(Always) Pray About Everything

May 31, 2019

“…tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer…” (Philippians 4:6)

It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry,” but what are we going to do about our problems if we don’t worry about them? Paul doesn’t leave us in a vacuum when he prescribed: “Pray about everything!”

The Word of God exhorts us to pray when we are in crisis situations. Psalm 46:1 has an alternate reading in the New Standard version, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” God delivered Paul from many tight places. We should therefore always pray in a crisis:

 “When it’s hardest to pray, pray the hardest!”

However, from personal experience Paul knew that God doesn’t always take our problems away. He had a physical condition that he described as a “thorn in the flesh.” Three times he asked God to take it away.

Paul saw many people miraculously healed as he ministered the healing power of the Holy Spirit to them. Yet, when he asked God to solve his own health problem, three times God said, “No. No. No.”

But God also responded, “My grace is sufficient for you and that is all you need. My strength looks good on weak people.” (2 Corinthians 12) Paul’s weakness drove him to discover the strength of God. When he did, he not only accepted his condition but eventually thanked God in it so God’s power might be showcased in him.

As Paul accepted the will of God regarding his thorn, he learned that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us.

Paul exhorts us from his personal experience that prayer may deliver us from our problems, or prayer may give us the grace to cope with them. But, in any case, pray.

Always pray about everything!

 Dick Woodward, from A Prescription for Peace


Spiritual Memorials (on Memorial Day!)

May 27, 2019

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…”  (Philippians 1:3)

It is fitting that we in the United States of America set aside one day each year to memorialize our fallen warriors. In the Old Testament God regularly commanded the Israelites to erect memorials so they would never forget certain events on their journey of faith.

When we study those memorials we realize that God wanted them to remember miracles He performed for them. God never wanted them to forget significant spiritual datelines. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we therefore continuously hear the exhortation to remember!

Memorials are closely linked with the attitude of gratitude and the awful sin of ingratitude. On Memorial Day are you thankful for “The Greatest Generation,” who in the first half of the 1940s saved us from an unthinkable future without freedom and throughout decades of the Cold War from more of the same? Does your memorial gratitude continue through those who fell in Korea, Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Do you have spiritual memorial datelines for which you are grateful as you remember them before God? Do you have a dateline of when you came to faith in what Christ did for you on the cross?

Do you have spiritual datelines beyond that point of beginning your faith journey, when the risen Christ proved Himself to you in miraculous ways? Do you have a dateline when He made you know what He wants you to do for Him?

In the fulfillment of that vision has He brought significant people into your life to help you bring that vision into reality?

Then have a spiritual Memorial Day and be filled with grateful worship!

Dick Woodward, 31 May 2010


#Faith (as Eagles): Preening in the Morning

May 24, 2019

“Let me hear of Your steadfast love in the morning, for in You I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:8)

Early every morning the eagle preens its feathers for more than an hour. Sitting on the side of its nest, the eagle passes each feather through its mouth, something like steam cleaning while depositing a liquid that makes its feathers water repellent.

This is important because eagles fish by diving under water. The fluid deposited on their feathers also locks them together to improve their aerodynamics. Whether an eagle is planning to fish or not, every morning for an hour they sit on the side of their nest and preen.

They are not primping, they are preening – a very prudent preparation.

Like you and me, eagles never know what challenges they may face on any given day. Therefore, they preen in preparation for every possible challenge each day may hold.

Do you wake up holy in the morning? Before you’ve had your coffee?

It’s possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we’re honest we will concede that most of the time we don’t wake up that way.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “With your first waking moment learn to fling the door wide back and invite God in. Then pray in private to your Father, Who is in the secret place, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.”

It is very important to make a good beginning each day. When we consider the eagle’s daily practice of early morning preening preparation, we are challenged to begin every day of our lives with spiritual preparation.

Have you preened your spirit with God’s help this morning?

Dick Woodward, (from As Eagles: How to be an Eagle Disciple)


God’s “Eighteen Wheeler” of Deliverance

May 21, 2019

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)

An attractive young lady was returning from a church meeting at a late hour. When she stopped at a traffic light, a large “eighteen-wheeler” truck was in the next lane. As the light changed and she pulled away, the large truck tailgated her car blinking its lights and blowing its loud air horn.

She was very frightened and increased her speed as she drove out of the city limits toward the farmhouse where she lived with her parents. The huge truck followed her all the way, blinking its lights and blowing its horn. She turned into a long dirt road that led to her home. The truck followed her as she drove right up to the porch of the house. When she frantically popped open her door to run for the house, the back door of her car suddenly opened and a man with a large knife bolted for the woods.

When she stopped for that traffic light, the truck driver saw the man crouching behind her front seat with a knife in his hand. Realizing that she was going to be attacked as soon as she drove into the country, the truck driver was determined to save her from that tragedy.

Sometimes, our suffering and limitations seem like that eighteen-wheeler bearing down on us. Actually, however, that suffering can be a vehicle of our loving God, purging out of our lives the evil one who is determined to ruin us.

This is what our Lord Jesus profiled when He instructed us in the disciple’s prayer to ask that we might be delivered from the evil one.

Can you meet yourself in this story?

Dick Woodward, 22 May 1012


Continuous Peace IN CHRIST

May 14, 2019

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Isaiah wrote of a state of perfect peace in which God can keep us, continuously. According to Isaiah, this state of continuous peace is based on two very important conditions: we must keep our minds centered on God, and we must trust God. This peace is supernatural because we can have it even when the circumstances of our lives are chaotic.

Jesus promised that He gives His followers peace the world will not understand because it comes from Him and can be ours even in the middle of the storms of life. The early followers of Christ were persecuted. While suffering unimaginable cruelty at the hands of their persecutors many died in a state of peace because they had this peace I’m describing.

The Apostle Paul also believed in this peace. In one chapter of one of his letters he listed twelve conditions on which this peace is based. (Philippians, Chapter 4) In another letter Paul described this peace as the fruit and expression of the reality that the Holy Spirit lives in authentic disciples of Jesus.

We may therefore conclude that the basic condition of this peace is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.

“Christ in you” is the foundation on which the conditions of this continuous peace are to be built. (Colossians 1:27)

There is obviously something to believe and Someone to receive when you become a follower of Jesus Christ.

Do you believe? Have you received?

Dick Woodward, 15 May 2009


Psalm 23: A Prescription for Restoration

May 10, 2019

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)

In the most popular psalm written by King David, he shares the key to living well and dying well in his opening statement. When we say (& believe) that the Lord is our Shepherd, we can say that we have green pastures, still waters and the knowledge that the paths in which we are moving are the right paths for us.

This all happens when God makes us lie down. But when we get up, the green pastures often turn brown and the still waters are disturbed again.

That’s when David gives a prescription for restoration: my Shepherd-God leads me in the paths of righteousness. This second time David writes ‘He leads me,’ he uses a different Hebrew word that means God drives me into the paths of righteousness, perhaps for some time, even years.

God then uses the discipline of those paths of righteousness to restore my soul.

The word “rehabilitation” in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” It, too, is a prescription for restoration.

When we need restoration and rehabilitation we should not look for what’s cheap. God’s prescription for restoration in the Shepherd Psalm of David is not a cheap prescription.

It takes time and it’s costly, but it works. It has worked for me and for scores of others I know personally.

It can also work for you.

When you suffer great loss you can focus on what you have lost and be depressed, or you can focus on what you still have and be restored.

Are you willing to join me and invest again with dignity?

Dick Woodward, 11 May 2010


Pursuing God: Asking, Seeking, Knocking

May 7, 2019

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

This teaching of Jesus quoted from Luke’s Gospel is also repeated in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus challenges us in these two places to ask, to seek and to knock.

Seeking is intense asking and knocking is intense seeking. The context shows that Jesus was not speaking of the forgiveness of sins, He was speaking of knowing God in a real and personal way.

Revised translations show that asking, seeking and knocking are to be continuous and done with great perseverance. This is what theologians call “Importunate prayer.”

This exhortation is followed by the promise that everyone who asks will receive, everyone who seeks will find, and everyone who is willing to knock on the door of knowing God will find that door opening. If your personal pursuit of God isn’t working in this way you have two choices: you can question the integrity of the One who made these promises, or you can consider the possibility that your pursuit of God may be flawed.

If this is a new thought I challenge you to take Jesus up on His challenge. The context of this teaching is that Jesus was a Man of intense prayer and His disciples were not. This was His response to their request to teach them what He knew about prayer that they obviously did not know.

I challenge you to prioritize your time to intentionally pursue God in prayer. Your pursuit of God could be the greatest pursuit of your life!

Dick Woodward, 07 May 2010