Month: February 2024

208 – The Keys to Successful Prayer

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The Keys to Successful Prayer on Write from the DeepThere is nothing more intimate, nor powerful, than our conversations with the Creator of the universe, with the God who sees us and loves us and provides for us. And yet so often we treat prayer as though it’s a fall-back position, not a position of God’s power. Come learn from one man the keys to powerful prayers.

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Over the last ten years or so, I’ve grown aware of something that has troubled my heart and spirit. But when I decided to make this situation a topic of a podcast, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Every word seemed a struggle. I wrote and rewrote. Researched. Deleted and started over. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to say, but because I feel so ill-equipped to say it.

Then, in my research, I discovered a voice and life I’d never really heard about before, and it is this voice and life that I want to share today. Because this man didn’t just address the issue so many struggle with, he lived a life steeped in, as he called it,  “the reality of the things of God.”

A Man of Prayer

This man is George Muller. Now, some of you may be well acquainted with him, but I was not. Nor was I familiar with his extraordinary life of prayer. And that, friends, is the topic of this podcast. Though we often gear our podcasts to the task of writing or our journeys as writers, for this episode we’re talking about prayer in every aspect of our lives.

Before we jump in, I want to let you know that the primary source of my information on George Muller is the remarkable book, George Muller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer. And I want to encourage you to pick up a copy and read for yourself the many wonders and details we don’t have the time to share here.

I also encourage you to pick up Release the Power of Prayer by George Muller. Or any of Muller’s other books. And I encourage you to find pictures of him online. What you’ll see is the face of a man filled with peace and the sure confidence in an Almighty, prayer-answering God. Seldom have I been so impacted by a man’s faith and life. May we all learn to live our lives as he did, steeped in prayer.

The Least I can Do…

As believers in Christ, we take on the mantle of the blood of Christ, sacrificed for us, which covers our sins and weaknesses and grants us entrance into the very throne room of Almighty God. In fact, it doesn’t just grant us entrance, it welcomes us. Into God‘s presence. To talk with him. Whenever we want.

There is nothing more intimate, nor powerful, than our conversations with the Creator of the universe, with the God who sees us and loves us and provides for us.

And yet I’ve heard believers say things like, “Well, at least I can pray.” Or, “I can’t do anything but pray.” Of course, there are times when “I can’t do anything but pray” is an acknowledgement of our limitations and God’s power, but what I’m talking about is the creeping attitude among believers that prayer is somehow our “fall back.”  The attitude is, “Well, if there’s nothing practical I can do, I can pray.”

Or, when people ask for prayer, believers say they will pray, but do so almost in an attitude of patting a child’s head and muttering, “There, there. It will be okay.” Then on they go with their day. They may shoot a quick prayer heavenward, almost as an afterthought. But we should never treat prayer, or prayer requests, in this way.

The MOST We Can Do!

Friends, prayer is never the least we can do. It is the MOST we can do. No matter what else we are able to do in our lives, or to help others, we can pray. We. Can. PRAY!

Stop and think about that. Do we understand what an awesome privilege that is? And what a powerful responsibility it is? To go to God with not just our concerns, but with the concerns and fears of others. To seek His will and intervention, believing He will answer.

Consider what Scripture says about prayer.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

Have faith in God…. whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:22, 24)

Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. (Luke 22:46)

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matthew 21:22)

Jesus told his disciples the parable of the persistent woman and the judge to show them that “…they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1)

There is no equivocation in Scripture. Always pray. Ask and it will be given. Not it may be given. Pray and don’t give up. When you pray, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.

What About…?

“Hang on,” you say. “Not every prayer is answered. I’ve prayed for xyz for years, and it still hasn’t been answered.”

Maybe this is where today’s believers started to lose their belief in the absolute power of prayer. Maybe, because we haven’t yet seen answer to our prayers, especially those that we’ve taken to God over and over, our certainty that God will answer has slid a bit. Because, well, He hasn’t answered.

Or so we think.

A Life of Answered Prayers

George Mueller lived a life steeped in prayer. As a result, he, by God’s answers and provision, accomplished amazing things in his 93 years of life. Born in 1805, a troublemaker when young, imprisoned for a brief time for theft when he was 16, he encountered Christ at the ripe old age of 20.

For the next 10 years he studied to become a missionary (and was disowned by his father for it), through God’s leading became a pastor instead, founded the Scripture Knowledge Institute, got married.

In 1834 he felt led to form an institution established for spreading the Gospel at home and abroad. And so he prayed that God would show him if this was His will. By June of 1835, Muller had opened five day schools that taught over 400 children and distributed nearly 800 bibles and 750 New Testaments. In addition, they’d sent missionaries around the world financial and prayer support. All from donations that came to them by God’s hand.

Why An Orphan House?

Then, in December of 1835, God moved George to pray about establishing a house for orphans. At that time in the UK, there were accommodations for no more than 3600 orphans. So most orphans were sent to homes for foundlings or the work houses. Think Oliver Twist.

But Muller’s reasons for opening an Orphan house weren’t what we might expect. His most important reason was to glorify God. You see, when people saw God’s provision in answer to prayer, it would prove the reality of total trust in God, thus strengthening believers in their faith. Second, he wanted to take care of  the spiritual welfare of the orphans. Third, he wanted to see to the orphans’ physical needs.

The Big Ask

As he was praying whether he should do this, if it was God’s will for him, something happened. George recorded it in his journal:

“On December 5th, however, the subject of my prayer all at once became different. I was reading Psalm 81 and was particularly struck, more than at any time before, with verse 10: ‘Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.’

“I thought a few moments about these words, and then was led to apply them to the case of the Orphan-House. It struck me that I had never asked the Lord for anything concerning it, except to know His will respecting its being established or not; and I then fell on my knees and opened my mouth wide, asking Him for much.

“I asked in submission to His will, and without fixing a time when He should answer my petition. I prayed that He would give me a house­­­­––either as a loan, or that someone might be led to pay the rent for one, or that one might be given permanently for this object. Further, I asked Him for £1000 [approx. $150k pounds today]; and likewise for suitable individuals to take care of the children.

“Besides this, I have been since led to ask the Lord, to put into the hearts of His people to send me articles of furniture for the house, and some clothes for the children.

“When I was asking the petition, I was fully aware what I was doing, i. e., that I was asking for something which I had no natural prospect of obtaining from the brethren whom I know, but which was not too much for the Lord to grant.”

The Big Answer

He was right. Five days later he received a letter from a brother and sister who said they wanted to come work in his orphan house for no salaries because “God will supply all our needs.” This brother and sister also gave all their furniture for use in the house.

Three days after that, a man said he’d been convicted by God to give weekly support to the house. And two more believers offered to work for no salaries, and give all their furniture to the house. And so it went.

George had all of 2 shillings, roughly $16 dollars, when he started praying. But again, he opened his mouth, presenting his needs to God and believing God would provide in His own way and in His timing. And God did. Sometimes with just enough to meet the need, sometimes with large amounts.

In fact, it’s said that Muller received so much in donations that over his life he was able to give away $80,000 pounds (nearly 3 million pounds, or 4.5 million US, in today’s money). Even more amazing is that Muller didn’t use any of the donations for the Orphan house for his or his family’s care. Instead, he trusted God for their daily bread, submitting his request and then waiting, waiting for God to act.

His Life Wasn’t Easy

Now, in case you’re thinking it was in any way easy for Muller to live this way or that his life was easy, here are some facts:

His father disowned him when he decided to become a missionary

His mother died while he was studying to be a missionary

He and his wife lost two children, one in stillbirth, one when a year old to an illness

Numerous serious health challenges plagued Muller throughout his life

And what about the prayers that God didn’t answer right away? Muller said this:

“We ought to love God, even though we have not answers to our prayers; but all this will greatly increase our love; and it is not only once, but if we mark the hand of God, we shall soon find that we have scores and hundreds of answers to prayer. And thus we shall be led to love Him more and more for all he has done.”

But I’m Not George Muller

And just in case you’re thinking, “Yeah, well, that’s George Muller. I could never have a prayer life like that. No one could but him. God chose him special for this prayer life,” George addressed that in his writings. He made it clear that his faith wasn’t the “gift” of faith mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:9. Rather, he said he was able to trust God because of the “grace” of faith.

Muller himself dispelled this when he wrote, “Think not, dear reader, that I have the gift of faith, that is, that gift of which we read in 1 Corinthians 12:9, and which is mentioned along with `the gifts of healing,` `the working of miracles,` `prophecy,”` and that on that account I am able to trust in the Lord.

“It is true that the faith, which I am enabled to exercise, is altogether God’s own gift; it is true that He alone supports it, and that He alone can increase it; it is true that, moment by moment, I depend upon Him for it, and that, if I were only one moment left to myself, my faith would utterly fail; but it is not true that my faith is that gift of faith which is spoken of in 1 Corinthians.”

George Muller’s Goal

Why did Muller talk about this prayer life with God? To encourage believers in their faith. That’s why he made such a point of the fact that his faith––as is true of all believers’ faith––was given to him and sustained by God, but it wasn’t some special ability. It was, quite simply, the result of his determination to take God at His word. Something we all are expected to do.

In his journal, Muller went on to write, “All believers are called upon, in the simple confidence of faith, to cast all their burdens upon him, to trust in him for everything, and not only to make everything a subject of prayer, but to expect answers to their petitions which they have asked according to his will, and in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

In all, George Muller cared for over 10,000 orphans during his lifetime, giving them educational opportunities. He established 117 schools which offered Christian education to more than 120,000 people. According to an article in The Times, Muller received approximately 1.5 million pounds (equaling 2.6 million dollars) through faithful prayer and established orphanages in five locations.

He spoke in countless countries, preaching and teaching about faith and trust in God, reaching hundreds of thousands with the Gospel. He is known to have had 50,000 prayers answered during his life. His was a life well lived, not because he was someone special, but because He believed in and trusted God to be all He said He was.

Keys to Praying Like George Muller

So if George Muller was no one special, meaning each of us can attain a faith like his, how do we go about it? First we must ask ourselves one question:

Do I Believe?

Go ahead. Ask yourself. Do you believe God is all He says He is? Do you believe He will do what He says He will do? That He will answer your prayers. Because you must if you expect an answer from Him. The Bible is clear on that in James 1:6-7:

“But [you] must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Soul-Deep Belief

There could be no doubt that George Muller believed with every ounce of his being. Just one example happened in 1877, when, while crossing the Atlantic, a dense fog descended. The captain of the ship slowed their progress to be safe. George went to the captain and said he had to be in Quebec by the following afternoon. The captain said there was no way they’d make it in time.

What did George do? He asked the captain to pray with him. They went to a room below decks, with the captain muttering what a waste of time it all was, and Muller prayed. The captain started to follow suit, but George stopped him. In part, he said, because the captain didn’t believe. But mostly because the prayer had already been answered.

Had Muller seen the fog lift? No, but he believed! He told the captain “I have known my Lord for more than fifty years and there is not one instance that I have failed to have an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, for you will find that the fog has gone.” They went back up on the bridge, and the fog was, indeed, gone.

Are You Certain?

How do we pray like George Muller? First, we believe like him. We pray with the utter certainty that God will answer, in His way, in His time. Do we believe God is able to do infinitely and exceedingly beyond anything we can ask for?  Do we believe that God has the power to provide and that he is not only willing to do so but delights in doing so?

If you’re not sure you believe like that, then follow Muller’s lead and go to Scripture. Ask God to show you why you can believe this way. Here are a few verses to get you started:

Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act…Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough….The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him. (Psalms 37:7, 18-19, 39-40  NLT)

Therefore, I say unto you, whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them. (Mark 11:24, )

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent over double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she stood up straight again, and began glorifying God. (Luke 13:10-13 NASB)

How Long, O Lord?

Eighteen years! Have you prayed for 18 years with no apparent answer? For longer? Are you will to wait for God to act, even if you don’t see it happen in your lifetime? Will you still believe that He will do as He promised? Remember, just because God hasn’t answered a prayer yet doesn’t mean He’ll never answer it. It can’t mean that. If it does, then God isn’t who He says He is.

There were six people whom Muller asked God to bring to faith. Every day he prayed for those people. One came to faith not long after Muller began praying. One several years. Two more over a larger number of years. Only one was still unsaved when Muller died.

So does that mean God didn’t answer that prayer? Not at all. The man came to faith a year after Muller’s death. There is no such thing as “taking too long” for God. He will answer when He knows the time is right. We don’t need to see the answers. We simply need to trust the Provider.

Are You Ready?

When you can say you believe with certainty that God is who He says He is, that He will do what He promised, then follow George Muller’s lead into Scripture. Yes, back into the Word of God. Why? Because Muller had been praying every day for years, but then God revolutionized his prayer life with a revelation. As he wrote in his journal:

“It pleased the Lord to teach me a truth…I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.”

Soul Happiness

How about you? Is your soul happy in the Lord? Are you content in Him? Resting in Him? Why did Muller think this was so important? Because if our souls aren’t happy in the Lord, then everything we do for him runs the risk of being done in the wrong spirit. So how do we achieve this soul happiness? Muller tells us:

“The most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditate on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into … communion with the Lord.”

So early every morning after that, he went to God’s Word. He asked the Lord’s blessing on His Word, then meditated on the Scripture, “searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.”

When Your Soul Is Happy in the Lord

The result? Muller found his soul led to confession or thanksgiving or intercession or supplication… in other words, to prayer! And he would continue his reading and meditating, which turned the Scripture into prayer for himself and others.

And, as he said, “My inner man almost invariably is … nourished and strengthened, and by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart.”

So if we want to learn how to live a prayer-steeped life as George Muller did, start in God’s Word. Maybe even start by studying and meditating on the verse that so impacted Muller: “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10 NASB)

Muller’s Conditions for Successful Prayer

Starting in God’s Word, letting it become prayer, will accomplish something else. Muller taught that there were conditions required for successful prayer, the first of which was that our requests must be according to God’s will. If we’re stepped in God’s holy Word, if we’re meditating and praying it, then we can be sure God will set our hearts and spirits right with Him. And He will show us what is in accordance to His will.

George Muller’s second condition for successful prayer was that we “mustn’t ask on account of our own goodness or merit, but ‘in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (John 14-13-14.)” He supported this condition with Psalm 66:18, which says “if I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” In other words, Muller said, “if I live in sin and go on in a course hateful to God, I may not expect my prayers to be answered.”

The third condition we’ve talked about already, and that is to exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to answer our prayers. And the fourth condition is to “continue patiently waiting on God till the blessing we seek is granted.”

As Muller stressed, there’s nothing in Scripture about when God will answer, only that He will. “Therefore,” Muller wrote, “beloved brethren and sisters, go on waiting upon God, go on praying; only be sure you ask for things that are according to the mind of God.”

What Happens When You Take These Steps?

Friends, if we take these steps, being mindful of these conditions, how can our prayers not be changed? How can we not be changed? Even as George Muller was changed. And how can we not be used? Even as Muller was used, or more?

Charles Spurgeon says this about prayer: “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. Just as the leaf and the fruit will come out of the vine-branch without any conscious effort on the part of the branch, but simply because of its living union with the stem, so prayer buds, and blossoms, and fruits out of souls abiding in Jesus. As stars shine, so do abiders pray. It is their … second nature.”

Abide in God. Trust in His promises. Believe He is Who He says He is and will do as He promised.

Don’t Let Yourself Be Derailed

One final thought:

Don’t let your feelings derail you. Because they can. If we’ve prayed and prayed and no answer seems forthcoming, we can become discouraged. Or we can feel that doing the things we’ve discussed just aren’t accomplishing anything. Muller warns us about this:

“It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the Scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer.

“The truth is that, in order to enjoy the Word we ought to continue to read it and the way obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying. The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray.”

Don’t let yourself be derailed.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

William Arthur Arthur Rubinstein, the great pianist, once said, “If I neglect practicing one day, I notice; two days, my friends notice; three days, the public notices.”

That applies to us as well, friends. Keep on keeping on. Because though it may take time, it’s the same as with any other thing we do. The more we do it, the more familiar it becomes. The more we learn and grow, and the more we are moved to do it. And ever and always, wait on God to act.

As George Muller said, “I have found invariably…that if I only believed I was sure to get, in God’s time, the thing I asked for…To see that He is able, you have only to look at the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, for to raise him from the dead, He must have almighty power…assuredly if we believe, we shall receive––we shall obtain.”

Hello, Powerful Prayer

The least we can do? Hardly. Prayer is, in fact, a believer’s most powerful weapon. With prayer we can call on God to unleash the armies of heaven that He may be glorified on the earth. We can lift those we care about to the most powerful King in creation and seek mercy or healing or whatever is needed. Prayer is not our fall back. It’s our first and best act in any situation.

As C.S. Lewis once said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

And as Max Lucado wrote, ”Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”


Do you want your prayers to be successful? #amwriting #Christianwriter Share on X

What inspires you most about George Muller’s prayer life?


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207 – Imagine with God!

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Imagine with God! on Write from the DeepHow would it change the way you pray if you realized God is greater––make that far greater––than anything we can imagine, think, or dream of? That His work within us and for us is beyond our greatest imaginings? That our human minds can’t even begin to understand or imagine all He is able to do? Come explore what this means to you and your prayers!

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

I’m (Karen) part of a brainstorming group of roughly 10 women that has been meeting for 20 years or more. As you can imagine, we are all good friends. As believers, we spend a lot of time talking about the Lord and praying together.

In this spirit, we pray and ask God to give us a word to focus on for each year. He’s been so faithful to do this for each of us, and to confirm our individual words with Scripture and quotes and other things.

One of the women in my brainstorming group, Gayle deSalles, shared what God had shown her for her word. I was so moved and impressed that I asked her if I could use it as a basis for this podcast. She graciously agreed.

Pay Attention!

A part of what impacted me so much was that God had been stirring similar thoughts and questions in me over the past few weeks. I always love it when God whispers the same truths to different believers! And when that happens I often feel a holy “Pay attention!”, that there’s something important there not just for the person sharing, or for me, but for others.

Gayle’s word for 2024 comes from one of the most familiar passages in the entire Bible. She said she wasn’t even thinking about this Scripture or word when it came to her. She’d been uncertain what her word was, so she decided to do something that we all need to do when we’re seeking God’s guidance:

Meditate on His word, listen only to Him, and explore Scriptures as He directs.

Decisions to Make?

Do you have a decision you need to make? An issue where you’re seeking God’s guidance? Has some opportunity come to you but you’re not sure if it’s right?

Are you considering writing something different, something you’ve never written before, but can’t shake a niggling concern about doing it?

Or are you feeling that maybe you didn’t hear God right, and you’re somehow off-track with what He wants from you as a writer?

The first, wisest step to take when you’re in a situation such as this is to do as Gayle did: Meditate on God’s word, listen only to Him, and explore Scriptures as He directs.

A Guided Tour of God’s Word

You may be amazed how immersed you become in the Word as God leads you through it. Verses you’ve known all your life are suddenly alive with a new meaning or importance. Chapters you’ve read again and again suddenly seem to have sections you’ve never seen.

It’s not that you haven’t read them before. It’s just that God is highlighting them in your mind and spirit, telling you to pay attention, go deeper, take time to understand.

Remember what Hebrews 4:12 says,  “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Embrace Freedom!

Gayle described this process well when she told the group, “I’ve been enjoying myself so much that I keep getting the kind of dopamine rush I used to get when I took off on my bicycle for a long ride on a sunny spring day. A day not too hot or cold. When I headed down a path or wove through neighborhoods I’d never explored before.”

Do you remember doing that? That sense of freedom and exploration, of excitement and anticipation?

When we come to the Word of God seeking only to hear Him, to be guided by Him, it’s the same exhilarating sensation.

Time to dig deeper

At this point in her email, Gayle shared her word: IMAGINE.

One of the confirming Scriptures God gave her was Ephesians 3:20. Some versions of the Bible render “imagine” as “think.” But the concept is one we all can embrace.

The New International Version has the verse as, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (That’s actually Ephesians 3:20 and 21.)

In the New American Standard Bible it’s: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”

The AMPC, or Amplified Bible, Classic Edition, actually expands on what certain words in the verse mean: “Now to Him Who, by [in consequence of] the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].

And in The Living Bible, we find: “Now glory be to God, who, by his mighty power at work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”


How exciting is that verse? In each and every translation of it, we find an amazing truth: God is greater––make that far greater––than anything we can imagine, think, or dream of. His work within us and for us is beyond our greatest imaginings. We can’t begin to ask all that our God is able to do! shares this insight:

“Paul had just previously written of God’s marvelous plan for the Gentiles: ‘God’s love for us goes farther than even time itself…His love for us is a love that doesn’t hold back. His love gives everything, to the point of sacrificing his very own Son …This is unquantifiable, immeasurable love.’

The article goes on to say:

“God, who He is and what He does, will do, and has done is immeasurable. We only see and know a slice of the whole pie in the sky. And we can know a lot about God! He is not afraid of our questions, frustrations, and promises. When we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him.“

You never need to feel alone, or that you can’t figure something out. Almighty God is always at work, in His immeasurable love, on the answer. HIS answer. For you.


Oftentimes, though, even if we have this knowledge in our heads, our feelings overwhelm us and we end up a bit lost. In Ecclesiastes 1, we see that Solomon, a man who once enjoyed deep fellowship with God, was led astray by his feelings. And yet, even in his emotional state, he is, in the pages of this book of the Bible, finding his way back, understanding that without God as the focus, life is meaningless.

Consider what we find in Ecc. 1:1-11:

“`Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’

“What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again…. Everything is wearisome beyond description….

“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, ‘Here is something new!’ But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.’”


Now that’s a discouraged man. Have you struggled with discouragement like this? Feeling that no matter what you do, nothing ever happens? That you have nothing new to say or write, or that the same disappointments keep happening over and over?

But how does this Solomon jive with the Solomon we see in 1 Kings 3: 3-14:

“Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship.  The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings.  That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, `What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!’”


Friends, what do you want of God? What is your fondest desire and goal? What would you say if Father God came to you and asked you this question?

Solomon replied this way: “’You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

“’Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Solomon, the great king, knew he was “like a little child, who doesn’t know his way around.” No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, how long we’ve been writing what God asks us to write, we, like Solomon, are, in many ways, “like a little child, who doesn’t know his way around.” We love God, we seek to serve Him as best we know how. But as we saw in the verses in Ephesians, what we truly know of God is miniscule compared to who He is and what He is doing for His children. For you.

An Understanding Heart?

This great king—Solomon—wanted an understanding heart, but what, exactly, does that mean? has a fascinating article that explores An Understanding Heart. First it clarifies “heart,” saying, “In Scripture, the term ‘heart’ is used to denote a person’s inner self. The heart is the center of spiritual activity, moral understanding, and human will.”

We all know how powerful the heart is. Scripture underscores this truth over and over, making it clear that our heart is affected by what we treasure (Matt 6:21); that the heart is the source of our trust in God (Prov 3:5); that we must guard our hearts because every we do flows from it (Prov 4:23); that a pure heart goes hand in hand with a steadfast spirit (Psa 51:10); that God’s peace guards our hearts (Phil. 4:7).

The article on MinistryInsights goes on to say that an understanding heart, is humble and purposeful. Humble, in that it recognizes any strength we have, even in our writing, isn’t from us, it’s from God. A humble heart “invites God to work to cultivate deeper insight about those strengths.” Purposeful, in that it is “neither careless nor impulsive.” When we cultivate an understanding heart, we do so understanding our limits and God’s limitlessness, and we do so with purpose.

How to Go to God?

So when you go to God for guidance, start with meditating on His word, listening only to Him. Then, acknowledging how limited your understanding is, ask Him to give you an understanding heart. Of yourself, of others, of HIM.

How did God respond in 1 Kings when Solomon asked for an understanding heart? He replied:

“’Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!  And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!  And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.’”


So ask your self: “How close do I want to go with God?”

Gayle explained, “In short, God was saying to me, ‘Gayle, to the degree you are walking closely with me, abiding with me, fixing your eyes on me, one of two things will happen. You will either, in some degree or fashion, walk in Ecclesiastes 1 and get depressed by all you see, waking up each morning and saying––if not in your words, then in your heart––’same ole, same ole.

“’Or you will embrace Ephesians 3:20 and seek me, asking me to reveal My heart. Start with boldness to ask me what is already on your heart and mind, and we’ll talk about the fact that I can do immeasurably more than that. Or than you can ever imagine.’”


This question––“How close do I want to go with God?”, grabbed my heart and spirit. Just the night before Gayle’s email, I’d made the mistake of watching the news. As a result, I found myself unable to sleep. Wondering how God’s creation has come so far away from Him. How such unbelievable lies and deceptions have taken root in people’s hearts and minds. That night, I was living in Ecclesiastes 1, moaning about how there’s nothing new under the sun. How evil is rampant and people are rotten and Lord, why don’t you come down and annihilate us all???

Yeah, not a great place to live. If you’ve been there, or are even there now, it’s time to step out of Ecclesiastes. To go to Scripture and seek first the Father’s forgiveness for not trusting Him, and then ask His help.

Ask Him to draw you closer to His heart. To share His understanding of the world, of evil, of all that so drags us down. Ask Him to open our eyes, to let us see the people and world around us with HIS eyes. To show us His truth and His work in our world. And to draw us  deeper into an understanding heart.


So how about you? How close do you want to go with God? Are you ready to stop accepting “the same ol’, same ol’”? Are you ready to refuse to accept that’s just the way the world is, or that’s just the way publishing is, or that’s just the way the church is? Are you ready to shift your focus and understanding when trials come, because we all know they will come. Boy howdy, will they ever come.

Our books won’t sell the way we want or hope.

Pirates may steal our fair earnings.

Contracts we’re expecting may not materialize.

Projects we’ve been counting on may disappear with no explanation.

Books we turn in may be rejected.

We may fall sick and can’t meet a deadline.

Family crises may leave us too battered to write.

And that barely scratches the surface of all that can go wrong in our writing journeys. And if we walk in Ecclesiastes 1, we’ll just moan and groan and complain and ask why. But friends, don’t do that! Instead, prepare for the inevitable trials of life and publishing, with an understanding heart.


When we do that, something amazing happens. Those hard Scriptures, the ones we read and wonder how on earth we’re supposed to follow them, take on a new meaning and impact.

Consider James 1:2-4:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Pure joy? You bet. Because an understanding heart will let you see what’s happening to you with God’s eyes. You’ll understand every trial will only draw you closer to Him. And it will help prepare you for eternity with the Father!


When we ask God to grow in us an understanding heart, Romans 8:28 resonates as never before:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

How often have we asked, “All things? Really?” I know I’ve asked that. Physical limitations. Diseases and Illnesses. Relationship struggles. Financial hardships? All those things are for my good?

Yes, in any and every thing, God is working for our good. And he’s not just wringing his hands going, “Oh dear, how am I going to fix this?” No, he’s had a plan all along to shape and refine us. To give us compassion and understanding. To make us a reflection of Him to a world that so desperately needs to know Him.


Don and I live in a remote area of Washington. There’s one highway that comes to our town, and the traffic on that highway is atrocious. I joined a Facebook group for my small town, and noticed how people would ask about the traffic situation on a regular basis. So when Don and I were stuck in a loooooong line of traffic, I hopped onto Facebook and posted about it to let folks know.

Many of the responses to my post were nice, even grateful. But some of them. Holy cow! I had no idea I’d get blasted with sarcastic, angry, and insulting posts. That I’d be told to “go back to whatever city you came from if you don’t like the traffic!” I considered unleashing some verbal abuse of my own in response, but God got hold of me.

Instead, I responded to a few people telling them it seemed they were having a tough day so I’d pray for them. And then I thanked the people who were kind and grateful in their responses. Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t follow that first instinct because the woman who lives behind us sent me a private message telling me where to post about traffic without getting blasted.

Then she said, “Some people just have to be mean. But your responses to them were wonderful!” Thank God He moved me to turn my hurt and frustration into kindness. I shudder to think the kind of witness I’d have been to her if I’d responded in kind.


That’s the beauty of cultivating an understanding heart. It turns us around. And it turns 1 Peter 4: 12-19, from one of those hard Scriptures to a wonderful strategy filled with promise and purpose:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? …

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”

Trails coming? Be overjoyed when God’s glory is revealed!

Suffering attacking you? You are blessed and the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you!

Miseries reaching for you? Don’t be ashamed! Praise God that you bear His name!

Carrying burdens? Commit yourself to your faithful Creator and continue to do good, because he will make you able.


Imagine. Imagine living that way.

Imagine seeking God in His word, listening only for His loving, powerful voice.

Imagine surrendering to Him and His work in everything you are and do.

Imagine what it means to ask Him for, and open yourself to, Him creating in you an understanding heart.

Imagine coming to Him and asking for whatever abundant, unfathomable, inconceivable blessing He wants to share with us!

Start today, friends. Don’t spend any more time in an Ecclesiastes 1 life. Instead, step into a life steeped in Ephesians 3:20, and let your imagination soar.

Meditate on God’s word, listen only to Him, and explore Scriptures as He directs. #amwriting #Christianwriter Share on X

What’s one thing you can do to live in Ephesians 3:20?


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