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Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
We’ve been praying for preparation for the mission trip we are about to go on to India for a couple of months. We’ve prayed for safety, eyes to see what You are doing and willingness to do what You want us to do, for hearts and minds to be open to Your leading and for encouragement to those we are going to visit. Wow! You been preparing us and others, Lord. You are just as much at work in the preparation as the actual trip. What a journey we have had so far and we haven’t even left home!

As time has grown closer for our departure, we asked the head of the college we will visit what he believes is our main purpose this trip. He told us to encourage the young people who have traveled from all over India on foot or on the back of trucks that happen to be going that way. These young people are coming to study so they can go back to be Christian leaders in a country that is full of hardships and persecution for believers. We were immediately humbled. How can we encourage them when they face so much more than we do? But You have been faithful to prepare each of the six going as we have faced challenges, health issues, family who are very adamant about their loved one not going…We knew we would face opposition but it is all turning out for good so we will be more prepared to encourage those we will visit.

The finances seemed overwhelming, but You supplied in the most unusual and incredible ways from airline tickets to pumpkins. We just keep thanking You for preparing and leading the way! It has been inspiring to see how You have involved so many other people who are not going but have become part of the team through gifts of prayer, money, soccer balls, eyeglasses, pumpkins and hay, luggage organizers, power converters… Relatives, various churches, and long-time friends have jumped on board. People who know nothing of missions have become involved and want follow up reports. A dear younger sister-in-Christ has organized a prayer team scheduled to have different people praying for this mission each day at the same time until we return. A non-believing customer who bought pumpkins and mums at our fundraiser kept coming back to ask more questions about Jesus, the church and what we are doing. He initially told his wife not to spend very much but ended up donating the largest amount that day. How I praise You, Lord! Our preparation is to turn to You and let Your Spirit lead. Just the preparation alone for this trip has done more than we could ever ask for or imagine. May You keep preparing us and everyone both here and there who are somehow touched by You. You do great things, Lord!

 

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“In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the Glory of the Lord will be revealed.” Isaiah 40:3-5

 

“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-11

 

“It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me prepare by coming to You—so You can prepare me for Your perfect work…

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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…

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Your Prayer prompt-

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

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…

Heavenly Father,
Thousands of teachers are starting a new year with a fresh crop of students. Why do they place themselves in classrooms overflowing with young minds, crazy emotions, wiggly bodies and loud voices which have a hard time containing themselves? It has to be a calling of love to subject themselves day in and day out to this organized chaos. It’s true—teaching is a gift. It can also be a stressful calling. That’s why they need our prayers.

Father, since I’ve been an early childhood teacher a lot of my life, I know how hard it can be. Yet whether students are infants, kindergarten, elementary, Jr High, Highschool or college, teachers are investing in the lives of their students. Most teachers have their students for one year before they pass to the next teacher. That is one year, or less, to try to make sure every student is learning all they need to, while on their watch. Most teachers are fully aware that they are not simply teaching reading, writing and arithmetic (although that is what their students and they are tested on). So many times, they are teaching far more important lessons, like: kindness, cooperation, confidence, perseverance, leadership, listening, respect…There are times, they know they may be one of the few positive influences in a young person’s life. Teachers need to be able to look past the stack of papers that need grading to a young person’s soul to make the most lasting impact.

Lord, with so much emphasis on testing and curriculum these days, I pray that You give each and every teacher a selfless love for the students You have placed in their care this year. I pray that they each get all they need from You to do what seems impossible. I pray when their energy runs out that they run to You to be revived and refreshed. Lord, help them to have sensitive eyes to see the child that needs tender care, extra patience and love for the one who loudly demands attention, encouragement for those who are uncertain… I pray for innovative ways to engage young people to use their minds to solve problems, have curiosity for how things work, opportunities for learning to work cooperatively with others, and ways to fan the flames of Your love and a desire to make this world a brighter, more hopeful place.

Teachers have a huge challenge because young people have so many fears, distractions, and obstacles at home and in the world…but nothing is impossible with Jesus to strengthen them. We lift up teachers before You, Lord. We also ask that You help make each of us better teachers—in whatever setting You have put us in. Lord, You are the Ultimate Teacher. Though You created each of us, You never leave us. Other teachers come and go, yet You are always with us and have given up everything for us to live and learn in You.

 

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Jesus teaching on teachers:
“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant to be like his master.” Matthew 10:24-25

 

“Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be called your servant.” Matthew 23:10-11

 

“You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so. For that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:13-15

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, what teachers can I pray for? How can I teach others about You?…

This prayer was posted with permission from parents…

Heavenly Father,
You are knitting another grandchild in the womb of my sweet daughter-in-law. This precious baby is due right around the first of the year. Even before this tiny little girl was conceived, You already knew her. You knew what Your plans are for her, how she will impact Your kingdom, her parents, grandparents and her entire family. There is not one baby who is conceived who is not fully known and loved by You. Nothing that lives has life without You. You are the giver of life. So even though our son and his wife found out (on their anniversary) there could be serious problems for this precious little baby, we can rest in assurance that You love her more–and have created her for specific purposes.

Perhaps these purposes include a perfectly healthy baby despite what medical technology shows…perhaps it includes us loving a perfect baby with Your perfect love despite what the world might call defects…maybe it includes trusting You no matter what the circumstances look like…it could mean a long blessed life or a life that gets a pass on this earthly life and goes straight to You. It could mean a life of suffering for this sweet little baby.

Lord, whatever purpose You have in mind for our sweet little girl, we thank You for the honor of loving and praying for her now (even before we know what she looks like or what her life entails.) We have had miscarriages and babies who passed shortly after birth in our family. We are also blessed to have a huge family filled with healthy children. Each one is so precious and unique. There has never been or will there ever be another just like them—including this one in the womb.

Father, You know what we would like—to have a healthy baby. We are asking for that in Jesus’ name because You told us we should ask. We have no doubt You can make that happen. We also know that You have given us a love for this sweet baby no matter what. Lord, I pray for Your perfect peace to hold the parents and family of our little girl. I also ask that You help us to trust You and Your absolute goodness no matter what. We hold this baby, her parents and family up to You, and trust Your perfect care. We love You, Lord, and this little miracle You have given growing inside her mommy.

 

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“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5

 

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, I need to trust You for my situation though I do not know the outcome….

Heavenly Father,
I was settled in my chair with my coffee in the backyard having my quiet time with You, Lord, when my neighbor of twenty-four years called to ask to “borrow a cup of coffee.” I have been extremely busy lately and this was actually Your perfect timing for a relaxed visit. I know You love our quiet time together as much as I do…but You don’t mind sharing it! Especially since my neighbor is preparing to move to a new state. We have gone through much together and I will so miss her impromptu visits and little surprises she leaves on our doorstep! What a precious divinely planned “coffee break” we shared this morning!

In my younger years, I might have been very distracted thinking of all I needed to accomplish, but my neighbor and I have been through enough trials in life to teach us both that people are so much more precious than tasks. How I thank You, Lord, for the deeply painful ways we have each learned that lesson. Her husband, also our beloved neighbor, endured severe heart issues ever since I knew him. We watched him get a heart transplant from a young man killed in an accident. My daughter was his nurse on repeated hospital visits. In fact, she was with them when he graduated to be with You. My first husband had also suffered a traumatic illness and died, so we had a connection through many critical situations.

We have borrowed sugar and eggs from one another, prayed together, seen miracles together, searched for keys, given rides, gone to church together. We share the love of grandchildren, flowers, writing and reading. We have prayed for one another’s families and we love giving one another reports of how we see You at work- which is all the time! Oh, how I will miss my sweet friend. I know You have a plan to bless her (and others) by having her move to be with her daughter. I have had a lot of dear friends in my life and it is always bittersweet when You move them (or me). Yet, when we both belong to You, I KNOW we are forever bonded and will be sisters and neighbors for all eternity. There will be so much to catch up when we meet again!
What a joy to share my life with You, Lord! What a joy to share Your love with others! The coffee may run out—but Your eternal love never will!

 

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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

 

“Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

 

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” John 15:12-14

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, help me make time to spend with You to form an ever-deepening friendship and also with my neighbors…

Heavenly Father,
Two days ago, three of my grandkids were playing in my back yard when my six-year-old grandson come running to show me a huge emergency. A tiny baby bird had fallen from its nest a little too soon. It was chirping frantically for its mom and some food. The wings were flapping but appeared to be a ways off from being strong enough to fly. My grandson was near tears, wanting to help the fragile little baby. He has an extra tender heart towards the young and suffering since he is adopted into our family and experienced a lot of trauma in his young life. I told him we needed to leave the bird alone to see if it could get strong enough on its own. My grandson’s heart spilling out of his eyes made it extra hard to do that…

The first thing we did was to pray for the little baby. I thought it best to prepare my grandson that it might not live so we put the frail little bird in Your hands, Lord. I remembered in my prayer that not even a tiny sparrow falls without Your knowledge and if You thought best to take it home to You or help it live, we would trust Your perfect care of it. We left it alone and checked on it later. Our little friend the bird was breathing hard and not making a sound. It was no longer opening its mouth. We got a flat plastic lid and put water in front of the tiny creature and dropped in a few of the tiniest bird seeds we could find. I attempted to get water on a stick and hold it to its closed mouth, but by this time I didn’t think it would make it. My grandson spent the night and the first thing he wanted to check on the next morning was our bird. I stalled him, concerned he would find a half-eaten baby. We couldn’t find it anywhere. My grandson was convinced it flew away or that his mommy came and got it. I was pretty sure a predator got it.

My grandson went home and I went out to water that next evening. There was our baby bird, looking stronger than ever, flapping his wings and half-flying/hopping to get around. I was praising You and called my grandson to let him know! We were giddy together over Your care of this tiny bird. Lord, if You care so much for that one tiny bird out of all the galaxies You’ve made, I know You care for my grandson. Who, but You, knows the ways You will work in his life and the way You will weave even a tiny baby bird into his ever-growing faith in You. I love being surprised by the ways You are forever involved in the smallest details of our lives! I love You, Lord!

 

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“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near Your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-30

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Heavenly Father, help me to bring even the smallest things to You in prayer…

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the timely phone call from a “Forever Sister” who called this morning. I was spending some quiet time with You when the call came. I didn’t recognize the number and started to ignore it, but there was a quiet nudging that said to answer. I answered it, half expecting a pesky sales call…but instead heard a familiar perky voice. This particular friend changes phone numbers almost as often as I change clothes so I did not recognize the number. I usually have to wait for her to call me (which is now about twice a year!) She was just one of a small group of ladies who met twenty years ago once a week to pray together.

We prayed during the attacks of 9-11 on our country (there is an awesome story about that!) We prayed for our children, most of who were still living at home. We prayed through heartaches, joys, challenges. We praised You, Lord! We prayed for one another, for our churches, our neighbors, our husbands, our families; we prayed for Your wisdom, patience, guidance, knowledge, healing; we asked for forgiveness and thanked You for blessings too many to list! We also learned to listen and pay attention to what You said to us through our prayer times. That ragtag group of women are forever bonded through our faith in You, Lord—though You have since led us each in separate ways.

Though we each miss those incredible times of coming together to You in prayer, we know full well that You are still answering those prayers we prayed to this day. In fact, today’s phone call was a yet another report on more of Your eternal healing we prayed for. Most of our children are grown and on their own and we see answered prayers through them and even in our grandchildren. You are using each of these willing women in so many ways today—though we are scattered.

As always, this ordinary phone call was such an encouragement to me. She reminded me how her life was changed because I prayed while putting out a sign in front of the church to come to a “Ladies’ Night of Encouragement.” Her life was changed by Jesus Christ because of that one prayer. Now there is a new group going out into another neighborhood placing gospel tracts on doors. I pray as I place each and every one. Someday, I know there will be another report of someone whose life is eternally changed. We are forever bonded through Jesus Christ! The day is coming when we will no longer be scattered but will be bonded in Your Holy presence forever!

 

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“Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8b

 

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…” 1 Timothy 2:1

 

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, forgive me for my lack of prayer. Help me to start anew today…