The Best of Prayer

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Do you want the best you can think of or the best God can think of? Do you find it difficult to pray as Jesus did, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)?

We live in an instant gratification culture. If we want it, we get it, but prayer often involves a waiting period. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Consider the story of Lazarus in John 11. When he was sick, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus. “Lord, the one you love is sick.” The sisters were close friends with Jesus and had seen how He healed people. They thought sure He would come immediately when He got their message, but He didn’t. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days” (John 11:5-6). What?

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days. Martha and Mary said to Jesus if He had been there, their brother would not have died. He followed them to the tomb and asked that the stone be rolled away. Martha said, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (John 11:39). The Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” They rolled the stone away and Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out and Jesus said, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (Luke 11:44).


Do you see how God was glorified in the waiting? A great number of people had come from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas to comfort Mary and Martha. These people saw what happened and believed. Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus, but He gave Lazarus back to them. For two women who probably had no other means of support, this was the best God could think of. This was a greater miracle that what they prayed for or expected.


Thank you, Father God, for Jesus. Help us to pray that He would be glorified in our lives. Help us to pray in line with your will and to persevere–to wait for the best you have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Daily Bread

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The disciples asked Jesus how to pray. Do you wonder why? Maybe they saw Him withdraw to lonely places to pray to the Father. Maybe He prayed with them.

Jesus responded, “. . . when your pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to the Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew6:5-6).

We don’t have to babble on with big impressive words. God knows what we need and is ready to help us. He gave us a pattern of prayer in what is known as the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by 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).

If God knows our needs–the need to live for Him, to have our needs met, to forgive and to guard from temptation–then why does Jesus’ pattern of prayer include these things? The key is in the asking and the receiving. It’s in a relationship with a holy God.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Everything we need is in Jesus. He has us in the palm of His nail-scarred hands. He loves us and cares what happens to us. Being in relationship with Him, we will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty, because Jesus is always with us. He will never leave or forsake us.


When the Israelites moved through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land, they learned that God was their Provider. He gave them the right amount of manna every day, but many were greedy and collected more than they were told to. Maggots swallowed up the extra the Israelites gathered.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Friend, there is enough for everybody! We don’t have to stockpile God’s mercy or grace or sustenance. He gives generously because He loves and cares for us.


Thank you, Heavenly Father, for providing for us. Thank you for Jesus, for love and new mercy and compassion every day. Thank you that we will never have to worry about your presence in our lives. Thank you for a wonderful inheritance in the Kingdom of God that starts when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. In His great name, we pray, Amen.

Let the Son Shine In

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On cloudy days, we say the sun is not shining. It’s not true. The sun is always shining, but clouds cover the earth and block the sun. Plants, flowers and trees concealed from the sun do not receive the sun’s energy for life and growth. Fortunately, clouds move out of the way and life goes on.

Did you know that as the sun is always shining, God is always pouring His amazing grace down upon you? His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). During hard times or suffering we may think God is far away or maybe He doesn’t care. That’s not true. However, our stress and worry are like clouds that block God’s mercies. His love is constant, unstoppable and never-ending.


Will God take us out of our circumstances? Probably not, but we can access His peace by letting go of the tension and trusting Him to carry us through. When I have been sick with a high fever, all I could think about was my suffering. All I could say in prayer was, “Help me, Jesus! Help me!” I knew in my heart that God would never leave me, that He was right there with me. That truth made me thankful, and I began to praise and worship God in my heart.

I found that praise and worship are powerful. As I waited on the Lord, He restored my soul. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).


Oh Lord, help us to let your Son shine His light into our darkest days. Heal us and revive us so we can serve you again with more strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your Protection

Armor of God collection of elements. Long sword of the spirit, readiness wooden shield of faith, armour helmet of salvation, breathpate, sandals of readiness, belt of truth. Vector illustration

Did you think when you accepted God’s amazing love through salvation that life would be easy? Not so! Trouble is part of life for believers. Our enemy was not happy the day Jesus entered our lives. It was all hands on deck for the devil and his buddies. He uses every doubt or failure or sickness or weakness to discourage us. He is the father of lies and destruction.

Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12). Paul used metaphors from the Roman centurion’s armor to describe the protection we need every day as a Christian. He said, “Stand firm then, with:

The belt of truth buckled around your waist;

The breastplate of righteousness in place;

With your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation,

And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:13-17).


Did you notice that? Nothing works without prayer. It’s the glue that holds the armor together. Truth is the foundation of our faith and protects us from the lies and deceit of our enemy. It’s the piece of armor that holds the other parts in place. The weight of the breastplate on a man’s shoulders would bring him to his knees without the support of the belt. In the same way, truth supports the righteousness imputed to us at salvation. The feet were fitted with a readiness for battle. The soldier’s shoes were a combination of sandals and boots–strips of leather, adjustable, with layers of leather on the soles. Think of the gospel of peace as the shoe that enhanced the soldier’s (believer’s) mobility. Then take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Be certain, we are in real warfare, but not without protection. Each piece of armor is for our advantage, and prayer is what God uses to partner with us and make us victorious over our enemy. He is always with us and will never leave us to fight alone.


Heavenly Father, thank you for being our defense. Teach us to be aware of the snares the devil uses against us. Help us to know your presence and trust your protection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sick and Tired

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Are you sick and tired? Tired of all the stress and struggle at work? Tired of feeling like your kids’ taxi driver? Tired of the news? the world situation? I have felt all these things. That’s why I love this Scripture: Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

That’s the answer! Rest for your soul. When my head hits the pillow at night, I still feel like I’m spinning, like on a merry-go-round, and I whisper a prayer to God, “Give me rest and peace.” He says to me, “Be still.” It takes a while before the spinning stops, but I keep pleading for help. I fall asleep praying, “Help me, Jesus. Help me Jesus.” And God is faithful. He is always with me to comfort me and give me peace.


When my heart returns to Matthew 11:28-30, I think of being yoked with Jesus. In middle-eastern thinking, a yoke is a teaching. It makes the next phrase make sense to me: “learn from me.” I particularly like the next part–being yoked (as with oxen) with Jesus. He is gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. Being yoked with Jesus is like partnering with Him. He is with me to help me, encourage and strengthen me. He bears the load with me. This makes my work easier. Even Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Thank you, Lord, that you partner with me to lighten my burden and give me rest. Help is what I need. Rest is what I long for. Be in me today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What is it?

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The Israelites journeyed through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land, and they grumbled. They complained about not having enough to eat, and God heard their cries. He rained down bread from Heaven, enough for each day at a time. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. They called it manna, which means “What is it?” (Exodus 16)

The manna that came every day reminds me of Lamentations 3:22-23: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

The mystery of “What is it?” can be applied to our daily bread–The Bread of God, the Word of God and the blessings of God that come new every day. We receive blessings, not with a clear expectation of what they will be but with a holy anticipation, as a child might receive a gift, surprised by His amazing love, His unstoppable grace and wonder.


I was a Christian a long time before I grasped the newness of God’s love every day. It came in a conversation with God–reading His word (God talking) and prayer (my response). I found a Bible reading plan in the Lutheran Book of Worship, which has an Old Testament lesson, a New Testament Lesson and a Gospel lesson. I got up fifteen minutes earlier to read the Scriptures and pray before I went to work. It’s a discipline I’ve had more than thirty years. You can find Bible reading plans with a Google search. Here is one for you to check out:


Most Holy God, I pray you draw your people to your word, the Bread of Life, with a new awe, a sense of “What is it?” every day. Send your Spirit on them to give them a hunger and thirst for more of you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Victory in Brokenness

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What do we do with shattered dreams that come from natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes or forest fires? Loss of home, possessions, health, wealth, loved ones, employment . . . Most of us fall into despair like the darkness of night. We feel helpless. Friend, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Robert Schuler said, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” People who find strength in the Lord find peace in the midst of terrible circumstances. God can bring beauty from ashes, peace from conflict, and victory over despair. When everything looks hopeless, look up. God is with you. He will never forsake you but will help you get through bad times. We have a Friend in Jesus who saves us from a life of sin, which separates us from God. Then He walks with us in good times and bad times. He never sleeps or slumbers. He never grows weary of hearing our cries for help. We can trust in Him.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted . . . and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:2-3).


If we put our hope only in things we can see or touch, we will be disappointed and discouraged. A man once lost all he had in a hurricane. The disaster relief team prayed for him after they spent a day clearing away trees and debris. He said, “I haven’t been to church in a long time, but I think I’ll start going now.” One of the men who worked on his property asked him what had changed his mind. He said, “When all that was left of my house was a few boards, I found written on a door frame, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand.'” Tears rolled down the man’s face as he thanked the men who worked and prayed for him.


Heavenly Father, I pray that you help the many people who live in challenging circumstances to live by faith in you, not in the things they see. Be their rock and their refuge in times of deep despair. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Seven Steps to Connect with God in Prayer

six year old little asian boy praying.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded with a pattern of prayer we know as The Lord’s Prayer. It has seven basic steps to connect with God:

  • Recognize God, the Father as Almighty God and Creator of the universe.
  • Give reverence to His name. These first two steps fulfill the first and second commandments to worship only God and keep His name Holy (Deuteronomy 5:8-11).
  • Honor His ways. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
  • Make your requests to God, but do not make them your priority.
  • Reflect on your life in light of God’s ways. Confess sins that come to mind and ask God for His forgiveness only as you are willing to forgive those who sin against you.
  • Ask God to lead you in His ways and not into temptation.
  • End your prayer “In Jesus’ name.” “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).


When I first began to pray, all I knew to say was, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,” so thankful that the God of the universe loved even me, a sinful woman. It’s a powerful prayer. The more I prayed, “Thank you, Jesus,” the more things I became thankful for. And then my prayer grew to, “Help me, Jesus,” knowing that a God who loved me would be willing and able to help me. Like the disciples, I wanted to learn a more systematic way to pray, and I began to pray as Jesus taught them.


Thank you, Father God, for your amazing love and for helping us find our way to connect with You every day. Be in us more and more. Help us to be more like Jesus. It’s in His name, we pray, Amen.