The Challenge Was On!

“Hey, teacher! Do you want to do a Bible challenge with me?” said one of my eleven-year-old students, with a smile on his face. He was shifting his body from one foot to another, anxiously awaiting my answer. I could not help but chuckle a little. Usually it was I who was presenting the challenges to my students. It did this teacher’s heart good to see the roles reversed for a change.

“Hmm,” I replied as I gave him a quizzical glance, “what do you have in mind?”

“Well, I really want to read through the entire book of Psalms. Do you know that it has the most chapters of any book in the Bible? I was wondering if you would like to do it with me. You could make sure that I read it from the beginning to the end, all one hundred and fifty chapters.”

While I was delighted at seeing his enthusiasm to read a portion of the Bible, as his teacher, I was just a little curious as to what led this young student to want to read the entire book of Psalms. He normally was not a keen reader at all. In fact, I had noticed the struggle he often had just to find his way around the various pages of his Bible. I clearly saw a teaching moment standing right here in front of me.

“You know what? I would love to accept your challenge!” Instantly I saw a smile break out on his face that rocked my heart as a teacher. “But, if it is okay with you, I would like to add something extra to your challenge to help make reading God’s Word a little more exciting for both of us.”

“Okay!” he said. His feet were practically dancing as his level of excitement went up a few notches. “What? What do you want to add?”

“Do you know what a scavenger hunt is?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, I love doing scavenger hunts!” His excitement level went up a few more notches. “With scavenger hunts you have a list of objects to find, and if you find them all, then you win the hunt and you get a prize.”

I gave a thumbs-up to his explanation. And before I could say anything, he quickly piped in.

“But I don’t know how to play a scavenger hunt using the Bible. I’ve never done that before.”

“Well…

…To be continued…in my soon-to-be-released published book!

And, my dear blog readers, I have to let you in on a little secret!

Some of my new book you have already read in my blog!

Over the past two years, I have already been sharing some of my “teacher discoveries” from the scavenger hunt that I shared with my eleven-year-old student. Perhaps you’ve already read some of them.

When my student and I finished our “scavenger hunt” through the book of Psalms, I began writing a blog, sharing with readers, from around the world, various things that I had learned through this challenge with one of my students. I have to tell you that both student and teacher are still learning from our fun way of reading the book of Psalms.

Then my student challenged me even further. “Ms. Kathy, I have been reading all your blog entries. Now I want to challenge you again. I want to see you turn your blog into a book. Can you do that?”

Hmm, a blog into a book? Can I do that? The challenge was on! Again!

What is that old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way!”

For the past year and a bit, I have been working with WestBow Press to turn the will into a way! They are helping me turn my blog into a book! I picked out twenty-one of my favorite blog entries to include in my published edition. Don’t you wonder which ones I might have picked? Would you like to know if, perhaps, I picked one of your favorite blog entries? I invite you to tell me what your favorite blog entry is that I wrote, and then I will tell you if it’s included in my soon-to-be-released book. Feel free to leave me a comment in the appropriate section; I would love to hear from you!

Need I tell you just how excited I am over this challenge?

I can hardly keep my dancing feet still as the excitement level just went up a few more notches!

A newly written, soon-to-be-released book, by Kathy O’Brien, will be coming your way!

Watch my blog for further details!

The Paths of Life

One of the first blogs I ever wrote. I’m still walking on my path of life that God has ordained for me. I’m still hanging onto the promise of God found in Psalm 16:11. I’m still finding JOY in the journey!

Word of Truth Ministries

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fulness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

Paths of Life. We all walk them every day. Every one of us has a different path of life that we are called to walk upon. Sometimes we walk that pathway alone and at some seasons of the journey, others will come and join us for a time upon our pathway. Have you ever considered the path of life that you are now walking?

Paths can be smooth; when everything seems to be going just right. There doesn’t seem to be any problems or stresses, no signs of trouble anywhere in sight, no arguments or disagreements with others on the pathway. Everything is calm, peaceful, happy and even joyful. The walking on such a path is so easy and comfortable; your step is light and…

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Lord, Help Me!

Lord, help me to pray!

Even when I’m feeling tired,

Even when my patience is thin,

Even when the words won’t come,

Even when the hard circumstances are present,

Even when I feel lost!

Lord, help me know that You are there!

Even when I think You are not,

Even when I feel distant from You,

Even when I walk right past You,

Even when I assume You are not listening,

Even when I question Your will and plans!

Lord, help me to turn to You!

In my brokenness,

In complete surrender,

In total trust,

In faith believing,

In acceptance of Your love!

Lord, help me!

Amen.

“Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy”

Psalm 109:26 (NKJV)

Sleepless Nights

How many times have you been here and done this?

What do you do, at 3 am in the morning, when everyone else in the household sleeps and you are laying there, wide awake, and unable to sleep a wink?

We all have those times when sleep is evasive. Nowhere in sight. We toss and turn. We “count sheep” until we are “Baa-ing” softly in our awakeness. We might get up for that proverbial “hot milk” drink that’s supposed to help us quickly go back to sleep. We try all sorts of things. I am just a little curious, what is your secret to sleepless nights?

I pray!

Yes! It was 3:14 am, according to the alarm clock on the bedside table. I rolled over and groaned. Hubby laid beside me, softly snoring a sleepy melody of zzzz’s. I tried not to be envious of the apparent good sleep that he was getting. From the little bed on the floor beside mine, came sounds of muted barking and growling from our little Maltese dog, Max. I leaned over the side of my bed to have a look. Yep, his little legs were moving as though running after someone or something. I watched Max for a few moments. Yes, I was envious that he was obviously having a fun dream and I was not. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little at my loveable dog. I wondered if I was part of his dream. I rolled back over and pulled the covers up.

I did not want to disturb either hubby or dog, although going to the kitchen to fix a hot cup of tea or a warm cup of hot chocolate was a temptation at this point. Both would have tasted so good, with a few shortbread cookies thrown in to satisfy the growling tummy. Yet, I knew! If I dared to sneak out of the bed and head in the direction of the kitchen, soon the dog and hubby would follow, and my day would start just way too early. So, I snuggled under the covers just a little more.

I opted to do the one thing I love to do the most whenever I cannot sleep.

I began to pray!

“God, what would you like to talk about as I lay here sleepless and awake?”

Almost immediately thoughts of my family and friends came forward. I remembered a couple of promises to pray for them, with certain prayer requests having been shared. So, I prayed! I talked with my God about so many special people in my life, about their needs, and asking Him to do His perfect work in their lives and bless them with showers of blessings.

As I prayed and talked with my God, in the sleepless moments of the wee morning hours, the word WATCH came to my mind. “God, what is this about WATCH? What do You want me to WATCH? Do you want me to pray about WATCH?” I paused in silence before my God. Waiting to understand WATCH.

It wasn’t long before my thoughts tumbled out into words of WATCH-full prayer to my God.

“Dear God,

“I ask that you set a WATCH over my family and friends. Send your angels to WATCH over them and keep them all safe. Draw each one closer to You and WATCH over their individual concerns.

“I pray, God, that You would WATCH over these things for myself, my family, and my friends:

“WATCH over our daily walk with You. May we always desire to walk in Your ways. May we joyfully walk where You lead us and not be tempted to take our own path that would lead us away from You.

“WATCH over our attitudes and actions. May these be pleasing in Your sight always, Lord. When we stumble and fail in our attitudes and actions, may we be quick to confess it as sin and seek Your forgiveness. Give us all the courage to change the attitudes and actions that we need to change.

“WATCH over our thoughts and our talk, dear God. May both be wholesome; may they be kind toward others; and may they bring You glory. May our thoughts bring us into Your presence more often. May our talk reflect that we know and love You. Set a WATCH, God over our minds and our mouths as we contemplate what to say to others. May our thoughts and our talk be kind and encouraging and always full of You.

“WATCH over our circumstances, challenges, and commitments. Help us God not to take on more than we can handle at one time. Give us grace and wisdom in all our decisions. Help us to learn to say “No!” when we need to. Help us to keep that which we commit to; to rise to the challenges of life that enable us to grow as a person; and to accept our circumstances as from You, in that they are for our good and for Your glory.

“WATCH over us all by granting us happiness and hope. We seek happiness in this life; a true happiness that comes from having joy in knowing You, Lord. We have hope through Your Son, Jesus, and the eternal life that awaits us through His death on the cross.

“God, WATCH over me, my family and my friends. WATCH us Father as we WATCH You perform Your perfect work in our lives here on earth. WATCH over us as we WATCH for the soon-coming return of Your dear Son, Jesus! We WATCH and we wait, Lord!

“Now God, would you WATCH over me as I go back to sleep!

“Amen!”

I also asked God to help me remember that prayer in the morning so I could write it down. As you see, He answered that prayer!

I have to tell you, dear readers of this blog, that prayer is the best thing to do at 3 am when you cannot sleep. Pray and Watch!

Once I said, “Amen!” I rolled over and went fast asleep. “… for so He gives His beloved sleep” Psalm 127:1 (NKJV).

I awoke up at 6 am (with Max wanting to go outside!). I felt rested and refreshed as though I had slept right through the entire night. I started my day with a “Good Morning, God! What would you like to talk about now?” I’m ready to see what this day will hold for me as I carry on talking with my God and WATCH-ing His perfect day unfold!

You Are of More Value!

A young hospital patient was facing the most fearful journey of her life. To be told that she had cancer at the mere age of seventeen, shattered her little world!

All of her hopes and dreams were ebbing away from her grasp. She wondered if she would be able to graduate from high school. Would she be able to go on to college, would she ever get married, would she one day get to hold her own child in her arms? All these things, the normal things of growing up, were silently slipping through her hands as she watched her body become something she didn’t even recognize. The chemo treatments took away her golden locks and covered her body with rashes and hives. She was sick all the time. Loneliness and sleeplessness consumed her night-times; while day-times were taken up with pain and agony and yet another doctor waiting to do yet another test. She fought her way through many tests and procedures, multiple surgeries, and treatment plans, only to be told that the cancer was getting worse. The treatments simply were not working for her.

Disappointed and frustrated, she lay on her hospital bed one night, thinking about her life. The questions started to swirl through her mind. What’s the point of living? What value is there to my life? I’m young and I’ve hardly accomplished a thing in life; will I ever get to do anything of value? Will anyone ever love me now? Will I live to see another birthday? Or will my cancer get the best of me? Oh, so many questions!

She laid back on her bed, exhausted. Sleep evaded her once again.

A few moments later, a hospital chaplain entered her room. At first she was tempted to send him away. But then, she said to herself, “I could ask him my questions and just see what he will say.” She invited him to come in and take a seat in the chair. She sat upright in the bed.

It was not long before her questions started tumbling through her mind and out her lips. There! She said those frustratingly annoying questions out loud.

Then she told the chaplain, “My family is overwhelmed with my cancer. They don’t really know what to do to help me. My friends, well, they are out having a good time and I am left behind. My teachers from school send me homework to do, but I cannot concentrate and besides that, what’s the point. And my God – yes, I believe in God – but, I feel like He too is MIA (missing in action). He does not seem to answer my prayers. He probably isn’t even listening to me half the time. I wonder though if He cares at all. I wonder if my life matters to Him. I have this ever growing fear that He is just going to let me die. Chaplain, I am afraid! I am afraid that there is no value to my life anymore. I wonder, what’s the point of living? I just wonder!”

Silence filled that hospital room for quite a few moments. Tears were streaming down the cheeks of this young cancer patient, while the chaplain looked on, deciding what best to say. Silently he prayed for wisdom from the God who tenderly looked upon His beloved child.

“Life is so full of puzzling questions, isn’t it?” the chaplain finally said.

“Ya think!” came the girl’s reply. “I just want to know what the answers are.”

“I’m not sure I have the answers to all those questions you have just asked me. In fact, I know I do not have the answers at all. And I am sorry about that. But, may I read to you something from the Bible, from the One who does have all of life’s answers – do you mind if I read to you?” he asked as he looked at her with loving concern.

“Sure! Read what you want. I don’t care.”

The chaplain took the Bible that he was holding in his hands, and he opened it. Clearing his throat, he began to read. “Jesus said, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows'” (Matthew 10:29—31).

The girl started to laugh. Oh, it felt good to laugh, but it also hurt. “The hairs of my head are all numbered! Really? Sir, have you seen my head?” She reached up to take her hat off, only to reveal a very bald head. “How many hairs?” she said as another laugh escaped from within her being. Now the chaplain began to laugh with her. Oh, yes, it feels so good to laugh!

As the laughter began to subside between them, the chaplain said to the young girl, “God has numbered every hair that you cannot see! He knows how many hairs you have on that beautiful head of yours. He also knows the value of your life, of every part of your life! You need not wonder what God thinks of you. You need not fear what God has planned for your life. You need not to fear that your life is over without any accomplishments. Cancer survival is one of the toughest accomplishments of any life. God sees your struggle, my dear young lady! Every moment of every day, He sees what you are going through, and He is right there with you. He feels your pain, and understands the agony of this dreadful disease called cancer. The Lord your God knows just how valuable you are to Him. You are of more value to Him than many sparrows.”

“I am?” the young girl’s laughter had now given way to tears. They had silently started to roll down her cheeks as the chaplain spoke to her. He noticed the tears, but didn’t say anything about them. He knew that her tears were healing to her spirit. He was just happy that she listened and heard his words to her. The truth of what the chaplain was saying was touching her heart in a way she never expected.

“I am? I am valuable to God?” the girl asked as she wiped away her own tears.

The chaplain simply nodded at her. He silently prayed as his words began to touch her heart.

“I am!” She laid her head back on the pillow. Pulling the covers up over her shoulders, she said again, “I am!” Allowing that truth to sink in just a little bit further, she closed her eyes, “I am!”

The chaplain sat with her until she had fallen fast asleep. He prayed that the truth she just learned would give her heart peace and her body a good night’s sleep.

______________

I wonder, if anyone reading this post might need to hear that truth today. Your circumstances of life might be different from the girl in this story. Yet, you might just be asking some of the same questions about life. If so, please know, that I would like to pray for you. Please leave me a little comment to let me know.

To all the readers of this post – May this truth bring you peace and rest! Jesus says to you, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows!”

Circumstances I Do Not Like!

Do you ever find yourself in the midst of circumstances that you do not like? In situations that feel out of control? Carrying a burden that seems too heavy? Rolling around problems in search of solutions?

I might be able to help you with that!

I wrote this little piece some twenty years ago, when I was going through a period of crisis circumstances, sticky situations, back-breaking burdens, and puzzling problems. It all seemed too much. Too hard to handle. Too problematic to even deal with. It helped to write!

Today I came across this piece again, while I was looking through an old Bible of mine. I had tucked it tight within the pages of this sacred book, obviously not wanting to lose it. Uncanny how familiar those Bible verses seem to my mind, those too tucked away, in the memory of my heart. Oh, how appropriate those words are to my life today as they were twenty years ago.

I remember the day I wrote this piece. It was the day that I brought my circumstances, situations, burdens, and problems to Someone who was able to help me. It was the day I gave everything to God. Again! For what seemed like the millionth time. And yet I knew, beyond all shadow of doubt, that He was the only One who can help with all the impossible things of life.

Allow me to share with you what I wrote. This piece was my prayer, my plea for God to help me. My prayer now, is that this piece will help, encourage and inspire all who might read it. When you come to a _________ , feel free to insert your own circumstance, situation, burden, or problem there. And when you come to the end, if you agree with what I wrote, if the Bible verses were a help to you, if you found yourself a little closer to God – then, please shout out a loud, hearty “Amen!” For in that moment, you will know that God heard the prayer of your heart as well.

___________

“God,

“I am here in the midst of circumstances that I don’t like! Circumstances that I find very difficult and somewhat overwhelming. I know that I am not alone for You are here with me, never to leave me nor forsake me! I recognize that You are the only one who can help me with this particular set of circumstances. I need Your help, God! I need You now more than ever.

“In the midst of my battle with _____________, may I always remember that:

I am here by God’s appointment! This set of circumstances is all part of God’s plan for my life!

“Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

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

I am here in God’s safe-keeping! I am surrounded by God’s most perfect love! (so no more pity parties!).

“Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

“Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness.'”

“I am here under God’s training! Good will come out of these circumstances if I just hang on!

“Job 23:10 “…when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

“James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

“I am here for God’s time! And that timing is always perfect!

“Psalm 31:14—15 “But I trust in you O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands…”

“1 Peter 1:6—7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

“God, please help me to embrace my circumstances of _____________ as a gift from You. Help me to know that You will meet me at my point of need with all the TLC (tender loving care) that I will need. Grant to me the assurance that You will still use me in spite of _______________ , that my life will still have some value to it. Grant me the opportunity to see You at work not only in my life, but through it as well. Oh, God, please embrace me to Yourself. Never let me go. Hold me tight when I cannot hang on. Assure me that together we will be victors over ______________ .

“Today God, I am letting go of my style of pity party in the midst of _______________. Help me God, from this day forward to celebrate Your way with all the style and grace that I can muster.

“I am here God! And I feel Your presence right beside me!”

Tears in a Bottle

Tears!

We all shed them from time to time. Seems like lately I’ve been shedding more than my fair share of them. Morning. Noon. Night. And every time in between. The tears just flow.

I stand at the graveside of my dear mom, whom I lost just a few months ago, and there the tears overtake my soul. I miss my mom! I stand at the grocery store getting ready to buy watermelon popsicles and I burst into tears as I remember that they were the last thing that my mom was able to eat. I stand in worship of my God and begin to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and I cannot finish, for this was my mom’s favorite song. I stand in the shower allowing my tears to mix with the water upon my skin as my body convulses with heart wrenching sobs. I don’t like grief! The tears just flow.

About a month after her passing, I was sorting out some cards and letters in my desk and found a birthday card that my mom sent to me. Seeing her handwriting made me cry. Realizing that I would never get another birthday card from her again made me cry. Reading a letter from her, written at the time I was a missionary teacher in Scotland, brought yet even more tears to my eyes. Baking cookies reminds me of mom. Working in my garden reminds me of mom. Seeing a needlepoint picture she made for me hanging on the wall brings back memories mixed with tears. Fixing a cup of tea and wishing I could share another “cuppa” with my mom brings on the tears as I remember many a conversation together over a cup of tea. I miss those chats. Little things. Memories. Pictures. More memories. Favorite sayings, bible verses, songs, movies, and more. More memories. The tears just flow.

I have not been able to write my blog for several months now. Oh, I have plenty that I would like to say. But the words are hard to find. The thoughts flee from my brain too quickly. The grief overtakes my heart. The tears just flow.

Yet, through the grief, heartache and tears, I know I am being comforted by the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). I know that He sees my tears! I also know that He understands my tears! I know that my tears matter to Him!

He sees my tears! Each and every one. I love the fact that I do not have to hide my tears from Him. God knows my heart, my grief, my great loss and He longs to comfort me. He is comforting me! In ways I never thought possible, God is my God of comfort. When the tears begin to flow, I feel His presence. I know He is there. No words are needed. The tears just flow. And that is enough. For God sees my tears!

He understands my tears! My God of all comfort knows that this heart is broken. He knows I’m grieving. He sees the same memories that I do, and He understands what my heart is feeling in that moment. He knows what triggers the tears to flow. He knows what crazy yet simple things will set me off in a shower of tears. He totally understands those crazy yet simple things. And the best part is this: He understands, better than anyone else, what will bring me comfort. He meets me at my point of need and gives me exactly what I need in that moment. He will even eat chocolate ice cream with me (the best ever comfort food!). He understands my tears!

My tears matter to Him! Not one tear will fall without His notice. Not one tear will be shed without His concern. Tears matter to my God of all comfort. My tears matter. No matter how often they are shed, or how intensely they fall, my tears matter.

The Psalmist David wrote about tears: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8 NKJV). I don’t know about you, but I need to picture that.

The God of all comfort, loves and cares about me enough in my time of grief that He sees every tear that I shed and He collects them in a bottle. Every teardrop is a reminder of His love and care. My tears are precious to my God of all comfort! Why?

Oh, I have been asking that question a lot lately. Perhaps I just have a hard time believing that God would care that much about little old me. At times, when I am crying, I feel unworthy of His comfort. Perhaps I can not wrap my head around that truth because I was always taught “be strong, don’t cry!” That’s just bad advice. That kind of advice should never be given to someone who has a need to cry. Never! There are times when we need to cry. There are times when we want to cry. There are times that other people in our lives just need to let us cry. God does! He knows our need to cry. He knows our desire to cry, and He especially loves it when we cry out to Him. He allows us time to cry. Each and every tear we shed is important to Him, that’s why He lets us cry. Each and every tear is a tremendous reminder that there is a God who loves us and is waiting to comfort us in our time of crying. We need to cry!

Maybe God collects our tears in a bottle because what matter to us matters to Him! It matters to God that my mom died. She was His child too and He loved her just as much as He loves me. He loves my family even more than my mom did and He loves to comfort us all in our sorrow and tears.

My broken, grieving heart matters to Him. He does not love that some experience had to break my heart. But He loves what happens in my heart when it is broken. My heart is open, moldable, empty and desperate for Him. When I give God my broken heart, my poured out tears, and my soul’s grief, He fills that heart with more of Himself. He collects my tears. He mends my broken heart. He pours on His comfort. He transforms my grief. He turns my heartache into hope. He restores my soul.

My tears matter to my God of all comfort!

I am so blessed by that truth. Blessed to have a God who loves and cares for me that much. Blessed to be able to shed my tears unashamedly in His presence. Blessed by His comfort.

The tears just flow!

Each one collected in a bottle by the God of all comfort!

What Motivates You to Pray?

What motivates you to pray? What is your motive for starting a prayer life? What motivates you to have a conversation from time to time with your God?


Now, there’s some questions to ponder upon throughout your day today! Here’s how a couple of my friends replied to those questions:

“A prayer life for me was a process of going through the motions. I was a Christian, went to church every week. I did what was expected of me. But then I stopped praying.”


“As the years have drifted by, for me it was all about the mechanics of prayer and Bible study and going to church. My motivations were all wrong, of course. But if I’m completely honest, I have to admit that very little seemed to sink in. I was in full blown “spoon-fed” mode. I was much too caught up in playing the part of a Christian to be concerned with the depth of my spiritual life. Occasionally a crisis would pop up on the horizon, and I would pray as hard as I could. God wasn’t fooled by my emergency mode prayers. I could almost imagine Him saying, “How come you never talk to Me unless you’re in some kind of trouble?” A valid point, considering I’d basically ignored Him Monday through Saturday. Okay, most of Sunday too.”


“I became motivated to pray when I lost my job and my family nearly lost our home. I felt I was forced to pray to God for help. I at least understood that God could help me.”


“Motivation in prayer came to me when I was at camp. The speaker was pretty forceful about “developing a prayer life with God.” So, I guess more out of fear, I started praying that week of camp. By the end of the week, I started enjoying my chats with God and wanted to keep having them every day. I did okay for awhile but then started slacking off again.”


“My motivation comes from my relationship with Him. He loves me and I know that so well. But I want to love Him too. And I just figure that we have to talk, to share, to spend time together if that love relationship between me and God will ever grow.”


What is your motivation to pray?


I think, as Christians, each of our answers, could be as alike or as different from the next person. I think, while we each might have a relationship with God, each relationship is different and in a different place from the next person. In other words, I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to those questions. Yet, I do believe that they are good questions to think about.


I have to tell you that a teenage student of mine asked me that question – what is your motivation to pray? – a few months ago. And yes, I needed some time to reflect and consider my honest answer to that question. I actually made a list of various answers I could give my student. All of which were true, at various points of my life, and within different circumstances that I was going through at the time. Here’s some of what was on my list:

a need for God’s help

a friend that asked me to pray for them

an emergency situation

a big decision that I need to make and didn’t know what to do

a challenge from the pastor at church to pray more

a specific prayer request

a heavy financial need

and so many more self motivation points!


But do you know, at the end of my thinking about it, I simply had to change the question. Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted to change my student’s question. I needed to change it for my own thinking. But I also wanted to challenge my student to think deeper into their own question. Perhaps we all should change that question.


So, consider this – – God, what do YOU want my motivation to be in prayer?


I began to ask God that question. And I waited for His answer. It came just a few days later, in my bible reading of the day. From Psalms 63 and the very first verse. One verse, that was all I read that day. That one verse gripped my heart like none other had for quite a while. One verse, stuck in my memory for over a week, as God ministered the meaning of that one verse to my needy heart and soul. One verse answered my question and changed my viewpoint as to what motivates me to pray. Here is that one verse:


“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You. . . So I have looked for You. . . “


God should be my motivation to pray!

A desire to grow my relationship with my God should be the only motivation I need to pray! For “You are my God!”

My thirsty soul should be my motivation to pray!

The longing of my heart, body and flesh should be my motivation to pray!

God should be all the motivation I need to pray – to talk to – to converse with – to communion with – to bond with – to unite with – to dwell with – – God should be all the motivation I need!

So, I will look for Him! I will seek after Him! I will begin a conversation with Him!

Through the avenue of prayer, I will be motivated to grow my personal relationship with Him!


O God, You are my God! I love praying to You!

The Cry Must Come Before the Calm!

“Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:28-31 (NJKV).

I am pretty certain that everyone who stops by and reads my blog page is quite familiar with “the storms of life.” Cloudy skies, gusting winds, stormy waters, and pouring rain are all signs of STORM within the atmosphere. Yet these same signs can be present in our daily lives as we experience storms in our homes, our relationships, our work places, our communities, and in our own bodies. Storms can build up and roll in gradually, or come about quickly, almost unexpected. Storms howl and hinder and create the worst kind of havoc. Storms can be utterly devastating, leaving a path of destruction in its wake that is hard to recover from. No one likes to go through a period of storms in their life. Yet, each one of us, at one point of time or another, will experience the storms of life.

The question is, what do we do in the midst of those storms? How do you cope with them? Is it possible to survive the worst of the storms, and come out of it in one piece? What can we do to help weather the storms of life when they hit us? I’d like to share ten things that we need to know about the storms of life. Ten things that just might help us survive and come out of the storm only to find rest in a safe, calm haven.

  1. Storms come to us all. Every one of us will face times in life when the seas rumble and roar around us, when our ships (our very beings) are tossed to and fro, when we fear for our very lives, when we simply don’t know what to do. We can expect storms as a part of our living.
  2. Storms can (and often do) come at us unexpectedly. They have a way of catching us off guard. They can even throw us overboard if we are not careful.
  3. When we are caught in that tempestuous storm of life, and we are being tempest-tossed by the wind and waves, know that there is a Master of that storm. Someone is in control of it. Our storm of life may be a storm that we brought on ourselves by something that we did. Our storm of life may be a tool that Satan is using to cause havoc and shipwreck and even ruin. Our storm of life may be guided by God to bring us to a point of faith and trust in Him alone. And we have to know that if God is the Master of our storm, then this storm will not cease until the Master says, “Peace, be still!”
  4. During our storm of life, we can choose to aimlessly drift as the storm rages around us. But this choice comes with a serious warning: More damage to our vessel is caused by aimlessly drifting, and shipwreck is almost certain. Prepare a plan in advance, consider what you will do when the storms come. Have a plan of action. Plan not to drift about aimlessly.
  5. During the storm of life we can choose not to despair. Yes, we may have to ride the storm out, and endure whatever comes our way. But as we ride the wave, we need not despair. Seek God in the storm. Set our eyes upon Him, watch for His deliverance and we will not despair. Hang on to the hope that He gives us for such a time. Hope in His presence, for He is with you in the storm. Hope in His purpose; every storm has a purpose, and in time, God will reveal that to you. Hope in His promises; oh so many of God’s precious promises can be claimed during the storm. There is no need to despair when we have a solid hope that is found in our Savior.
  6. During the storm, drop your anchor! For the Christian, our anchor is the very Word of God! Wrap your heart around that anchor, drop it into the storm – it will help you remain steady, strong, and stable. As the winds and waves whip around you, God’s Word is the anchor that enables you to focus not upon the storm as much as the Master of the storm. Get into God’s Word; read it, meditate upon it, obey it, wrap your heart and soul around it. Let God’s Word be the anchor that it is to you!
  7. During the storm, don’t forget about nourishment. We need the spiritual nourishment of God’s Word in our heart and life during any storm. But we also need to be reminded at times, to seek physical nourishment. Eat well. Eat often. Eat even when you don’t feel like it. Eat and nourish your body, heart and soul.
  8. Wait out the storm. No matter how long, wait it out. No matter how battered you feel, wait it out. No matter if you feel all hope is gone (if God is present, hope is still there!), wait it out. No matter if you crash, wait it out. God has a purpose for the storm of life you endure, wait it out. He wants you to learn valuable lessons, wait it out. He wants to be your savior in that storm, wait it out. He wants to hear your cries for help, and as you pray to Him, wait it out. He wants to show you what He can do, wait it out.
  9. At the end of the storm, praise the God of the storm. Praise Him all the more when He speaks peace into your storm and brings calm back into your life. Praise God for His grace in the midst of that storm. It is by grace and grace alone that we have come through the storms of life. We will survive to tell the story of the storm.
  10. Don’t be afraid to share your personal story of storms you have endured. For in the sharing, you may be the instrument God uses to help save another in their storm. Your story will inspire those who hear it. Your story can be used to save a life. Your story will bring praise, honor and glory to your God.

Storms of life happen! To all of us. When the storms of life come, know that you are never alone in the midst of them. God will be ever present with you in the storm. He keeps His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Never be afraid to call out to God during your next storm. He will be listening for your cry. And He will answer you. In Him and His Word, through His grace, you will find an anchor for your soul, that will carry you safely through the storm. But remember, the cry must come before the calm! Trust your next storm of life to the One who hears your cry and to the One who brings the calm after the storm. He will carry you through the storm to a place of calm and safe haven!