Category Archives: Prayer

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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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