Prodigal Post – Vending Machine Mentality

"Ask and you shall receive!" Matthew 7:7

That’s what the Bible says, right?

How often do we pray and pray and expect God to answer on our timeline? Even if what we are praying about is a need and not a want, should we pray with the expectation that our Father will answer immediately? I think if we do, we will most often be disappointed.

Should we pray and bring our requests and needs to God? ABSOLUTELY!! We are instructed to do so.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard a part of a conversation where someone was getting frustrated at God because their prayer had not been answered. If memory serves, they had been praying for a couple of days. I don’t say this to make fun at all. I have been guilty of the same thing in years past. I write this because I remember a conversation about the same topic. What is the condition of our heart when we are praying? Are we approaching God like we approach a vending machine? We drop some coinage, push a button, and our request is delivered? Or are we approaching with reverence that God can see a MUCH bigger picture in the grand scheme of things? What if the very things we are praying for, if answered, would lead to a worsening of the situation or could lead us away from the path that our heavenly Father desires for us? I am sure that I’ve missed the path MANY times in the past, but all I can do now is to pray and rely on our Daddy to show me how all of this will play out.

Here’s an example. A couple of weeks before September 10, 2002, my grandmother was lying in a hospital bed and not doing very well at all. All of the family and friends were praying diligently that God would heal her body so she could return to life as normal. I was living/working about an hour or so away, so I was not able to visit as I had hoped. But one night, I was able to get away for a visit. The visitation times were very limited, so I met my granddad at the hospital and we went in to visit. I was somewhat taken aback as she didn’t look much like the quirky, eccentric grandmother I had last seen, but I knew I was in the correct room. I went over to the bedside and pulled up a chair. I leaned in and asked her if she knew who I was. She blinked, as that was about all she had the strength to do. So, I held her hand and prayed quietly. After some time, I felt a deep sadness in my chest. A sadness I haven’t felt since. I knew what I had to say, but I felt like a traitor to my family. I leaned in and told her that I loved her, and that if she needed to go and be with Jesus, if He was calling her home, we would be sad, but we would be okay. When I went to sit back in the chair, I saw one single tear rolling down her cheek. Within a week or so, she was welcomed into her eternal home with Jesus.

While I was praying, I felt it selfish to pray that she be healed, especially if she needed to rest and not suffer anymore. I can honestly say that I’ve carried a lot of guilt over the years with letting her know it was okay to go Home. I’m at peace with it now though.

What if we prayed in a way where we make room for our Father to do what He desires with our prayers? I mean, in a way, that’s how followers of Jesus start out praying when they confess that they can’t do life on their own and that they ask Jesus to fill their hearts and lives, right? They pray with a broad expectation rather than "this is what I need and I need it soon/now."

I encourage us all to pray with open expectations without a timeline, if at all possible. The Father knows the hearts of His children. He knows what we need even before we even speak a word, right? Along with those open expectations, I encourage us to pray that Daddy will show us His plan and how all of life’s troubles will draw us closer to Him.

I think that’s all for today, my friends. If you ever need prayer, you can reply to this email or catch the Prayer Requests – Prodigals group on Facebook. You are loved and prayed for, my friends.

Until the next post…

Photo credit: Jenna Hamra

~Prodigal Mike

Greetings from Prodigal Thinker

Hello my friends and followers!

Question: Have you heard the song from the movie ‘Annie’ that says, "The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun…" Well, that’s sort of how I feel as of late. Sort of like I’ve been in an emotional/mental hibernation. Slowly, each day is a little brighter. Why do I share this? Well, the foremost reason I share is for transparency. Secondly, maybe someone will read these words at some point and it might bring them some hope.

Some people truly understand the obstacles and difficulties that mental health struggles entail, but most do not, if I’m being honest (and I am trying to be honest). I’m sure most people have good intentions while trying to encourage someone or giving advice to "beat the blues," but when facing the depth/dark recesses that mental health can take a person, I haven’t received a lot of advice that provided much change in direction. So far, in my experience, the most helpful folks have been those who are just there and available.

Over the last week or two, there was a TikTok channel that I was watching and the individual said something to the effect of: "While it is true that it is okay to not be okay, we might need to be cautious when telling people that ‘It’s okay to not be okay.’ Long story short, his point was that telling someone that they don’t have to be okay could be misconstrued into "you don’t need to seek any help." It would be like telling someone that had a complex break in their arm that having a broken arm is normal and they don’t really need to have the injury evaluated. Of course they would need to get the help they need!!

So what can we do? Well, I’m no doctor (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express one time), but maybe we can be both empathetic towards those having difficulty, then offer to follow up to see if they need any resources or a ride to an appointment. Anything of sort. Hopefully that makes sense.

So, I’ve nearly gone this whole time and not mentioned God yet. That’s not to say going to God should be our last resort. In fact, God is the only way that I’ve been able to get through life for as long as I have so far. There are dozens of scriptures in both the Old and New Testament that can bring comfort and hope. Exodus 14:14, Psalm 34:18, Matthew 28:20 and many more. Keep in mind that the Word of God says that there is nothing we could ever face that God/Jesus has not experienced. I find a great deal of comfort in that.

If you need prayer, encouragement, or just someone to listen… I’ll be here for you.

Photo credit: Tahir Shaw

Anybody out there?!?

I know it has been a while since I have sent any updates or posts or communication. I assure you that I’m still very much alive and well. I hope that you are too and that God is continuing to keep His mighty hand of protection over you and your families.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been spending time asking God if this is a platform that He desires for me to continue or if there is something else (either to add on or to migrate towards). You see, I want to be as effective for the kingdom of God as I possibly can. At the same time, life seems to have gotten increasingly more busy and a bit more complex. Nothing bad, just… busy and complex.

If there is any way I can encourage you or pray for you, please let me know. If you have a prayer need, you can text it to (931)444-PRAY and it will come straight to me. You can also reply to this post/email.

God’s blessings on you, my friends.

Photo credit: Kristi Evans

Updates on Prodigal Thinker

So, I’ve been out of touch as of late. I’m sure that comes as no surprise for those who usually follow my website or read the email posts. In my time of "interweb silence", I’ve really been praying through the long-term purpose and mission of the Prodigal Thinker "ministry". (I’m not sure it would be called a ministry…) I would love to say that I have all of the details, but that would not be truthful. I’m just having to remain surrendered to what God is saying.

While my thoughts on particular verses or passages are quite fun to share, there are people who are hurting and need prayer. I have created a FB Prayer Group that is open to all where you can share your prayer requests and/or you can pray for others who need prayers. For those who are not keen on social media or if a prayer request is more of a confidential matter, anyone can send a text to (931)444-PRAY or (931)444-7729 and I will pray for the needs listed there.

If you will, please pray for God’s direction for this outreach. I would be most grateful.

God’s blessings on you all…

Photo credit: Samer Daboul

Prayer Needs for this week

Hello friends!

Below is a list of prayer needs and updates if you would like to join in prayer. If you have prayer needs of your own, please feel free to let me know. You can reply here or send an email to Mike . You are prayed for and loved, my friends.

HEALTH ISSUES

Aaron M – continued recovery from accident

Alyssa S – Friend’s mother passed away. Family overwhelmed and grieving

Becky C – Back pain and diabetes – seeking orthopedic doctor

Ben V – has two friends fighting cancer – Rachel (ovarian) & Sarita (breast cancer)

Christina A – mom’s kidney function worsening. Docs still not sure of the cause.

Dennis B – multiple health issues

Harald C – multiple health issues

Horace C – multiple health issues

Ilene W – multiple health issues

James & Diane B – multiple health issues

Joan M – multiple health issues (cancer)

Leia B – daughter’s childhood friend passed away

Melany J – father (81 y/o) fell and broke right hip & arm

Melisa A – Grandpa is very sick and in hospital. Prayers for comfort through healing or heaven.

Nelda U – multiple health issues

Richard C – continued recovery from West Nile Virus

Ryan M – recovery from motorcycle accident

Shanna R – Going through iron infusions – trying to figure out root cause

Stephanie N – praying that cancer treatments continue to work for her Papa

Teresa M – continued recovery after two surgeries on legs for pain

LIFE SITUATIONS

Bailey family – Still dealing with passing of Darrell

Cain family – were praying to find a house as they had already sold their current house and would be homeless within three weeks. God provided a home that exceeded their hopes.

Steve O – Leads a jail ministry in Alabama. Many volunteers and families have been attacked as a result of revival breaking out in the jail. Prayers for protection and continued revival.

Valorie Mc – Asking for wisdom on job move and anxiety surrounding the change

UPDATES

Charles B – upcoming radiation and chemo treatments

Cord Q – MRI complete – how to move forward with results

James P – lower leg (below the knee) had to be amputated due to bone infection

UNSPOKEN REQUESTS

Alice B

Aumie D

Kim O

Shirley R

Ted & Nelda G

Tony C

ONGOING PRAYERS

Those battling or recovering from COVID

Those who need salvation (love/hope of God)

Those who serve our country (all first responders, government, and political parties for God’s guidance and direction to lead)

The Church (worldwide) – that we would return to the heart of the Father in word and deed.

PROGIDAL POST – Are you in a drought?

"I will satisfy the weary, and all who are faint I will replenish."

JEREMIAH 31:25 (NRSV)

PRODIGAL THOUGHTS: This verse is quite timely in my opinion. All facets of life have been demanding so much of my time and energy that I’ve just been in a season of drought. I’ve heard it said before that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Well, that’s pretty much where I’ve been over the last few months or so. Honestly, I’m not out of the proverbial woods just yet. I’m just in a better place than I have been. I just allowed myself to try to keep control for myself rather than fully rely on God for the rest and peace that I needed to maintain and move forward. (Laughs) You’d think after doing this for the last 20 years that I’d see the warning signs and spend what energy that I had left to make sure I leave everything in God’s hands. Well, I guess I haven’t learned that lesson yet.

If you are in an emotional/spiritual/mental/etc drought, don’t do what I have done. Let God do the heavy lifting and He will give you the rest and grace you need.

Need prayer? You can reply here. If this encourages you, feel free to share it. Feel free to reply with feedback as well. I’m always open to discussion.

God’s grace on you…

Photo credit: Adriaan Greyling

A Prayer for Today

Below is John Wesley’s "Covenant Prayer." I believe if more people would pray and live their lives in a selfless manner such as this, the world would be in a better state.

Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by You or laid aside for You.
Exalted for You or brought low for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and whole-heartedly yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am Yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

PROGIDAL POST – If you know, you know…

"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you."

JAMES 1:5 (NRSV)

PRODIGAL THOUGHTS: Over the years, this verse has become one of my top 10 "go-to" verses. Why? Well, let’s just say the older I get, the more I realize I don’t know, so I need a LOT of wisdom. Besides, I would rather ask for God’s wisdom than try to lean on my own, limited understanding. The way I look at it, God sees the bigger picture. He has the ability to look back at all of the details from the beginning of time and give us direction according to His plan and His hopes for us. I mean, I can barely remember what happened last week, let alone way back in the day. My world-view is very limited, but when we rely on God and His wisdom and guidance, we are able to have a greater understanding and insight into God’s will and how to face our life situations. I guess the question really boils down to this: Do we actually trust God to give us not only wisdom, but what we need on a daily basis to live out a life lived in holiness? What is standing in the way of trusting Him? What obstacles do we place in the way of walking closer with Jesus?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Need prayer? You can reply here. If this encourages you, feel free to share it. Feel free to reply with feedback as well. I’m always open to discussion.

God’s grace on you…

Photo credit: Jean van der Meulen

Prayer Needs for this week

Hello friends!

Below is a list of prayer needs and updates if you would like to join in prayer. If you have prayer needs of your own, please feel free to let me know. You can reply here or send an email to Mike . You are prayed for and loved, my friends.

HEALTH ISSUES

Aaron M – recovering from motorcycle accident

Charles B – upcoming treatments

Christy H – biopsy scheduled for 02/17 – then specialist

Cord Q – heart issues

Dennis B – multiple health issues

Harald C – multiple health issues

Horace C – multiple health issues

Ilene W – multiple health issues

James & Diane B – multiple health issues

James P – another foot surgery 02/18

Joan M – multiple health issues

Juanita – COVID with high fever

Kim O – Surgery on leg/foot

Nelda U – multiple health issues

Ryan M – recovery from motorcycle accident

LIFE SITUATIONS

Felisha G – passing of grandfather

Bailey family – Still dealing with passing of Darrell

UNSPOKEN REQUESTS

Alice B

Shirley R

Ted & Nelda G

ONGOING PRAYERS

Those battling or recovering from COVID

Those who need salvation (love/hope of God)

Those who serve our country (all first responders, government, and political parties for God’s guidance and direction to lead)

The Church (worldwide) – that we would return to the heart of the Father in word and deed.

PROGIDAL POST – Fools rush in?

"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm."

Proverbs 13:20 (NRSV)

PRODIGAL THOUGHTS: This verse reminds me of the old adage, "Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future." I’m not really sure who coined the phrase, but it is a simple truth. If I am permitted, we could change up the words a little and it would speak directly to those who desire to follow Jesus. "Whoever seeks to be like Jesus becomes holy, but the lover of the world suffers harm." Notice that the verse does not say those who walk with the wise never have struggles. We learn to become wise by living the example of Jesus, remaining in constant communication, and by reading the word of God. We have to maintain our surrender to God’s will. Will difficult times come? Absolutely! But those who are walking with God and learning His ways, will be able to navigate (by God’s leading) through those difficult times and will look for God’s presence throughout the struggle. Whether we are aware or not, we so desperately need our heavenly Father…and not just on Sundays. We need His presence in our lives every! single! day! Will you join in on this journey?

Need prayer? You can reply here. If this encourages you, feel free to share it. Feel free to reply with feedback as well. I’m always open to discussion.

God’s grace on you…

Photo credit: John Nail