During a concert, singer-songwriter David Wilcox responded to a question from the audience about how he composes songs. He said there are three aspects to his process: a quiet room, an empty page, and the question, “Is there something I should know?” It struck me as a wonderful approach for followers of Jesus as we seek the Lord’s plan for our lives each day. Throughout Jesus’s public ministry, He took time to be alone in prayer.
After feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, He sent His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee by boat while He dismissed the crowd (Matt. 14:22). “After sending them home, [Jesus] went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone” (v. 23). If the Lord Jesus saw the need to be alone with His Father, how much more we need a daily time of solitude to pour out our hearts to God, ponder His Word, and prepare to follow His directions.
A quiet room—anywhere we can focus on the Lord without distractions. An empty page—a receptive mind, a blank sheet of paper, a willingness to listen. Is there something I should know? “Lord, speak to me by Your Spirit, Your written Word, and the assurance of Your direction.” From that quiet hillside, Jesus descended into a violent storm, knowing exactly what His Father wanted Him to do (vv. 24–27). —David McCasland
Taking time to be with God is the best place to find strength to press on.
The room was splashed with an assortment of enchanting colors as women in beautiful saris scurried around, completing the final touches for a fundraising event. Upon hearing about the financial situation of a Christian school for autistic children, these women from India not only heard the need, but they also took it to heart and responded.
Nehemiah did not allow his comfortable position in life as cupbearer and confidant to the most powerful man at that time to nullify his concerns for his countrymen. He talked to people who had just come from Jerusalem to find out the condition of the city and its citizens (Nehemiah 1:2). He learned that “those who returned to the province of Judah . . . are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire” (v. 3). Nehemiah’s heart broke. He mourned, fasted, and prayed, asking God to do something about the terrible conditions (v. 4).
God enabled Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to lead the rebuilding effort (2:1–8). Nehemiah accomplished great things for his people because he asked great things of a great God and relied on Him. May God open our eyes to the needs of those around us, and may He help us to become passionate and creative problem solvers who bless others. —Poh Fang Chia
Those who walk with God run to help with the needs of others.
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Mark 10:46-52 ESV
On the day before a major surgery, I shared with my friend that I was really scared about the procedure. “What part scares you?” she inquired. “I’m just so afraid that I won’t wake up from the anesthesia,” I replied. Immediately, Anne prayed: “Father, you know all about Cindy’s fear. Please calm her heart and fill her with Your peace. And, Lord, please wake her up after surgery.”
I think God likes that kind of specificity when we talk to Him. When Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, called out to Jesus for help, Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said, “My Rabbi . . . I want to see!” Jesus said, “Go, for your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:51–52). We don’t need to beat around the bush with God. While there may be a time to pray poetically as David did, there are also times to say bluntly, “God, I’m so sorry for what I just said,” or to say simply, “Jesus, I love You because . . . .”
Being specific with God can even be a sign of faith because we are acknowledging that we know we’re not talking to a far-off Being but to a real Person who loves us intimately. God is not impressed by a flurry of fanciful words. He is listening for what our heart is saying. —Cindy Hess Kasper
The heart of prayer is prayer from the heart.