8.31.2016

Life - and death - are PRECIOUS.


Tonight I returned home from a 14-hour day at the hospital to find this lovely vase of purple tulips waiting for me. A flash of beauty and color after a long day mixed with joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, light moments and difficult ones.
Immediately after noticing their beauty I thought, "Life! These purple petals represent LIFE!"
What a harsh contrast to the last scene imprinted on my mind's eye in the hospital.

After the final visitor left the room, Mariah asked for the immediate family to gather around Tyler.
Grandparents, parents, siblings ... all stood together, gazing on the face and body of the young man they love with passion, intensity, and loyalty ... 
knowing that soon, and very soon, he is going to see his KING.
The room was silent.
I took several photos to capture the moment, set the camera on the bed, and tiptoed out of the room.
As soon as the door closed behind me, I fell apart.
What a precious moment I had just witnessed, and what a privilege to have been allowed to do so.

The day was long. It started with a group of brothers and sisters praying together in the early hours of the morning, tears flowing freely, imploring the Lord for mercy, comfort, healing, and abundant grace for every hour of the day. 
Hugs, conversations, laughter, card games, coffee runs, babysitting, visitors, communication, service, encouragement, listening, comfort ... all of these things filled the rest of the hours. 
It was a long day - and a fantastic day.

Not one hour passed without the body of Christ living out the commands of Scripture. And every time, it was done with JOY. Selflessness. Sincerity. Compassion.
I am not sure I was still for more than seven-minute stretches today, but amidst the running, the moving, the talking, and the mediating - I was always observing - and I am so grateful the Lord made it possible because I saw Scripture in ACTION!

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  II Corinthians 1:3,4

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15


I'm not sure I have ever been so proud to be called "Sister."
Every need was met - every desire fulfilled - every smile returned - every tear wiped away.

And now, my sweet Mariah lies next to her husband in the quiet of the night ... holding him, loving him, praying for him, and remembering every precious moment they have spent together because they both love a good God who drew them together with purpose, "for such a time as this."

Only the Lord knows the hour when He will bid Tyler, "Come, child. It is time to come HOME." Whether it is an hour, a day, or a week we stand confident in this truth ...
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psalm 116:15

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of this day. You were glorified - You were praised - trusted - sought - and FOUND. No one can deny Your presence when they enter Tyler's room, welcomed by the sparkling eyes found in the sweet, serene face of Mariah. She weeps over her husband in confidence. Her tears represent the sorrow of a wife saying goodbye to the man she loves ... and her confidence is a result of her unwavering faith in a God who always fulfills His promises. Lord - You are GOOD. 
It's who You are ... and we love You.

8.29.2016

A day of beauty and sorrow.


This morning I walked into the hospital room of a man who is slowly making the transition between this life - and the glory of heaven.
Not just any man, but the husband of one of my sweet girls.
She did not know I was in the room until her mom called her name, and when she turned and saw me she walked straight into my open arms, and wept.
I sat down, pulled her onto my lap, and we clung to each other while the tears poured down our cheeks.
There were just no words.

I saw and heard some amazing things in the hour I was there, 
but I am not ready to talk about those yet. There are still - no words.

All I can think about today, in between the tears, is the beauty of God's promises, and His faithfulness to deliver them to His children.
Our brother is at peace because the Shepherd is walking with him through the shadow of death, His hand firmly gripped over his, so there is no reason to fear. The Lord's rod and staff are comforting him. So much so that from his bed he offers comfort to those who have come to minister to him.

Dennis went to pray with him tonight and to say goodbye.
When he returned home, he walked over to me, hugged me, and began to sob.
He shared about his time with our brother and then repeated the prayer of this young man, which left him weeping while he knelt beside his bed.
Lord,
Thank you for Your grace for Mariah and me. I don't deserve it. You are so good to us.
Help me to glorify You. Please allow me to find a comfortable position in bed so I can sleep. 
Please allow me to be able to eat a couple of bites of food ... that would be good.
Help me to watch my tongue when I am uncomfortable and not feeling well 
so I don't bring You shame.
In Jesus name,
Amen

Her faith is just as strong.

As I think of them, the Lord brings this song to mind, and it is perfectly fitting because it is how they live. How they speak. How they praise Him in the darkest days they have ever experienced. 
They are young in years, but they are old in faith and trust.

Our hearts weep with them as they weep, but we will follow their example to praise God - while the tears flow freely - because we belong to a God who sees every tear and we have a Savior who understands our pain because He, too, is a man of sorrows.

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty and sorrow of this day.
Death is a part of life - and we hate it.
And yet - we WILL still praise You!


I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who's broken
The one who's torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all

Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

Though tonight I'm crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You're still all that I need
You're enough for me
You're enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need
Sing a song to the one who's all I need

Quote.


Our strength is not found in the absence of trouble, 
but in the presence of Christ.


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 
Psalm 91:1, 2

8.23.2016

Need: Met!

It's only Tuesday, and this has been a hard week.
Very few words have escaped my lips, other than what was necessary.
This morning a friend asked me a simple question in a text, "How are you?" My response, "On a scale of 1-10 ... I am a 2."
An hour later I was sitting in the parking lot of Costco with a van full of six enthusiastic children under the age of 9, waiting for Caleb. I was tired, frustrated, sad, conflicted, and worn.
One of my favorite worship songs began playing on the radio, and I laughed. Of course the Lord would let this song play right now!
I turned up the volume, let my head fall back onto the headrest, sang with the artist, and cried.
Not hard, not long (remember the six children?), but enough.
Enough to release the pressure that had been building since Sunday.
Caleb returned and we moved to our destination - the park - to meet dear friends.
The kids scattered throughout the playground, and I sat at a table alone, staring into the distance, and thinking. I kept humming the melody of the song on the radio, meditating on the truths of the lyrics.
Oh, Lord. What a mess. I am overwhelmed, I feel like a failure in so many areas, I am not sure where to start repairs and what to leave undone, I see a mountain of needs in front of me while I grasp a child's plastic shovel ... unable to make even a dent in the side, and I know that no matter how hard I try - how much energy and time and effort I throw at any of these things - it will never be enough because it is all done in MY power. MY strength. MY intelligence. MY plans.
But that is not how it is supposed to be. I know that. And yet, here I am, in the 'depths of despair' wondering how in the world I am going to figure it all out.
Lord - help me! I need You. I know I need You, but I honestly don't even know where to start. Which room needs to be cleaned first? What needs to go? What needs to be brought in? Help me, Lord. Make everything clear.
When I listen to this song, when I read the lyrics - I come undone. It is what I want. Rest - grace - holiness - HOPE. Not in myself, but in You.
Why do I stray so easily, Lord? If I KNOW You are all I need, why do I go looking for satisfaction, contentment, and peace in other places? Why would a person do that?!?
I don't want to be that person, Lord. I want to echo the Psalmist who declares that You are his cup and his portion - forever.
Help me, Lord! You are a faithful, gracious, loving, steadfast God who never gives up on His children. I have given You sufficient reason to give up on me more than once - yet You never do - because You PROMISE You will not. "I will never leave you or forsake you." It is YOUR promise, Lord. Thank You that when I am faithless You remain faithful, for You cannot deny Yourself.
Here I am. Confessing my sin, confessing my pride, and confessing my need for You.
I need You. More than anything or anyone else. So, please ... teach me how to surrender fully, trust completely, and lean wholly on You. 
Every day.
As a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter.
I have tried to do all of it on my own, and I can't. It is pride and pride alone that made me think I ever had a chance.
Forgive me, Lord. Take over, and show me how it's done.
I may not be as ready as I think I am - but I am willing.
Take me as I am, but please don't leave me that way!
I pray this with a childlike faith and a desire to increase it a thousandfold ... Amen.
My friend arrived and the Lord used her sweet spirit and calming manner to pull me out of my melancholy state, gain perspective, shake off the fog that had settled over me, and find a reason to smile.
He knew what I needed before I did - and He met that need.
Because that's the kind of God He is.

Lord I Need You

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

(Listen here)

8.18.2016

Praying, obeying, and abiding. A perfect trio!

This week our study group read chapter two of The Power of Prayer in a Believers Life and it was fanTAStic! Hardly a sentence was left without an underline, a highlight, or a response written in the margin. How I love reading the thoughts and convictions of godly men and women as they interact with the Word of God! Scripture is powerful and effective and most certainly stands on its own, but sometimes a writer has the ability to make Scripture come alive in a way that heightens our appreciation and understanding and makes us want to know it more. Spurgeon had that ability, and it is a blessing and a joy to be encouraged and challenged by his words decades after he put pen to paper.
Thank You, Lord, for the faithfulness of such men and women! 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 
If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full
John 15

We cannot separate Christ from the Word. In the first place, He is the Word. In the next place, how dare we call Him Master and Lord and do not do the things that He says, rejecting the truth He teaches? We must obey His precepts or He will not accept us as disciples. Especially the precept of love that is the essence of all His words. We must love God and our brethren. We must cherish love to all men and seek their good. Anger and malice must be far from us. We must walk even as He walked. If Christ’s words do not abide in you - both as to belief and practice - you are not in Christ. Christ and His gospel and His commands are one. If you will not have Christ and His words, neither will He have you or your words.

The sentence that struck me hardest was this one: how dare we call Him Master and Lord and do not do the things that He says, rejecting the truth He teaches?
The Christian life is about OBEDIENCE. "If you love Me, you will obey My commands." But the obedience should not stem from legalism or works-based faith ... it should be an outpouring of love with a desire to obey because we love God and are so thankful for His saving grace.
I can say I do this. Sometimes. But not every time. And I hate that.
This sentence ...  If Christ’s words do not abide in you - both as to belief and practice - you are not in Christ. Christ and His gospel and His commands are one ... Oh my!
Like James says - be a DOER of the Word, not just one who hears the Word and then walks away and forgets.
This paragraph really hit me hard. It is a good hard ... but one I am not done processing or praying through or figuring out how/what I need to change. I keep reading it over and over again and each time I am hit with the same power of conviction.
I want to be called His disciple! So - obey I must.

You who have Christ’s words abiding in you are equipped with those things that the Lord regards with attention. If the Word of God abides in you, you can pray because you meet the great God with His own words and thus overcome omnipotence with omnipotence. You put your finger down upon the very lines and say, “Do as You have said.” This is the best praying in all the world. So be filled with God’s Word. Study what Jesus has said, what the Holy Ghost has left on record in this divinely inspired book, and in proportion as you feed on, retain, and obey the Word in your life, you will be a master in the art of prayer. You have acquired skill as a wrestler with the Covenant Angel in proportion as you can plead the promises of your faithful God. Be well instructed in the doctrines of grace and the let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, that you may know how to prevail at the throne of grace.

I LOVE this!
I started praying Scripture back to the Lord when I was in Bible college, but I did not appreciate it then like I do now.
When I counsel women, there are times when there are literally no words. No comfort, no solution, no answers. Promises cannot be made and guarantees cannot be offered.
But I can repeat what God has already said!
You put your finger down upon the very lines and say, “Do as You have said.” This is the best praying in all the world. YES! YES! YES!
Add to this the promise that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we do not know how to pray and VOILA! The stress and burden of praying "the right way" is lifted, and we can come before the throne of grace with peace and confidence knowing the words are perfect - because they are HIS!
If we pray this way, and end each prayer with, "Not my will, but THINE be done," there is nothing left to do but sit back in peaceful contentment to wait and see what He will do, and how He will do it. This is EXCITING, isn't it?  I want to live this way. Every day. Every hour. Which means I have to be intentional  because it will not "just happen."
Make it so, Lord! Please - make it so!

If your prayers speed not at the throne, suspect that there is some sin that hinders them. If you do not abide in Christ, how can you hope to pray successfully? If you pick and choose His words and doubt this and doubt that, how can you hope to have speed at the throne? If you willfully disobey His words, will not this account for failure in prayer? But abide in Christ, take hold of His words, and be altogether His disciple, and He shall hear you. 

I think I may put this quote on a bookmark!
How many times do believers say, "I feel distant from God," or feel like He does not hear their prayers, answer their prayers, or give them the desires of their heart? I hear it often, and embarrassingly, I have said it myself.
And here is the perfect response. A checklist if you will.
-Are you abiding in Christ?
-Do you spend time in the Word daily?
-Do you have any areas of unrepentant sin in your life?
-Are you walking in obedience?
-Do you believe His Word and His promises - or do you doubt Him?
-Are you willfully disobeying Him in any area?
Basically, if we feel distant from God or it seems our prayers are bouncing off of the ceiling, it is time to step back and take inventory of the heart and mind. An honest and thorough inventory.
I love the end: BUT ... abide in Christ ... and He shall hear you.
There it is - the secret!
ABIDE.
In Christ.
Sacrifice everything else in order to cling to Him and draw from His resources. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Why WOULDN'T we want to live this way? And yet - we don't. Well, I don't. (maybe you all do?!?)

Oh, Lord, TEACH ME what it means to abide in You. Fully abiding, completely relaxed and resting in Your plans, Your purposes, and Your grace. I want that kind of prayer life, Lord. I want that confidence and that JOY. Help me, I pray. 

8.16.2016

We need beauty. Every day.


Sometimes we need to gaze upon something beautiful.

We need to be reminded that in the midst of trials and sickness, heartache and loss - there is HOPE.
Mistakes do not have to define us.
The world does not have to appreciate us.
Friends and family do not have to understand us.
Our passions and our desires are unique to how God made us, and how He wants to use us.
Our burdens and our sorrows are not meant to be carried alone, but shared.
Everyone will not agree with us, support us, empathize, or rejoice with us.
We are rarely able to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes," but we should sure try because hearing about something is not the same as LIVING it.
We need to ask people to let us into their story - because everyone has a story - and they need someone to read theirs. Then hopefully, each reader will add a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter that will enhance the story and bring joy to the writer.
We need to remember that everything is not about 'us.' People have struggles, sadness, trauma, and deep hurts ... and sometimes their actions, words, and responses flow from their pain and have nothing to do with who we are or what we do. They are hurting - and they need our compassion.
There is never enough encouragement, kindness, thoughtfulness, or grace ... but it is needed and DESIRED. By everyone.
We need to act like what we do matters - because it does.
Forgiveness is necessary - and healing. Both in the offering and the acceptance.
Words have the power to build up or destroy, so we need to think more - and speak less.
Kindness is what leads people to repentance - not arguments, harsh words, or wagging fingers.
Speaking truth is good. Speaking truth in LOVE is godly.
Scripture must be our standard for everything.
Prayer is essential. It cannot be neglected.

We need to gaze on something beautiful every day.
Colorful flowers, a smiling child, a beautiful piece of art, a star-studded sky ...
because beauty can always be found. Even in the ashes.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Psalm 34

8.10.2016

The orphan conversation is NOT over!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25

This passage may as well be an actual human hand the way it has been smacking me in the face for the past week.
Man!
I am a GREAT hearer of the Word. I love Scripture. Reading it, listening to it preached, using it to encourage others, thinking about it, talking about it, challenging others with it. Hearing? No problem!
But when it comes to the doing? Well, I can be a little slow out of the gate.
And I hate it.

This passage applies to every area of life, and I firmly believe the Nike swish should be a biblical icon. When it comes to God's Word, His commands, and His standards - do not question, do not whine, do not complain ... JUST DO IT!
Currently, the area in which the Lord is challenging me to "just do it" is TRUST - as it relates to orphan care.

Our entire family is in agreement about orphan care.
Dennis was in Lebanon when I sent him a link to an orphan respite care ministry and asked, "Interested?" He wrote back:
Michelle,
On April 15, 1968, I was adopted because someone else spoke for me when I could not speak for myself.
Now, we have the opportunity to serve those in need.
Let's do it.
I love you.
D
The littles would request their own baby so they could have one all to themselves.
When I shared our conviction with the older boys and asked them how they felt about it, their responses were simple.
Luke: "Why wouldn't we?"
Caleb: "You're going to adopt someday anyway, right?"
Micah: "Sounds good!"

That was too easy.

Research revealed that foster care is off the table because we have six children.
However, it presented another option - Safe Families. This ministry seeks to provide temporary care for babies/children so they do not have to be placed into the foster system. Families keep the child(ren) between one day and three months, and reunification is (almost) always the outcome. The 'rules' are less cumbersome because it is the step before the foster system.
Because it is not a government agency, the respite families are financially responsible for the necessities - formula/diapers/car seats/clothing.
This is where I hit PAUSE on the process - and my faith failed.
"How can we commit to the $ necessary to meet the needs of the babies that would flow through our home? We cannot even take a baby unless we get a 12-passenger van because we cannot fit another human in ours, and there is no way we can buy a new car right now. <sigh> Well, it looks like this door has been closed."

Fast forward four months.
I have a stack of books to read - two of them on foster care and adoption. I went to grab a new book last week, passed over both of the adoption books, and walked away.
3, 2, 1 ... overwhelming conviction. (It was not difficult to decipher since it sounded like the Lord was audibly screaming, "PICK UP THE BOOK, MICHELLE! NOW.")
I obeyed.
I sat on the couch and started reading Adopted for Life. Within 14 pages the conviction intensified from the repeated thwack of the Lord's fingers as He flicked me in the head with a, "Do you HEAR Me, daughter? Are you LISTENING?!?"
I closed the book and slouched on the couch covered by an invisible blanket of embarrassment and shame.
"Do I have ANY faith, Lord? What is going on with me? I have placed my hands on the belly of a miscarrying woman and begged You to restore life to the baby - because I know You CAN! I have pleaded with You to intervene in government and courts to change decisions that will affect millions of people - because You CAN! I refused to get off of the physician's table until I was fully surrendered to trust You and praise You whether the diagnosis was "Yes, you have breast cancer," or "You are cancer free." All of that, but I cannot trust You for an extra hundred dollars each month or a larger vehicle to provide for the needs of an orphan? Lord! Is my faith that weak?!? How can I trust You to raise the dead - but not trust You to supply diapers? Forgive me, Lord. And please - I N C R E A S E my faith!"

As He so faithfully does, He confirmed all of these thoughts. Within an hour.
First - the Safe Families Director sent me an e-mail asking, "Do you have any questions? I noticed you did not complete your paperwork." Hmm.
Next, my wonderful friend who has rescued three orphans listened to me share a 90-second version of this story while my kids loaded the G3 into their van. Her husband, who was putting strollers in the trunk, poked his head around the door and said, "I did not hear the whole conversation, but I will personally supply the diapers and formula for you. So you can mark THAT excuse off of your list!" Loving but firm rebuke: Accomplished!
Lastly, Dennis returned from work and I said, "Um, I am reading an excellent book on adoption and the Lord is making it very clear that I have not been obedient and that the Eastman-family-orphan-conversation is NOT over." He looked right at me and replied, "Of course it's not over."

?!!??!?!?!?!
Seriously, Lord?
How come it seems so logical and simple to everyone but me?
Come on, Michelle. You are a mature Christian. ACT LIKE IT!

The Lord is c l e a r l y asking me to trust Him - and - surrender ALL.
My concerns, my fears, my questions, and the unknowns.

God is calling our family to care for orphans in their distress.
He is not calling us to worry about money or resources.
And I confused the two.
As Dennis prayed last night, "Lord, You know what we "can't do," and You LAUGH when we are paralyzed by the "cant's" because YOU can do anything, and You delight in providing for Your children."

It is up to me to take a step of faith and trust the Lord to reveal the who/what/why/where/when/how in His time, and in His way.
So, I have a meeting with the Safe Families Coordinator tomorrow afternoon.

I don't know if the Lord is asking me to fully surrender and submit to foster care/adoption because we will have a baby in our home in six months, or if His plans are completely different than what seems obvious.
Either way? It is not my job to question.
My job is to say, "Yes, Lord. Do unto me according to Your will."
And then - step forward in obedience, and enjoy the ride.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5, 6

8.05.2016

The privilege and power of PRAYER.

We have officially kicked off our Prayer Study!
One week in - one chapter completed - and WOW.
My first read in 2014 was convicting, and not one page was without underlines, highlights, and comments.
This read is no different.
The same thoughts, phrases, and paragraphs that grabbed me two years ago have me in the same grip now.
It is even better reading it with my sisters in Christ because each of us has a different perspective and response to Spurgeon's message based on who we are as individuals.
Our commitment: Read one chapter each week, exchange notes on Saturday/Sunday, and pray for 30 minutes each day. When we complete the book we will meet together to live out what we learned - and PRAY.
It is a timely and timeless topic, and I trust the Lord will convict us in a real, life-changing, faith-growing way, and give us a genuine and consuming PASSION for prayer.
Lord, increase my understanding and desire for a powerful prayer-driven life so I can live with a heart and mind that rests in the godly peace that passes all understanding because I continually lay everything at Your feet and trust You to care for it all.

These are a few of my notes from chapter one. The complete set filled three pages - because if I had written down EVERYthing that God used to pierce my heart there would have been nine! <grin>
How I treasure excellent literature! Especially when every page, every paragraph, every word makes me forget myself and points every thought toward Christ.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, 
the spiritual approach of our nature toward the Lord our God.”
LOVE this.
If we read this quote before we began every prayer it would erase fears, concerns, distractions, and focus our thoughts on the LORD. 
If we entered a palace to meet a king or queen, we would not kneel before the throne thinking about our grocery list, how much weight we want to lose, or the family member who drives us nuts. We would be overwhelmed and awed by the beauty and splendor of everything around us. All of our worldly cares would be forgotten in those moments.
I am embarrassed to admit that I do not have an attitude of awe when I close my eyes to pray. Sometimes - but not enough.
Change me in this, Lord! Create a fresh, sincere, holy WONDER and DELIGHT for prayer based on the knowledge that I am entering the throne room of the King of kings!

“When prayer is the spiritual desire and fellowship of the human spirit with the Great Spirit, the Holy Ghost Himself must be present all through it - to help our weaknesses and give life and power - or else true prayer will never be presented. The thing offered to God will wear the name and have the form of prayer, but the inner life will be far from it.”
“The mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to acceptable prayer.”
AMEN and A M E N!
We do not know how to pray. Even our ‘best prayers’ are from the hearts of fleshly people who do not know the mind of God. We need Him to guide our thoughts/words/attitudes and expectations.
Thank You, Lord, for this wonderful gift!

“My heart, be sure that you prostrate yourself in such a presence. If He is so great, place your mouth in the dust before Him, for He is the most powerful of all kings. His throne has sway in all worlds. Heaven obeys Him cheerfully, hell trembles at His frown, and earth is constrained to yield Him worship, willingly or unwillingly. His power can create or destroy. My soul, be sure that when you draw near to the Omnipotent, who is as a consuming fire, put your shoes from off your feet and worship Him with lowliest humility.”
WOW!
This is powerful imagery. And convicting.
My take away from this is a conviction that I need to literally bend my knee before the Lord. 
We can pray anywhere at anytime because we have continual access to the throne, but when I pray I do not position myself as I would were I in a royal court.
There is a humility that comes with being bowed before another.
I think I need the physical posture of kneeling to focus my thoughts and prepare my heart to pray. This is my goal.
Lord - teach me how to pray!

“Whenever this throne is approached it should be with complete submission.”
“YOUR will be done, Lord!”
There is no better way to pray.
Jesus poured his heart out before the Father in the garden, asking for the cup of death to pass, and God the Father said, “No.”
If He denied His own Son, why should we presume to have all of OUR requests answered the way we want them to be answered?
Lord, may I ALWAYS end prayer with, “Not MY will - but YOURS be done.” Even when I don't understand or like it.

“As for our great King, when we venture into His presence, let us have a purpose there.”
YES! YES! YES!
Focus - purpose - intention.
Prayer is powerful - effective - life-changing - and a command.
I cannot treat it lightly or minimize the need for it.
“Let us have a purpose there.”
Purposeful prayer. I like that!

I am afraid we do not bow as we should before the Eternal Majesty.  ~ Spurgeon