While preparing to move to Africa for several years, I asked, “What should I bring?” The answer came, “Whatever makes you feel at home.” Having always lived in the southern United States, I had no idea how to make that decision, short of taking everything I owned. Once I arrived in Africa, I adjusted more quickly than expected to the various places I lived. “Home” became more of a state of mind than a physical location or set of things.
“How is life in Sudan different from the USA?”
• Waking in the middle of the night to find the house invaded by army ants
• Realizing you are the only white person on a very full bus, and feeling comfortable with that.
• Meeting someone at a shop and ending up in their home having breakfast
• Spending an afternoon at the Sudanese ambassador’s house
• Enjoying sheep intestines while thinking it is macaroni.
• Entering the home of a stranger and being welcomed like a long-lost friend.
Life in Africa was not what I expected. It is fuller, richer, changeable, unpredictable, fascinating. The people are gracious, forgiving and hospitable. The tastes, sights, and sounds reflect a vibrant, determined, joyful richness that overcomes poverty and significant difficulties. I’ve been challenged and encouraged while learning great patience and the value of perseverance. I am deeply indebted, especially to the Sudanese, who have taught me so much.
Due to the inconsistency of Sudan Air flights, I traveled to Juba from Khartoum on a USAID flight. It was fun talking with the pilot, and I quickly learned that flying in the Sudan was not for the faint of heart! Following the Nile was key to getting to your destination. If you had to leave the Nile to get somewhere, you returned to it as quickly as possible. While this story occurred some 40 years ago, I expect the same conditions apply today.
In our family, we greet with a hug. We also part with a hug, and maybe a kiss. Some cultures greet with a hug and a kiss on one cheek, other cultures give kisses on each cheek. It can be hard to keep up with which one is appropriate. In Sudan, if someone doesn't greet you with at least a handshake, then there is a problem. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse at home, or they are angry with someone at work. Perhaps they don't like you. It is wise to tread carefully, just in case.
Shortages occurred frequently in Sudan: bread, sugar, fuel, motor oil. During 1982, fuel was in short supply and queues were long. The Sudanese are the most patient people I know. They put up with these inconveniences and then make jokes about them. I learned humor was a good way to cope with stress. Not only did you need a good sense of humor, you also needed to be creative and observant, like my friend John. The Sudanese are masters at getting around a blockage. Their creativity knows no bounds.
Language learning took me into many situations. In this story, I went to high school with one of my Sudanese friends, Amani. It was eye-opening to see how the girls had to learn their lessons - no books to read, just writing down as much as they could. For the tests, they memorized their notes. Rote memory is the typical teaching/learning method in Africa. Thinking is not encouraged - as it may pose a threat to the teacher. This experience provided good insight into the mindset of the people with whom I was in contact.
I don't get impatient when listening to a conversation in a language I don't know. There are all kinds of things to learn. The rhythm of the speaker, the intonation used, and even the odd non-speech sounds are important. In this story, my Sudanese friend Layla kept making the "Giddyup" sound as she listened to her friend tell a story. I couldn't work out what that signalled, so I asked. Sure enough, it had an important meaning, so even if I couldn't verbalize a response, I could signal the speaker to keep going.
Pickpockets are common across the world. I've lost things in airports, on buses, and on the street. This story explains how one woman took precautions and caught a potential thief. I've included some warnings that the wise will follow, wherever you are.
Moving to a new country presents many opportunities to learn lessons. This story represents one of my early lessons: Don't be the last one on the plane! I also learned from Ken's example, talking to the agent for hours in order to get on the plane at all. We can either stick to our cultural ways or we can learn to adapt. My suggestion is, learn to adapt. It makes your life so much easier. After all, you are moving to their country. Don't make the mistake of taking your culture and expectations too seriously.
I lived in Sudan for about 20 years, and what's more, I lived very closely with the Sudanese. They have my undying respect as they've learned to cope with far more than I can imagine. I wanted to show the good side of these amazing people, but that required me to understand at least something of their lives and personalities. If someone is the fool in these stories, I am that person. After all, I was the newcomer. The experience wasn't always easy, but I think it was very worthwhile. I hope you will enjoy getting to know these wonderful people.
Getting used to the heat in Khartoum is not easy. We've had visitors afraid to breathe outside for fear of burning their lungs. But, breathing is an essential part of life, so get on with it! Once I had adjusted to that climate, everywhere else in the world was COLD. The first warning sign was using the toilet on the plane. The seat was cold. It is amazing how quickly we forget.
it's easy to think "everyone thinks like I do" because most of the people we live with think like we do. Or we think like they do. But move out of that little comfort zone, and the world is a different place. I never dreamed I would stay with a couple from Austria while in Nairobi, Kenya. Nor did I expect their having guests from Germany. Yes, they thought differently, and spoke freely in German, but kindly noticed I didn't. It didn't take long for me to learn to observe, listen to the cadence of languages I didn't speak or understand. It's amazing what you can learn. I've grown as a person, broadened my mind and realized the world is a much bigger place than I had imagined.
Life abroad requires a number of adjustments. First, there is the host culture to adapt to. Next, there are numerous people from countries across the world who live there as well. I was invited to a party with a bunch of other people, especially Brits. Some brought salad, others brought dessert, and both turned out to be Jello! I learned early on that it is important to listen to the stories of those who have been in the country longer. They made mistakes, and if I wanted to avoid those mistakes, I better listen up! I could make plenty of my own, but I don't have to repeat what others have done and learned from.
When I was learning Arabic in Sudan, it was important to get out of the house and talk to people. Fortunately, talking is one of the most popular activities for the Sudanese. I'm so glad I went to Khartoum in the 1980s, as people were welcoming and eager to meet someone new. I look back on the many delightful visits with families, and their patience with my slowness of tongue in speaking their language. So many good memories to enjoy now.
It was a good thing my first experience in Africa was to attend a training course on how to live there. I learned about water filters, bleaching all vegetables and fruit that I wanted to eat raw. What if there were no electricity? Kerosene can be your good friend. Learning what resources are available increases creativity and the freedom to try new things. I never mastered riding a motorcycle, but I'm grateful for all the other nifty things I learned.
I started reading when I was about three-years-old. When in doubt, look for a sign. But when I landed in Khartoum and walked into the airport, that strategy failed me. Everything was written in Arabic script and I knew NOTHING. At first I felt bemused, then a bit afraid. Someone was supposed to meet me, and they were not there. I stood rooted to the spot. Should I risk going outside? Should I stay put? My eyes must have been the size of saucers. At last my colleagues came inside and found me. What a relief! Together, we headed into the city and into my new and unexpected life.
When I left my family and friends in the US and moved to Africa in 1982, there was only snail-mail. And in Sudan, we had very slow snails. It took at least 2 weeks to send a letter to my parents. If they replied immediately, it took another 2 weeks for me to receive it. By that time, I had forgotten what I told them as that was a month ago. Still, letters from home were precious and reread multiple times. Thankfully, my mother kept many of my letters, and I can now reference them. I have a file drawer full.
My first big challenge in Sudan was learning the language of wider communication, Arabic. Since my assignment was for 3 years, my supervisor wanted me to concentrate on spoken Arabic, not the written version. After this initial period of language learning, there was never time to go back to learn the written version. I lived in Sudan for about 20 years. Ah well, such is life. Some of my colleagues were learning French, and progressing much more quickly than I was.Then I realized that 25% of French words are similar to English words, so they had a significant head start. My study lasted about 9 months. It was time well-spent.
I first arrived in Africa in January 1982. The weather in the US and Europe was very cold and I was dressed for that. However, once I deplaned in Douala, Cameroon, I discovered I was overdressed. That discomfort was increased when a group of us discovered our names were not on the passenger list to Yaoundé, our final destination. Our goal was to attend an orientation course so we lived successfully in the African context. This initial experience set us up well for the rest of the course!
My memoir series is called Not How I Planned It. My expectations for my life were very simple: working as a speech therapist, buy a house, settle down and maybe travel a bit. But that's not what happened. A few critical decisions and my life became an amazing adventure that still surprises me. I found myself in Africa on my way to living for years in the Sudan, particularly in Khartoum. And after nearly 40 years, I wouldn't change anything. I hope you enjoy reading about my very true adventures.
Lent is a time of repentance and confession in preparation for the celebration of Easter. These prayers, based on Scripture, offer a topic for each day for us to ponder and if need be, confess. Each Sunday offers a prayer of praise because Sunday is always resurrection.
God once asked me, "Do you own your possessions or do your possessions own you?" It is a good question for each of us to ponder. If we own our possessions, then we can give them up. If they own us, then we can't. With today's inflation, bank failures and insecurities, there may be some possessions we need to give up. God challenges us to trust that as our loving father, he will make sure we have what we need. How much do we believe that?
We face many issues in our world today that we don’t really know how to pray for: addictions, illness, depression, loss, leadership, refugees and persecuted communities, natural disasters, racism, sexual abuse as well as violence and terrorism. This book aims to offer prayers based on scripture for these issues, praying God’s Word.
Have you found yourself or someone you know in need of hope during this season? The holidays can be very difficult for some. Others find themselves dealing with illness, loss, depression. There are places in the world where fear and fighting have become the norm. We all go through times when we need hope, but true hope really comes from God. God dispenses justice to those in the wrong, which gives hope to the innocent who suffer. Let's pray for hope during this season of Advent.
Sometimes we are alone. At other times, people can surround us, but we still feel alone. The verses that provide the basis for this prayer remind us that God is always with us. In fact, we can't get away from him. God knows where we are, how we feel, what we need. We just need to open our eyes and hearts to see it.
Alone in a hospital? Wondering how members of your family are doing? Feeling estranged from family and friends? Whatever the reason, loneliness can get us down. The holidays can be very difficult if we do not connect well with family or friends. One thing is sure, God never leaves us or forsakes us. God is present if we just take time to notice.
It seems everywhere we look there is some kind of injustice. How do we begin to pray about all those things? It's easy to throw up our hands and give up. But let's allow the Scriptures to help us. This prayer is based on Psalm 35. We don't always know who the righteous are or who is standing with them, but God knows. We can't go wrong praying God's words back to him.
We see so much boasting and bragging from leaders today. It is discouraging, but God has a message for them. God will judge those who are wicked. God decides who will rise and who will fall. Let's pray together that God will increase the power of the godly.
People are feeling trapped in situations they can't get out of: Palestinians, soldiers, patients, those who are being abused. We need to pray for those in such difficult situations to endure and to be brought to a better place.
How often do you pray for the leaders in your church? I don't do that nearly enough. I found this prayer to be very helpful to direct my mind and thoughts and prayers to supporting my church leaders and missionaries. They often face difficulties and struggles we know nothing about, and yet they must continue to lead. They need God's help, and we can support them in that by our prayers.
Our hearts grieve for the loss of life, heartache and devastation we see on our TV screens after Hamas' attack on Israel and the reactions to it. As Deuteronomy points out, people have choices between life and death, between blessings and curses. We must pray for the leaders of all the nations to choose life so that people thrive rather than struggle to survive.
Hundreds dead, captives taken, uncertainty reigns. How do we pray for countries at war? We can choose a side and hope God is on the same side we are. Or, we can pray for an end to all conflicts, as in this prayer for peace. Our world is broken and in need of God's healing power. Let's pray to that end.
Two weeks ago, I found out that a very dear friend has Stage 4 cancer. It is widespread. Other complications have prevented her starting on chemotherapy, and no one can tell whether she will tolerate the treatment. For someone who wasn't on ANY medication, this is a fast come-down. But how do we pray in such situations? I feel hopeless, and yet hopeful, as she is a Christian and has no fear of death. She just wants more time to be doing what she loves and does so very well. She is walking with the Shepherd.
It is hard to imagine a quarter of a city disappears in a wave of water. People and homes washed out to sea. Whole families lost. Homes and businesses destroyed. Possessions gone. Those left behind try to make sense of what has happened while they dig in the mud for the dead, find bodies washed up on the shore. They face financial loss in addition to the loss of family, homes, everything. How do we pray for people in such a condition?
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake has killed nearly 3000 people. I cannot imagine such loss and devastation. Once again, we feel helpless, and even if we send some money for relief, it seems such a small amount. What else can we do? Of course, we can pray. We can pray for strength to go on for those who survived, comfort for those who mourn their looses. We need to remember that our God is not helpless, nor was God caught off-guard. Let's call on our all-powerful God to be their defender.
While I wrote this prayer during the pandemic, it is still relevant today. So many of our young people struggle with loneliness and isolation and poor self-image. Let's pray for God's protection over those who struggle with life that they find hope to keep going. Also we pray that God will protect them during the hard times and bring help when it is needed.
This week I read of 13,000 children starving in Chad because their parents fled the violence in Darfur and Khartoum, Sudan. They didn't deserve this! Their parents are helpless in the face of war, violence, and few resources. The people in Maui whose homes burned are still trying to figure out how to cope with their losses. They are walking in darkness, and they need the light of hope. Let's pray for God's light to shine on them and give them the strength and provision they so desperately need.
There are so many disasters in our world today. The news is full of lost homes, lost loved ones, and lost hope. As we interact with these situations, we can pray for deliverance for those affected. Thankfully, our God knows the details. We don't have to. God answers our prayers, so let's be faithful to offer those prayers on behalf of those in such desperate need.
Recent fires and tornadoes have destroyed people's homes and businesses. These losses are devastating. Anxiety, depression, and fear can quickly take over. We can support these needy people through our prayers. God is the ultimate comfort, and we can petition God to restore hope and bring peace to those in need.
In today's prayer, the solution to our prejudice is to start with ourselves. We all react to people and situations we don't know or understand with caution, but sometimes we also have preconceived notions about them. Is God prejudiced? No, he loves all of us equally. So, if we ask to have our hearts reflect God's, we will all be better people, showing love and compassion.
As the election season continues to heat up, we need to pray for our leaders. The leaders of our cities and counties, our state, our country and our world. Stirring up anxiety and anger leads to destruction, while peace and justice lead to prosperity. Let's keep this in mind so we keep our sentiments in line with God's desire for order and respect for those in authority.
We want to find justice and righteousness, but are we willing to offer it to others? I find I'm too quick to judge, to assume the worst in others. How often have I failed to show others the same compassion that I show myself, or that God has shown me? I fear too many times I've failed. This prayer of confession can help us deal with the log in our own eye before we try to sort out the speck in our neighbor's eye. May God help us.
Recently a number of my friends have shared their fears, concerns, sadness and needs with me. I can't fix them, but I can pray for them. But what should I pray? Praying for BIG Things enables us to turn to the Scriptures for inspiration. We pray to the One who loves us best and has the power to overcome any difficulty. Let's pray BIG!
Do you sometimes feel everyone is distressed and you don't know how to think about it all, let alone pray for it. God knows each heart and all those who struggle - which is all of us at some point. These words from Luke are comforting. There is hope. there is help. And that help is now available. Let's take courage and pray for those in need as well as for ourselves.
I think we all know someone who has a strong stubborn streak. We all have that to some extent. We decide what we believe, and changing our mind is not an option. Many hold on to those beliefs, even when they are clearly not true. We need new hearts and new spirits that reflect who God is. Let's pray for our stubborn friends as well as ourselves, that God would make us new.
I can't think of a more helpless position to be in - in a submarine that is lost somewhere under the sea. As vessels rush to their rescue, we can add our prayers for rescue and recovery. But it isn't only those in physical danger who need our prayers. There are many struggles that bring us to a state of despair, and we need to pray to our God who raises the dead. Only God can bring life out of a deadly situation. Let's pray to a great God who is worthy of our praise.
Life can get us down. There are so many problems we can't fix. Sometimes we even wonder if it is worth continuing to try. But we have hope in the One who does have the power to change things. And there will be a day when all will be made right. We can live with a lot of issues, provided we have hope. Let's pray for that confidence in God to bring hope to the despairing and to ourselves as well.
I received a message from a friend in Khartoum asking which organizations were distributing food. Immediately I went on the Internet to find out, but there was little information. What do I tell this family whom I've known for years? I give them what information I have, limited though it is. And I pray for them. They live in a war zone with no food, no money, no way to get money, and no way to escape. They are trusting God to provide, and I'm praying for that as well. Will you join me?
If I'm not currently struggling with something, I know someone who is. I'm guessing you do as well. Do you find yourself saying, "God, please help X." God knows how to do that, but I feel I need to be a bit more specific. This prayer for endurance covers a lot of things for a lot of people, and best of all, it comes straight from God. These prayers, based on Scripture, offer us a way to pray for ourselves and others using God's own words. How can we improve on that?
If we are not struggling with something, we know someone who is. Do you find yourself saying, "God, please help X." What does 'help' mean? We don't know so we just leave it up to God. That's not bad, but sometimes we need to be more specific. His prayer for Endurance helps us cover more specific situations, and the words come from God. So, how can we improve on that?
My heart is with the Sudanese people who are suffering terribly because of two proud rivals. While there is physical fighting, there is also a spiritual battle going on. The desire for power, primarily for personal gain, is deadly. Many Sudanese have fled, many more cannot run away. It is over 100*F with no power, no water, and very little food. Step outside your house, and risk being shot. But God is able to rescue, to stop this senseless violence. Let's pray this prayer for the Sudanese and others today.
Loneliness is at pandemic levels these days. We may feel alone, abandoned, not understood. But we have a God who completely knows us and never leaves us. There is no location where God cannot see us. What a comfort. In addition to finding support in God's presence for ourselves, let's also pray for others we know who may be feeling the same way.
First Ukraine and now Sudan - facing aggression in its most brutal form. People are without food, water, electricity. Even hiding in their homes isn't safe, as mortars can come through the roof at any moment. Leaving isn't an option because of fighting in the streets. What would you do to protect your children in such a situation? We must answer this aggression with the help of our mighty and powerful God. We PRAY for these BIG Things and God will hear and answer.
We have just celebrated the amazing love and power of our LORD, Jesus Christ. He loved us to the end, and commands us to follow his example. How well do we love those around us, especially those we don't particularly like? Let us take up this challenge to live in love with those around us.
Violence and mass shootings are becoming commonplace in our nation. How do we stop this? The debate rages on, but the solutions are difficult to identify. One effective thing we can do is pray. Usually, we think of prayer as our last alternative, when it needs to be our first. We can petition our powerful God to deal with potentially violent people before they get to the point of action. Let's pray for their rescue and healing before it is too late.
The photos of the destruction in Mississippi and Alabama are heart-rending. Tornadoes tore apart businesses, homes and lives. We can uphold these folks in prayer as well as sending aid to them. But how do we know what to pray? The losses are so great and the need so vast, only God can truly help them overcome these difficulties and challenges.
Banks fail, inflation continues to rise, safety nets are removed. Is it any wonder people feel overwhelmed, crushed beneath the weight of it all? Yes, our circumstances may look grim, but as a child of God, there is hope. Not only is there hope, there is help. God is not limited by our circumstances. Let us pray with faith to the God who has control of it all.
Sin leads us into some very dark places, all the while telling us how free we are. Those who continue on that dark path can become twisted in their desires and perceptions. Then they lead others down that same hopeless path. Let's pray that they will become untangled and freed from sin. May they come to a knowledge of the truth and be truly set free.
When was the last time you prayed for your pastor? What about the elders? deacons? mission leaders? missionaries? It's all too easy to assume these people have some special link to God, but they are people — just like you and me. They also need guidance and encouragement. Let's offer our prayers for them this week.
We are just noting the first anniversary of Russia's war with Ukraine. How much suffering has taken place in both countries? How long will this continue? We know the people of Russia are not evil, but there is evil at work in the leadership of that great land. The poor and the orphans are suffering and need our prayers. They need HOPE most of all, and that hope comes from God. Let's pray for their protection and relief. May there be no more anniversaries to note.
As the number of dead continues to rise from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, we know those left behind are experiencing unimaginable grief and loss. Why were they spared when others died? How will they live now their homes and possessions are gone? Those seeking to aid these needy people can also become overwhelmed with the task. But then there are those who want to benefit from the suffering of others, to steal what has been given. We cry out for mercy, for hope, for guidance, and for protection for these in need.
I can't imagine the despair and hopelessness felt by the people impacted by the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Buildings come crashing down, lives lost, injuries, loss of possessions, loss of loved ones. We need to pray for them that God, in his mercy, would protect, comfort and provide. We pray for the rescuers, as well as those in need of help. Praying for BIG Things seeks to offer prayers for these BIG issues in life for which we have no other words. These prayers come from Scripture, so we are praying God's words back to him. What better thing could we do?
We have returning leaders at state and federal level that need our prayers. There are new legislators arriving and finding their feet in their new posts. We need to pray for honesty, faithfulness, and care for those they serve. Can we make a difference? YES! Our God is BIG and can solve BIG problems. So, let's regularly take our petitions on behalf of our leaders to our powerful, loving God.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, so I have included a prayer for healing. We need to "unblind" our eyes to this heinous problem. We must pray for those caught up in this practice, whether victims or perpetrators. Sometimes we think of prayer as a last resort when it should be our first. Prayer is powerful, and God is concerned about each person. Let us join with God to pray for rescue, healing and restoration.
In the Christmas season, as we enjoy special meals and treats, there are thousands of people starving. I'm particularly aware of the famine in East Africa since I lived there for many years. Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Kenya are all affected. Less than 50% of the money needed for aid has been promised. What do parents tell their starving children? So, while we feast, let's pray for provision for those in dire need.
In this 3rd week of Advent, the focus is on Love. We want to show our love to friends and family by sending Christmas cards and buying gifts, making special foods, and getting together. It is also a time of giving, a time of compassion for those in need. We need to show our trust and faith in God by living out our love by what we do.
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are chaotic at best. There are presents to buy and food to prepare, travel plans to make, parties to attend. It's easy to lose focus on what is really important - like love, joy, peace, hope, giving,. The LORD is our refuge and strength, always ready to help us when life spins out of control.
In my home area, an organization has started a safe house for underage girls rescued from sex trafficking. Hard to think about, isn't it? What if your daughter was lured into that situation? How do we pray for an incident where a man pretends to be a teenager on the internet, and then convinces a 15-year old girl into revealing where she is. He then goes across the country to meet her, kills her family and burns their house. How do we pray about that? The Scriptures give us words, even for these unthinkable situations. We have a powerful God and we need to pray BIG prayers for our broken world.
We have many things for which to be grateful. Even when times are challenging and inflation is high. But we also know that many are struggling with intractable problems and need a helping hand. That help may be food or shelter and may include justice, freedom, or restoration. So in this season of Thanksgiving, let's consider our blessings and how we can be a blessing to others.
I have been house-bound with various illnesses for the past two months. It has given me greater sympathy for others who are suffering and facing discouragement and loneliness. This has been a time for me to trust God in new ways and to experience God's loving presence. So, this is an appropriate prayer for those you know who are suffering. And God will do more than we would ever dare to ask or imagine.
We've had a chance to vote for our preferred candidates. Now it is time for those elected to get to work. As the Bible says in Matthew 12:25, a house divided against itself will not stand. We need to pray fervently for the peace of our cities, our country and our world.
We grieve with the people of Puerto Rico, Florida and South Carolina as they've recently experienced the ravages of these powerful storms. Homes and businesses lost, lives lost, survivors whose lives are upended. We can make financial contributions, but we also need to pray. But what can we say? Praying for BIG Things offers a beginning for our prayers - words from Scripture so we pray God's own words back to him. How can we go wrong?
Do you want people to be nicer? More open to new ideas? More kind? More centered on God? Do we want to be more like Christ? We are called by God to be children of light. Let's pray that we and our neighbors will be more open to the Spirit, open to the truth, using helpful speech, showing kindness and forgiving each other as God has forgiven us.
Do you feel helpless in the face of floods, fires, drought, famine, war? It all seems too much to bear, and it is very easy to fall into despair. Using God's own Word, we pray for those facing despair - others or ourselves. We need hope to get through times of trouble, and that is what God offers in abundance. As the all-powerful God, there is nothing he can't overcome. What's more, God's forgiveness is unlimited. Yes, even in times of trial, we can have hope.
Our prayers are often about our own needs and concerns. But we need to be faithfully praying for our pastors and other church leaders. They are people just like we are, with problems, conflicts, ailments, and the burden of shepherding God's people. Let's not forget to pray faithfully and thoughtfully for these men and women of God.
Floods destroyed lives and property in eastern Kentucky. Famine haunts the people of northeast Africa. Ukraine is in chaos. Maybe your life is in chaos as well. How do we pray for ourselves, for others who find themselves in hopeless, anxious circumstances? Praying for BIG Things helps guide us using Scriptures as the basis of our prayers. What more can we do than pray God's words back to him?
For several years, I've traveled to Africa to teach on a course. As I'm leaving, I often see many young African women dressed in hijabs on their way to the Middle East. I don't know what they've been promised, but I often wonder what will happen to these innocent young women. From stories I've heard in the past, they may experience some serious difficulties. Will they be allowed to return home if they so choose? I've overheard the immigration officer question if the woman actually wants to go. Most say "yes". Hopefully all will be well. For those caught up in something more sinister, let's pray.
When we are blessed to live in a country where we can choose our leaders, we need to take that opportunity seriously. But in every case, we can pray for our leaders, that they will choose life so that the people they lead will live and prosper. May our leaders choose to obey God and firmly commit themselves to following God's commands, for this is the key to life.
Russia attacked one of the world's food baskets, the Ukraine. Now we see shortages of food impacting many, many people.In addition, climate change has meant less rainfall in many areas of the world, resulting in food insecurity. These events are largely out of our control or the control of the people facing the challenges. But there is One who is still in control, and we offer our prayers to God. We pray for provision and even more for hope.
God wants the best for us. But to find God's best, we need to give up some of our deeply held, but still sinful beliefs. We are broken people, but we want to think we are perfect,. We lie to ourselves and to God. It is time to stop and confess so that we can live out the way of Christ.
Decisions are made that we don't agree with. Those we choose as leaders sometimes make laws or decisions that make us angry. How do we respond? Do we send wrath-filled letters or emails? Do we forget God's command to show respect and obedience toward those in authority? We need to be gentle and show courtesy to everyone, even those with whom we disagree. In this way, we can set an example of good behavior that will honor God. We have choices. Let's make good ones.
I like to be in control and have everything go according to my plan. How about you? I suspect we all have these feelings at least on occasion. But we soon discover that we are not in control and it seems our worlds are just running wild. Chaos and confusion are everywhere. But today's prayer reminds us that whatever things may look like here, God is in control and God's purposes can never be shaken. Hold on to that truth and live into it.
Someone makes us angry and immediately we want revenge. Maybe the act was intentional or perhaps not. Even so, too often we don't take the time to calm down and investigate, we just want to get them back. Our scripture today says to leave such vengeance to God. Instead, we are to be kind and gracious to our enemies. We are to conquer evil by doing good. That's a very difficult assignment. May God help us to follow the path of peace.
In this last week, the course I'm teaching on (43 staff and students) have been sent away from our booked accommodation because other customers will pay more than we can. We had paid the deposit and been promised many things. But in the end, we were told, "We can't do anything for you. Pack up your things and go wherever you can find." We had less than 24 hours. We found something for a month, but the next month is still a question mark. We want justice. God has promised justice, so we are praying for God's provision and also conviction for those who have failed to honor their promise. Where do you need God's intervention?
There are many times in our lives when we feel lonely. We may be with lots of people or we may be alone, but regardless of our situation, we are lonely. There is no one who seems to understand or is willing to listen. The person we need is waiting for us to notice his presence. We are never far from him, we are just blind to him. God is faithful and patient, waiting for us to come so he can show his love and compassion. Let's pray faithfully for those who are lonely and need to know God is present for them.
We grieve with the families and friends who lost loved ones in the recent mass shootings in NY and CA. Whatever the cause, the results for those left behind are much the same: fear, sorrow, loss, anger, emptiness, helplessness. As we pray for these experiencing loss, and for ourselves as we debate what to do, let's ask God to provide a sense of safety. Only God can calm the storms raging about us, only God can change the hearts of people filled with hate. May God bring us to a place of safety and peace.
The Supreme Court has been in focus this past week because of the pending decision on Roe vs. Wade. We need to pray for our leaders as they face complicated and challenging choices. We don't all see "justice" in the same way. But God is just and God's wisdom and authority take into account all our positions. Instead of getting anxious, angry, or self-satisfied let's do something positive and pray for God's wisdom and discernment to be given to our judges.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the western United States is experiencing the worst drought since 800 C.E. That's 1200 years! Do we just shrug our shoulders and sigh or should we DO something? Do what? PRAY. People are being affected by the lack of food. Animals suffer from lack of rain. Our God will hear our cries and answer. Let us not fail to ask.
How often do you remember to pray for your pastor? We often have high expectations for those who lead our places of worship, but we are not always so careful to pray for their welfare. The apostle Paul knew the importance of praying for the pastors and teachers he had trained. We should follow that good example.
A home recently opened near where I live to house and re-establish dignity and worth to minors rescued from sex trafficking. I'm grateful for a place like that, and for the staff who will be helping these girls. But how did we come to the place of needing a resource like this? What if one of those girls were my daughter? We have become a depraved people in so many ways. Clearly, we need to be praying for God's convicting power to change hearts, minds, and actions.
We may wonder if prayer is really effective. Have you watched the news of Ukraine? Kyiv did not fall in 3-5 days as expected.The Ukrainian army has repulsed the Russian invasion to such a degree that Russia has changed its plans. Were these events just chance? I don't think so. People prayed, and we need to continue to pray. How should we pray? We can pray for the earth to be at rest and quiet once the tyrants have been removed. Yes, God hears and answers our prayers. Let's be faithful.
In our politically divided world, we urgently need to pray for our leaders. They don't know the future any more than we do, yet they must make decisions that will affect that future. Today we pray for our leaders to realize their responsibility before God, and the importance of maintaining the high values of honesty and impartiality taught in the Scriptures. Let's pray for our leaders regularly rather than always criticising decisions with which we disagree.
As Christians, we know we should pray, but sometimes our lack of faith gets in the way. We are asking the all-powerful God of the universe for something. Why not ask BIG? So, in these days of strife, conflict, and war, we need to pray for peace. God promises our prayers, prayed in faith, will have great effect. May true peace come in our time.
As our world leaders meet in Brussels to discuss what steps to take for Ukraine, they need God's guidance. As they debate various options, they need God's wisdom, protection and fresh ideas. They need strength to carry out their resolutions, while considering the cost. Let us uphold them with our prayers.
What would you need if you suddenly had to leave your country with only one suitcase? Peace and safety would be high on my list. We are grateful for the neighboring countries who are showing compassion and care for those fleeing Russian aggression. Let's offer our prayers for those in distress that God will provide places of safety for each person. As they receive care, may they also know God's peace in the midst of their loneliness and despair.
Two million refugees have left Ukraine in the past two weeks. Our hearts go out to them. Many are sending aid to help them. But what they really want is to go home and live in safety. Somehow, amid this disaster and chaos, God has a plan. We don't see it now, but we will later. Therefore, we hold on to the promise that God is in control and that brings hope to us all. Let's join together to pray for refugees around the world, that they may soon return to their homes and live in peace.
The world watches in horror as the devastation in Ukraine continues. We feel helpless and hopeless. BUT GOD. We believe in prayer, but hardly know what to pray. That is why Praying for BIG Things is so important for today. The topics cover some of the darkest in our modern world: war, terrorism, devastation, loss, addiction, leadership. Prayers are based on Scripture, so we can pray God's own words back to him.
As we watch the disaster in Ukraine unfold, we have many feelings. We are angry, sad, sorrowful, frustrated. For the most part, few of us can actually intervene to help refugees or stop the invasion. But we have a resource more powerful than sanctions or weapons, more resourceful than The Red Cross or UNHCR. We have a powerful God who invites us to pray. This situation did not catch God by surprise. We can pray for protection, provision, for an end to fighting. We have more power than we imagine as we enter the throne room of God.
In a recent study, researchers found 75% of addicts recover and live meaningful lives. The substance causing the addiction didn't matter, alcohol or drugs. Even the severity of the addiction didn't change the statistics. The challenge was to keep the person alive long enough for the change to happen. On average, the addict needs 10 years to come to the point of health, and will likely experience multiple failures along the way. This prayer is offered to support those seeking and those who have found freedom from their addictions.
We enter a new year with our hopes and dreams for a better future. However, our worries, fears, sorrows and challenges come with us from this past year into the new one. That is why we need a prompt to remind us and those we care about to pray. Jesus told us if we ask anything in his name, he will do it. Why don't we ask? Ask the Good Shepherd to walk with you into and through 2022.
We hear about Russia massing troops on the border with Ukraine. Presidents are talking to each other, trying to find a way forward. We sit by, feeling helpless. But we are not without resources because we have a mighty God who controls this world. We can PRAY. Here is a prayer that we can pray for the people of Ukraine.
In these contentious days, some people are more apt to respond to others with whom they disagree with harsh words and angry emotions. We can get so convinced that our viewpoint is the ONLY legitimate one that we fail to listen to each other. The Bible teaches us to be respectful, gentle and courteous to everyone. Praying for BIG Things contains prayers based on Scripture to help us pray God's words back to him.
Our leaders need our prayers. We must uphold them in their difficult roles in our communities, states, countries and world. There are many pressures. Good leaders who serve the people they represent are hard to find. Those who advise them should be honest and wise. So, let's use this prayer to guide us as we pray for those who seek to lead us.
Good leadership is vital to any organization, business, or country. The success or failure, perhaps life or death, result from leaders who work together or tear each other apart. As Christians, we need to pray for unity, and that they will make a commitment to do what is best for the people being led.
In the aftermath of hurricane Ida, rescue teams are assessing the vast damage and trying to find victims. We can pray for the rescue effort, that God will give strength and success.
As we watch the horror, chaos and despair of the people of Afghanistan and other places in the world, we long to do something to bring relief, but find ourselves powerless. What we can do is pray. Here is a prayer from Praying for BIG Things, for peace and safety. There is a whole section of the book offering prayers for those who are refugees, displaced people, or migrants.
COVID-19 and the Delta variant are causing everyone to think again about how to stay safe. With schools starting back, we are concerned for the safety and welfare of our children. This prayer expresses some of those fears and asks for help from the One who can provide it.
The Still Small Voice of Love is a devotional book. It includes a brief Scripture reading in the text as well as reflections from that reading in the form of a dialogue between the Beloved and the Lover. Then there are Scriptures that reflect what the Lover (Jesus) has said and an opportunity for the reader to do their own meditation.
As I look back on my life, I see times when I hit rock bottom. All my hopes and dreams lay in ruins. I felt scattered and shattered. Do you ever feel that way? I bet you do. God uses those times in my life to hone me into the person I need to be for the next role God wants me to fill. It doesn't look like anything good could come out of such a time, but in hindsight, these times of struggle are essential. Going through a rough patch? Take hope, there's a reason, and it is one to give you hope.
This verse caused me to reflect on my past, and then to remember all the things God has done for me. It's all too easy to forget. We may remember the hard things and forget the good. We forget nothing is outside of God's control. We forget that God wants to accomplish great things in us. God remembers that we are frail, and promises to do what is best for us. Let's try to remember that.
I found rewriting Psalm 118 an interesting exercise. As the Psalmist reflected on his past life, he noted how God had been faithful. As I did the same, I had to admit that even when things looked at their worst, God was faithful to me. Maybe you want to give this exercise a try. It might be good for your soul.
I went through a time of questioning whether anyone loved me, even God. As I reflected on the scripture, I wondered if God really loved me. What a wonderful realization that God really did care about me, even enjoyed me. Reflecting on God's Word is so important to learning to hear God's voice.
God doesn't expect me to become good enough for him to accept me. But God promises to make me better once I trust in his grace. Often the things I want are not the things I need. Some things I need I really don't want, like pain, suffering, sadness. But these are the things God most often uses to help me become the person I am meant to be. Each night I pray a prayer of confession that ends, "Thank you for not abandoning me." I've given him plenty of reason, but because of God's great love and mercy, he still holds me fast. Thanks be to God.
Twenty years in Africa taught me, "Ask, you might get." If you don't ask, the answer is "no". I have a friend who reminds me of a fly that sits on your arm. You brush it away, and it comes right back to the same place. Shake it off, and in a few seconds, there it is again. That's shameless persistence. My friend is not shy about asking for something and then reminding me of it repeatedly until I've done it. That's how we need to be with God. In fact, God invites us to be that way. Nothing is too small or too great for us to request, and to keep on asking. What an opportunity.
"I'm not good enough to go to church." Has anyone ever said that to you? Have you said it? We are all too aware of our need to be at peace with God, but we are too weak to do much about it. We try, but we fail. Then we feel unworthy. The Good News is: Jesus gives us peace with God. The price he paid is sufficient. We don't have to add anything. Our commitment is simply to respond to God's love and seek to follow in our LORD's footsteps out of gratitude, not fear.
We like to project a positive image of ourselves so people will think we are good. But deep inside, we know that isn't really the truth, even if we hate to admit it. Guilt can pull us down into a spiral of depression and hopelessness. "How could anyone love someone like me?" "No one cares." But God takes us as we are. No improvements are required before being accepted. Thankfully, God doesn't leave us as he found us, but gradually works in us to bring about the change that makes us who we were meant to be. This light of hope and grace removes our guilt and frees us to live in wholeness. We have a future and a hope.
An 18-year-old once asked me, "Don't you have life figured out yet?" I had to laugh. No, the challenges just keep changing. It's all too easy to feel that "life" has taken control and we are left floundering about, wondering what to do. That helpless feeling is unnerving. We should be able to get control, and yet that eludes us. Thankfully, we have a God who is in control and is willing to take us by the hand and lead us along the right path for our life. We find security, confidence, and joy in living in God's love. What a wonderful comfort.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? Sometimes our problems and struggles are more than we can bear. We see no way out, no relief! The message from our church may be "have faith". We want to, but we just can't see how even God could fix whatever is wrong. We believe, but we also doubt. Thankfully, God doesn't expect us to have a lot of faith, just a mustard seed's worth. I like to look back on my life and see how God has been faithful so far, and that gives me hope that the future will work out even better. Let's hold on to our hope by faith and never let go.
With a 24-hour news cycle, we can hear about various disasters from around the world all day and all night. It is exhausting! And what can one person do? Instead of throwing up our hands and doing nothing, let's prayerfully consider what is the next good thing that we can do. True, one person can't solve all the problems, but together, we can begin to make a real difference in the life of at least one person. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. "Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." (Galatians 6:5, The Message)
Is that a strange question? When I look back on certain times in my life, I see a mess. I felt I was a hopeless case and could never get my life moving the way it should. As I look back on more positive times, I realize that God has been working on me, gently changing me into the person I was created to be. God doesn't force those changes, but allows circumstances to put pressure on when needed. I can honestly say, these changes were for my good, and as I look back at my life, I'm grateful for them. What about you?
You are not alone in your uncertainty. Usually, I find I haven't been listening well, or allowing myself to think outside the box. When we face challenges, there is a plan. Our loving and faithful God knows that plan and is preparing to do what is best for us. But if we don't listen? Yes, we can miss out on a blessing. Take time to listen to the still, small voice of Love.
I don't like to own my sin or even to admit I have any sin in my life. But that is self-denial. I don't want people to think badly of me, and I don't want to think I'm a bad person. But I'm broken, so broken I don't even know what wholeness is. The only way out of this situation is to acknowledge my shortcomings and allow God to cleanse me. It is the most freeing thing I can do.
We want the benefits, but are we willing to pay the price for them? What price is that? Being honest about ourselves and that we are not the people we pretend to be. We are broken, and we need to recognize that and repent of it before God can truly give us all we have been promised. I don't like to think about my brokenness, but my pride and self-sufficiency get in the way of true joy. I don't want to miss out, and neither do you.
Here today, gone tomorrow. Our world is so transient. It is hard to know what we can really depend on. So, to know God's faithful love endures forever is a great comfort. Think through the uncertainties of your life, name them, then repeat the phrase, "Your faithful love endures." With that promise, we can move forward with confidence and hope.
It's one thing to say, "I believe", but another thing to have faith when times are hard and the way forward looks impossible. At those times, we need to look at the past and see how God has been faithful. Then we can once again look forward with confidence.
Moses was asking for mercy for Lot and his family before God judged Sodom and Gomorrah. Why should God listen to Moses? God listened to Moses' request because God looked favorably on him and knew him by name. Does God know your name? Of course he does! He has a special name for each of us, and as such, a relationship with us. Reflecting on these Scriptures will be an encouragement to you and bring you joy.
Back in 2005, I learned about the ancient practice of lectio divina or spiritual reading. Learning to use this on a daily basis has radically changed the way I relate to Scripture and to God. I believe God speaks to me through his Word, and it changes me in the best way. If you haven't tried it, you have missed a blessing. Give it a try today.
I'm a workaholic. I confess it. I try to stop it, but it's hard! Every now and then, God has to pull me up sharply and teach me that life is about my relationship to God, not about what I DO. I love what I do, but that's not a sufficient reason to damage my health by doing everything I want to. God keeps focusing me toward being more contemplative, thoughtful, resting in his grace and love. Thankfully, each day offers the opportunity to start afresh with a better perspective.
Life can be daunting, and so often we feel inadequate. The imposter syndrome is very real for most of us. But in this passage, we find hope. God promises us a crown of beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. We can trust in God's strength and endurance to enable us to accomplish what is before us. God will not let us down, even when we fail. God sees the big picture and invites us to be partners in bringing glory to God.
How many times do we hear our inner voice blaming, condemning, telling us how bad we are or how much we fail. Those negative messages may well be a sign that we have not chosen to live out our forgiveness in Christ. God can forgive us as we trust in Jesus. But if we continue to beat ourselves up, we are not living out our forgiveness. So, choose to live as forgiven and dearly loved children and find JOY.
Are you experiencing a time of weakness? It may be physical or emotional. It is difficult to be out of control, unable to carry on one's "normal" life. It's easy to be angry and frustrated. I'm in one of those places right now. This reflection was a good reminder to me, and perhaps to you, that God controls our times and our strength. We are called God's Beloved, not for what we do, but simply for who we are.
None of us likes to think we are sinners. We like to appear to be good people, always with the best of motives. But that isn't really us, is it? The only way to get rid of sin is to confess it and find forgiveness. Yes, it's uncomfortable, unpleasant, hard. BUT the reward is amazing. When we own our sin, then we can be forgiven, and God has forgiveness in abundance. The result of that is peace, joy, and blessing Come clean and be free.
For years I felt unworthy to belong to a loving God. I tried to be perfect, lying to myself about how "good" I was. Yet, I knew my heart and what I was really like. How could God really accept and love me? But finally grace intervened, showing me my righteousness was not based on what I did, but on Jesus' sacrifice. Now, I'm just learning bit by bit how to have a relationship with the God who loves me. My lesson was: stop trying to win God's love. Realize I already have it and enjoy it. This gift is for you as well. Stop trying and accept this precious gift.
Our goal in life, as a Christian, is to bring God joy, glory and honor. But are we missing out on that opportunity? I was, and sometimes still do. I fail to recognize my own sin and rebellion, pretending all is well. As long as I do that, I'm unable to receive forgiveness and healing. I'm cheating myself. I'm missing out on the wonderful and settling for the inevitable. My sin holds me back. My fear of letting my true heart be known to God - when God knows me completely already - prevents me from finding healing. The only one I'm fooling is me. Can you relate? Thankfully, there is hope because God is ready and willing to forgive and restore.
Why would God want me to be part of his family? I'm not that special or good. In fact, I often feel unworthy of such a position. But he delights in having each of us become part of the family of God. I believe God is even more pleased as we deepen our relationship with him and our brothers and sisters around the world. We are never alone. We always belong. It's personal and it is very real. Rejoice and be glad.
Sometimes I just get wrapped up in plans for the future or thinking about the past. The present seems to have no purpose, and yet, all we really have is the present. We have NOW. Do we want to continue as we began? Have we learned some lessons that could make life better if we changed our attitudes? Are we looking so much to the future that we forget to enjoy where we are now? I confess, I do. God is always in the present. God always loves us. I want to love back in the here and now. How about you?
What is God doing in your life? Are some old ways changing? Are you faced with challenges you don't know how to handle? Maybe God is doing something new, but you can't see what it is quite yet. Perhaps you have created a bit of a wilderness for yourself and need to find a way out. We get into bad habits and need to be reformed. When he is at work, we can be confident God is moving us for our own good. We are moving through a dry wasteland in order to be refreshed.
When I was growing up, "No" was not an answer I could give to any request made of me. It runs in the family. But as I grew older, and burned out several times, I realized I needed to learn to say "No" sometimes. But when are those times? Can I be confident that I've chosen the right ones? Staying in close touch with God is vital to understanding what belongs to me and what doesn't. God gives me permission to rest when I'm tired. He allows me to say "No" when the request fails to meet my gifts or my timeframe. Can you say "No"?
In this excerpt, there is a dialogue between the Lover (God) and the Beloved (me). As usual, I'm the doubting one, unsure of the way ahead. Ever feel like that? But God assures me that there is a plan and if I keep my eyes focused on him, I will have the help and courage that I need. How do you hear a conversation with God. Listen. When I finally get quiet and still, I find God has a great deal to say, all of which I need to hear.
Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are? I have. I feel so inadequate at times. Today's passage tells us that God didn't make a mistake in the way I was created. I have works to do that God prepared in advance just for me. Sometimes I have to be pushed out of my comfort zone to do them, but I'm gifted for those tasks. And guess what! So are you.
Are you feeling worried or anxious about what's going on in the world today? In your life? I recently saw a quote from Hannah Whitall Smith, "there are two things which are more utterly incompatible than even oil and water, and these two are trust and worry." Those words spoke to me, and I think they can speak to you. The Still Small Voice of Love offers an opportunity to reflect on the Scriptures and let the God of the Bible speak peace into our hearts. We can trust God, but we often don't really believe that. It's time for positive action.
Is one of your resolutions to spend more time in God's Word? Here is an interactive study that prompts you to listen to God and then respond to what he is saying to you. You, too, can discover his deep and abiding love for you, not only by reading what I have to say, but what God has to say to you. Try it!
Do you want to experience God's love in a new way during this Advent season? As we consider the birth of Jesus and what it cost him to leave the glory of heaven and come to earth to live as a poor carpenter, we realize the depths of his love for us. His love for me and for you. No matter our circumstances or our past, God wants us to know about and accept his generous, abundant love.
It's easy to become discouraged with politics, the pandemic, the social issues. The Still Small Voice of Love offers a different perspective, one of hope, of being loved and cared for. So, in this season, give the gift of hope to someone you care about.
During this pandemic, most of us have felt alone and afraid. We can't get out and do our normal activities, see our friends and family, or even go to work without fear of becoming sick. Today's reading assures us we are not alone. We have a loving Father who cares deeply about us. Being with him gives us both great pleasure. Enjoy a few minutes of stillness with the One who loves you best.
Are you looking for a devotional book for this season? Feeling in need of God's love and companionship, then look no further. Life is difficult these days, but God wants to assure us through the Word that we are loved and cared for. We don't need to be perfect. We don't even need to be good, just open to the One who loves us most. God is always there and always cares.
The Still Small Voice of Love is a devotional book. It includes a brief Scripture reading in the text as well as reflections from that reading in the form of a dialogue between the Beloved and the Lover. Then there are Scriptures that reflect what the Lover (Jesus) has said and an opportunity for the reader to do their own meditation.
I don't know about you, but I like to know where I'm going before I start out. I like being in control. But sometimes, God doesn't tell us where we are going, we are just expected to start going and the way will become clear. When Jesus healed these lepers, he told them to go to the priest, and as they were going, they were healed. On one occasion, I knew I should be ready to move to another country, but there was no visa. As I waited for the paperwork, God said, "Get ready. When it comes, you need to be ready to go." So, I purchased the things I would need. I selected my clothes and other essentials. Suddenly, the visa came, and I was ready to get on the plane. What is God asking you to get moving on?
None of us enjoy living through hard times. It could be a health crisis or a financial one. We could be Palestinians in Gaza or one of the Jewish families wondering about the hostages. Life is painful, and sometimes we just don't think we can take any more. But God seems to have a different viewpoint - these are times of significant growth. God promises not to leave us or forsake us. We learn to trust and when we look back on those times, we see the hand of God. Yes, there are hard and painful times, but that is when we learn the most about how much God cares for us. Yes, it is worth the struggle.
Do you sometimes feel confused, helpless, floundering in a sea of problems? As humans, we are so limited in our understanding of how "now" fits into life. What is the point? Why am I here in this situation? Where am I going? We don't know the future and what we can see looks like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. What a comfort to hear Jesus say, "Take the hand I offer; let Me lead you to the path of peace. I have a plan for you, a purpose, and a clear direction." That's a relief. I don't have to figure it out because I trust the God who loves me and wants the best for me. God will take me through this and bring me out on the other side.
I received this news about a very dear friend last week. I went to see her and was blessed to hear her testify, "I'm a Christian. I'm not afraid to die. But if chemotherapy will allow me a few more productive years, I will take it. if not, hospice is my choice." At 82, she has run a great race already, but she's still ready for more if given the opportunity. That's a great model for ending well. But to end well, we need to know where we are going, and be assured of a loving God ready to receive us. May all hear that Good News.
Are you running low on hope in these challenging days? Our God wants to bless us and make us a blessing to others. As our culture presses in on us, we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. We are aliens and strangers in this world. It is not our final home. God has greater plans for us, and this is a time of preparation. God carries us on eagles' wings. We are God's special treasure. Now that's a message we need to hold on to.
Sometimes I look at my life and think "What a mess!" How did I get into this situation? And how on earth will I get out of it??? Do you ever have that feeling? In this reflection, God admits change may come slowly. But God is constantly at work on us, and when we look back, we can see change and improvement. God doesn't guarantee easy, but does promise to make us all we were meant to be. Of course, we have to be willing, and that is an important choice.
We all have areas of life where we hope to improve. I certainly have my share! Thankfully, God knows not to change me too quickly in some areas, or I would end up damaged. No, God knows me well enough to help move me at just the right pace from where I was to where I need to be. So, don't be afraid to allow God to do the same with you.
We long to be loved, but so often we don't believe we are loved. We want someone to love us unconditionally, even when we don't return that love. God is love and is searching us out to share that love with us. Are we willing to allow ourselves to be loved? How will we respond to these overtures?
This reflection reveals a time when I was hiding my true self, feeling unworthy and unlovable. Ever feel that way? Then read God's assurance that all is known, yet I am still loved. I can be transparent with God because there are no secrets. I felt overwhelmed by such love, and I expect you will also. Bask in it, thrive in it.
Anxiety or panic attacks are frightening. I had to go off caffeine to stop them. Even so, there are stresses in our lives that build up and can make their presence known through these attacks. There are so many things we can't fix, so many problems we can't solve. Thankfully, we have a God who is able to do more than we think or imagine. Reach out to this blessed Source and find love and comfort, and even a better night's sleep.
In these troubled times, we are all longing for a safe place to rest. We want to know that someone is in charge and has all these problems figured out, and most of all, that we will be okay. Our Shepherd fulfills all these things. The Shepherd will never leave us or forsake us, and in those arms, we never need to be afraid.
When life seems to be beating us up and leaving us for dead, we need to hear from the God who loves us more than anyone else can. We need to drink deeply from that well of unfailing love, and find ourselves restored, renewed, fulfilled, and joyful. What are you waiting for?
When we wake up in the morning, we have little idea of what may happen during the course of the day. Some days, we just don't want to get out of bed because of uncertainty or just being too tired to face whatever is coming. And something is coming. I've found I can face anything if I know there is someone on my side. That assurance comes each day as I look into the Scriptures and see once again how much I'm loved, and how deeply God cares for me. Treat yourself to some encouragement, and then face the day with confidence.
There are times in each of our lives where we feel weak, unable to go on. Usually at these times, we also feel alone, possibly abandoned. We've gotten so low, we don't even want help anymore. That's why I love this quote, "Come over here, where I don't want you to come. Jesus help me..." We can't hold on to Jesus, but in these verses for your reflection, we find Jesus is never far away. "With your right hand you would hold me."
Feeling overwhelmed? Exhausted? Too much to do, but too little time? When I get in this mindset, I realize I've taken on more than what really belongs to me. God has promised not to overload me, but I've taken on more out of guilt, external pressures, or just a failure to say "No". I need a reset. I go back to the One who loves me most to find out what is on God's list, and then let the other things fall away. Life becomes manageable once again, and my burden is lighter.
I used to worry a lot. I was anxious and fearful of many things. Then I read in Scripture that God says we shouldn't worry. But how do I stop? In my own strength, I can't stop. But putting faith in God to take care of me, as promised in this verse, I can work on that. Do I really believe God is able and willing to take care of me? Am I willing to give up control? Will I accept that things may not work out the way I want them to? Do I want to seek my kingdom or God's kingdom above all else? Sometimes worry seems easier, but is it really helping?
Sometimes I'm afraid to try something, so I say, "I can't" But what I really mean is "I won't" I won't take the risk, I won't try because I might fail. Sometimes, I can't even believe what I know to be true, like the depths of God's love for me. Are you ready to let God whisper words of love, forgiveness and grace to you? Reflecting on the Scriptures, just taking some time to listen can make all the difference. I dare you to try.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Has your life spun out of control? It seems each day can add small things, but nothing seems to go away. Then a big thing comes along and WHAM! Or maybe it is just another little thing. In either case, I feel out of control. These verses remind us that God wants us to cry out in our time of need. God has offered to be our refuge, strength, fortress in the middle of the storm. We need delivering, and our God is willing and able to do just that. Call on God today.
Ever feel stuck? In limbo? an outsider? I get like that now and then, but I've found the root of my problem. My focus has gone to other people or a problem, and I've stopped keeping my eyes on the only One that matters. I need to move forward toward what God has instructed me to do, and stop worrying about what others think of me. Ultimately, their opinion doesn't matter - only God's opinion does. Keep moving and the rest will get sorted in time. May God bring you to a place of peace.
The Apostle Peter's life often reflects my experience. At one moment, I'm bold, the next moment, I'm filled with doubt, fear and uncertainty. Like Peter after he got out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus, I start to sink. Ever feel that way? But this passage called me to reflect on God's faithfulness. As I looked back, I saw God had never abandoned me, though sometimes it felt like it. I'm reminded not to focus on my circumstances, but to keep my eyes on my Savior.
If God knows what we need before we ask him, then why ask? We believe God knows everything already, so why do I need to bring situations to his attention? I found the answer to these questions rather intriguing. God wants to share what he;'s doing with us. I think God wants to pull us out of our self-centered worlds to see the bigger picture of how all things can work together for good to those who believe. God wants us to get to know who he is and what he's up to. That's what families do. That's what friends do.Let's open our eyes and our hearts and celebrate the majesty and wonders of our God.
As long as things are going well, I'm comfortable asking God for some things. But to ask with shameless persistence? That's a whole different level for me! I don't want to make a nuisance of myself and make God angry with me or tired of me. But the parable Jesus told about the neighbor who kept bugging his friend for some bread did get what he needed. Jesus encouraged us to do the same. He uses these opportunities for growth. Let's begin to ask God for important things and see what happens. We can ask without fear and with shameless persistence.
I am my own worst enemy. I can find more ways to get in to trouble than I can find my way out of. How about you? I confess my sins, but sometimes the guilt hangs on because I don't forgive myself and fail to believe that God can forgive me. Ever feel like that? Thankfully, God is very patient and doesn't push me faster than I can go. As our reflection verses tell us, "change the way you think." Then we will know what is good, pleasing, and perfect in God's eyes.
There are many ways to be paralyzed besides physically. There is emotional paralysis, relational paralysis. In my case, I could not forgive myself for past actions and words. Then I understood from the passage mentioned here, that God wanted to free me from my paralysis. God wanted me to forgive myself and then I could be free from my past. We no longer need to sit in our self-selected cell to suffer. We can get up and walk out and live the full life God intended for us. Thanks be to God!
When I planned my life, my goals were small and simple. Even then, things fell apart fairly quickly, and I was discouraged. Then I gave God control, and while life has not been easy, it has been eventful, purposeful, and full. God and I still have places to go and things to do. But I don't fear the future. God is with me every step and nothing will ever go to waste. How about you?
How many invitations have you missed? How many times have you failed to show up, even when you accepted the invitation? When it happened to me, I was embarrassed, and apologized profusely. But when I don't show up to meet with God each day, I find myself offering excuses. "I was really busy." "I was too tired to get up in time, and now have to rush off to meet someone else." Sound familiar? God has so much to give us, if only we have time to receive it.
The LORD God, King of the Universe decided to adopt me! That is incomprehensible! And to beat it all, God wanted to do that and doing it gave him great pleasure. There's no point in trying to get God to love me more. He already does. Now, I want to do things to please him because of all the amazing deeds he has done for me. That's a very different scenario. I'm not unworthy and neither are you. We are deeply loved and valued.
We are so caught up in our physical world that we can easily forget the reality of the spiritual world. We need reminders to bring us back to our spiritual reality. Communion is one way to do this, daily Bible readings are another. The Still Small Voice of Love is a different way to interact with Scripture. The text prompts readers to interact with portions of Scripture and to listen to what God is saying to them.
In these times of masks and social distancing, we all need to feel we are loved - that someone cares what is happening to us. In this reflection we see how God receives us when we return, empty and broken. He lavishes his love on us. Then we realize, we should have come home sooner.
Most of the time, we prefer not to think about how we may have been wrong. However, the season of Lent gives us an opportunity to acknowledge our own short-comings and receive God's forgiveness. What a great time for "heart-cleaning".
In our busy lives, we often fail to show up to meet with God. God is there waiting for us, but we are too tired, under too much time-pressure or dealing with too many demands to respond. God calls us in love to come and enjoy the feast prepared for us.
Prayers from the Holy Bible for Christians to pray for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
During this last week of Ramadan, there is a special day, the Night of Power. Muslims want to hear from God on this night as they celebrate the Qur'an. We can join them in praying that God will reveal himself through dreams and visions and bring freedom to many.
During this third week of Ramadan, we want to pray for people of peace. Those who long for peace and are open to hearing the Gospel of peace can bring hope and salvation to many. Likewise, we need to be people of peace so that Muslims will be attracted to the God we serve. May we be the kind of person who reflects God's love and draws many to seek him.
Ramadan is the time for Muslims to seek truth and a word from God. As Christians, we can join them in those prayers that they come to know the Truth, the Way and the Life.
When I see a woman with a hijab in the store or meet someone with an Arab-sounding name, I smile. What do you do? We can't win people to Jesus by attacking or hating or ignoring them. We need to follow Jesus' method of loving people into the kingdom. As Ramadan begins on March 22, let's seek to befriend, reach out in love, get to know, lose our fear and engage as Jesus would.
I once shared John 3:16 with a Muslim. She responded, "No one could love anyone that much!" My reply, "That's the amazing thing, God does." Let's pray that God will lift the veil and open hearts and minds to hear of his great love, and will find the freedom to really hear and to receive that love.
Why should it matter when Ramadan starts? The season of Ramadan is a time when Muslims fast from sun up to sun down. It is also a time for seeking to hear from God. As Christians, we can pray for Muslims during this time, that God will truly reveal himself to them. Join many around the world who pray and seek God's face.
The Koran specifies the type of fasting required for Muslims. But is doing without food and drink during daylight hours really what God wants? We learn in Isaiah that true fasting is giving to those in need, releasing the oppressed, and setting prisoners free. Let's pray that our Muslim friends will find the true meaning of fasting during this last week of Ramadan. Let's also consider if we should be doing some fasting of our own.
As the second week of fasting comes to an end, with two more weeks to go, we want those who are truly seeking God to find him. There is nothing we can do to earn God's favor. We are too broken, too blind to our own faults to come close. But God in his grace has made a way for us to find forgiveness. God's ways are not our ways, so we pray for open hearts and minds and that God will reveal truth to those who seek.
Remember the old saying "Actions speak louder than words"? It's true. If we show resentment, fear or hostility to those we engage, the message will be clear that we do not love them. Anger never conveys love, but it is only through love that we can truly show others the way of Christ. This prayer is offered for us to get our attitudes and actions in order so that when we converse with those who believe differently, we can communicate in love. By your love they will know to whom you belong.
Are you ready with your prayers? We cannot effectively force anyone to come to faith. Each person needs to have a personal experience with the God of the universe. Let's pray for Muslims seeking to know and hear from God during this season of fasting. May they have dreams and visions. May they see the love of Christ in Christians. May they find the confidence and assurance of eternal life and forgiveness that they are seeking. Let's pray to that end.
The Gospel = The Good News. We are unable to do anything to become right with God. We are too broken for that. The Good News is that God made a way, through Jesus, for us to gain eternal life. With great love and compassion, God sent Jesus to take our place, to die the death we deserve. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, and those who believe are no longer under the curse of sin and death. What a wonderful message for everyone to hear.
How do we respond when we see a woman with a head covering identifying her as a Muslim? Do you feel love? fear? anger? sadness? God clearly tells Christians that we should love those around us. We are to be at peace with our neighbors. Our prayer focus for this day during Ramadan is to pray about our attitudes. God says they will know we are Christians by our love. May God help us to express his love to all those around us.
When we love people, we want the best for them. Fear can keep us apart. Prayer can bring us together. As Christians, we can support our Muslim neighbors by praying for God to speak to them during the season of Ramadan. They are praying for that. Let's join them so that they can be open to hearing of God's love and grace for them.
Are you aware that during the month of Ramadan Muslims are seeking to hear from God? Yes, they are also obeying one of the 5 pillars of Islam. Having lived in a predominantly Muslim country for many years, I wanted to find a way to pray for my Muslim friends during this season. Prayers of Faith and Hope was written to help guide us in this endeavor. Join me this season to pray for Muslims around the world.
Having lived for 20 years in the Sudan, I came to love and respect many Muslims. I've shared Ramadan fatuur (breakfast) during the month of fasting, and have enjoyed wonderful hospitality. It is a difficult month, especially with temperatures over 100°F. As a Christian, I wanted to pray for my friends while they are fasting, and so wrote this book of prayers to stand with them. While our beliefs differ, we can still support one another.
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