All I Can Do Is Pray by Jo Russell

Harv watched his work-out friend, Lenny, arrive at the gym at his usual time. But instead of finding a parking place in the gym parking lot, Lenny had driven his dusty pick-up truck up the road next to the building, looped a figure eight in the grocery parking lot next store, and finally came to a stop at the top of a hillside. He parked, aiming the vehicle down toward the road. It was at the business next door, not at the gym.

When Lenny joined him in morning exercise, Harv greeted him and asked, “Now why did you park over there? You can see there are parking spaces right in front of the gym.”

Lenny responded, “Can’t. The truck will only go forward, can’t back up. Needs transmission work. So everywhere I go, all I can do now is to drive straight ahead.”

Lenny’s truck had been his friend and dependable extra wheels for 18 years. Now it was getting older. It couldn’t do everything it had done before. All it could do is to go forward. It would never be the same again. But the vehicle was still useful.

Thinking on your own limitations, have you ever thought, “All I can do is pray”?

Sometimes when we learn of hardships and challenges that others face, we may feel unable to do much due to limits on time, energy, finances, distance, family responsibilities, or physical limitations. What can we do to comfort them? We may sigh and decide, “I can only pray.”

And it seems like a weak action, lame.

But truly, as a channel and communication tapping into the power of God, it’s decisive, strong, and life-changing.

Many were watching at Lazarus’ tomb when Jesus asked them to take away the stone. Jesus, the Son of God prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that you sent me.” [John 11:41]  He modeled for us his connection and communication with God the Father with prayer.

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” [Luke 5:16] This comment had followed his preaching and healing large crowds. Prayer gave him power to recharge and refocus, to keep on keepin’ on.

In the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” [Luke 22:42-43]  Even in the last days of his earthly life, Jesus showed prayer clearly as  communication directly with God, bringing comfort and clear answers.

Just as Lenny mourned, “All I can do is go forward,” we may say, “All I can do is pray.” God’s power can move in astonishing ways no one can. It’s more, not less. Prayer moves mountains. It changes us. It brings insight and spiritual growth. Prayer shows the compassion and power of God.

But the difference between Lenny’s power and God’s is in tapping into the power better than any new or used transmission.  “All I can do is pray” is a powerful action.  Don’t belittle yourself when you think it’s the only thing you can do.  Prayer is just the right thing to do.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Communication by Jo Russell

Cindy was in deep do-do again. So on the sunny Saturday when it would have been more fun to be building forts and playing softball, the eight-year-old was once again confessing to the priest all of her wrongs of the spring break week.

He responded, “Uh, huh, Uh, huh,” at the right places.

I wonder if he remembers I was in here last Saturday saying the same thing.

With her two brothers in line behind her, she could imagine their tales were similar. But instead of “fighting with my brothers,” theirs was, “fighting with my sister.”

But then the man behind the screen asked Cindy, “Do you glibcklich anything else?”

At least, that’s what it seemed to be because Cindy was too embarrassed to ask. I’m old enough to know a lot of big words, but I don’t know that one. How can this giant of a man of God use words I don’t understand?

She stammered and stuttered, “I guess not.”

Easy communication and word meanings are not mastered by third grade. But it doesn’t matter.

Thanks to Jesus, one doesn’t need an intercessor. Prayer is communication. Praise is communication. Asking for forgiveness is communication.  Asking for help is communication. Thanking God is communication. Talking with Jesus is an easy two-way communication that only grows with time.

Jesus keeps it simple. He cites the example of a shepherd and his sheep, a common site in Jesus’ time and today in Israel.

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” [John 10:3-4]

Imagine! Jesus knows your name! And you know his! As he speaks to you, he will never hide his meaning behind a word like glibcklich!

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. She lives in northeast Arizona with her husband, Ed. Enjoy

All I Want for Christmas By Jo Russell

When Leslie went looking to buy a family home–a dream and prayer for over ten years–she noted some sales people showed her some one-of-a-kind features.  Close enough to Christmas that the shiny ornaments were packed in the stores next to the Halloween ghouls, Leslie held fast to the vision of a home for her family with a Christmas tree twinkling with lights in the living room.

 

“What’s this?” she asked when a realtor showed her inside something that could only be loosely categorized as a single-family residence.

 

“The bathroom.”

 

“You’re kidding. It looks like an RV toilet in a closet.”

 

“Whatever.”

 

“And what’s that smell?” she wanted to know.

 

“The slaughterhouse.  But today is windy. Most days, you won’t smell it.”

 

“No, thanks. It’s not what I had in mind.”

 

Sales people and mortgage bankers had sized up her skinny portfolio as a single mom with two school-aged children and said the same thing, “This is all you can afford. You don’t have enough income or a big enough down payment.”  So instead of what she asked and prayed for, most showed her shacks.

 

Not Mary. The new sales professional welcomed Leslie with enthusiasm and really listened.

 

“It has to be a three-bedroom house in a decent and safe neighborhood.”

 

“Righty-O! I can do that!” the realtor promised cheerfully.

 

“Here’s one!” she pointed at the computer screen. “But it’s financed under a government program. Let’s see if you qualify. Yes!  As a ‘moderate income’ family!”

 

As the realtor, Leslie and her sons walked through newly refurbished house, her eyes opened with surprise. The living room even had a fireplace where the stockings would hang.

 

But government programs have different criteria, the realtor explained. “All the names on the contracts go into a hat, and then they draw a name.”

 

Hers was not the first name. But a few weeks later, Mary called again to say the first contract was turned down and Leslie was the next one as they checked her credit.

 

While talking about Christmas wishes with her sons, one asked,

“What about you, Mom?”

 

Leslie sighed. “It’s been a long time wishing, but if it’s God’s will, may we have that house of our own.”

 

The day after Christmas, Mary called her to say, “The house is yours if you want it!” Leslie cried.

 

Not long after, the small family walked the length and breadth of the land that showcased their family home.  To others, the yard looked like dirt. To them, it looked like possibilities. And miracles. And proof of the persistence of prayer.

 

Jesus himself promises, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 77-8.

 

Leslie had prayed about a family home. The one God chose for her was even more than she expected.

 

But it was as Jesus promised. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake. If you…who know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! [Matthew 9-11 NIV].

 

Ask, seek, and knock. God delights to give you your heart’s desire, but it will be in his time. Keep thanking him, praying and believing! His answer will be extraordinary – and like Leslie’s, it will be the best answer – and nowhere near the slaughterhouse.

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]