More Power in Prayer; God Never Makes a Mistake

God never makes a mista

Several years ago, one of our camp counselors become ill toward the end of youth camps.  Once Sarah started feeling unwell, things went downhill rather quickly.  When she explained to the camp nurse that she was experiencing blurred vision, she was taken to the local hospital where they ran a full gamut of tests.  Even so, they could not decide what was wrong.

Eventually her parents got her to a specialist in the cities (that’s Minnesota speak for the Twin Cities: Minneapolis/St.Paul and surrounding areas).  He found damage to the optic nerves that may or may not be permanent. What was certain was that if healing was possible, it would take time.  He sent her home with the diagnosis of “legally blind”.

All this didn’t stop her from serving.  I remember her sister bringing her up for a ladies’ retreat, and even though she was using a walking stick to get around, Sarah was running the big dishwasher while greeting women through the serving window.

God used her to touch a lot of hearts during this time, including a young camper who continued to correspond with Sarah after the summer.  The teen she was mentoring gave herself to Christ just shortly before losing her life in a traffic accident, and afterward God used Sarah to comfort the girl’s mother.

For many months we prayed for Sarah, asking the Lord that if would be His will, would He heal her?  During a weekend staff reunion in which the young adults studied the power of prayer, the camp staff and her peers laid hands on her and prayed for her healing during every session.  At the last session of the last day, she said she had come to terms with the idea that her healing was not going to happen at the retreat, and she was okay with that.  But when the closing prayer was said, she opened her eyes and the whole room heard her announce in surprise, “I can see.”

Sarah returned to camp as an intern.  We watched her enjoy a  blooming relationship with one of our local boys, another Camp JIM counselor, and last January my husband had the honor of marrying them.


When I asked Sarah about her story, she shared, “When I went back to my doctor, he found that the damage to my right eye was reversed (medically impossible that a nerve could regrow that quickly) and my left optic nerve was still so damaged that I shouldn’t be able to see anything!”  
 Sarah is a walking miracle, and anyone who knows her would tell you about how God used her story to spur us on to greater faith, and the ways we all delight to spread God’s fame because of his merciful kindness.  As Sarah says, “God gets all the glory!”

It’s easy, when our prayers are answered in the affirmative, to say we believe that God never makes a mistake.  But what about the times that healing does not occur?  When a loved one dies?  When the depression doesn’t lift?  When a child walks away from God?  When the loss is too great.

I cannot even begin to touch the hem of the hurts that you have lived.  Our paths are not the same.

And yet, the Bible tells us that there is one who understands each hurt, every need, every tear.  He knows the beginning from the end, and every moment of our lives in between.  He knows the what if’s, the endless possibilities and the non-negotiables.

His goal is that we reach spiritual maturity by drawing near to Him, and that our lives would become light houses that beckon others home.  In the process, we become vessels who minister to the Lord,

who encourage other believers,

vessels who declare the glory of God–not simply by what we say, but by what we live, because other people are watching, and we exemplify what we believe.

light house

Sometimes it’s the healing that brings about our perfection.

Sometimes it’s the suffering.

The question that begs our attention, when we realize that effectual prayers must be in line with God’s will, is: Are we committed to God’s will?

Do we believe God’s promise, that He works ALL THINGS together for good, for those who love Him?

There is a friend and neighbor of camp who is dying of ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This insidious disease causes the death of neurons that control the voluntary muscles of the body, causing their eventual failure, but it doesn’t affect the victim’s ability to think and reason.  As their body stops working, they are all too aware of what is happening to them as helpless victims, trapped in their own bodies.  This friend, who I will call D, has lost his ability to walk, and he has to be on a breathing machine already.  Soon he will lose his ability to talk and swallow.  It is heartbreaking for all to watch, especially his family.

Friends from all over the country have been coming every few weeks to visit with D and pray over him, asking God if He will heal our friend.  They stay at camp when they come, and they have included our staff in their prayer vigils.   So far, while D’s disease has progressed more slowly than the doctors predicted, his condition has continued to worsen. 

Why doesn’t God heal D like He healed Sarah?

I don’t know.

Can He?

Absolutely.  D says he will walk over himself to tell us in the event that healing is God’s will.  🙂

But even if God doesn’t heal D, do you know what I see?

I see the Church Body gathering around D regularly to pray for and encourage him.  While they are there he asks them about what they are facing, listens to them, discusses with them, and yes–prays for them.  They are bearing one another’s burdens.

He is interceding a lot these days.  Are you a follower of Christ?  He is praying for you.

People come together to minister to D, but they leave with full, light hearts, realizing that they also have been ministered to.

As we pray for his healing, we are encouraged by the grace and strength God is providing for him to handle what is happening to him.

I see D’s trust; I see the peace he is experiencing, despite his circumstances.

I see God’s faithfulness.

And I am amazed.

What do I see?  I see God working.  In all His mercy, and unfailing, loving kindness, He is working in D and in all of us, and it is a beautiful thing.

Does God make mistakes?


Is it worth it, trusting God’s will?

Emphatic, Yes.

Effective prayer doesn’t always change our circumstances, but it always changes our hearts.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  1 Peter 4:19  ESV


HUGE thanks to Sarah, for giving me permission to share her story and for the use of her wedding picture.  All glory to God!

Other photo credit belongs to Pixabay.


Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2

Happy Monday, Friends!  I’m so glad you can join me again. 🙂  Have you been digging into 1 Thessalonians to see what God has to show us?

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

This chapter really includes a LOT of history.  The apostle Paul was one of those super smart people who sometimes talks in circles before getting to the crux of his message.  I had to read through this chapter several times, and you’ll notice that I have grouped some of the verses out of order to make more sense for my own study.

I am not a Bible Scholar or theologian.  I’m just a child of God who loves His Word, and I desire to understand His will.  In John 16:13, Jesus tells us the the Spirit of Truth (God’s Holy Spirit) guides us into all truth!  I do hope you’ll share with me what God revealed to you in your study–we can learn from each other!  Let’s pray for understanding.


My Notes:

vs. 2– Some background: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy (apostles) came to the Thessalonians from Philippi.  They had suffered shameful treatment there, but were still bold to speak the gospel in Thessalonica (where they also experienced “oppression”–they were accused of civil treason {Acts 17:7})

vs.1–This was not in vain (because the Thessalonians ultimately embraced the gospel)

vs. 3– Paul seems to feel the need to support his qualifications and the integrity of their ministry to them.  He stated that their ministry 1) did not come from error, 2) did not come from impurity, 3) did not come from deceit.

vs. 5– While ministering to the Thessalonians, the apostles 1) didn’t smooth talk or flatter, 2) their ministry was not a front for personal profit (not greed driven), 3) did not seek personal glory from anyone


vs.4–The apostles were 1) approved by God, to share the gospel, 2) taught the gospel to please God (not men) as they answered to Him.  And,

vs.7–They were 1) gentle (kind) among the Thessalonians (cherishing them like a nursing mother cherishes her baby) and  2) very willing to give the gospel to them even if it cost them their lives to do so.  Why? Because the Thessalonians had become “very dear” (beloved) to them.

vs.9–The apostles worked to support themselves while they were among the Thessalonians.  (The Philippian church also sent support to them. {Philippians 4:16}  Paul later wrote to them and told them how much this meant to him.)  This supported Paul’s claim that he didn’t minister to them for personal gain.

vs.10–The apostles behaved blamelessly among them.

vs.11-12–They had exhorted (strongly encouraged/invited) them, imploring them “like a father would his children” to live worthy of God who “calls you into His own kingdom and glory”

vs.13–So then (as a result of this): the apostles constantly thank God that the Thessalonians responded to the gospel, accepting it as God’s own word, and they were saved! 🙂

vs.14,15–The Thessalonians became imitators of the churches in Judea who were persecuted by the Jews for following Christ.  The price?  The Thessalonians were also persecuted by their countrymen.

vs.16–The unbelieving Jews wanted to stop the gospel from being dispersed.  God’s judgement will come upon them.

vs. 17,18–Paul was grieved that he had been forced to leave the church in Thessalonica prematurely.  He wanted to visit them again, but had been prevented.  He said he was with them in spirit.  Interestingly, if Paul had not had to leave them, we would not have his letters to this church.  We have to believe this was all part of God’s plan to give His inspired Word to the WHOLE Church Body.  (Thanks to Miriam for pointing this out!)

vs.19, 20–Paul calls the Thessalonian Church his glory and joy~a crown of exultation.  They were his spiritual children.  He was proud of them and took great joy in their salvation.


Paul and his fellow apostles give us a tremendous example of the kind of attitude and motivation we should have in sharing the gospel with others, and also gives us clues to identify false prophets (vs. 3,5).  He shows us that even when we are not the ones “sent,” we can and should be part of supporting the sounding forth of the gospel in other places.  Lastly, in Paul’s example, I see that those we disciple need our continual prayers as well as our candid and sincere encouragement and admonishment to remain strong in the Lord, whatever the cost.

On a different note, in reading the ways in which the apostles regarded the Thessalonians as a mother and father would: tenderly cherishing and strongly encouraging and exhorting them, I am reminded of how I as a parent should be discipling my children on a daily basis.


“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

* vs.2–Pray for my church leaders, for those on the mission field, the Church Body and for myself, that we will always be bold to share the gospel, even when oppression, persecution, or personal loss are a possibility.

*vs.1–Pray for those God has entrusted to go out and preach the gospel, that their labor will not be in vain.  Scripture says God’s word will not return void, but will accomplish what He pleases.  Isaiah 55:11

*God has qualified every believer to share the gospel.  Thank Him, and pray that we, and our church leaders, will never minister from a place of greed or a desire for personal glory.  Instead, give us integrity, truthfulness, and the motivation to please only God, who examines our hearts.

*vs. 6,11,12–Pray for our church leaders and teachers, that they will love people as a parent loves a child, deeply and tenderly, and admonish them/us to live worthy of God!  Are you a parent or grandparent, teacher or mentor, spouse or friend?  We need this prayer too!  “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

*vs. 9–Pray for the support and provision of those who serve in full time ministry, and thank Him! 🙂  (and then act if you are in a position to do so).  Fundraising for missionary support and for Christian non-profits is hard work (and scary for many).  It takes a great deal of time away from actual ministry.  I live in an area with many small, struggling churches who cannot adequately pay their pastors, so these men work full-time while preaching and fulfilling as many of the responsibilities of a full time pastor as possible.  As Paul shared, it is a hardship!  Church growth is slow when this happens, and pastors burn out before their time.  They can’t do it all!  They need support.

*vs. 10–Pray that we will walk blamelessly (living by the Spirit) and so not tarnish our testimony.

*vs.13-15, 19-20–we are reminded to continue to pray as we learned in chapter one, that the lost will accept the gospel as God’s word, in the Holy Spirit, in Power and FULL conviction.   Rejoice over those God is adding to His kingdom!

*vs. 17,18–Pray for the church in other areas.  Many of our brothers and sisters are suffering and in need.  We can be with them in Spirit (as well as supporting church work in their area), and ask God to teach them, strengthen them, and empower them according to His will.

When I had the privilege of discussing Thessalonians with my church sisters, those working in secular fields shared how even though they strive to walk blamelessly, they know they mess up, and sometimes experience concern that they may damage their testimony.  Yet time and time again, God continues to use them and allow them to be a light of influence in dark places.

Do you ever feel this way?  Praise God for grace.  He isn’t finished working in us yet!  My friend Lynn over at Through Ink & Image created a beautiful short video to illustrate this truth. 🙂  I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to go watch it!  It is worth your time!

Did you miss our study on 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1?  You can find it HERE! 🙂

Praying God’s Will; 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1

Links to chapters 2 though 5 of 1 Thessalonians are available at the end of this post.

Happy Monday, Friends!  I’m so glad you can join me!  As we’ve been learning in our series on experiencing More Power in Prayer, one of the keys to effective prayer is praying according to God’s will.  So starting today, I’m going to be spending Mondays reading to see, “What is God’s Will?” and then pray it!  I’m beginning in the book of 1 Thessalonians, chapter one.

Gods will 1 Thessalonians

I’m sitting here with my cup of hot herbal tea and my own notebook, with “1 Thessalonians” written across the top of the page.  My husband is finishing a remodel on the sunroom off my kitchen and diningroom.  He just finished installing the flooring, and I can’t wait for the trim to be completed so we can clean up the construction mess.  I’m looking forward to being able to sit in front of the windows and take in God’s creation while I study.

When I study a new book, I like to look at the what historians know about the background so I have a better understanding of where the author is coming from.  Then I group verses with similar ideas together and summarize them for myself, and finally I go back and look at how they may apply today.  I may learn something new each time I go over a passage, so this devotional will in no way be comprehensive!  I am not a Bible scholar or professor.  I am just a daughter of God who loves His Word and am seeking His wisdom in living for Him.  Lets ask God to show us what He wants to teach us in this chapter and get to work!  Shall we compare notes?!?  Please share your insights and musings in the comments so we can all learn from one another!

The book of 1 Thessalonians is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica.  Thessalonica was a busy seaport, an important communication and trade center, the largest city in Macedonia, and the capitol of its province.  Paul was able to spend only a short time discipling the new believers there before he was forced to leave, suddenly, leaving them without outside support during a time of persecution.  Paul wrote to encourage them, teach them Godly living, and give them assurance about their future.  This book is 5 short chapters.

vs. 1–an introduction

vs. 2–Paul prayed thanks for the Thessalonian Church

vs. 3–specific thanks: work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope

vs. 4–Paul knew God chose them

vs. 5–the church didn’t receive the gospel by word only, but in power, in the Holy Spirit with FULL conviction!

vs. 6&7–they became imitators of Christ & Paul, AND they became an example for other believers.  (1 Cor. 11:1)

vs. 8–they shared the gospel–everywhere they went, their faith sounded forth

vs. 9&10–other believers were talking about their faith (they had turned from idols, were serving a living & true God, and waiting for Jesus’s return).


As I read this chapter, I wondered if perhaps it was written like we write an English essay, with verse 3 being like an introductory sentence that the following verses unpack?

*Whether or not this was Paul’s intention, I can imagine that the work of faith Paul gives thanks for in verse 3 points forward to the Thessalonian Church receiving the gospel in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction” (vs.5).  We know (vs. 4) that all Christians are chosen by God first, and that we need the Holy Spirit to give us faith to believe the gospel.  Once we are saved, this faith grows and results in lives full of spiritual fruit.

*I can imagine that when Paul gave thanks in verse 3 for their “labor of love,” that he could be referring to the way they became an example for other believers, and shared the gospel everywhere, sounding forth their faith (vs. 6-8)

*I can imagine that when Paul gave thanks for their steadfastness of hope, that he could be referring to the way they turned from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for Jesus’s return (vs.9&10)


How can I use these observations to pray according to God’s will?

  • Give thanks for my church, being mindful that God has chosen them, and look for ways that God is specifically producing a work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope…  For example: My home church enjoys meeting together, truth is taught, we pray together, discipleship happens, hospitality is practiced, etc…  When my church ladies met to discuss this, they pointed out that Paul is not only praying thanks for the fruit He sees in the church in Thessalonica, He’s writing to tell them about it!  He is encouraging them in the process.  Hebrews 10:24 tells us to consider how we can spur each other on to good works—Imitating Paul’s action here is one of those ways!
  • Pray for myself, my family, and the Church, that God’s word will always penetrate our hearts and minds in Power, in the Holy Spirit, and in full conviction (renew our minds and sanctify our hearts.)
  • Pray that we will be imitators of Christ and live lives worthy of being imitated by others–an example for other believers.  Godly examples help us learn what God’s word looks like in real time, and lets face it, some of us learn best by watching and doing.
  • Pray that we will be thankful and enthusiastic–sharing with others what God has done and is doing in our lives.  Our testimony is more than just sharing how we were saved.  God is constantly working.  Sound forth our faith!!
  • Pray that we will have steadfastness of hope, remembering daily that we serve a living Savior who we are waiting to return!
  • For the Lost: pray verse 5 (that they will become saved by receiving the gospel in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction… that they may also become verses 6 and following.  Who in your life is in need of Jesus?  Make a list, and mention them by name.

What did you learn from this chapter?  I can’t wait to hear how God is moving in your life.  And I can’t wait to see how God uses our prayers this week!

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  1 John 5:14-15

1 Thessalonians, chapter 2

1 Thessalonians, chapter 3

1 Thessalonians, chapter 4

1 Thessalonians, chapter 5