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    Only by Prayer

    My friend called me one late night during her cancer treatment. Grieved by her uncontrollable sobs, I soon added my own tears and a silent prayer. What am I supposed to do, Lord?

    Her wails squeezed my heart. I couldn’t stop her pain, fix her situation, or find one intelligible word of encouragement. But I knew who could help. As I wept with my friend, stumbling through a prayer, I whispered repeatedly, “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”

    Her cries quieted to sniffs and whimpers, until her breathing slowed. Her husband’s voice startled me. “She’s asleep,” he said. “We’ll call tomorrow.”

    I hung up, weeping prayers…

    Toward or Away

    Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) and John Wesley (1703–1791) lived more than a century apart and in very different contexts. But both created a means of self-examination to aid in their spiritual transformation. Ignatius recommended that those in the religious order he formed pray an “examen” prayer twice a day to open themselves to the Holy Spirit and to discern the movements of their soul either toward or away from God. John Wesley, similarly, formed a series of twenty-two questions that he and his small group in Oxford asked themselves each night, including, “Did the Bible live in me today? Am…

    Helpful or Heartless Toward Others?

    It is Christ…who also makes intercession for us….the Spirit…makes intercession for the saints… —Romans 8:34, 27

    Do we need any more arguments than these to become intercessors– that Christ “always lives to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25), and that the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for the saints”? Are we living in such a relationship with others that we do the work of intercession as a result of…

    Heedfulness or Hypocrisy in Ourselves?

    If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. —1 John 5:16

    If we are not heedful and pay no attention to the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other people are failing, and then we take our discernment and turn it into comments of ridicule and criticism, instead of turning it…

    Friendship with God

    Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing…? —Genesis 18:17

    The Delights of His Friendship. Genesis 18 brings out the delight of true friendship with God, as compared with simply feeling His presence occasionally in prayer. This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is…

    Honest in Our Pain

    An article titled “Jacob and Our Wrestling Match with God” reflects on the significance of God changing Jacob’s name, arguing that the name change points to a character transformation. “Jacob,” which means “crooked,” becomes “Israel,” which likely means “One who wrestles with God [and] One who is straight (direct, honest) with God.”

    Giving the Gift of Prayer

    “I didn’t realize what a gift prayer was until my brother was sick and you all prayed for him. I cannot tell you what a comfort your prayers were!”

    Laura had tears in her eyes as she thanked me for our prayers of the people in our church for her brother, who was facing a cancer diagnosis. She continued, “Your prayers have strengthened him in this difficult time and have been an encouragement to our entire family.”

    One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them. Jesus is our ultimate example in this. The New Testament tells us…

    Phone Zone

    One of the benefits of cell phone technology is that we now have virtually unlimited access to others. As a result, many people talk on the phone or text even while driving—sometimes resulting in terrible car crashes. To avoid such disasters, many areas of the world have made distracted driving illegal. In the United States, highway signs are popping up to remind drivers of special cell phone zones where they can pull off the road to safely talk and text to their heart’s delight.

    While it is a good idea to restrict mobile phone communication for drivers, there is another kind…

    What Do You Want The Lord to Do for You?

    “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” —Luke 18:41

    Is there something in your life that not only disturbs you, but makes you a disturbance to others? If so, it is always something you cannot handle yourself. “Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more…” (Luke 18:39). Be…

    Buckling Up!

    “The captain has turned on the seat belt sign, indicating that we are entering an area of turbulence. Please return to your seats immediately and securely fasten your seat belt.” Flight attendants give that warning when necessary because in rough air, unbuckled passengers can be injured. Secured in their seats, they can safely ride out the turbulence.

    Most of the time, life doesn’t warn us of the unsettling experiences coming our way. But our loving Father knows and cares about our struggles, and He invites us to bring our cares, hurts, and fears to Him. The Scriptures tell us, “This High…

    Spiritual Dejection

    We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. —Luke 24:21

    Every fact that the disciples stated was right, but the conclusions they drew from those facts were wrong. Anything that has even a hint of dejection spiritually is always wrong. If I am depressed or burdened, I am to blame, not God or anyone else. Dejection stems from one of…

    The Power of Prayer

    One day, when I was deeply concerned about the welfare of one close to me, I found encouragement in part of the Old Testament story of Samuel, a wise leader of the Israelites. As I read how Samuel interceded for God’s people as they faced trouble, I strengthened my resolve to pray for the one I loved.

    The Israelites faced the threat of the Philistines, who had previously defeated them when God’s people didn’t trust in Him (see 1 Samuel 4). After repenting of their sins, they heard that the Philistines were about to attack. This time, however, they asked Samuel…

    Do You Walk In White?

    No one experiences complete sanctification without going through a “white funeral”-the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crucial moment of change through death, sanctification will never be more than an elusive dream. There must be a “white funeral,” a death with only one resurrection-a resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing can defeat a life like this. It has oneness with God for only one purpose— to be a witness for Him.

    Where the Battle is Won or Lost

    Our battles are first won or lost in the secret places of our will in God’s presence, never in full view of the world. The Spirit of God seizes me and I am compelled to get alone with God and fight the battle before Him. Until I do this, I will lose every time. The battle may take one minute or one year, but that will depend on me, not God. However long it takes, I must wrestle with it alone before God, and I must resolve to go through the hell of renunciation or rejection before Him. Nothing has any power over someone who has fought the battle before God and won there.

    Wrestling Before God

    Take up the whole armor of God . . . praying always . . . —Ephesians 6:13,18

    You must learn to wrestle against the things that hinder your communication with God, and wrestle in prayer for other people; but to wrestle with God in…