The Trouble with Trouble

by Terri Gillespie

When my troubling thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations comfort my soul. Psalm 94:19 TLV

Okay, I admit it. I’m a closet Trekkie. Now, I don’t have Vulcan ears or anything. Yet. Growing up with the original Star Trek was delicious, it fed my vivid imagination.

One of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek show was, The Trouble with Tribbles. If you’re one of a handful of souls in this world who have not watched the 1960s’ series, here’s a brief recap.

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Capt. Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, Klingons [they’re bad guys], and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

The fuzzy pets are called Tribbles and seem to have a calming effect on the crew—but the creatures hate the Klingons. Tribbles physiology is such that once they eat, they reproduce. It doesn’t take long before the ship is overrun with these furballs.

Just in case you haven’t watched the show and might want to—it’s free on YouTube—I won’t spoil the end. Most likely, the writer of this fun episode and I live in our heads. It’s helpful as an author but can be detrimental to my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Do you know what I mean?

Today’s verse defines me a little too accurately. If left unchecked, my troubling thoughts will multiply like the Tribbles. Sometimes, I will talk out a concern and discover it isn’t as bad as I first thought. Other times, I’ll try to ignore it only to have it resurface unexpectedly and cause me to stumble.

The most effective way to keep my troubling thoughts from growing and mutating inside my mind and imagination is to simply seek His counsel. His comfort.

I say it’s simple, but it’s anything but easy. Why? Probably because we think we can or should be able to figure out everything. Our trouble may seem small and manageable. We might even think, this isn’t our problem, someone else should deal with it.

The more we “feed” the problem with our own solutions, or pass the blame to others, the more problems we will create, until one day, what could have been resolved simply has now overrun our thoughts and emotions. The more emotions, the more offense builds.

A few weeks ago, troubles had multiplied in my mind. My peace was gone, thereby shortening the fuse to my anger, which caused blowups nearly every day. Finally, I came across Psalm 94:19 and realized, “I’m feeding these troubles and they’re reproducing like Tribbles.” Which made me laugh. The first time in days. I was overdue to seek my Heavenly Father.

Did that resolve everything? Nah. But it did trim back the excess troubles that weren’t real. Without all my emotions, I could hear the LORD better and work through the problem.

So, should we go to our Heavenly Father for every little thing? Maybe. Little troubles can multiply quickly without His wisdom and discernment.

Besides, with our Father, coming to Him is no Tribble at all.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Terri’s newly released book, Sweet Rivalry, is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart? The third and final book in the Hair Mavens series, Really Bad Hair Day, is a whirlwind of changes for the mavens—marriage, love, danger, loss, and redemption. The Hair Mavens series is a modern-day Ruth and Naomi story set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: With what little things are you struggling today?

The Ask

by Janet Holm McHenry

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NIV

I don’t like asking for things.

I was a horrible fund-raising mom. My kids would be given the assignment to sell Christmas wrapping paper or See’s Candy or doughnuts…and I would buy all the things. All. The. Things.

I’m also not good at recruitment. I feel as though I’m imposing on others by asking them to do something for me. And what if they said no? I’d feel awful.

This mindset weirdly slips into the prayer realm. I rarely ask for myself. Perhaps I don’t feel I’m worthy or perhaps I feel I’m bothering God. Maybe you feel like that too.

But Jesus told us (in Matthew 7:7-12 NIV), “’Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

What I often forget is that I have a good Father who delights in giving good gifts. He sees me praying for other people and their hard situations. He knows this sometimes exhausts me by the end of the day. He knows that I too have challenges and hurts and burdens that are too hard for me to carry alone. I picture him saying, “Janet, you shouldn’t lift that heavy luggage all by yourself. Let me carry that for you into the house.”

I also forget God will not only help me with my hard stuff: He is also excited about showering me with blessings…answers to impossible prayers that are beyond my reach. Sometimes I’ll pray with my hands extended straight out or straight up and pray, “God, this is beyond my reach. I have a dream to do this wild and crazy thing, but You will have to step in and make it happen. And I trust you for it, because You are the God who can do the impossible.”

I can pray this because I know that if I had asked, He would have bought all the figurative Christmas wrapping paper or See’s Candy or doughnuts for me. He’s that good.

Yes, it’s okay to ask for myself. I just need to remember to include my own needs and heart’s desires as I look up each and every day and pray on behalf of the world around me.

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

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is an international speaker, creator of the online course called Prayer School, and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling PrayerWalk. Formerly a high school English teacher and her small school’s official basketball scorekeeper, Janet has recently taken up cheering others from the sidelines by coaching new writers and hosting the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She loves connecting with others on social media and through her website: www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Do you hesitate to ask God for yourself?

God’s Best for You

by Karen Wingate

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 58:17 NIV

My 16-month-old grandson recently brought his dad for a 3-day visit while Major Mama did a two-week work trip (TDY) with the military. He quickly discovered the bottom kitchen utensil drawer and had a great time pulling out measuring cups, plastic funnels, and—Uh-Oh—my long-handled meat fork. I guess my house wasn’t as baby proof as I thought.

Being the good grandma that I am, I distracted him with the measuring cups and attempted to remove the meat fork from his fist. At first, his grip tightened. Come on, Buddy-Boy, don’t make me make you cry, my heart implored. With more “redirecting,” the fork soon found a higher home.

Grandson wanted that fork. To him, it looked and felt interesting. As Grandma though, I knew what was best for him. I knew the way he should play. Measuring cups and plastic funnels are non-traditional toys but safe; metal two-pronged meat forks are not. It would be inappropriate and defiant for him to insist on holding on to that fork.

My Bible reading in Isaiah 48 reminded me that sometimes my prayers are like my grandson’s desire for new toys. I see shiny, attractive things that I want. Possessions and accomplishments that I think would be really cool. So I ask for them. But, knowing He has something better in mind for me, God sometimes withholds what I want. If I’m listening, His Holy Spirit redirects me toward those better things or simply reminds me to trust that God wants what is best for me, even if I don’t understand.

There have been times (and I imagine there will be more times) when I tighten my grip on my original request. I may even make a frowny face at God, accusing Him of unnecessary delays or complications. I suspect I’m not the only one who has had the gall to question God’s love for me when He doesn’t let me have what I want, or even what appears to be reasonable.

Sometimes in those moments, God relinquishes, granting my request, so He can teach me the hard way that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. And He will grieve that I missed out on the riches of His peace and righteousness because of my obstinate will (Isaiah 48:18, 19).

The Bible says it so clearly: God wants to teach us what is best for us. I admit, the hard part is knowing what is best. How can I know whether what I request is God’s best?

We can work toward aligning our requests with the will of God in two ways.

First, ask. James 1:5, 6 tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask, and God will generously give it to us.

We can also observe. The next time God doesn’t instantly answer in the affirmative to your request, pay attention to what else is happening. How does He provide for you in the meantime? How does He sustain you through the trial? How does He become more real to those watching you go through your tough time? How do you become stronger and grow closer to Him by not getting what you asked for? Finally, what does God give you instead that is bigger, better and yes, His best for you?

So, the next time I—or you—feel compelled to pray for something we want, here is a way we could pray.

“Lord, I want this, but I realize my judgement and experience may be as limited as that of a 16-month-old toddler. I ask that You give me what is best for me. And, while You’re at it, would You teach me why this is best so I can ask more in line with Your will the next time?”

God loves you so much. Even if it means making you temporarily unhappy because you didn’t get what you thought you needed, He wants to give you His very best.

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

About the author: Author, speaker, and Bible study leader Karen Wingate loves to brag on how she sees God working in the world. Karen is a veteran writer of 30 years, writing Christian education curriculum, magazine articles, and contributions to devotional guides and compilation books. Read about her latest sighting at www.karenwingate.com/blog.

Karen’s book, With Fresh Eyes, gives a fresh look at God, His creation, and people through the eyes of someone who is seeing the details of her world for the first time. It will challenge you to pause, ponder, and praise God for all His good gifts.

Join the conversation: Have you ever regretting receiving something you asked God for?

Because You Prayed

by Tammy Whitehurst

Hi There! Yes, I am talking to you. (Looking at you eyeball to eyeball.)

It’s not the time to slack off, be lazy, or wait till things get better. When those feet hit the ground this morning begin by doing something powerful. PRAY.

Make sure your eyes are alert and your ears listen close. Why? Because the enemy is waiting to attack.

Keep in mind he will put things in your way. Frustrate you. Use the people you love to upset you. You will be distracted. Perhaps cut off in traffic. Or hear a cutting remark by a co-worker aimed at you. A flat tire.

He will tempt. No one is exempt.

He is very good at serving up a sizzling plate of aggravation. However, He has no idea who he is messing with. He picked the wrong gal on the wrong day. The Creator is lighting your path and leading the way. The darkness has no power over you.

Not today. No way. Because YOU PRAYED.

In God’s Word He tells us in Philippians 4:6 not to worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. It’s an incredible weapon.

Grin ear to ear. Boldly declare you live your life to glorify God. Lift that chin up. Pull those shoulders back. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

No matter what.

Today, we are unstoppable because GREATER is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let’s Roll!

 . . .A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much. James 5:16 NIV

About the author: As an author, blogger, and full time speaker, Tammy Whitehurst encourages and challenges audiences to live life kicked up a notch. She is the co-owner of the Christian Communicators Conference. She struggles like the rest of us with dust, dog hair, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles.

Join the conversation: What do you pray when you first wake up in the morning?

How Long, God?

by Tracy Hester

“l will move past my enemies with this one, I sure hope: that with my own eyes. I will see the goodness of the Eternal One in the land of the living. Please, answer me, don’t give up! Wait for the Eternal One in expectation and be strong. Again, wait for the Eternal One.” Psalm 27:13-14 The Voice

Have you ever wondered if God has forgotten about you because you don’t hear his voice, or you don’t see him working in your situation? You’ve asked, “How long, God? I’m doing everything right reading my Bible, praying, serving others, leading a ministry, and even working on myself.”

It seems as if God has placed the desires of your heart on pause. He hasn’t said no or yes to your prayer and his will is vague. You are confused and apprehensive on whether you should move forward and take the risk or remain still. 

In Psalm 13, David is in a desperate situation. He is praying and asking God how long questions. But then his attitude and prayer changes:

“How long, O Eternal One, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I agonize & grieve Your absence in my heart every day? How long will You let my enemies win? Turn back; respond to me, O Eternal One, my True God! Put the spark of life in my eyes, or I’m dead. My enemies will boast that they have beaten me; my foes will celebrate that I have stumbled. But I trust in Your faithful love; my heart leaps at the thought of imminent deliverance by You. I will sing to the Eternal, for He is always generous with me” (Psalm 13 The Voice).

David’s prayer is passionate. It expresses feelings of abandonment, fear, and insecurity because of his inability to feel God’s presence. Although David was anxious and questioned whether God would come through for him, at the end of the psalm he demonstrates what we should do while waiting for God to come through for us. As He finished writing, David shifted his question to a confession. His how long changed to Hallelujah. David began to give God the highest praise during his emotional pain. 

We are reminded in Philippians 4:6-7 not to be anxious about anything. Instead, if we pray about everything, the peace of God will come to us, and we will experience peace in our minds and hearts, despite our circumstances. While we wait on God, the solution is to pray, praise, and worship Him even when we don’t feel like it. When David started praying, he remembered how God had come through for him in the past, and he immediately became hopeful God was going to come through for him again.

That hope is available to us today. Pray as David did. God has your back.

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

About the author: Tracy Hester is a mentor, life coach, and a Bible teacher. She lives in Hercules, California, with her two children. She is excited about becoming a new grandmother in the fall of 2021 and releasing Get Up, Girl, Let’s Go in the spring of 2022. You can reach out to Tracy on Facebook or her website at tracyhester.com.

All Things New!: Discovering God’S Peace and Protection During Challenging Times by [Tracy Hester]

Tracy is the author of All Things New. When we experience personal struggles, we often hope He will remove our pain and instantaneously lift us from despair. But God’s plans for us will not always work out in that way. So often God wants us to instead take a journey of healing that can change our lives.

Join the conversation: Are you living in the place of how long?

When You Need a Good Night’s Sleep

by Edie Melson

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV

I rolled over, repositioned my pillow and tried to will sleep to come. But my mind was my enemy. The thoughts crowding my brain circled like vultures, diving with sharp claws and ripping away the fabric of sleep. The worst thing was that I couldn’t pinpoint the exact source of my insomnia. There were lots of reasons for me to be stressed, but no single one appeared to be the ultimate culprit. 

Finally I gave up, grabbed my Bible and settled into the recliner downstairs where my tossing and turning wouldn’t disturb my husband’s rest. I thumbed through the book of Psalms—my go-to place when I’m searching for a cure—and that’s when I found this verse highlighted. 

In the past I’d used it to pray while our son was away on deployment. That night I initially dismissed it as not really relevant to my current situation and continued to skim through Scripture. When those words wouldn’t leave my mind, I turned back. 

Could this passage be more pertinent than I’d first thought? Two words stood out: peace and safety. Peace was definitely something I needed. Safety, however, didn’t seem to fit my struggle. I couldn’t pinpoint any specific fears. I prayed, asking God to share His insight.

What He answered has stayed with me. He pointed out that I really was afraid—of many things. I was worried about not measuring up, not getting everything done, not being able to continue at my current speed of life. As each fear exploded into my mind, it felt like God whispered His provision over it. As He spoke, that particular worry vanished. I went through the entire list and when my mind was quiet, I found myself ready for sleep.

I learned that when I let my fears take up residence in my mind, they grow and multiply, pushing out the peace of God

Taken from Soul Care When You’re Weary, Bold Vision Books.

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

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

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Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on http://www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you cannot sleep?

The Proverbs 31 Woman for the 21st Century

by Jackie M. Johnson

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Proverbs 31:39 NIV

Once upon a time there was a woman who loved God and worked hard to care for her family. She taught her kids, bought a field, planted a vineyard, sewed clothes, and got a lot done—with her strength and dignity intact and even a bit of laughter!

No, it’s not Joanna Gaines, from the popular Magnolia empire of fixer upper homes and corresponding merchandise.

This super-productive person is known as the Proverbs 31 woman. She is described in Proverbs 31:10-31. We don’t know her name, but if she lived in the 21st century, most likely she’d have her own DIY show and books on how to do just about anything.  

What I like about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she is wise. And she laughs! Yes, she’s industrious, but she’s also compassionate, and kind. Her children call her blessed, and her husband praises her.

Whether we’re married or single, work inside or outside the home, we can be a wise steward of what God has provided for us, and our home can be a place of blessing to all who enter.

But we don’t have to do it alone. Powerful things happen when we invite God into every area of our lives—our heart, our home, our loving, our doing, our being, our creating…into everything. That’s why prayer is so important. It builds a solid foundation, a bedrock of strength, hope, and joy in our lives.

Prayer is foundational to every home—whether it’s a condo or a cabin, a trailer or a tri-level.

We can pray powerful prayers throughout the day. If we’re at home, we can intercede for our husbands when we’re folding laundry. We can lift up your son’s hard day at school while making dinner. At work, we can talk to the Lord on our lunch hour about our needs.

Thank God for the home you have, and ask Him to help you wisely manage the resources He has provided. Pray for protection and safety. Pray for loving family relationships. Pray for peace and harmony in your home. Ask God to help your family become better connected with Him and with each other—despite your busy days. Pray for a heart of hospitality to welcome family, friends, neighbors, and others into your home. 

A home that is built on love and fortified with prayer will stand strong and last long.

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

About the author: Jackie M. Johnson is an accomplished author and blogger who inspires readers worldwide with hope-filled and encouraging content. Jackie is the author of Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery resource, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Emptyand Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie’s is member of AWSA and CAN (Christian Authors Network). Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

Join the conversation: What things do you find important to pray for?

God Save America

by Sheri Schofield

Yesterday I had to have one of my paintings scanned at a local print shop. It was a picture of Jesus on the cross. When the young man doing the work accidentally sent the jpeg to a wrong email address. I said, “I wonder what that person will do when they get this picture?”

The man smiled and said, “Maybe they will find Jesus.”

I asked if he was a Christian. He was not, but he believed Jesus was a great teacher, and he approved of Jesus’ teachings. I said, “Did you know that Jesus claimed to be God?”

He blinked. Clearly, he had never heard that. I told him this was the rationale the Jews gave for crucifying Jesus, though they were clearly doing it out of jealousy. He agreed with the jealousy. I could see he was perplexed. I had given him something to think about. I will see him again, after he has thought about this for a while. There will be a follow-up conversation, for I feel he will give this some thought. Maybe those few words will open the door to his heart next time we speak. In the meantime, I will be praying for him.

Our world is lost. At the founding of America, George Washington was chosen to be the first President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he pointed out a truth: “…the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained…”* 

As I listen to the news and the immoral agenda being pressed upon our nation, I am grieved. This is not the nation our founders had in mind when they dedicated their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to fighting for independence. Confusion and sin is rampant. Witchcraft and New Age religions are increasingly predominant in our culture. A large portion of our people have turned their backs on God, and many Christians are hesitant to speak out about the salvation found only in Jesus, for fear of ridicule and rejection.

Can God’s smiles be expected? Can God bless America as we have become? No. But the great fact remains: God can still save America, if we, his people, called by his name, will come together again and pray, seek his face, call on his name, and reach out to the lost people around us with God’s truth. Mankind is born into sin, slaves to Satan, and can only be rescued by crying out to Jesus for help. The lost people around us will not turn to Jesus unless we pray for them then speak up about the salvation he offers.

The fate of America and the world in which we live depends upon our prayers, our sharing Jesus with others, and the Holy Spirit’s power. We are drawing closer every day to Christ’s return. The only question I have is this: Will there be one final harvest of souls in America and around this world before God calls an end to time? My lifework is dedicated toward that end.

A question has been passed down in recent times: If it were illegal to be a Christian, and you were arrested for being one, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

If that ever happens, I want the evidence of my faith to be overwhelming to those around me! Let there be witnesses wherever I have walked. I do not care about the personal cost. I have taken up my cross. I’m going all out for this.

God save America!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 NIV

*From National Archives and Records Administration, Washington’s Inaugural Address of 1789.

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

Her first book on salvation, “The Prince and the Plan”, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, “God? Where Are You?,” tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Has God given you an opportunity to share Jesus with someone lately?

Waiting on the Lord for Strength

by Louise Tucker Jones

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 KJV

I was 30 years old, six months pregnant and recovering from an emergency appendectomy, when I read Isaiah 40:31 on a hospital menu. The pregnancy had been difficult with early bleeding, monthly injections, and limited activity. And now, after surgery, I couldn’t even turn over in bed without the baby sliding under my 5-inch incision and giving a painful kick. As I reread the verse, I wondered how long I would have to wait before I could “walk and not faint” or “run and not grow weary.”

A year and half earlier I had experienced a devastating miscarriage, spending two days in the hospital due to excessive hemorrhaging. Two years before that, my three-month-old son, Travis, had died unexpectedly due to congenital heart disease. I ached for my babies as well as renewed strength.

I thought of Hannah in the Old Testament and how she asked God for a son. The Lord answered her prayer. I followed her example, kneeling by my bed and begging the Lord for a child. Now I waited.

Three months after my appendectomy, I held my newborn baby in my arms. I kissed his tiny face and promised to love him forever, continuing to claim the promise of Isaiah 40:31. I knew this little boy with Down syndrome would have an uphill journey most of his life. What I didn’t know was how steep that climb would be for me. I can’t say how many times I have prayed and pleaded for God to renew my strength, to let me soar like the eagles and to allow my little boy to walk and run.

There were seemingly impossible tasks and skills for Jay to master. Nothing came easy for him, but he never lost heart. Playing on the floor led to rolling which eventually gave way to crawling, then to walking at three years old. Tactile sensitivity made eating texture a chore and a compromised immune system kept Jay at the doctor’s office much of the time.

But God did not leave us alone. He sent angels to protect Jay in the midst of medical problems and challenges, knowing this child would touch hearts around the world through the many stories written about him. Though my son’s life has often been one obstacle after another, Jay’s faith always soared. There has never been a time that he did not know and love God. He never even needed an explanation. He just knew the Lord from the beginning and forever holds Jesus in his heart. 

I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed Isaiah 40:31 during these 46 birthdays with Jay—both for my son and for myself. I can only tell you that God has always been faithful.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the many times my soul has soared with You. Please continue to give me wings when the walk is too steep.

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

Louise Tucker Jones Profile
Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child With Special Needs

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist, and Gold Medallion award-winning author. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs and has contributed to more than 40 anthologies with her poignant life stores. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. Find out more at LouiseTuckerJones.com.

Join the conversation: How has God been faithful to renew your strength?

Running in Circles

by Sandra Julian Barker

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10 NKJV

Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles in your prayer life?

I’m reminded of the time I watched my grandson Storm playing Duck, Duck, Goose with a group of kids at Vacation Bible School. The kids sat in a circle while Storm chased a boy around the outside of the circle, trying to catch him before he reached a safe opening to land. Storm ran on the slippery gym floor for all he was worth, but never caught the other boy. 

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I’m running around in circles on a slippery floor.

We have such an awesome God who offers us the privilege of prayer — the ability to actually talk with the One who created the entire universe and beyond, to express our feelings and needs to Him, and to have Him listen and respond. When you think about all that, it’s beyond amazing!

Yet, if you’re like me, you don’t really understand the whole process and how it works. When Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24 NKJV), what does that really mean? Does it mean that I can ask God for healing for my loved one with cancer and he’ll definitely be healed? Does it mean I can ask God for answers to various other needs and always expect a happy outcome?

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in the affirmative immediately, other times there is a need for extended prayer for the thing before He gives it to us. Then, there are times He answers with an entirely different outcome than what we asked or wished for. Those are the times we question and, in some cases, we might wonder if our prayers even matter at all!

One day I lamented to God, “I just don’t understand prayer!”

I felt Him lovingly answer my spirit, You don’t have to understand, you just have to obey and pray.

I actually felt relieved that I didn’t have to understand the process (because trying to understand always brings on a “circle moment”). I just needed to obey God’s directive to pray and trust Him to handle the outcome.

That old song, Trust and Obey, is so relevant here. We need to obey God’s directive to pray—which is plainly taught throughout His Word—and then trust His loving heart to know what is best for us on this sinful earth.

I believe the verse, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 NKJV), reveals a lot to us about the power of prayer. Even so, we should never forget the verse in Isaiah 45:12-13 (NKJV) that reminds us of the sovereignty of God:  “I have made the earth, and created man on it…and I will direct all his ways…”

There will always be times we get caught in a circle while we remain in this world (which is itself a circle), but God has promised that He provides a safe landing place for us. I always come back to the wise verses in Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Thank you, Lord for the awesome privilege of prayer, and for your patience with us when we run around in circles. Help us to land in your arms of love and grace and peace. And help us to always trust and obey.

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

About the author: Sandra Julian Barker is the author of more than a dozen books, numerous magazine articles and a story in the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.” She has a passion for sharing the love of Christ, encouraging hope and helping others seek God’s path of purpose in their lives.

Sandra’s latest book includes her own story of God’s grace in the face of great tragedy. She blogs at sandra-ramblingrose.blogspot.com/ and is in ministry with womenvictorious.com.

Join the conversation: For what is God asking you to trust Him?