When His People Pray–Watching God’s Faithfulness Unfold

Perhaps, like me, you’ve wrestled with thoughts like, “If God’s sovereign, why pray?” Or maybe you’ve been frustrated when your prayers don’t get answered like you’ve hoped. When I first got sick, my prayer life suffered. I couldn’t understand why a loving, faithful, all-powerful God would choose not to heal me. For maybe a year, I got stuck in the why. I can happily say I’ve moved past that phase and have learned to trust Him, whether He says yes or no, and honestly, the depth of my prayers have deepened, as has my intimacy with Christ.

It’s interesting that I’m sharing Gail Pallotta’s post today, when another friend chose to share one I’d written on a similar subject–a time when God used a crisis to revive my passion for prayer. You can read about that HERE. (You’ll want to scroll down past my bio to read it.)

Today my sweet friend and fellow ACFW member shares how God allowed her to see His answers unfold. Her story reminded me of a verse I read this morning from Psalm 107:43: “Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord” (NLT).

They will see in our history, in considering all God has done, that He is indeed faithful.

 

Celebrating answered prayer

by Gail Pallotta

My husband and I joined a Bible study class while visiting a small church. The leader introduced us to a slender man with blond hair, probably in his forties, and a dark-haired woman about the same age. She sat with a walker in front of her, and both peered at us with sad eyes, their lips turned down. Interesting.

I’ll call the guy Fred and the pretty woman, Lou.

“Lou loves music. I hope she’ll sing for us sometime,” the leader said.

Lou smiled, and several of us seated in the circle of folding chairs returned the gesture. Then we studied the Parables, and before I knew it, it was time to leave.The leader closed her Bible and asked us to pray aloud whatever was on our hearts.

Fred was last. He asked the Lord to help Lou, who’d been ill for eight years with a crippling disease. The leader closed with “Amen” and we disbursed.

The next class, Lou brought a song she’d written and led us to sing it. We all clapped and told her how much we loved the tune. It was hard to tell who grinned bigger, her or Fred. After the study, I watched as Fred took Lou’s walker, and she navigated the church steps with great difficulty My heart ached to see her struggle so.

Busy, we missed visiting the church for several weeks. When we returned for a morning service,, I saw Fred. on my way into the sanctuary.He smiled so big I wondered if he would crack his cheeks. I said, “hello” but he charged past me as though he hadn’t seen me. Curiosity needled me. What prompted his happy, yet intense focus?

We entered the sanctuary, and I turned my attention to the altar. Lou was in the choir! Apparently, someone had encouraged her to join. When the director motioned for the choristers to rise, Lou stood with no help. My heart leapt each time she got up and sang a hymn. After the closing song, two ladies held onto Lou, and she walked arm and arm between them as the choir left the loft.

None of the choristers had been a part of the class or heard Fred’s prayer. Perhaps someone in the group told them the joy music brought to Lou and Fred. I don’t know. But by honoring her talent, caring for her, these Christians followed Jesus’ commandment that we love one another, and she brought a joyful noise to the service. I blinked back the tears in my misty eyes and marveled at divine intervention.

***

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, finished fourth in the 16th Annual Preditors and Editors readers’ poll and was a 2013 Grace Awards finalist. She’s published five books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Gail loves to connect with readers. To learn more about her, visit her website at GailPallotta.com.

Barely Above Water:

An illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. Suzie relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, and turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida. She takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but can he overcome his fear of losing a loved one and regain Suzie’s trust?

Available on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1W4fUXB

 

Let’s talk about this! How’s your prayer life? Can you share a time when you felt God call you to pray for someone and then were allowed to see the results of that? Can you perhaps share a time when God didn’t answer your prayer as you’d hoped, and yet God showed you His love through that?

In the beginning of my post, I mentioned my struggles with prayer, and God’s answers at the time. He ended up using a “no” in a powerful way. You can read about that HERE.

You may also enjoy reading “The Gift of No.”

May God give you a renewed passion for prayer as you seek Him this week and intercede on behalf of others. And make sure to come back next week to read a transparent post by Mary Bowen about when she struggled to see herself as God sees her, and how He changed her self-perception. Then, on June 1st, author Jana Kelley will share a story of an opened door, a woman who allowed fear to keep her from stepping through it, and what Jana learned from that experience. Then, on June 8th, I’m going to be sharing some about an upcoming I’m excited to launch with a friend, and how God sparked that passion within. So make sure to come back!

For those in the Omaha Metro area, make sure to come to Wholly Loved’s next conference on June 24th. You can find out more HERE. Want to book Wholly Loved for your next event or host one of our speakers? Email us at contact(at)whollyloved(dot)com.

Prayers From the Heart

GailPallottaHeadshotThere are some things that instantly cause my stomach to knot and my pulse to race, and that’s heights, the threat of car accidents, and journeying into the unknown. Today my friend and fellow ACFW author, Gail Pollatta, combines three of my most intense fears into a post that made me cringe, and think, and rejoice in the God who stays with us on every winding, uncertain, and unsettling road. As you read her account of a very frightening night, pause to remember the God who sees you even in the dark and who hears you even when you utter not a sound.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her novel, Stopped Cold, to one lucky reader chosen randomly from the comments left on today’s post. 

Prayers of the Heart by Gail Pallotta

I believe God answers prayers from our hearts even if we don’t say them out loud. One such prayer started on a frigid mountain road in the North ID-100124482Carolina hills when I was in my twenties. I was riding home from school with two friends when a cold rain started to fall.

We had the radio tuned to the college station, but we lost reception, probably because of the worsening weather. An eerie quiet hovered around us. I glanced over at my friend driving the car. I’ll call her Mandy.

She gripped the steering wheel, her body visibly tense. That was out of character for the tall, dark-haired beauty who was the epitome of grace and calm. “The road seems slick. I guess it’s covered in water. It’s hard to see,” she said.

I knew the drive took us along a steep, rocky drop-off on our right because I’d ridden by it many times in broad daylight. But I had no idea whether or not we’d reached it. Only our headlights cut into the black of night. Other than having a sense of the road beneath us, we could have been floating in black space.

Our co-ed in the backseat…I’ll call her Amy…said, “I can’t stand the silence and not knowing where we are. Could we sing or something?”

“Sure. What song?” Mandy asked.

‘How about the hymn, He Leadeth Me?” The suggestion seemed like a good idea at the time, and looking back on the circumstance, I’d say it probably came from a prayer in my heart.

“Okay,” Amy said. Then, she started the song, and we joined in.

All of a sudden the car slid to the right.

Mandy screamed. “The rain’s turned to ice. The road’s frozen.”

“Turn into the slide,” I said.

“I’m trying,” Mandy hollered as the vehicle veered more to the right.

“O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!” Amy kept singing.

The sedan turned sideways and slipped across the highway while scooting down the steep grade fast as though it had gotten caught on an oil slick. Amy and I gasped.

“Keep singing,” Mandy said.

“Whate’er I do, where’er I be

Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

We sang as the car skidded in the dark, the headlights swirling toward an unknown place.

All of a sudden a thud jarred us. The vehicle stopped, and the motor rattled, the wipers scraping ice pellets off the windshield. The headlights shone on the trunk of a huge hardwood tree growing above the edge of the cliff. I slumped in my seat as we sat speechless for what seemed like an hour, but must have been only a few minutes.

Mandy pulled back on the highway. As we crept down the mountain to a lower elevation the ice turned back to rain.

We arrived at our homes shaken but safe. I can’t help but wonder if the three of us had had the same prayer in our hearts.

Seven other travelers went over the cliff and died that night.

* * *

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, was a best-seller on All Romance eBooks, finished fourth in the Preditors and Editors readers’ poll, and was a finalist for the 2013 Grace Awards. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles.blogspot.com, at her blog, http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com, on her Web Site, http://www.gailpallotta.com on Authors and More on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorsandmore and twitter, Gail Pallotta @Hopefulwords

StoppedColdforwebuseHer novel, Stopped Cold:

Teen Margaret McWhorter, a freshman in high school in Mistville, North Carolina, enjoys flirting with her first romantic interest, swimming and hanging out with friends. Then her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now, he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a football star, but a fire of hate burns inside her to find the criminals. While she, her heartthrob and best friend look for them, she calls on her Christian faith, asking God to cure Sean, heal the hate and open her heart to love.

Check out her next novel, Mountain of Love and Danger, available on preorder, here:

Smashwords

Amazon

Let’s talk about this! I can think of numerous times when I knew God had reached down to pull me out of a LivingbyGracepicdangerous (physically or spiritually) situation and many other times when I knew He’d placed me in the perfect place at the perfect time for an amazing reason. And yet, I suspect there are many other times when He was working behind the scenes, guiding me, or perhaps delaying me, in order to keep me on that good and perfect path He has marked out for me.

 

He does that for all of us, because that is the kind of gentle, attentive Father He is.

What emotions did you feel as you read Gail’s testimony? What went through your mind? Can you share a similar time when you knew God alone had kept you from something harmful? Can you share a time when He led you toward immense blessing? How might remembering those times help you the next time you face an uncertain or frightening situation?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Face on Facebook. (Which, by the way, begs the question, are you and I friends on FB? If not, why is that? ;0 Let’s connect! You can find me here.

Before you go, however, I encourage you to read my friend, Diana Prusik’s post on Faith-filled Friends as she too experienced a rather frightening car ride recently. You can read her post titled Angels in Disguise here.

IMG_3923And for those of you who are curious to know how Takin’ it to the Streets first annual Hope for the Homeless event went–it was a huge success! We raised over $3,000 and gained a lot of exposure with the help of KCRO AM 660, a great article in the Omaha World Herald, and a short clip that aired on KETV7. You can read more about the event, and an encounter that, to me, meant more than any money raised, here, and you can read the Herald article here.

 

 

Now Free on Kindle!

SweetFreedomCover

All Affra wanted was to find love–real love, but her desperation led her into the arms of an angry, lust-filled man, a man who, like all the others she’d known, used her for his pleasure than tossed her aside. But one afternoon, she met another man–one unlike any she’d known before. Could this man love her, truly love her? And would she let him, or would her past wounds keep her heart barricaded?

He grew up in a God-fearing, loving home. So how did he end up on the streets of California addicted to heroine, not caring if he lived or died?

Not long after learning of her pregnancy, Kelly Liberto’s doctor delivered terrifying news. She had cancer. While pregnant. How could cancer turn into a blessing? When it leads to a deeper unveiling and an even deeper healing–healing of wounds she wasn’t even aware she had!

A night in the hospital plunged Jodie Bailey, author of Freefall, into deep emotional bondage, a bondage that not only trapped her heart, but kept her physically trapped in the four walls of her home. Friends couldn’t help. Psychiatrists were at a loss. What would it take to help her break free of “these” four walls?

Marriage. True love … tainted by an ugly addiction–one that threatened to destroy Joanne Joy Underwood and her precious sons. What would it take for her to break free of her husband’s toxic addiction?

Gail Pallotta, author of Stopped Cold shares a beautiful fictional story of a grandmother who appears to have lost all hope, all drive for living. How can simple slivers of fabric reignite the flame within?

Melissa Finnegan tells a beautiful story of one woman, abandoned by her husband, who needs to learn to love again. But can she release her pain and unveil her shrouded heart in order to do so? (Currently on her blog, Melissa talks about how God led her to write her story, Burned. You can read about that here.)

Tanya Eavanson, author of Unconditional, talks about the freedom found in surrendering our wounds to Christ and trusting in Him and Him alone for our healing. (Tanya will be on television Monday. I imagine you can find out more by visiting her blog and leaving her a comment asking about it.)

Beth Farley’s beautiful poems stir our hearts afresh with love for our gentle, gracious, all-powerful Savior.

Elizabeth Veldboom had every right to be angry, but would feeding her anger and bitterness lead to emotional bondage?

I know many of you have already received the free PDF version of Sweet Freedom. You should be able to read this on your ereader, however, if you’d prefer to download the Kindle version, you can now do so for free! (Through July 7th.) Feel free to share the below link with anyone you believe might be blessed by this compilation. Our desire is that each story will stir your hearts afresh with a deep thirst for Jesus Christ and His freeing Spirit. He died to set you free. That’s how much He loves you and longs for you to walk in His freedom.

Seeing God’s Hand

I’ve often wondered, if we could see all that God does on our behalf, how many seemingly random instances would turn out to be miracles. That detour that avoided a crash, or a stop light that placed us in the right place at the right time for a hidden blessing. Every once in a while, we catch glimpses of God’s hand, but I believe He does so much more–each moment in each day–then we’ll ever realize, until maybe we get to heaven.

Today, Gail Pallotta, fellow Clash of the Titles’ hostess and author of Love Turns the Tide, reminds us of how God works behind the scenes, often through His children, to provide for our needs. As you read it, ask God to show you His love and mercy, sprinkled throughout your day. And then, when He does, make sure to thank Him, turning each moment into an act of praise. (Gail is also a Reach Out donor this month.)

God’s Constance Care by Gail Pallotta

Each year members of my Georgia Sunday school class chip in with other churches to provide bagged lunches for homeless children in the community. This year we planned to make our sandwiches one day in mid July. When the Sunday school teacher called to get us on the schedule, the coordinator told him they had plenty of food that week. They didn’t have enough the week after July fourth. The teacher told our class, “I agreed to supply them when they needed them.”

Years ago someone asked us to make the lunches. Sure. We could do that. It meant spending a few bucks each then putting cheese and turkey on bread and cookies in bags.

That’s only part of it. It means the children who come in every day during the summer trusting there will be something for them to eat, find it. In my mind’s eye I saw the youngsters running in hot and sweaty from playing, talking and chattering, teasing each other and giving one another friendly jabs as they sat down and ate their treats.

Then I thought of all the times God works behind the scenes in our lives to meet our needs.

Gail and Rick Pallotta picked up one hundred bagged lunches this July at their church in Georgia to deliver to their community’s homeless children.

The night before, they joined their Sunday school class to make the meals in the church’s large, commercial kitchen. Each bag holds a turkey and cheese sandwich, vanilla wafers, peanut butter cookies, applesauce packets and boxed drinks.

Love Turns the Tide:

In Love Turns the Tide Cammie O’Shea faces a traumatic split-up with her fiancé and has to leave her family and friends to take a new job in Destin, Florida. Heartbroken and alone, she needs God more now than she ever has. But for some reason she can’t explain she feels more estranged from him.

A feature writer, she dreads meeting her new boss, the editor of The Sun Dial, a newnewspaper. However, her real source of angst turns out to be Vic Deleona, the influential real estate tycoon she must write about to help get the paper off its feet. While she refuses to open herself to another painful relationship he attempts to court her. Trying to get over her heartache, she continues to read her Bible and say her prayers. Then break-ins at her and her friend’s condos make her doubt the wisdom of living in Destin even more.

Vic comes to their rescue. He even launches his own investigation into the crimes. Just when Cammie sees a different side of him she gets an offer to return home to her old job. Will Vic solve the crimes and win Cammie’s heart or will she leave?

But it here!

I’d love to hear from you. Has there been an event or encounter that seemed random at the time but later, you realized it was a divine appointment or open door? Or perhaps God has provided for you in an unexpected way. Tell us about it! And may we all be alert to God’s daily provisions and care.

As I close out the month of September, I want to give a shout-out to September’s Reach Out Donors:

Simple Faith by Eddie Snipesthe Road to Mercy by Kathy HarrisThe Other Side of Darkness by Linda Rondeau, and Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta. Kathy Harris, is also donating Karyn Williams’ musical CD entitled Only You.

Join Me At Gail’s

If you were looking for something profound, inspirational, or comical, sorry. You’ll have to come back next time as we continue to examine our hearts. (I’d like to stay on one topic for a week, mainly because my skull’s so dense it takes awhile for things to sink in. Then, it takes even longer for real change to occur.)

You might remember Gail from my top 20 of 2010. She wrote the wonderful devotion entitled, “Oh, To Be Magnetic,” reminding us of our need to shine for Christ all the time, where ever we go. After I asked her to share her devotion here, she sent me a request to visit her site. So…I’m sending you all over to her blog where you can here a bit about my “work-in-progress”, With Reckless Abandon. Yep, it’s an inspirational romance. Never thought I’d be a romance writer, until this story infiltrated my brain. At first, it surprised me. Could this story idea really be from God, or was it just a temporary creative respite in between some of my other projects? But then I remembered, the Bible is the ultimate romance! Page by page reveals God’s pursuing love for us, and our human romances give us but an imperfect glimmer of the Divine romance.

Marriage is an illustration of the relationship between God and the believer, which is why it is imperative that we do everything we can to strengthen our marriages. Each Friday, you can join me on Reflections as we explore potential marriage busters as well as marriage strengtheners. But beginning this Friday, I’ll be addressing the entire family unit. My new column is called, “Heart and Home.”

And as a friendly reminder, for those of you who are joining me in my intentional living series, don’t forget to pray for your heart today!

“Create in me a pure heart, Oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  And may we all be steadfast, diligent, and intentional in our walk with Christ today.

Top Three of 2010

Hopefully all my subscribers have enjoyed having a week of Slattery-free blog post updates. grin. I was going to wait to post the top three of 2010 until tomorrow, but I realized I need to kick off my plans for January…

So what were your favorite devos of my top twenty? In my opinion, all the devos were awesome and drew our hearts closer to God in continual surrender. However, there were three that appeared to strike a heart-chord with you all.

By far, Edie Melson’s God’s Timing is Always Perfect, was your top choice. Apparently we all struggle with patience and faith, trusting that God is still working even when things don’t go according to our plan or timetable. You might want to read her post again, then spend some time reading through Genesis 37-45. God revealed His plan to Joseph when he was seventeen, but for decades, circumstances appeared to negate the vision he had received. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, taken into a strange land, thrown into prison. Could all that really be part of God’s plan? Had he heard correctly? Had God changed His mind? Not at all. God was working the entire time, molding Joseph into the man He created him to be.

Your second favorite happened to be one of my favorites as well, primarily because of the little God-moment application God gave me the night before. Who would have thought God would use taxes of all things to share His love? Thanks Gail for reminding us all of our need to be magnetic. May God’s light shine so brightly within us that no matter where we go, no matter what we do, the people we come into contact with catch a hug from God. Read her post again, Oh, To Be Magnetic, and ask God to fill you so completely with His Holy Spirit, His love pours out unhindered.

Your third favorite was Sheila Holinghead’s A Glimpse of Beauty. Let each day, each moment, each moonlit stroll and early morning sunrise be an opportunity to discover afresh the beauty of our Creator.

Join me tomorrow as I prepare for the New Year and the series God’s laid on my heart.