Sometimes We Just Need to Stop Talking and Pray…

prayLord, I pray that you will be with my friends today.  Bless them and fill them with the wisdom of Your Holy Spirit.  I know there are some struggling with employment issues, grieving over a lost loved one and some are even questioning their relationship with You.  Those are just a few that I know about.  Father, not only do you know each person’s struggle intimately; I know that You have the answer to all of their struggles, as well.  I pray that today, they will see that, too.  Help them to feel your presence and give them the certainty to believe that You are Who You say You are.  Help them to claim Your promises in the Word.  Direct them to scripture that would encourage them and teach  them what they need to know about You.  Bring Godly people into their lives that will speak truth and show Your love to them.

We live in a hurting world.  When we are overwhelmed with life and its challenges; remind us that this is not our home.   Once we have run the race here on earth, we will finally reap our rewards in heaven.  Thank You for these promises that give us hope.  I am so thankful to serve a God that gives me hope for tomorrow,  protection in the days ahead and peace for today.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus Precious Name, I pray.  Amen.

What’s your prayer today?  Did I cover it?  If not, take the time to pause and tell God what is on your mind.  If you’d like me to pray with you for something, I’ll do that too.  Just let me know!  Be blessed…and don’t forget…get out there and be a blessing!

Psalm 141:2 (NIV) May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

No Matter How Impossible Things Might Seem…Never Give Up!

I had the privilege to do a devotion Friday night at a prayer group’s Christmas party. As I prepared the message for the night, I thought about the prayer warriors who would be attending.   They meet on a regular basis together to pray for one another and for the burdens each one carries.   I met some of the women about five years ago when I spoke for their group and I was excited to see how God had answered prayers in the time between first meeting them and now.  Although some of them were still praying for the same issues, same people, and seemingly not getting anywhere with their prayers.

It was exciting to me that the message I had prepared Friday night was one that said, “Never give up.”  After hearing the prayer requests of the women, I realized this message God had given me was timely and pertinent to this group.  Since some had been praying for many years with no answers, I pray that my message gave hope to those who felt like their prayers have been hitting a ceiling instead of rising to the ears of God.

I can certainly relate to those who wonder at times if God is even listening to their prayers.  About two years ago, Jim and I felt God telling us to get our home ready to sell because we were to move.  So we did just that.  We had some delay with the process with my mom’s illness slowing us down a bit, but eventually we got the house on the market.  As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, we thought we had it sold recently and then the deal fell through.  So here we sit again…waiting.  We really don’t understand the delay as we both felt led to get ready when we started the process.  Saturday night Jim and I were questioning why this process has taken so long?  If God wanted us to move, why haven’t we yet?  We’re living with a lot of our treasured possessions boxed up instead of being in our home where we can enjoy them because we have staged the house to sell.  It’s getting really old having to keep everything in perfect condition too so that at the drop of a hat, we can allow someone to show the home.  We’re growing weary in the process and we were questioning, “Why, when we do all the right things, and try to be obedient to God, do we have to go through these times when it feels like He is not hearing our prayers?”

Last week an article came out about my son’s mission in Afghanistan and it said this was perhaps the most dangerous mission that they have sent the Ohio Army National Guard to in all of the last 10 years of the war.  Seeing that, my heart sank.  I knew he’d been training for a long time for this mission and I knew it was dangerous.  However, seeing it in writing just kind of stung a little harder.  Rob’s wife told him that I was worried when I saw the article, which was true; but I’ve been worried since he left.  Not in a way that I am not focused on God and trusting that He’s watching over Rob.  Rather, I just have my mom beware set at high alert so that I am ready to pray him through at any time, day or night.

This week, I got an email from him I’d like to share a part of with you.  It reads like this:  Everything is fine over here, I’m fine, no major issues.  … but don’t worry about me…  Just keep me in your prayers and trust that everything will work out as it is meant to.  What good is it to go to church and pray and blog and everything else Christians do just to end up worrying and getting all worked up about things anyways?

If you can’t trust God’s will to prevail when I’m in combat, and you don’t have faith that His will is divine and perfect, then what’s the point?  I’m not trying to be preachy, but I just don’t want people worrying about me back there.  Celebrate and embrace the fact that I’m doing what I was MEANT to do. 

Then I went to church on Sunday and the pastor’s main message was “Never Give Up.”  Hummm.  I’m beginning to see a theme here.  He spoke about God’s promise to Elizabeth and Zacharias to give them a baby—John the Baptist.  However, if they were to have focused on their circumstances, they would’ve never believed it possible for God to fulfill that promise as He waited until much later in their lives to actually make it happen.  We don’t really know how old they were when John was born but  we know from scripture in Luke 1:18  that Zacharias said … “For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”  I have to laugh when I read that.  I am not sure I would count it a blessing to have a baby so late in life!  She must have been one special lady!

It wasn’t until yesterday when I was sitting in church that I realized the message I gave on Friday night, was just as much for me as it was for all of the women in the group.  Sunday, as our pastor said the exact words Jim and I had been saying the night before, I knew.   He said, “When you are doing all of the right things, living a God honoring life and praying hard for something that just never seems to be happening…don’t give up.”

It’s true.  If we believe God is Sovereign, then we have to believe that whatever happens is His perfect plan when we are praying and trusting Him to get us through.  Who are we to question Him or disbelieve that He is hearing our prayers?  He is God and we are not.  In fact, He is the same God that I have trusted to watch over my son for the last 30 years here in America that I am trusting to watch over my son in Afghanistan today.

It gives me great peace to know that God’s plan is best for me and I need not worry about things.  I just need to pray and trust that He has it all under control.  So if you’ve been praying for something longer than you think you should, think again.   I hope that during this holiday season, you too, will find peace in knowing that since God is God, we don’t have to worry.  He’s got it all under control!  We just need to keep going and never give up!

From my son’s words may I leave you with this:  May the peace of God find its way into your mind during this Christmas season; as it has permeated your heart through years of answered prayers, hardships turned into blessings, and the promise that a throne awaits all who believe, regardless of how we get there.

Matthew 6:34  (NKJV) 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1 Thessalonians 5:17  (NKJV) 17 pray without ceasing,

Today, I Choose To Be Thankful!

Me, Grandpa Walsh, and Daddy Bill…waiting on the traditional dressing!

It has always been important for me to be able to cook Thanksgiving dinner as well as my mom so that one day I might carry on her traditions.  My first year of marriage, I was determined to have my parents over for dinner with me having prepared an entire Thanksgiving feast just for practice.  Mom came over the night before and helped me put the dressing together.  Then the next day, she came a little early to help out where she could, so I asked her to make the gravy.  She started looking around and finally asked me where I had put the giblets. “Giblets?  I don’t know, what’s that?” Well, you’ve probably guessed it; although my first turkey was very moist and tasty, I had forgotten to take the bag of giblets out of the middle of it before I cooked it!  Just minor details…after a few laughs, it all worked out OK.

Over the years, Mom continued to pop in to help and offer advice on the dressing or other items that I was preparing.  I have learned that even though she didn’t have an exact recipe for her wonderful dressing, there was a certain technique to getting it right year after year.  Last year, my mom was no longer with us to come and offer advice or help make the gravy.  I felt it was very important now more than ever that I pass along the family wisdom to my children so that they too, might be able to carry on our traditions once I am gone.  With that in mind, last year, I asked my son to get up early and help with the dressing making.  He’s the one in the family that might actually make it again someday.  It was a special time as I carefully explained the art of Grandma’s dressing and was excited that he was enthusiastic about learning the family secrets.  I cherish special times with my loved ones like that and am thankful that God has put each one into my life.  I imagine that my mom probably felt the same when I was eager to learn as well.

Reflecting this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded especially as Americans, we have so much to be thankful for in even the little things we take for granted.  Even though our nation is in tough times right now, we can be thankful that we are free and among the wealthiest people on this earth despite what our government budget looks like today.  I was driving through some small towns last week and although we are said to be the wealthiest nation, I was disturbed to see several homeless people on the side of the road digging through trash barrels as I drove by.  I might expect this in downtown Cincinnati, but not in the smaller rural communities for some reason.  For the last week there has even been a gentleman standing on a street just down from my home with a sign reading “unemployed, will work for food”.  Sometimes I feel led to give what I can to those alongside the road and other times I drive on by in fear or disbelief that they are actually homeless.  In today’s world, you just never know who you can trust so I wonder how many people who are truly in need that I pass by because of those who have falsely proclaimed to have need when they really weren’t needy at all.

Where do we draw the line?  Do we just give to everyone with their hand out and hope that they are sincere?  Or do we just pick and choose the ones we will give to by how we have determined to size up their need?  I know there are several people who have enjoyed middle to upper class lifestyles and are now finding themselves unemployed and without money for groceries next week.  If I were to look at them, I would think that by the clothes they wear and the cars they drive, they are not in need.  However, in today’s world, we really can’t make that determination. Joblessness is affecting people from all walks of life.  Of course, someone who owns a home, cars and other valuables are in a lot better shape than someone living on the streets, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that times are tough for a lot of people.

One day as I was out showing a client homes to buy, we came up on a dad with three kids who were walking through the house we were there to see.  It was a scene that is becoming all too familiar and I cautioned my buyer to stay in the car until we determined the mindset of the man there.  The kids were bringing things out of the house, mostly clothing, and putting it into the trunk of their tiny car.  Thankfully the man was not angry as some are about their circumstances and told us to come on in to look at the house.  My heart broke as I walked through this house that used to be called home for this family.  The kids were walking kind of aimlessly through the structure looking through what was left of their once prized possessions now strewn across the floors while trying to determine what they were going to need in the next several months.  There were TV’s on the walls, exercise equipment, furniture, toys and even treasured photographs lying around they were leaving behind.  I think this family was realizing that all of those things weren’t near as important as they once were.

I don’t know what happened to that family, but I know this scene is replaying every day across America.  We can read about it in the news reports but it doesn’t really become real until we are literally face to face with the reality of people losing their homes.  Perhaps you know someone personally who has lived through this scenario.  I suspect each one of us knows of someone since it is so widespread.

During this holiday season, I may not have all of the answers to homelessness and unemployment but one thing is for sure–I am thankful.  I am thankful that I am not currently losing my home or living on the streets like those who have crossed my path lately.   I am thankful for my salvation, for my husband who cherishes me, for my family who loves me, for good friends, for our home, our jobs, and for a refrigerator with food in it.  This Thanksgiving, we will have an empty seat at our table as my son serves our military in Afghanistan.  I am thankful for his service but I will be even more thankful when he returns home safe and sound.  For now, I will just hold onto the memories of last year’s special time with Rob and be thankful that we shared that time together.

As a nation in trouble, I pray that we will be a people of prayer.  I hope that those reading today will take a minute to pray for our nation, for our loved ones, for our economy, for our military, and praise God for the blessings He has bestowed on His people today.  Perhaps it is good our nation is suffering a bit.  It seems like when times are good, we forget to look to God.  However, when we and our loved ones are suffering through hard times, I would hope we would be reminded to look up and ask God to intervene.  I hope that each one of us will pray for God to show us how we can help those in need around us while thanking Him all the while that we personally can be used in some small way.

The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV), if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

May we choose to give thanks and praise for all things this holiday season and never forget the One who makes it all possible! Happy Thanksgiving!

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