Prayer: Helping Others Stand

“. . . he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV

We tend to forget how vital prayer is. If you’re like me, at some point in your life you’ve thought or said, “All I can do is pray.” We forget that we are indeed helping when we pray for others.

The apostle Paul wrote the words above after suffering extreme hardship and pressure so great that he described it as “far beyond our ability to endure” (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). He said he despaired even of life and actually felt in his heart the sentence of death.

I wonder where he would have been without the “prayers of many”? (2 Corinthians 1:11)  Could the help he received through those prayers be the reason he was able to rely on God’s strength instead of his own?

John Wesley said, “Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees.” I’m reminded of Moses when the Israelites battled the Amalekites. As long as he held up the staff of God in his hands, the Israelites won. When he lowered his hands, the enemy began winning. When Moses grew tired, “Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (Exodus 17:12 NIV)

Do we know people whose hands are hanging down, whose knees are now tottering? Is it obvious that without help they’ll surely fall? You may feel powerless to change their situation or help in any significant way, but don’t underestimate the support you can give them through your prayers. I’ve felt the support of prayers before, and it’s powerful. I felt as if I was being carried.

Are there some we know who need to be carried right now by our prayers? Let’s be faithful to do it. It may be our prayers that enable them to stand another day.

“I urge you brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30 NIV

*Have you ever felt carried by the prayers of others before?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE! *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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Our Exalted God

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” Psalm 46:10 NIV

I like to look at a verse of scripture and focus on one tiny word from time to time. In the past, I’ve suggested we consider the words us and let in specific verses. Today, let’s turn our attention to the word will in the verse above.

Most often when we read Psalm 46:10, we focus on the first half of the verse. One time when I read it, however, the last two phrases of the verse jumped out at me. Take a moment and read it aloud and emphasize the word will both times it’s used.

This verse is not only a proclamation that God is God, but it’s a proclamation and a promise by God himself that he will be exalted among the nations. And then, as if to emphasize the certainty of it, he repeats that he will be exalted in the earth. No question about it, no room for doubt. God is going to be exalted.

What a day that will be! Sometimes we forget what’s on the horizon. We get discouraged and distressed by the godlessness that permeates so many aspects of our present day world, and we forget that God is God and that he will one day be seen by all for who he is. Yes, God will be exalted. He will be triumphant.

But I don’t want to wait for that day to exalt God—I want to be among those who exalt him now. Among those who proclaim him today, who give the world a taste of the glory that’s to come. Maybe in our doing so, some will come to know and exalt him with us.

So how about it? Let’s do our part. Let’s exalt God now!

“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3 NIV

*How will you exalt the Lord today?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out today, but it’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE! *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

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A Tactic of the Enemy: An Opportune Time

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13 NIV

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, was well-acquainted with temptation during his days here on earth. Scripture tells us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit sent him into the desert where he was tempted by Satan for forty days (Mark 1:9-13.)

The gospels of Matthew and Luke show how the devil tried different tactics to cause the perfect Son of God to stumble and sin, but the enemy had no success. Jesus stood strong, using the Word of God as a shield and weapon against the devil’s schemes.

Satan lost the battle in the desert. As the above verse in Luke points out, he left Jesus—at least for the moment. He had plans though. Plans to attack again at an opportune time. And he did.

One of those times happened just after Jesus told his disciples he would suffer and be killed and then rise again on the third day (Mark 8:31-33.) When Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for speaking of such an unthinkable thing, Jesus recognized this as another temptation—another of the enemy’s attempts to cause him to stumble.

Satan must have thought Jesus would be more vulnerable as the time drew nearer for him to face death. Definitely, an opportune time to attack again. Combine that with the appeal of one of Jesus’ close friends, and he had the perfect opportunity indeed. But Jesus stood strong once again. “‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said.’” (Mark 8:33) He was ready to resist. Ready for Satan’s attacks during opportune moments.

Are we ready to resist when the enemy comes at us during times when we’re vulnerable or caught unaware?

What do our opportune times look like? Our opportune moments could come when we’re exhausted or sick or worried. They might happen when we experience either failure or success or when we’re on the cusp of a new venture or ministry (like Jesus’ temptation in the desert.) We’re especially vulnerable when we’ve neglected time in the Word or in prayer—when we’ve allowed ourselves to grow distant from Jesus or have become complacent in our spiritual lives.

Let’s be alert to Satan’s tactics. He will wait for an opportune time, and then he’ll be there, ready to tempt us. Will we be ready to resist?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

*What can you do to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani, Creative Commons License

Sow in Tears, Reap with Joy

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

What does it mean to sow in tears? I’m sure there’s more than one way to interpret these verses, but one thing I think of as I read them is prayer.

We sow seed as we pray for those who have never come to faith in Christ. We sow as we pray for those who have drifted away from God and as we pray for the needs of our churches. But how earnestly do we intercede for these deep needs?

When was the last time our tears flowed or we experienced internal anguish as we prayed for a family member, a friend, or someone else’s loved one to give his or her heart to the Lord? Or to come back to him? When was the last time we wept over a people group deluded by a false religion? When was the last time we sowed in tears? I admit these questions convict me, and I wonder if they do you as well.

If we’re not careful, our prayers can be half-hearted or superficial. To sow in tears we must take time to care. We must open our hearts and love people. If we do this, their separation from God will surely drive us to our knees—and to tears.

So yes, when we care, we will feel sorrow, but the Word tells us we will also “reap with songs of joy.” And when it comes to the salvation or restoration of a soul, one song of joy will be worth a thousand tears.

“I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people . . .” Romans 9:2-3 NIV

*When have you reaped with songs of joy after sowing in tears for someone?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early November. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by MarLeah JoyCreative Commons License

A Scriptural New Year’s Blessing and Prayer for You

Happy 2021, everyone! I’m sure we’re all glad to have 2020 behind us and are hoping and praying for a better year this year. But even in the midst of the stress and distress of the past year, I have no doubt that God has strengthened us all and shown us his love in countless ways. I’m so glad he walks with us, come what may.

But now since we have a fresh year and a fresh start, here is a blessing and prayer for you straight from God’s Word. This is just one of many blessings and prayers found in the Bible. I encourage you to be on the lookout for even more. May you be blessed by this one today, friends!

“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.” Psalm 20:1-5 NIV

*How is God supporting you in times of distress? What are the desires of your heart you’d love to see God bless you with this year?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash