Conversing with God looks different for everyone, but at some time or other we all shoot arrow prayers heavenward. I do it often.

It happens when I’m traveling by plane and a spiritual conversation opens with a fellow passenger. On one occasion a woman beside me said, “I’m on a personal quest. I’m searching for peace. Have you found it?” I shot an arrow prayer before answering: “God, give me the right words.”

I shoot arrow prayers when driving down the highway. “God, safety.”

I shoot them when needing inspiration for my writing assignments: “God, creativity.”

I shoot them when I hear about another’s heartache: “God, comfort.”

Nehemiah did something similar one day while standing in the king’s presence. Months prior, he’d prayed, “Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (Nehemiah 1:11). Now he stood before the king, ready to present a request.

“The king asked, ‘Well, how can I help you?’ With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, ‘If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried’” (Nehemiah 2:4-5 emphasis mine).

Nehemiah had a split second to respond, so he wasted no time shooting an arrow prayer heavenward. Perhaps it sounded like, “God, help!” or “God, favor!”

God heard Nehemiah, and He hears us, too. Our prayers needn’t be long or fancy before He’ll listen. Sometimes an arrow prayer is all we can muster, and that’s okay. He responds to heartfelt, honest expressions of our need for His involvement in our lives regardless of how spiritual—or not—they sound.

Grace Fox is a career global worker and the author of nine books including Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. She’s a member of the “First 5” Bible study writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries and a regular contributor to Guideposts’ annual devotional, Mornings With Jesus. She lives aboard a sailboat in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

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In writing our first in the series of Discovering the Bible: Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we dug into the familiar passage of Psalm 1. Immediately, my heart began a consistent prayer, Lord, make me a strong Psalm 1 tree! The first time I read that psalm, evn as a child, I knew I wanted to be one of those trees that no storm, no wind, no natural disaster could topple– but reflecting on the Psalm now, more than 50 years later, I see through life experience, just HOW MUCH we need God to help us become that strong, stable, Psalm 1 tree– and live a life He can bless!

 

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV) 

So when writing Discovering Joy in Philippians, God reminded me that joy in HIM is the pathway to strength in life. My assignment was to help others, as they studied Philippians, to connect to God in a personal and powerful way, so that through God’s Word, their lives could also be fortified by the Almighty.

In Nehemiah 8:10, we see a straightforward statement:

The JOY of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8:10)

Elliot’s commentary shares, “This beautiful sentence is, literally, delight in Jehovah is a strong refuge.”

In my personal study notes, after looking up key words, I have:

The JOY (gladness and rejoicing) of the Lord (Yahweh) is your strength (place of safety, protection, defense, a fortress, refuge and stronghold)

The Israelites in this story, were being led by Nehemiah and the priest Ezra, to rebuild the wall to protect the temple after being in exile (for their disobedience). Nehemiah give them meaningful work that honored God, Ezr gave them meaningful worship and call ed them to stand and listen to the Word of God.

The people realized they had drifted from God, and so were in grief and mourning. But their wise leaders knew that after repentance, staying in a state of shame, guilt and despair would be counter productive to finishing the wall and to their future calling to walk out being God’s chosen, anointed, people. So Ezra commanded them to stop grieving and celebrate!

In celebration and worship of God, we too can find strength!

 

Today, follow the footsteps of strength, do one or more of the following:

  • Repent of your disobedience, drifting, or defiance of God or God’s Word
  • Listen to the Word (on audio, on You Tube, in church, on radio or podcast. )
  • Worship God through song and celebration. 

In doing these, you will discover a strength building in your life too.

I would like the honor of helping build strength into your life through an online study of Discovering Joy in Philippians (Sept 18-Dec 4)

Register for the FREE study today. 

Pam Farrel is Co-Director of Love-Wise, with her husband, Bill, who she has been JOYously married to for 40 years. She is also author of 48 books, and an international speaker. She enjoys time with her far-flung family, and kayaking to get her mail from her live aboard boat in Southern Ca.

 

 

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Express Line Prayer By Darlene Franklin

Waking up early is one thing. Waking up for a date with a needle is another.

“Good morning!” A cheerful, African-accented voice called out. “I’m here to draw your blood.”

I placed my right arm on top of the blankets and closed my eyes so I didn’t have to watch. Needle sticks often took three attempts or more. My hands and arms stayed black and blue from broken blood vessels. I prayed that somehow, this time would go more easily.

When you need an answer to prayer now!

When you need an answer to prayer now!

Imagine my surprise when I peeked and saw a vial filling with my blood. I hadn’t even felt the needle go in. “That’s another express-line prayer answered.”

“Express-line prayer?” The worker repeated. “What do you mean?” Toby’s bright smile and infectious faith always made my day brighter in spite of his occupation.

“It’s like the short line at the supermarket, when you need an answer NOW.”

He thought about it. “I get it. Like when the people of Israel were at the Red Sea.”

Great example, but I was thinking more about Nehemiah. He committed the cardinal sin for a man in his position of cupbearer to the king: he was visibly upset in Artaxerxes’ presence. The ruler asked, “Why are you sad since you’re not sick?”

Nehemiah explained about the ruins of the city of Jerusalem in his homeland, and the king followed with “What do you want?”

Nehemiah’s response? Express-line prayer. “I prayed to the God of heaven, and I said unto the king. . .” (Nehemiah 2:4,5 KJV)

When there’s no time to call a prayer meeting, that’s an express-line prayer.

Earlier that week, God answered another express-line prayer. Our Bible study leader asked for prayer. The elderly man was subject to dry throat and high blood pressure. I prayed that he would be able to share the lesson he had prepared because Christ promised to give him strength.

Brother Ray perked right up. He made it through the entire lesson without even needing a sip of water.

I wish all my prayers were could be answered that quickly. But when they’re not, I shouldn’t abandon the practice of praying for emergency answers.

What makes express-line prayers work? Relationship. Nehemiah had prayed about Jerusalem for months before his opportunity came. The ruler understood his cupbearer well enough to invite his confidence and to grant his request.

When I prayed for Ray, I drew on a Scripture I had memorized years ago.

Do I need something? “My God shall supply all your needs” (Philippians 4:19, KJV). Am I uncertain what to do next? “I will…teach you…the way you should go” (Psalm 32:8, NIV).

Other times, I appeal to God’s character. “Lord, You love this person! You don’t want anyone to perish. You are our fortress, our healer.” The list is endless.

When a need strikes in the supermarket of life, head straight for the express line. God will meet you there.

 

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. In July, she will reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in five monthly venues. Her most recent titles are Cinderella’s Boot, Runaway Brides and Colorado: 2 contemporary romance novellas and 2 historical

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