Two Reasons Why God Answers Your Prayers

As king of Israel, David had a lot of responsibility. For the kingdom of Israel, he was a visionary leader, a political leader, and a military leader. And not to be lost in all those responsibilities is that David was to shepherd and lead the people’s hearts to God.

For David to carry out all his varied responsibilities faithfully, he needed help. Lots of help. And there was one place that he knew he could always go to receive that help.

That made David a man of prayer. As you read through the Psalms, you’ll notice David displayed confidence that God would hear his prayers. And that was because he knew two things for sure.

He knew that God loves powerfully. God’s love for him and the people of Israel was truly a wonder to David. It was so powerful that David could ask God to show up. In fact, he believed, God’s love would never allow him not to show up.

David also knew that God loves him personally. David recognized that he is “the apple of God’s eye.”

How about you? I’m guessing you have a lot of responsibility too. You need to be able to call on God and know that he hears your prayers.

He does. And he will answer. Because God’s love for you and the people you are responsible for is powerful. And because God’s love for you is personal. You are the apple of God’s eye!

“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:6-8, NIV).

Lord, I know two things about you. Your love is wondrously powerful. And you love me personally. I have responsibilities that are far too large. I cannot handle them all adequately. But you can. Because you love powerfully, and because you love me personally, hear and answer my prayers.

Our Bible reading for Thursday, January 29, is Job 11:1 – 14:22, Matthew 20:1-19 and Psalm 17:6-12.

Header image based on "apple picking 3" by Fogg, CC by 2.0

The Hug that Follows the Discipline

I’ve actually seen it occur on multiple continents. I’ve witnessed it here in the U.S. I’ve also watched it occur in Africa and in Europe.

The scene always plays out the same. A parent, slightly distracted, or perhaps simply trusting for a moment that her two-year-old knows how to behave, allows the child to pull free of her hand.

And suddenly the child runs out into the street, a street in which a car is approaching rapidly. The parent reacts. Grabbing the child by an arm, she pulls the child back swiftly, almost violently. And then she bends down and gives the little one a stern talking to. Anger flashes.

Or is it love? Because the next thing is that the child is in tears, and the mother is reaching around to give the child an embrace. Tender words flow from her mouth.

“Mommy just does not want to see you get hurt!”

God is like that. He does not want to see us get hurt. So he pulls us back from sin. The way he does this might appear violent at times. But what God truly loves is to give us the hug that follows the discipline.

Because of Jesus Christ, we are dearly loved children of God. Therefore we can rest assured that God loves nothing more than to protect us when we are in danger; when we are injured, to heal us; when we are lost, to rescue us.

“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you” (Job 5:17-19, NIV).

Lord, thank you that you assure me again and again in the Bible that through faith in Jesus, I am your dearly loved child. I know your deepest desire is to heal me, to help me and to hold me in your embrace. And for that I thank and praise you!

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, January 27, is Job 4:1 – 7:21, Matthew 19:1-15 and Psalm 17:1-5.

Header image based on "I can walk on my own" by Seika, CC by 2.0

Wind. Waves. A Hand Up.

How quickly our faith can go from flying at 70 miles an hour to a full stop.

All of Jesus’ disciples were in a boat sailing across the Sea of Galilee following the feeding of the 5000. It’s the middle of the night. A huge wind is pressing against the boat and buffeting it side to side.

Jesus comes to them across the lake on foot in the middle of the night.

Yes. On foot. Walking on the surface of the water.

When the disciples saw Jesus, they were frightened out of their minds. In the darkness, they didn’t even recognize it was him at first. They thought they were seeing a ghost.

But then Jesus said to them, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid!”

And hearing those powerful words of Jesus, Peter made a bold statement: “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come on,” Jesus says.

And that’s how Peter finds himself walking on top of the water with Jesus.

He’s on top of the water, that is, until he isn’t: “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'”

Sometimes in life we put ourselves into situations because we are excited to walk in faith, and we are confident that God will take care of us. And then something happens that frightens us out of our minds. Faith flees. Courage collapses. And we feel like we are sinking.

Fear is powerful. But do you remember what Jesus did?

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?'” (Matthew 14:31, NIV)

Be confident that when your faith flees, Jesus is also with you. He will offer you his hand. He will catch you. Jesus’ love is far more powerful than our fear.

Don’t doubt that for a minute.

Our reading for Wednesday, January 21, is Genesis 41:41 – 42:38, Matthew 14:22 – 15:9 and Psalm 12:1-8.

Header image based on "Big Waves West Wind" by Loesch, CC by 2.0

Solitude Dismissed. Compassion Summoned.

He just yearned for a brief respite, a tiny quiet space in which to grieve.

Jesus was supposed to be boarding a boat to go somewhere private where he could mourn the death of his cousin, John the Baptist.

“Cousins” was their relationship in the physical universe. But their relationship in the kingdom was even closer. John the Baptist had been the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. He was the “one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him'” (Matthew 3:3, NIV).

Now John was dead–violently executed by the despot Herod. And Jesus just wanted to be alone for a little while with his thoughts (and with his Father).

But that was not to be. The Bible tells us that Jesus got into a boat to sail across the Sea of Galilee to a solitary place. Suffice it to say, the crowds did not have Jesus’ needs in mind.

And since they couldn’t all fit into a boat, they followed Jesus around the very large lake on foot, until they found him. In fact, it seems they beat Jesus to the punch, somehow knowing where he planned to drop anchor.

What was Jesus’ response to these people refusing to leave him alone? Did he get frustrated? Angry? Upset that they weren’t respecting his boundaries? Was he incensed by the reality that they seemed to always put their own needs ahead of his?

None of those. His response, surprising for anyone but Jesus, was love. But then, there’s a reason why it wasn’t shocking that Jesus responded this way. After all, as the apostle John writes later in his first epistle, “God is love.”

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14, NIV).

Lord Jesus, thank you for being so compassionate toward me. You do this all the time. And not because I’ve done anything to earn or deserve your love. You love me simply because you are love. How awesome to have your steadfast love to rely on every day.

Our Bible reading for Tuesday, January 20, is Genesis 40:1 – 41:40, Matthew 14:1-21, and Proverbs 2:12-22.

Header image based on "Galilee Shore" by Emery, CC by 2.0

A Man Burdened

E.M. Bounds (1835-1913), who authored nine books on the subject of prayer, once wrote, “Prayer is the language of a man burdened with a sense of need.”

But sometimes when we go through a painful patch, we wonder where God is. Does he know what I’m going through? Is he aware?

And if I pray, will he listen to me? Will he pay attention, even if all I feel like doing is lashing out? What if it sounds a lot like faithless whining?

Then, will he do something about it? Does he care enough to help me? Do I matter enough to him that he will get up and act to take care of what’s causing this pain?

And finally, can he do something about it? Does he have the power? The authority?

David must have had some of the same questions going through his own mind. And he wrote a Psalm about it. Whatever pain, sorrow or affliction he was going through at the time, he puts himself in front of God in prayer.

There he reminds himself (and if you actually look at, he appears to be reminding God too!) of these facts:

  • God is always in control, and that will never end.
  • He listens when we pray.
  • He encourages us and defends us–especially when we are most helpless and powerless.
  • He can and will do something about our troubles. The power and authority are there. The love and compassion are there too.

“The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror” (Psalm 10:16-18, NIV).

Lord, you are king! You are in control of everything that goes on in the world and in my life. You listen to me when I pray. You hear me when I’m most powerless. Lift my burden. Encourage me with your power and love at work in my life. Take my trouble and worry, and deal with them according to your will. I know that you can and will help me carry this burden, and at the same time, you will use this trouble to strengthen my heart, and increase my faith.

Our Bible reading for Sunday, January 18, is Genesis 36:1 – 37:36, Matthew 13:18-35 and Psalm 10:12-18.

Header image based on "Prayer is the Language" by Francisco, CC by 2.0

Size of the God in the Fight

Sometimes we feel like we have super. solid. faith. It’s burning bright.

But much more frequently, we struggle to trust God. Our faith feels squishy. We are bruised in our beliefs.

Or maybe we even feel like the flame has gone out, and our faith is barely alive. Just the smallest wisp remains. And we might even wonder, “Is it really there at all?”

The nice thing is that it’s not the size of our faith that matters. It’s the size of our God’s love that matters.

Because of his immense love for us, we possess the victory. That’s because–to twist a phrase a bit–it’s not the size of the fight in the dog, it’s the size of the God in the fight.

Not our faith, but Jesus is our hope. He is our one, true hope. And not ours alone, but the hope of the entire world.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope” (Matthew 12:20-21, NIV).

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me faithfully. Help me with your Holy Spirit to keep on growing in faith, and become strong and steady in relying on you alone.

Our Bible reading for Thursday, January 15, is Genesis 31:1-55, Matthew 12:1-21 and Psalm 9:13-20.

Header image based on "Alight." by Arnold, CC by 2.0

Plenty of Fish

The truth is that a Christian should expect to be unpopular. And he should fully anticipate that he will be treated that way.

Why? Truth is, sometimes it’s us. We’re sinful, and we put our sins on display far more often than we’d like to admit it.

But sometimes it’s not us. At all. In those cases, Jesus says it’s not personal. At least, it’s not personal to you or me. It’s personal to Jesus. We will be hated because of him.

His direction to us in these situations is clear. Hang in there! Stand firm. Don’t let go of Jesus. Don’t let your faith slip away.

And don’t feel compelled to stay where you’re not liked, either. When you’re rejected in one place, Jesus says, head on to the next. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. As a fisher of men, don’t waste a lot of time with those who don’t care much for your message. Find a better fishing hole and go on to those who are receptive.

Pull a page from Isaac’s book, in other words. Isaac was not well liked in his day. In fact, he was so disliked that anytime he and his men dug a well, his enemies would track him down and stop up the well, filling it with dirt. Or simply steal it outright. Each time, Isaac simply retreated to a new location and dug another well.

What Isaac did in the physical realm with obtaining water, is what Jesus recommends in the spiritual realm with sharing the Water of Life.

Open up the well. Share the Water. If someone resists you, don’t get hung up quarreling. Move on. God will take care of you. And God will take care of his message.

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another… 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:22-23a, 28-31, NIV). 

Lord, help me discern who is truly thirsty when I share your gospel. You are the Water of Life. But you have not called us to force-feed anyone. As I trust you for the growth of your kingdom, make me ready to move on to the next person you have in mind for me, even when the unpopularity of the gospel message makes me feel discouraged. Help me to understand that hatred for your message is not unusual, or restricted to me. You “called it” 2000 years ago, and told me to expect this. And you will strengthen me and protect me, because I am worth a great deal to you–worth the very life of your Son, Jesus.

Our reading for Monday, January 12, is Genesis 25:1 – 26:35, Matthew 10:1-31, and Proverbs 1:20-33.

Header image based on "Fishers" by McCaffrey, CC by 2.0

Gut Reaction

Sometimes people think that God doesn’t care. They feel like people don’t really matter to God. Thoughts like this begin with natural questions…

Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why such great poverty? Why the illnesses and the natural disasters? Surely, if God is real, and truly as powerful as the Bible claims he is, he could cure all this.

And since he hasn’t cured it all, the only logical alternative seems to be that he doesn’t care. So the argument goes.

It’s a big problem for us when God doesn’t keep himself within reach of our logic.

That’s why it’s so important to meet the real God, instead of the one we logic out in our own minds. Because if there’s one thing that’s made clear over and over again in the Bible it’s that people matter greatly to God. Our hurts, our suffering, our heart-aches and our struggles, they all matter to God.

He cares. Deeply.

Jesus, who was sent to reveal the mind and heart of God (because he is the Son of God, and true God himself), demonstrates this many times over. He shows it in both big ways and small. And those who followed him saw that caring heart.

Matthew was one of those. A person rejected by his own people, he was chosen by Jesus to be loved. Matthew also witnessed it with others. He saw Jesus’ gut reaction to suffering. In fact, he saw it so vividly and clearly, he wrote to tell us about it.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field'” (Matthew 9:36-38, NIV).

You need to know something about the verbs in this passage. The verb for “he had compassion” means to be moved to the deepest part of one’s gut. “Harassed and helpless,” when taken in a physical rather than emotional sense, means “all skinned up and thrown to the ground.”

That gives us some insight into Jesus’ heart. Jesus saw their hearts were all “skinned up and thrown to the ground” and he had a visceral reaction. And that was, “We’ve got to do something about this pain. We need to get these people some help. Ask God to call in more workers! Let’s get this taken care of!”

A gut reaction is a pretty good indicator of where someone’s heart is. Right here, Jesus shows us his heart clearly.

People matter to God. You matter to God.

Our Bible reading for Sunday, January 11, is Genesis 24:1-67, Matthew 9:14-38 and Psalm 8:1-9.

Header image based on "Mending a Broken Heart" by Raymond, CC by 2.0


Anguish is defined by Merriam-Webster as “extreme pain, distress or anxiety.”

You’ve been there. So have I.

We experience a loss. Maybe it’s a loved one, or a treasured possession, or a capability we once possessed. It’s painful.

We come under attack. Perhaps it’s an attack on our health by a disease or injury. Maybe it’s a personal attack by someone from whom we expect support. That’s distressing.

We face difficult challenges that lie ahead. They may seem insurmountable. Defeat looms, rather than victory. In the place of glory, shame hovers. The situation is most definitely anxiety-producing.

What’s the best way to handle anguish? I highly recommend David’s way.

He trusted God’s power to sooth his anguish. He leaned on God’s authority to address issues and provide healing, according to his will. Most of all, no matter what situation was creating his pain, distress or anxiety, David looked to God for unfailing love.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 6:2-4, NIV).

Lord, you are in control of the entire universe, and you love me. Please grant me relief of my anguish, according to your will, Lord. May this pain and distress draw me closer to you. May my anxiety make me a more faithful pray-er.

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, January 7, is Genesis 14:1 – 16:16, Matthew 5:43 – 6:24 and Psalm 6:1-10.

Header image based on "anguished..." by Aoyama, CC by 2.0

A heart of worship. A song of joy.

Today is Christmas! And you know what that means, don’t you?

Our Salvation has come! Jesus, the Chosen One—whose arrival was prophesied for millennia—has made his way into our world.

The most wonderful thing ever is God becoming man so that he could demonstrate to us the full extent of his love! Our redemption draws near!

And that fact cries out for worship in our hearts and a song on our lips!

“And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: ‘Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed'” (Revelations 15:3-4, NLT).

Our reading for today, Christmas Day, is Haggai 1:1 – 2:23, Psalm 147:7-11, Proverbs 30:20 and Revelation 15:1-8.