All Powerful Heavenly Father,
You have tried to warn us of approaching danger and trials over and over again…but we choose not to listen. All throughout history, ever since sin entered into the world, You have told us there would be hardship. You sent Old Testament Prophets to warn Your people in times before Christ… Jesus warned us (even as followers) there will be persecution, famines, earthquakes and wars…It is part of life in this present world. You never told us You would take away our suffering. You sent Jesus to take away our sin so we can have the promise of eternal life where there will finally be no more suffering.

Jesus came to suffer as one of us yet He has overcome the world! He is with us, helping us to overcome through Your Holy Spirit. Thank You, Father, that He will never ever leave us or forsake us. As we submit our lives to Him, He lives in us enabling us to overcome. Father, I have no doubt that this pandemic was meant to kill, steal and destroy…but I also have no doubt that You are with us in the very midst of this pandemic to bring Your abundant life…so that is what I am praying for…

I pray for every single one of these to submit their life to You, to draw closer to You, to persevere through this pandemic with the hope and strength that can only come through Jesus Christ: for the nurses, doctors, CNAs, Housekeeping, Respiratory Therapists, First Responders and all others who are fighting this pandemic on the front lines…for those who are assisting with the daily needs of others- Nursing home personnel, grocery store workers and vendors, truckers, farmers, food servers, bankers, truckers, teachers, clergy, social workers…for those who are finding ways to help others through this: mask sewers, delivery people, neighbors…

May we all turn to You and realize our great need for You. We were created to need You and love You. We were designed to need and love one another. Father, through this pandemic, let Your glory shine brighter than ever as You bring new life from suffering. Take away our complacency, ingratitude, grumbling, spirit of entitlement, disregard for You, our God and Creator. Let this be a time of revival and turning our hearts, minds and souls to You. In Jesus’ victorious name, we pray. Amen.

 

*******

 

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:17-19

“News about him (Jesus) spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Matthew 4:24

“I (Jesus) have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

********

 

Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, during this pandemic, I pray for…

 

Heavenly Father,
This past week, I have been fighting for my faith in You to win over the onslaught of reasons to fear. In the midst of ongoing pandemic news reports that are trying to cause everyone in the whole world to fear, we were told my husband had a substantial blockage to his heart which was life-threatening and need to be taken care of quickly. Having had my first husband die from his heart brought on by Lupus, and dear friends who died recently without warning, the arrows of fear started their non-stop barrage. Because of the pandemic, it took longer to set up a heart cath to take care of the blockage. In the meantime, my husband’s symptoms took a sudden turn for the worse. I truly wondered if he would even make it to the heart cath. So I fought through the attacks of fear about my husband’s life along with the worries about the pandemic with prayer and looking to You instead of the ways things look.

The more I looked to You, the more the fear lost its power. My husband’s symptoms hadn’t gone away. In fact, they looked worse. The pandemic hadn’t gone away. It loomed larger than ever, but as I praised You and shared with You, everything seemed like it would be OK no matter how things looked. Even if my husband died, I knew You were still Lord! Even if many in my large family have lost jobs or their businesses are highly affected by this pandemic…even if many of my friends and family work in the health care field during this risky time…even if my beloved family-in-Christ cannot gather to meet right now…even though leaders on all levels are having to make tough decisions that impact so many lives right now…even if I cannot hug those I love…even through suffering and death…

You are God! You reign victorious! You are doing great things! It may look like death and chaos and fear are running ramped, but when we stop and look to You, we realize all is well. It may still look overwhelming, but when we look to You and not at the way things look to our human eyes, it is incredible what we begin to see. By the time my husband’s heart cath was here last Monday, I had prayed almost non-stop. As I sat alone (yet with You) in the parking lot, I couldn’t even make myself work up a fear! Nothing had changed. My husband had scary symptoms all the way up to entering that building alone. But my faith was in You, O Lord! I was still more than surprised when the cardiologist called to tell me they found nothing worth even putting a stent in or anything else done to his heart. All the symptoms were gone after he came out! Praise You, Lord!!!

Help us all to walk through our faith in You and not by how things look all around us! You are doing a new thing in many lives! How I praise You!!!! When we are tempted to look at the way things look, help us fight through it to look to You instead!

********

 

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

“God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” Psalm 53:2

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

*********

Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, help me to look to you no matter how menacing things look…

Heavenly Father,
My son sent me a photo of the weights his gym is letting him borrow during this quarantine period. He and his wife do heavy strength training and their plans are to continue at home during the pandemic. My husband and I are going through some intense exercise training during this time…along with millions of others around the world. Our faith is going through some heavy-duty training. Each day brings new burdens to be lifted up to You, Lord. Some seem far too much to bear… but that is where the growth takes place to go further than we have gone before. We might be fearful our knees will buckle under the weight…but You give us Your strength…

My daughter-in-law may be a beautiful young mom, but don’t let her looks fool you. She has become a giant in the strength department. My son got her lifting along side of him. I have watched them grow in strength and endurance from their consistent and faithful lifting. I think back to all the toils and dangers You have brought me through so far, Lord. Each one has given me a chance to exercise my faith in You. Every time it was far more than I could handle, but as I hold those heavy weights up to You—each time my faith in You has increased.

It is not that You have grown stronger. Lord, You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yet my faith in You has grown stronger with each increase in challenge. My frail body, mind and emotions may not be able to handle any of this…but You have been with me and encouraged me to trust You each time…and You have never failed. It is totally amazing what You can do through me because of Jesus Christ.

Many of us are facing huge weights even above and beyond the social distancing…but You are with us. As soon as we take our stance and lift that weight to You, Your incredible strength flows through us and we are surprised that we can do far greater things than we could imagine because You are with us! Thank You for this opportunity to exercise our faith in You, Lord!

 

******

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

 

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:11-13

 

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” 2 Thessalonians 1:2-4

 

*******

Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, I lift up these weights to You, acknowledging I need more faith in You…

 

Heavenly Father,
Whenever there are huge things going on like this pandemic, I know You are up to something bigger and better than we can imagine. Jesus told us in Matthew 24:6-8: “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.”

Every mother wishes she could skip the labor and go straight to the delivery of the new precious life she has longed for. We all want the joy of new life, but because of sin in this world, we have to endure the pain before new life is born. Lord, I think of the painful times I’ve been through in my life. More than once, I thought that pain would kill me. It did not. Yet going through those laborious challenges has always brought new glories in my life. Each bout of suffering has squeezed out more of my old selfish prideful nature and given birth to a new more Christ-like spirit.

When I was in actual labor giving birth to each of my babies (who are remarkable men and women now), I was incredibly grateful to have someone I love holding my hand and encouraging me through. Words could never express the comfort from their nearness, the touch of their hand, soft words of encouragement. I was alone in the most intense part of my most difficult birth when a faceless nurse (or an angel?) gently rubbed my back. No one could take the pain away, but how encouraging to know I was not alone.
Father, during these intense labor pains where so many are hurting, scared, and grieving, I pray that they will know the sweetness of Your presence. You never leave us. May Your Holy Spirit touch us, speak to us and assure us that the new life to come is worth all this temporary pain.

What a joy to share the new life with You! For some, it might be the beginning of a new life in Jesus Christ! For others, it may be a deeper relationship with You where more of You and less of us is seen in our lives. With every child I gave birth to, my intense pain dulled in comparison to the glory I held in my arms. With every trial I have endured, the pain has fled in the joy of a deeper life with You!

 

How I praise You for the amazing new life I already see being born from this intense pain we must labor through! Thank You for never leaving us!

 

*******

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” James 3:6

 

********

 

Prayer Prompt:
Heavenly Father, I need You as my Comforter and Labor Coach right now…

Heavenly Father,
On the last day of 1999, when most people thought the world might end when it turned midnight and started a new century, my family filled a time capsule. It was actually a large empty popcorn tin. My husband and I and four of our children from ages 9-14 filled out a questionnaire and placed a memento in that capsule that we all agreed to open in twenty years. We actually opened it on Christmas day this year since that was when we were all together at the same timer. What a fun and enlightening experience we had opening that time capsule for the first time in two decades.

The questions we each answered 20 years ago included: “What I think will happen in the next hundred years, What I hope to accomplish in the next 10 years, My greatest prayer for my family and friends, Note to my future children or spouse…” It was remarkable to see these letters written by children and read by the same people as adults! What a joy to see how many things had come true (except maybe the prediction of playing Major League Baseball and having a dream room with his three brothers still in the same room sharing bunkbeds!) It was like we all slipped back in time!

Memories are a powerful thing. They become a part of us and help make us who we are. It is good to look back at memories (even the painful ones at times) because we can see how far we’ve come and how love lives forever. Yet we are not created to live in the past. You made us to live fully in the right now- with an eye always on our final goal—our finish line—our eternal Home with You!

Father, as another year changes on the calendar, I thank You that I can see You have always been with me—through every moment of my life—that You have a Home waiting for me that goes far beyond what I can ever imagine where there will be no more time constraints…Most of all, I thank You that I know You are with me now and are always will be. I can rest in that assurance. I can count on You to not change or leave. Let this old year end and a new year begin- I LOVE living with You right now in this moment and forevermore through Jesus Christ!!

 

*******

 

“For he says, ‘In this time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

“You are my hiding place (my time capsule); You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

“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.” John 3:16

 

******

Prayer Prompt-
Father, Give me eternal life through Jesus to live with You right now and forever…

Heavenly Father,
I received a message from someone who was sad. Because of their current situation they could give no Christmas gifts this year as they had delighted to do in the past. Though my heart goes out to them, I know from experience that these are the times we learn our relationships are what is most important. Then this morning, as I sat alone in Your presence, I realized how very impoverished I am without You, Lord. You give me life, breath, people to love, shelter, comfort…everything I have and need is from You. I am absolutely destitute without You. I wouldn’t even exist if not for You. You lavish love gifts upon me continually…and sadly, I take most of them for granted. What can I possibly give to You who owns everything? Yet there is something…

 

Father, it was Your idea to create us with our own free will. We have a choice to accept the fact that You reign above all…that You created us…that we have sinned against You through our rebellion, neglect, disbelief, denial, disrespect…that we need You…that we are not complete without You…that we cannot have the close loving relationship with You–that You created us to have without Your help…that we cannot earn Your love…that we cannot even breathe without Your assistance…that we cannot get clean enough or holy enough to come into Your presence without Your cleansing mercy from the blood of Jesus…Oh Lord, I am so poor in spirit. There is only one thing that You do not have which I can give. I’m the only one who can give it. I’m the only one who has it, and You gave me that, as well—my will.

 

So here I am once more, holding my feeble will before You. I don’t know why You would want such an ugly obstinate thing. It has led me down wrong paths, hurt me and others, blinded my eyes to You and my life with You… Yet this awful will of mine—the only thing I truly have to give You—like everything else transforms into something incredibly beautiful when it is freely given to You. My will becomes Your will! I am able to come freely without any shame into Your presence and bask in Your glory! My eyes are opened to the vast riches You bestow upon me! My heart is overcome with love that goes way beyond my own capacity. I have overflowing joy no matter what my circumstances are. I am finally at peace because I am one with You and You with me! My will surrenders to Your will. I am only able to do this because of Jesus Christ, who gave up His own will and chose to die on the cross for my sin, so I can live now and forevermore with You! I am no longer poor but rich indeed! All because of my relationship with You through Jesus Christ! Here is my will freely given to You, Lord!

 

********

 

Jesus said in Mark 8:34-37: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

 

Jesus giving up His will in Gethsemane before the cross: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

 

Jesus told us we should pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done…” Matthew 6:9-10

 

******

 

Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, I’m sorry I have been so stubborn…here is my will…

Most Glorious Father God,
I have a new view of the earth after flying from Dallas, Texas to India. The airline we flew overseas on had the most up-to-date personal screens in front of each passenger seat. The interactive cameras offered us a choice of watching camera views from the front, rear and underneath the plane from take-off to landing and everything in between. There was also a choice of different interactive maps so we could see where we were on the 15-hour flight—what countries or bodies of water we were flying over. It was our first time to fly across the world and we had no idea that we could watch the trip unfold through cameras and maps. Others might have watched movies but we were caught up in our flight.

The ground view is so different than that of high above the earth. At 40,000 plus feet we were flying high above the clouds. As we looked out the window at that altitude, all we saw was a lovely pure white blanket of clouds far beneath us. The screen also showed the temperature at that altitude which was at times listed at negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We could not have survived outside the shelter of that plane. The monitor listed the countries we were flying over at the time. We were visiting India which is exactly on the opposite side of the world from my home. India looks completely different than my home city. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder how each country I was flying over was so unique. Lord, it puts me in my extremely small place when I contemplate that You, Almighty God, created each land and every single individual living in those lands—that You are intimately involved in every single life that has surrendered to Your sovereignty and accepted Your gift of Jesus Christ.

I can fly high, close to You, because I am in Jesus and He is in me. You no longer see the dirty sinful nature I had- You see me being carried by Jesus, pure as those snow-white clouds. You have saved me through Jesus to soar high above the earth where I can never go on my own. I may be only one-in-a-billion people alive at this time, but I am precious to You. At times, it seems like just You and me. Other times, You give me a glimpse of who You are and how You reign high above the earth and the galaxies and heaven–how Powerful yet Tender, Righteous yet full of Mercy, Timeless yet there comes a time for each of us, in-control yet You give us free choice…You are our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Savior, Lover, and Glorious God! Thank You. Lord God, for being able to soar safely with You high above the earth in Jesus’ tender care–now and forever!

 

*********

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” Isaiah 40:21-22

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles’ they will run and not grow weary’ they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:30-31

“And He died for all, that hose who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:15-17

********

Your Prayer Peek-
Heavenly Father, what is my view of you…and of the earth?

Glorious Father,
There are times that suffering feels like the life is being squeezed out…when it seems more than we can handle…when pain, grief and sorrow threaten to drown us—but even then, You are right here. Lord. You are closer than anyone else could possibly be. You truly never leave us. We can count on You and Your goodness. Last night, I felt the suffering trying to overtake me once more. I knew I needed to be still in Your presence and look to You instead of the suffering. So much pain, tears, sorrow, suffering all around… I need You, Lord—and Your hope.

Less than a week ago, our precious tiny granddaughter died in her mommy’s womb. It has been so sad. I couldn’t share it with the grief group that I host until our grown children decided how they would handle it. I couldn’t ease their pain no matter how hard I wanted to. There have been so many others who are suffering lately…and yet I see how You turn that suffering into something beautiful.

Life keeps going despite our suffering. Several of us go into a neighborhood once a week to leave gospel tracts and pray with people who want it. The day after our granddaughter’s death, I asked You to use my suffering… and You did as I prayed with three different people I had never met about the preciousness of life. I believe it had eternal impact. My sweet daughter-in-law is a NICU trauma nurse. I can’t even begin to imagine how her suffering will impact her future compassion and ministry to families. I see You at work in our son and 4-year-old grandson. There are more ways You will use this suffering than any of us can comprehend right now.

Jesus was with You as You made all there is. He holds all power and authority–yet He knows all about suffering. He was willing to suffer unjust punishment, judgement, desertion, mockery, bullying, physical, mental and spiritual abuse—even unto death so we could live with You for all eternity. He knew His bitter suffering would result in the sweetest gift ever given- eternal life.

 

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

 

Isaiah 53:3 says about Jesus “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. “

 

“And we hope in the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:2-5

 

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18

 

******

 

Your Prayer Peek-
Father, what suffering do I have to offer to You?

Heavenly Father,
There seems to have been a flood of deaths around me lately. Some of them have been very close to me and others involve relatives or friends of those I am close to. Death is never easy- no matter the age or circumstance of the one we mourn. My forever Pastor Jerl, who just died, enjoyed teasing and called me “a grief guru” because he knew I would protest! Who wants to be associated with death and grief? I would much rather deal with life than death! Yet they go together…

Those dear ones who just left this life—the two young football players, the young man in his twenties, the little girl everyone loved, the beloved husband, and our amazing pastor friend, Jerl are more alive than they have ever been! They had to die from this life to fully experience eternal life with our Lord! Before this, they had to die to their own will and surrender to Jesus as their Lord to receive His life and all the inheritance His life offers. You sent Jesus to die for us so that we might have eternal life! Jesus’ death was the only way to give us the gift of life with You, our Father. Jesus’ death brings us TRUE LIFE which can never ever die or be taken from us.

Father, how I pray for those who are left behind; those who are grieving the death of their loved one. I know they feel surrounded by death. I realize they feel overwhelmed by death…yet I know that You are with the broken-hearted, tenderly calling them to a new deeper life with You. You will never ever leave them or forsake them. You know they must go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but You have much more life ahead for them to live—both here on earth and for all eternity.

Lord, as much as I would love to take away the taste of death from those who are hurting, I know even as I pray that You are bringing life out of death. You are the expert on birthing life from death! We wait upon You! We look to You, the Victor over death and the gracious Giver of Eternal Life!

 

******

 

“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me…’” John 12:23-26

 

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who is seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:4-5

 

********

 

Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me to trust You to bring life even through death and grief…

Most Glorious Heavenly Father,
Precious in Your sight is the death of one of Your saints. You see it as their ultimate Homecoming to life with You. We, who are left behind, struggle between being incredibly happy for them and incredibly sad for ourselves. Late last night my “Forever Pastor” Jerl Joslin crossed that great finish line. He, nor any of the rest of us, realized how close he was to the victory line. He was going about his race mapped out before him. He was running hard. He and his beloved wife were about to begin their annual Refresh Ministry Pastors’ Conference in less than a week. They had a revival with multiple Kiamichi churches lined up next weekend. What an eternal impact one humble loving man and his beautiful faithful wife had on so many lives! You can do great things through one or two surrendered lives, Lord!

About eight years ago, this selfless humble man underwent a traumatic attack which You ultimately used to make him more determined than ever to finish his ministry strong for You. Despite hardships, trials, heartache and misunderstandings You built him up to keep on going. You gave him the most perfect life partner to share Your work with and to sing duets with. Jerl’s kindness, sincere love, wisdom, encouragement and ministry to others went way beyond his human capabilities. It flowed out of his personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ. He loved You and others with all his heart. That’s why there are so many grieving today. His genuine love caused each person he met (and immediately knew by name!) to know they were loved. There was no doubt his sincere love flowed straight from You.

Father, thank You for such a life well-lived. Thank You for the thought of him worshipping You even more fully in Your presence! Lord, it is so hard for me to imagine his wife Dani without her beloved Jerl. May she keep singing solos knowing You are with her. You formed in them a much deeper partnership than the average marriage. I have no doubt You will sustain her and their family to finish their own races strong. Jerl is just over the finish line cheering them on! He’s cheering us all on. I will forever hear Your words through his voice and writing. May we all be willing to run our race with You and finish strong—all the way to the victory line!

*****

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8

 

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15

 

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory!’” 1 Corinthians 15:54

 

******

Your Prayer prompt-

Father, Help Jerl’s family – and all of us- to finish strong…