem like my best day. I’ve been a well-trained, tried and true pessimist for so long that the concept of daily joy is a lot of work for me to achieve. It’s easy to sit back and marinate in the mess of life. It takes work to get up, dust ourselves off and say “oh well let’s make the best of this.”
Thank goodness our strength comes from the LORD. I’m committing myself to stopping negative thinking and instead, like playing a game of “Where’s Waldo,” searching for the joy in the moments of my life. I know they are there because joy is one of the promised fruits of His spirit.
I stood in Walmart the other day waiting in a long line to check out. Normally, I’d be mentally lopping off all the heads of the cashiers for taking so long and planning my complaint letter to management for not opening more registers. Instead, I settled in to God’s joy. I was happy to have found all the items on my long list and the people watching at Walmart is topnotch! I was so bathed in God’s joy that I even let someone with only two items go in front of me.
I could have turned a simple shopping trip into a miserable experience very easily. I’m counting on God to keep giving me opportunities to flip the script from pessimist to Pollyanna. Because when the day comes when I need it most, I want to be well-trained and tested in living a joy-filled life.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!
The desert and the parched land
will be glad;the wilderness will
rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.Isaiah 35:1-2
It was only just recently that I heard the concept of a “return to the Garden.” I mean I’m quite familiar with the promise of eternity but I just never made the full circle of an opening of the guarded Eden gates.
These past few weeks as myself, Todd and Madison have been reminded of the many promises of God, I keep hearing the word I have heard for more than a year – “obey.” With each promise there is a covenant agreement. God is sure and trustworthy about His side of the covenant. But we “mule-like” humans struggle to hold on to God tightly and sign at the bottom line. I wonder if it really just boils down to that little bit inside of us that doesn’t fully believe.
On March 26, 1997, San Diego Sheriff’s deputies discovered the bodies of 39 members of the group, Heaven’s Gate. The home where the bodies were found is just a stone’s throw from my own home. If you don’t recall their beliefs, I’ll give you a brief summary. The leaders, using the Bible and science fiction works by Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke convinced their followers that extraterrestrial beings were clearly mentioned in the Book of Revelation. And the comet Hale-Bopp, was the sign for them to give up their early bodies and hitch a ride to the heavens. They twisted a lot of theology to meet their beliefs.
Sometimes when I’m talking about the concept of Jesus, salvation and eternity I think about those Heaven’s Gate souls and wonder if I sound just as crazy to non-believers. I shy away from talking about God and loosen my grip on Him. Of course, one of the large differences is that God never asks us to speed up the date and time of the end of our days here on Earth. And we have been constantly assured that we cannot know the hour of Jesus’ return.
But that return is definitely promised. And if we believe that God is the creator, the sovereign LORD overall, then we must also believe in our return to the Garden.
The prophecy from Isaiah in 35:1-2 was written as a message of hope for the people of Jerusalem. It’s likely the Assyrians had ravaged all the nearby cities and had made the roads too dangerous on which to travel. The people, as Warren Wiersbe says in his commentary, “Were cooped up in Jerusalem, wondering what would happen next.” Sound familiar?
He goes on to write that the faithful were praying continuously to God for hope and relief. And God answered their prayers. As He had done so many times before and since.
“The time has come,” he said.
“The kingdom of God has come near.
Repent and believe the good news!”Mark 1:15
How many jokes have we seen and heard related to this verse? And yet it is surely true. Jesus himself makes this statement. I heard an evangelist pastor say once, “I don’t know when Jesus is returning and we will see the Garden again, but the time is certainly nearer than it was yesterday!”
It’s said that the new Garden will be even more magnificent than the first. And although that sounds wonderful, I’ll be joy-filled just to be able to have my name written on the list to enter any type of garden God has for me.
Each day I am here on this Earth is another day to hold on tightly to God’s promises and obey and believe. Each day we are here is another gift God gives us to step out of our comfort zones, out of our cooped up lives and work on putting just one more name on that list.
I hope you have enjoyed these 25 Promises of God through the Book of Isaiah. Please join me for our next series titled, “Pray It Till You Make It!” It’s a focus on praying to be the people we know God wants us to be and watching the transformation work He does in us!
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
I think a lot of us feel like 2020 has been one giant interruption in our lives. We had beautiful weddings planned, vacations to experience, new jobs on the horizon, a blossoming business, a full retirement schedule. And then February descended upon us. To put it mildly it’s been one giant cluster. Recently, I saw an Instagram post by the Christian women’s group Proverbs 31 that addressed our need to rely on God during these tough times. One of the commentors posted a very distraught list of what she has been dealing with, including the loss of a loved one. She said she was having a hard time seeing God in the middle of everything. And yet He is right there if we truly know His character. He’s the one interrupting our plans.
In the verses today Simon, an experienced fisherman, had just pulled his boat in after a long, hard, unsuccessful day of fishing. He sat and listened to Jesus as he preached to the masses on the shore. Suddenly, Jesus asks for a ride out away from the shore to better speak to everyone. I’m sure Simon had a mix of emotions. Here he was, probably dead tired but still might have been honored to have the famous rabbi use his boat. And then Jesus really interrupted his plans to get home, have dinner and finally get some sleep. The experienced fisherman was quite sure that another few hours out on the lake would produce nothing – he should know he’d been a fisherman on that lake all his life. Jesus wasn’t even from a fishing family! But something about the rabbi made Simon comply. And as the story finishes, we see Simon and the other fisherman completely interrupting everything about their lives and deciding to become disciples.
God frequently tries to interrupt our “bright ideas” and “best laid plans.” The question for us is when we hear or feel His Holy Spirit urging us to take a new direction are we like Simon, willing to comply? Or are we like the rich king, unwilling to give up what we have and know? So many of us say we want God to speak to us but do we really?
A couple years ago I was amazingly interrupted by Jesus. I worked as an administrative substitute in our local school district. I was very busy. And I wore that busyness as a badge of honor. I had jobs assigned five days a week. And then Jesus interrupted me. He urged me, through a vision, to take specific action each week and feed the homeless for a year. This was not in my plans. But it was something I had asked for. I had been praying for growth in my trust in the Lord. I kept asking for direction. Feeding the homeless in our large downtown was never on my radar. What also wasn’t in my plan was giving up working a few days a week to accomplish Jesus’ vision for me. It was an amazing interruption.
He said, “Do this for me.” And I did. The lessons I learned during that year were ones that no sermon or Bible study could ever teach me. My patterns of worry, distrust, control, over-planning, pride, feeling alone, all were tested. It was never about feeding the homeless. It was about God finding a way to snap me out of destructive patterns – interrupting me and re-setting me.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
I’ve told many people about this experience. And, at the same time I tell them they should pray for something equally amazing to interrupt their lives. So many of them either look scared or even voice their fear of such an occurrence. That’s why I ask, “Do you really want to hear from God?” Because I can almost guarantee that what He says to you will be unexpected and will challenge you to interrupt your life. But like Job whose life was severely interrupted, the amazing blessings you receive will be immeasurable. God has interrupted my life a few more times since my vision. And each time has brought me closer to Him. I urge you today to pray for interruption. To pray to do God’s work. To pray that He asks to guide your boat out into the open water.
“When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”So, they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.[a]”
My eldest daughter is a doctor of physical therapy. That alone is a miracle. She studied and worked hard throughout her public school years and yet the results were not always reflective of that work. Once she entered college she leaned on the lessons learned from getting help early and how to study. She excelled beyond belief. As a physical therapist she has seen the fruits of her labor – the healing power of her education. She has helped many women in the specialty of lower abdomen and uterine pain. I’m so proud of her. That being said, as my faith journey moves along, I’ve accepted that some healing only comes from prayer.
“Begin to rejoice in the Lord, and your bones will flourish like an herb, and your cheeks will glow with the bloom of health and freshness. Worry, fear, distrust, care—are all poisonous! Joy is balm and healing, and if you will but rejoice, God will give power.”
I like this quote because it reminds me of an amazing healing I saw take place in a friend many years ago. She had fallen and broken her upper arm. For many months she went to doctors’ appointments and had all sorts of imaging. And yet her bone was not naturally re-growing and healing. It became the usual sight to see her in an arm sling that year. She was like a baby bird with a broken wing. Her disappointment after each doctor’s appointment was evident. And yet she kept praying for healing. At the end of that painful year I still recall seeing her at church one day and she was full of joy! Her doctor, on the other hand was so perplexed. At her appointment that week she had another x-ray. And her bone was completely healed. The specialists had no explanation. But she knew the amazing answer. Her prayers were heard.
I love how the father in the Bible verse today has the guts to admit to Jesus’ face that he has doubts. “IF you can do anything” is what he says. And then asks for help in overcoming his unbelief. My friend Betsy once shared a powerful prayer technique with my BSGs. She said if you aren’t ready to believe or take action then ask, in prayer, for help in believing.
How many of us, when faced with illness or injury aren’t really sure God can heal? So many of us tend to rely solely on our surgeons, psychologists, specialists, etc. And we forget to turn to God for healing or even to ask for His guiding hands for those gifted doctors. If you are unsure, pray to resolve your unbelief. When the disciples asked Jesus why they weren’t able to cure the boy in this amazing Bible event he responded by telling them they needed to draw on the power of God through prayer.
The disciples had been careless with their personal spiritual walk and had neglected communing with God through prayer and fasting.
Warren Wiersbe, New Testament Bible Commentary
Notice this is not about praying “enough” or being faithful “enough.” It’s about praying and being faithful and believing. His amazing healing power is available to the faithful. And while we may not always know why or when He chooses to heal someone or not, we need to rest in trust that He has a plan far greater than ours. We must never stop praying and asking for His amazing healing power.
I had finally decided to do it. I made a lunch date with my parents to tell them. I was scared. Conjuring up conversations laden with disdain, disgust and even some hatred I drove to the restaurant. As we dug into our sandwiches, I mustered up the courage to blurt it out. “I’ve started going to church.” And then I winced in anticipation. After some silence, I continued, “I was a bit afraid to tell you.” And my mother replied, “Why would you be afraid to tell us that and WHY on earth do you feel the need to go to church?” That, my friends, in one sentence, is the story of our relationship. After I explained a few reasons why I decided to attend church my father finally spoke. “Believing in God is a crutch. It’s something I don’t need.”
Nowadays when I hear people say things like that my response is, “A crutch? Give me two please!” Because there’s nothing I need more than for God to support me through this difficult life. There’s nothing better than Him. I have the promise of eternal life and His love under one arm and the power of prayer and petition under the other.
We live out our lives using so many other worldly things as crutches – our jobs, friendships, our bank accounts, our health, our status, the belief in the power of our own mind, etc. And when those become our source of support our prayer life (if we even have one) directly reflects those crutches.
I call this a selfish prayer life. Either we don’t ask because, like a two-year old we think, “I can do it all by myself!” Or when we do pray, we aren’t asking as wisdom-filled followers of Jesus. How many of us have recited a prayer and at the end said, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”? Have we stopped to consider what exactly we are saying? Is what we are praying something Jesus would ask for of the Father?
“Man is a creature abounding in wants. He is ever restless. His heart is full of desires. Man is like a sea anemone with its multitude of tentacles, which are always hunting in the water for food.”
Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have
I’ve heard a lot lately about our attitude and faith. The state of our attitude needs to be examined when praying. When we pray, are we complaining and want a “magic pill?” Are we asking for other people to be “fixed” when we really need for God to shine the light on what we need to fix in ourselves? Do we pray to get the promotion so we can make more money or do we pray for God to position us in our company right where He needs us most? When we don’t get the promotion do we then say, “but I prayed about it and obviously God isn’t listening?” We get angry with God when He doesn’t do what we tell Him to do. Go figure.
When we don’t live as though we have the mind of Christ inside us, we pray as though we don’t know the spirit of God. Our heart and mind, with the wisdom of God, must be woven throughout our prayers. My friends and I recently watched the movie, “War Room.” In it, an older woman disciples a younger woman who is having a lot of marital problems. She wants her husband fixed – fixed, of course, how she wants him fixed. The takeaway from the movie for all of us was the intensity and sincerity the older woman had in her prayer life. What I had to realize was two things:
The devil is hard at work, even in our prayers.
We need to use our power and authority given by Jesus to plead with God
And so, I created my own prayer War Room. I pray with conviction that God will hear my prayer and His desires will be done. I pray knowing He wants the things I want – for families to be reunited, for mothers to find their voice, for husbands to step into their roles, for daughters to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for friends to surrender to Him, for our country to be healed. And I pray thankfully for prayers that have been answered and for his intervention into my life and my family’s.
I don’t pray for things anymore. I pray for wise decisions. I pray for doors to be open and doors to close. I pray for hurt feelings to be removed and for me to not hurt people’s feelings. I pray for forgiveness and to forgive. I pray asking for the strength to live a life He wants me to live – not the one my selfish desire wants to be. I pray for Him to take my burdens so I can rest in the peace Jesus left with us. And I pray boldy. I pray calling on all the strength I know God, the King of Kings, has to do all things. It’s time to stop messing around with lazy, recitation praying and start meaning exactly what we say.
“If your desires are the longings of fallen nature, if your desires begin and end with your own self, and if the primary purpose for which you live is not to glorify God, but glorify yourself, then you may fight but you will not have.”
Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have
As Christians we have the privilege of prayer. Think of all the people you know who don’t know Christ. They are left to their own devices – and we are terribly faulty people. We get our own lives so messed up yet somehow, we think we can control the world around us. We must pray. We must pray His will be done. Our first impulse in the morning should be prayer. Throughout the day we should be praying for others. And at the end of the day we are specific with our prayers of thankfulness. Let’s not be like the sea anemone grasping at whatever luck or speck of good comes our way. Instead, seize on the notion that God wants to give us a good life. All we need to do is ask.
Have you ever watched a speech where a sign language professional was interpreting for the hard of hearing community? I always wonder if they are truly interpreting the speech correctly. In fact, in 2013 at a world televised memorial to Nelson Mandela, advocates for the deaf called out an interpreter as fake. “The man, who stood about a yard from (President) Obama and other leaders was moving his hands around, but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for,” said Bruno Druchen, national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa. At times, as a Christian I have felt what those watching this man wave around his hands in meaningless gestures must have felt – confused.
I’ve heard a few “fake” interpreters of God’s Word. From hate-filled pastors such Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church and Bishop Talbert Swan of the Church of God in Christ to more subtle false “prosperity” teachers like Joel Olsteen and T.D. Jakes, the Word of God has been twisted, edited, and completely ignored. And yet there are hundreds if not thousands of people who follow these “pastors'” preaching. Why? Because we all are looking for answers — for someone to interpret God’s plan for us. Some of us want quick and easy answers. Some of us just want answers that fit our sinful needs and desires.
In the Old Testament, God communicated through people like Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah and others to relay His commands to the people of Israel. There were also false prophets who claimed to interpret for the gods. The people turned to both kinds of prophets for guidance. God swiftly punished those who disobeyed His Word. The great shift came when God sent himself, in the form of Jesus, to speak directly with His creations. Jesus became our great interpreter – explaining the Father’s purpose for His chosen ones. He didn’t speak to nations like so many of the prophets of old did– He spoke with us as individuals and groups. He gathered up people at wells, in gardens, in homes, at lakes and even at graves. He warned us about false prophets and teachers. But His Word cannot be denied. It is written in the oldest book. And although there are various translations of the Bible, His Words stay pretty much the same. It amazes me to hear people, especially angry hate-filled Christians, espouse rights or wrongs that don’t exist in the Bible. I just say, show me the scripture.
When I find myself wondering what God wants from me or a direction I should take, I go directly to Jesus’ words. He was not one to speak meaninglessly. He didn’t speak out of hatred. He rarely showed anger. And when He did speak it was as though He was allotted a certain number of words to use while here on Earth. And He used them wisely.
Praying for Help
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Who to Trust
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22: 37
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
How to Attain Peace
“Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except for me.” John 14:6
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34
Jesus not only was the son of God, he was us. He lived among us to experience the temptations, the persecution, the love, betrayal, and loyalties in everyday life. I praise Jesus today for coming to us to interpret the mind of God for us frail, limited humans. Our eyes and ears and minds have a glimpse into heaven through His actions and words. And God wasn’t done when His son when up to heaven. His Holy Spirit continues the work as our individual, tailored guide. She whispers to us and laughs with us and cries with us.
I don’t walk in the wilderness so much anymore. And with Jesus’ Words I am very discerning about my spiritual leaders. My guide, my interpreter, is always by my side. He will show me the way home. Praise God.
Did you figure out what the sign language word is in the picture? “Grace.” Enjoy this ASL interpreted song, “In Christ Alone” by clicking on the video below.
My friend Betsy is incredible. I first met her when I started working out at the gym where my daughter was a physical therapist. I instantly was drawn to her positivity and strength. On her 70th birthday, Betsy and another friend did 70 burpees without stopping, If you have ever done a burpee you are probably saying, “wow!!” She can hand-over-hand climb a rope to the top of the building. She pushes herself with heavier weights, all the while encouraging others much younger.
One day I was challenged by another friend to start a Bible Study. I had overheard Betsy mention her faith a few times. I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked her and another gym buddy to join my study. She instantly said, “yes!” When my Boldness Challenge commenced her list was impressive. At the top was her desire to walk a portion of the famed Pacific Crest Trail in California – alone. Now mind you, Betsy has been hiking her whole life. And, she has scaled Mt. Whitney multiple times (her husband, Jack, will hit his 200th Whitney climb this summer). I trust her judgement when it comes to being out in the wilderness. But she wanted to trust God, not herself. So, she prayed and asked for prayers from our Bold Warrior group. She felt God’s answer – “go.” She planned her trip between two others. Another Whitney climb and the trip she had planned with two other friends –the long-term dream of hiking the John Muir Trail. As I write this, she is on her way up to the Sierras for her three-week hike on the JMT. Did I mention Betsy has had two knee replacements? I call her my Bionic friend.
Boldness Trip Report July 22-24, 2020
I have been wanting to do this hike for around five years now. First because it is the “official” start of the Sierras, which is my first love when it comes to mountain ranges. And secondly, because this trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which I have dreamed about hiking for several decades. I grew up hiking in the Sierras every summer. My father brought my siblings and I there for backpacking trips. So being in these mountains is revisiting favorite childhood memories. But Kennedy Meadows is the southern end of the Sierras and lower in elevation, which makes this area hotter and drier. This is why I have not tackled this hike before now! According to the PCT Half Mile App, it is actually a 40-mile trip, with fewer sources of water than I am used to and these water sources dry out as the summer heats up.
My husband drove me to the trail head on July 22 and I started hiking at 5:50 a.m. to get miles covered before the sun heated up the trail. I was carrying 5 liters of water and planned to camp 12 miles up the trail at the south fork of the Kern River. I sang hymns and talked with God as I walked down the trail. I looked for flowers along the way and marveled at the beauty all around me. Because the elevation is lower here, there were many flowers that I do not normally see. My father taught us to try to identify flowers on the trail. I consider this one of the gifts I received from him! This helps pass the time and I was happy as I walked.
Having studied the trail descriptions, I noticed the changing scenery which marked my progress up the trail. And the sun stayed behind a ridge to the east for a very long time, so the hike was not as hot as I expected. From time to time there was a cool breeze, to which I said, “Thank you Jesus!” I passed a woman at the 5-mile point. She had come from Kennedy Meadows the day before for a one-night trip and was headed back to her car. She confirmed for me a water source 2 miles up the trail. I could hear a small musical creek when I got there. I stopped and filled up my water bottles. About a mile later, I topped out of the small canyon. There was a gentle descent through pine trees and when the trees ended the vista opened onto a gorgeous miles long meadow. It was stunning! The trail followed the edge of the meadow and it was a joy to walk along it! This is cow country, and I could hear the cows in the meadows mooing.
Time passed quickly and by 1:00 p.m. I was at the south fork of the Kern River and my camping spot for the night. I filtered water into all my bottles. I set up camp. I explored the trial on the other side of the river where I was to hike come morning. All chores were done by 4:00, and this is when I started to struggle mentally. I had 4 hours to go before sunset. I really missed my husband! I am used to having him as my exploring companion. Because I was carrying all that water, I did not bring anything to read or any other forms of distraction. I had to rely on a favorite mantra: “Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing! Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you!” One of my weaknesses is being still and listening for God. I am not particularly good at being quiet and listening for his words. So, I sat down on a nice rock and asked God to help me listen. My bible ladies will tell you that for months now, when asked what God is calling me to do, I have been unsure of the answer. I felt I was being led to call on shut-ins but was not sure I was hearing correctly. As I sat on that rock, names were coming to me of people to visit and as the list grew, I felt certain this is what God is asking me to do! It was wonderful to feel his direction! This day was also the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. So, I had a conversation with her, and I sang the hymns that she had picked to have at her funeral. It was a holy time. I was in my tent and dozing at 8:15 p.m. when I heard a voice saying “Hello.” It was a man and two women who had come from Kennedy Meadows. They had started hiking at 7:00 a.m. and were just now getting to camp. When I left camp the following morning, one of the women was just getting up. We waved as I headed out across the bridge over the river. I saw no one else for the rest of the hike.
The trail on the far side of the river was a little confusing. There were intersecting trails, poorly marked and an old jeep road that was mentioned in the guidebook. As I approached the river the day before I could see a portion of a trail going up the hillside, heading north and slightly east. And as I was almost to camp, I saw a person rounding a corner and heading in the direction of that trail. The trail description talked about being on the old jeep road for a short time before you were back on old trail. My sense was to follow where I had seen the other hiker. My back up plan was to turn on my phone and check the PCT Half Mile App that was on my phone. So, I turned right at the intersection, following the old jeep road and turned on my phone. But to my dismay, it immediately said, low battery, closing and it promptly shut down. My reaction, after the shock, was to say, “Okay God! It’s just you and me!” I continued down the old jeep road and about 30 seconds later out of my mouth came “Why aren’t there any footprints here?” But did I listen? No! I just kept walking around the corner where I had seen the other hiker, for about 10 minutes where the trail/old jeep road became a mass of cow hoof prints. I stopped and pulled out my portable phone charger, hooking it up to my phone. I reread the trail description, knowing I was not where I should be. I went back to the trail intersection and saw immediately which path I should have followed. The one that went north and slightly west. It made me stop and think about what other times in my life when I have had a preconceived idea about what I was supposed to be doing and was so focused on that idea that I totally missed God telling me that I was going in the wrong direction!! By now my phone was powered up enough to confirm I was on the PCT.
The rest of the morning passed as the steps became miles and the trail landmarks followed in sequence the trail descriptions in the guidebook. Beauty was everywhere! I stopped and sat on a fallen tree amidst many wildflowers to eat my breakfast — gorgeous!! I was filled with peace. The trail continued to climb and eventually rounded a corner to a hillside meadow. I have never been to Switzerland, but I believe it would look like this meadow. I could hear a trickle of water, so I dropped my pack and wandered until I found a place where I could collect enough water to pump into my many water bottles. I could have stayed there for hours! But old lady muscles get stiff when I sit too long, so back to the trail I went.
More climbing and the sun was heating up. Some portions of the trail became sandy. It was time to focus on other things, so I started at the top of my prayer list, being very intentional and specific with the requests for each person on my list. Next thing I knew, it was an hour later, and I was two miles up the trail, having not thought once about tired muscles, or sandy trails, or when was I going to stop and sit down! My last prayer for the last person on my prayer list was said just as I topped out over the ridgeline. It was utterly amazing! The body is an incredible machine. If you have done your prep work, as in going to exercise class regularly, working out and stretching, then all you have to do is get your head out of the mix and let the body take over. Your mind can defeat you every time if you let it. “This is like walking on the beach!” “That sun is making me hot!” “More uphill! Really?” “Shouldn’t I take a break now?” I will say it again, your mind can defeat your heart and your spirit if you let it. So, do not let it! Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing! Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18. This is one of my favorites. It snaps me out of the negative every time!
Over the ridge and down we go, into a forest of pines. Beautiful! Heading for the next night’s water source and campsite. That was to be twelve miles from the Kern River. The guidebook said, “Reliable, year-round, spring fed creek.” Except it was a mud hole!! My first thought was “Betsy, you are toast!” But a little voice in my head said, “Betsy, just keep walking.” So, walk I did, past the mud hole, and past Gomez Meadow, where I thought I was spending the night. Three miles up the trail was a “step across creek.” That voice was saying every mile I do today is one less mile for tomorrow. I was mentally reviewing the water I had left. Three- and one-half liters. But tomorrow was to be a fifteen-mile day and I did not like that ratio. I knew I was well hydrated based on how frequently I was having to stop to pee. And I knew it was better to keep going while I was hydrated. Fortunately, there was water to “step across” when I came to creek! I filled my bottles then reviewed the map and the trail description. The next section covered 26 switchbacks over 4 miles. I decided to listen to that voice that was still telling me to just keep walking. I knew this was a climb, but I could see from the map that there would be places flat enough to camp along the way if I became too tired to do all 26. I was still feeling strong, so, walk I did. I ended up doing 18 miles that day which just left 10 miles to Mulkey Pass, my end point for the trail, plus one-mile cross country to Horseshoe Meadow to get to the car. I camped at the top of the 26 switchbacks and had a lovely view!
I was on the trail early the next morning. With eight miles left to hike, I decided to give myself a treat. I pulled out my I-pod and turned on a Lauren Daigle CD. I was sitting on a fallen tree eating a snack when Love Like This came on. I am very familiar with this CD and love her music. But on this day, the words spoke to me in a very personal way. “What have I done to deserve love like this?” The tears started running down my face. And when her powerful voice sang out the Hallelujahs, I could almost feel the notes and words reverberating off the surrounding mountain spires! It was definitely a God moment!
Back on the trail, and a few songs later, her song, Remember, spoke to me as well. I have always known that God is with me wherever I am. And he is how I survived that hardest moments of my life. But on this day, these words and her voice had me sobbing as I went down the trail. “I remember, I remember. You have always been faithful to me.’ “You were there, always there, with me.” Is there any gift that can be greater than that?! Not for me.
The last thing I want to say is regarding fear. I put off doing this hike for 5 years out of fear of the unknown. Where is the water? What will the trail be like? Where will I camp? How long will it take me? Will it be too hot? Will I get dehydrated? Will I be afraid out there by myself? The answers are simple. This is an incredibly beautiful section of the Sierras and I loved hiking through it! I was never afraid, even when my reliable water was not so reliable! I have learned this lesson before and will probably have to learn it again in the future. What we imagine is often much worse than real life! We have nothing to fear but fear itself! God was with me and I was blessed!
In the darkest hour, when I cannot breathe Fear is on my chest, the weight of the world on me Everything is crashing down, everything I had known When I wonder if I’m all alone
I remember, I remember You have always been faithful to me I remember, I remember Even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there
I will lift my eyes even in the pain Above all the lies, I know You can make a way I have seen giants fall, I have seen mountains move I have seen waters part because of You
I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember) You have always been faithful to me I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember) Even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there
I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about I can’t stop thinking about Your goodness, goodness
I remember, I remember You have always been faithful to me I remember (I remember) I remember (I remember) Even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there, with me