Most Holy Father,

Can I dare say that I have identified with Mary many times in my life? Some may think that’s outrageous for me to say, but I know You know my heart, Lord…and I think that may be something that pleases You. In fact, maybe we all should expect Jesus like Mary did…

Mary was an ordinary peasant girl (like me) just going about her daily life when You sent the angel Gabriel to tell her she would give birth to Your Son. At first, she was frightened (as I can understand—fearing something in the spiritual realm as seen). Though Mary knew it seemed impossible to conceive a baby (let alone Your Son), she accepted the news and had faith it would happen because You sent Your word.

Very quickly, before telling anyone, before it even seemed real—she hurried to visit her cousin Elizabeth who lived in another town. The angel told Mary that Elizabeth was also going to have a baby very soon though they had no contact. When Mary greeted her cousin, the baby inside Elizabeth (John the Baptist who was to prepare the way for the Lord) leaped for joy (recognizing even in the womb that his Lord was there!) This is how I feel when You affirm a promise to me when I see no evidence yet! I certainly identify with Mary’s rejoicing praise in You. Do my little-fumbling-words-yet-heartfelt-praises stand for eternity as well?

Mary had to face many hardships from her own people- the initial abandonment from her Joseph, friends and family’s gossip and judgement, (yet You sent Joseph back to help her and he most certainly did), the long dangerous journey to Bethlehem, no place open to go through the labor of birth, the humbleness of giving birth to the Son of the Most High in the very lowest of places.

Father, I know what it is like to do what is utterly impossible for me to do on my own —to have Your Son be born in me, for my whole life to be changed from whatever little insignificant plans I might have had—to know the intimate blessing of His Spirit alive and moving in me—to know the pain yet immensely greater joy of carrying Jesus and sharing Your Son with anyone who is ready and willing to accept Your Son. Father, may we all be willing to be like Mary, and let Jesus grow and be glorified in our lives. In fact, let us go through this day expecting Jesus and watching Him move and live!

 

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“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’
‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.”

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord God, I am ready and willing to have Jesus born in me and carry him to the world…

photo by Emily Juliuson

Heavenly Father,
Our pastor gave an excellent message on spiritual transformation today…and I couldn’t help thinking about the three caterpillars I found in my yard on my parsley plant about six weeks ago. I carefully put them in jars and gave one to three of our families to watch transform into butterflies. I wanted them to watch the miracle of transformation take place in front of their eyes. I knew they would need to be patient because it wouldn’t happen fast like the video games they are accustomed to. I have to admit I was a little nervous, hoping they would all make it, since there was only one caterpillar in each home. It seemed extra important for my family who had just lost a baby to watch the transformation that happens when the caterpillar appears to die, and then it is transformed and flies free.

I got fairly regular reports of how they each had to add more parsley when those hungry caterpillars ate everything and were about to burst. One by one, they let me know the crawly critters stopped crawling and attached themselves to something to form a chrysalis. Apparently, every day these wild little boys each watched the non-moving bag with great interest. (That’s a miracle considering the action they crave!) Finally, I began hearing of the first—then several days later, the second—and more days later, the third all had transformed into new creatures! They watched a fuzzy worm turn into an exquisite butterfly and fly away! Who but You, Lord, can do that?!!

It wasn’t an animated or computerized car transforming into a giant robot—it was a living, breathing creature. No matter how hard we try; no matter how many self-help books we read; no matter who we listen to—we can never transform ourselves from one creation to a new creature. We can only be truly transformed by dying to ourselves and letting Jesus Christ live in us through the Holy Spirit.

Lord, I know you made the old me. You breathed life into me and knit me together in my mother’s womb and said it was good. I am incredibly grateful You didn’t stop there. I am even more grateful to be made into a new creation through Jesus Christ. You have made me brand new. You are still making me, transforming me from glory to glory! I look back to my old self and I can see how completely I’ve been changed. I can now fly free with You. Thank You, Lord, that You are continually transforming me into a new creature who glorifies You!

 

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4

 

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making all things new!’” Revelation 21:5

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, do I need spiritual transformation?….

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!

 

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“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

 

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

Heavenly Father,
I am increasing in weakness…and that is good! I used to be really strong for a woman. I grew up carrying heavy loads in our family greenhouse and grew strong from heavy physical labor. I have also been told throughout my life that I can do anything and become anything. I am finding out that is not true…and that is good! I continually hear from society that it is all up to me to make something of myself—that I am the master of my own life. As I grow older, wiser and weaker, it is such a relief to know that my strength is failing. How freeing it is to realize how very weak I really am. The crazy thing is the weaker I realize I am, the more I realize I need Your strength.

I wouldn’t exist without You; I would never have been born except for You. I could never breathe or live without You. Even when I was young and thought I was so strong; even when I didn’t fully realize how much I need You—You were my strength. Lord, You knit my cells and DNA together to form me out of nothing at all. You linked a nervous system to my muscles and told them to move me. You fired off brain cells and began my physical life that included the ability to think and choose for myself. You placed me in a world which was totally created by You for me to have a safe, lush, lovely world surrounded by everything I could possibly need, including other people to love. Forgive me for thinking I could ever live independently from You!

You have allowed me to face challenges in my life that have threatened to overwhelm me because there seemed no way out or no way I could handle the burden. How I thank You for those times when I have realized my weakness. That is when I have experienced Your strength! I need not try to prove my strength to You or anyone else. You made me and know I am weak. You created me to need You. You designed me to be strong as I yield my life to Jesus. Then His unseen strength flows with a powerful force to overcome anything that comes up. I truly enjoy being weak and letting Your strength flow in and through me! I am weak and You are strong! You are my strength!

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“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord, and may please him in every way, bearing the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power. according to His glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of the light.” Colossians 1:11-12

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, help me see my weakness with out You so I can submit to Your strength through Jesus…

Glorious Heavenly Father!
There has been much excitement over the fiftieth anniversary of man walking on the moon. As a young girl, we didn’t have a television but we just happened to be at a hotel on a family trip when this incredible moment in history happened. My parents, brothers and I sat mesmerized along with the rest of the world as the first step happened. However, after all the world-wide excitement of that first experience on our moon, it has been decided to not invest in another trip to walk on the moon again. Perhaps the moon didn’t seem sensational enough. It seemed almost like our earth’s desert. It didn’t seem to hold any promise of something new. It was just another big round rock in space full of rocks, sand, valleys and mountains. It appeared to have no life on its own.

I have also been watching the photos come back from the unmanned probe they sent to Saturn, photographing its sensational rings and multiple moons! Lord, when I look into the night sky and see all the stars which probably each have their own galaxies circling around them, I can’t help but wonder how many moons there happen to be out there! I also can’t help but think I am much like an ordinary moon—not much to take a second look at on my own. Yes, I know no two moons are alike. Each one has its unique characteristics, but moons do not produce light on their own. They can soak up and reflect light just like I do from You!

There is no way I could make myself in the physical sense to begin with—no more than a moon can produce itself. I surely cannot make myself shine—nor can any moon on any galaxy. But oh!! When I realize who I am and that I need You and Your Son Jesus; when I turn to face You (the One whom all things come from and revolve around)—You cause me to shine! The glory of Your presence even uses a plain old “moon” like me to shine out bringing light into a dark world! There are times, I let other things come between us. Then I can only partially shine, depending on how much of a foothold I let another entity cast a shadow between us. Yet as soon as I turn my gaze back to You, Lord God, You light up my life fully once again. Lord, show me as soon as I let worry, fear, un-trust, or love of other things and people come between us so I can cast those things aside. Though I cannot make myself shine, I can love and worship You; then Your Son Jesus Christ shines in and through me. I want to shine with Your glory so others can find their way to You through Jesus—the Light of the world.

 

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“Through Him (Jesus) all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:3-4

 

“Praise Him, sun and moon. Praise Him, all you shining stars. Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” Psalm 148:3-4

 

Description of the eternal city to come in Revelation 21:23: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb (Jesus) is its lamp.”

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Most Holy Father, do I acknowledge You as the center of my universe…or does my world revolve around me?…

Heavenly Father,

The other day I helped my adult daughter cut a 4-foot-tall hedge down to about 18 inches tall. The tall row of “Dwarf” Yaupon Holly bushes was lush and green and thriving, but it was not serving the purpose it was needed for. It completely blocked her front porch and had grown out over the front sidewalk to cover over half of it—making the walkway to the front door almost unusable. She talked to me about taking the huge shrubs out, but that was going to be a back-breaking job, so I suggested cutting the shrubs way back. I told her it may look a little ugly at first, but it would send out beautiful new growth quickly and she could keep it trimmed down low from now on.

We went to work cutting off big limbs and branches. For the passer-by, it probably looked like we were killing these beautiful shrubs. It took a lot of whacking, cutting and sweating to do away with years of growth. The pile of bulky branches covered in lush green leaves grew higher and wider while the row of cut down stubs grew smaller, and revealed a wonderful view from the bench on the front porch. There were already enough green leaves sprouting out of the short stubs to make it appear alive and growing. It will give a much more welcome entrance to their home. They can now use their front walkway and see the front of their house! What a transformation that came out of all that cutting!

Father, I think of all the times in my life that I have felt like I had finally grown to fulfill my purpose. My life seemed like it was set and doing well, when You come along and do some heavy-duty cutting away of what might appear to be healthy growth. Maybe You have a new purpose for me. Perhaps You are preparing to transplant me to a new place. You know that as long as I am rooted in You I live and thrive no matter how much pruning You allow me to go through. The branches that are cut away may look good for a while but without roots, they will wither up and die.
Lord, as Long as I stay rooted in You, Your Spirit flows in and through me causing life and new growth to come out of me. No matter how hard I try, I can never produce that life on my own. I might as well be like those big branches of lush growth we cut off. They may look good for a little while, but they will wither up without roots. Lord, I come to You—putting my roots down deep into You. Let me soak up Your Life-giving Spirit so You can produce new life in me and fulfill whatever purpose You have for me.

 

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Jesus tells us in John 15:1-6: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers…”

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, am I rooted in You, letting Your Life and love flow through me?

Heavenly Father,
I was listening to the news and was a little overwhelmed by images and memories of the trials, horrors and tragedies in this world- deadly severe weather, Holocaust Remembrance Day, mass murders, drug addiction, children lured into or sold into sex slavery, growing immorality, terminal illness… My soul was heavy and it was tempting to give in to despair. Then I took a quiet walk outside in my garden…with You.
Within a few moments, my spirit was lifted just by being still with You, Lord. As I gazed at a plant that had been left for frozen, I saw a new beauty developing and flourishing that never would have made it if it hadn’t rescued it from the rack headed for the trash. I noticed a huge hanging basket of Airplane plant that I have wintered over for years in my family’s greenhouse. I can’t even begin to count how many baby plants have been given away from that old plant to family members, co-workers, preschoolers, neighbors. It was severely knocked back by a freeze and has no babies now, but it will! I walked past a 5 ft tall Norfolk Pine I grew from a 3-inch-tall starter. It also was in the greenhouse where things were frozen. It is still alive and the new growth is beautiful. It will completely change its shape but I am certain it will be renewed and refashioned by its circumstances… and You.
I always learn so much just walking in the garden with You. Yet, I make that trek every day—not so much for what I will learn but because I savor Your presence. My soul is refreshed and remade. The world can seem cold, harsh and mean, but if I take my walk with You in the garden, new life springs forth. I can take You out into that dark world and brighten it with Your Spirit which flows from You into me and through me. I may not even be aware, but Your life springs up and brings out the beauty and loveliness that can only come from You. This world begins to change from the dark hopelessness to a lovely garden where I am simply one little tiny plant with Your love flowing through me to brighten the world. I wish I could take others for a walk with You in the garden…

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“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (Sin happened) Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 2:8 (Sin happened) 3:8

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” Leviticus 26:12

“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 grow faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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Your Prayer Peek-
Lord, help me meet You in the garden…

Heavenly Father,
Today I took a photo of the miracle Clematis for my neighbor. It had never bloomed before…until the day her husband was getting his long-awaited heart transplant. She ran home to get something she needed before the surgery and the vine that had never bloomed was in bloom for the very first time. The Lord used this vine in a very personal way to let her know all would be well. It has bloomed every single year since for the first time on April 22—no matter what. Even years later when her beloved husband died, it showed its first bloom on April 22…and every year since. My friend recently had to go stay out of state with her daughter. Today she texted and asked me to check to see if it was blooming. I took a photo of it in its full glory! Full of blooms and buds (as pictured)! Just in time to give my dear neighbor hope again for some hard things she and her loved ones are going through!

Father, what would we do without the eternal living hope of our Risen Savior Jesus Christ!!! There is nothing worse than hopelessness. How horrible to think this world with all its challenges and trials is all there is—that things will never get better—that death is the end.

How hopeless things appeared to every person who had put their hope in Jesus to save them they way they thought He should. Their hopes of deliverance from a ruthless government, their hopes of Jesus being the kind of king who would overthrow the current tyrants, their hopes that He would give them the best seats in His Kingdom, their hopes that He would solve all their current issues…There was never more hopelessness and darkness than when Jesus was nailed to the cross and died. The entire earth turned black for three hours with absolute hopelessness….
But You, Lord, had immeasurably greater plans for Your Son, our Savior, to rise victorious once and for all over death and the dark hold of hopelessness. Jesus is our hope! Jesus Christ is our Savior! As we bow before Him and accept Jesus as our King and Savior, we begin to see Him blooming all over the place bringing us hope in very personal ways to encourage us to not give up—to not grow weary of following Him—to not count on the way things appear but to trust He is not finished—to trust His promise that the day is coming when we will never face pain, sorrow, death any more –to have the spiritual power of Your Holy Spirit to face whatever comes our way… I want to thank You for the lovely personal blooms of encouragement You have blessed me with during a challenging time I have faced lately. Jesus, You are living and blooming with hope all around me!

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“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom…they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God…Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped, Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Isaiah 35:1,2,5,6

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…” 1 Peter 1:3-6

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me look past my current trial to the eternal hope in Jesus Christ…Let me have eyes to watch for Your living encouragement!

 

 

Heavenly Father,
Just like that, my son-in-law fell through a roof! Life can change just like that- in a split second! Eight days ago at work, a faded and aged skylight which was flush with a metal roof was hidden from view as he simply crashed through and fell 20 feet, landing on some barrels below. The fall didn’t kill him, leave him paralyzed or with brain injuries but his body is broken in so many places, it is now held together with all types of metal, plates, pins and screws—oh… and stitches, tape and bandages. Every time I look at him, I see a miracle! A bionic miracle but a miracle just the same!
Lord, I know You take what is broken and make it new. I am witnessing Your supernatural power at work again in this situation. Here are just a few signs of Your new work coming out of a broken situation:
• A supernatural healing that is surpassing and surprising even the trauma doctors!
• A supernatural determination to push hard to get through this by a very active man!
• A supernatural attitude which I have not heard complain but have certainly heard many of his famous one-liners delivered with that little smile.
• A supernatural team of newly wed husband and wife growing stronger in their marriage
• A supernatural gathering/bonding of family and friends praying in unity
• A supernatural perspective of how frail and fragile our earthly lives are and how powerful and victorious our spirits are as we trust You.
• A supernatural outpouring of selflessness all over the place
• A supernatural selflessness flowing from this broken man who has a supernatural love for every single person who comes to comfort him. He ends up comforting us!
• A supernatural perseverance to push his limits to get better—for his wife, family, friends, medical team and all of us.

Lord, we pray that You keep on taking this broken man and making him new in more and more ways! In fact, make us all new! Give us eyes to see and spirits that can’t help but give You the honor and glory!

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“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” Revelation 21:5

“But He (Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know…Nevertheless, I will heal My people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:3,6b

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Lord, I surrender my life to You. Make it new!

Heavenly Father,
There is always so much that needs to be done- work, laundry, writing, grocery shopping, cooking, care-giving, yard work… It is easy to just jump into the day and just keep going until exhaustion overtakes me at night after every bit of my energy is spent. Yet whatever I happen to do on this or any other day will mean nothing if I don’t stop to spend my time with You, Lord. In fact, I have come to discover that my time with You is crucial to anything I do with the rest of my time.
I try to jealously guard my alone time with You, realizing it affects everything—who I am, my attitude, my perspective, my relationships, my thoughts, what I see and do with the rest of my time. I need You more than the air I breathe, the food I eat, the sunlight that helps me see. I need You to live, to savor life, to guide my way, to have any kind of eternal impact on anyone else. You really are my Way! Life is empty, meaningless and nothing without You.
I dare not try to live a day without You. I know You are with me all the time, but when I stop to be still with You and take time alone with You, it is like filling up my car at the gas station, or like plugging in my dead cell phone or placing fresh batteries in my useless flashlight. When I take time to be still in Your presence, I am blessed with Your indwelling Holy Spirit which flows with fresh power through this otherwise useless life. You dwell in me fresh each day—providing me with purpose, guidance, and power that I could never produce on my own. Everything I do has Your eternal presence flowing through me as I go about Your day. You can do more through me in one day filled with You than I could spend one hundred lives doing things my own way. Yes, my favorite time of day is also my most vital time—alone with You—before You send me out.

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“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, I need to take time with You….