Heavenly Father,

Parents of those children with unique challenges are on my heart today. I want to lift them before You and ask that You refresh and restore them. I know their burden is heavy and almost non-stop. These moms and dads often feel inadequate…although I see them doing an amazing job. The sacrifice these moms and dads make does not go unnoticed. I pray You encourage them in their often difficult journey today. Use a hug, scribbly picture, sloppy kiss, or any of the creative ways You can to give them that boost they need to keep going. Help them realize You placed these exact children in their care, trusting they would be the perfect parents for that particular child. Remind them they do not have to do this alone…that You are with them every step of the way. Help them grow in their expertise of how to raise their unique child the way only they can. Surround them with people who will cheer them on in their rough times instead of being critical. Give them a whole team of support in their families, schools, churches, neighbors who will come to love and support these unique children and parents for who they are.

I pray for foster parents who open their homes and hearts to kids who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned; to children who have been moved from place to place without warning; kids who have been ripped apart (and sometimes saved) from their biological families; to children who have learned not to trust and have had to look out for themselves at a very early age. How I pray for the parents of these special children who have to learn to deal with the outbursts, insecurities and emotional trauma and provide a safe loving home. I pray for the parents of kids who have Attention disorders, mental or development issues, social disturbances, and medical challenges that cause the moms and dads to become experts as they do everything they can to help their child. Thank You for the love I see poured out.

Really, every single child has special needs, and requires a parent to help guide them to maturity. However, some have much higher needs than others which demand an even larger sacrifice from the parents. Lord, I hold up these hero parents to You now and ask that You give them all they need to help these children to become all You created them to be. After all, we are all Your special needs children…and You, alone, know exactly what we need to grow to be Your perfect sons and daughters through Jesus Christ.

*******

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.”  Psalm 127:3

“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

*******

Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, I pray for these parents….

Heavenly Father,

It’s unimaginable that You made us and gave us free choice. That has been boggling my mind lately. Part of me wants to say, ‘What were You thinking?’ Everything would be so much more orderly if You had created us to automatically obey You. Yet the parent, grandparent, teacher in me kind of gets it. What joy there is when my children, grandchildren or students freely choose the right thing of their own free will. This world is full of people making many choices…but there is truly one ultimate choice that affects everything- for all eternity. That is the choice to accept that Jesus is Your one true Son who You freely chose to send to save us from our sin so we can live with You in peace both now and for all eternity. All the millions of choices in the world do not mean a thing unless we choose Jesus as our Savior.

It pains me to see people choosing to make other things their greatest priority: money, fame, drugs, alcohol, sex, entertainment, education…what emptiness is found when they choose to live their own way, to try to control their own lives. What foolish pride to think we can handle this life without You…the very One who made us! There is no way we can be strong enough, pure enough, good enough, or genius enough to make it to eternal life without Your help. Your choice to save us is Jesus. It is Your deepest desire that not even one should perish but have eternal life…yet You give us a choice of whether we want to be with You or not. One day every single person will have to bow before You to acknowledge what their choice was concerning Jesus. I have already made my choice to accept the loving gift You’ve given me in Jesus Christ.

I choose to love You with all my heart, mind and soul. I choose to worship You alone. I choose to honor You with my life. I choose to acknowledge that I am nothing without Jesus but I am complete and whole and filled with Your Holy Spirit when I continue choosing Him. I choose to follow where You lead, to obey what You say, to stay close to You each day. I choose to gratefully accept the sacrifice You gave to me through Jesus Christ. What an amazing God You are to love me so much to send Jesus to save me when I was a sinner…and to let it be my choice whether to accept the greatest gift ever given. I choose You because You first chose me. How I wish everyone would choose You!

***********

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”  2 Thessalonians 2:13

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Matthew 22:14

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20a

**********

Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, today I choose….

Heavenly Father,

There’s a trend in early childhood education to provide a “safe place” where a child can go when things get too crazy. It’s usually in a corner or under a desk and is stocked with soft cushy pillows, a few calming books, some fidget toys and a stuffed animal. When the noise level gets too high, when there are just too many bodies crowding around, when there are tensions and disputes, when things don’t go the way the child wants, when there’s frustration, fear, sadness or anger… teachers point the child to the safe place where they can “get away by themselves” and calm down. Everyone (even adults) need a “safe place!”

I’ve had my own for years now. Lord, YOU are my safe place! I dare not go too long without spending time alone with You. I remember when I first decided to truly spend time away from the world with You, it felt a little awkward. You knew me (after all, You made me and knit me together in my mother’s womb), but I didn’t really know You. What do you say to the God who created everything and who is over all? It didn’t take long to feel safe and secure in Your presence. I first started coming to You when my world seemed to be falling apart around me. It seemed like I was the only one in the world to ever suffer such crisis. The more often I went off to be alone with You, I found peace, wisdom, guidance, loving correction, tender comfort, a renewed spirit and calm mind. I discovered You were with me through all kinds of trials and joys. You were always there, but I found my safe place in Jesus.

There is craziness all around in this world: too much bad news, too many voices all at once, too many demands on my time and energy, too many temptations and distractions, too much abuse, sickness, violence- too many disagreements, hurts, and things far above my capabilities. It all becomes too much. That’s why I need to get away with You every day in my safe place. All the stress and burdens melt away in Your presence because all is well. You are God. You are in control and I can relax and savor just being with You. Amazing things happen in that quiet safe place. I am renewed, recharged, refreshed. Your presence fills me with so much joy and peace that I bring it back out into the world with me when I have to leave that lovely place. When I consistently spend time with you in my safe place, I am delighted to discover that I carry it with me wherever I go. It is not only a blessing to me, but Your radiance spills out to others. Even though it is just You and me…there is plenty of room for everyone to have their own safe place with You. In fact, You are just waiting for them to come away with You.  I love my safe place…because it’s with You! Hmmm…how heavenly it would be if we all spent more time with You in our safe place.

********

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”   Proverbs 18:10

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’”  Psalm 91:1-2

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling: He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”  Psalm 27:4-5

**********

Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me step away from the world and seek You…

Beautiful Heavenly Father,

For the past 4 months, I have been experiencing a lot of physical pain. I have been very blessed in my life to have excellent health which is definitely not taken for granted. I’ve cared for too many loved ones who have suffered pain which was excruciating to witness. That’s why it’s always been hard for me to complain if I have a little twinge. It has always appeared that I have a high threshold of pain (probably got that from my tough/stubborn little 84 year old mom!) Yet these past few months have knocked me down. It was challenging to walk from the living room to the bedroom without back pain that affected my entire body. It was such a change for me since I have always worked hard. I have to admit there were many times, I have been tempted to feel hopeless…thinking I would never be able to walk normally again.

Fortunately, You found a way to remind me each time I was invited to the pity party to turn it into a praise party instead. Sometimes the praise had to be forced until it became real. It truly seemed like a sacrifice to thank You and praise You…but it always turned into the true thing. Lord, I know and trust Your goodness. There is not one iota of meanness, darkness or manipulation in You. I trust Your love for me to be pure and holy. Not only did I and all those who loved me pray for me, but I went forward three times (once a month) to ask the elders of the church to anoint me and pray for my healing. I finally sincerely came to the point I could praise You for whatever happened. If You needed me to go through the suffering for whatever reason, I asked that I would handle it for Your glory.

Lord, I just want to publically thank You for Your sweet healing that is taking place in my body! I feel my back along with my entire body getting stronger every day! I am so incredibly grateful. My body and my spirit want to dance!!! I hope that I will praise You if it someday comes back. I hope that I praise You no matter what circumstances I face. I hope that I praise You in the good times and hard times. I hope I praise You when it is popular and when it might be illegal to hold the name of Jesus Christ up high. I love praising You because that’s where I find You. It might be a sacrifice to praise You at times, but it is a beautiful sacrifice that results in You pouring Your rich blessings into me that far outweigh whatever challenges I might face. You are worthy of all praise, glory and honor! You are the Great I am- our eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

***********

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  Romans 8:18

“For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”  Hebrews 13:15

***********

Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, I praise You even though…

My Lord and God,

I am joyfully declaring my total dependence upon You today! As our country celebrates our independence as a nation, we read the Declaration of Independence which announced for the whole world to hear that the newly-founded United States of America was officially separating from the unjust rule of the King of England. Those who signed the historical document knew it would most likely cost them life and their worldly riches (theirs, their families’ and their new countrymen). Indeed it cost dearly. Millions of lives have since been sacrificed to gain and protect our country’s freedom. I am indeed blessed to have been born in the USA…although I did not have a say in that blessing.

I do, however, have a say in freely giving up my rights to my own life. It is the best choice I’ve ever made. Whatever worldly riches and rights I willingly laid aside to acknowledge my dependence upon You as my King is nothing compared to the richness of living with Jesus now and forevermore. What a relief to know I do not have to live up to laws which are unobtainable; to pay taxes which put me in chains of bondage; to be ordered about with no compassion by a worldly king who doesn’t even know me. You are the King of kings yet You humbly offered Your one and only pure Son Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate price for my freedom. You are the absolute maker, designer, and Lord of all yet You long to have an intimate personal relationship with little me. It is not Your nature to rule over us with an iron hand, although You alone have the power and authority to reign for all eternity.

You invite all of us from every tribe and nation to willingly be a part of the only kingdom that truly counts. You do not force us but wait upon us to realize we can’t do anything without You. We indeed find more than we could ever hope for or imagine as we realize our great need for You. It is with upmost love, trust, faith, hope and with everything I am that I once again tell You that I need You. I need You salvation, guidance, comfort, direction. I need the blood of Jesus to open the way. I need You to breathe, move, live. I need You to live in and through me so I can fulfill Your purpose for me, so I can draw others to You, so I can love joyfully and completely. I need You, Oh, I need You. Every hour I need You! I have found true freedom in my dependence upon You, My True King!

********

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”  Psalm 62:5-8

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, , who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”  Philippians 3:20-21

“Halleluiah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!” Revelation 19:6b

********

Prayer Prompt-

King of Glory, help me see what areas I need to let You rule over…

 

Heavenly Father,

I just spent last week at an awesome church camp (four nights and 5 days at a 4th-5th grade camp and then a day camp for K-1st grade). The most miraculous things happen at church camp which makes up for the hard waterproof mattresses on old squeaky bunk beds, the dirt that totally covers your body from the dust stirred up by so many feet, late nights with giggly girls, stinky boys who pride themselves on no showers, wet clothes thrown all over cabin floors, wet swimsuits which fall off the line and get dirt mixed together with snow cone and ice cream drippings, a few cases of homesickness or real sickness, several real or imagined boo-boos, and being asked a million times “What’s next?”

The eternal benefits far outweigh the downside. I want to thank You, Lord for a few of the miracles I had the privilege of witnessing this year: the boy whose family just moved to a small town in OK and attended church for the first time. His mom heard them talking about leaving for church camp and wished out loud her son could go to meet new friends. In less than an hour, he was packed and back at church to go to camp with people he didn’t know. He ended up getting baptized and camper of the week!…the very smart but extremely shy girl who fought through tears and fear to say memory verses in front of the whole crowd and discovered You are with her and will help her…4th and 5th grade kids who happily gave up their “canteen money” to donate to the mission of building chapels in OK prisons. They broke the record by giving $1000 towards helping inmates know about Jesus inside prison walls… the unbridled worship of children who sing to You with all their heart, minds and soul…

Lord, I was overcome by the history of this small church camp that gets city kids out in the country, that makes children forget all about TV, video games and cell phones. Many of the adult sponsors grew up going to camp there. That’s where they came to know You. I wonder how many of the 9 baptisms in the swimming pool last week will end up as pastors, teachers and living long lives for You. I have no way of knowing how many lives have been changed eternally through this one humble church camp serving a group of OK churches. Not only are the kids’ lives impacted for Your kingdom, adults are drawn closer to You as well. I know I found time to be still and quiet before You this week. I grew in Your word, Your presence and in sweet fellowship with big and little brothers and sisters-in-Christ. May we all take our renewed fire for You back to our daily lives and shine brilliantly with the Light of Jesus Christ! Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a part of church camp.

****************

“He (Jesus) took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes  one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the one who sent Me.’”  Mark 9:36-37

“Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:14b-15

*********

Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me how I can worship, obey and live with You like a child…