Heavenly Father,

I grew up in church. I was always surrounded by a larger group of family who loved me, prayed for me, taught me and encouraged me in my relationship with You. I recall many Sunday School teachers, pastors, and others who have had a big influence on my life. I got married in that same church and had children while there. My first husband’s funeral was there. Later, I married practically the only other single man in that church. We felt led to make a fresh new start in another church with our blended family where our kids grew up surrounded by a larger group of amazing Christians who had a big influence on them. Later, once again, You led us to yet another church where our by-then teenagers were greatly influenced by an amazing children’s pastor and youth pastor. Three of our sons married girls from that wonderful church. Three of our sons married girls from that church! Some of our kids started their Christian leadership roles at that beloved church.

Now, it’s just my husband and me and You have led us to yet another church where we can bless and be blessed. Today, we officially committed and joined my fourth “home church.” It is always so hard to leave one church family when they have had such a huge impact on our lives. Yet it is also exciting to see where You are leading us and how You have plans that perfectly blend us in this new home.  It is great to still have a part in the churches of our past where we are forever bonded with the brothers and sisters-in-Christ. It is thrilling to know what You are doing through churches our adult children go to, beloved friends at new church plants, churches we love in other countries…even churches we visit while on vacation.

Your church is alive and healthy. Some are large mega churches; others are small country churches. Some meet in homes; others in shopping centers; some in huts or schools or lovely buildings. Church is not the building but the beautiful perfectly imperfect people You have called to be Your Bride. I’ve had the honor to be a part of the Church as they worshipped in Ecuador in another language, as they served Joplin after it was devastated in a tornado, as they have walked and prayed for a whole neighborhood, as they have worshipped You with old hymns and loud new songs, as they have put on new roofs and fed the homeless…Lord, Your church is beautiful and stronger than ever! No wonder You love Your Church.

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“Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.”  1 Corinthians 14:12

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  Matthew 16:18

“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.”

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, You have blessed me with Your Bride, the church by…

Heavenly Father,

Not only can You help me lie down in green pastures while in a loud MRI tube, but You are revealing Yourself a little more at the same time! Anyone who has had a MRI knows that even the earplugs they give you do not shut out the explosive pounds that reverberate your body. They tell you to lie perfectly still while you wonder if your silver fillings or wedding ring might suddenly fly up to the ceiling. It is amazing how much you want to adjust your position when someone tells you to lie still. But all I had to do was think of You and I find myself in Your perfect peace and am still enough to see You are with me…even in a tight tube!

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to look deep into your body at soft tissue and organs as well as bones. It goes way past my understanding to know how a machine can see under my skin. In fact, it goes way past my understanding how all the bones, tissues and nerves can make my body move! As I laid in that tube, I realized You can see way past what a MRI can see. Lord, You see what cannot be seen…into my very soul. My Lord, You see the very spirit of what makes me who I am. Though You care about my earthly body, You cherish my soul. You look past the blood and guts, the organs and nerves (Though You made them and they are miraculously made!) You know me better than I know myself. You know me more intimately than my husband, family or friends.

You look past all the sin, mistakes, fashionable clothes, make-up, childish thinking, worldly influence, my own silly plans…and see the real me. You see who You created me to be. My doctor ordered the MRI so He can pinpoint the injury and treat the cause. You look into my very soul and see what’s wrong so You can heal my spirit and make it new through Jesus Christ. You created us in Your image, yet we all need Jesus to complete our very soul- to make us whole- to give us eternal life- to heal us- to take away our sin- to continually help us grow into what You created us to be. You don’t need an MRI to see the real me. Search me, O Lord, and take away anything that does not glorify You. Help the very soul of me reflect Jesus to this world and those around me.

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“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting.”   Psalm 139:23-24

“For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  Hebrews 4:12-13

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit up and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways” Psalm 139:1-3

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, search way down deep in my very soul…

O Lord, my God!

Here I come once again to be alone with You. I am battle-weary. I need some spiritual first aid from You, Lord. There are times it is very evident that this world is not my home. Some days the arguments, misunderstandings, name-calling and lack of love simply wear me down. Sometimes the attacks are not necessarily aimed at me but there are so many arrows flying in all directions that I am caught in the crossfire. I realize I am in enemy territory. Other times the attacks are not towards me personally but are aimed at all those who are called by Your name. It’s hard not to take them personally because I belong to You.

The attacks which probably take me most off-guard are the ones that come through people I love and trust. They blindside me and knock me for a deep blow. My first thought is to put up my defenses and wallow in the pain. Then You help me remember that my enemy is not flesh and blood. You remind me that the true enemy is easily defeated with the name of Jesus Christ. Your love and grace immediately begin to heal the wound that left alone would fester with unforgiveness.

Lord, I am incredibly grateful that I can run to You for shelter and refuge any time anywhere. I’m thankful that Jesus warned us we would have such attacks so we wouldn’t be surprised. I love that You restore my soul and fill me up so I can forgive, pray for and love those who have been instruments in the enemies hand’s. Give me the love of Jesus which prays, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Father, thank You for Your loving shelter where I find all I could ever need. Once again, You’ve restored my soul and now I can go back out into this world ready to share Your love.

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“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 spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 5:12

“But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I am wounded. This is who I need You to help me pray for and love…

Heavenly Father,

I am not known for my lovely singing abilities (except by You!) When I was a busy mom driving around a van load of kids, I used to turn the Christian praise songs up and blast away at the top of my voice. Fairly often one of the kids would reach over and turn the station mid song…and I’m positive it wasn’t because of the song but the wanna-be singer! That’s OK! One time in my life, I sang a beautiful Amy Grant version of “Thy Word” along with my husband in front of our whole church. It was beautiful! That’s because I can actually sing in Amy Grant’s range and I had sung along thousands of times in my van,  and because my mom-in-law accompanied on the piano and she can make anyone sound good…and because I had told You I was willing to make a fool of myself for You, Lord!

I still sing to You all the time, Lord…just along with a crowd or when I’m alone by myself…and sometimes in front of infants and preschoolers (they haven’t developed their music critique yet!) Most of all, I love to write You songs that flow from my heart. I know You adore my songs. No one else can sing the song I sing…because no one else has all the unique history and experiences I’ve had. I am Your one-of-a-kind daughter. Even if I sing a well-known song (one someone else has written) it is new and lovely to You because You see into my heart and know what flows out is unique and lovely because it has never been heard by You in quite that way by anyone else. We all have precious unique songs to sing to You every single day. I held my new 2 year-old foster granddaughter at our Christmas Eve service. Millions of people were singing “Silent Night” all over the world that night but the sweetest voice I heard was that tiny girl singing the tune though she didn’t know the words!

Lord God, let me always sing a new song to You every day, no matter what is going on in my life. We have all sung sad songs, dancing songs, cry-for-help songs, angry songs, songs of regret, praise songs…even songs that are too deep to be expressed in words. Let me always keep singing to You. My daily one-of-a-kind song is heard and cherished by You… yet it is also blended with angelic songs in heaven along with millions of other unique songs all over the earth to form the most glorious choir all sung to You, Lord! One of my most delightful discoveries was finding out You sing over us as well!

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“O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth! Sing unto the Lord, bless His name; declare His salvation from day to day. Proclaim His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. …” Psalm 96:1-2

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One, who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 5:19-20

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Prayer Prompt-

Father God, today I feel like singing this to You…

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Heavenly Father,

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

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

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

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

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

“I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”    John 17:26

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   Romans 15:13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father God, I want to be filled with…

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Heavenly Father,

It started with prayer… and bags. Tomorrow is the day! For over 2 years, You put a vision for a Ladies’ conference on my heart- one that would reach out into the community and bring hope to those who feel alone and defeated in their daily life. It is turning our far better than I could have asked for or imagined! Over a year ago, I asked the ladies in our Wednesday night class to start praying with me about this. Then nearly 6 months ago, a sister-in-Christ stepped up alongside me and said, “Let’s do this!” I have planned many things in my life, but this particular event, I didn’t want to do even one thing without You leading it. So I just kept trusting in You to lead in every detail. After all that prayer, the actual first step was some bags on sale!

My sis-in-this has a special gift for shopping! It seems like You lead her to just the right items all the time. She called me up and said she found some bags she thought would work for the conference but she didn’t know if we wanted the saying on them for the theme. You put on my heart to say yes. The bags read, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 Little did I realize how much I would be encouraged to truly trust in You in every single detail!

Our main part has been to pray non-stop about this …and then be ready and willing to follow Your lead. Not one person was asked to do anything without lifting it before You. Not one decision has been made without Your quiet nudging to go forward. We have truly trusted You all along the way. Last night as we did a prayer walk through our building preparing for this weekend, probably 10 women came up to tell  me individual stories of how You have led them to trust You more through this! Lord, we are ready. We have been praying, trusting , watching, listening, and obeying. We absolutely know that every single woman and teen who comes to the WEEKEND OF ENCOURAGEMENT will grow in their trust in You, just as we have! The more we practice trusting You, the more encouraged we are to trust You more! We love and trust You because we know You love us.

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Jesus said in John 14:1: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:4-7a

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

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Prayer Promt-

Heavenly Father, help me trust you more by…

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Heavenly Father,

No written law can squelch what is freely done in the spirit! That includes praying for, about and in our schools. Young and old “Daniels” across our country are praying as this new school year starts. Though some written mandate has said we cannot have organized prayer in our public schools; thousands of prayers are rising up to You at this very moment. Millions of moms are lifting their beloved children up to You, trusting You to watch over them as they spend their days in an environment away from their motherly protection. Dads are sending their kids off to school emboldened by early morning prayer that lets their kids know they are never alone in whatever they face. Father, I pray for parents today to rise up and seek You in leading their children to live for You.

Teachers are praying as they prepare their rooms and lessons that You will help them give each child what is needed on this day. Teachers who know they are not capable of making a difference on their own merit, are asking for Your divine input and direction to reach and teach every single child- especially the ones who believe they “Can’t get it,” the students who come from traumatized households, the ones who are handicapped by shyness or confidence or natural academic talent. Teachers are asking Your peace and calm to reign over their classrooms as they manage so many young people in one room all day long. Father, I pray for teachers to depend on You to manage their classrooms…and that their prayers be far more-reaching into eternity than they can imagine.

There are many students of all ages praying right now. They are praying for the child they see picked on and those who are doing the bullying. Students are praying to learn a lot this year and do better than they did before. High school and College students are praying for wisdom to make choices that will affect their whole lives…and for discernment to not simply accept a teacher or professor’s explanation as the truth but to seek You as the truth, Lord. Students are praying, asking You to help them be the change in the world for good. Father, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ for students to turn to You as their life-long Teacher, for never-ending learning that changes lives eternally through Your Son Jesus. I know You hear all our prayers both seen and heard by others and those which are spoken silently in the quietness of our spirits. No law can ever keep us from coming to You!

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Read the story of Daniel who kept praying though there was a law against it. Some administrators to the king were so jealous of Daniel that they talked the king into making a law against praying to anyone except the king himself. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10….They threw Daniel into a den of hungry lions overnight to kill him for his breaking of the law.

“At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lion’s den. When he came near the den, he called out in an anguished voice, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the mouths of the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘O king, live forever! My God has sent His angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king!’”    Daniel 6:19-22

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, even if someone tries to make a law against it, help me keep praying for…

 

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Heavenly Father,

As I was outside by myself struggling to hang up a banner, I earnestly prayed that one person who needed encouragement would see that large sign that read “Ladies’ Night of Encouragement” and be drawn to the special night we were planning at our church which would, in turn, draw them to You. That was probably about 20 years ago. There was a huge turn-out with lots of ladies who needed encouragement…but one stood out to me. It wasn’t just that she had the only rich dark-skin in a sea of much paler-skinned women; it wasn’t that she walked in with a big beautiful hat and lovely scarf lightly thrown over her thin body dressed in style down to her spikey heels while most of us wore jeans and nice casual tops. That was the night Deborah walked into my life. She’s been my sister-in-Christ ever since and we have gone through many joys and challenges since.

I cannot count the times she has credited that Night of Encouragement as a turning point in her life. There was no doubt in my mind that she was the one You had me pray for as I put that banner up. Of course, we both know it wasn’t a women’s evening that changed her life…it was You- through Jesus Christ! You just happened to use that event to join her together forever with Yourself and with me and the other ladies.  That was at a very hopeless period in her life and she knew she desperately needed some encouragement…so she came. We have prayed, laughed, cried and worshipped together ever since. Much has changed in those 20 short years since that night. It has been mostly both of us who have changed, as we have grown in You, Lord!

Now we are planning a similar event; in fact, Deborah will be giving her testimony at one point. Only this time instead of being one night, it will be a WEEKEND OF ENCOURAGEMENT. I decided after seeing what You’ve done in Deborah’s life when I prayed for one person to come as I hung that banner 20 years ago, this time I’m praying for many women to come and find true encouragement in You! Lord, Your encouragement doesn’t just last one night, or a weekend, or 20 years- it is so rich that it is always spilling over to others. May this Weekend event be overflowing with Your eternal encouragement in Jesus’ name!

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“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2

“Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak .”  Acts 13:15

“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”  2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, How can I share encouragement  with others?

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…