Gracious Heavenly Father,

I often think of Ola when I start to feel sorry for myself. She taught us how to truly count our blessings. She was a very frail little old lady, confined to a wheelchair and oxygen. That didn’t keep her from coming to the grief support group I attended after my first husband died twenty-five years ago. It wasn’t necessarily a Christian grief group so the mood could often be bitter and depressing. Then Ms. Ola was wheeled into light up the room. She had so many tragedies in her life- her husband was alcoholic most of his life, then was severely injured in an explosion, then died years later. She had a little daughter die at an early age. Two of her sons had recently died. She also had terminal cancer and heart problems. As we all were feeling sorry for ourselves, Ola would say, “There’s always something to be thankful for. Just count your blessings and name them. It completely changes how you see life!” I took her advice when it seemed I had lost so much—I was amazed to discover how blessed I began to feel as I listed what I was thankful for.

So here is my very tiny short list of just a few things I am incredibly grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day: Father, first of all, I can never thank You enough for creating me, giving me life, loving me when I did not deserve it, for forgiving me, for sending Jesus to take the death penalty for my sins so I can live with You for all eternity, for never ever leaving me alone, for sending the Holy Spirit to live with me and in me, for Your guidance, protection, wisdom and all the delightful ways You give me abundant life when I stop and count my blessings. There are so many that the more I list them, the more I feel I might burst from gratitude. I am fully aware that every single blessing in my life flows from You to me. I need to stop and say thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

So here are a few more: Relationships have to be at the top of the list. You have surrounded me with the most incredible people to love. It seems the more I think about how thankful for them I am, the more I love them—my husband (my best friend), each of my precious grown children (by birth and otherwise) and their dear spouses, my grandchildren (each with their unique personality and gifts that are so fun to watch unfold), my cherished brothers and sisters-in-Christ around the world (how I love seeing Jesus in them!),  our parents who mean so much to us, our neighbors and friends, my leaders (at work, in government, and in the church who You have placed for such a time as this for Your good purposes), for the precious children and families I work with…even for those who might hurt me or persecute me (it gives me a chance to love like You!)

Lord, there is so much more to be thankful for! I have just begun to list my blessings. Ola was so right. When we thank You for our blessings, we discover we have so many more than we could ever dream of. I will be thanking You for all eternity and it still will not be enough time!

 

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“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”   Psalm 107:1

 

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”   Colossians 2:6-7

 

“Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever, to Him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.”        Psalm 136:3-4

 

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Heavenly Father,

As I sit with You this morning, I realize how very full my life is…not because of what I have…not because of what I have accomplished…not even because of where I am in my life. It is overflowing because I have You—and You have me.

You have always been with me—through every season and storm in my life. You have never ever left me. You have been right here- encouraging me, pushing me, comforting me, leading me, protecting me (mostly from myself), providing for me (in big ways and small delightful ways). At different times in my life, I have been more aware of Your presence than at others. Too many times, I have veered off my own way trying to make things happen the way I think they should, trying to prove how capable I am, falling into the trap of fear and worry, wishing I had what someone else has… Yet because I accepted the sacrifice of Your own Son Jesus for my life, You never let me wander too much. You call me back to You. I find much more than I need in You!

I purposely come to You before I get too far in my day because I have discovered my life is full and has meaning only when I stay with You. I was made for You. My soul is not complete without You. I am so weak without You. Yet I am full and strong when I am with You. Anything I might try to do without You is short-lived and meaningless. It can even be damaging. But when I am with You—when I surrender myself and whatever situation I might be facing to You—it becomes kingdom worthy. Only when I bring things to You can You truly work in and through me. That’s so fulfilling.

You, Lord, are what fulfills me. And when I am fulfilled, I can love others better. I see more and more blessing all around. It just keeps getting better and better. And I still have all eternity to know and love You more! Maybe that’s why I will someday have to have a new body—this one just can’t handle Your filling me up too much more!

 

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“And God placed everything under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him, who fills everything in every way.”  Ephesians 1:22-23

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

 

“Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and amen.” Psalm 72:19

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Prayer Prompt-

Fill me up, Lord…

Heavenly Father,

Lately I feel more and more like a mist! I remember one cold morning when we were camping in a tent and woke up to a glorious view of a mountain on the other side of the lake. The mountain was blurred by a thick cover of mist dancing across the top of the lake. It almost looked like people rising up out of the water and reaching up towards the sky. We sat watching the mist for over an hour until the sun burned off all traces of the fleeting dance. My life seems like a mist—short and insignificant in light of who You are, Almighty God.

I was just giving birth to my babies and now they are parents. I once asked my 90 year old grandmother if she felt old; she said she often felt like she was still 16 years old. No matter how old we live to be here on this earth, our lives are here one moment and gone the next. The day will come when my great grandchildren may vaguely remember me when they hear someone randomly say my name ever so often. Then their children won’t know anything about me. My life is a mist in the overall scheme of things.

Yet, though I may feel like such a miniscule particle of mist among the billions of people in the world, or nothing at all when I look at Your glorious power and eternal glory—I am blown away to realize that You knew me before I was born. You know everything about me from the hairs on my head to my unexpressed thoughts. You know how I have rebelled against You and ignored You when You are the very One who created me. You loved me so much that You sent Your own Son Jesus to take my sins upon Himself and die and rise again so I could live with You for all eternity.

I may feel like a mist, but to You—I am precious enough to die for, to save me so I can be with You forever. Father, let my mist of this earthly life rise up to dance to You—for You are mine and I am Yours. You reign forever through all generations. May my dance join in the dance of all those who have gone before me, those who live on earth now and those who are yet-to-be, as we worship You forever and ever.

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“Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

“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.”

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I before You…to You?

 

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

How sweet it is to sit in the shade of Your presence. It can be sweltering heat, beating down on me—wearing me out. In fact, the other day, the heat index was so high I had a mild case of heatstroke from working out in the heat and humidity. I had to immediately seek shade so I could sit down and cool off.  No matter how hot life gets—no matter what is going on to zap my strength—no matter how unbearable the conditions get…I can find sweet relief simply by sitting in the shade of Your Holy presence.

I don’t even have to say anything. I can just sit and be still and know who You are—the Lord God of all, the highest Authority over heaven and earth, the One who rules forever and ever—the One who created me and knows all my needs, weaknesses and fears. There is the sweetest shelter from the heat of this life before me at all times. All I have to do is sit with You. You bring relief, cool gentle breezes to restore my peace. I know I am not the only one who experiences Your tender nearness. I cannot comprehend how You can sit with me like I am the only person in the world. You know me. You understand me. You restore me. Yet You are doing that all over the world with whoever chooses to sit in Your shade. There is a young mom in Russia, a teenager in Cameroon, a grandfather in Canada, a girl in Ireland…many times over. You are sitting personally with each of us in the shade of Your presence.

It’s all because of Jesus. Because of our sinfulness, we cannot sit in Your Holy presence. You sent Jesus to wash away our sins, to make us holy forever. You sent Jesus so we can be with You always. You sent Jesus to live in us through Your Holy Spirit so we can sit with You in Your presence any time. Lord, help me not to wander too far from the shade of Your presence.

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“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”   Psalm 121:5-8

 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1

 

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, let me rest in Your shade through my faith in Jesus Christ…

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,

There are times I realize how incredibly busy I am! There is always a lot going on in my life and in the lives of those around me. There are times when I almost panic wondering how I keep up with my schedule- then I remember that it is Your schedule. And a peace comes over me that allows me to just relax and trust that You hold time (and me) in Your hands. Whatever calendar, to-do-list, or schedule I might happen to make is only a draft until Your perfect plans take priority. I love being on Your schedule, Lord! It takes the pressure off me and it’s always exciting to see what You have in store each day.

I happen to have a job with a paycheck where my schedule is flexible. My days and hours are different every week. On the days I go to work as an early childhood teacher, I am handed a written daily schedule which could place me in a different room each day, or a different room each hour or even change throughout the day. My job is to be flexible. It is my job, and I love being available to serve where needed. I love being on call for You, Lord. It is quite an adventure to watch where You send me, who You place me with, and Your perfect timing in action. It takes a lot of pressure off me to realize I couldn’t possibly set all the things in motion that You do. You know exactly where You want me so I am always learning to submit and simply enjoy Your scheduling.

Besides that, You know exactly what You want me to accomplish (or in some cases—not accomplish) in each 24-hour day. In my little mind, I will try to squeeze way too much in and will end up stressed and annoyed because I didn’t get what I thought was important done. Father, it seems the most important thing I can schedule is time to be still with You. That’s when I recall who is really in charge and who knows exactly what needs to happen on this particular day. That’s when I can re-surrender myself to You and make myself available for Your scheduling. When I do it, I love my job with You! I can simply enjoy every moment—trusting You have me right where You need me for that moment.  What an adventure to follow Your schedule, Lord!

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“As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, ‘In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the time of My salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:1-2

 

“But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands…”  Psalm 31:14-15a

 

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’  And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”   Isaiah 6:8

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, show me where You want me…

Heavenly Father.

After just going through bills, I am happy to say there was enough money to pay them. Most of my life has been a struggle financially. My bank account may not be overflowing, but my blessings are! I noticed that my checking account started out larger but got smaller the more bills I paid. It’s different with my blessings. The more I share them, count them and pass them out—the more I have! Sometimes I think if You give me any more blessings, Lord, I will explode!

I have a clean and clear conscience which money cannot buy. It’s not that I haven’t done anything wrong; it’s because You have forgiven me and keep giving me a clean new start. I don’t deserve it. I can’t earn it…but You have provided it through Jesus Christ. I just accept it! I am rich in grace and newness of life! I have peace which cannot be purchased. I can relax and enjoy my life with You. I need not struggle against You. You have blessed me with a calm assurance, knowing that all is well—no matter what things in this world look like. There may not be peace in the world but You give me peace in my spirit. The greatest treasure I have is love. There is just no end to it. I was a poor pitiful beggar at one point in my life, but You have loved me with an everlasting love that never runs out. Your love just keeps multiplying as I give it away.

You have deposited so many people around me to love—family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, children, grandchildren, strangers… I am rich, indeed! Lord, You have lavished love upon me, though I did nothing to earn it. I never want to be chintzy with the love You fill me with. I never want to hoard it, store it, or hide it. I want to love You and others with the overflowing generosity that You share love. I am completely bankrupt without You. Yet You pour out all Your richest heavenly treasures upon me. Let me share them freely to make room for more! I am so rich that I will be giving it away all my life and never run out. I am RICH in You, Lord!

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“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ, walk.”  Acts 3:6

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Luke 12:32-34

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me choose Your riches or that of the world…

Heavenly Father,

I am proud to say that I am needy! That is usually not looked upon as a good trait in today’s world. People are honored for being self-sufficient and self-confident. People are applauded for being a self-made millionaire or one who gets things done by themselves. We are told to rely on our own strength and to be our own person. I have tried all that and discovered that I let myself down. My own thoughts and ideas may seem grand at the time but fizzle out when I try to make a go of it by myself. I am so happy to be needy…I need You, Lord!

Admitting I need You for all things has not made me less of a person. Instead, it is making me more fully who I am created to be. I can be content in trusting You in every situation, knowing You have a divine plan that is far higher than the best plan I could ever come up with. I can be at peace resting in my relationship with You. I can be sure of who I am- one who is valued and cherished enough that You sent Jesus to die for me to give me new life. I can soar above all the drama and conflict that comes against me, knowing that my present and my future are completely secure in You. Fear has no hold on me because I know You are with me! I belong to You and You belong to me.

Lord God, I need You today and always. I don’t ever want to go anywhere without You. I don’t have to. You complete me. You live in me and I live in You. Every day is fresh and new in You. I not only need You- I want You! I love my life hidden with You. You bring joy, peace, love and contentment into my life. I don’t need a big house, an overflowing bank account, people’s respect, or anything else this world has to offer. I need You! I need Your breath to sustain me physically and spiritually. I need Your presence to make life beautiful and purposeful. I need Your guidance to fulfill Your perfect plans instead of my defective ideas. I need Your strength, Your patience, Your wisdom, Your everything…because my own falls far short. Yes, Lord! I fully admit I NEED You! Thank You for Jesus Christ who fulfills that need. I need You. I trust You. I love You.

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“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrew 4:16

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:6-8

Jesus prayer in John 17:26: “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for ME may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.” 

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I need You…I need Jesus…

Heavenly Father,
There have been many times in my life when I have been overwhelmed with thankfulness when someone did something for me that I could never repay. It’s a humbling experience to be shown such love and not be able to reciprocate. But when I think of all You have done for me, Lord, I can’t even begin to say thanks…but I’m going to try. I hope I don’t ever appear ungrateful for all Your blessings.
Thank You for creating this beautiful garden of a world as an earthly home for me. Its breath-taking splendor does not go unnoticed with the glorious sunsets, magnificent mountains, enormous oceans, peaceful valleys, productive prairies all filled with millions of trees, animals of all kinds, fruits, flowers, grass…To think You made it specifically for us to live in while on this earth! You have given us everything we need. Thank You for even thinking of me when You knit me together in my mother’s womb…and for thinking of each of my family and friends and giving them life. None of us would even be—if not for You. Thank You for the special people You have surrounded me with—some for a short time here on earth, others for a much longer time. Thank You for the promise of eternal relationships with these same family and friends- even when we are separated here on earth (whether by death, moving or whatever reason).
Father, everything I have and am; everything I hold dear comes from You. I can’t breathe, move, love or even appreciate anything at all without You. It’s so true—all blessings flow from You! Who am I but one tiny being out of billions…yet You love me enough to send Jesus to take away all my sins and ungratefulness and give me eternal life. How can I ever say thank You for loving me when I was unlovable? How can I ever say thank You for making it possible to live with You now and forever? How can I thank You for making me pure and holy? How can I thank You for never leaving me or forsaking me? If I am so overwhelmed by all Your blessings here on earth, how can I ever say thank You for an eternal life that goes far beyond what I can imagine? How can I say thank You? I will live my life loving You and loving others. That sounds like the thanks You desire, Lord
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“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” Hebrews 12:28-29
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians9:15
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Prayer Prompt:
Heavenly Father, thank You for…

Almighty God,

I was asked the other day to sing acapella with a group of ladies in church this morning. I do not have the best singing voice. However, I do love to sing to the Lord. When my children were young and I spent a lot of time driving them around, I would turn up the praise music and sing my heart out. My very own kids turned the station to keep me from singing! I always told them (and I truly believe) that You love my singing, Lord. You listen to my heart and not the notes. When I told my husband that I had been asked to sing during church, he said with surprise, “But you don’t sing!” (Good thing I love him!) I told him that I thought I was going to. I found the song on You Tube and sang along with it several times. My wonderful husband asked, “So you’re going to sing?” I told him, “How can I not sing my thanks to the Lord!?” So I did—along with other sisters-in-Christ (Some who have beautiful voices and others who had never sung in front of church before). I can’t help but believe You thought our song of thanks was lovely, Lord.

Recently, I had a phone conversation with a mom who was very hurt because her grown daughter never says thanks—she just expects her mother to do whatever she needs her to do. The ungratefulness affects their relationship… I had another conversation with a young mom who was deeply blessed by the help of some believers. She confessed she didn’t know how to handle it—that she wasn’t good at just receiving a gift… I think of how often I try to install the practice of saying thank you to the little toddlers and preschool children I work with. I may just be pouring them a glass of milk at lunch, but if they learn now to say thank you, perhaps they will grow to be even more thankful for all the blessings they will receive in their lives.

Father, out of all the wonderful blessings You have showered me with, I want to give thanks most of all for Jesus Christ. He is the most incredible, undeserved gift ever given. He died in my place so I can live with You forever. He rose again so I could live a new life. He lives in me and with me. He will never leave me. He empowers me to do Your will. He shows me what is truly important and takes away my guilt, shame, fears and burdens. Though I will live for all eternity, I will never be able to say or sing Thank You enough for Jesus Christ. But I will not quit trying. Forever I will be thanking You for loving me so much that You sent Jesus for me.

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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day.”  1 Chronicles 16:23

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I want to say thank you for…