Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Instant Grace-ification

posted by Mark and Jill

As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.    ~Psalm 138:3

My friend likes to remind me that I might be just one prayer away from my miracle. I like that. And the Psalmist agrees. God isn’t too busy or distracted, he’s not asleep, he’s not involved in some other commitment, and he’s not aloof. He’s attentive to our prayers and answers immediately. That doesn’t mean our prayer is granted instantaneously; he’s not the Great and Powerful Genie who exists to grant my every wish. (He wouldn’t be loving if he were! What a mess we would make of the universe.) But he IS intimately involved in my life and wants to teach me and train me to walk with him hand in hand throughout my days and  to become more and more like him, full of grace, truth, and love.

So when I pray, I can count on his encouragement and his strength to get me through anything. The Lord told Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you.” And it is for you and me as well. His grace and encouragement can strengthen us to withstand anything we are facing today: financial trouble, relational strain, pain, illness, or fear. Let’s pray and receive his encouragement. There is no one on the earth who can’t use a little – or a lot – of that!

My Father,

The instant I breathe a prayer to you, you are listening. And as I pray I know you are building me up, sustaining me through hardships, helping me to rise above the troubled waters and walk on them as I keep my focus on your lovely face and your strong arms and on the compassion in your eyes. I receive your grace today. I lift my hands like a great funnel and receive your encouragement as you pour it on, grace upon grace. And with that, I take on this day unafraid for I am not alone.


“…The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit…” Romans 5:5

A Prayer for Holiday Harmony

posted by Mark and Jill

How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil…
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.

~Psalm 133

When it comes to music, our ears have historically preferred harmony over dissonance. Most of us prefer Mozart to Michael van der Aa. But, while music gives way to taste, when it comes to relational harmony, taste takes a back seat. Harmony always trumps dissonance where relationships are concerned.

It’s the holidays. Relational dissonance looms large to steal our joy, our anointing, and our blessing. Let’s pray for harmony!

My Father,

You know the struggles my family has had in the past, the little disagreements, the difficult personalities, the petty strife. In the past I’ve played into that. I’ve retaliated. I’ve encouraged and promoted it. I’ve been easily irked , ticked, and touchy. Please forgive me, God. I repent and change course. I take up your call to walk in your ways. Before I step into one family gathering, I clothe myself with love and saturate my soul in forgiveness.  I choose to forgive every person. I choose to pre-forgive every insensitive comment, every jab, every stab, every offense even before it occurs. With every bone in my body I will simply walk away from holding a grudge. I leave the consequences to your discretion, Heavenly Father. I will sing in harmony with you.

In Jesus Name and with His help. Amen.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:20-22)

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. (Phil. 2:1,2)

Faith vs. Fear

posted by Mark and Jill

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“Don’t be afraid; just believe…” ~ Jesus (Luke 8:50)

As I was waking up early this morning, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Your faith gives me something to work with.” Since my childhood I (Jill) struggled with fear, mostly phantom fears of my own imagining. But slowly by God’s grace – and with some amount of effort on my part – Jesus is transforming my mind to no longer be fearful but to hold on to the faith I have professed since my childhood but was unable to lay claim to consistently when it came to believing God for myself.

Faith is God’s workshop where He labors to answer my prayers, meet my needs, and to rebuild my life when fear has wrought destruction. Fear is Satan’s playground, the toy he plays with most, the substance that gives him power over my life. And the things I fear can and often do come upon me.

On the other hand, the things I have true faith to believe come upon me as well. God does miracles when we believe in him. What do we do when we need the kind of faith that pleases God? We ask Him for it!

My Father,

You know my heart. I want to please you and walk in your ways, but fear often trips me up and causes me to fail. I do believe. I ask you to increase my faith. Teach me to study your Word, to memorize your Word, and to rejoice and give thanks to you more and more each day as you lead me to a place where my faith can be strong enough to not only move the mountains in my life, but to move mountains on behalf of orphans, widows, prisoners, slaves, addicts, the sick, the destitute, and anyone you put in my path.


Into Africa, Into Ebola with Encouragment

posted by Mark and Jill

“I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” ~ Jesus (John 17:4)

On January 3rd Dr. Lowell Gess of Alexandria, Minnesota will travel to Sierra Leone to bring $100,000 of medical supplies to help against the fight of Ebola in that region. Dr. Gess lived in Sierra Leone as a medical missionary during the 50’s and 60’s while raising his six children. Now at age 93 he wants to return. His mission is encouragement. “Just being there with them facing this terror every day is encouraging because they feel abandoned,” he said to MPR. “They think that the world really has abandoned them.”

Dr. Gess is completing the work God gave him to do. He’s unafraid. Let’s pray for his safety and pray that we could follow his lead, to complete the work God has given us.


We pray Psalm 121 over Dr. Gess:

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

May I follow the lead of this, your servant. To go and do whatever you call me to do, fearless and with joy.



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