Heavenly Father,
It seems like everyday I have to struggle in some form with this question. As I bring all my hurts, plans, dreams, mistakes…As I come to You in prayer letting You know how I feel about whatever is going on, I have actually found I am wrestling with the same issue: Is this part of Your will or mine?

Hurts– Lord, You know me better than anyone. You know how easily I get wounded. It is easy to come running to tell you about my latest encounter with someone who knew or maybe didn’t now how badly they had hurt me. How easy it is to spout off the pain that was wrongfully inflicted. How tempting to stay in that hurt and let it escalate out of control. You patiently listen to me spew about my very real hurts…then You remind me how Jesus reacted when He was hurt by His friends and enemies. He forgave them and prayed for them. Lord, perhaps these very hurts I want to wallow in are an opportunity You can let Your Holy Spirit show through me. Perhaps it is Your will to let my response be through Christ to draw someone closer to You…

Plans– Father, as I plan out my day and try to accomplish everything as quickly as I can, I have to fight against feeling resentful when an interruption comes. Don’t they realize what important things I have to do? When I stop to listen to You, Your Spirit gently reminds me that my plans will accomplish little, but Your plans make a difference eternally. My plans may seem critical- but Your plans are life-changing. Let me be ready and willing to drop my little plans for Yours.

Mistakes– Lord, You know I hate it when I realize I have made a mistake; when I missed an opportunity; when I reacted wrongly; when I misjudged someone’s motives…Lord, it is all too easy to beat myself up and want to quit trying so it won’t happen again. Yet, how often my mistake has resulted in a new awareness of how weak I am; how much I need You; a new humbleness before You and others. You make no mistakes, Lord, yet You take my mistakes and turn them into something new and glorious as I bring them before You.

Dreams– Father, I think of the dreams and goals I have had in my life. They seemed so great and lofty at one time. You have taken my huge visions and whittled away all the empty fluff. Lord, as I try to live by Your mission for my life (to love You and others) it is amazing what incredible power there is in doing little things with You- like enjoying You on a quiet walk, a spontaneous loving conversation with a stranger in a check-out line, dancing with children, hugging and praying with someone hurting…

Lord, it is a good fight. Help me keep dying to my own will and truly be willing to do Your will with rejoicing.

 

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“Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” Matthew 26:39

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 23:37-39

“Then He said to them all: ‘IF anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Most Holy Father, what of my own will do I need to let go of today?

Heavenly Father,
Today I took a photo of the miracle Clematis for my neighbor. It had never bloomed before…until the day her husband was getting his long-awaited heart transplant. She ran home to get something she needed before the surgery and the vine that had never bloomed was in bloom for the very first time. The Lord used this vine in a very personal way to let her know all would be well. It has bloomed every single year since for the first time on April 22—no matter what. Even years later when her beloved husband died, it showed its first bloom on April 22…and every year since. My friend recently had to go stay out of state with her daughter. Today she texted and asked me to check to see if it was blooming. I took a photo of it in its full glory! Full of blooms and buds (as pictured)! Just in time to give my dear neighbor hope again for some hard things she and her loved ones are going through!

Father, what would we do without the eternal living hope of our Risen Savior Jesus Christ!!! There is nothing worse than hopelessness. How horrible to think this world with all its challenges and trials is all there is—that things will never get better—that death is the end.

How hopeless things appeared to every person who had put their hope in Jesus to save them they way they thought He should. Their hopes of deliverance from a ruthless government, their hopes of Jesus being the kind of king who would overthrow the current tyrants, their hopes that He would give them the best seats in His Kingdom, their hopes that He would solve all their current issues…There was never more hopelessness and darkness than when Jesus was nailed to the cross and died. The entire earth turned black for three hours with absolute hopelessness….
But You, Lord, had immeasurably greater plans for Your Son, our Savior, to rise victorious once and for all over death and the dark hold of hopelessness. Jesus is our hope! Jesus Christ is our Savior! As we bow before Him and accept Jesus as our King and Savior, we begin to see Him blooming all over the place bringing us hope in very personal ways to encourage us to not give up—to not grow weary of following Him—to not count on the way things appear but to trust He is not finished—to trust His promise that the day is coming when we will never face pain, sorrow, death any more –to have the spiritual power of Your Holy Spirit to face whatever comes our way… I want to thank You for the lovely personal blooms of encouragement You have blessed me with during a challenging time I have faced lately. Jesus, You are living and blooming with hope all around me!

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“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom…they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God…Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped, Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Isaiah 35:1,2,5,6

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…” 1 Peter 1:3-6

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me look past my current trial to the eternal hope in Jesus Christ…Let me have eyes to watch for Your living encouragement!

 

 

Heavenly Father,
You’ve done it again! Every year as the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection approaches, I ask You to show me something new about Jesus. Last night as my husband and I watched the movie “The Passion of Christ,” You pointed out something new. We watch the movie once a year during Holy Week. It is a very hard movie. We can only watch it once a year and that is only because we don’t dare want to ever forget what You gave us when You sent Jesus to die and be resurrected for us.
There is always a temptation to want to close my eyes when it comes to certain parts but I make myself watch. This year I saw something new. There may be a few things in the movie that have been added to what the historical account in the Bible tells, but the horror of Jesus’ torture and death is probably pretty accurate. This year’s viewing hit me in a new way starting with Jesus being led like a quiet willing sheep to slaughter. The Son of God- who helped make all there is in the beginning- the One who has all power and authority on heaven and earth, the only One ever born to live completely without any sin, the One who has the right to judge was escorted like a guilty criminal before His own creations and allowed Himself to be judged and convicted to death.
The new thing I saw was the deep look of love Jesus had for:
• the ones who swore allegiance unto death but fled at the sign of danger
• the ones who yelled “Crucify Him!”
• the ones who told lies to have Him put to death
• the one who could find no guilt in Him yet allowed the crowd to rule
• the ones who beat Him beyond recognition, spit on Him and mocked Him
• the ones He loved who deserted him, denied Him and betrayed Him
• the one who was released in His place
• the ones who drove the nails
Jesus look of love was more powerful than any personal hurt, disappointment, abandonment, loneliness he experienced. He knew why He was giving His life. He wasn’t killed—He gave His life so we can live forever with You. He knew we are each weak and cannot save ourselves. He knew we were all sinners. He knew He was taking our deserved punishment for our sin. He, who has no sin, gives each of us that same powerful look of love from the cross despite our sin against You, Lord. It is His desire that not even one should perish. I want to look at You and others with Jesus’ look of love.

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“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:3-6

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, open my eyes to see Your look of love for me from the cross…

 

Heavenly Father, today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent- the season approaching Your priceless gift of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our eternal salvation. For years, I didn’t know what Ash Wednesday or Lent were since the church I grew up in didn’t always observe these traditions. I am all for anything that helps us realize who You are, Father…and who we are. Ash Wednesday was established to help us realize and admit we have sinned against You, Lord. That is true. Those who observe Ash Wednesday, have ashes placed on their foreheads often in the shape of a cross with a spoken reminder that our bodies will return to dust. That is also true. Yet, as I was contemplating what to give up for Lent this year, You placed “enjoy” on my heart. What a surprise!
Realizing I am a sinner and giving up something I really like usually doesn’t immediately spell enjoyment! But as I think about who You are, Lord, and all You do for me, I am humbled as I think of the ways I have disappointed You, not trusted You, rebelled against You, ignored You, argued with You, been prideful in front of You- in all Your majestic glory! Oh yes! I have sinned against You. Yet, I know that as soon as I ask, because of Jesus, I am forgiven. I also fully understand that my body will return to dust. I have buried far too many loved ones to not realize how real that truth is. So where does enjoyment come in?

The surprise for me came this morning when You pointed out that I was created for Your enjoyment! I wondered how I could possibly bring You enjoyment… I thought of my children and grandchildren, and though they made mistakes and might have rebelled against me, I enjoy who they are, who I know they are becoming. Their feeble young attempts to show me love in their limited way and watching them grow and mature has brought me immense enjoyment in my life!

Then You placed on my heart that I need to enjoy You! I can only truly enjoy Your very real presence in my soul when I confess and turn from my sin; when I realize I cannot be holy enough to dwell with You without my Savior Jesus to completely do away with my sin. It is done! I also realize I still need to cut out things that want to sneak in and take priority in my life. How can I truly enjoy You, Lord, when I am focused on other things? So yes, I am ready to admit I need Jesus, and I will give up things which threaten to come between us. But I will fill those areas that are taken away with the rich enjoyment of Your presence that I can savor for all eternity long after this body has turned to dust! You enjoy me so I can enjoy You! Sounds like love!

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This prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 61:1-2 is how much the Lord enjoys us and the only way we can truly enjoy Him:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, How can I bring you enjoyment….

Heavenly Father,

My son sent these photos of his children listening to me read a children’s book on Easter about Jesus dying on the cross and rising again. Since I was reading, I didn’t get to watch their faces during the story so it was a blessing to see their reactions caught in pictures. It is hard to hear about Jesus’ sacrifice for us as adults but it is not too early to tell children. Sometimes I think they understand the treasure even more than we do.

Our church sponsored a community egg hunt last Saturday. Before hunting little candies and trinkets hidden in eggs, some of us put on a drama to tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was amazing to see the faces of the children and adults who sat mesmerized (and it wasn’t even a fast-moving video!) After the drama, one of my dear sisters-in-Christ told the children they may have come to hunt eggs but Jesus is the reason. He is always first! He truly is the treasure we seek.

I recall another Easter, I sent a bunch of kids outside with empty eggs. They were to put some kind of new life (flowers, grass, etc.) in their egg and bring it to me. One little boy brought me an empty egg. I asked him where his new life was. He looked at me surprised I didn’t get it. “The tomb was empty! That’s why we have new life in Jesus!” Father, thank You for the greatest treasure ever in Jesus Christ! I may be far from being a child, but I will always be Your child, and I want to keep seeking Your treasure for all eternity!

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34

 

“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”   1 Timothy 6:19

 

“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, let me seek You as the greatest treasure…

Heavenly Father,

When I was a little girl, I couldn’t understand why in the world anyone would call the day Jesus was beaten and died on a cross as “Good Friday.” It seemed awful to me. I also couldn’t figure out why songs were sung about loving the rugged cross or the beauty of the cross. As I have traveled through life, I have discovered just how GOOD it really is—not the cross itself, but what Jesus did on the cross. Now I can sing “never did such sorrow and love flow mingled down” while my own sorrow and love flow mingled together in tears of gratitude for the greatest gift of love ever given. It was Your perfect plan to send Your Son Jesus to die and rise again ever since the very first sin was committed.

Though Jesus was with You as all things were created, You sent Him to be born as a simple human man to walk and live among us. His teachings and miracles were world-changing—yet that was not His true purpose. Even though He is holy and pure, and reigns high with You, His purpose from the very beginning was to willingly take on not only the whole world’s sin—but my personal sins. The Prince of peace, Lord of lords, Son of the Most High came when the time was right to carry the sins of all the people of all time upon Himself (though He was completely unblemished by sin) and take all that guilt and shame to the cross. Your Son paid the price (which is death) for our sin. No one killed Him. He willingly gave His life for us all—for me!

He knew His death and resurrection would open the way for anyone who accepts, confesses and believes that He is Your Son. He came to save us so we can have eternal life with You. How grateful I am that You love us so much that You sent Jesus. There is no other way to be forgiven, cleansed, holy. There is no other way to have eternal life with You. He is the way, the truth and the life. He gave us eternal life through His death on our behalf. He rose again so we could live forever with You—starting now! There is no better Friday. The moment Jesus died on that cross, His mission was completed, finished! What looked like the end was the beginning. Today we honor Your love for us through the amazing gift of Jesus’ death on the cross for us. It is not just Good Friday—it is the perfect Friday! All we have to do is believe and accept what has already been done for us on that beautiful cross.

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“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

 

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for sending Jesus to die for my sins. I believe…

Heavenly Father,

Last night I woke up several times during the night. It was like You were knocking at my door wanting to be invited in. Please come in! I want to spend this time with You and You with me! You promised that if we seek You, we will find You. I started out this holy season seeking more of You. At the start of each Easter season (or Resurrection season) I always ask You to show me more of what You gave us when You gave us Jesus Christ. You always do! It seems if I ask You that for all eternity, You will still be showing me more—because there is no end to Your love.

This year, it seems You stand knocking at my door. I’m sorry to say I don’t always let You in. Sometimes I’m too busy to answer, or too preoccupied with things of this world, or too wrapped up in the latest challenge. Yet You still stand there knocking. You don’t barge in to dine with me. You don’t come where You are not invited, although You have all power and authority to do so. You wait for me to hear Your voice, to answer You and let You in. I think I am pursuing You, but You are always pursuing me first.

To get in the door to see an earthly king or president, I would have to go through all kinds of hoops just to get an invitation for a very short specific time (and I probably would never get that!) But You are God! You have all power and authority over all there is, yet You humble Yourself to send Jesus to knock on my door to ask to come in. You asked Jesus to take my punishment for my sin with horrendous beatings and to die on the cross so I could be free and holy. You sent Jesus to die for me so I can live with You forever! And yet, how often do I choose to live life apart from You? I settle for earthly pleasures when I can choose to have eternal company with You. Yes, Lord, today I open the door. Please come in and dine with me… and I with You.

 

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“I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”   Revelation 3:20

“This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, let me be still enough to hear Your knocking…

My Lord and my God,

This season of the year is like a special get-away I love to take with You—like my husband and I sometimes need. We get so busy with all our daily responsibilities and activities that we live together and know one another better than anyone else; yet sometimes we need to purposely take some time alone together to purposely reconnect to fan the flames of our love. There are times my husband and I come back from a “get away date” and we realize once again just how glad we are that we share life together. Our love has been refreshed and renewed because we took time to put away distractions and simply enjoy what we have in one another.

 

Lord, obviously You do not need to fan the flames of Your love—but I sure do! I’m sad to say that I far too often take Your amazing immeasurable love for granted. Your love is unshakable, faithful, never-waning or lacking in any way. Your love is pure and unchanging. I know You are always here with me. I know You will never ever leave me or forsake me. There is no doubt that You are always involved in my life in ways far beyond my comprehension. On the other hand, my love gets side-tracked and distracted far too easily by things that sometimes seem important but when I stop to truly think about it—are so silly and fleeting. That’s why I need to fully take time to honor and appreciate the love You have given me—especially when You gave Jesus Christ to be a sacrifice for my unfaithfulness; when You sent Jesus to die for my sin and then raised Him victorious to give me eternal life with You that can never be shaken or taken away.

 

I want to purposely honor and cherish the eternal commitment You have given to me during this holy season leading up to Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Yes, Lord, I have received and accepted Your love sent to me through Jesus Christ and I have been given more than I could possibly imagine or hope for. That’s why I want to spend extra time with You to renew my love for You, to recall why I am more alive than ever because of my eternal life with You, to surrender and recommit my love for You because of Your great love for me. During this holy week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to (Easter) Resurrection Day, help me cut out some distractions, set aside more alone time with You, read (in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) of Your greatest gift of love of Jesus’ life poured out for us, and sing of Your love that came to seek and save me!  Let me honor the anniversary of Your great love poured out by pouring some love back to You! Hosanna to my first love! Halleluiah to the One who loves me enough to die so I can live forever with You! I love You, Lord.

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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in His shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

*The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

 

“”I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”  Revelation 3:20

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord God, here are some ways I want to honor You during this special time…

Most Glorious Heavenly Father,

There are already many preparations going on for Easter. I see colored eggs, candy, bunnies and pretty dresses in every store I walk in. I often wonder how many people honestly think that’s all Easter is about. I am around a lot of children and some adults who have no idea this is the time Jesus came to give His life on the cross for our sins so we can have eternal life with You. That’s why I want to prepare for this special time. Since I have eternal life and realize (with my limited human understanding) what You gave when You gave Your Son, I want to set aside this time to thank You—to honor what You did for us through Jesus. I want to prepare myself to praise You with all my heart, mind and soul for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This time of the year should not just go by without a deepening appreciation for the greatest gift You have ever lavished upon us. Lord, as I refocus on Jesus’ sacrifice for us, will You show me a little bit more of what You gave when You gave Your Son. I realize I will probably never comprehend the depth or the full measure of Your gift of Jesus…yet I am always finding more to this eternal life You gave us through Jesus. Lord, in preparation for this season, I may give something up that distracts me because I want more of You. As I purposely set out to honor what Jesus has done for us, let me sing more songs of Your mercies, read more of Your word, watch a movie about Jesus, spend more quiet time with You. I want to set aside this time and the gift You’ve given. I want to honor You by making it a holy season—because it is!

As You fill me up with Your presence, prepare me so I can be ready to share Jesus with others during this holy time. I know not everyone is ready to accept and believe what You gave us in Jesus Christ, but how will they know unless someone tells them? Father, use me somehow to tell others that You sent Jesus to die for our sins so we can have eternal life. That’s what makes Easter holy—because you sent Jesus to die on the cross and rise again so we could be holy!

 

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“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:13-15

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Hebrews 10:10

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  John 3:16-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, the first preparation is to believe You sent Jesus to die for my sins. Am I prepared to receive what only Jesus can give?