Put on the Shoes, Tie up the Faith Laces

I get up in the morning, get dressed, and put on my shoes. You and I often begin our days with an agenda. Goals set. To-do’s listed. But the path we’ve chosen may change. Unexpected interruptions make us take different footsteps, filling a different set of shoes. This is when often I pray, “God, what do You want me to do with today?”

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But sometimes, in a hurry, I throw my shoes on and head out the door.

Then the phone rings interrupting my ambition. Is this an unexpected call or a solicitor? No time for this now.

You and I have both answered the phone countless times before on our way out the door. Other times we’ve ignored the “ring ring ring” attention getter. We’re too busy to answer it. The shoes we fill often make us feel like we’re running. Life gets busy, right?

But this time, we feel moved to take the call. The voice behind the message heard on the other end makes our jaw drop.

_____ is gone. He or she died. He or she was in an accident. He or she just lost her job. He or she is missing. He or she just received a scary diagnosis. He or she just had their home broken in. He or she just filed for divorce. He or she….

And sometimes, the “he or she” situations we listen to are simply too painful, too much, or too consuming to take in. We do our best to understand. But we haven’t walked in their shoes. We attempt to put them on our own feet for just a moment — figuratively. But we have no idea how to lace them up or walk in them. Our feet don’t fit. We can’t come close to walking the same journey. Why? Because we all walk unique steps. Sometimes similar — but always different. No two paths are identical. We still want to help someone else, walking in challenging shoes to wear, but we’re not sure how.

Have you ever felt this way? I have.

Now what?

There are certain situations when the most powerful action taken is found in commanding silence. No lecture. No advice. No, “I understand because I’ve been there myself. I’ve walked the same shoes.” You see, often, if we try that approach, we’ll get a “Yeah, right” followed by flowing tears, followed by silence, anger, or hurt.

Understandably so.

In contrast, in silence we can pull God’s formidable presence into difficult or heart-wrenching situations, allowing our Heavenly Father to pull out His toolkit. In silence, we can listen to His voice. In silence, we can follow God’s direction. In uninterrupted silence with God, we can not yield to worldly distractions, our agenda, or our solutions. Instead, in the stillness of God’s presence, we can look up for His perfect plan. Trusting Him with our all is God-filled faith.

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Soundlessness is not always sullen, although it can make us feel alone. Often quietude is a gift because it can direct us without distraction or interruption to the One who always loves us. Always listens. And that is good because He makes peace and comfort rise.

And although silence can make us feel alone, it’s also in those vulnerable moments that God captivates us and holds onto our inner soul, commanding our full attention. In Him, we can find peace and tranquility. Now we’re in a place where we can listen to God’s direction without interruption. Unfathomable wisdom and comfort are found in His silent yet strong presence. Time to pray. Time to talk with God. Just Him and you. And if He asks you to take off your shoes and walk with Him. Do.

Believe now

Prayer is talking with God. He is the only One who completely grasps the difficulties we face and understands the complexity of the unique shoes we fill. So when someone goes through something difficult, heart-wrenching, or soul consuming, remember that hope begins with a prayer. And a good friend recognizes this, doesn’t attempt to put on the other person’s shoes by themselves, but rather gives God control.

Other times we simply need to focus on God alone. By ourselves — yet with Him, privately, before bringing anyone else into a given circumstance or challenge that has us wanting to rip our shoes off. And hide. Or crawl under a rock. Or quit. Wondering why God has us walking a particular path in the first place.

The other day, I was overwhelmed with the death of a dear friend, financial issues, health concerns, family issues, and more. So I picked up the phone to call a close friend because I needed to vent. I needed someone to listen, lift me up, and attempt to understand the shoes I was walking in.

First call. My husband. Busy at work. Second call. The phone rings without an answer. My confidant and cherished friend not home. Third call. Another dear friend. No answer. Fourth call. A close family member. Not there. No one available? Really? This hasn’t happened to me before. Now what, Helo?

I went up to my room, closed the door, and let the tears flow. My face was now soaking wet. I whispered, “God, how much more of this do you think I can handle? I’m overwhelmed. I feel like life is storming all over me. Please reign down on me.”

Time to keep my shoes on and stand upon my faith-rock. Not my better half, not my beloved friends or family could or can completely understand the complexity or depths of my heart with clarity like Jesus can. No one.

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I love the hymn by Edward Mote (1797 – 1874), “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Now, I was in a quiet place without interruption. I finally took it straight to God. And it was just Him and me. He had my full attention.

“God, I feel alone.”

I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU ALONE, MY PRECIOUS CHILD.

“This is too much.”

I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE.

“Really?”

TRUST ME.

“God, why this, why now?”

PRECIOUS CHILD, TRUST ME.

“How?”

LET GO, LET ME TAKE IT.

“Finally! Does that mean You will remove the burdens that I and those I love are facing?”

NO, BUT I PROMISE NEVER TO LEAVE NOR FORSAKE YOU.

“When will You answer me, God?”

IN MY PERFECT TIMING.

“But I want an answer now. I want You to heal my friend. I want You to remove the looming debt over a loved one. I want my husband’s job to be secure. I wish I didn’t have to watch a beloved one on hospice care. I want my brain to work as it should. I want my frustration to go away. I want, I want, I want….. I’m tired; I’m worn.”

CHILD, ARE YOU TRUSTING ME RIGHT NOW?

Gasp.

Pin drop silence. Mouth shut.

Silence interrupted.

“No. I see I’m not. I’m not trusting You with my all. Help me trust You.”

I WILL.

“Thanks, God. I love You.”

I LOVE YOU, TOO.

This conversation was over for now. Lesson learned. Insight gained.

My soul was focusing on troubles surrounding me and those I love. I was falsely thinking and hoping that I could gather people close to me with a phone call to acquire peace. But no one answered the phone. Therefore, no one could listen. But God could and always can. Always.

This quiet moment hit me like a truth and assurance boulder.

God was reminding me to give and lift up my cares to Him first.

Not one of my close friends were able to pick up the phone that day. I now know there was a purpose behind those calls going unanswered. I learned, once again, to give it to my Father first.

I learned that there is nothing. Nothing more calming, beautiful, and soul-gripping than just God and me alone, together, quietly in a room with no interruptions. These moments are a treasure, needed and necessary. I crave them now. And He helps me walk in the shoes He gives to me.

My prayer for you is that you will see and understand that no matter what shoes God has asked you to fill today or will ask you to fill tomorrow, He will walk with you when you call Him near. You don’t need to walk alone.

So put your shoes on. Tie up the laces. Walk with God. Keep walking. Keep hoping. Keep trusting. And keep believing. Challenges make us stronger. Adversity makes us rise. With God, we are always equipped to handle whatever path He calls us to walk. Or run.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

(2 Timothy 4:7).

Hope in Him,
Helo

Tripped For God’s Purpose

There they sat. A concerned daughter was sitting next to her wheelchair-bound mother in a crowded waiting room, waiting to see the doctor. But I didn’t focus on them. Not right away, anyhow. I was on my way to see my doctor. And then I tripped over the mother’s purse lying on the floor. Out popped the contents of my purse. Everywhere.

“I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have left my purse in the middle of the floor,” the mother embarrassingly mumbled.

“No worries,” I responded, smiling as I began gathering the mess. I thought to myself, this is an effective way to clean up one’s purse, right? Mine needed it.

“Hey, what’s that book about?”

They were pointing at a copy of Halo Found Hope that popped out of my purse, intended for my physician.

“I’m too tired to explain it. Here would you like to read the back?”

back cover of Halo Found Hope

The daughter eagerly took the copy from my hand, read the back and exclaimed, “Wow, is this about you?”

“Yep.”

“You’re a miracle, you know.”

“I’ve heard that before. You’re a miracle too, you know.” I commented. “Everyone that God made is.”

“Can, I look inside?” the daughter asked.

“Sure.”

“Nice cover!”

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“Yep, I like it.” Halo Found Hope along this challenging journey. I admit I filled in that blank with thoughts other than hope when feelings of discouragement, fear, and doubt consumed me, but eventually, God showed me where you and I can always find hope.”

The daughter became pensive. She was staring at the Table of Contents. She looked her mom straight in the eye. “Mom, Helo wrote chapter eight for you.”

The mom grumbled, “Yeah right.”

“Yes, Mom, Helo wrote chapter eight for you.”

She grumbled once again. “I am so tired of being in a wheelchair. I am so tired of seeing doctors. I love you, but I am so tired of having you take care of me. I’d rather do something fun, and I am grumpy.”

They went back and forth a bit, and I thought, I don’t want to get in the middle of their discourse, Time to pray. So I closed my eyes for just a moment. “Dear God, Please stay with and comfort this mother and daughter. I think they need you right now. Show them how much You love them.”

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“Hey Helo, are you okay?”

I quickly opened my eyes, “Oh, yes I am,” and began smiling once again.

The daughter reiterated, “Mom, Helo wrote chapter eight for you! It’s titled RESILIENCE.”

Her mother wasn’t and didn’t want to listen.

So the daughter repeated, louder. “Mom, Helo wrote chapter eight for you! It’s titled RESILIENCE.”

This Halo Found Hope copy was not going to make it into my doctor’s hands.

“What are your names?” I asked.

I signed the copy and inscribed a personal note. Little did I know then, as much as I would later the divine purpose behind tripping over the mother’s purse.

The daughter contacted me shortly after our encounter.

“This was the first time in several months, which my Mom and I stayed up late, laughed, cried, and ate popcorn together. We read past Chapter eight and couldn’t put it down. My mom wants to know who God is now.”

Now I am stunned.

His purpose revealed.

God has an unfathomable way of directing our paths.

He did this. Not me, I thought.

I now understood that His blessings come down upon us, sometimes when we least expect them. This mother and daughter were encouraged. And so was I. He revealed a purpose behind my journey with a mean brain tumor, that I admittedly question at times.

God is not finished with me yet. And neither is He finished with you. We all have a story to tell. And the battles, challenges, and frustrations we face — once endured or conquered, may be the exact chapter that someone else needs to hear or read, in God’s perfect timing. Having our downtrodden souls lifted up by Him in inexplicable ways is remarkable.

I was reminded this day, once again, that we all need God. We all need hope. In Him, we can stay strong. And “The difference between a strong man and a weak one is that the former does not give up after a defeat.” — Woodrow Wilson.
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“We need to understand that drawing near to Him, and asking Him to equip us with strength and determination, results in resiliency. God imparts hope to the hopeless, rest to the restless, and courage to the discouraged.” Excerpt from Halo Found Hope’s Chapter Eight, RESILIENCE.

I invite you to visit amazon.com to purchase a copy of award-winning Halo Found Hope for yourself or for someone you know who needs to find hope. https://www.amazon.com/Halo-Found-Hope-Helo-Matzelle/dp/145753133X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495211039&sr=8-1&keywords=halo+found+hope

Clasp hope

God bless you!

Hope in Him,
Helo

Reigniting Faith

It was the Fourth of July. Sparklers were held lighting up the darkness surrounding us. Then we looked up. We marveled at the colossal versions of what we held quietly in our hands. Fireworks. Colorful, noisy, captivating fun. We were celebrating freedom, passionately.

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It made me wonder, What if God’s children believed, loved, hoped, trusted … and made His light shine like that? You know, the kind of display igniting the sky and Heavens that no one can miss and everyone stops to take notice of. In wonder. Captivated.

Recognize this song sung in Sunday schools everywhere? “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…” It’s been around since 1920! The words are simple, yet strong. Composer Harry Dixon followed the theme found in Matthew 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

Not only does this song tell the world that God’s children should want to make His love shine, it goes on to say, “Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m going to let it shine.” And later… “Everywhere I go, I’m going to let it shine… let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

But how do we keep God’s love shining? I think we need to keep it ignited by believing. Sometimes this means reigniting it. Especially in our world today where there is so much darkness displayed by lies, hopelessness, doubt, indifference, anger, and hate.

Perhaps we need to display His love by rekindling it instead of focusing on the world’s attempt to extinguish God. In case you’re wondering, our Heavenly Father is omnipresent and powerful — and will never be extinguished. Still, as His children we need to let others know how much He loves each one of us, because we all need love. Showing it to others makes that little spark turn into a light that authentically shines. Bright.

Let us not extinguish God’s presence, let’s ignite it, sharing who God is. Everywhere. With everyone. If we all made our Light shine, more people would come to know our Father. And more people would understand how much He loves them.

How do we let our light shine? 

Ignite truth. 

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6). Now this is freedom. Freedom everlasting. Through His loving sacrifice we are forgiven and made new. In Him we can find hope, redemption and grace. Unmerited yet everlasting.

Ignite hope.

Hope begins with a prayer. When hopeless, pray more. If you want to quit, by God’s grace quit giving up! Remember, God can take shattered moments and create blessed ones when we let Him handle the restoration. Look up and let God’s love captivate. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Ignite trust. 

Trusting God with your all, means letting go. Giving it up. Letting Him take your burdens and self-imposed control. When you do, recognize that you’ve just given your all to the Almighty! Stand back amazed, because you just ignited trusting Him. That is faith unleashed. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5).

Ignite bold faith. 

Choose to believe. Igniting your faith boldly reveals something different. Something captivating. Someone different — because He is love.  A love found in no one else. It’s that contagious faith destined and determined to make a difference. It brings joy to the joyless. It’s compassionate faith not just talked about but walked. Ignite it! Share it. “Now faith is the confidence of what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.”  (Hebrews 11:1).

Ignite prayer. 

Hope and faith begin with a prayer. Prayer means talking with God. And you know what is so amazing about your Heavenly Father? He listens, all  the time! In fact, He already knows what you’re going ask or talk to Him about, before you even open your mouth! He may not answer everything exactly the way you want Him to. He doesn’t work like that. He is wise. But He never closes His ear to you. So keep on praying. “Pray without ceasing.”                    (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Ignite compassion. 

Help others. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). Time to remove the spotlight focused on ourselves and reach out to someone else. Generosity will come back to you ten-fold. Promise. Give big. Give what you can. A smile, time to listen, buy the groceries for the person in front of you or behind you in line. You never know if you’ll need it yourself someday. But if you can now, go out of your way and do something kind for someone else. Watch how good it will make you feel. Especially when you expect nothing in return.

Ignite peace. 

Ever had a moment when you got angry or grumpy and someone loved you in spite of your momentary reckless behavior? It softens it right? This world needs peace. Attaining it will likely take strong and powerful God-driven leadership. But for many of us, we don’t have that kind of influence or commanding authority. We can only ignite peace in small portions. But I think peace has a contagious and beautiful component. So ignite it and know that authentic peace comes from Jesus. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Ignite love. 

The Bible says, “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14).  Wow! Love is contagious and if we all ignited love and followed this instruction, do you have any idea what a change we could all bring to this world? I’m jumping up and down just thinking about it!

Ignite joy. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).This isn’t always simple because at times life isn’t easy. But even in the midst of anxiety, sorrow, challenges, and adversity, we can find a glimmer of hope — a little sparkle. Bring God into that dark place and ignite joy! “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19).

Ignite gratitude. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”                    (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Complaining is contagious but so is the opposite including thankfulness and gratitude. Time to ignite thankfulness, recognizing everything He has done and will do for you and His children.

I could keep going on with igniting so many different areas of our lives… but this article is running out of room. And I need you to get off your computer, stop reading this, and start igniting your own life.

Before you go, sing to yourself, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….” And if you don’t have a good voice, no worries. Sing it anyhow. Sing it loud and ignite the presence of our Father our Light in this dark world.

Hope in Him,

Helo

 

Fear vs. Faith

Fear sometimes starts as a small thought.

Fear is composed by the enemy. It could be a hypothetical problem — not always real:

“What if something bad happens?” Replace that “something” with a specific concern or crisis that comes to mind. It is a thought that can easily escalate into worry, anxiety, and fear. It is a question that demands our attention. That question can overwhelm us and distract us from God. Or it can push us to seek Him.

God is capable. God is always present. We simply need to call Him near.

What if something bad really happens?! We’ve all asked that question, right? When it enters our minds, I think we have two options: worry or pray. 

I choose to pray because God listens. I can feel hopeless but I do not need to live without hope. 

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WORRY 

If you start to worry, consider a few of God’s promises:

God is faithful. “The tempted, the anxious, the fearful, the discouraged may all find new hope and good cheer in the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is faithful. He will ever be true to His pledged word.” A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

God is present. Do not fear because I am WITH you. Immanuel — God with us.

God offers peace. He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14).

PRAY 

God pours out His comfort, love, and protection upon us during storms. Walk by faith in the One who promises to hold on to us — tight. In Him, we are strong. In Him, we are courageous. In Him, we find peace. In Him, we are afraid of nothing when we remember that God can handle everything. 

I’ve learned a lot about praying and receiving peace: During some very difficult circumstances. I remembered and relied on God’s promise that He is with us. He is always present. He holds us close to His heart, and there — we don’t have to be afraid.

He instructs and invites us to pray. “Come to Me all you who are weary… and I will give you rest for your souls.” — Jesus. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer… present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” — the Apostle Paul. And when we do pray, He is gentle with us. He tells us to trust Him. Trusting Him magnifies hope.

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So let’s bring Him our worries through prayer, and also rejoice in His love. Let’s take it straight to God.

When we choose to pray — instead of giving way to worry — what happens? 

We grow a bit in faith. We see more of His love for us. As we saw in Philippians 4:7, His peace guards our hearts and minds. We don’t have to pray perfectly! Sometimes, we don’t even know how to begin. But “the Spirit helps us in our weakness…” (Romans 8:26).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Friend, I encourage you to talk with the Lord about anything and everything that worries you!

Love, Helo

Pray Because God Listens

Five years ago, I was asking God a lot of questions.

I was diagnosed with a rare, vicious brain tumor. The diagnosis came as a shock. I could hardly speak, so I whispered, “God, please make something beautiful out of this.” I desperately wanted His help, protection, and love. I needed Him to listen to me. Like anyone else who receives a terrible medical diagnosis, I hoped for a miracle.

A week later, I was in a hospital on operating table, looking up at my neurosurgeon. My last whisper, before the anesthesia, was a prayer: “I love you, God.”

Miraculously, I survived the surgery and life support. I then did 25 weeks of rehabilitation – learning to walk, talk, eat, think, and function again. I learned how to pray again. I began to see that God listened to every single prayer. He didn’t heal me instantly, but He listened and provided strength.

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What do you believe about prayer? 

I am confident that if you and I were chatting right now, you could share a story about a time when you prayed – really hoping that God would listen. Did you cry out to God during an emergency or tragedy? Did you believe that He would respond? Did you worry that He wouldn’t hear and help?

When I had that brain tumor, I prayed boldly for a miracle. I also prayed for healing and help with daily challenges. I got frustrated when He didn’t answer my prayers right away. I believed a lie – if I didn’t see Him fixing the problem, then He hadn’t even heard my prayers.

I haven’t always believed that God listens to every single prayer. That’s because I didn’t always understand why He allows pain —incomprehensible suffering. I had questions. “Really, God? This? Now? You must overestimate my strength if you think that I can handle this. And if you think this is a great way to teach and strengthen me, no thanks.”

When I asked those questions, God listened. He said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). He invited me to trust Him and be patient.

When we pray, we’re talking with a God who listens. 

I believe that God listens to prayer. He is a loving Father who sees and cares about us, so He listens when we talk to Him. We should pray to Him about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). He is our Strength, our Help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1-3, Psalm 28:7).

Today, I have more confidence in our Father’s grace and goodness towards those who trust Him. I’ve learned to hold onto the truth — pray because He listens.

Today, I have the privilege of sharing my story and my faith in God’s promises. My faith depends on the Gospel, the Bible, and miracles along the way. My daily goal is to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

The Gospel Reveals that God Loves and Listens. 

The Gospel is the story of how God rescues people and restores them to a relationship with Himself. As people, we are sinful — we walk away from God in rebellious disobedience. We face separation from Him as a result of sin. We also face separation if we’re stubborn and try to tackle challenges without Him. But God loved us so much that he sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place to pay for our sins. He paid our debt so that we could receive mercy, so that God could forgive us and welcome us back into His family.

Now, we know God truly loves us. If Jesus loved us enough to die for us, then surely He loves us enough to listen to our prayers. Jesus is alive. He rose again, and He prays for us (John 17:9-26). The Holy Spirit also helps us to pray (Romans 8:26-27). Because He loves and helps us, we can pray with boldness. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

The Bible Invites Us to Pray. 

So, I pray because the Gospel convinces me that God loves me enough to listen. I also pray because the Bible invites me to do so. The Bible is full of prayers. If you’re not sure how to pray, consider the book of Psalms. Each Psalm is a prayer — giving thanks, asking questions, being honest about pain. Or if you’d like, consider Jesus, who taught His disciples how to pray to God as our Father who loves us (Matthew 6:9-13).

God won’t necessarily answer prayers in the way that we hope. He might not fix our problems, but He will walk alongside us. God does not give us whatever we want, but He loves us and listens to our prayers. He knows what we need before we even ask. God answers prayers in many different ways and showers us with His magnificent love so that, in turn, we can encourage and listen to others.

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Prayer is a Beautiful Source of Comfort. 

Prayer is essentially a conversation with God. Through faith, we have a personal relationship with God, and through prayer, we get to talk with Him. He speaks to us through the Bible, for example, and we get to respond.

At times, the only prayer we have the strength to whisper is, “God help me.” But that is enough. He listens to every single request we have.

I prayerfully depend on God for strength, peace, and wisdom. I prayerfully trust Him with all my hopes and fears. I prayerfully commit my family and community to His care. My prayer for you is that you will understand how much your Heavenly Father loves you and will listen to you anywhere at anytime. Prayer is a beautiful source of comfort.

I encourage you to pray to a loving, caring Father who promises to listen to what his children have to say. “We are privileged to know that he knows our needs before we ask Him. This is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty. It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use; what matters is the faith which lays hold on God and touches the heart of the Father who knew us long before we came to him” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship).

Let us pray because God listens.

In Christ,

Helo