Have mercy on us

daniel 9

My oldest girl gave a speech that was bursting with righteous indignation.

Her class had misbehaved in the school lunchroom.

These fifth graders had been out of their seats, standing up on the little round chairs attached to the lunch tables.

They had been loud and obnoxious.

So they were punished.

It wasn’t just the misbehaving few, though, who bore the load of consequences.  Oh no, the whole class had to write a letter of apology to the lunchroom monitors.

And that wasn’t fair, my daughter said.

Why should she apologize for the bad choices of others, for their immaturity and out of control actions?  She had sat there quietly eating her lunch.

Yet, she had to write, “I’m sorry.”

So, she devised a plan: Write a letter that absolved her of responsibility.  “I’m sorry that others in my class were out of control.  I’m sorry that other students were so bad.”

That kind of thing, the kind of line-in-the-sand distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous, the right and the wrong, the worthy and the unworthy, the good and the bad.

We’re experts at these kinds of distinctions.  We draw lines politically.  We draw lines socially.  We draw lines at work and maybe at church more than anywhere else.

Our prayers are “us” versus “them.”

“Lord, please forgive those people who sin.  Please forgive those who really aren’t following you.”

We know those prayers don’t include us, of course, not the good and holy ones who clearly have earned God’s favor.

Yet, I challenge my black-and-white, rule-following, fairness-and-justice-demanding daughter with a prayer from the book of Daniel that’s a shock to pride and self-righteousness.

Israel had committed idolatry.

Not Daniel, of course, but masses of people had been traipsing after foreign gods and stone idols for generation after generation.

Israel had disobeyed the law and dishonored the temple.

Not Daniel, of course, but so many others had turned their backs on God, choosing blasphemy and rebellion instead.

God finally declared, “enough is enough!”  He disciplined his people by allowing them to be conquered, the temple destroyed, His people taken away from their homes.

Now Daniel was in Babylon, one of the first to be carted away from his home and taken into captivity in a foreign land.

He was now a subject of pagan kings, living and working in an environment often hostile to his faith.

Daniel bore the full weight of God’s punishment for his people, but he hadn’t done anything wrong.

He was a sinner, of course.  We all are.  Yet, he hadn’t committed idolatry.  He hadn’t defiled himself.  He hadn’t sacrificed children to Molech or bowed down to Baal.

Still, when he prayed for his people, Daniel said this:

“Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets… (Daniel 9:4-6).

We have sinned.

We have disobeyed.

We have not listened.


I share this with my daughter and I ask her to consider what it would look like if she apologized for the “We” and not the “Them.”

She didn’t do anything wrong, yet could she humble herself enough to set aside the ‘fair’ and ‘just’ and choose the low and the merciful and the heart of intercession?

“I’m sorry that our class caused such a disruption.  I’m sorry that we didn’t behave in the lunchroom.”

Could she make that choice like Daniel did?

Can we?

When we pray for others and when we pray for our nation and for our churches and our communities, our husbands, our kids, our family, our friends, can we choose to pray with them instead of praying while looking down at them?

Not, “Lord, please forgive my husband for not praying like he should and leading our family like you want him to.”

Not, “Lord, please forgive my friends who gossip.”

Not, “Lord, please forgive the people in our country who are messing it all up.”

No, like Daniel, we drop down on our face before God and cry out, “God forgive us!!  We have messed up.  We have sinned.  We are unworthy.”

And we know this truth, that God doesn’t wash us clean because we deserve it, not because we’re good enough or holy enough or righteous enough to merit grace.

Daniel said it:

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy (Daniel 9:18 NIV).

How could this change the way we pray for our marriages, families, churches and nation?


The Mystery of the Missing Dustpan


My son lost our dustpan last week.

This is the second dustpan he has lost.

I do not know how these things happen. There really is no logical explanation, but my dustpan is lost just the same.

One day, I pulled out the broom, dustpan and mop and attacked the kitchen floor with cleaning vigor.

Then my son ‘swept’ the floor and ‘mopped’ it himself in a little game of pretend cleaning.

I, of course, did not stop this child because a little tiny boy who thinks chores are fun could grow up into a responsible adult.

So what if he just pushes the broom around the kitchen to no effect?

It’s adorable.

That is, it’s adorable until you put the broom back in the closet and realize the dustpan is MIA.

I mean, really, how well can you hide a dustpan?  It’s such an awkward shape and it’s too large to fit into most of the drawers and stashing places around my kitchen.

I shrugged it off at first, figuring it would just turn up as I cleaned later that day, or week, or whatever.

It has not!

Last time this happened (yes, there was a last time), I broke down and bought a new dustpan the following week.  This time, I kept hoping I’d find the top secret hiding place where he is stashing these things.  Then, maybe I’d have two dustpans and new-found knowledge to help me prevent this crisis in the future.

Of course, now I’m truly appreciating the full value and utility of a really good dustpan.  Without it, I was sweeping my kitchen floor dirt onto a piece of cardstock paper, until I finally broke down and paid the $1 for a new one….again.

And I’m thinking how many days I just swept my kitchen floor without giving that dustpan a half-second of thought or appreciation.  I just used it.  It’s a cheap, plastic tool, and I had no idea how much easier it made my life.

What have you been overlooking?

What have we been taking for granted, using without gratitude or appreciation or even worship?

What have we been grabbing out of our storeroom Christian closet and putting to work without fully valuing its impact or purpose?

I read Paul’s words today:

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know ( 1 Tim. 2:1 MSG).

Maybe you’ve been taking a spiritual gift for granted or you’ve trudged into church on Sunday or even just skipped the service and opted for a morning nap.

Perhaps your Bible is dust-covered and serving as a nightstand paper weight.

Or maybe you’ve stopped writing notes of encouragement to others or calling your friend or your sister and sharing a cup of coffee.

We do this.  We get busy.  We grow complacent.  We do what we’re supposed to do without passion or joy just because it’s what we’re supposed to do.

We grab the appropriate tool, use it, and stash it back in the closet for the next cleaning day.

But I return to Paul’s words about prayer and I start here today.

I’m thankful for prayer.  I want to acknowledge the power of it, the blessing of it, the gift of it.

I want to pray first, not second, not after I’ve tried everything else, not as a last resort or in one desperate act of hopelessness.

Pray first.

I want to pray about everything, not just what’s spiritual and holy or big enough to garner God’s attention.  Everything.  Every minor annoyance and daily need, every concern over my children, each new day and all it brings and the ministry God lays at my feet.

The disciples watched their resurrected Savior ascend into heaven and heard His command to wait for the Holy Spirit.  They walked down off of that mountain and journeyed straight to Jerusalem.

13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying… 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer… (Act 1:13, 14 ESV).

They went right to prayer.  They devoted themselves to it.  They lingered there.

Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter delivered the sermon of all sermons.

Mac Lucado writes:

For ten days the disciples prayed. Ten days of prayer plus a few minutes of preaching led to three thousand saved souls.  Perhaps we invert the numbers. We’re prone to pray for a few minutes and preach for tend days.  Not the apostles.

The disciples didn’t pray for a preaching service.  They just prayed.  They treasured God’s presence, recognized His power, and acted because of His Spirit in them.

Pray first.

Pray for everything (yes, including the missing dustpan).

Pray for everyone.

Pray all day.

Pray, not for God to make things happen your way, but for God to be at work His way.

Just pray.

What have you been overlooking?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Praying What You Really Don’t Want to Pray

Psalm 56-3


Sometimes I’m afraid to pray those ‘dangerous’ prayers even when I know deep-down that’s what I should pray for.

But it’s like giving God permission to interrupt my life, letting Him move on into my heart and mind with cleaning supplies and uncover all the dirt I’ve hidden away.

So, I sat there holding the prayer card, debating whether to write the truth down.

I’ve been making these prayer cards for my family, friends and others I pray for.  I have a card for my husband, for each of my children, one for the unsaved, one for church and another for Bible study, and a card for me.

The cards are growing over time.  I scribble down my requests for my kids and then the next day I find the perfect verse to pray, so I jot it down on the back of this 3 x 5 white index card with a Sharpie marker.

I’m not writing the little requests that change day-to-day:  a fever, a bruise, a big math test.

These are the prayers about character and life, big decisions,using their gifts for God’s glory, spiritual growth and their future.

For each child, I know what I need to pray.  One needs to grow in forgiveness.  Another in self-discipline and overcoming fear.  Another in being teachable and accepting grace.

But I pause, my hand hovering over the card.

Do I write down’forgiveness?’  What if God allows my daughter to be hurt because of my prayer?  What if He allows pain so deep that she has to fight through bitterness to choose to forgive?

What about “teachable?”  Do I dare write that down?  What if God humbles my daughter through excruciating failure, brokenness, and the lessons of humility?

We Christians have joked about it so often, “Don’t pray for patience!!!”  That’s what we remind each other and then we laugh in agreement because, truth is, God has taught us all some of those painful lessons in patience.

And we didn’t like them.

So, we’re afraid to pray.

Yes, I am afraid to pray, too.

I know why.  It’s a trust thing.  I’m not believing the best about God.

The truth is that God won’t bruise or break if  a gentle lesson, a sweet whisper could change our hearts.

He never answers our prayers for patience with trials just because He’s mean like that.  Or He likes to hurt us.  Or He can’t come up with another way to teach us.

If I pray for my daughters to grow in these areas, I can trust Him to teach them in the best way, the perfect lessons at the perfect timing, and if their hearts are yielded and moldable clay, He’ll use the gentlest touch to fix the imperfections He finds.

And the truth is that if it’s breaking we need, He’ll allow the brokenness so that He can reshape us and form us into something beautiful: into the image of His Son.

But even then, I can trust His hand.  I can trust His love for us and the grace He pours out and the way He never gives up.Praying with prayer cards

As I read in Genesis, I think how Jacob must have been so afraid.  I recognize it now as I look at him: one fear-filled human looking into the heart of another fear-filled human.

Jacob lost his son Joseph.  So, when his remaining sons trekked off to Egypt for food during an intense famine, he had one demand:  They had to leave his youngest son, Benjamin, behind.  He couldn’t lose another son.  Not ever again.

It seemed to work at first.  The boys brought home grain from Egypt and the youngest son stayed home.

But the food ran out again and Joseph had made it clear—-no younger brother in Egypt, no more food.

Jacob either needed to trust God or his whole family would starve.

And God let Jacob reach the very end of all his resources so that Jacob would finally let go of control and send all his sons back to Egypt, Benjamin included (Genesis 43).

This was God at work.

Jacob was terrified, but God was in this.  He was working for the reconciliation of Jacob’s family and the preservation of the entire nation of Israel.

But as long as Jacob held on tight to control, not wanting the possibility of pain, he missed out on God’s best.

We can trust God with our hearts, with our lives, with our children, with our marriages.  We can trust Him with all of it.

So, I write down those prayer requests on the prayer cards and I entrust my children to His care.  I tell Him that I’m afraid.  I tell Him the truth about what’s in my heart.

But I trust Him and I let go.


 Want to learn how to pray with prayer cards?  I first read about them in Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

Praying with a Penny Cup

penny cupThe penny plinked into the cup and I walked away.

It was such a simple thing.  The penny pressed into the palm of my hand and then a quick release, a letting go, and I was done.

Before my penny cup, I thought that I was just persevering in prayer like Jesus told His disciples to do in Luke 18.

There was the widow who came before the unfair judge day after day to demand justice, and finally he gave in because he was annoyed and tired of hearing her complain about it.

There was the neighbor awakened in the middle of the night by obnoxious and persistent knocking at his front door.  He finally opened up the door and stood there in his pajamas listening to his neighbor’s plight—an unexpected guest, no bread in the house, could he share?  Yes!  Take it!  Take anything as long as you stop that knocking, knocking, knocking so I can get some sleep already.

So, Jesus tells us, if an unrighteous judge and a sleep-deprived neighbor gave into requests just because of tenacity, wouldn’t God who loves us respond when we pray and pray and pray and don’t give up praying?

Don’t stop praying.  Even when you’re weary and exhausted and hopeless and think it doesn’t do a bit of good, keep pushing and pushing on in prayer.

But my idea of persevering in prayer wasn’t really prayer any more.  It was more like fretting in front of God’s throne and worrying about a problem before a divine audience.

All night long, I mentally paced in prayer: Lord, here’s my problem and here’s what I need You to do to fix it.  

I plead and argued and orated and then when I’d run out of things to say, I started all over again.

Hour after hour ticked by on my bedside clock and still I continued.

God loves when we pray. We can bring anything and everything to Him in prayer and He never tires of hearing us and never turns us away.

But I never released my need to Him.  I was talking at Him without ever letting go or pausing for even a second to listen or be still.

I was wallowing in anxiety and putting a holy ‘stamp of approval’ on it by calling it prayer.

John wrote:

 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for (1 JOhn 5:14-15 HCSB).

I was praying as if He couldn’t hear me.

….as if my will mattered more than His will.

….as if only my solution to the problem was acceptable.

….as if He wasn’t sovereign or compassionate—wasn’t able or didn’t care to rescue me.

… as if He was against me instead of for me.1 john 5

It was a prayer of unbelief.

Then, I read the idea in a discipleship magazine: a penny cup.

It’s not the cup that mattered or even the penny.  Writing a prayer on a slip of paper and slipping it into a prayer box would do just as well.

What matters is a physical reminder to release my white-knuckled grip on my problem and give it over to the God who loves me so.

Every time I  found a wayward penny on a dresser or on the floor, I picked it up and prayed with a quick whisper, “Lord, please take care of this need.  I trust You to deliver me.” Then I released the prayer to Him as I dropped the coin into my penny cup.

I didn’t tell Him how to fix the problem.  I didn’t wrestle with Him for hours every night over the need.

I prayed day in and day out (you’d be surprised how many pennies you find when they become part of your prayer life), but always I gave the problem to Him instead of holding onto it myself.

When the penny cup filled to the brim, I poured out the coins and started again.  For years, I prayed about this one issue, giving it over to God one…..penny….. at….. a….. time.

For the first time, I really prayed.  I didn’t fret and argue and run endless circles of desperate pleading around God.

I persisted in prayer by expressing my need while leaving the solution in His hands.

And God rescued me.  Not in the way I expected.  Not in the timing I expected.  Not without hardship and hurting or obedience or faith in the hard places.  But the deliverance was miraculous and beautiful and perfect in the way only God’s deliverance can be.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Keep Praying, Keep Hoping, Keep Looking

Lunches packed for the last time. Desks cleared, backpacks cleaned out and stowed away. Field day over.  Class parties celebrated.  Awards ceremony concluded and certificates photographed.  End-of-the-year pictures taken of each daughter and compared to the photos from the first day of the school year.

And now we collapse.  We did it.  Somehow it feels like a joint accomplishment, not just theirs.  Sure, my kids worked hard. So did I.  And somehow, by God’s grace, we made it here to summer vacation.lasdayofschool

It’s only taken 15 months of prayer.  I started praying for this school year last March, praying for this teacher, this classroom, these friends, this school, these character issues, and these lessons.

And here as the school year ends, I give thanks:

Thank You, Lord, for answering my pleas for my children.  Thank You for helping them learn, being with them in all of the struggles that have sent this loving (and worried) mama to her knees.  Thank You for helping them with difficult concepts and friendship drama, bullies and mistakes on tests, report cards and forgetfulness. Thank You for these teachers You chose specially for my kids.

And I began again, just that quickly, one sentence to another, thank God for this year and then praying for next year: for classroom placements and teacher assignments, for the responsibilities of a new grade and for the friendships they’d make.

So it continues.

“Pray without ceasing….” that’s what Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

He meant that living prayer, that breathing in and breathing out of living life alongside God, taking in crises and handing them right on over to the Lord, receiving blessing and offering up spontaneous praise.prayer

It means no more arbitrary separations between the sacred and the secular, between the holy parts of my life where God is welcome and invited and the dusty living rooms of our hearts where we try to hide away the clutter in corners.

Having kids, though, reminds me of this, too:

Prayer is perpetual; it’s insistent and consistent.

And sometimes I’m not.  I’m driven to the throne by need and I’m pouring out pleas of desperation until the need eases a bit.  Or perhaps I just grow weary or fall back into the coziness of complacency and apathy.

I’m not praying so fervently any more. It’s more like unemotional have-to prayers, perhaps performed out of duty, perhaps totally forgotten and not prayed at all.

We pray for that intervention, that salvation, that redemption, that rescue…for us or for another….and then slowly we cease the praying.   We need the reminder to keep on keeping on, to not give up asking God for that healing and to refuse to stop praying for a loved one’s salvation.

With kids, you can’t really forget, not for long.  Time just pushes you right through from prayer need to prayer need.  I’m not even done praying over one school year before I’m on my knees for the next.

I read the Psalms and here is the reminder anew:

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor.  In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation” (Psalm 69:13 NLT).

“But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more” (Psalm 71:14 NLT).

“We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal” (Psalm 123:2 NLT).

Keep praying….keep hoping….keep looking.

Keep at it and when He answers, press on in more prayer.

With this fresh resolve, I flip through the pages of the neglected prayer journal.  What did I pray then….and what do I still need to pray now?

What have you neglected in prayer?  What have you given up on and long since stopped asking God for?  Who used to be on your prayer list but somehow slipped off?

It’s discipline to begin again.  And when we cease praying, which feels like the inevitable failing of us forgetful ones, we return again and resolve again to be insistent and consistent in seeking God and hoping in His deliverance.

What have you stopped praying about that you need to pray for again?  What prayers are you already praying for your children’s next school year?

Originally posted June 7, 2013

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Does God Listen When We Pray?

“Listening is an act of love.”

That’s what she told me years ago as we sat around the table in our Bible study group.

She said it with a laugh, because she was a talker.  She liked chatting, chatting, chatting.  Listening was the sacrificial gift she gave to others.

Sometimes one phrase like that sticks with you years later.  It presses that impression deep into your clay-heart and you can trace your finger along the imprint over and over, to remember, to act, to transform, to put it into practice.

It changes you.

Listening.  That’s the act of love we give to others.

We quiet our own renegade thoughts, stop trying to think of what we want to say next, stop tuning others out in order to turn our selfish eyes inward once again.

We listen.  Really listen.  We listen so we can pray and ask the right questions.  Yes, we listen so we can show love.

I take this to heart.  Me, the mom perpetually in the minivan.  Some days, my kids want to babble on so.  I live in a world of noise.

But when I start to nod my head without hearing and insert appropriate “Mmmm—hmmmms” at well-timed pauses simply to pretend like I’m listening to them (while I secretly revel in my own private thoughts), I stop.

Now I choose to listen, choose to value who they are and what they have to say.

And I remind myself of this: Listening is an act of God’s love to me.

He doesn’t just ask me to give this gift to others.  He gives it first.

I don’t always feel it, of course.  Sometimes I push out those breathy prayers and feel like nothing is changing.  He isn’t listening, isn’t understanding my need or even caring about my little self in my desperate situation.

Those prayers sure feel at times like they are hitting that proverbial ceiling.

The Psalmists understood.

David wrote,

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth (Psalm 54:2)


“To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 28:1).

Asaph prayed the same:

“God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God” (Psalm 83:1).

That’s what we feel perhaps, and yet we’re assured that God hears our pure hearts when we pray.

God doesn’t tune us out or ignore us.

Psalm 10:17 says,

“Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their hearts.  You will listen carefully” (HCSB).

He listens.  Not distractedly, absentmindedly, or halfheartedly.

God listens “carefully” to the desire of the humble.

Indeed, the Psalmist could say, “You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh”  (Psalm 38:9 NLT).  Even when we can’t cram our needs and feelings into words, God hears the very longings of our heart and every sigh of our overwhelmed soul.

When Jesus stood outside of Lazarus’s tomb, surrounded by wailing mourners who blamed him for Lazarus’s death, He prayed with these words:

Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You heard Me. I know that You always hear Me….” (John 1:1:41-42 HCSB).

Jesus prayed boldly on the basis of the promise of God’s character:  He is the God who always hears us. 

In Beth Moore’s book, The Beloved Disciple, she issues a prayer challenge:

Every time you pray for the next week, begin your prayer with Christ’s words straight out of John 11:42, “I know You always hear me.”  Then conclude it with Christ’s words in John 11:41, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” Practice God’s presence!  Pray as if He’s really listening because He is!”

This is my prayer practice this week, the way I am pursuing the presence of Christ through my prayer life.

This week, I’ll continue breathing out those short 5-word prayers from last week.

But  in my longer prayer times, I begin each with: “I know You always hear me.”  And before I say, “Amen, ” I pray, “Father, thank You that You have heard me.”

Because He does hear me.  I just need the reminder and reassurance at times.  This great God, so Mighty, so Awesome, loves me and chooses to listen to me as an expression of that merciful love.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I focus on Praying Simply?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Making a Prayer Pail: How to get out of that same-old prayer rut


My four-year-old always manages to surprise me with her prayers.  She keeps them fresh.  What rolls off her tongue is what is just rolling out of her heart and mind.

But she’s the exception.

We do this nightly round-robin of prayers as a family.  Mostly, my family slips easily into a rut of prayers.  I can tell you what one of my daughters will pray almost word-for-word every…single….night.

Not only does she stick to the same verbal prayer routine, she has taken to praying at lightning speed, like she gets extra spiritual bonus points for crossing the finish line of “Amen” in record time.

Prayer should be more than that, right?

This message is for me.  I don’t want to trek over those same prayer grooves night after night.  I don’t want to pray out of “should” or “must” or spiritual duty, doing little more than checking off that sacred to-do-list.

Prayer should be this great passion.

Too often, we forget this: That we are granted access before the very throne of our Mighty God by the grace of our Savior.  Prayer brings us into His presence.  It’s beautiful and intimate and it should knock me right off my feet really to realize that a God so great could care about the tiniest needs of my simple soul.

So, how to help us all shake off the routine of prayer?  How to remind myself and my kids that we should be praying for our missionaries, our church leaders, our government, our teachers, our friends and family in addition to our own little needs?

I saw this idea shared at The Women’s Bible Cafe and had this moment of, “Oh my goodness, this is the best idea ever.”  It’s not something I could just pin on Pinterest and never turn into reality in my own home.  This was something that needed to actually happen.

Delfina Salas, the mom who inspired this awesome idea, gave me permission to make my own prayer pail and share the results with you.

She let her kids decorate a tiny bucket and some Popsicle sticks.  Then they wrote on each stick a prayer prompt—a missionary name or something like ‘government leaders.’

At dinner, they choose one Popsicle stick and pray for whatever is written on it.

Some of you might use prayer calendars in a similar way to help you remember to pray for a variety of needs.

But me?  A mom with four young kids?  Popsicle sticks with prayer requests seems like a good fit!

So, here’s our prayer pail….015

We included each family member, extended family, soldiers, government leaders, teachers and schools, pastors and church leaders, and three different missionary families we know from our church.

My heart is to make this happen:

 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live (1 Timothy 2:1-3 MSG).

Thank you so much, Delfina, for the suggestion and allowing me to share this idea with others!

Have you found ways to revive your prayer life or help your kids learn how to pray for others?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

How to Pray When You Don’t Have Time to Pray



“Why’d you have to say that aloud?”

That’s what my husband asked me and I knew it the moment I said those words I should have kept them shut up inside my head.

Foolish mama, to say, “If I can just make it to mid-March, the rest of the year will be easy.”

It’s like painting a big target on yourself with a sign saying, “Please hit me HERE.”

Of course, my daughters carried home three different invitations to join this team and that club and this after-school activity that very week.  And my tiniest girl comes to me with two birthday invitations.

That cathartic breath of victory, the kind you gasp in when you’ve crossed the finish-line of a suffocating race with your muscles screaming in pain and your head pounding, but you’re feeling accomplished—-that breath just got knocked right out of my breathless soul.

Why’d I have to go and say that aloud?

I pray out this whispered apology to God in my minivan:

“I’m just so sorry I’m rushing, sorry that 15 minutes of quiet in my car is the closest I get to really pouring it all out here with you, God.  Please forgive me.”

It used to be…

In those pre-Mom days, I commuted at least an hour each way and amused all the New Jersey drivers as the woman talking to herself and singing in her Dodge Neon.

Every day, I spent two hours in prayer and worship.

And now?

I’m disciplining myself through Bible study and I’m grabbing every last second to flop down all exhausted at the feet of Jesus.

There are days when I’m panting like David:

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water  (Psalm 63:1 NASB).

I have been that dehydrated and parched.

This morning, I read it here:

In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the Lord!”  But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.  Psalm 31:22

I have felt cut off from the Lord….Cut off from His presence.  Cut off from that sweet intimacy of rambling conversations and long soul-talks with my Savior.


The Psalmist tells me God hears that cry for mercy and call for help.prayer quote

And He answers.

I can dream about used to be’s or feel the heavy burden of failure and mourn the loss.  No more two-hour-long ‘quiet’ times in my tiny commuter car.

But here’s the thing….I’m working harder than ever to be there with Him.  Perhaps that’s even more precious to Him?

There’s this blessed reality, this beautiful Mom-life.  The beauty of interrupted thoughts and sweet hugs, of digging seeds deep down in the fertile souls of these four babies.

Maybe I can’t slip away for hours of prayer, but it’s because I’ve got my hands sunk in the soil and God’s there with me, patting down the dirt, watering and weeding, pruning and tending this garden of my home.

I read this grace:

God gives more in a moment than in a long period of time, for His actions are not measured by time at allKnow that even when you are in the kitchen, our Lord is moving among the pots and pans.” – St Teresa of Avila

and this:

There are moments when you don’t have time for long, wordy prayers to God.  You’re in the trenches.  You’re at the end of your rope.  You’re in the middle of life and just can’t push the pause button….Simple prayers from a person whose heart is bent towards God can be just as powerful as the poetic prayers of David   (Emily E. Ryan, Guilt-Free Quiet Times).

I think of Nehemiah, who prayed and fasted for months, but had this one moment of great need and wrote simply, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 2:4).  Just one sentence.  one quick prayer for help when he needed it most.

That’s what my prayers are like now.

Emily E. Ryan teaches me 5-Word Prayers to Whisper in the Moment (from Guilt-Free Quiet Times)

Not my will, but Yours.
Not my timing, but Yours.
Not my day, but Yours.

This week, as I pursue the presence of Christ by Praying Simply….I practice these 5-word prayers.  Sometimes less.  Sometimes little more than, “Help!!” or “Jesus!!” or “Have mercy on me!”

I wash the dish and pray thanks.
I make the bed and pray for my marriage.
I drive the minivan and pray for our activities.
I tie the shoes and pray for the feet that wear them.

I feel His presence as we work that soil and I remember that I’m ministering with Him, not apart from Him.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I focus on Praying Simply?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Will you join me in prayer this week?

“You know what we need to do, girls?  We need to pray.”

I find myself saying that more and more to my kids.  I never expected that the problems of a preschooler, a first grader and a second grader would be beyond my ability to fix so much of the time.  I never imagined how much of motherhood is spent on your knees. 

We’ve prayed for stolen glue sticks, mean girls, renegade classmates who won’t behave in art class, forgotten homework, lost lunch boxes, friends whose parents are divorcing and other friends being teased on the playground.

When you open the floor to prayer requests from kids, they’re willing to be downright honest, maybe even uncomfortably truthful at times.

If their parents fought, they’ll tell you.  If their grades are bad, if their teacher is tough, if their friend is sad, if a bully is mean, you’ll hear about it.  Children will spill it all out there.

We seem to learn privacy and shame over time, learning to keep things quiet, afraid to ask for prayer for our real problems because others might know the truth: We don’t have it all together.  People might judge.  The gossip chain will be initiated.

But I’m saying this now to you as you sit here reading this blog, maybe munching away at your lunch or settling down to read your email messages at the end of the day, or grabbing a few minutes in between phone calls or during your toddler’s nap time….

“You know what we need to do?  We’ve got to pray.”

Scripture reminds us of the power of praying together.

When Esther prepared to enter King Xerxes’s presence uninvited, placing her life in jeopardy in order to save her people from mass genocide, she didn’t just pray on her own.

She organized a nationwide prayer meeting, instructing all the Jews of Susa to:

“fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  My maids and I will do the same…” (Esther 4:16 NLT).

Jesus didn’t just fall to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane alone as he waited for his betrayer to arrive with an army of soldiers and an unwelcome kiss.  He took along:

“Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.  He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:37-38).

Paul, who seemed so confident and capable in ministry and who always seemed content and able to rejoice despite circumstances, wasn’t afraid to ask the church in Ephesus to

“pray for me, too.  Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan…” (Ephesians 6:19 NLT).

So rather than bowing my head alone, I’m asking for you to do something totally different with me.

Let’s pray together. 

Just leave a comment on the blog or Facebook this week saying, “I’m praying, too” or something simple like that and then spend some time this week in focused prayer for others.  It’ll take just a second of time to post that comment so we know you’re praying.

And if you have a prayer request, don’t be afraid or ashamed, please share that with us, too.  You can leave a comment here on the blog—even anonymously if you wish—and you can keep it simple, “My marriage.  My job.  My kids.”  We’ll join with you on our knees today and ask God for help.

Or, you can email a prayer request to me here: heatherking@cox.net

We’ve got to pray, friends, and not just individually, but together.  Please take just a few minutes and join in our “online prayer meeting” today.
Here are some prayer prompts.  Please share if you have any other ideas of how we can pray…
  • For marriages: For faithfulness, love, affection, honor, making marriage a priority, friendship, spiritual unity, and for freedom from abuse.
  • For depression and spiritual stagnation: For revival and a return of joy, for friendship and God’s Word to come alive for them again.  For hope.
  • For finances: For freedom from debt, steady work and well-rewarded labor.  For wisdom and abundant blessing. For those looking for work.
  • For children: For salvation, for the wayward child, for restoration of broken relationships, for wisdom to make wise choices for our kids, for help guiding them spiritually.
  • For churches/ministries and pastors/ministry leaders: For God’s vision, for strength, energy, refreshing, wisdom, and clear direction from God—for their families and their finances and health.  For God to fill them up as they pour themselves out.
  • For caregivers: That God would bring peace and freedom from pain to their loved ones, for salvation for those suffering, for strength for each new day for the caregivers themselves.

Originally published November 26, 2012

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

Five Simple Ways to Remember to Pray for Others

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.”
1 Timothy 2:1 MSG

“I’ll pray for ya!”

That’s what we promise.remembertopray

But do we really remember?  When life crowds in, do we keep our promise to pray for surgeries, doctor’s appointments, marriages, infertility, job interviews, ministry events, concerns about children, or direction….not for ourselves, but for others?

Because truth be told, so often we’re selfish, attending to our own needs and forgetting the needs of others.

Or maybe we’re distracted. Far too busy.  Simply forgetful.

We need, though, not just to say we’re going to pray, but to truly bow down at the throne of God and lift up our friends, family, and church members, interceding on their behalf. 

Oswald Chambers wrote:

“Your part in intercessory prayer is not to agonize over how to intercede, but to use everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence to bring them before His throne and to allow the Spirit in you the opportunity to intercede for them.  In this way, God is going to touch the whole world with His saints.

God does not appoint one person in a group to pray for everyone else or call one person to intercessory prayer and give everyone else a “Get Out of Prayer” card.

He invites all of us to His throne room on behalf of the people we meet in “everyday circumstances and people God puts around you by His providence.”

Perhaps God sent you through that particular line at the grocery store so you could meet and pray for your cashier.

Maybe the hairdresser who checks your name off the list and calls you back to the shampoo bowl was God-appointed so that you could pray for her.

That interruption in your day that sent you to the store unexpectedly may have been so that you could meet up with a friend from small group who needs prayer.

So then, how do you combat forgetfulness and busyness and self-centeredness and make praying for others a consistent reality rather than a broken promise?

  1.  Mark it on your calendar: Mingled among doctor’s appointments, ballet lessons, and cookouts, prayer requests dot my calendar.  Surgery dates, job interviews, baby due dates, and court appearances are marked on the squares so that I will remember to pray on the very days necessary.
  2. Pray right away: If someone calls me with a prayer request, I may very well pray right there on the phone.  If not, I pray as soon as I  hang up.  I may be cutting onions, stirring pasta, washing dishes or folding clothes while I’m doing it, but I’m praying while it is fresh on my heart and mind.  If I receive an email with a prayer request, I pray over it as I read and as soon as I’m finished.1timothy2
  3. Pray as you read Scripture:  As I read, I ask God to reveal Scriptures that I can pray for those on my prayer list and He does.  Right there in that moment, Bible in my hand, I pray for the person who has popped into my mind in association with that verse. ” God, place a new song in her heart” (Psalm 40).  “God, fill her with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).  Every time I open my Bible, I begin a conversation with God that often includes requests for others.
  4. Stop, Drop and Pray: We’ve all had those moments when we’re running through our day and a friend appears in our thoughts for a moment.  “I need to call her,” we might think.  Or, “I need to remember to pray for her later.”  I’ve learned to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit and pray right then and there.  I don’t need to wait until my quiet time to lift up a friend to God.  I stop where I am, drop what I’m doing even if only for a few seconds, and pray—-before I forget and before urgent things distract me.
  5. Post It:  I’ve tried keeping a notebook of prayer requests before and it hasn’t worked for me.  What I have done, though, is find ways to post the prayer requests so I see them all day and pray for them often.  I have a prayer list for my kids on my refrigerator door.  I’ve posted index cards around my desk with prayer requests for others.  I have a prayer card in my Bible and another in my car.

Too often we try to confine prayer to specific times, meetings, sacred places and holy moments.  But prayer can happen right here and now. As soon as the Holy Spirit nudges our heart, we can offer those prayers up to Him on behalf of others.

Originally posted as Pray for Us, Part II, 5/25/2011

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King