Devotional

Prayer: Hold On to the Lifeline

When Storm Clouds Gather series, devotional # 7

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry in distress, and He hears my voice. (Psalm 55:16, 17 NIV)

A storm can make it hard to know where we are going. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, On the Bank of Plum Creek, Laura described a blizzard so bad that Pa was lost in it for four days without knowing that he was very close to home. He couldn’t see the light in the window. During the blizzard, Ma had to hang onto the clothesline to find her way from the house to the barn to care for the animals, or she would have been lost. The clothesline acted as a lifeline.

In the storms of life, such as financial setback, ill health, or other crisis, we may not see our way to safety. The path ahead can be dark, and we may not feel God’s presence. It’s easy to lose our direction, our hope, and our peace.

Prayer is our lifeline.

Prayer is talking to God. It doesn’t need to be full of ‘spiritual’ phrases. Our Heavenly Father wants us to communicate with Him, just as we want our children to communicate with us. The Lord listens and He answers our prayers.

Jesus expects us to pray. When He taught the disciples how to pray in Matthew, chapter six, He said “When you pray”, not “If you pray.”

The Apostle Paul also told believers to pray. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

Sometimes we may not know how to pray, or what to ask of our loving Heavenly Father. Is what we are asking according to God’s will?

We have a Helper. Paul assured us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us … And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26, 27 NIV)

In 1988 I heard a Focus on the Family broadcast that ultimately changed my prayer life. Dr. James Dobson was interviewing Fern Nichols, founder of Moms in Touch International (now called Moms in Prayer International). Fern described how she and other women gathered weekly to pray for an hour for their children and for their children’s schools. I looked at my three-month-old daughter and decided that when she entered Kindergarten, I would join a Moms in Touch (MITI) group. When that day came, I was fearful. I’d known Jesus since my childhood, yet how would I pray for an hour? I certainly couldn’t imagine that I would later lead MITI groups and eventually teach Moms in Prayer (MIPI) on mission trips.

I learned how to pray using Scripture, as I’ve done using I Thessalonians 5:16-17 in the prayer below. The following prayer format used by Moms in Prayer still helps me to pray. I hope that it helps you.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com
  • Praise – Praising God for who He is, His attributes, His name, or His character.
  •  Confession – Confessing your sins to the God who forgives. (In a MIPI meeting the confession is done silently.)
  • Thanksgiving – Thanking God for what He has done.
  • Intercession – Coming to God in prayer on behalf of others.

Writing and dating the prayer requests and God’s answers to prayer in a prayer journal helps us to see the way God has worked on our behalf in the past and reminds us that God will answer in the future. Let’s talk with God.

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You for being the God who listens. I confess that I grumble and I forget to seek You. Please forgive me. Thank you for loving me. Please help me to rejoice always, pray continually, and to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Your will for me in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Devotional

Fear or Faith?

When Storm Clouds Gather series, devotional # 5

By Kathryn Hughes

“Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:3,4 NLT)

There is so much to fuel our fears right now. COVID-19 threatens our health and life. Loneliness can overwhelm us as friends and family are distanced. Jobs are threatened or eliminated, adding another level of fear for personal finances and our economy. Riots, looting, and social injustice amp up the fear level too.

A friend once told me that fear is an acronym for:

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real.

Yet there is so much that is real in our fears right now. How can we avoid drowning in the fear?

FAITH

Remember that the Lord is still in control. Sure, the winds are whipping around and the waves are high. But is our Heavenly Father throwing up His hands in despair? No. The LORD reigns…surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. (Psalm 93:1) He isn’t surprised by racial injustice nor by a medical diagnosis. He’s not surprised by any moment in our lives.

When I received a diagnosis of cancer, my Heavenly Father already knew it. In fact, I believe that God allowed me to have a minor unrelated health issue so the mass on my kidney would be discovered in the ultrasound. Was I afraid? You bet.

I read a limited number of articles about kidney cancer and talked with my surgeon. But I couldn’t allow myself to read everything there was on the subject nor focus on my family history of other cancers or other unknown fears. It distracted me too much and made me fearful.

Instead, I clung to what I did know. The Lord allowed the disease. He will accomplish his purpose for my life. I will not die one minute earlier than the day He already planned.

Thankfully, the surgeon was able to remove all of the cancer.

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

When fears surface and try to pull us under their wave, focusing on God’s greatness and character helps us remember who He is. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive [with us,] Nor will He keep [His anger] forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:8-10 NASB) Like King David, we can say, I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”

Let’s be ready to confront fear with faith. Write down some Scripture that helps bring the focus back onto the God who loves us. Use those verses in prayer, personalizing them as I’ve done with a few verses of Psalm 103 in the prayer below. Here are a couple Scripture passages that mean a lot to me, I hope they encourage you too. Psalms 139:16-18; Psalm 103.

Heavenly Father, I bless Your holy name. May I forget none of Your benefits. You pardon all my iniquities. You crown me with lovingkindness and compassion. You satisfy me with good things. Please forgive me for focusing on fear instead of on You. Please help me to praise You and to trust You to remove the fear.  In Jesus’ powerful name. Amen.  

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