A Prayer

The Holy Bible is filled with prayers, of ordinary people talking to an extraordinary God. Probably the one prayer that is most well-known is the Lord’s Prayer, in which Jesus was asked to teach us to pray. It begins with praise, continues to petition and ends with praise. It is a model for us to follow as well as a prayer to say. I found another prayer today in my devotional and it spoke to my heart.

I hope that this simple prayer of declaring trust for God speaks to you, also. When I am discouraged or just not feeling as close to God as I should, this is a prayer I can come back to, again and again. My soul belongs to God and one day will return to His loving care. For now, it rests in my body and desires to commune with the One who breathed life into me to begin with. I am flawed but not forsaken. I trust God to bring me to the end of my journey, however long it may be, still serving and being taught by Him along the way.

May your day be blessed with fresh insight from the Lord and a walk with Him that instills you with peace, joy and love.

Finding Joy in the Hard Times

I haven’t written a lot about what has been going on in my life recently because I didn’t want to share how hard things suddenly became for me. We went to our son’s house on Thanksgiving and I ended up staying for two additional weeks to do childcare, similar to what I did last year. The difference this year is twofold: one, I had not prepared to stay, so I did not have a lot of my warm things with me; and two, the infant is now a very active toddler and my seven decades have difficulty keeping up with him. I have been home this week as my son and his family celebrate at Disney. I am so blessed to be home for almost two weeks, spending time with my beloved kitty and my even more loved spouse, taking care of errands and just settling comfortably into my chair with a warm blanket tucked around me. Next week I return to Maryland and my duties there. Yes, the work is harder for me than I want it to be, but God is allowing me to be a witness for a season, so I am trying to approach the situation with joy. My husband will be with me for Christmas and then he will come back to Virginia for the month of January while I remain behind.

One of the offshoots of my stay there has been higher blood pressure, a condition that my nephrologist wants me to get under control because of the effect on my single kidney. So one of the first things I did when I returned home was schedule an appointment to see my cardiologist. I saw the physician’s assistant instead and received a prescription for a new medicine to add to my Beta blocker. Unfortunately, I reacted badly to the medicine with some rough side effects, so now I am awaiting word from the doctor’s office about what, if anything, I should do next. Meanwhile, I am praying and hoping that the high blood pressure will pass and I will level out again. As my husband said, I am anxious about my numbers as I take the reading each day, so it is not a surprise when they are higher. I am trying to control my thoughts and thus my hypertension, but I’m not too good at it.

I read in Dr. Denison’s Forum today about joy and was happy to discover a quotation from Henry Nouwen. I hope that it speaks to you as it spoke to me. I encourage you to follow the link to Dr. Denison’s post and to sign up for his Forum. He gives a refreshingly Biblical insight into current events! Dr. Denison’s Forum

Henri Nouwen observed: “Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: ‘In the world you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.’

“The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.

Joy is not based on circumstances, but on the unwavering truth of God’s Word. And that is a fact that I can live with!

Have a blessed day and may you find joy and peace in your life, no matter the circumstances.

A Prayer for You

As we get closer to the holiday season, busyness seems to encompass our days. Let’s not forget to pray for one another and to ask for God’s blessing on our family, friends and other dear ones.

Have a blessed and glorious day in the Lord and may you prosper as your soul prospers!

Persistent Prayer

We rejoice before the answer from God comes because we have hope that He will answer in His good timing as we persistently pray. But what does “persistent” mean? According to the online thesaurus, it means ceaseless, continuous and enduring. To me that means that we start praying in the morning and keep that line open to God all day long. Even in the night hours when I am restless, I have only to speak His name to know that He is right there with me, already listening for my call.

Well, what should we be praying for? Here’s a Scriptural answer to that question:

We need to be praying for all believers everywhere. If you think you can pray quick prayers and cover everyone everywhere who needs prayer, then I would say that you have barely touched the surface of needed prayers. It is when we are listening to God speak to our hearts, though, that He tells us for whom we need to pray and how to pray for them. There are times when I am praying that God will bring someone to my mind and I won’t know how to pray for them, but I know without a doubt that God knows their need and has brought them to my mind so that I could bring them before His throne in prayer. I don’t know, but God always knows and is ready to hear and answer.

Have you ever picked up the phone and been about to call someone when it rings in your hand and it is that person calling you? It’s a really strange feeling that the two of you were thinking about each other at the same time. Now, put that into God’s perspective. He is always reaching out to us to speak to us. We just have to be ready to listen. Prayer is more than telling God a “wish list” of things that we want Him to do for us. It is telling Him what is on our hearts and asking that He speak His will into our lives and into the lives of those for whom we are interceding.

God starts sending the answer to us before we even call on Him. He is always ready to listen. Unlike our friends or our spouses, His entire attention is devoted to listening to each of us. God loves us and wants us to call Him, much as a doting Father wants to hear from His distant children. We are denying ourselves a close relationship with God when we neglect prayer since that is how we communicate with Him and how He communicates with us. How long can a relationship last without any communication between the parties involved? I hope that you will take time to talk to God today, about your frustrations, your victories, your fears, your worries. Talk to Him honestly about whatever comes to your mind because whatever it is, He already knows and wants to answer. Some say that it is not necessary to pray because God already knows what we need and will answer when He chooses. I, however, choose to believe that it is not for God that I am praying. It is to build my own faith and to establish a firm relationship with the only One who has all of the answers. Yes, God can answer without my prayer, but I want to be an active participant in this faith journey, so I pray.

Starting your day with prayer means starting it in tune with the One who knows your heart and wants to touch you with His mercy and grace throughout the day. May your day be blessed with persistent prayer!

Compassion

I have to confess that my compassion has been sorely tested this last week. Staying with someone who is absorbed by bitterness and anger is frustrating and hurtful. Every morning I need new strength to face whatever that day’s complaints are. And then, God shows me words from His Holy Word that pierce my soul and let me know that what I am doing, the small things that I accomplish daily, are but a drop in the bucket to the compassion He would like to teach me to have.

It’s hard to sing a song of praise around someone who is morose, grieving so many losses in her life. But I sing quietly to myself and then go out to just listen and offer quiet words of comfort. That has been my life this week.

I have found that I need to get ready each day with the armor of God but also with compassion and kindness and patience. The situation is not likely to change, but I can change how I react to it. I know that I would have problems dealing with all that my sister is dealing with, so I am trying to see things through her eyes. Her vision is clouded with macular degeneration and her heart’s vision is clouded with bitterness. But I can see clearly that what she needs is a touch from the Lord and that is what I am praying for and then waiting for the answer.

Jesus did not come so that we can hold grudges but so that we can forgive and be forgiven. This last week has been hard, but kindness has helped.

So, I wait for God to act. I have advised, prayed, given quiet counsel and listened. Now, the infinite wisdom and love of God needs to take over in all of the places where I have failed to make a difference, to consume a bitter life with His unending love. And so I wait.

For what are you waiting? God’s timing is always perfect, so no matter how long it takes, persist in prayer and wait patiently for the Lord to act. His way is not my way, but His way is perfect and that’s what I am waiting for.

Have a blessed day as you wait or as you rejoice because this time the waiting is over for you!

Thoughts

There is a lot out of our control, but one thing we can reign in is how we think.

I have been having a tough time here in NC because my sister is angry and frustrated over her condition and I have become an unwilling target for her. As a result, my blood pressure has been climbing. So, today, I’m staying in the back room and thinking good thoughts (as much as I can) and asking for prayer. I can go home early but that would probably enrage her more, so I’m trying to stay calm and prayerful. I wish she knew the Lord but she doesn’t and says she doesn’t believe as I do. It’s all very sad and stressful. Thank you for prayers.

Have a blessed day!

Night Watches

Are you a morning lark or a night owl? I have always been a morning person, no matter how late I stay up. I awaken at about dawn and get up to start my day. However, there are many nights when I cannot sleep, tossing and turning, going to the bathroom, drinking water, etc. I discovered years ago when I am unable to sleep that it is a perfect time to talk to God. During the late night or early morning hours, with my husband sleeping next to me, I just tell God all that is troubling me and then I listen for Him to speak His loving reassurance into my heart. Sometimes though, my night watch becomes a praise session, thankfulness for all that has gone right recently in my life. I have found that these nighttime prayers, although rare for me, invigorate me for the new day when I awaken to face it.

God’s promises are many and I have found that as I speak them back to Him, I am not reminding Him of His promises, but rather, I am reminding myself of what is already in His Word and there for me. Psalm 91 is a favorite of mine to recite in the night when I cannot sleep. Hiding under His wings gives me comfort and often I fall asleep meditating on those verses or on a chorus that encourages me.

The night watch is a good time to intercede for loved ones as well as for strangers that I have encountered during the day. God knows their needs and I think He leads me to pray for those who need it most. Pouring out my heart before God is good for me; it allows my heart to be emptied and ready to be filled by His sweet presence again.

If the Son of God spent the night praying to God, it should not be hard to imagine that God may at times call each of us to spend time in a night watch. Perhaps a few minutes, an hour or more, or all night. That is between you and God. I just encourage you to be open to God’s speaking to you at night when you are having difficulty sleeping. Perhaps a better use of your time than tossing about is to just talk to our Heavenly Father and release any burdens you have left from the previous day, knowing that He is there listening no matter how late it is.

In Jesus’ Name by Katy Nichole

The Prayer by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli

Take a Step

Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision about something and take that first step into the unknown. I faced that after my stroke. The neurologist who was treating me in the ER was on a Zoom call rather than in the room and he told me and my husband that he was 99% sure that I was having a stroke. He gave us the option of my having an injection that could help me (30% chance) or could kill me with about the same percentage. Those didn’t seem like good odds to me, but in my foggy brain, I knew that we needed to pray and call our daughter to pray with us about it. The doctor told us that time was limited because if I did not get the injection within an hour of my symptoms beginning, it would not work. We prayed and asked God for wisdom. Actually, Hope and Harry prayed while I listened since I could barely stutter words at the time. We talked and decided that I would take the injection since the doctor told me that without it, I would not improve at all and may never walk or talk normally again. Was I frightened? Honestly, yes. But I had to take that step in order to ever be able again to take others. That TPA shot, also called a clot buster, saved my ability to function and may have saved my life. But the decision to take it was like standing on the edge of a precipice and knowing that whatever happened, God would be there to catch me.

God has been faithful to take care of me since that first scary step. And, of course, there have been other scary steps along the way of life. That’s what life is about…seeing the choices and taking a step in what you hope is the right direction.

Like Moses, we couldn’t just stay in the wilderness of indecision. We had to take a step. Just, move on. Pray, decide, move.

Once the decision is made, God walks with you and makes His glory shine through whatever choice you have made, provided you have consulted Him and are truly trying your best to follow Him and His will. Delighting in God is more than a happy smile on your face saying that you love the Lord and know that all will be okay. It is a deep feeling that springs from your heart that no matter what happens, God will still be there.

That word “whatever” is important. We have a tendency to make our plans and then ask God to give what we have decided His “rubber stamp of approval.” It just doesn’t work that way. First, we talk to God about the choices we have and ask for His guidance, then we step out in faith and move in the direction that we think He is leading us. If we go the wrong way, we can be assured that God will let us know and get us back on the right pathway, usually after learning a valuable lesson that He is trying to teach us. The most important thing is to make sure we include God in our decisions before we make them rather than asking Him to bless the decision that we have already made.

Each Step I Take