Whose Car Is This Anyway?

stewardship – “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something, especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care” (MerriamWebster.com)

Background: My husband and I grew up from infancy in church. Not just in church on Sunday morning, but at least four times a week and often as many as six or seven. There was Sunday school, worship, Discipleship Training, choir, mid-week service, visitation, revivals, conferences, January bible study, youth rallies, and that’s just the ones I can recall in the time it took to type that sentence. Because of our involvement we grew up wanting to obey God, read our Bible, pray, and give out tithe.

When we were children tithing meant giving the dime our mamas gave us before church to “put in the offering.” As we grew into the preteen years we were encouraged to give ten percent of our baby-sitting or grass-cutting earnings, which we did. When we got our first “real” jobs in high school we felt proud to be able to contribute a tithe that we knew was enough dollars to actually help our church in some way.

All that history led us to where we were when we got married and where we are today.

As a young married couple with a few semesters to go in college there was no money to tithe. We were living off student loans. Upon graduation and getting engineering and teaching jobs we jumped right back in to what we knew to be the best way to live – we tithed. Not only that, we had an image of God in our minds from all the Biblical teaching we had received. It was the idea of stewardship: God owned all that was in the world and was the provider of all we had and all we needed. Therefore, we were to honor Him with all our possessions.

I realize that may sound strange to people not raised in the church, but it was a reality as normal as breathing for us. It is a principle woven throughout Scripture, and a worthy one to base the way you live on it.

We always wrote the tithe check first, even when we were broke. We may have eaten home-canned green beans and thirty-three-cents-a-box Mac and Cheese a lot, but we never failed to give to Our Creator, Father God. There were times we wished for all those dream items – house, a new car, vacations – but that did not tempt us enough not to give to God. The first real temptation for me NOT to give God control of all our money and possessions was over a vehicle.

We had been married about ten years and had three kids. Because of a job promotion, we were moving from from one town to another a couple of hours away. The moving van had been loaded and pulled out. With much excitement and weariness, we cleaned quickly and rustled the kids into the car headed for the New House. My husband drove his truck, and I drove our Suburban with the kids. Both vehicles were loaded down with suitcases, sentimental treasures, toys, and last minute items. Less than 10 miles down the road the Suburban started giving me problems; it wouldn’t shift into gear and would only go slowly. I flashed my lights at my husband’s truck up ahead. (Pre-cell phone times, required tricks and codes when you traveled!) Both vehicles limped slowly to a rest area a few miles down the road where my mechanic-of-a-husband checked out the vehicle and declared that was as far as it would be going that night.

This was a crisis of belief moment for me. Sure all my possessions belonged to God. Sure I trusted Him. Didn’t I? Suddenly I realized how easy it is to say we believe something and how hard it can be to live it out. Would God protect our family vehicle? HIS vehicle? Would God keep my treasures (picture albums, precious breakables that had been gifts down through the years, those irreplaceable things)? I was at the point of tears, but not wanting to upset the kids what does a mom do? You treat it like a big adventure!

“Alright kiddos! Grab what you have to have for tonight and we’re gonna pile in Daddy’s truck to go to our New House!”

And so we did.

We arrived safely, burst out of the truck where we had been squished for over on hour’s ride, and entered our New (empty) House with excitement. We all slept on the floor in Mommy & Daddy’s room that first night. As everyone else dozed, my tears came, along with whispered pleas of “Please take care of our stuff, Lord. It’s yours, I know, but it’s precious to me.”

And now for the rest of the story…

Next morning, we awoke to movers at the door. The day sped by and ended with us surrounded by boxes and trying to find the sheets. At a call from my husband a towing company had retrieved our vehicle – it was still there and our possessions were still intact – and it sat safely in the driveway, unloaded and ready to be taken to the shop the next morning. All was well. God had taken care of all that He had loaned me here on this earth, and my faith and willingness to hold my possessions with open hands had been strengthened.

The moral of the story…

God is trustworthy. He will take care of you – and your stuff. You will often hit a crisis of belief when you must choose to live out your faith in spite of fear or worry or doubt. Will you steward your life and your possessions well? You must decide. It’s often scary but it’s always worth it. Even if God allows something to be taken away. (We’ve had some of those times too.) But God will always work things out for your good and prove Himself faithful to you. He loves you. You are His precious treasure.

You have been given precious treasures – Steward Well!

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Rest in Him. Leave your possessions and your cares along the side of the road and trust that He will take care of you.

Identity

There is so much said today about identity. Trying to find my identity… I identify as… Gender identity…

As we wander through life seeking who we really are, we are like naive children who haven’t learned what the mature world knows. If you are searching, if you are ready to see your true identity despite your past and your failures, if you need a refresher on who you are in Christ, then look to the book of Ephesians, especially Ephesians 1.

You will find that you are…

…holy

…blessed with every spiritual blessing

…chosen

…blameless

…adopted as God’s child

…redeemed

…forgiven

…given grace

…marked with a seal

…God’s possession

…God’s people

…given hope

…empowered

…loved

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“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemptionthrough his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

And don’t miss the last few verses! It s a prayer for you. Paul prayed it and I am praying it today for each of you who will read this article. Be blessed!

“15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

A Return on Investments

As the U.S. economy struggles many retirees find themselves watching the stock market to see how their retirement funds may be affected. These senior adults have spent years planning for their future, so they watch over their investments with diligence. Now they find that there is no real security in money and investments, funds can disappear much more easily than they were earned.

If money is not a secure investment, what is? Who or what are you investing in? A job, husband/romantic interest, a home, children, stocks & bonds, cars, boats, decorations, hobbies, vacations…? Are these the things you turn to for security? Is there any earthly thing we could invest in that would offer a sure return on the investment?

Yes, there is, but those things are not material. Security isn’t found in any possession we could ever hope to own no matter how large or unique or valued by the world. So what things do give us a good return for our time, money or energy invested?

  • People. Loving other people always pays off. Quite often you receive love friendship or gratitude in return. But even if you don’t, any loving investment in a person pours into a bank account that makes them a better person and sets in motion other good, loving outcomes. When we minister to the needs of people we open up doors for God to touch and heal broken hearts and lives.
  • Sharing the Good News of Jesus. This is the greatest investment we can make. It makes an eternal impact in this present world and in the future for all eternity. When hearts are turned to Jesus a cause-effect chain is set in motion that yields dividends to the end of time.
  • Giving money to missions. Tied in with sharing Jesus, is giving money to support others who are around the world sharing the Gospel inlaces you or I may not be able to go. Likewise, it yields eternal outcomes.
  • Following the commands of Scripture. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Any act of justice, mercy or humility honors God, because He has told us this is what He requires of us. When we obediently live out the commands of scripture it yields fruit, righteous fruit.

These are just the tip of God’s rewarding investment strategies. We humans invest in things. God invests in lives. If we can get our focus off of all that glitters, we will see the greater value in lives that can be helped and changed for God’s glory.

So, what or who will you be investing in?


Valleys

When my family and I visited the Great Smokey Mountains we took a fun little hike to Abram’s Falls in Cades Cove. As a writer, when I think of that hike I can’t help but make some analogies.

What is life like in a literal valley? How does that enlighten us as we travel through the valleys of life? What can we learn here?

Some valleys offer a path. Our Abram’s Falls trek did. It was a well-worn path. Many of the valleys we face in life will be well traveled paths worn down by many others who have made the same trek. We can gather a small amount of comfort from the fact that we are not the only ones who have faced, or are facing this particular valley. In fact, many of the valleys we face have a trail that was blazed by our Savior Himself. The valleys of persecution, personal loss, betrayal, ostracism, loss of a family member, loneliness, being abandoned by friends, facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and the valley of the shadow of death. To know that The One sho loves us so has cleared the way gives us courage to keep walking the path before us.

Some valleys are dense, dark thickets in which we feel lost. These valleys seem to have no path. Walking through them we seem to wake up and find ourselves surrounded by dense dark forest, brush and high undergrowth.

It’s not that others haven’t walked them, but they are overgrown with decisions, confusion, chaos. The darkness that surrounds us can overwhelm. We feel lost. We grope around for a way out. There seems to be no direction on which way to proceed. After days and weeks of wandering we begin to wonder if we are getting anywhere or just going in circles.

Orienting by the sun. In our life struggles we may feel like aimless wanderers with no idea of which way to turn. At these times what can keep us going in the right direction? The only way is to look up to the Son. Just as seafarers and explorers of old used the sun for orienteering, we orient ourselves by the Son. We can’t look around us. It is useless. Looking at those circumstances and obstacles keeps us blinded to what we really need to do and to what we need to focus on.

Sometimes it seems dark in a literal valley. Things tower over us and blot out the sun, threatening to discourage us with their gloom and causing us to lose our way. In figurative valleys we must go into survival mode at times like that, following the Son every time we catch a glimpse of Him. Then we rest in the “shadow of the Almighty” whenever we can’t see the way to climb out or don’t have the strength to go any further.

Our compass, map, and guide. God’s Word to us becomes our compass to find direction and a way out of the valley. His words point us in the right direction and we follow in faith however dark the valley may be. Jesus’ life becomes a map as we follow the paths He would have traveled. The One who created this earth and this very valley and terrain we find ourselves lost in is the One who will be our guide back to the mountain. A mountaintop always follows a valley, you know!

The One who holds our future in His hands, holds our hands as we walk through the valley. With our compass aimed at True North we will find ourselves heading east toward the Risen Son.

Happy Easter!

As you gather with family for a meal or traditional children’s festivities on this day, do not neglect to pause and ponder the truth of why we are celebrating.

Mourn His death.

“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:32-34

Be thankful for His willing sacrifice.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’” Matthew 27:54

Rejoice in the miracle of that first Resurrection morning.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:15-18

Know the truth of what His resurrection means for you!

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-7

The Nudge

My little black fur ball is the joy of my empty nest! His endearing antics are never-ending. Bringing toys and dropping them at our feet to play; loudly alerting us to every postman, garbage truck, or delivery to our door; spinning in circles to go outside. These are lively additions to our household routine, but my favorite one is The Nudge.

Poppy is my shadow and will lay down at my side within seconds whenever I sit down. The problem is in my goal verses his. I sit down to work on the computer, read, handle business and so forth. He assumes I have perched there to pet him. I usually pet him for a few minutes whenever I sit down in hopes of putting money in the bank with him where he’ll doze off and let me accomplish my tasks. But alas, His goals are more grand than that. Within seconds after I stop stroking his fur and return my hands to the keyboard, I get The Nudge.

His cold little black nose bumps me under my elbow. (And yes, I’ve sloshed coffee and tea on myself more than once.) The Nudge is patient, but it is never a one-and-done situation. He’ll nudge, wait a few seconds for my hand to resume it’s stroking, and if that doesn’t happen The Nudge comes again. If he still gets no immediate reaction, the nudges continue to come at a quickening pace until I’m left with two choices, stop what I’m doing and dedicate myself to this little canine who adores me or turn away from him with gruffness of words that causes him to leave my side and search for affection, or a nap, elsewhere.

I realized recently that God often uses The Nudge on me as well. It’s not a cold nose under my elbow, but he will use something to nudge me: a person that keeps coming to mind, a subject that pops up everywhere I look, a person who keeps randomly being put in my path, the same suggestion from three different people, a particular scripture passage that is brought to my attention in my personal Bible time, a lesson, a sermon, a podcast all within a week’s time. Do you get those God-Nudges as well? I’m assuming we all do.

And when we get The Nudge from Him we have two choices just like with my little buddy. We can stop what we’re doing and dedicate ourselves to The One who adores us, or we can turn away from Him with gruffness and self-interest which puts distance between us and the Father. I’m too busy God. Not Now. I really don’t want to have to deal with that.

In my early years I often ignored The Nudge and would look back later and realize I’d missed a God-ordained opportunity. As I’ve matured I’ve learned to respond more appropriately to the The Nudge from God. I’ve learned to recognize it as a nudge from Him. And I’ve learned to obey The Nudge. I often dread what I’ve been nudged to do before I do it, but once it’s behind me I’ve never regretted obeying even one of God’s holy nudges.

So I challenge you – look for The Nudge from your Abba and readily obey!

Faithful in Prayer

faithful (adjective) ˈfāth-fəl – firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty

What kinds of things are you faithful to? Exercise. Your spouse. Your diet. Your job. God. Staying on top of the latest in fashion or home improvements. A ministry. A Friend. You may consider yourself faithful to many of these if you are a conscientious person.

The apostle Paul encourages Believers in Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Would you consider yourself to be faithful in prayer? I pray. I’m pretty sure you do too. But am I faithful prayer?

I pray at meals. I pray when I’m worried. I pray when I need God to do something for me. I pray as I see a crisis unfolding on the news. I pray for friends who ask me too – well, most of the time – I always mean to pray for them, but sometimes forget by the time I get home.

How can I become “faithful in prayer” as Scripture challenges me to be? Once again we turn to Paul for an answer:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”

1 Timothy 2:1-8

Paul gives us an idea of what he means to be faithful in prayer. Here he urges his young friend Timothy to pray in these ways:

  • offer petitions
  • offer prayers
  • make intercession
  • give thanks

Who do we pray these things for? All people.

Why do we pray? It is good. It please God.

Who is to pray? Just the pastors? Pastors and Sunday school teachers? Pastors, teachers, and deacons? Those “spiritual elite” types of people? Those who have more time than me? … No. “I want the men everywhere to pray,” he says. That means each of us. All Believers.

Prayer is simple, but profound.

  • All Believers pray
    • to an all-powerful God
      • by all means
        • for all people everywhere
          • at all times.
            • That’s all.

And it accomplishes much! “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Your assignment: Stop right now and pray. And here are some ideas spurred by Paul’s words to Timothy.

When you PETITION you: ask, desire, request, appeal to, beg, call upon, solicit the help of, cry out to.

When you PRAY you: address God with adoration, confession, supplication; request in a humble manner; implore, entreat, plead, invoke His help.

When you INTERCEDE you: intervene between parties; act as a go-between; mediate for others with God.

When you GIVE THANKS you: express gratitude, acknowledge, glorify, praise, laud, extol, honor, recognize, credit, compliment your Father God.

Determine to become a woman who is faith in prayer!

Honoring the Birthday Girl

Birthdays are important at our house. It’s not that we rent out the bouncy houses or big venues, nor do we buy huge expensive presents. Those days are important to honor two people, the one who is turning a year older and the mother who birthed them. It’s easy to get caught up in the fanfare and yet not honor the ones most affected by this day. Our society tends to be all about big events while managing not to truly honor the honoree: think arguments, manipulation, and tears that threaten to ruin a birthday, anniversary, or wedding day.

So how do we honor people? Does it depend on the gifts? Decorations? Money spent? We may feel that we’ve given honor when we make a hefty monetary investment in something, while in reality the spirit of honoring is missing. It depends more on meeting the heart needs of the one being honored.

Does the celebration fit their personality or mine (because I’m the one throwing the party)?

Are their important friends the guests, or are the guests ones I’m comfortable with?

Does the gift, no matter how small, show that the birthday girl is truly known and understood and that her desires are considered in the purchase?

Does the party center on the honoree or are big personalities allowed to steal the limelight?

Is the celebration joyful, the conversation uplifting, and the atmosphere heartwarming, or have we allowed things to creep in that shouldn’t, like snide remarks, negativity, and cruel pranks that may wound a person (all in the name of fun of course – but at whose expense)?

Does the person know that they are honored and valued year ’round as well as on their day?

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We have an example of how to love and honor others well, Father God loves and honors each of us individually. When we are with Him we have His sole attention. We are loved unconditionally and accepted and valued for who we are, not based on expectations of what we can offer. He rejoices over us and even sings over us. We are the apple of His eye! Do we allow the Father to teach us to love and honor others well? And personally, do we sit at the Father’s feet and allow Him to love and honor us well when those around us aren’t able to?

I recall one particularly busy year in our household where my birthday was tucked in as an afterthought during the month of November – a notoriously busy holiday time, when birthdays can be easily overlooked. Not only did family find little time, but my friends were all over-committed as well. That birthday came and went as a typical Tuesday might, no special calls, meal, party or presents. Having cake together got pushed to the next weekend, but THIS was my birthday!

I was feeling a bit blue by the evening, so I took some moments to steal away with the Father. As I prayed (whined to Him) and read His word, my heart began to calm down. I saw in His words to me that I was His cherished child. I saw my uniqueness and value in His plan. I saw that though earthly friends may overlook my day, My Father had not. I lay down that night with tears of gratitude that I was known and loved and honored in My Father’s eyes.

If you find yourself forgotten on a special day, go to The One who loves you most. And as you celebrate a special day with those dear to you or casual friends, seek to find ways to let them see that they are known, cherished, and valued. It doesn’t always take fanfare – though that can be nice. Even a single, store-bought cupcake or a heartfelt note can show genuine honor and bless a person’s heart.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 30:30-31

When Anger Flares

Confession: I like to get really angry and burst out in harsh words and accusations. There. I said it. Not the kind of thing a small group leader at church is expected to say, but it’s real. It may sound peculiar to you, so let me explain.

When a person (me) (or you) is emotional, discouraged, or worried, those emotions tend to wrap around us like vines, tying us up in knots and making us feel weak and helpless. We don’t really like feeling weak. Anger on the other hand feels powerful. We feel dominant, in control, and like we are actually dong something that will cause a reaction and maybe make an impact in our trying situation. Instead of wallowing in our fear and doubts with nothing happening, we humans are prone to jump anger. It makes us feel better… or at least like we are in control.

Lashing out in anger also gives us a way to release our pent up frustrations similar to the way a safety valve on a large piece of industrial equipment vents off built up steam pressure to preserve the machinery. And while that may feel good in the moment to us, the people receiving our fury have feelings that are negatively affected. Machinery has the advantage here, that piece of equipment feeling the steam vented off has no feelings.

When we feel trapped in our negative emotions it seems our only two choices are either to wallow in our desperate feelings or to blow up and wound others with our angry words. We often choose self-preservation over benevolent actions in these situations.

But there is a third option. We can turn to the Father and pour out our hearts to Him, digging into His word for comfort and direction and a solution. We can fall to our knees and pray, intimately sharing with Him the depth of our despair (which of course He already knows, but it is good for us to express). We can grasp the handholds of scripture that keep us from slipping into either worry or anger, and hold onto those passages as lifelines to get us through the whiteout we seem lost in. Praying those scriptures, repeating them to ourselves minute by minute during our struggle will bring sanity and calm and eventually hope.

So if you find yourself in the blazing heat of an emotional conflagration, if anger sizzles just beneath the surface and you fear it will flare into a wildfire in a heartbeat, step away. God outside, to your room, your office, or your car. Cry out to God. Pour out your anger, fear and the depths of how your feel misunderstood, unloved, and so alone. Grab hold of a scripture from your Bible of your phone – the Word is never out of our reach these days. Hang onto these lifelines of prayer and the Word. The father will get you through. You don’t have to choose anger.

“For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Proverbs 30:33

“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

Our Father In Heaven…

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’”

Matthew 6:9-13

Prayer. So simple yet so powerful. So incomprehensible. So great a gift to us from our Father God. He invites us, His creation, to enter into an intimate relationship with Him. He gives us freedom to come to Him and dialog with Him and speak what’s on our minds and in our hearts. Yahweh Himself. The King of the Universe!

Do we avail ourselves of this great blessing of conversation and relationship? Or do we approach prayer casually as we do a jotted down grocery list on a scrap of paper?

Do we pray daily, freely, and with a purpose to our prayers that honors God? Or do we tip our hat to God with a memorized blessing or nighttime prayer as we doze off?

Do we say we will pray for someone, but that’s as far as it goes, just empty promises? Or do we hold counsel with our Creator, baring our heart to Him and listening for His gentle leading and correction?

Do we pray all? Anything other than prayers for rescue and help?

Do we turn to God in prayer for decisions we need to make? For help facing temptations? For direction? Do we ever quit talking and simply listen to the Father?


Where do you find yourself in that broad spectrum of people who say they pray? Contemplate that. Be honest with yourself and the Father.


When I was younger I tended to base my prayers on my feelings too much. I remember telling someone that I didn’t “feel like” my prayers were getting any higher than the ceiling. I remember thinking that surely I wasn’t a “good enough” Christian for God to answer my prayers. I remember thinking that God hadn’t answered my prayer when He answered it in a way I didn’t like. Like all people, I am still growing in my faith – we always will be – so today I’m learning to be patient and not give up in prayer when I’ve waited on God a week, a month, a year,… or for me, 19 years and counting. Anybody with me?

So where ever you find yourself to be in your prayer life, let me give you some reminders about prayer from God’s Word.

“…Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 – He knows.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 – Take private time away to pray.

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4 – Wait on His answer.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 – Pray when you are tempted.

“But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 8:6 – When you are displeased or dissatisfied – pray!

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7 – Pray for your city.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13 – God will listen. Seek Him and find Him.

“Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”” Daniel 6:13 – Pray often.

“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong.” Daniel 9:3-5 – Confess your sin to God in prayer.

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 – Believe and receive.

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'” Matthew 26:39 – Ask God for whatever you choose to, but always be willing to accept His will whatever that answer may be.

“He [Jesus] went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done'” Matthew 26:42 – Ask God to take away the hard things. Accept His will.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them.” Mark 11:25 – Forgive others before you come to God in prayer.

“But I have prayed for you, Simon.” Luke 22:32 – Pray for others.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourself to prayer.

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” Pray for others (missionaries and ministers) who share the Gospel.

Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Duh!

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – Pray for all people, especially those in authority over you.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them ” James 5:14 – Pray for the sick.

The bottom line – Just pray!