“But Jesus would often go to some place where he could be alone and pray”—Luke 5:16 (CEV).
When I arrived at a neighbor’s house recently, she was on hold with a company, trying to get help with a refrigerator problem. Hanging up after a bit, she asked me to take a look at the temperature gauge in the freezer section. Since her refrigerator is a newer model, the gauge is digital. I tried my best to figure it out but was unable to help.
Concerned about the frozen foods thawing out, my friend redialed the company’s number. As her phone was on speaker, I could hear the “mechanical” voice repeat a list of options. One of the final choices was to call a different number. My friend had to replay the final message three times before we got the correct number written down. Eventually, she made contact with a live person who was able to solve the problem with her freezer. While the solution was simple, the process she went through to get there was complicated.
Solitude is a time for being alone with God in complete silence.
Our lives have become more complicated in the 21st century. While technology has, in some instances, made things easier, in other ways it has contributed to modern society’s stress levels. With cell phones, computers and 24/7 cable television, we are kept in a perpetual state of “on” with information overload. Constant stress can lead to severe health issues, including physical, mental, emotional and behavioral problems. What if we learned to deal with stress in a biblical way?
Instead of turning to unhealthy habits like overeating and substance abuse, including alcohol and drugs, what if we chose the path Jesus took when He needed to escape the pressures of His ministry? Seeking God in solitude was Jesus’ habit when the going got rough.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers”—Philippians4:6 (TLB).
Praying aloud in a group setting wasn’t easy for me before I made Jesus the Lord of my life. If the group leader asked for a volunteer to lead the prayer, I remained silent, waiting for someone else to speak out.
My thoughts raced with the following: What if I don’t know what to say? What if my words are jumbled? I don’t even know how to use eloquent, “religious-sounding” words. I’m just plain scared! What if I just sound stupid?
As my walk with God has deepened, so has my prayer life. I’ve learned to pray from the heart. I’ve learned formulas don’t matter as long as your heart is in tune with His. This doesn’t mean I ignore praying as Jesus taught His disciples. (The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the gospels: Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4.)
There is no formula to prayer—it is simply conversing with God.
Evangelist Billy Graham says, “There is no formula to prayer—it is simply conversing with God. It is essentially talking with God as you would talk with an earthly parent who loves you and wants the best for you. God is your Heavenly Father who loves you perfectly.”
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven”—Luke 6:37 (NRSV).
Upset she had cheated my son out of $30, I didn’t want to forgive her. I was also mad at myself because I had been used in the process. I guess it’s because I trust too much, trust others to do unto me as I would do unto them. However, I failed to remember not all people are trustworthy.
My son had agreed to purchase two items through an online site where people buy, sell and trade merchandise. Because the seller lived in a community closer to me, and because my son works odd hours sometimes, he asked me to contact her, set up a time to meet and pay for the merchandise. I agreed.
We met nearby in a public place where we made the exchange. Because I trusted that my son and this woman had made the deal, and he knew what he was getting, I got into my vehicle without checking the merchandise. Placing them in the cup holder beside me, I noticed a small part had fallen off one of the items. Picking it up, I discovered the part could not have broken off just by my handling it. It had been broken when she handed it to me.
“Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes you free.”
I knew the seller hadn’t gone too far up the highway so I called her. I was trying to be gracious when I said, “The merchandise I just purchased from you…something is wrong. A piece fell off.”
“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy—the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you”—Romans 12:1-2(TLB).
In May 2002, I began to pray what some call the most dangerous prayer of all: “Lord, use me.”
Each day that month, I walked down to the lake where I had been living since my 28-year marriage had ended the previous August. Sitting on a concrete picnic table overlooking the lake, I sought God’s will for the rest of my life. Each prayer ended with asking God to use me for His purposes. While I was still three years away from retirement, God was working in my heart to prepare me for the next chapter of my life.
Fast forward to April 2005 when—after nine months of arguing with God about that direction—He made it clear to me I was to leave the area where I had lived since I was 16-years-old and move to a larger community where I knew very few people. May 2005 marked the end of my 30-year teaching career and the new adventure He had planned.
What happens when we surrender our plans to Him? You can bet He will use us, as well as bless us as a result.
Born in 1870, author Lettie B. Cowman, along with her husband, left the United States in 1901 to work as missionaries in Japan. Along with other friends, they co-founded the Oriental Missionary Society as well as several Bible Training Institutes.
“In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen’—Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV).
If you enter Ardmore, Oklahoma off I-35 near the 12th street exit, you’ll see a billboard on the west side of the road. Facing south, the billboard proclaims, “Ardmore Prays ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ at High Noon Daily.” Sponsored by Pastor’s Hope, the billboard’s message has become a mission for the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church Ardmore. After hearing Dr. Terry Teykl speak at an August 17 prayer workshop, Jessica Moffatt Seay was impressed by the Holy Spirit to encourage others to begin praying The Lord’s Prayer at high noon.
Dr. Teykl, national prayer teacher and author of 18 books related to prayer, founded “Pray Down at High Noon” with a goal of raising up a million people worldwide who pray the Lord’s Prayer at noon every day. So far, 800,000 have signed up to participate.
“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92:14 (NIV).
When my oldest son, who is now 37, was born, my mother put a bumper sticker on her car. The words on the sticker, “If we’d known how much fun grandkids were, we’d had them first,” kind of hurt my feelings at the time. Then, when I became a grandmother in 2004, I understood what my mother meant. Grandchildren are a blessing as we grow older.
Recently, I attended a family funeral with my sons and grandchildren. The funeral was for a nephew, 32, who was killed in a car accident. He was the only biological child of his father. My nephew left behind a 12-year-old son who looks just like him. My heart ached, not only for the parents of my nephew, but for his son. I know the grandson will be a comfort to his grandparents in the coming days and years.
While attending the funeral, my 4-year-old grandson grew weary and wanted me to hold him. He fell asleep but awoke when a 12-minute video highlighting my nephew’s life through photos was shown. As Cash watched the video, I told him about my nephew and said, “Do you know he was your second cousin and what happened to him?” Cash nodded, and then said, “He’s in heaven with Jesus and Moses and the dinosaurs.”
“Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer”—Romans 12:12 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA).
“Ma’am. Excuse me, ma’am.” I turned to seek the direction of the voice. Was someone addressing me? Since the woman behind the voice was the only other person on the sidewalk leading to the door of a local business, I stopped. From her attire, I decided she was probably looking for a handout. I was right, but it wasn’t the usual request.
“Ma’am,” she said again as she approached. “Can I get a cigarette from you?” She looked pitiful. She was walking with a limp and her hands were shaking.
“Sorry, but I don’t smoke,” I replied. I never have but I didn’t tell her that. As I turned to walk away, my first thought was one of judgment—why doesn’t she just quit that nasty habit? Before I had taken another step, I was convicted. When my father was alive, he smoked. He could never quit. I understand the addiction.
Immediately, I lifted the woman up in prayer, saying, “Lord, please deliver her from her nicotine addiction.”