spiritual warfare

Heavenly Father,

I woke up this morning fighting…but not the way most people think. It wasn’t against my thoughtful husband, my amazing adult children, any of my wonderful friends or co-workers. The fight isn’t against an opposing political party, another skin color or culture, the government or any group of worldly authorities. It’s not against someone who gets mad at me, hurts my feelings or attacks my family. It’s not even against an illness, an issue or a cause. It’s the fight of my life…and for my life…and for other’s lives. It is the most beautiful and calm fight. It is the fight to stay connected to You, Lord!

There are so many things that need to be accomplished; so many people who need to be helped; so many bills that need to be paid; so many “important things” that pop up on my agenda. Therein lies the real fight! Every single day I have to battle against my agenda or even other people’s well-meaning plans for my life. The most vital part of my whole life is my life hidden with You. Nothing else matters. I can’t truly accomplish anything unless I stay connected with You through Jesus Christ. Yet when I win the battle to live in Your presence, I find the most glorious love, peace and joy as I rest in the security of who You are and Your guidance in my life.

The news of horrible things happening all around cannot keep me away from You. The epidemic of fear cannot harm me when I stay close to You. When I am in the shadow of Your holiness, I know that You are at work, calmly fighting the battle for me…as well as others. In fact, You have already won…and so have I. The longer I live in You, Lord, the more clearly I see the victory. Help me be on guard and not let down my defenses. Let me live in Your strong tower and go out only when You send me out. Then let me go out carrying the Light of Jesus Christ with peace and confidence. Yet I don’t ever want to go without You. It is the enemy who tries to separate me from You any way he can. It is my fight to stay conscious of You at all times…every single day… for You are always with me. You sent Jesus to fight and die for me. Now I fight to live with You in this world and yet not of this world. I love You, Lord!

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“How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light, we see light.”   Psalm 36:7-9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.”  2 Chronicles20:15b

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith , love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontus Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blemish until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in His own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen.”   1 Timothy 6:11-16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me battle to stay in Your presence by…

cut flowers

Heavenly Father,

I do not want to be cut from the vine! As much as I love having fresh cut flowers straight from my garden on my table, I realize their beauty won’t last long. They’ve been cut from their life source. I can keep the water fresh in the vase to make them last a little longer. I can add a little packet of food, sugar or bleach to the water to try to extend their beauty, but since they’ve been cut off the plant, they are destined to wither up.

This spring I‘ve done a lot of pruning. Once a branch is cut off from the main tree, shrub or plant, it cannot continue to thrive or live. The cut branch certainly cannot produce any blooms or fruit. It might as well end up in the trash or compost pile. As long as the main plant is supplying the life, it will send out new branches- but those branches cannot make new leaves or flowers once they are cut off. Only the main plant can supply the life.

Father, I never want to try to do anything apart from You. It will not last. No matter how spectacular something I do on my own might appear, it will wither up. That’s why I come to You again this morning. I need to stay connected to Jesus who is my vine. Only with the Holy Spirit flowing from You through Jesus and then through me can my tiny branch live and thrive. If I am not rooted in Jesus, I can produce nothing eternal. Yet with Your life flowing through me, You can take this insignificant little twig and make it produce exactly what You designed it to do. Some little branches might produce a radiant flower to brighten someone’s life; other little branches might produce juicy fruit to feed hungry souls; some branches may provide shelter and shade to weary souls. Yet none of the branches can cause any of this eternal life on their own. That’s why I want to live in You and You live in me. Lord, flow through my little branch today and produce something eternal that I could never ever produce on my own…like love!

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“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; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”   John 15:1-8

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, this is how I can remain in You…

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Heavenly Father,

Everyone around me is making their plans for severe weather in Oklahoma this afternoon. Our meteorologists have been warning us that today is ripe for widespread severe weather and up to grapefruit-sized hail. Most of us have a Tornado Plan- what to do in case of an outbreak of twisters. Oklahomans know where to run for shelter. In recent history, F4 and F5 tornadoes have leveled whole towns to ground level. The sale of tornado shelters has greatly increased. Some are underground or above ground safe rooms. Some people know to go to an inner room with preferably no windows. People are better prepared than they used to be due to advances in radars and computerized weather tracking. The average Oklahoman knows more about tornadoes than most of the world due to our history and national meteorologists in our state. We might joke about getting on top of the roof to watch a twister coming til the last minute but we have learned to take severe weather warnings seriously…so we prepare our “hidey holes” in which we will ride out the storms.

Father, I’ve been through all kinds of storms in my life- some light and some critical even to the point of devastating. Through it all, I have learned You are my “Hidey hole”- the safe shelter I run to. I don’t wait til the last minute until it’s almost too late. I come to You often. It doesn’t matter where I am, or if I’m far away from home. I can run to You anytime and anywhere. I am familiar with my place of shelter because I go there all the time on beautiful peaceful days, rainy days, scorching days, and days filled with all kinds of storms. I don’t have to clear the spider webs or worry about snakes that might have slithered in. It doesn’t matter how strong the storm is raging outside.

When I am with You, I am at peace. My spirit is calm because You are with me. You have warned us we will face storms in this life. It can happen in the blink of an eye. Yet all is well because I have a shelter that goes with me wherever I go. I’m prepared. Though everything around me may come crashing down, I live with You, Lord, and You are with me wherever I go. You are my “hidey hole” – my shelter, my love, my Lord and my God. I love my shelter with You!

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“I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”   Psalm 55:8

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”   Isaiah 25:4

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”   Psalm 27:3-5

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me to seek shelter with You by….

 

Mom in chair

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,

As of today I have yet another reason to vote in our country’s elections. Our second great-grandson was born. My life is flying by! How can it be that our granddaughter who I watched being born gave birth herself?? We now have 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I am voting for each of them, for all the kids I care for at work and at church, and all their parents and for future grandchildren yet-to-be-born. My one little vote is only one…but I must use it wisely for it will affect so many precious people. Father, our governing leaders can make a big impact on the future of the lives of many.

My vote can have an impact on their freedom, their way of life, morals, education, healthcare, safety, finances, resources available, the character of the world they live in… My vote needs serious consideration. I cannot afford to cast it simply on what a candidate says because talk can sound good and is empty without actions. I cannot vote on ads paid for by candidates. I don’t personally know any of them so I cannot base it on my relationship with them. I can’t vote on what those running against them say because facts can certainly be twisted. ..so how  can I know the truth about who to vote for? I can research their speech, history, relationship with You and pray about my vote…which is exactly what I’ve been doing. Now I need Your final input on my vote tomorrow. You know ALL about each person running for office. Nothing is hidden from You. You know their strengths, weaknesses, motivation, their future and their past. You know who is needed for such a time as this. I need You to help me vote!

Although my vote is important and the stakes seem high, it’s so reassuring to know that the future doesn’t depend on these human leaders…that You reign from generation to generation. Even more important than my vote to all these younger generations are my prayers. I know without a doubt that You will be with them whatever they face in this life. I may use my little vote on behalf of many for one candidate per office for one term …however my prayers to You on behalf of all these precious young people will stand forever because You are eternally our God from generation to generation!

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“You, O Lord, reign forever; Your throne endures from generation to generation.” Lamentations 5:19

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I ask Your guidance as I cast my vote for earthly leaders…yet I bow before Your Son as my eternal King and You as my God and pray for these young people …

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Heavenly Father,

My preschoolers love to play a game where they follow the leader slowly, then quickly with a STOP thrown in every once in a while. They have lots of fun and don’t even realize they’re learning to listen, follow and obey. I love being an under-the-radar teacher…provide the lesson with love and passion; then let them learn from doing! Of course, little people are far better at the quick part than the slow…and the STOP is usually just barely more than a pause. But then, we adults are pretty much the same, aren’t we, Lord?

About a year ago, I was teaching a women’s group from the very practical book of James in the Bible. One particular verse struck a deep chord with all of us. In fact, it gets brought up frequently as almost a rallying statement in our group: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” from James 1:19. You are the Teacher calling out as we follow and learn to obey. As adults, we seem to wander around obstacles and challenging situations with ample opportunities to practice these spiritual skills. We haven’t mastered them yet, but Your still calm voice keeps repeating the instructions, watching to see if we are learning to obey.

Father, help me grow in obedience. There is one “Quick” and two “Slows” in this verse. The “Quick” actually requires us to stop our mouth and listen to You and others. The “slow to speak” is almost impossible without Your help. So is the “slow to anger!” My young students’ favorite part of the game is the STOP. They never know when it will happen. They have to freeze and listen. The longer I live with You, Lord, I believe the STOP is my favorite part, too. As I stop and am still before You, I am learning how to listen to You and others. Then I find the Holy Spirit slows me down and filters when I need to be angry and when I need to speak. Lord, that’s why I’m stopping right now to listen to You.

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“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”   James 1:19-20

“Be still and know that I am God…”   Psalm 46:10

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”   James 1:22

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me stop and be still and listen to You right now…

 

 

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Heavenly Father,

Yesterday at work, I pulled my cell phone from my pocket to check the time and noticed a missed phone call from my 11 year old grandson. Emergency bells went off in my head because he doesn’t call on a school day. Noticing a voice message was left, I immediately listened to it. A weak crackly voice said, “Grandma, I called because my throat hurts so bad and I had to stay home from school. I just want you to pray with me so God will make me feel better.” Needless to say, this grandma took a break to call her grandson to pray with him.

I can fully identify with needing someone to pray with me. Sometimes, we just know we are weak and need help praying. There are times we can’t utter the words. Sometimes, we need to know we are not the only ones lifting a situation before You. When my first husband was deathly sick, hundreds of people used to tell us they were praying for us. That was very reassuring. Yet, very few times did someone actually stop and pray right then and there for us in the depth of our weakness. When it happened, it meant more than anyone could possibly know. Immediate strength and renewal came in the midst of those prayers with us. They prayed what we could not at that time.

Father, I’m so glad You hear our prayers- even the ones that do not have words.  I’m also so thankful to have other people to pray with me- to hold my hands up to You when mine have become too weak to hold up.  I love the way You created us to bear one another’s burdens in prayer (not to carry ourselves but to lift them to You). Yes, I love praying with others and having others pray with me.  Today, I feel very blessed to have a grandson who knows to ask someone to pray with him, and believes it will make a difference! Help him feel better, Lord.

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“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”   Romans 8:26-27

 

“Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When He had placed His hands on them, He went on from there.”   Matthew 19:13-15

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me be humble enough to ask others to pray with me…and to stop and pray with those in need like…

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Heavenly Father,

There are intense battles going on around me right now. I can’t just idly stand by and watch people I love on the front lines being attacked without doing something to help. The situations can seem far beyond my control, too overwhelming for my meager strength and resources. They are! That’s why I have to bring those situations to You, Lord!  It may seem impossible or even none of my business to intervene…yet I know You can and want to work in each situation…and nothing is impossible for You…yet You wait for us to invite You to work, and to trust Your battle plans. That’s why I pray and bring the war to You. A dear friend gave me the movie “War Room” which I recently watched again…at just the right time! It re-inspired me to not take lightly my responsibility and honor of praying in every situation and circumstance, for all those around me, all the time. There are battles (both intense and minor) going on all the time. I cannot afford not to pray!

Someone I care about is fighting a major addiction that threatens their very life. I’m not going to simply stand by and hope they can overcome it on their own (because they can’t). A marriage is under a severe onslaught but I know it can come out stronger than ever. There is rebellion, disrespect and dishonor between parent and child, spouses, co-workers. Two couples I love long to be parents yet still have no child to lavish their pent-up love on. A single mom carries the load of bringing up children by herself. Other moms are fighting to get their children back after losing them due to poor choices. Ministers, missionaries, and believers are under attack for standing for Jesus. Our country and world are under siege. There are so many who do not realize they need You.

There is much to pray about. The battles are far beyond our capabilities. Part of our enemy’s scheme is to make us think we can do nothing; that our prayers do not make a difference (just because we don’t see the whole battle plan). Our foe wants us to feel defeated and render us ineffective so we will not fight. Father, I can fight and pray with absolute confidence because I know You have all authority and are fully aware of the enemy’s schemes. No matter what attack he plans, You can overcome it and make something beautiful from it. Father, help me to keep on fighting the good fight (both on the front lines and behind the scenes). I may be one wimpy looking soldier, but I know who holds the victory and who to bring the battle to! My strength is not in my prayers but in who I pray to!

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”    Ephesians 6:10-18

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me to keep praying for…

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Heavenly Father,

We have a wipe-off board posted on the back of the door at work in the ladies’ restroom that is used for fun communication. Someone starts a sentence. Throughout the day, everyone who visits the bathroom who wants to can add their thought to the ongoing list. Yesterday, on the last day of the year, someone wrote “What is your New Year’s resolution?” One of my co-workers started off the list with “Eat more junk food!” I have a pretty good idea who wrote that! Being a bit more on the serious side most of the time, I wrote “Love more deeply.” Over 35 years ago, I asked You to help me learn to love…and You have taught me more each year. I know it will happen in this new year as well. I want to love You more deeply… and love everyone else more deeply, too.

A Christian radio station has been inviting listeners to go to their website to list their resolutions. The DJ reported that the overwhelming theme is people want to spend more time with You, Lord. Obviously, the best way to share love is to share time and life together. In the last couple of weeks surrounding Christmas, I asked quite a few people, “If you could give anything to Jesus for His birthday, what would you give Him?” The main gifts mentioned were time and attention. Isn’t that what we all want from those we love?

Father, I can resolve to love You more deeply but as hard as I could possibly try, I can’t love without Your help. All love flows from You. You love each of us so much more deeply than we could ever comprehend. We will be discovering the depth of Your love for all eternity. I can spend more time with You and give You more attention: listen to You, follow You, enjoy You, obey You, worship You and willingly submit to You. As I spend more time with You, I will naturally fall more in love with You and will have an ever-growing love for others! So I joyfully resolve to surrender more of my life to You this year and watch expectantly as You help me love more deeply!

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. 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…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me with my new year’s resolution to…