Daily Bread

by Janet Holm McHenry

My faithful car of ten years gave up the ghost a couple weekends ago. I was headed to a retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains, when the car would not shift into an upper gear. The transmission then pretty much died on a busy freeway in Sacramento. I somehow I hobbled my way back a half dozen miles to my sister and brother-in-law’s home.

“Is there any way I could borrow a car?” I asked.

Fortunately, they had one available vehicle, but it was one of their two giant, 15-passenger daycare vans. With quick instructions and a prayer, I climbed up into the driver’s seat and continued on my way to the Santa Cruz Mountains for the three-day event. Two days later, my dear husband brought his car hauler down and hauled my car home one hundred miles over the Sierras to the car boneyard on his ranch.

So now, temporarily, I am driving a 1997 Cadillac two-door Eldorado. In other words, I am your grandmother cruising down the highway with her bottom almost touching the road. It’s a decent car, really, but not one that will do well when winter hits. And snow has already fallen on the Sierras a few times in the past week.

Normally I would be freaking out, but I have a sense of peace about the next car God will provide, because I know God is in the business of daily bread.

When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, more than once he taught principles about prayer and even provided a model prayer for the disciples:

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV).

Tucked in the center of that prayer is a simple request: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus was teaching that it’s okay to ask for the simplest of needs—even food for the table. If I need money to pay the bills, it’s okay to ask. If I need money to pay my kid’s tuition, I should seek after him. If I need a new car that will navigate snow, I should just pray for it.

So here’s my prayer: “Lord, you have always provided for me. I do not need anything fancy and trust you for whatever vehicle you want me to have. And I thank you for hearing my prayer.”

And while I believe in a God who does BIG things, I am not going to do a name-it-claim-it kind of prayer. It’s just a car. And I will be thankful for whatever God has for me.

Prayer is simple. We just ask. Nothing fancy. Nothing dramatic. No visions of grandeur. And when I pray these daily bread prayers, I always say, “Your will be done”…and then wait for him to answer, which he always does.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Will Change Your Life Today. She is the director of the prayer ministries of The Bridge Church in Reno, Sierra County (CA) coordinator for the National Day of Prayer, and creator of Prayer School, an online course in prayer. Janet loves to hear from readers: www.janetmchenry.com.

The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Can Change Your Life Today

Join the conversation: What needs have you prayed about recently?

No English Garden

by Janet Holm McHenry

Yesterday I mowed the back yard…then thatched it…then mowed again to pick up the thatch.

As I pushed those contraptions, I bemoaned the fact that I never got my English garden in my back yard. When we first started the landscaping process, I planted 42 rose bushes. I had hoped for a hedge that would bloom all summer long with abundant pinks and reds. I had dug the holes for all those bushes and planted and cared for them myself—arduous work.

My husband Craig wasn’t crazy about the idea. “You’re hemming in the kids’ whiffle ball field.”

The next spring all those rose bushes were dead—nothing but easily pulled-up dry sticks. However, a clear outline of the whiffle ball infield remained.   

No English garden. Just a whiffle ball field.

In another season I thought I’d try a variety of perennials. My youngest and I dug up a large kidney-shaped area and planted all kinds of plants that were guaranteed to come back season after season.

But the next year they looked worse than the previous one, and eventually I was just left with a couple in my kidney-shaped rock garden that was mostly rocks. Craig had been right when he had said, “It’s never going to work, Janet. Your garden is right in the middle of left field.”

No English garden. Just a whiffle ball field.

But as I looked over a massive area of thatch that I’d pulled from the sod, I realized that I did indeed have a back yard garden. Every time my grandkids came over and played whiffle ball with my husband—their “Pop”—they were blooming in not only their physical and mental abilities but also their relationship with their grandfather. And he was blooming too–with the joy of hanging out with six (or even ten when the others are visiting) young people who begged him to play ball. My prayers for a garden had been answered—just a bit differently than I had pictured.

Scripture teaches us that God hears our prayers. He knows our wants and desires, so it can be confusing when our prayers are not answered in the way we want. However, His view is longer and wider than our limited vision. We see the here and now, but He knows exactly what will truly meet our greatest needs and make us more loving, faith-filled, and generous of spirit. 

I can always visit flower gardens elsewhere. For now I’ll look over my back yard whiffle ball field and be thankful that God did indeed answer my desires for a garden of life.

Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see. 2 Kings 19:16 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry and her husband Craig raised four pretty good whiffle ball players at their home in the Sierra Valley of northeastern California. A national speaker, she is a former educator and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. More about Janet, including her writing coach business, can be found at janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Has God ever changed your plans? Please share!

It’s Personal

by Janet Holm McHenry

I was raised going to church.

Every Sunday we five kids put on our best clothes and headed out the door with Mom and Dad. My sister Nan and I were old enough to sing in the girls’ choir, so for the first service we donned choir robes and sang from sideways pews up the steps by the altar.

My not-very-vast understanding of the faith came from habits. Rituals. You went to church. You said the faith responses. You said the prayers. You sang the hymns. You did your best to stay awake during the sermon. Church was the foundation of my faith all through high school.

And then, during the summer after my senior year of high school, we learned our married minister had been seeing the women’s ministries director. All of a sudden, the foundation of my faith crumbled. If the leader of the church failed, what was that faith thing all about anyway?

I went off to college, where learning seemingly became more of a life foundation. Then, in my sophomore year my roommate and a friend took me to a free movie: For Pete’s Sake. The main character Pete was a mess of wrong thinking and behavior but learned that he could experience freedom through a personal relationship with Christ.

Personal.

That word kept bouncing around in my head. Faith could and should be personal? Others were not responsible for my faith? I could have a personal relationship with God simply by my choice to believe and put my faith in Jesus?

I made a commitment to follow Christ that night. And I learned that church was never meant to be a faith foundation; it’s simply there for fellowship with other believers, for a forum for worshipping the God who desires that we have a relationship with Him, and for challenge for personal growth.

I now go to church because I love being with others who also follow the God I love. I go to church to be challenged by God’s Word. And I go to church to worship. While I can sing that music from home, I know that attending church is critical to my spiritual formation and for the expression of my faith.

Church is not my foundation, but it encourages me to keep looking up.

We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. Galatians 2:16 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry is a speaker and author of 24 books—six of those on prayer including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. For almost 40 years, she has lived in the Sierra Valley of northern California, where her husband is a cattle rancher and where she taught high school English. She would love to connect with you on social media and through her Looking Up! website: https://www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: When did you go from your family’s faith to a personal relationship with God?

From Hurt to Forgiveness

by Janet Holm McHenry

Ever had someone cuss you out in a nonstop blue streak of the worst possible names?

I have.

I tell you, teachers put up with a lot. When I gave a kid (who was also rude and sassy) a low grade because zilch effort had gone into an assignment, his mother made an appointment with me. I had a hunch what might lie ahead, so I asked both my administrator and a teaching peer to sit in on the conversation.

It was more like a confrontation. Every awful word in the book was screamed at me in front of those other two women. It was a low in my teaching career of 26 years. The young man did eventually pass my class and graduated but struggled for some years afterwards.

I avoided that woman for two years, but knew she’d be back in my life when I began teaching her daughter. I had to forgive. But you can’t really forget, can you? So the not-really-forgetting simply means that the forgiveness happens over and over, and kindness then has a chance to settle in.

The daughter turned out to be a lovely person and a very good student whom I helped get scholarships to a wonderful private university, from which she graduated in four years.

The mother did a complete reverse, thanking me for helping her daughter. I think she began to see that I was not a monster who had it in for her son.

However, I’ve got to tell you, it was hard seeing the mom. Deep breaths and prayer went into a lot of prep, along with a huge measure of forgiveness. After all, as the mom of four kids, I well know how one child can be so different than another.

But forgiveness is freeing. The anger and the hurt no longer have control over your emotions and your reactions. In fact, forgiveness, friend, is the hallmark of the Christian faith. In Luke 6 Jesus taught that we should not only forgive people but also do something kind for them. When we are cursed, we are to offer blessing in return. When someone mistreats us, Jesus taught us to pray for the person.

You see, forgiveness is the difference between Christianity and any other. After all, Jesus died for our own forgiveness. One of his last prayers on the cross was “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). He forgave his enemies—those who had physically hurt him, wrongfully convicted him, betrayed him, denied him. Thus, we are called to forgive others for the measure of their offenses—small or large.

Forgiveness has allowed me to live and breathe and sleep and move on. I pray for a season of forgiveness in our personal and wider circles of life. And I hope you will too.

“But if you will listen, I say to you, love your enemies and do something wonderful for them in return for their hatred.” Luke 6:27 TPT

About the author:  Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of twenty-four books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk, which has encouraged tens of thousands to pray for their communities while they walk.

In her newest book, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, she examines the “Father, forgive them” prayer, among the other prayers, prayerful practices, and teachings of Jesus. She would love to connect with you at https://www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the freedom that forgiveness can bring?

Lost in Chicago

by Janet Holm McHenry @LookingUpFirst

Have you ever gotten lost? My husband Craig doesn’t let me forget about Chicago.

We were driving from California to Washington, D.C., for internships in the capital. Those were back-in-the-day days. No GPS. No Google Maps. Just an old-fashioned paper map in my lap the whole trip.

Yes, I did a little driving myself: from Wells, Nevada, to Wendover, Nevada—all of fifty-eight miles. He still kids me about that.

It’s hard to get lost when you’re simply on Interstate 80 the whole way, but for some reason the signs were not helping in Chicago in the middle of the night. We took a wrong turn trying to find a campground. It cost us maybe an hour’s time in the whole mess.

There were two problems: first, it was dark, and second, everything is flat back there. We Californians, who tend to orient ourselves with our mountain ranges, tend to get lost in flat spaces.

I feel as though I am wandering in the dark right now without GPS or Google Maps. The days blend into each other. Work and home all look the same. My wardrobe is the same from day to day: yoga pants and a t-shirt. The only day that breaks up the routine is Sunday—with a worship service or two online from the living room couch.

The truth is, though, that we always have a directional finder: God’s Word. Every day we can open the Bible up, ask for God to direct our reading and thinking, ponder a bit about what we have read, and lean into the purposeful living that he graciously provides.

There are a few ways to actually dwell on or meditate on God’s Word. One is to approach the Bible with a pen or highlighter. With a pen, I find my reading becomes a search. I ask God, “Show me your good word for me today. Show me what I might share with others.” And he always does. I will underline any verses that seem to stand out to me.

Another way is to journal a Bible pictorially. Each day I will choose one particular verse to sketch out with colored pencils, then illustrate with a simple drawing. This slowing-down time of pictorial journaling helps me think about the verse I have chosen and how it might apply to my life.

One other way to make reading the Bible purposeful is to journal a Bible for someone in the family. I have been reading the Bible all the way through for about twenty years, but for the last five years I have journaled Bibles for my grandchildren, starting with the oldest. I think of the child as I am reading and look for ways to encourage him or her with personalized, marginal notes, verses, and drawings.

Word studies are also fascinating in the Bible. In the back of most Bibles is a concordance, which is an alphabetical list of important words found in the Bible. For example, if you were feeling dry emotionally, you could look up the word water in the concordance and find refreshment. Or if you were praying for a family member to be healed, you could look up the word heal and receive hope and direction for ways to pray.

All of these practices help me see the Bible in fresh ways as I seek direction for my own life. However we choose to study the Bible, we will find it gives us a sound roadmap for our day’s decisions, our relationships, our attitude, and the words we share with others.

He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. Isaiah 2:3 NIV

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Lost in Chicago – encouragement from Janet McHenry @LookingUpFirst on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author:  Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of twenty-four books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk, which has encouraged tens of thousands to pray for their communities while they walk. Her business name is

Looking Up! because she encourages others to seek the Problem Solver, who can do the impossible. She would love to connect with you : https://www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite way of taking in Scripture?