Heavenly Father,

We’ve had a fire going in our free-standing metal fireplace for almost three days now. Warnings of a major ice storm prompted us to store up a large garden wagon of logs for our fireplace in our garage. There is something so mesmerizing and cozy about watching a fire roar. It makes me just want to slow down and enjoy the warmth. I’ve enjoyed the benefits of our well-used fireplace for over twenty years now. There can be 3 feet of snow on the ground, freezing rain, or blowing wind outside but as long as we have wood to burn, we know we have what we need in front of those glowing flames. One year, a major ice storm with high winds caused major tree branches to continually fall on our roof all night long. Our power was out… along with another family staying with us who had lost their power. Though we had no electricity or heat, the fire provided warmth and light. Adults and kids were camped out all over the floor in front of our fireplace.

Tonight as I savored the dancing flames and occasional crackle, I thought of how we are drawn to the warmth of fire in the cold seasons. Father, it doesn’t matter what storms rage outside. When I sit down in Your presence and soak up Your warmth, I know all is well. The storms will pass. You are with me and You will never leave me. I can sit calmly in front of You whenever I am still in Your presence.

When I stop and am still before You, my spirit is soothed before Your calming power and tender warmth. When I turn my gaze towards You, I know Your peace. As I sit before You in quiet, You lay Your lovely thoughts upon my soul. You guide me. You love me, You restore me and warm me. The glow of being in Your presence enables me to carry that warmth of Your glowing embers out into the dark cold world. I can come back into Your presence at any time. I can share the fire You place in my soul with those who are out in the cold and do not realize what they are missing.

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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

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”   Exodus 13:21-22

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   John 8:12b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, burn away all that is not needed and set my soul on fire for…

Most Glorious Heavenly Father,

At the start of every Christmas season for several years now, I always pray to discover more of the gift You’ve given us when You sent us Jesus Christ. At the first of the month, I sincerely prayed this again, trusting You would reveal more of the never-ending gift of Jesus Christ. I committed to spend more time alone in Your presence so I could truly discover more of the most remarkable gift ever given. I longed to have long moments to “ponder” and hold Your gift as Mary did. That was my Christmas plan this year.

What happened was more activity than ever before. At least it seemed that way! A neighbor with no one to care for her had a huge surgery. There was no one else at all to help her…except me…right in the midst of all kinds of family gatherings and other obligations. I know You well enough to know You would lead the way and give me all I needed to handle the extra load. At the same time there were 4 new grandchildren added into our already huge family- one by birth and three through fostering. There was much activity surrounding those joys. There was my work with lots of extra Christmas festivities; teaching a Bible class with more Christmas celebrations, teaching children at church with special lessons on Jesus’ birth, hosting special Holiday Grief sessions, appearing as “Mary” before children and parents; shopping, wrapping and cooking for 30 family members; delivering Christmas gifts for families for church…and so much more!

So much for spending extra quiet time with You during the Christmas season! In the midst of my longing for quiet time with You to discover more of Jesus, we had a Bible lesson on the Good Samaritan where the priest and Levite both passed by a wounded man instead of stopping to care for him. You brought to my attention how often Jesus tried to get away in the hills to spend alone time with You in prayer yet the people found Him with their great needs. You somehow laid on my heart that Jesus left the glory of Your holy presence to come to earth in the most humble ways out of Your love for us! Jesus came to be born in human form, live without sin, and die for us so that we would never have to be separated from Your presence- no matter how busy we are or what we’ve done. Because of Jesus, Your presence is always with me! There truly is no greater present ever given!

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“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’”   Luke 2:13-14

“For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus who continues to….

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Heavenly Father,

I don’t think I can take any more! You just keep pouring blessings upon me. Just when I think there’s no room for any more, another one is lavished upon me. There is no way to thank You for them all, but I have to try or I’ll burst!

I am so incredibly proud and thankful for our ever-growing family! Our youngest son and his beautiful wife have begun their awesome adventure of fostering to adopt. These two are following God’s lead in providing love and stability to children whose world has been unstable. From having no children at all, they went to having three little siblings all at one time. (Talk about parenthood shock!) Ever since they started the process of getting approved for this challenge (way before there were any children) I began praying that our huge family would accept whichever children You sent into our family and it has happened far better than I could have imagined! There has been a huge outpouring of emotional, material and mental support for these first time parents who are discovering that children consume your life. The children have already joined in on family outings, cousin time, a zoo trip and our huge Thanksgiving get-together and it is very good! I have been brought to tears more than once by family members who pour out love so easily!

We have another beautiful new granddaughter (not-quite a month old who seemed to be born almost half-grown) who has the lovely gift of staring deep into your eyes and soul for what seems like hours…My 85 year-old mom who leads our family in prayer…our lovely daughter and fiancé who will be married in May…I have a loving husband who cooks and cleans alongside me as we host a meal for about fifty…grown children (and even a few grandchildren) who step in to help cook and clean…grandchildren who are feeling their way into adulthood and those who still crawl up in our lap…grandkids who love spending time with us…grown children who help with my book-writing…a church that allows our huge family to have our get-together in our dining area and gym…a church family whom we love more than we could ever express… a brother and sis who were able to come home from mission in Trinidad/Tabago during Thanksgiving…family that had to miss due to illness, a broken arm, traveling, tire issues, or just plain being a hermit (they know who they are!)…another brother and sis who have spent their lives offering encouragement, jobs and support to everyone in our family…relatives-through-marriage who fit as easily into our family gatherings as their own…family and friends who were not at our gathering but are just as much a blessing to our lives (those who live next door and those who live up North or even down South!)

Father, I could keep on going and going about those I’m thankful for! You have lavished me with the gift of family far past what a once lonely little girl could dream of. And this is by far an incomplete list! We are all joined together as family through the love of Jesus Christ! And to think – my earthly family is but a taste of the Thanksgiving feast to come!

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“Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds- His name is the Lord- and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”  Psalm 68:4-6

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”   1 Timothy 5:8

“I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.”  Ezekiel 34:26

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for…

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Heavenly Father,

As I contemplate what I am thankful to You for, Lord, the top of my list is You! Every rich and lovely blessing I have flows straight from You. As I count my sweetest treasures, it becomes more and more evident that every single person or thing that blesses my life was lavished on me out of Your great love for me. I can count forever and still not list all the amazing blessings You shower me with. There is no way to repay You or even thank You adequately. You are the great Giver of love and blessings! How can I possibly thank You enough for my wonderful husband, children, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and church family? How can my simple words of gratefulness thank You for the love, joy, peace and happiness that comes from living with You?  There are so many eternal and physical ways You bless me that I can never thank You enough! And yet, it is so important to thank You!

The more I concentrate on what I do have instead of what I don’t have- the more and more blessings I realize I have to be thankful for. It’s as though the more I look at what I am thankful for, the more I see. Many of these things and even precious people could somehow be taken away…but You, Lord God, are mine forever and ever! I don’t want to just be thankful for all I receive from You. That would be such a self-centered, one-sided relationship. I want to be thankful for You in all Your fullness including Your Son and the Holy Spirit. You knew me and even created me before anyone else did. You have always been with me and always will be. Not even death can separate us.

You long to share all of Yourself with me. You held nothing back as You sent all of Your essence in Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate price for my sins which block that full rich relationship with You. You send me Your Holy Spirit in all Your essence to live in me so I might have all Your love, joy, peace and holiness along with Your ever-present presence to comfort, guide, teach, encourage, and strengthen me in all my frailness. Oh yes, Lord- You are my greatest treasure! Above all, I am thankful for who You are and the knowledge that You truly love me and continually lavish me with unending blessings. You are my eternal treasure! And You are not just mine alone…but belong to all who accept You!

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“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46

“…the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”  Romans 10:12b-13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, my greatest blessing is…

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Heavenly Father,

It shows great trust when someone asks your help. Even greater trust is given when they say “thanks” as they are asking…before it’s even been done. It’s like they have no doubt they will have your help. That doesn’t happen very often in my life…and I wonder how often it happens in our prayer life with You, Lord. It must not happen very often according to Jesus’ reaction in Matthew 8:5-10: “When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking for help. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.’ Jesus said to him, ‘I will go and heal him.’ The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, He was astonished and said to those following Him, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.’”

Lord, I would love to astonish You! I want to start thanking You in advance for Your answers to my prayers before they are even answered – even as I present my thoughts and concerns to You. I don’t want to use my advanced thanks like some magic step that will guarantee that You work things out my way. I figured out a long time ago that Your ways are much better than mine. So I will keep on lifting all my burdens and cares to You and then thank You in advance. For I know You will work things out much better for all concerned than I could ever scheme up.

No matter what the news looks like, or how the world appears, or what’s going on in my children and grandchildren’s lives, what my bills look like or my health looks like…I want to thank You in advance for Your amazing answered prayers in all these and more situations. I tell You about them and I know You will bring about Your most perfect will. I will try harder to end all my prayers to You with a thank-You in advance with a real assurance that You will answer in ways that will astonish me.

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“You are my God, and I will give You thanks; You are my God, and I will exalt You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”  Psalm 118:28-29

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I want to thank You in advance for….

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Heavenly Father,

I often step in to teach a class of twelve 3-4 year old preschool children. They can be pretty demanding when they all want to tell me something at once- especially at mealtime when they all want a drink of milk when I’m still passing out other food. I know they are still learning, but boy- it’s really nice when one of them simply says “thank-you” without be prompted! Part of their “self-centeredness” is developmental. They are still learning to think of others and not just their own wants.  It’s a hard but critical lesson to be thankful. I do try to train them to say it, but then ever so often they say it on their own and really mean it! Wow! One sincere thank–you can make up for quite a few loud demands.

Father, I wonder what the ratio is for You?! How many demanding “I wants” do You receive per day as opposed to genuine thank-You’s? I look back at my own relationship with You- in my personal prayer life. Hopefully, I’ve matured spiritually enough to tell You thanks far more often than telling You what I need. I used to be a bit of a whiner- always feeling sorry for myself because someone hurt my feelings, or wondering why I had to wait, or trying to tell You exactly what I need and when I need it. You have been so patient with me, waiting for me to grow up in Jesus Christ- learning to be grateful in all situations, trusting You will always give me the very best at the perfect time.

Father, I hope my thank-You’s cause You to stop and be blessed. I know many people who are listing things they are thankful for all during November. I pray our thank-You’s become such a habit- a deep part of who we are that we will be thanking You for all eternity and still have more to thank You for! I’ve noticed that gratefulness is contagious. If one of my preschoolers says “thank-you,” others begin to say it and the whole mood changes from demands to gratitude. Father, I want to start by thanking You for designing me with the ability to be thankful. The more I thank You, the more I find I have to be thankful for! Let the feast of thankfulness run ramped. I know that our thankfulness has the power to bless our own hearts, other’s hearts…and may our thanks have to power to bless You, Lord!

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“Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance and called out ion a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When He saw them, He said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him- and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this one foreigner?’ Then He said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”    Luke 17:11-19

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, right now, I want to thank You for…

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Heavenly Father,

Passions and emotions are volatile over an election that many people initially were upset about because they were disappointed over the two choices for president. Lord, both candidates are frail humans- just as any president and candidate in history has been. No matter who was elected, the president elect will come and go (just as all other presidents, kings and earthly leaders have.) You alone are God Almighty! You alone stand throughout eternity! You alone are high above all kings and kingdoms and governments- both in this world and in the spiritual world.

You have more power than the mightiest earthly dictator. You could force us to bow down and serve You as our God and King…yet You wanted it to be our choice. You gave us a mind and will of our own to decide who we will serve. That’s incredible since we have such fickle minds which follow the latest craze or school of thought. We are quick to follow our selfish desires, ambitions, and plans. Oh Lord, I am so grateful for Your patience with me. You have waited for me to realize my great need for You. You waited for me to acknowledge my rebellious sin against the very One who created me and loves me. You waited while I chose other people and things above You. You waited while I angrily questioned why I had to go through things. You waited in love for me to make my eternal choice. You have forgiven and forgotten all my sins against You when I chose to accept Your sacrifice of Jesus.

I voted in the recent election because thousands of people (though they never knew me) died in battles to insure and protect my right to choose. I have voted for earthly leaders who do not know me. I read in 1 Samuel 8 where You wanted to be a very closely involved loving King who personally led His people…but they demanded an earthly king. You warned that worldly leaders will tax, send our sons off  to war, make us work and rule our lives. You gave the people what they wanted. Father, I choose You to be my Ultimate King because You sent Your very own pure and Holy Son Jesus to die for my sins so I can be intimately involved in Your life and You can be intimately involved in mine. You love me because You made me and I am Yours. You know me better than I know myself and You still love me! I can trust You to lead me through this changing world which often seems full of chaos and unrest. All is well because You reign forever…and You are personally leading me! Your love is unchanging. You are my God, my King, my Lord, my Choice!

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“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”   Joshua 24:15

“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 30:19-20

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. This is My command: Love each other.”    John 15:16-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, forgive me for my choices in the past. Today, I choose…

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Heavenly Father,

One of the hardest things to do is give birth. That’s why having a great coach is critical.  Though I didn’t get to see the labor and delivery, I did get to witness the aftermath. Our newest granddaughter was just born into this world into the arms of some amazing parents. Mom gave birth naturally to a 10 lb 5 oz darling girl. By the time I saw the daddy, mommy and baby, they were all glowing! Mom was so proud she did it! She kept thanking her coach husband for his calm soothing “You can do this” attitude. During labor when she didn’t think she could take any more, he kept reminding her with words, touches and looks to relax and breathe. It was definitely teamwork between Coach and wife. Then came the winning celebration of a beautiful new baby to love!

I’ve been noticing a lot of great coaching lately…my youngest son and his wife just began their journey into foster parenting. They’ve been coached by other foster parents for this time. I have watched them coach their children-for-the-moment in the most amazing ways. There is no doubt You are using them and many other amazing foster parents to make a huge difference in children and families…I recently watched my sweet hyper 5 year old great grandson’s soccer game. His kind coaches patiently guided and encouraged him as he constantly stopped to wave at the bleachers and ran off to talk to family. They are making a difference in his life…I think of my parents, grandparents, first husband and present husband, aunts and uncles, church family, teachers, friends who all played a part coaching my life and I am incredibly grateful for their belief in me and encouragement.

Yet my greatest Coach has always been You, Lord! You have been coaching me from before I was born when I was still in my mother’s womb. You are always with me urging me on, believing in me, not giving up on me when I make mistakes or let You down. You are always there when the pain is too much to bear, when I face opposition, when I’m tired and weary, when I need to stop and rest, when I score a win, when I am injured and when I am at my  worst and my best. You are my Coach whispering encouragement, correction, and strength into my soul. How I love You, my Almighty Loving Coach! You will be with me all the way til I cross the finish line and beyond! Thank You!

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“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in- behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”  Psalm 139:2-6

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”   Psalm 23:2-4

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”    Matthew 28:20b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for these coaches in my life….

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Heavenly Father,

I’m still enjoying sharing all the lovely photos of the most amazing landscapes from our recent vacation. You don’t just paint still life; Lord…You paint with life itself. The leaves on the trees are ever-changing; the rivers, streams and ocean are made up of trillions upon trillions of water droplets that are ever-moving; the skies are never the same with clouds and colors always arrayed in a different pattern. We even saw animals which were amazing- does, bucks, turkeys, birds and a bear! Your beauty is seen wherever we go! On this trip as in vacations before, we were overcome with Your beautiful creation! It was much more than we could absorb. I will never forget a trip a couple of years ago, when I was so overcome with the magnificence of Your creations that I was praising You. You accepted my praise and then informed me that Your greatest creation was people!

You threw me completely off guard with that comment. We are always surrounded by so many people that we enjoy getting away from humans out into the quiet peaceful settings of nature. Ever since then, I try to remember what You told me and see people as Your greatest creation. People are, in fact, always changing as well. You create them out of nothing and knit them together in their mother’s womb. They start out tiny and helpless, waiting to be held and cared for…and keep on changing throughout their life time into magnificent one-of-a-kind, never before people who are made up of nerves, muscles, brains, personality, dreams, character and abilities. Each and every single person is one of the greatest works of art. They are not still life either, but are created to transform and grow in beauty throughout the trials, joys and challenges they each face in this journey of life.

Lord, we had a chance to not only experience the beauty of nature on this trip but were able to spend some time with some of the most amazing people. Some were young; others I have known all their lives and watched them transform from glory to glory. As much as I love experiencing Your awesome creations in this world, I love people the most. Thank You for giving me more love for people! They are amazing!

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“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”  Genesis 1:26

“God saw all that He had made. And it was very good.”   Genesis 1:31a

“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? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; you put everything under his feet; all flocks and herds, and beasts of the field, and birds of the air, and fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, give me eyes to see and love to appreciate…

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Heavenly Father,

I’ve run out of gas. My energy is all used up. My body, mind and spirit are setting on empty. I don’t want to talk or move. It’s OK, though. I’ve run out of steam before. It’s not the worst thing in the world because I know where to go to get filled back up. In fact, I believe it may be good for us to experience our own weakness now and again. It is a reminder of how much we need You, Lord!

So here I sit, quietly in Your Holy presence holding my empty tank before You…

I don’t want to try to take another step, make another plan, or talk to another person til I am filled up again. If I try to go on an empty tank, I will just sputter and stop. It might even do more damage than good if I attempt to go under my own power instead of Your’s.

Even now, as I am still before You and thirsting for more of You, I can tell You are gently filling me up. Being in Your presence is refreshing and renewing. You restore me. I am not in a hurry to get going again. It is beautiful to be filled by You. I was made to be filled by You. We were all designed to be filled with You. My joy, my peace, my strength, my purpose are all found in You through Jesus Christ. Fill me up!

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“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”  Psalm 23:2-3a

“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.”    John 17:26

“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

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Prayer Prompt-

Father God, I want to be filled with…