#JOYFUL in #HOPE

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
—Romans 12:9-13

El Shaddai: God Almighty

When Abram was ninety-nine years old,
the Lord appeared to him and said,  

“I am El-Shaddai—’God Almighty.’
Serve me faithfully and
live a blameless life.
I will make a covenant with you,
by which I will guarantee to give you
countless descendants.”

—Genesis 17:1-2, NLT

 

If you cannot view this video for any reason, click here to read the lyrics.

The Marriage Triangle: The Power of Prayer #LoveWins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

Devote yourselves to prayer 
with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 

Colossians 4:2, NLT

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit my children who live about two hours away. Before I drove off, Rick and I held hands while he prayed over me. This always makes me feel completely covered by God’s love and care, as well as Rick’s. To me, this is no small thing.

Rick and I also pray together before we leave on a trip, or when we go for a motorcycle ride, asking God to bless us during our travels.

Prayer is so important that Jesus made a point of teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-15, NKJVLet’s talk about different ways we can pray as a married couple.

Let’s first take another look at the Marriage Triangle. If husbands and wives are keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, we will want to pray for His will in our lives. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other. Prayer is an integral part of His plan for us.

Praying together for each other

 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.
Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 
James 5:13, NLT

I touched on this above. Spouses can pray for each other before they are about to be apart. This doesn’t just mean when one spouse will be traveling and the other one is staying home. How about praying before you each leave for work? Or if the wife works as a stay-at-home mom, her husband can pray for her day with the children as she prays for his day at work.

Is one of you struggling with something in your life? Share it with your spouse so you can pray about it together.

The same holds true when exciting things are happening. Praise God together in prayer. God loves it when we acknowledge the wonderful things He is doing in and through us!

Praying for each other separately

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person

has great power and produces wonderful results.
Elijah was as human as we are,

and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall,
none fell for three and a half years!
Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain

and the earth began to yield its crops.
James 5:16-18, NLT

Husbands and wives should pray for each other on a daily basis. What great things do you see your husband doing as he seeks to live as the Lord wants him to? It is a nice gesture to let your spouse know how much you appreciate the way they are walking with the Lord, but how about also lifting her up to the Lord in prayer? Thank Him for the blessing of her in your life.

Let’s go back to the idea that your spouse is struggling with something that’s going on in his life. Even though you have both prayed about this together, continue to lift it up to the Lord in your private prayers for him.

He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no intercessor;
therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
Isaiah 59:16, NKJV

Intercessory prayer on behalf of another is an excellent way to seek God’s will for the other person.

“Quite simply, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others. The role of mediator in prayer was prevalent in the Old Testament, in the cases of Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, Hezekiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Christ is pictured in the New Testament as the ultimate intercessor, and because of this, all Christian prayer becomes intercession since it is offered to God through and by Christ. Jesus closed the gap between us and God when He died on the cross. Because of Jesus’ mediation, we can now intercede in prayer on behalf of other Christians or for the lost, asking God to grant their requests according to His will.” 1

Praying even when it feels awkward

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers
for all believers everywhere.
Eph 6:18, NLT

I don’t think prayer comes easily to anyone but like most things, the more you pray the more comfortable you become with it. Before you know it, praying becomes second nature to you.

Think of prayer as a conversation between you and God. Talk to Him as if He is right next to you, because He actually is! We cannot see him with our eyes now but we can feel Him in our heart. In fact, the Lord knows what is in your heart but loves to hear you say it to Him. And isn’t that the way marriage is too? We know our spouse loves us but I don’t know anyone who does not like to hear that said out loud.

Pray for specific issues separately and together

When there are big decisions to be made, prayer should always be at the center of those considerations. Pray for what God wants you to do – together as a couple and also separately.

Years ago Rick and I started praying about moving out of California. We didn’t know the when or where of it, but we kept praying about it. During the waiting time, we considered and visited several different places, and northern Arizona seemed to be where God continued to direct us. 

A couple of years later, our prayers were answered as we each finally felt God telling us it was the right time to move. The moving process itself was not easy but we prayed about and followed God’s leading through every step. Almost 13 years later, here we are, still thanking God for planting us in this beautiful area.

If God doesn’t answer your prayers right away, don’t give up! Keep on praying for His direction and timing.

“I don’t know how to pray/I’m not comfortable praying out loud”

Have you ever said or thought this, especially when listening to someone pray a long, moving prayer? Verbal prayer doesn’t come easily to any of us, does it? I still stumble with words when praying aloud as I try to turn my thoughts into prayers.

My initial experience in hearing others pray aloud was at the first Bible study I ever attended. It was a women’s Bible study and there were at least 20 of us seated around a large table. At the end of the study we shared prayer requests. When no further prayer needs were shared, our teacher said she would start us off in prayer and then we could take turns as we felt led to do so.

I listened to one woman after another pray eloquently for some of the needs we had heard, marveling at how easily they expressed themselves. I chose not to pray aloud that day because I couldn’t imagine how to pray like they did. However, a little at a time I learned that each of us has our own way of praying out loud and that we shouldn’t ever feel inadequate about what we’re praying, or for how long ─ or short ─ our prayers are. God hears all of our prayers and appreciates every one of them!

Don’t worry about “proper” prayers!

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything;
tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.
If you do this, you will experience God’s peace,

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest

as you trust in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7, TLB

As you can see, we are not to be anxious about anything, and that includes how we pray. God hears all our prayers, so just pray from your heart and don’t worry about how they sound.

God puts much value in our prayers. If you don’t believe this to be true, check out these passages in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 5:8: And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

Revelation 8:3: Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne.

Revelation 8:4: The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.

Like almost everything else, our prayer life takes time to develop so don’t give up. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers. Since God places so much importance on prayer, He will gladly direct you in what to pray about and how to say those prayers.


1 What is Intercessory Prayer?

Worrywart or #Worry Not

Worrywart or Worry Not

By Patricia Knight

As recorded in the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah lived in the advanced civilization in Ur of the Chaldeans when God asked them to leave their comfortable home, family, and friends to follow Him. They unhesitatingly obeyed God and traveled to an unknown land for an unspecified period of time, giving up all things familiar for an obscure future.

The couple worshipped God faithfully and He blessed them with wealth, expansive land holdings, and burgeoning animal herds. God himself was Abraham’s greatest treasure. God promised him further greatness, but Abraham questioned what God could possibly give him of value since he had no heir to inherit his estate. What Abraham and Sarah desired most was a son, but Sarah had remained barren all of her life.  God then promised the couple an heir and descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the seashore.

Years passed without the promised child. Both Abraham and Sarah were aging. Abraham was 85 years old; Sarah, 75. Were they worried? Though the Bible doesn’t specify such a reaction, we can assume both fear and worry were involved. Wondering if God had forgotten His covenant to them, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Abraham fathered a son, Ishmael, with their maidservant, Hagar. For the purpose of producing a male heir, such an arrangement was acceptable in their society, but Abraham and Sarah had blatantly disobeyed God’s law. The Lord’s characteristics of purity and holiness made it impossible for Him to renege on His promises. It was important they learned that their God was unequivocally faithful.

When Abraham was one hundred years old, angels visited, promising him that Sarah would give birth to their own son within a year. It had been fifteen years since the initial promise, sufficient time to worry about how, when, or if God’s promise would come to fruition. When God’s prophecy was concluded, all details were fulfilled exactly as He promised. Because the couple had irresponsibly implemented their own plan by ignoring God’s covenant, animosity arouse between the two sons, Isaac and Ismael, extending to all future generations of their descendants, the Israelites and the Arabs.

Worry is mental distress or agitation usually resulting from a pending or an anticipated situation. One pundit explains: “Worry is useless. If you worry that a bad thing is going to happen, and then it does, you’ve been through it twice” (Anon). Who wants double trouble?  Most of us practice discipline in areas affecting our health, and yet we implement worry, a health wrecking ball. Worry compromises our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being, displacing the peace of God.

Worship and worry are mutually exclusive; they repel like similar poles of a magnet. Worry is a spiritual handicap that casts doubt on the sincerity of our Christian faith. If we profess to trust our loving God, who plans every aspect of our lives, and we worry about how the features of every day are going to develop, what does that communicate about our commitment to our Lord? As Jesus taught His disciples, “‘You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule’” (Matthew 5:3, Msg.). Why do we always wait until we are desperate to call upon God?

Worrying reveals selfishness of character, a need to have one’s own way. When we allocate our time to fretting about circumstances over which we have no control, we waste precious moments that could be spent in prayer and Bible study, both drawing us closer to God.

The Apostle Paul understood the human tendency to spiral downward as we focus on worry during stress, grief, or emergencies. He advised, “‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life’” (Philippians 4:6-7, Msg.). Paul urges us to concentrate our minds on things with eternal value and release our worry through prayer, leading us into deeper spiritual territory where God transform us with power and grace.

Anxiety is created from the incapacity to deal with worrisome details. If we feel we must continually ruminate an issue, God provides the productive alternative: 

“Cast all your cares upon him {the Lord}, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

The ideal remedy involves admitting our sin of disobedience, asking forgiveness, and giving God preeminence in all areas of our lives. Jesus asks, “‘Can your worries add a single moment to your life?’” (Matthew 6:27, NLT).

Worry stalls the growth and development of our personal relationship with God. Jesus advises that we not worry about what we eat, drink, or wear. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else; and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:32-33, NLT). We have all of God’s promises before us in his Word. Like Abraham and Sarah, do we catch ourselves worrying about God’s timeline and jump ahead of His plans for our lives?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, who gives wholeness and well-being to those who trust in Him. Peace is the tranquility of spirit believers experience when they commit their troubles to God in prayer and worry about them no longer. Jesus is engaged in the business of transforming insecure lives of worry to the enduring stability of peace. He cultivates peace in individual lives. Depend upon Jesus always and in all ways! Forsake fickle, frail worry for Jesus’ promise of peace!

Are you at “Wits’ End Corner”?

From Streams in the Desert devotional.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner,”
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember—at “Wits’ End Corner”
The Burden-Bearer stands.

Are you standing at “Wits’ End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who fails you not: 
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wits’ End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
-Antoinette Wilson

You will find #rest

I’ve been in a fibromyalgia flare for over a week and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. In fact, the mental confusion that is often part of these flares seems to be taking over. Tasks that should take a few minutes feel like they are lasting hours.

This passage in Matthew is so comforting to me. I HOPE it brings peace to you as well, no matter what you’re going through right now.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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, NASB