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Heavenly Father,

As I was working on a new flower bed for our church’s landscape, a young woman came looking for help…any kind of help. This thin girl said she was in her twenties but I felt like she could have easily been a teen run-away. She had come to our church before and showered and been given food. I happened to be by myself last Saturday so though I wanted to help her, I also needed to be on extra alert. Her words were jumbled and at times did not make any sense. It was hard to say if there were mental issues as well as drug problems. I continued to work as I listened to her talk, trying to assess the situation. I quietly asked for Your wisdom, protection and guidance.

She was living on the streets or wherever she could find. It’s such a dangerous life and she was so young. Throughout our conversation, she kept asking for water, food, a shower, make-up, a backpack, shampoo. She must have asked for water at least 20 times. Even after taking a shower in our church and giving her a large drink of water (part of which was thrown out), she continued to ask for water. It must be an obsession. What she really needs is Living Water.  She mumbled something about having to have water to survive. Father, unless something changes, she might not survive the streets. Yet she wouldn’t let me take her to a shelter. I know many people who choose this way of life. I kept asking about her family- who she could go back to and find shelter. When she told me of her mom, I dialed her number in another state. She was at least able to leave a voicemail for her mom.

I told her all the things she was asking for were only temporary help. What she really needed was a brand new clean life with Jesus Christ.  As much as I wanted to save her from the life she is living, I couldn’t keep her from choosing a path that leads to a deeper walk into death- away from You, Lord. She is living in survival mode, trapped in a life of hell. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. I prayed with her. I was overwhelmed with Your love for her and the grace You long to give her for all the things she’s done. As much as I longed to help her make that step into new life, You desire it for her even more. You sacrificed Your very own Son so she could have eternal life…but she’s not ready to accept it. How sad it was to watch her walk away. Father, I know You will be with her, continually calling her home to You.

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I’m praying for this to happen to her: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.”   Luke 15:17-24

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, give me a heart like Yours for the lost…

 

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Jeremy and Sherry

 

Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is a young mom of two little boys. She had a really bad day the other day. All moms do. Some days, mothers feel like they are never doing enough. Sometimes they feel guilty for almost no reason at all. There are times they feel inadequate thinking they are not very good at being a mom. What about those times your child acts out or throws a fit in front of all kinds of faces that seem to be thinking, “You should be doing this or not doing that!” How about those times when you seem to be telling your child to do something and it’s like your voice is simply background noise…then dad walks in and says one word and everyone shapes up! Being a mom means having your heart break because no one seems to understand your child’s special needs, or your child cries himself to sleep because of cruel comments of another kid or adult, yet more unbroken promises of another parent,  or deep wounds,  illness or poor choices  which  you can’t protect your child from.  Being a mom can be deeply painful.

Being a mom is also one of the most satisfying jobs there is: like when your toddler hugs you because you’re the most important love in their life, watching your child give their long-awaited allowance to a homeless man, watching your teen overcome a long-time fear, watching them grow and develop as the unique and miraculous person You created them to be. What a joy to watch how You, Lord, take everything that has ever happened in their life and blend it all together for good.  How rewarding to carry on adult conversations with this person who once couldn’t even talk and depended on you for food, shelter and protection.

My granddaughter might have had a challenging day, but someday she will barely recall the harsh trials and will only stand in awe at the men those little boys have become. She will be able to laugh at the hard memories and stand amazed that she played a part in who they have become. Father, today I pray for all the beautiful moms I know (the foster moms, adoptive moms, bio moms, grandmothers) who may be having a good or a bad day today. Lift them up, bless them, refresh them, and strengthen them so they can go on loving and encouraging their children. May they love whichever children You have placed before them with Your love…because You, Lord, not only created the heart of mothers; You have the heart of a mother. Let us love with Your love.

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“How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37b

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord, for his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”   1Samuel 1:27-28a

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands…”   Isaiah 49:15-16

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, You have loved me even more than the mother who carried me in her womb by…

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Heavenly Father,

People take one look at my mom and think she is a frail little woman. She recently fell and damaged her hip again. The ER doctors and nurses take a look at this fragile old lady and tend to talk to me instead of her. It doesn’t take much time for them to realize she is fully in charge of her own decisions and completely understands what’s going on. She is the strongest weakest person I know. She still works every day, tutors once a week, runs a 4-H club, teaches Sunday School… In fact, she was carrying plants outside her greenhouses when she tripped and fell backwards onto her hip that’s already been replaced once. The business was closed but my brother was on the property. She called him on her cell phone to casually ask if he could come take a look at something whenever he got a chance. She said there was no hurry (neglecting to mention that she had fallen and couldn’t get up!) He continued to work, finding her about 45 minutes later. She had pulled herself from the point of fall about 30 feet to try to pull up on some steps so she could see if she could stand (which she couldn’t!) That’s where he found her on the step…when he called an ambulance.

Although my mom is unable to move on her own at this point, she is far from helpless. She may need assistance moving but as long as she has her phone and her papers, she is working! She spent all day the past two days immovable in a chair making phone calls to her 4-Hers who were meeting about camp and record books. There was much to do! Then, of course, she had to call everyone to let them know their Bible study had been postponed for the night. She’s worried about being a burden to her children right now. We are concerned she will try to move herself again before it is time!

Father, it is a blessing and an honor to care for those who have traveled so boldly before us…those whose minds are still super sharp like my mom’s and for those who do not always comprehend what is going on. They have journeyed some hard roads, survived some rough trails, provided and cared for us. Now, it is our turn to care for them when they let us! Sometimes we have to be creative in helping them so it’s not too obvious.  Lord, show us how to care for the weak with Your love, treating them with respect and honor – the way we hope to be treated in our weakness. I can think of several dear friends who have been faithfully caring for their loved ones who couldn’t make it without their tender care. Give us Your eyes to see, grace to help and love to share with those who are weak in some way.

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“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.” Psalm 41:1

“He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight.” Psalm 72:13-14

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please Himself…” Romans 15:13a

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who have You placed in my life that is weak and needs my loving help?

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Heavenly Father,

With Spring here, I have a whole list of projects I would like to complete…painting the house, redoing the fence, painting the ceilings, building a new stone flowerbed, repairing a brick retaining wall… The list goes on and on. I can envision all these projects completed but there is never enough time. There are projects to do at home, at church, at work, at relative’s homes… Yet each of these worthy efforts take a back seat when I stop and spend time with You. It seems You always help me see more important priorities than just my planned projects.

Although it might make me feel good to complete something I work so hard on, to see something I planned work its way to a grand finale, I know those projects will not last forever. A drought could kill a landscape. The paint will peel. The fence will rot. I can recall pouring my energy and time into creating a wonderful landscape only to drive by after moving away and see everything mowed over. It is a fact how easy it is for one of MY projects to become too important. Maybe that’s part of the issue. It’s about me and what I can do! All my projects will not last forever…but relationships will!

Lord, help me seek to love first and foremost. After all, that’s what You call me to do. The two greatest projects (no- commandments) are to love You with all my heart, mind and strength…and to love my neighbor (everybody) as myself. Love takes time, energy, work, prayer, commitment, forgiveness… Father, help me be willing to invest more in relationships with You and others. Any projects I attempt to do without love are just empty and irritating… but anything that has love invested in it will last forever! Thank You that I am more than a project to You. Thank You, Lord, for loving me as I learn more about You!

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“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’”     Matthew 22:36-39

“And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”   1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1, 13

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”   John 13:34

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, All love flows from You. How can I show more love to You? To others?

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Heavenly Father,

I’m a huge believer in love…real love that lasts forever! In fact, there have been a few times in my life I have been honored to play a small part in matchmaking (putting 2 people together who ended up married!) There was those 2 friends from high school who went on a blind double date with us…the man and woman who attended the grief group I host (both grieving their spouses, who ended up together)…and even my son and daughter-in-law! (I guess you could say I played a part in all our children’s marriages since I was praying for their future spouses while they still feared “cooties” from the opposite sex! Now I’m praying for our grandchildren’s mates!) What a joy to see two people you love fall in love!

This weekend was a matchmaker set-up! My husband and I hosted a 24 hour Good Friday Prayer Vigil. From noon on Friday (when Jesus was crucified) until noon on Saturday, people came and went all day and all night. We set up a quiet room, complete with candlelight and no distractions. We urged people to sign up for a date with You for at least 30 minutes. We even provided conversation starters! Sometimes they were nervous beforehand about being alone with You. Some had been coming every year for 14 years and couldn’t wait for their annual special date! Every year, there are those who are afraid they won’t know what to say for 30 whole minutes. Often they end up staying longer because they don’t want to leave. We were so blessed to see the before and after effects. Some came in heavily burdened or frantic from the chaotic world…but when they came out, they had the glow of one in love. There was peace in their spirit and lightness in their step for they had been with You- the love of their life!

I love being a matchmaker! It’s not my job to make them love You, Lord. I just try to introduce them or provide an opening. Your love makes them fall in love with You! Everyone needs a love in their life that never leaves them, who helps them through whatever they must face, who sees them as they are and still loves them, who believes in them and encourages them, who challenges and comforts them…someone who they can go to and all is right with the world. You are truly the only one who can do that. Our sin and pride keep us from You…so You sent Jesus (the True Matchmaker) to lay down His life for us; to bring us back to You. He makes us bright and holy by His precious blood so we can not only have dates with You, but live with You now and forever! It’s a match made in heaven! I love You, Lord!

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“for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:4b-5

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him the glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.”   Revelation 19:7

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for showing Your eternal love through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection given for me! Help me show my love for You through…

 

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Heavenly Father,

A young woman I’ve been working with for quite a while, who is recovering from substance abuse, recently confided in me. It’s been an incredible journey to watch her come from out of the deep dark grip of hell into the light. The changes in her life have gone far past what I imagined possible. When I first met her, I remember telling You that I thought she was too far gone. In fact, I must confess I held her at a distance for a while…that is until over time You showed me glimmers of hope in her! You have shown me no one is too far gone for You!! It has been incredible watching her slowly transform and timidly grow towards You. It’s been a beautiful reminder that it is You who does the work… I just show up willing to do Your bidding.

That’s why it broke my heart me when she confided she had given into temptation. She tried to justify that it wasn’t bad; that she needed it to soothe her nerves…and many other justifications until we really began to dig into the slippery slope she was already sliding down… back into the dark pit she had come from.  At least she knew to reach out immediately! I was so devastated that I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It’s a good thing I had prayed and asked You to lead because You surely did! Being under the influence of anything other than You leads to destruction. There is no way she or I or anyone else can overcome temptations without being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus overcame and HE gives us what we need to overcome.

We need to always be on guard against the sneaky slithery attacks that try to lure us away from You. Those temptations can appear pretty good at times, but they are full of lies and deceit. They can even come from people we love. Whatever the temptation is, it will not fulfill us, soothe us, or help us. Those temptations will pull us away from You- the very One who made us, designed us, longs to complete us, and has good plans for us. You sent Jesus to give us abundant everlasting eternal life. When we stay submitted to You through Him, we are under the most powerful and life-giving influence there is! Father, thank You for what You did for both of us as we trusted You and watched the dark deadly influence of a favorite tool of our enemy (drugs and alcohol) fall in defeat under the influence of the Holy Spirit! I am forever dependent upon Your holy influence!

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“Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of Him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18 (MSG)

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”   Acts 13:52

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”   1Corinthians 6:19-20

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me be under You influence alone. Help me be alert against the influence of….

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Heavenly Father,

Growing up, I was the only girl surrounded by boys! Although I loved my rowdy brothers, and learned much about football, baseball and digging dirt forts- I longed for a sister. I really wanted a girl that I could do girly things with- someone who would understand me and be closer than a brother!  My mom kept having babies…but they were all boys! I finally took matters into my own hands and started dressing up a certain little brother in girl clothes…until he learned to yell “NO!!!”

So I stayed a girl all alone in a boy’s world. But the longing for a sister never went away.  Since I found my future husband at the young age of 15, I never really had time to develop any deep girlfriend relationships. That is, until adulthood. That’s when it began. I began discovering the sweetness of sisters.  My brothers got married and all the sudden I was not the only female in the family. I cared for other women’s children in my home. A deep bond develops when you care for someone else’s babies. Then I began praying with a small group of women once a week. Nothing bonds you more closely than coming into Your presence together. We prayed for our husbands, our children, their future spouses, their schools and friends, our walk with You, for everyday issues and critical moments…

I have more sisters than I could ever count now! One small prayer group dissipated as people moved away, and another was formed and bonded with through our love for Jesus.  I have dearly loved sisters who join together once a week to study Your word, pray for one another and share one another’s burdens and joys. I have sisters who I work with at my job; daughters, daughters-in-law,  and even granddaughters who have become my sisters-in-Christ; sisters who I have shared a lifetime with and those who I meet momentarily; sisters who have moved away and sisters I see often, sisters who are on the street and sisters who are held in high regard. What makes us sisters? We may not have the same DNA, but we share the same blood. We are forever bonded by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are our Father. We will live forever together- even if we get separated here on earth. Thank You, Lord for my forever sisters! You’ve given me more than I could ever count! Oh yes…thank You for my forever brothers, too!!

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 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel  will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”   Mark 10:29-31

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for the gift of these brothers and sisters-in-Christ….

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Heavenly Father,

Two of my grandkids were pretty impressed by the number of people “following me” on a social media. On a whim, I made an account on Instagram, but have never used it. My granddaughter checked my account and said, “How did you do that?! You only have one post. It was up for 2 weeks and you are way ahead of me!” (She hacked my phone and posted the one picture on my account!) What she doesn’t realize is the older I get, the more people I have made contact with in my life. Her social circle at this point is primarily family, school and church friends. Lord, You have put me in contact with an ever- broadening amount of people in my ever-growing longer lifetime. It’s not that I’m famous; it’s simply a reminder of how many people have crossed my path in my lifetime. It is amazing how many chances we get to touch someone else’s life… and they ours- some just for a moment, others for a lifetime.

“Following” someone in todays’ world is as easy as clicking on an icon. Yet we need to be extremely cautious who we follow in real life. Someone may sound good, have great photos and ideas but who are they really? Who are they following? Who am I following? Will my main life purpose be to gather followers, share recipes, crafts and photos? Will my focus in life be to sway others to my way of thinking? If so, what difference will that make in my life or in others’ lives? Who I follow is critical in my life.

Father, I chose a while back to follow Jesus. I continue to choose to follow Him every day. I don’t want anyone to follow me just for the sake of following my thoughts and ideas (or even my life) if it is not going somewhere good. If anyone is following me, I pray it is because they know I am following Jesus…and He leads us to eternal life with You. Let me be purposeful in living my life, for I never know who might be watching and following me even if just for a moment. I pray they only follow me long enough to follow Jesus for themselves!

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“’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said. ‘And I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:19

“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’” Luke 9:23-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I following? Who is following me?

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Heavenly Father,

My sweet 5th grade granddaughter and I have developed a competition. When I drop her off at her house, we both try to be the last one to say “I love you more!” She tries to yell it quickly as she closes the door before I can get another word out. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who try to prove our love this way. I think I came up with a line she can never top… “I loved you first!” I pulled the grandma card. I settled the issue with the fact that I loved her before she was born …while she was still in her momma’s womb…before she knew who I was. BAM! There is no way she can top that! She still tries! And I love that she does.

Lord, I struggle often with how to express my love for You. I want so much to voice the ever-growing love and awe I have for You. No matter what words or actions I can ever come up with, Your love is always more. It always has been, is now, and forever will be. You loved me first. You created me. You breathed life and love into me. You sustain me. You are my life. You loved me way back when You sent Jesus to be born, live, die and be resurrected- so I could live with You forever. Your love is eternal with no beginning or end. There is no way to measure it and certainly no way to out-give it. Yet I never want to quit trying.

My love for You grows every day… because I can experience more of Your love as it expands my heart to make room for more…And the more I share it, my soul holds even more. Someday, my body won’t be able to contain it and I will burst out of this earthly shell to make room for an even greater measure! You loved me first. Yet through all eternity, I will be growing to love You more!

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“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, help me express my love for You by…