Thoughts on Prayers

A guest post by Beth Beutler

“Send your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes.”

“I’m so sorry. You are in my thoughts and prayers.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

In a world that is often decidedly not interested in serious prayer, we do see a lot of “thoughts and prayers” being offered when things get tough.  And things have been extra tough of late.  But how meaningful are these “thoughts and prayers,” really?

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PRIVATE PRAYER

downywoodpecker

A downy woodpecker like the one above visited the tree beside our balcony this morning as I was enjoying my private prayer time.

As I watched this cute little bird flutter around from branch to branch pecking at the bark, I found myself singing internally a praise song to the Lord.

My heart filled with joy to have a sighting of this cute bird.

At other times, my private prayer time is inside my home but where I can look out onto my balcony area.

Gazing on wildlife frequently brings me to praise and worship of my Lord as I also meditate upon His word to receive instructions for my day.

It is my habit to spend time in private prayer and reflection with my Lord.

  • Why do I practice this habit of private prayer and reflection?
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Being Grateful During Difficulties

grateful

I was distracted.

Shortly before I sat down at the computer to write we received news that a family member has entered the active dying phase.

Instead of writing a post for this blog what I really wanted to do was mindlessly play a card game on my computer or watch a movie where I did not have to think much about the plot line but just enjoy the scenery, clothing, or humor.

But instead, I texted friends who I knew I could ask to pray for the situation.

Each of them responded to me with a short prayer and encouragement.

I then opened my planning schedule to see what verse of scripture I had planned to work on today and read these words:

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CONSTANTLY DEVOTED

devoted relationship
  • What relationship in your life would you describe as constantly devoted?
  • What other words would you use to describe the relationship in addition to constantly devoted?
  • Persistent?
  • Faithful?
  • Loyal?
  • Others?
  • What elements of the relationship make it one that is constantly devoted?
  • Are you someone else’s constantly devoted relationship?
  • What does Romans 12:12 have to do with being constantly devoted in relationship?
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FLASH FLOODING

flash flooding

This past week has had five straight days of rain in my area.

Flash flooding alerts were prevalent.

Power outages occurred from the flash flooding in some cases.

In addition to the literal flash flooding of the past week there has been emotional flash flooding in my extended family.

  • What flash flooding have you been dealing with recently?
  • Emotional, spiritual, physical, or mental flash flooding?
  • Maybe several flash floods are occurring in your life or someone you know simultaneously?
  • How can Psalm 69 help us with the flash flooding that occurs in our lives?
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BALCONY TIME

Balcony Time

 This morning included some balcony time.

The weather was just cool enough with an occasional breeze to be able to enjoy while simply being.

Balcony time is precious to me.

Whether shared with my husband, canine(s), others, or just the Lord it is a therapeutic place for me.

At times the just me and the Lord time on the balcony is critically needed.

It is a time of solitude and isolation from all the pressures I face throughout a day, week, month, year and so on.

In other words, a place to hideout and be refreshed by the Lord.

Kind David in the Old Testament expresses in his many psalms a need to have an audience with the Lord.

Today we will look specifically at Psalm 54.

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EFFECTIVENESS IN PRAYER

squirrel effectiveness

Several years ago, my husband hung a large birdfeed er from a tree limb in our yard.

We were eager to see what birds would find their way to this bountiful buffet of seeds.

Yes, we got birds, but we also got squirrels.

These squirrels, and possibly one specific rodent, were quite effective at getting seed from the feeder even though it had a rounded dome on top that was meant to deter them.

They were quick to figure out that if they simply chewed through the wire that the feeder was hanging on it would drop to the ground causing the domed lid to come off and spill all the seed on the ground.

My husband even hung the feeder with a stainless-steel cable that they chewed through before trying an 6- gauge copper wire.

This last wire was looking good for a while. But then we noticed that a squirrel was trying to chew through it too.

What does the effective tenacity of these squirrels have to do with effectiveness in prayer as discussed in James 5:16?

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What Does it Take to Succeed in Prayer?

Chickadee

Have you ever watched a chickadee learn to land on a feeder?

One morning when I looked out our window to check the status of our bird feeder, I had the opportunity to see baby chickadees attempting to master this exact skill.

They would sit on the tree branch nearby and ruffle their feathers several times before making each attempt to land on the feeder.

Mostly that day they kept missing the mark, skidding, and fluttering down to the ground.

But then, after a moment to compose themselves, they would swoop back up to the tree branch and try again.

Yes, at times they would miss the tree branch too!

I marveled at their tenacity and resilience to keep trying.

Even more amazing, by the next morning these tiny creatures had mastered this new skill.

It was astonishing to see them zipping from branch to feeder to branch to ground and back again looking like total experts at what just the day before was filled with so much failure.

What can we learn from the example of the chickadees above and Matthew 21:22 to succeed in prayer?

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THE CHALLENGE OF RECIPROCITY

Last week we looked at the importance of reciprocity as found in Matthew 6:14 where Jesus elaborates on one of the petitions within the sample prayer we refer to as the Lord’s prayer. (See Matthew 6:12.)

After concluding the sample prayer, Jesus confirms with Matthew 6:14 that the Lord to whom one should pray will forgive us as we forgive others.

Then comes the “but” or what I’m referring to as the challenge of reciprocity found in Matthew 6:15.

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