A week ago at sunset there was a wall of flames approaching our little town here in the Sierra Valley: #LoyaltonFire.
More than 700 firefighters had battled it for three days before it headed down the mountain toward spent and dry meadows that bordered our town of 860. The same angry beast had jumped two state highways in other directions the day before—one of those eight lanes wide. Now it was headed our way.
Because I have prayer walked my town for the last twenty-two years, I have seen the hand of God answer one prayer after another for my friends and neighbors. I knew God would work through the firefighters who were taking a stand at the highway. However, because I also formerly worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper, I wanted to see for myself what was going on. So, well after dark I walked to the other end of town to see the firefight for myself.
Like a child who is exhausted but still resisting going to bed, the fire was still arguing but waning—no larger than three side-by-side homecoming bonfires. All would be well.
Later I learned of miracles: a ranch with a historic barn surrounded by flames…saved, and an entire hillside burned but friends’ barn, home, and 100 sheep…untouched.
Two days later I read, “For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12 ESV). God may intervene directly in our lives, but sometimes He uses dozer operators, firefighters, and even writers to effect His sovereign plan. In any case we can always know He does indeed doze a path for us. He’s always got your back.
Janet McHenry is a speaker and the author of twenty-four books—six of those on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She and her rancher-husband Craig have raised four children in their little town in the Sierras, where she formerly taught English to every single high school junior and senior.
Easter is a time to draw close to Christ and learn from his experience. We also can learn from his prayers from that last week of his life. It’s interesting that of his ten recorded prayers, six come from his last week. And they can inspire our prayer lives.
- “Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:28 NIV). Despite Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he said, “Now my heart is troubled.” When we are troubled, we also can ask God to be glorified in us.
- “May they be brought to complete unity” (John 17:23 NIV). Jesus’s chapter-long Upper Room prayer emphasizes the importance of unity in the church and is an example to us to pray for the same today.
- “Yet not as I will, but what you will” (Matt. 26:39 NIV). In the Gethsemane Garden Jesus prayed the two-sided prayer—what he wanted, life, but also God’s will in the matter. When we face critical decisions, we can pray similarly.
- “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34 KJV). In Jesus’s first of three prayers from the cross he models the imperative of forgiveness in the face of injustice and cruelty.
- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46 NIV). With Jesus’s second prayer from the cross we see his humanity in his “why” question and know that we can pray our laments also.
- “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:45 NIV). Ultimately, Jesus’s last prayer shows us that the best posture of prayer is submission.
While we don’t have to use Jesus’s very words, he shows us the importance of opening our hearts honestly in prayer and opening our hands to receive what the Father has for us.
The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus
Janet McHenry is the author of twenty-four books—six of those on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. Featured in Health and other magazines and media for her prayerwalking for her community, she directs the prayer ministries of The Bridge Church in Reno. Janet loves serving event planners and churches through her speaking and may be contacted at https://www.janetmchenry.com