Category Archives: Prayer

Christmas Countdown 2018 Day 12

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Good morning my friend and thank you for stopping by for Day 12 of our Countdown. 

I poured over today’s passage quite a bit and my mind mulled over it throughout the day yesterday. 

There is so much more to write about than time or attention by you could allow; so let’s get right to the passage.

I am going to do it a little differently today.

I am using The Message version from Eugene Peterson and sometimes will throw in the Contemporary English Version to expand the thought.

We will take it in pieces and I will add some pondering as we go along.

This is how I read the Bible often when I am journaling in the morning so let’s do it together today, shall we?

As long as I was with them I guarded them in the pursuit of the life you gave them through me (MSG) 

John 17: 12a

So much here.

In yesterday’s passage I didn’t comment on this, but Peterson uses this phrase in verse 11 –

“guard them as they pursue this life.”

This idea of pursuit, the action of pursuing life…this intrigues me. 

So often, I act more like my life is pursuing me. 

My actions reflect an attitude that I am somewhat like a leaf on the top of a flowing river that is my life and it takes me where it will…but these words of Jesus convey the idea that “LIFE” is something I need to be actively going after. 

And that my LIFE is something He gave to me…thus it is worth and worthy of PURSUING. 

This year I have tried to remind myself frequently that my day will go better if I consistently make good choices from the very start.

One good choice leading to another. 

I have a chronic problem of letting time get away with me…see…that river current that I picture as something that controls and moves me along…instead of what Jesus says here about life.

He PRAYS for God to GUARD His disciples, His followers…so they are single minded in the PURSUIT of the life…sorry…but I must emphasize this like I was penning my thoughts in my journal so…

Single minded in the….

PURSUIT 

of

the L.I.F.E.

they had received THROUGH Him <3 

Precious. 

Then He goes on to say…

 I even posted a night watch…(MSG)

John 17:12

Do you know what I thought of when I read this with fresh eyes?

What did Jesus often do when He was traveling with His disciples? 

Well, besides teach and correct and keep them from doing stupid things.

He would go off by Himself to lonely places and pray. 

He would send them on and then pray through the night. 

He would get up early and go off by Himself to pray. 

He PRAYED…and that just might be the night watch He posted. 

So a couple of things on this part:

First, there must be something quite powerful that happens in prayer if the Son of Man guarded His people with it. 

Second, does anybody else freak out just a teeny bit to think how important prayer is and how little we really do it?

Third… and this one will make your head hurt…you and I must come to the realization that while God is Sovereign and we, as Christians, tend to fall back on this idea always that everything will work out because God is in control and we treat our prayer life like it is just something to occupy and calm us while God solves the problem….we really need to recognize that God set it up to work through the prayers of His people…

so get to it, my friend.

Get to it.

Make it your business to prayerfully set up watches in this night season of our country, the Church, your family … all of it.

WWJD?

He would be making prayer a priority. 

And not one of them got away (MSG)…not one of them was lost (CEV) 

except for the rebel bent on destruction (the exception that proved the rule of Scripture) MSG

Here is a time in our journey when I wish I had either not attempted to look closely at a passage OR that I was a true Bible scholar and could help you all out here with the difficult questions we must face. 

We have to acknowledge that Jesus knowingly called a traitor to be one of the twelve. 

We have to scratch our heads and ask…did Judas have a choice…could it have gone the other way? 

Would God hand pick someone to betray His Son or because He is God and knows the end from the beginning, did He just know Judas would do that and so had the prophets tell it in advance?

And as we collectively nod our heads and feel a slight easing of the perplexity this verse introduced…can we just stop and back track to that previous phrase….

As long as I was with them…I guarded them…I even posted a night watch…

Because it would appear that there are options for all of us and even though God knows how it will all turn out, there is work on our part to be done. 

And we have to face the fact that while Jesus prayed for Peter that when he was sifted by Satan, he would come through…so how come he didn’t pray for Judas…or did He and yet, it was destined for Judas to be a …. well…Judas? 

Ah Advent…the tension in the waiting…we feel it today with this passage, don’t we?

Be blessed as you think on this passage today and what God might be speaking to your heart. 

And since I stretched myself and you today…and I love you and can’t stand to leave you on such a challenging thought without something to make you smile…

some pictures Rachel snapped from Saturday…

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pc/Rachel Maxwell
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Let us pray <3

Good morning!

I think, read and talk a lot about prayer. 

I pray a lot. 

And yet like all others of my species, I never feel like I have a full grasp of it. 

I get moments of understanding and I truly believe it is the vehicle God chooses to work through here on planet earth.

But I also know…so well…sometimes He seems to work in spite of our prayers. 

And sometimes it certainly looks like our prayers did not work. 

Oh, yes, I know.

Prayer is conversation. 

And prayer stopped the sun in the sky for three hours.

 Prayer changed pagan king’s minds and hearts and prayer raised dead sons of widows and such. 

But the skeptic and the scoffer will point out that maybe those things would have happened anyway so…what’s the point?

And I don’t have an answer for that kind of doubt. 

But I will tell you this. 

The other day I passed one of the many road crews at work around our city. 

And I slowed waaaaaaayyyyy down long before the guy holding the sign came into view. 

I started slowing as soon as all those orange vests registered in my long view. 

And I commenced to praying and looking for one worker in particular. 

He is the son of dear friends. 

Many years ago when he was just a little kid who was friends with our son, his parents moved down to my pew during the call for prayer time at a Sunday morning service.  

He had hit a little bump in one of his subjects at school and they didn’t want to go all the way down front so they stopped where I was and asked me to pray for him to not struggle with his classes. 

I prayed what was probably the lamest prayer I have ever prayed in my life and as we lifted our heads I wondered if they were kind of regretting the decision to not move all the way down to where the big guns were praying. 

But I kept praying. 

And while I have probably never spoken more than a few sentences at a time with this young man, I carry him in a special place in my heart. 

I feel closer to him than many other young people from that era because of the time I have spent just lifting him in prayer. 

It also affects how I view road crews all around this country as I drive. 

I take those construction signs personally because I know and pray for one of those persons.

And all the men and women in orange construction vests matter much to some other people. 

That couple have become like family to me because we pray for them and theirs…they pray for us and ours.

And it binds us closer every year to the heart of God. 

I don’t have to know how prayer works. 

I don’t have to know why sometimes it seems like it did or it didn’t because I don’t think that was ever the point of why God told us to pray. 

I don’t have an answer for the skeptic or the doubter or the cynic. 

I just know that I know. 

Prayer is a good thing that God wants for His children. 

Jesus prayed. 

He still prays.

I pray.

We pray. 

End of story.

<3

Just a prayer for those in the path of the storm <3

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Do you know what that is?

That’s the imprint of a butterfly wing on my Gdawg’s bug hunting finger.

He loves to catch them and whether he uses a net…

or his sweet little hands…

he gets the job done.

And don’t worry…

the butterfly lived because he’s just that good…

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pc/Rachel <3

I snapped the picture because I couldn’t believe the perfect imprint of the wings left such an impression on his skin.

I understand about imprints and the way living things can be impressed on us.

We have been to the places impacted by storms being reported in the news today.

Cuba…

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Florida…

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there are people all in the path of that storm who have left an imprint on our hearts.

There are people we have never met whose lives and home and stories are shattered by water and wind.

And those people have left an imprint on God’s heart.

And in the midst of it all we turn to Him because we know He could still any storm.

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Yet sometimes He doesn’t.

And we can ask why…but whether He answers or not…and how could we even understand if He did…

He is still God

He is still Sovereign

And even when we cannot understand, we can know…

He is good…

He is faithful…

and so…

like Job, I bow my head and lift up weak hands.

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And I pray….

Heavenly Father,

We asked you to calm the storm, yet it rages on. Homes are destroyed. Schools no longer stand. Businesses are devastated.

Not just in our own country but along small islands where they already had so little.

Our son-in-law just returned fresh from Haiti with pictures of a man smiling as he was handed keys to his brand new home.

And we hear of the island that is so very poor is now rocked with earthquakes.

We wonder…is the work that was done, now undone?

This world is wearing out Lord.

You said it would.

We see the signs and still think we can manage it with politics and technology and enough forecasting by meterologists and scientists and ideology.

But we can’t.

So we spread out our fallen and broken selves before you.

We ask for mercy Lord.

Mercy for ourselves.

Mercy for those who are walking amongst the rubble of what used to be the place of their existence.

And we pray God for eyes to see beyond the temporal of this world.

We have hearts and minds and souls that long for eternity.

In the pain and sorrow and fallen condition of this world, we pray.

Lead us to Your heart.

Amen <3

Of Nehemiah and battle plans and conferences and such…

I am preparing this week to attend the Declare Conference in Dallas again this year. In the summer, the leaders offered an opportunity for us to submit a devotion on what it means to be a warrior.

There was a word limit (oh mercy…help me!) and a time limit that hedged me in because the whole thing was happening as we were getting ready to leave for Cuba.

With work and packing and watching the grands one day, I did a lot of pondering and praying and then tapped it out and many thanks to my dear friend Cindie who edited for me on her phone so I could submit before we left.

I know the suspense is just too much, so it was accepted. I am honored. And here it is for you all to read today. Hope it blesses you in your battles:

A Prayer Warrior like Nehemiah <3

I remember the moment the hope was birthed in my mind that one such as I could be called, one day, a Warrior. 

I…

who avoid conflict at all costs…

who in my younger walk was more prone to compromise in order to maintain a semblance of peace…

could don battle gear and wage war for what mattered most to me. 

On a shelf in a Christian book store, I found a poem depicting someone who, on an eternal “here’s your life” screen, watched the events of his earthly days and noticed that at the greatest points of decision there had been a faceless and fierce warrior who had fended off evil on his behalf. 

Asking who this brave one had been, he was told it was his own mother and her prayers. 

The idea that a mother could wage war in the heavenly realms on behalf of her family was a new concept to me and I began to gather books on the subject of prayer and spiritual warfare. 

But in the pages of the Old Testament I found the model for everyday, ordinary, show-up-and-do-the-thing warfare. 

In Nehemiah I found the model for my daily strategy for prayer warfare. 

Nehemiah was serving the pagan King of Persia when he received word of the broken down walls of Jerusalem. With a heavy heart he sought the Lord. 

Prayer by prayer, he received blessing and provision as he was sent back to God’s Holy City on a mission of restoration. 

Nehemiah faced many challenges from those working against God’s best plan for His people. 

It is this same enemy who would keep me feeling weak and ineffective as I war in prayer for our family. 

He uses the same tactics on me as he did Nehemiah. 

Discouragement…

Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and moved the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samaritan officers, “What does this bund of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing? Do they think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap – and charred ones at that? Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him said, “That stone wall would collapse even if a fox walked along the top of it.”  Nehemiah 4:2-3  NLT

I hear my enemy hiss…

What are you trying to do? The tide of culture is greater than your efforts to raise your children to follow Jesus. The damage is too great. Your efforts are too small. You are trying to build out of wishful thinking and it will not stand. 

Fear….

 

Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply. The fifth time, Sanballat’s servant came with an open letter in his hand, and this is what it said, “There is a rumor among the surrounding nations, and Geshem tells me it is true, that you and the Jews are planning to revel and that is why you are building the wall. According to his reports, you plan to be their king. He also reports that you have appointed prophets to problem about you, ‘Look! There is a king in Judah!’ You can be very sure that this report will get back to the king, so I suggest you come and talk it over with me.” Nehemiah 6:4-7  NLT

 The enemy delights to throw more on me than I can handle and then remind me of a history of past failures. 

Betrayal…

Later I went to visit Shemaiah son of Delaiah and grandson of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home. He said, “Let us meet together inside the Temple of God and bolt the doors shut. Your enemies are coming to kill you tonight.:

But I replied, “Should someone in my position run from danger? Should someone in my position enter the Temple to save my life? No, I won’t do it!”

I realized that God had not spoken to him, but that he had uttered this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. The were hoping to intimidate me and make me sin. Then they would be able to accuse and discredit me. Nehemiah 6:10-13 NLT

 I can be thrown into confusion when the ones who should be supporting me attempt to convince me that God has abandoned the effort. 

Just as I was able to recognize the elements of the enemy’s attacks on my prayers for our children, I could look to the same passages in Nehemiah to see God’s battle plan to press on. 

I see a posture humility as he fasted and prayed. 

I see courage to stand against forces working against God’s plan for the people He loved. 

I find the seeds of a warrior’s prayer in Nehemiah 4:14.

I base my prayer on the words of Nehemiah and I battle on my knees.

Oh God, I will not be afraid. I will remember Your great and awesome power. I will press on. Equip me to fight for my family each day, knowing you are for us. Strengthen me when I feel weak and lead me daily into battle. All for Your Name and glory. 

Hello, it’s me <3

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Hello and happy Friday to you, 

I hope you have had a good week and you are enjoying some cooler Fall weather. 

Last night I was driving home from up north. It was time most people are home watching the evening news and preparing from bed. Across the prairie I could see headlights moving in the fields. I assume some farmers were working to get their crops in while the weather is good. I have a farmer friend and I thought of his wife maybe home waiting for him and the long day he had spent in that tractor. 

A plane flew overhead and I thought of the passengers going somewhere or headed home. I have been on those late night flights, trying to catch a little rest as you rub elbows with total strangers and the engine hum keeps you from really resting. On the other end, there would be baggage to collect and transportation to work out and either a hotel room or your own bed to collapse into.

I passed little towns and lanes where people I love live. In some of the homes are some great joys and in others deep sorrows. And in some just a little mixture of both in the midst of the daily normal that is this season in their home.

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There were other travelers out with me. Not a lot, but enough I didn’t feel alone. And there was the residual vigilance of watching the sides of the road for a deer that might decide to cross just as I was passing by. I hit one once and it has forever left its imprint on me when I drive through the farmland after dark. 

Thanks to satellite radio I had a steady flow of praise music and so it was inside that little black Toyota Camry I found a sanctuary of grace. 

I lifted prayers and praise for things I know and things I thought about.

Yet again. 

I drive that road a lot. 

Sometimes in stillness and sometimes listening to a sermon and sometimes with music. 

I mull things over and I talk to God and I wonder often…is this really prayer? Am I talking at God or to God? Am I hearing from Him or just working out of my own thoughts? 

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Then I pray with the teen prayer team and hear how they talk to God or listen to our daughter pray over her boys as they wiggle in between us after stories when I am helping get them down for the night or I hear the prayers lifted by my own husband while our dinner plates wait. 

And I hear their words, spoken in their own language and their own ways, expressing what is on the heart. Just talking to God for our needs, for the needs of others, for the stuff that is overwhelming us and the things for which we marvel at what He has done, the things we hope will happen and the things we fear that might happen.

Yes. This is prayer. 

Wordless tears and hard questions, many words or few…talking to God. Trusting and believing He is…and He cares…and He will intervene in ways beyond our understanding. Knowing, always, He is faithful. 

Our family has been on the receiving end of prayers answered many times that we know of and oh so many that we were unaware of. We are thankful for the prayers of our friends and our family and it is an honor and privilege to pray for others. 

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Prayer is not a burden or an obligation. It is a blessed gift of communication with our Father, who knows the end from the beginning and in all things, works for our good. 

I pray, sincerely and honestly, right now for each of you that you know His comfort and His presence and His love through the power of Holy Spirit today. 

I have been absent from the blog this week as other needs were pressing for my time, but you have been in my thoughts and prayers even as I have been away. I trust God is moving in each of your lives and I hope and pray today that you are able to see His goodness and grace and mercy poured out on you and those you love <3