Category Archives: Prayer

Between the feast and the famine <3

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It has been a little soggy here in corn and bean country this spring. 

Fields that are usually sprouting neat little rows of the summer crop have not even been plowed over.

And quite honestly, a lot of them look like they have sprouted rivers and ponds instead of the stuff we rely on around here to feed our families and keep the economy going. 

Over the weekend as we dried out from a soccer game played in the pouring rain and saw the forecast of more rain through the coming week, Russ reminisced about a time several years ago when we were all praying for rain. 

It was a drought year on top of a drought year and people were desperate enough for rain that they started calling us together for prayer meetings.

We attended one that was so strange to our normal way here even for us who live as followers of Christ. 

One of the leaders of the agricultural community called a prayer meeting and farmers and citizens and a collection from all walks of life and faith backgrounds showed up and we prayed and we asked God for rain. 

The weather forecasters had predicted another dust bowl and it certainly appeared we were headed that way. 

But we prayed. 

And apparently the drought ended, because I had totally forgotten about the whole threat until Russ mentioned it. 

One of the down sides of living in a land or a season where things are just going well and nothing really too terrible is shaking things up is that we are forgetful people. 

We fail to heed the warning 

11-16 Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God,

the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;

the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness,

those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;

the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock;

the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.

17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

Deuteronomy 8: 11-18 The Message

We are indeed forgetful people until things get disrupted enough to gain our attention. 

Oh to remember in the best of seasons to live with gratitude to God from whom all blessings flow and to cry out to Him with the same desperation our need for Him is worthy of before we are living in a flood or a drought and realize how far we have removed ourselves from Him. 

That is the goal…

to reduce the cycle of forgetfulness so that in all seasons we are mindful that all things are from His hand. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down to us from above…from God the Father…who never changes nor shifts. There are no shadows in Him…only pure Light and Life….

James 1:17 my paraphrase <3

The Lost things <3

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A number of years ago I bid on and “won” a painting at the New Life Pregnancy Center annual auction. 

I loved the colors and the texture but most of all I love that down the narrow side edge of the canvas the artist has written these words…

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How fragile we are…

Yes, yes… indeed.

I found a perfect spot for it in our front hallway, but during Christmas and the following months into spring I replace it with more holiday themed hangings. 

Well, the time came this week that I needed to locate it and I searched all over the house for it without success for several days. 

I have a method for finding things we can’t locate and our family knows if they can’t find something they will get the same advice every time. 

I pray a simple prayer saying basically –

God you know where this item is. Please lead me to where it was placed. Help me remember where I put it or point me to where it has been tucked away.

As I wait and listen with my spirit ears, I will get an impression of a spot. 

Sometimes it takes awhile for me to hear it right. 

Like the time John headed off to college after the summer and asked me if I could locate his student ID.

I prayed my prayer, and I kept being led to the key rack by the back door. 

But it wasn’t there. 

So I would pray again and I searched his room and the kitchen drawers and everywhere I could think of, even though I kept being led back to the key rack by the back door. 

I was quite frustrated because it was evident every time that clearly no long ORU lanyard was hanging on the key rack. 

John told me no worries and he got a replacement ID made. 

A few days later, I was pulling something out of the little shelves above the key rack and guess what I found. 

The ID sans lanyard had been stashed there in May by our boy. 

God knew. 

I had my mind set on what I pictured the ID to look like. 

I was looking for a lanyard…not an ID.

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I must have learned my lesson from that experience, because as I prayed for where our missing painting might be I kept getting an impression that I had placed it on a shelf in my closet. 

I went there numerous times and even checked all the other closets and every possible drawer, behind furniture and under beds. 

But it kept coming to me to go to my closet. 

Finally I got a step stool out and as I gained a foot and half of height, I could see the narrow edge of canvas tucked just out of view on the top shelf of the place God had taken me over and over.

Hallelujah!

God knows how to find lost things, you know.

It’s His specialty. 

He knows just where the lost are to be found and perhaps if we would stop and pray and then listen with our hearts…if we quit looking for how we think they should appear and trust where He is leading us…we just might reclaim more of the lost than we ever dreamed possible. 

Just a thought. 

Be blessed today….you are loved <3

Back to Ezekiel <3

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I kind of checked out of sharing about the Ezekiel study this week. 

Partly because I didn’t get to hear the sermon until Monday and also the material is as graphic and rough as the first week was fantastical and other-worldly. 

But I would be remiss to skip the more unpleasant aspects of how doing this study with our church family has been working on me. 

So welcome to a glimpse into my journal entries from Monday this week.

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The passage was Ezekiel 4 and the first question from the study guide asked about an area where God might be calling me to repentance. 

I was slightly offended at how little time it took God to help me fill in the answer. 

Just kidding. 

He is God after all and it is His way to be direct with me so here was my fairly immediate response:

Two things come to mind this morning that I have recently been strongly convicted about

1. The “sin of prayerlessness” as Andrew Murray calls it in several of his books

and

2. The sin of slander

First off: Regarding #1… yes, I lead three prayer teams at our church and yes, you would think I pray all the time.

And while I do pray, the reality is that my prayer life has become weak, powerless and dead of late. 

And when I look critically at the reason for this I see clearly the sin of unbelief. 

I could blame that on a lot of different things but in the end it comes down to the fact that I have let my doubt become bigger than our God.

As for the sin of slander: for way too long my thoughts and my mouth tend to lean toward words that do not edify or build up but rather take swipes…sometimes out loud… but more often in my inner conversations. 

Both are equal in the eyes of God – the seen and heard and the ones buried deep inside of me. He knows the heart and what doesn’t get said matters as much as what does.

When I lay that out for consideration I can see the root of bitterness has fueled this sin. 

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The next question in the study asked me what it would look like to turn from my sin and turn toward God. 

So as I examined my sinful bent and the roots that were behind them, I came up with this;

Acknowledging that my unbelief and bitterness ARE Sin – and thus as disgusting to God as cooking my evening meal over a pile of human excrement

Gross?

Very….

(look up the passage and read Ezekiel 4)….

To OWN this as my own sin and to confess and agree with God that this IS indeed SIN

and then to ask for forgiveness and to REPENT

to make every effort to walk away from both of these sins and choose to live in complete contrast to them…that is what is called for in response to the work of God in me through the series we have been looking at the past two Sundays.

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And here is the prayer I wrote in conclusion:

Heavenly Father, I am confessing to you how I have let hopelessness and unbelief take precedence over faith and the Hope that is in me through the work of Jesus Christ alone. 

I also confess my sin of bitterness and envy and a critical spirit that have found a greater place in my heart than the love I should have in You. 

I have not followed Your command to rid myself of doubt, envy, wrath, anger and malice but have let my own pride and sense of self-righteousness to rule my thoughts and words and actions. 

I have spoken ill of people to make me feel better about my circumstances.

When I envy others in what they have been given or for what they have accomplished – in Your sight this is the same as if I  hoped for them to fail.

This is sinful and as disgusting to you as human excrement. 

Father, I confess this has been my heart attitude.

I ask you to forgive me LORD and I know that I am forgiven in Christ – my LORD and Savior. 

I do repent but also fear the depth of sin in me – I ask You to help me LORD to turn from this and to choose Your way only. I ask in Jesus’ Name. 


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The final question was what action steps I can take to show my repentance. 

Here are the conclusions I came to after my time in prayer:

<3 Just like the suggestions gleaned from reading “Adorned” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth; aggressively resist mean, jealous and unloving thoughts when they crop up – GET. RID. OF. THEM. 

<3 Pray – start somewhere. Probably for me right now it is best to just open up my Bible and pray directly from Scripture. Ephesians 1 – 3 has always been a good place for me to pray through, so I can start there. Also to use the Scripture prayers provided in several prayer books to get my mind and heart back in the language of prayer. 

There are times when we feel God does not hear or answer our prayers because we do not see anything changing in situations that have made us desperate for His involvement. 

However; the above prayers are something He very quickly has answered…prayer for conviction of my particular sins…prayer for forgiveness…prayer for repentance…prayer for actions steps I can begin to take and prayer for obedience to follow through. 

As I have taken these steps, I have found He has heard and answered with abundant mercy and grace. 

No matter how far we move away from Him, the moment we turn back He is already there to meet us and help us. 

There is only ONE God, three in One, and He is full of mercy and kindness and grace for all who will return to Him <3


Easy as (a pizza) pie <3

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Hello and happy Friday to you!

Here in the Midwest we have been having major scares regarding upcoming storm systems. 

Cue the mad dash to all grocery stores and people stocking up like it will be months before we can get out again. 

With predictions of icy rain falling on the path from our house to the Fab Four’s between midnight on Wednesday and my scheduled Thursday 6 AM departure time, I packed an overnight bag and headed north arriving in time to crash at their house and be ready for action bright and early yesterday morning. 

We had a good day, but it was a long one and some unforeseen events robbed us of nap time for the two littlest ones, so to say Lola was tired by 5 PM is putting it mildly. 

There is a reason we bear our children at young ages and bless God for the energy He must have provided Sarah and Abraham to raise Isaac in their latter years. Talk about miraculous works.

Graham had been picked up for basketball practice and I was serving up plates of pizza and prayed for God to grant us nourishment. They eagerly picked up their slices as the amen fell from my lips.

But as I lifted my own head, I kind of craved being prayed for myself. 

So I just said Lola needs some prayer and immediately both boys dropped their pizza back on their plates and assumed the prayer warrior position. 

While I was really needing prayer to just stay awake long enough to get them fed and bathed before their mom got home with Graham, Emmett launched into a prayer for my safety driving home later. 

He covered the potential for regular snow and the dreaded ‘black snow’… how a five year old could already have picked up a fear of sliding on black ice on the highway is a credit to his genetic link to his grandmother who can work herself into an anxiety attack scanning the road for deer and ice patches…year round. 

In a few sentences he hit on all the potential dangers I might encounter, thanked God for answering and said his amen as he resumed devouring his pizza. Joel peeked over out of the corner of his eye to make sure all was clear and joined in the feast. 

I was humbled beyond words as I felt certain God had leaned forward from His throne and covenanted with Emmett to keep Lola safe. 

Sometimes we make prayer such a big deal. 

Emmett could have quizzed on me on what I thought I needed prayer for, but God had already planted in his little spirit what I really needed prayer for. 

The roads were perfectly dry and free of deer the entire way home. 

My headlights carved out a smooth path as I listened to a sermon and let God’s word sink deep into me. 

Today you may meet a traveler on the journey who just might ask you to pray for something going on in his or her life. 

Don’t promise to pray later.

Don’t ask them how you can pray. 

Just pray. 

Just drop your pizza slice, bow your head and lift up your heart to God for what He might want to do in that precious fellow sojourners life. 

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Praise God from whom all blessings flow … I am lifting each of you who might be reading this in prayer now <3

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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