We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

Sharing this post with the friends at #FMF and Faith on Fire. Visit these communities for more inspiration.

Listening to the Children

It’s Five Minute Friday! I am joining Kate Motaung’s community where we gather to write like crazy for five minutes on the one word prompt. Today’s word is: sing

Our granddaughter’s school held a Spring Sing in their new gymnasium. People filled the seats, the bleachers and the space along the walls.

The Children

The children (first, second & third grade) sang with enthusiasm with motions that they performed in unison. The theme of the program was songs from countries around the world. The opening song was We Are the World. Here is the chorus:

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me.

The children are the future. We are blessed to be the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We have a sacred trust to guide, nurture and advocate for them.

We are imperfect but we can seek God’s help. We have the avenue of prayer.

Sharing this post with Five Minute Friday and Faith on Fire

Searching for My Voice, Remembering to Vote

As I walked out of the post office an older gentleman was parking his car. When I got into my car he walked over to my window and tried to say something. His hair was white and he was a little bent over. I was a little surprised and wondered what he needed.

I rolled down my window and he asked,  “How does it feel to live  in  a    foreign country?”

I was flummoxed and finally asked, “What do you mean?”

He pointed to my shirt and said, “I noticed the map on your shirt.”

I was wearing a t-shirt with this slogan:

Michigan girl

“Oh, I see.” I smiled. “I think I have more of a voice in Michigan.”

He chuckled. I wondered if he recognized my frustration with Illinois politics.

We wished each other a good day.

My mind is on politics. My perspectives are quite different from the two Senators that represent me in Washington D.C. Earlier in the day I had tried expressing my thoughts to them in an e-mail,  hoping  that  Neil    Gorsuch would be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I wondered if the effort was worth it.

Perhaps I have a better chance to make my voice  heard  on  the  local   level. We are having an election for the school board and village trustees. I looked into the issues and candidates. I will vote.

Sometimes I am frustrated as I think about the problems in our country and the future for my grandchildren. We have complex social and health issues. What should we do? What is my role as a follower of Jesus?

In a way, the world is a foreign country. The Lord has chosen to place us here so that we can have an impact. He has given us the Word and asks our obedience.

Jesus prayed for his followers: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

This prayer is a comfort to me and I hope it gives comfort to you too. When we spend time in God’s word we will receive the guidance we need.

We are invited to pray. Jesus taught us to approach God in prayer as our Father in heaven.

As citizens of this country we have the opportunity to vote. It is a way to use our voice.

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire and Christian Blogger

Colors of the Sunset & Seeing Answers to Prayer

The sky had turned a brilliant pink, and the horizon seemed to be in flame. It was gorgeous. But within minutes the color began to fade, leaving streaks of lavender. I was fortunate to be in the car,  my husband    driving, to see the sunset at the right moment. There are other moments that are important to notice.

The word I have chosen for 2017 is attentive. When I am prayerfully seeking the Lord I am more alert to his touch on my life. If I am watching I may see glimpses of his answer to prayer.

Recently my brother was hospitalized and his living arrangement was terminated. As I prayed throughout this crisis, I needed to be watching for signs of the Lord’s care. Here is what I noticed.

My brother had a nurse who looked beyond his mental disability and provided excellent care while he was in the hospital.

Because of this nurse’s attention, problems with his medications were seen more clearly and addressed.

Although my brother would not talk about Jesus or words from the Bible, he began to hum and sing a couple hymns. This amazed me because he is often angry with any talk about faith in God.

I wasn’t alone. My sister was with me. I had friends in the same town as the hospital. It was good to visit with my college roommate and another dear friend. We talked about our faith, and I was able to pray with them.

The bright colors of these moments guided me through a couple of tough weeks.

Isaiah has recorded these words of encouragement:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4

Is my brother’s situation completely resolved? No, so I will give thanks for what I have seen and keep on praying.

Have you experienced answers to prayer recently? I would enjoy your comment.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday and Grace & Truth

Finding Rest Through Prayer

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: BREATHE

Go . . .

For many years I taught breathing patterns for Lamaze classes. When wave after wave of contractions come, breathing patterns can help a     laboring woman with relaxation. Slow breathing seems to be most effective.

Take a breath in and slowly release it,   like you are making a candle    flicker. Then take another breath and release it slowly. A steady rhythm of breathing.

Prayer is spiritual breathing.

Currently I am in a stressful situation. I am spending days at the hospital advocating for my brother. A couple nights ago I was restless and overwhelmed. I was struggling with worries.

I needed to do some spiritual breathing. Jesus has offered us this access to rest. We can offer up our burdens as we whisper a prayer.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

Sharing this post with Grace & Truth

After the Election: Prayer & Love

It is good to be studying God’s word during this season (and always).

I am reminded that the problems we face as a nation are not new. We are sinful people seeking our own ends and solutions. The apostle Paul had his moment of awakening. The Jewish law could not save him or the people of Israel. Paul and all people need the salvation offered by Jesus.

Our nation needs Jesus. We need to bring the message of the gospel to people that we interact with. Paul gave good advice to his student, Titus, during tumultuous times in the Roman Empire. Titus was a leader for new believers.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray and slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.          Titus 3:1-8 ESV

The election is over. We don’t know what the Trump presidency will bring. We can pray for this man and his administration. We can choose to demonstrate love and kindness to every person we encounter.

Today has been a beautiful fall day. As I walked through our neighborhood I have enjoyed seeing these signs around our neighborhood.

Love & Prayer

My fervent prayer is to live in obedience to Jesus Christ, to let his love shine through me. Join me in prayer?

Sharing this post with Thankful Thursday, Word of God Speak,  Thought Provoking Thursday and Christian Blogger

Seeking Truth with Prayer

Each day, as I listen to the news I am deeply saddened. What is happening in our country? The reports of violence and death shake our sense of security. I think about my grandchildren and the world they are growing up in.

Social issues and politics have become so divisive. It seems to me that it is hard to get to the truth on polarized topics.

Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to an article about the HPV        vaccine, stating one of the researchers disagreed with widespread use of it in the U.S.  The vaccine prevents a sexually transmitted infection,       human papillomavirus.  Almost immediately a friend posted a link with an opposing opinion.  So I did some more internet searches and found an article written by Dr. Harper, the researcher in question.  The article, Next Generation Cancer Protection: The Bivalent HPV Vaccine for Females, details the medical research and includes this paragraph:

Prophylactic HPV vaccination will have little cancer-reducing effect in the general screened population, but may prevent cervical cancer among those with no screening opportunities.   Prophylactic vaccination may help       decrease the numbers of women who develop abnormal cytology screens among those who are screened. Modeling indicates that HPV vaccination will prevent potentially 17% of the abnormal Pap tests based on current knowledge of HPV type distribution (Figure 3) [73] and only a very few cancers that Pap testing would not have detected [74, 75], not enough to lower the population incidence of cervical cancer lower than what screening already accomplishes [76].

I believe that knowing the truth about vaccines (benefit and the risk), and making informed decisions is important. In so many areas of life we need to pursue truth.

While Jesus was on earth he talked about truth many times. His counsel and prayer with the disciples in John 17 speaks to my heart and gives me courage.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

Jesus prayed in the days leading up to his sacrifice for us. We have the opportunity to lift our prayers to the Lord. Thomas R. Kelly highlights the importance of prayer throughout each day.

Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed.  Begin where you are.  Live this present     moment, this present hour as you now sit in your seats, in utter, utter submission and openness toward God. Listen outwardly to these words, but within, behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your lives where you are all alone with God the Loving Eternal One, keep up a silent prayer, “Open Thou my life. Guide my thoughts where I dare not let them go. But Thou darest. Thy will be done.” Walk on the streets and chat with your friends.   But every moment behind the scenes be in prayer, offering yourselves in continuous obedience.*

* Thomas R. Kelly “Holy Obedience” (lecture, 1939)

Linking with Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow and Thought Provoking Thursday

The Forsythia & God’s Faithfulness

Forsythia Marks the Anniversary

Today is the 27th anniversary of my son’s passing away and entering eternity. Last year I wrote the illness and faith of our little boy. You can read about Steven here.

God has healed the wound in my heart, but it took time. Only when I was far enough from my initial grief, could I look back and see the hand of God guiding and supporting our family.

Steven was loved. He knew that God loved him.

The Psalms convey both the pain of suffering and the confidence in God’s love.

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and a buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,  nor the        destruction that wastes at the noonday. Psalm 91:4-6

I must confess that in the last days of Steven’s life I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff, about to plunge into darkness. I wasn’t sure of my faith. But I never stopped praying. I poured out my pain before God. The Psalms provided an example for me to follow.

Christian friends stood by us, offering their faith and prayers. Over time I was able to see the places where God had been present with us. I believe that I will see Steven again, as the Bible promises.

If you are going through a stiff trial, don’t be afraid to pour out doubts and fears in prayer. God hears and He is faithful. Let others pray for you also. Trust that as you walk forward you will see evidence of God’s hand on your life.

Linking with Let Us Grow, Grace & Truth and Word of God Speak

Let Us Grow

 

The Passionate Work of Lilias Trotter and Margaret Sanger

Recently I completed reading books about two women that demonstrated different kinds of passion. I have read the Autobiography of Margaret Sanger, followed by A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter. The lives of these two women had some similarities and some great contrasts.

Lilias Trotter & Margaret Sanger

Both women came from large families, though Lilias Trotter (1853–1928) had more nurture and resources as a child,  growing up in      England. Margaret Sanger was born in New York and lived her later years in Arizona (1879–1966). Each eventually became involved with social causes.

Lilias attended Christian conferences, taught a Bible Class at the Welbeck Street Institue (which offered a hostel for young women), and opened her own home to provide social hours for working women.

Margaret Sanger was one of eleven children and when her mother died at the age of 48 she had to take on many responsibilities. Eventually she left home, went through nurses’ training and did home visits for maternity care. She saw difficult situations that poor women faced.

As Lilia continued her outreach to young women she was also developing her skill as an artist. She was invited to spend time polishing her gift under the guidance of John Ruskin.

Margaret left nursing, married Bill Sanger, an architect and artist. The couple faced challenges—Margaret’s treatment for tuberculosis, the loss of a home to fire. They had three children. When they settled in an apartment they became involved with radical groups. Margaret writes  “Our living room became a gathering place where liberals,    anarchists, Socialists and I.W.W.’s could meet.”*

Lilias’ passion was to bring the message of the gospel to people by      living with them and loving them. Although she was a gifted artist, encouraged by John Ruskin to devote herself to art, she chose to establish a mission in Algiers.

Margaret’s passion was to relieve the suffering of poor women by making birth control available. She left her husband and young children to travel the world, researching the topic of overpopulation. As she pursued contraception she joined forces with people promoting eugenics.

The difference that I see in these two women is this. One was devoted to prayer and loving service; the other was out to solve human problems through her own intellect and effort.

As I consider the initial goal that Margaret Sanger had, I am saddened. Did she improve the status of poor women? Our culture has become dependent on contraceptives. Are marriages more stable? Are women better off?

Forty per cent of births in the U.S. are to single mothers. (See statistics from the CDC).

What was the impact of Lilias Trotter’s work? She  wrote about legacy in a book, Parables of the Cross. “The results need not end with our earthly days. Should Jesus tarry our works will follow us . . . God may use, by reason of the wonderful solidarity of His Church, the things that He has wrought in us, for the blessing of souls unknown to us.”**

Here is the link to an interesting article about the focus in Lilias’ life (written by the author of the biography).

*The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger,  Dover Publications, Inc. :     Mineola, New York. 1971. p. 70

**Miriam Huffman Rockness, A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Discovery House Publishers: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003. p. 325.

Linking with Literacy Musing Monday,  Grace & Truth, Friendship Friday and Booknificent Thursday

Review: God’s Not Dead 2

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

After a week of traveling to attend to extended family needs, it is good to be back home.   This morning I participated in Bible study with dear friends at my church.   In the afternoon my husband and I went to see  God’s Not Dead 2.

Can a teacher mention Jesus in a public school class? The film shows a court case involving religious freedom. Although similar cases have occurred in the U.S., this story is fiction. I enjoyed seeing Lee Strobel, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee make appearances in the movie.

Two points made by the movie have stayed with me.

  1. Prayer was a key element in the story.

The teacher prayed, her grandfather prayed and large groups of     people prayed throughout the trial.

  1. The community—not just the individual—was involved.

Many Christians, in different places, played a role in supporting the teacher who was on trial.

I know that there are times in my life when I have been so focused on personal issues that I have neglected to see the big picture. Standing firm in faith and supporting other believers is increasingly important.

The gospel of John records Jesus’ instruction for us.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13: 34-35

The early church provides a great example.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the     fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2: 42

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.               Colossians 4: 2

God's Not Dead 2

Prayer: Lord God, we praise you for your great love and sacrifice for us. We give thanks for the examples of faith that we have in the Bible. Guide us when our faith is challenged and increase our love.

Linking with Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow,  Grace & Truth,  Friendship Friday,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R and Whole Hearted Wednesday