Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Prayer Against Fear

Dear Father,
My heart is heavy with worry and anguish over the hate and fear building in this country. Even among Christians, the pressure to retaliate and fight confuses my desire to be a light in this dark world. Why am I afraid? Because I look around me and see sinful men and sinful reactions. I see fear everywhere, and I know that when I am afraid, my trust in You vanishes like the morning mist. I pray now against fear and anxiety. God, make me brave. Make me strong and courageous. Then give me a passion to love others. Give me confidence in YOU and in the weapons you command me to use--praying in the power of the Holy Spirit and speaking the Word of God, which is sharper than any sword. Pierce me first, then pierce the darkness of this culture with the Light of the World. In You I trust. You are my deliverer, my safe haven, my stronghold. I will wait on You. I will not be afraid what men can do to me.
In Jesus' holy and powerful name, Amen.

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9 Prayers for Christmas Hope

Below is an insightful post by Bob Hostetler, from Guideposts Dec. 15, 2015. A week before Christmas, our joy over the holiday and our fear and stress over a dark political climate can make faith seem impossible. These prayers might help.

The Christmas season, for many, is a time of family, friends, memories, beauty and warmth. But for others it can be a time of struggle. They may grieve a loss or feel lonely. Or the holidays may stir up difficult memories.
Christmas peace and Christmas joy are not automatic, and neither is Christmas hope. Hope can sometimes surprise us, but it can also be awakened. It can come, even to those in difficult circumstances, as a fruit of prayer.
Here are nine prayers drawn from the Bible that can help foster an attitude of hope, not only at this time of year but all year long:
1)  Hope for the Whole Day
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 25:5, NIV).
2)  Hope to Have a Need Met
God, I know your eyes are on those who fear you, on those whose hope is in your unfailing love. I believe you love me and will not fail me. I wait in hope for you; you are my help and shield (from Psalm 33:18, 20).
3)  Hope for a Miracle
Mighty God, you have answered your people many times with awesome and righteous deeds; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy (Psalm 65:5-8, NIV). What you have done before, do again, and in the meantime fill my waiting heart with hope.
4)  Hope from God's Word
Lord God, the psalmist said repeatedly, “I have put my hope in your word.” Even when my soul faints, I put my hope in your word, for You are my refuge and my shield. Send me light and blessing and hope—most of all, hope—as I read Your word (based on Psalm 119:74, 81, 114, 147).
5)  Hope of Healing
Jesus, the prophet promised you would not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick; you show mercy to all, even to those who seem past hope, and in Your name the nations will put their hope (Matthew 12:20-22). Send hope to _______, until healing appears.
6)  Hope of Deliverance
Savior, You have delivered Your people from deadly peril, and will deliver them again. On You we have set our hope that You will continue to deliver us, especially __________. Send hope. Send deliverance. Send thanks for all Your gracious favor (from 2 Corinthians 1:10).
7)  Hope in Abundance
God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (from Romans 15:13).
8)  Hope for Growth in Righteousness
I am often displeased and discouraged with my spiritual life, Lord. But through the Spirit I eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which I hope (based on Galatians 5:5).
9)  Hope for the Future
Father, let the eyes of my heart be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which You have called me, the riches of my glorious inheritance among Your holy people (Ephesians 1:18).
Imagine how your hope will take root and grow if you pray these prayers regularly—perhaps one a day or every one, every day!

Monday, November 30, 2015

10 Prayer Books Every Regular Person Should Read

Why read a book about prayer? Do regular people read books on prayer without falling asleep?

I'm guessing prayers like "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" and "God is Great, God is Good" won't be able to sustain your prayer needs for the duration of your life. These rote prayers don't have the juice to carry you through sickness, grief, indecision, and worry. Okay, add in "The Lord's Prayer." Now you're making progress. After all, Jesus wrote that one. But are these prayers enough?

Although 85% of Americans pray daily, only 20% feel that prayer is an intimate, satisfying experience. Maybe we just need to know a little more about how to pray and why.

Over 100,000 titles on prayer are in publication today. If you, as a regular person, read just one good prayer book every year from age 30 to 70, that would only be 40 books on prayer. Just scratching the surface, and yet that's a tall order for most regular people who just want to get their prayers answered. Could you read 10 books (1 every 4 years)? What if they were books that you didn't need a seminary degree to understand the principles and apply them to your life?

These 10 books could radically change your praying--which, if you believe in the power of prayer, means that they will radically change your life. These are my favorites, and I'll tell you why:

Prayer--Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey--profound and challenging to your faith and theology of God by addressing common misconceptions and concerns about life's hardships

Becoming a Prayer Warrior by Elizabeth Alves--practical, how-to advice for those new to prayer and some new tips and routines for those whose prayers have gotten mundane

Confessions by St. Augustine--an honest and revealing approach to considering what keeps me from knowing God and praying effectively

Praying God's Word by Beth Moore--tackles common spiritual strongholds (like depression or anger) and teaches you to pray Scripture over your area of need

Prayer: Experiencing the Awe and Intimacy of God by Timothy Keller--excellent appeal to the purpose for prayer--intimacy with God

Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels--practical, interesting, and convicting plea for disciplining yourself to pray, with stories of prayer at work

The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life by Bruce Wilkerson--small, concise, but powerful truths about learning to believe that God will answer your prayers

The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler--funny, honest, and practical advice for praying Jesus' words over your life

Prayer by Richard Foster--deep and insightful, yet practical and basic in establishing the purpose and power of prayer

The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen (or Out of Solitude--really, anything by Nouwen!)--both are a sincere and contemplative approach to hearing from God and responding to His voice

Regardless of my prayer journey, you can have your own! Just order a prayer book and get reading. God will surely respond to your prayers! Click on the Amazon link below to find the newest books on prayer or search for the ones pictured above.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hate or Love in Paris?

Paris has always been a city of love. A terrorist attack doesn't have to change that. Let's take love to a new level.

Prayer for Paris

Jehovah-Rapha, the God of healing--
We ask for your power of love and hope to reign down on France, particularly the families traumatized by Friday's terrorist attack. We know you will bring good from this tragedy, although it's hard to see how. Inspire the Christians in Paris show the love of Jesus to their hurting city. I pray for the world to show support and fraternity to France, to lend aid, and to share the love of God. May this tragedy also draw all of us into closer relationship with You. We ask you to heal hearts, to convict evil-doers. and to help the suffering to search for You.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

5 Prayers for Veterans

This blog is reposted from Guideposts, written by Bob Hostetler. As a daughter of a veteran killed in active duty reserve training, I can concur with the value and significance of these prayers. Thanks, Bob, for your discernment and compassion.

5 Prayers for Veterans by Bob Hostetler, Nov. 10, 2015, Guideposts

Though it began as Armistice Day in 1919 (celebrating the end of World War I), November 11 has been celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States since 1954. Many people observe the day with ceremonies and parades that honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have served in the armed forces of the United States. 
There may be no better way to honor a veteran than in prayer. Whether it is offered in a religious service, or privately, or silently as a parade passes by, or in a personal card or note, prayer can connect you, a veteran and God in a meaningful and productive way.    
Here are five specific kinds of prayers you can pray for veterans (or, with a few small changes, for a specific veteran):
1) To Feel Honored
“God, please let every veteran of our nation’s armed forces feel truly and appropriately honored by the attention and appreciation of their fellow citizens. Let no one feel forgotten or neglected. Let every man and woman, young or old, feel the deep and enduring gratitude of our nation and its inhabitants.”
2) To Be Understood
“Father God, You know that it can be difficult for a person who has returned from battle or stressful military service to reintegrate into ‘normal’ everyday life. You know that veterans can feel isolated and alone even in the midst of their  friends and  families because there are few around who understand their experience. So I ask You to place in the path of our veterans those who do understand (or strive to), that they may feel less alone. Remind them often that while their fellow human beings may never fully comprehend, You see, You know and You identify with them in everything.”
3) To Be Healed
“Lord, You know how deep a warrior’s wounds go. You know the loss that many of our veterans in body and soul. You know the memories that haunt them and the scars that many of them continue to carry.  Please bring healing to those veterans who still hurt. Please grant patience and wisdom to those around them who cannot understand but can sometimes help the healing process. Please apply both natural and supernatural medicine to their wounds.”
4) To Be Rewarded
“Father, please turn your gaze to those men and women who in their military service have sacrificed time, comfort, strength, ambition, health and prosperity for the peace and safety of family and friends and others they’ve never even known. Please reward them a hundredfold for all their sacrifice and service. Bless them far beyond all their expectations. Reward them richly for all they have given.”
5) To Know You
“Almighty God, You know every veteran by name. You know their deeds, their hard work, and their perseverance. You know their needs, both material and spiritual. Please draw each one closer to you and grant them all the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7), the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:15), and ‘joy in your presence.'

Monday, November 2, 2015

At War

It's easy to forget that I am in a daily battle. I'm at war. And I'm not talking about fighting with my kids over their homework or the dry cleaners over pants that have vanished. I'm talking about real spiritual warfare--the kind that's kicking me in the butt.
I know a spiritual war is going on because I am praying against stuff that sometimes happens anyway. If I didn't know better, I'd say that my prayers weren't working. But I've been at the Christian life for awhile, so I know that's not true. 
I'm just at war. And in a war, nobody wins all the time. War always creates setbacks and casualties on both sides. Everyone emerges with scars. Spiritual warfare is the reason that life is hard.
So this spiritual war between good and evil becomes the reason that I pray, whether I realize it or not. My desire to push in against the enemy, to take back ground I've lost through wrong choices, to conquer new territory in my heart and mind--these are the reasons I pray. I know that I can't win any battle alone. I must pray.
But I must also prepare myself for injury. (That’s the point of armor, right?) I must count on sustaining some injury to myself, and I must certainly expect the quest for goodness to be agonizing. Prayer provides an avenue to fight, but it also provides a conduit for strengthening my resolve. As I lean into the source of power in my life, my faith in that power grows. I fight harder. I take enemy ground. I plant my flag on the hilltop.

And then I start over again. I'm old enough now to recognize that no war is ever really over.
Eph. 6:10-118  “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (The Message)

Another blog on spiritual warfare can be read on my other website,

Friday, October 23, 2015

Praying Around the House

Today this devotional of mine was posted by Guideposts online.

Does sitting in a chair praying for people (even those you love) produce droopy eyelids or wandering thoughts? It can be hard to concentrate on praying, even with a list or journal in your lap. You want to be an active prayer warrior, but somehow, you just can’t focus.
Have you ever considered praying in motion? Doing something while you pray?
This habit began for me during my baby-rocking years. Although I loved sitting in the rocking chair, feeding my baby or lulling him to sleep, I couldn’t help but add up the “unproductive” hours in my head. In an effort to multi-task, I took to praying over him.
I prayed over my baby’s eyes to see good and shun evil, his hands to help people, his feet to carry him to mission, his mind to know the Word, his heart to believe in Jesus.
As my children grew and became more mobile, I prayed around the house. While doing the laundry, I prayed over the pants and socks and shirts—that their wearers would follow God and flee from sin. As I ironed shirts, I prayed for arms to embrace others and hearts to seek God. In the kitchen, I prayed for hungry hearts and minds, for social graces, for fun family dinners and game nights around the table. In the living room, I prayed for peaceful evenings and protection from harmful media images.
At night, I often sat beside their beds and prayed in the dark, over troubling friendships, pending decisions, and bright futures. I prayed against the forces of evil that came against them daily.
Just as the Lord’s house is called a house of prayer, I want my house to be the same. And I have found that praying in motion—in the steps and actions of everyday life—is one of the best ways to make that happen and some of the most active spiritual warfare I can wage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In Jesus' name, Amen

John 14:14 might be one of our favorite verses in the Bible: “You may ask anything in my name, and I will do it.” Hence, someone developed the practice of praying with the important tag on the end, "In Jesus' name, Amen." 

Because adding Jesus' name to a request is like saying "please" when you're a little kid. It's the magic word.

Shame on us for trying to rub the lamp for the Jesus genie. Asking for something in Jesus' name bears far heavier implications than saying "please" when you want a chocolate chip cookie. Jesus' name invokes power, authority, and sacrifice. When I align myself with Jesus, I bear the responsibility of Romans 12:1-2 and Philippians 2--I must humble myself like Jesus did and become a living sacrifice. I must say "Not my will, but Thine be done." That's what Jesus' name means.

Jesus stands in the gap for us before the Father and intercedes for our requests. He reminds the Father that this lowly human (me)--this follower of Christ who's struggling in finances or relationships--has been pardoned from her great guilt by Jesus' own personal payment. This human likeness of Christ I aspire to have lets me stand before a holy God and ask for help, which God promises to give me because of Jesus' love and pain. If I am truly a replica of Jesus--if I can stand as a "little Christ" (i.e.. Christian)--then I will want God's will, whatever that looks like. I will not subvert God's will, reinterpret God's will, or manipulate God's will so I triumph emotionally, financially, physically, or socially.

Because if I'm like Jesus, I'm walking a path of suffering, and I'm leaning into God's strength for wisdom, courage, and destiny. God's will is my will. That's what I'm asking for. That's what I want. In Jesus' name.

“The prevailing idea seems to be, that I come to God and ask Him for something that I want, and that I expect Him to give that which I have asked. . . . This popular belief reduces God to a servant, our servant: doing our bidding, performing our pleasure, granting our desires.”—A. W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Thankful Heart

You can't fake a thankful heart, even if you say "thank you" or send a "thank you" note, (which, by the way, is still an excellent idea, even in the age of technology). Thankfulness permeates why you do things and how you do them. It emanates from a spirit of contentment rather than entitlement.

Thankfulness makes statements like--
"You are so thoughtful!"
"I can't believe you did that!"
"You make me feel so special!"
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world!"

Thankfulness and humility go hand-in-hand. They expect nothing, appreciate everything, and value everyone. Thankfulness comes from the heart, creating pure joy.

Col. 2:6-7--"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

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Friday, October 9, 2015

How to complain the right way

I know how to complain. You do, too.

This isn't fair.
I will never dig out of this.
Nobody appreciates me.
I wish I had nicer things!
Why can't I make any more money?
I don't have any friends.
Why is this happening to me??

It's all really pathetic on paper yet pretty important in our heads and hearts. We want to give credence to our feelings, so we express them to a friend, a spouse, social media, or some unsuspecting car at a stoplight. Does it help?

Some. Verbal statements seem more accurate than fleeting thoughts, so it's nice to express how we feel. The hard part comes next--how to be positive. So we give our complaints the respect they deserve, and we speak them out. We're frustrated that God's not doing a better job of meeting our needs, and we don't see any escape routes.

In times like these, I turn to the Psalms. David wrote at least 20 specific laments, and he's a doggone good complainer. But here's the interesting thing--David complains to God. Before his declarations settle in to his psyche, he responds to his own complaints with faith. He gives himself the answers that seem hard to believe. Yet he knows they are true:

God is good.
God loves me.
God will protect me.
God will avenge my enemies.
God has a plan for my life.
God will use this hardship for good in my life.
God has blessed me a hundred times before; He will bless me again.

David let those words sink in, and he believed them even more.

So don't just complain about your issues. Turn to God for help. Make your laments and believe that He cares. Plain ol' complaining is just a waste of time.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lament about Oregon shooting

Below is a blogpost on Guideposts, by my friend Bob Hostetler. He writes extensively about prayer, and uses laments on his prayer blog to show his readership how to call out to God when times are terrible. Last week proved yet another example of when and how to lament. I've copied his blog below, as well as the source material.

by Bob Hostetler

Another shooting happened last week at a community college in Oregon. Nine innocent people died, adding to our collective sense of grief and frustration.
Since then, of course, airwaves and the internet have been filled with anger and argument, outcries and opinions of all kinds. Such things are understandable. They can even be healthy. Though few people—if any—would suggest that prayers alone are sufficient at such a time, prayer is critical. And particularly the prayer of tears.
The psalmist David cried out:
Hear my prayer, LORD, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. (Psalm 39:12, NIV)
On another occasion, he asked God:
Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll. (Psalm 56:8, NIV)
Tears of grief and passion—even fury—are precious in the sight of God. We may instinctively try to stifle our tears when tragedy strikes and grief overwhelms. But maybe we shouldn’t. Especially when words fail us, our tears can say what we can’t express. Tears cleanse. Tears relieve. And tears pray.
So let yourself cry. Let your tears pray. Ask God to listen to your weeping. Ask him to record your tears and in his loving, providential wisdom, turn them into healing, help and hope—for you, for victims and for our hurting, sin-stained, violent world.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to have a good Pity-Party

Some days are meant for pity-parties. I mean it. Some days, you just need to throw something or cry into a pillow because life is too hard. You know how to have a good pity-party. Just let somebody try and stop you. Two boxes of tissues, 2 candy bars, and maybe some uncontrolled behavior.

The downside to a pity-party is the aftermath. On top of feeling overwhelmed, pitching a fit provides very temporary relief; it might even reinforce your feelings of desperation.

I love reading the book of Job on those occasions when life seems unfair because you can't read about Job's life without feeling a little bit of relief. You just can't. Job had it worse than anybody I know, and it happened in one fell swoop. Talk about unfair.

Let me share one of Job's laments with you, so you can feel at least justified in having Biblical tantrum. I must point out one interesting fact, however. What makes this lament usable is that Job is taking his frustration to God. He's really not taking it out on God or on anybody else. He knows that only God can help him, and when the big complaint is over, Job sits and waits for God to intervene. (And he waits a really long time. And throws a few more tantrums. And has more pity-parties. But who wouldn't?)

Here's how this one went, in my modern paraphrase (Job 3):

"I should never have been born! Or I should have died in childbirth! At least now I'd be sleeping peacefully instead of never sleeping.
Why bring me into this world and let me experience joy, and then snatch it away from me? Who does that? That's just cruel!
I want to die, but instead, you're killing everyone I love! I have to live on in misery alone!
What kind of God are you?
I've always been afraid something like this would happen, and now it has! I can't believe I trusted you. I thought you loved me.
I will never be happy again."

Ever say anything like that? I have. It doesn't feel spiritual at all--and certainly not prayerful.

Except that it is. It's a lament. It's crying out to God instead of just crying. It's looking up instead of looking around.

And that's a good place to start when life stinks.

Do we really have to forgive everyone?

Today I read a great post about forgiveness by Gwen Theilges, appearing on Rodney Coe's website "Lift up your day," for which we both guest-write. I wanted to share it below:
I’ve knelt at an altar, placing the names of people at His feet before. I’ve felt anger and betrayal, and if I told you each story, I’m willing to bet you’d agree that I’m justified in feeling wronged in at least a few of the situations.
But, here’s the thing. Well, the things…First of all, there have been people kneeling at literal and figurative altars placing ME at the feet of Jesus before.
I’ve wronged people. Sometimes I had the best of intentions, but unfortunately did something to hurt another person.
And other times? I just got it wrong.
No, let me use the real word – I sinned.
And therefore sent someone directly to an altar trying to forgive me, or worse yet, directly in the opposite direction – where bitterness increases and peace is elusive…that place where we go to not lay people at the feet of Jesus, asking God to give us the ability to forgive them, but instead where we justify our feelings of betrayal and anger.
That place where we dwell in a heap of self-destructive self-righteousness.
And the other thing? God forgives us without fail, repeatedly, and with arms wide open. We’re ALL sinners saved by amazing grace. Who are we to keep forgiveness from someone else?
We put others on a mental list entitled, “Not worthy of forgiveness,” while we couldn’t imagine our own names being on it. Do we truly think we are any more worthy of forgiveness than others?
I mean, think about it…every sin has the same root: we think our way of doing things or our way of thinking is better than God’s way. The sins themselves have different degrees of how they shake out, how many people are affected, and how the world categorizes them.
But, the root? All the same.
Does this also apply to the people you would least like to forgive? We’ve done things equally as ‘unforgivable.’ We can’t say that they don’t deserve our forgiveness if we want to speak the truth.
That leaves us with the only option left: we have to forgive them.
Wait! We don’t have to. On our own, anyway. We can’t! However, we have a God that upon being asked, will replace our feelings of unforgiveness with His peace that passes understanding.
I’ve experienced it. It’s the most free and liberated feeling. It can only be from God. It’s beyond-words-wonderful.
WE don’t have to forgive everyone, because in our ‘humanness’, WE can’t. However, with God by our side, we, plus God, can! We can forgive the ‘worst’ of offenses with the power of God.
Forgiving others in your own strength? Good luck. And thank God you don’t have to!
However, going boldly to the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16) and asking in expectancy (Matthew 7:7-8) for Him to help us forgive others? That’s doable. And right. And necessary in order for us to live the life God planned for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
So throw away your list of ‘unforgivable’ people, get on your knees prayerfully, and get up feeling lighter than you’ve ever felt before. And know that most likely, you’ll be on your knees again.
However, if you ask Him to be, God will be there WITH you, imparting HIS power to give you the ability to forgive others.
No worries.
As it turns out, WE really don’t have to forgive everyone.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Confessing self-righteousness

Dear Holy Father, 
I confess my sin to you—my selfishness, my jealousy, my vanity, my ambition. I know I'm full of my own goodness. Continue to show me my arrogance and humble me. Cleanse me and make me holy like you so I can accurately reflect who you are. I desire to become blameless and pure, a vessel ready to be used! To you belongs all the glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.