Pursuing Prayer

Pursuing Prayer

Today, I have guest blogger–Penny Cooke. She is an author, Certified Biblical Life Coach, and has been a women’s ministry leader for over 25 years. Her passion is to encourage and equip women with the Word of God and see them empowered by His Spirit through prayer for this battle we call life. I met her at a writers conference a couple of years ago when she won an award for her book, Pursuing PrayerBeing Effective in a Busy World.

I will include her social media links and the Amazon link to her award-winning book on pursuing prayer. Please enjoy her post today!

Pray then like this… Matthew 6:9

Do you ever find it difficult to pray, find the time to pray, or know what to pray? Do you know people who seem to pray all the time? Who has time to pray like that when there’s so much else to do? Shouldn’t we just be able to pray once and see results? It all seems so mysterious.

Jesus’ disciples must have wondered some of those things too, because they asked Him, “Teach us to pray.” In response, He gave them what is called, “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). Did He give us this prayer to recite, one and done? I don’t believe so. Besides, He had just told them not to recite vain repetitions (v.7 NKJV).

The Lord’s Prayer is beautiful, but I think there’s more to it than we grasp when we recite it. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t teaching us a prayer, but how to pray – the elements to include in prayer.  What are those elements and why are they important to us today? The book, Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World, teaches those elements using an acrostic for prayer. Here is a brief overview of that acrostic:

P Proactively Pursue Prayer

Jesus left us an example of intentionally getting away from it all to pray (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12, 9:28). Scripture urges us repeatedly to proactively pursue prayer (Matthew 26:41, Luke 18:1, Ephesians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and 1 Timothy 2:1).

In today’s busyness, we need to be proactive about a lot of things if we’re going to get everything done. It is no different with prayer. And if we have so much to do, shouldn’t prayer be on the top of our list?

Jesus told them, “Pray then like this…”

In today’s busyness, we need to be proactive about a lot of things if we’re going to get everything done. It is no different with prayer. @penny_cooke #PursuingPrayer #ThisSideofHeaven

R Remember His Righteous Deeds

Jesus began His prayer with worship, “Hallowed by thy name.” Worship helps us remember who God is and what He has done for us. It builds our faith and also our faithfulness. God repeatedly warned Israel, “…beware, lest you forget the LORD…” and “…you shall remember well what the LORD your God did…” (Deuteronomy 6:12, 7:18)

Psalm 100:4 tells us, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…” Remembering generates thankfulness and thankfulness produces worship.

A Acknowledge Sin

This is the “forgive us our debts” piece of the Lord’s Prayer. This does not suggest a brief and general, “Forgive my sins,” but a time to acknowledge and confess specific sins in our lives, and to repent. To repent is to adjust our lives to the ways of God.

Confession is a vital part of prayer, which is often overlooked when we pray short, on-the-go prayers. David recognized, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:28).

Y Yield to His Will

This covers the “Your Will be done” part of the Lord’s Prayer.

To yield is to submit, to surrender or relinquish control and trust Him whose ways are best. When we pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer, we welcome His will and His kingdom into our lives. It is to, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Then the promise: “…all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

E Enjoy His Daily Bread

Praying for daily bread is about knowing where our provision comes from and trusting God to provide. It is to have faith that He will do what He said He will do, pertaining to daily bread or any other promise He has made to us (John 14:14).

Ultimately, God longs to give us Himself. He gives us Himself through Jesus, the Bread of Life. He provides daily physical bread for our physical life, but He also provides daily spiritual bread for our spiritual life.

R Rest in the Waiting

We want quick, instant everything nowadays. We expect things to happen now, and we’re always in a rush. We’d do well to hurry up and slow down.

God is never in a hurry. He sees the end from the beginning and knows exactly what and when things need to be done for our prayers to be answered. And He is much too concerned for our spiritual wellbeing to give us anything one minute before its time.

When we trust and wait patiently with thanksgiving, our anxiety is replaced with His peace. We can rest when God’s peace guards our hearts and minds, no matter how long it takes our prayers to come to fruition (Philippians 4:6-7).

When we trust and wait patiently with thanksgiving, our anxiety is replaced with His peace. @penny_cooke #PursuingPrayer #ThisSideofHeaven

How much more effective do you think our prayers could be if we proactively prayed this way more often? That’s not to say there aren’t times when all we can squeeze out is a weak, “Help me, Lord.” I’ve certainly had those times, and I’m sure you have too. I assure you, He hears those prayers. Psalm 34:18 (ESV) tells us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

But in general, when you look at our world today, wouldn’t you say we need more prayer, not less? How do you think our families, our country, and our world could be changed if more of us prayed more like this more often?

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16b NKJV

Would you like to enrich your prayer life? Would you like more power and more answered prayer? Penny’s Six-week Bible study, Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World is ideal for group or personal use. Pursuing Prayer uses the acrostic for prayer to help us understand more deeply what Jesus taught when He gave us The Lord’s Prayer and how important its elements are in our prayer lives today. This book will inspire and motivate us to more fervent and effective prayer.

Find out more at https://www.pennycookeauthor.com where you can download Penny’s FREE ebook, Pursuing Prayer Devotion and Coloring Page.

Find Pursuing Prayer here: https://amzn.to/38ZuYAq

Penny is the author of Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World, a multi-award-winning Bible study (New Hope Publishers, 2019), most recently a First Place 2020 Selah award (Bible Study category).  She has been a contributor to Heart Renovation – A Construction Guide to Godly Character (Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2018), and Let the Earth Rejoice devotional (Worthy Inspired, 2017). She has written for CBN.com and Thoughts-About-God.com and has been a columnist for Blessed Living Women’s E-Magazine. She also enjoys blogging about things of life and faith at pennycookeauthor.com.

Penny and her husband live in Florida and have three grown children and seven grandchildren. 

Social Media Links:

Facebook: pennycookeauthor

Instagram: pennycookeauthor

Twitter: penny_cooke

YouTube: https://bit.ly/39wdnBp   

Amazon link to book: https://amzn.to/38ZuYAq

Never Give Up!

Never Give Up!

A knock on his door woke him.

As he got up to answer it, he realized how late it was. “Who could be here at midnight?” he thought. As he opened the door, there stood a friend who had traveled a long way and was both tired and hungry. Realizing he had nothing in his house to feed his friend, he hurried to his neighbor.

As he pounded on their door, the man shouted he had company who just arrived, and he had nothing to feed him. The neighbor called out, “Leave me alone, I’m in bed!” The man who had company did not give up. He continued to shout his need until his neighbor gave him what he wanted.

Before Jesus taught this parable in Luke 11:5-8, he taught the Lord’s Prayer. With that prayer, He showed us the way to pray. However, the parable explains how we are to pray. It’s not just the words we use, but the persistence we show.

In Luke 11:8 (ESV), Jesus said about the neighbor who didn’t want to get out of bed, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence (or persistence) he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” What does this mean? The neighbor didn’t get up because his friend asked him for food; he got up because he knew his neighbor was not going away until he got what he needed.

The Hebrew equivalent of the word impudence is chutzpah and it means brazen tenacity. We can better understand this if we know the meaning of these two words, too. The word brazen means to be bold and without shame[1] and tenacity means to have determination. [2]

Do you pray with brazen tenacity?

Is this how you pray? I honestly can’t say it describes all my prayers. In some rabbinical (Jewish) literature, they describe Moses’ intercession for the children of Israel as if he took hold of God’s garment and pleaded with Him to pardon them. [3] This is chutzpah. This is what Jesus taught.

In Luke 8:43-48, Scripture tells us about a woman who knew Jesus could heal her of a bleeding disorder if she could only touch His garment. There was a great crowd around Jesus; people were pressing up against Him making it almost impossible to get close.

Yet, her brazen tenacity didn’t let a crowd stop her from getting to the feet of Jesus. When she touched his garment, Jesus knew power had gone from of Him. After the woman came to Him and told Him why she touched Him, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

The blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 didn’t stop yelling for Jesus to have mercy on him even though people told him to be quiet. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he replied, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Jesus said, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” The beggar had brazen tenacity. He would not be silent, so Jesus stopped to talk to him.

Like them, our brazen tenacity evidences our faith. There are stories throughout the Gospels about people who did not take “no” for an answer by pushing past boundaries to get to Jesus. These were only a few stories in which Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.”

What about the times our faith and tenacity don’t get our prayer answered in the way we hope? We all know someone who didn’t get healed or lost a child or spouse from a terrible disease. Or maybe it’s you whose prayer has not been answered. Does Jesus love us less? Did He not hear our cries in the dark or at the altar? We don’t always know why we get a “no” or “wait” from our Lord.

In her book, To Live is Christ, Beth Moore explained that in the Bible Jesus healed for two reasons. One was to prove His authenticity. He was and is the Son of God. The second reason He healed was when natural methods were not possible. [4]

 What will bring you closer to God?

The healing or the suffering? God knows which one it is. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but if our suffering takes us deeper into our relationship with Him, then it’s worth it. He knows our ultimate healing is in Heaven. But that does not mean we pray with any less brazen tenacity. Like the man who needed food from his neighbor, keep pounding on Heaven’s door.

Is there anything you have not asked the Lord because you thought it wasn’t worthy or because you felt embarrassed by it? In the verses which follow the parable in Luke 11:9 (ESV), Jesus said,

“Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”

Jesus doesn’t want us to stop asking, seeking or knocking. Approach His throne boldly knowing He hears you and He loves you. Never give up. Pray boldly with shameless determination.

[1] Google.com, https://www.google.com/search?q=brazen+definition&rlz=1C1CAFA_enUS630US711&oq=brazen&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.4848j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

[2] Google.com, https://www.google.com/search?q=brazen+definition&rlz=1C1CAFA_enUS630US711&oq=brazen&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.4848j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#dobs=tenacity

[3] Young, Brad H., The Parables, Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation, Baker Academic 1998, pg. 63

[4] Moore, Beth, To Live is Christ, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 2001. Pg. 77.

The Predator

The Predator

I watched my dog, Agape transform into a predator.

From my front window, I could see a herd of twelve deer, all does, walking up my long driveway. We have a six-foot-high fence and gate surrounding our five acres of property.

Our German shepherd guarded it. She saw them and at once went into hunter mode. Agape crouched, never taking her eyes off the deer while inching her way toward the herd. As she tore into a full sprint, they saw her and ran.

First, she separated them into two groups. The first group jumped over or went through the vertical PVC splines of our fence forcing them to expand to the circumference of their bodies.

She stayed with the second group, chasing them to the back of our property.

I followed window to window trying to keep up.

My dog drove the next group into two, and then separated a doe and her yearling, from the others. At this point, I ran to my garage to watch this match unfold.

The mother doe, who Agape separated from the yearling, came out of nowhere nearly knocking me over as she ran past me back to the front yard. The yearling ran along the opposite side of the driveway with my shepherd on her heels… uh, hooves.

We have a fifteen-foot-wide rock-lined creek across our front yard.

As I watched the yearling run towards it, I could see my dog getting excited as she anticipated the kill; the deer had nowhere to go.

Then, it happened.

In one graceful leap, the doeling sailed over the fifteen-foot cavern, catching up with her mother on the other side. My breath caught; it was a beautiful site.

But my sweet, defeated dog stood there, dumbfounded, staring at the creek and the deer on the other side. I called her. She came with her head bowed as she lost the will to chase the pair any longer.

What I Learned from this

First, watching this 100-pound dog go after twelve 100-200 pound deer, I wondered how different the outcome may have been if those deer stopped acting as prey and realized they outnumbered and out-weighed my dog.

They could have turned the tables on her and left her running to her doghouse with her tail between her legs.

Our Predator

Satan is our predator.

Satan separates us from our family, church, or friends, with lies, confusion, hurt feeling, and unforgiveness as he moves in steal, kill, and destroy.

When Satan’s prowling turns into an all-out sprint against us, we can stand against him as the body of Christ. There is no need to scatter in fear.

We are stronger together than alone.

Our joint weight and power in the Holy Spirit defeats Satan as we pray for one another in the name of Jesus.

Has there ever been a time in which you tried to fight a battle alone?

Read Ephesians 6:18.

We are stronger together!



Two years ago yesterday, we lost our sweet dog, Olivia. It was a very warm winter day. She went out onto our pond (that was frozen the day before) and fell in. We were at a funeral for a family member and no one was there to rescue her.

I was heartbroken and inconsolable.

I didn’t understand why God had let our sweet dog die this way with no one to help her.

As I reflect on that day, God was there with us. He did not let my children be the ones who found her. It was my husband. A friend was there to help him pull her from the pond.

A friend was there for me as I wept uncontrollably over the phone.

As I questioned God, He gave me this verse-

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. Matt. 10:29 NLT

If a single sparrow can’t fall to the ground without Him knowing, Olivia did not die without His knowledge either.

God understood my pain and was with me through it. He never left me.

When it was hard to pray–and it was–He was there praying for me. The Holy Spirit was interceding for me, too.

Adonai (God’s name meaning my Lord) promises:

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18.

God sees all things and knows all things. Pain and death are terrible things. Unfortunately, this is the life we live on this earth.

Death is normal. Death is a part of life, whether or not we like it.

One day death will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14). No more death, only eternal life.

Until then, parents will mourn over the loss of their child or unborn baby; people will mourn over the loss of parents, friends, and siblings to terrible diseases and accidents. Friends will lose friends.

It was not part of God’s original plan. It came as a result of sin and the fall.

The good news is God is with us. He will never die; He will never leave us or forsake us. In our pain and grief, we can find God, and He promises to be near us.

Jesus knows loss, pain, and grief. He experienced everything we do so He would understand exactly how we feel and how to comfort us. (Hebrews 4:14-16.)

My son had a dream one night after Olivia died. In his dream every animal we have loved and lost came up from a hole in the ground. Each was perfect and alive. Each one remembered us. He shed tears thinking we would see Olivia and our other beloved pets again.

But, we have this hope: we can see those we have lost–every child, mother, father, sibling, and friend–in Heaven. All we need is to put our faith and trust in the One who died and rose again to give us eternal life–Jesus the Messiah.

I pray you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord!

If this spoke to you or feel someone can relate to my story, please share it.

Thank you!

Approaching God

Approaching God

I am almost finished writing my Bible study called The Jewels of Hebrews. It is a study covering the New Testament book of Hebrews while helping Christians understand the Hebraic roots of our faith.

It’s called The Jewels of Hebrews (JOH for short) because each chapter is named after a gemstone such as a sapphire, ruby, pearl, opal, or diamond which have a biblical meaning based on their color. These colors correspond to the theme of each chapter.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my study which correlates to Hebrews 8:

In his book, The Jewish Gospel of John, Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg explains the Greek word for “his own people” from John 1:11, is better translated to mean Yeshua’s tribe, or the Judeans. [i] It was the tribe of Judah who did not receive him. Overall, many Israelites accepted Yeshua. He came first for the Jews. In Matthew 15:24, Yeshua told the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came for Israel, and he sent Israel to the Gentile world (Matt 28:19-20).

Yeshua may have come first for the Jew, but he came for the entire world. The Jewish people were the first evangelists. Just think what would have happened had they not shared the good news of the Messiah with the world.

In Joshua 13-21, God had Joshua place the twelve Tribes throughout Israel. Judah was south of Jerusalem, between the Dead and Mediterranean Seas. If you lived at the time of Yeshua, you entered the Temple from the land of Judah.

As you crossed the threshold, you came to the square, bronze altar where the priest waited to offer your lamb as a sacrifice. He laid it on the altar, and you “crushed” its head with your hands to transfer your sin to the perfect, white lamb.

We can now see this altar as our sacrifice of praise, or where we surrender our hopes, dreams, future, spouse, children, or job to God in prayer.

Next, you came to the bronze basin for washing. Before entering the Holy Place, you washed your hands and feet; you must be clean. Exodus 30:21 says, “They shall wash their hands and their feet, so they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him [Aaron] and his offspring throughout their generations.” Yeshua washed us clean once and for all as our Lamb.

As we enter this place in our imperfection, we wash by confessing and repenting for our sin each day as we spend time with the Father. Now we are clean to enter the Holy Place.

As you walked through the veil into the Holy Place, you saw the menorah on your left with its seven lamps lighting your way to the Holy of Holies. We will never again walk in darkness because Yeshua is the Light of the World (John 8:12).

On your right, the gold table held the steaming bread of the Presence. The warm, moist air from the fresh, baked artisan bread surrounded you. It’s the true Bread from Heaven; the Bread of Life. You will never hunger once you have eaten this Bread (John 7:32-35).

Ahead was the altar of incense before the veil which led to the Holy of Holies. This golden table held a fragrance of sweet and spicy licorice. We are a sweet aroma to the Lord as Yeshua leads us into God’s presence.

A thick veil made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim woven into it separated all but the high priest from the Most Holy Place. YHWH (YaHWeY) descended onto the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant and mercy seat. Never to be closed again, God ripped this veil from top to bottom so we have access to him (Luke 23:45).

Our High Priest allows us to approach his throne with boldness to find grace and receive mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

When we pray, we approach God starting from the outside courts making our way to the innermost Holy of Holies. When God deals with us, he starts in our Holy of Holies out to our courts. When God addresses our needs, desires, or problems, he goes straight to our Holy of Holies (our heart and spirit) then out to our courts (physical body). But, we approach God starting from the outside (praise and worship) to his intimate presence, (his desires and will for us).

In prayer, I take my time getting to the heart of God. I worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by reciting scriptural descriptions of them: You are a good Father, worthy of praise, Faithful and True, rich in mercy, loving, kind, compassionate, my Savior, Redeemer, teacher, Helper… I praise him, reminding and thanking him for answered prayers. Next, I confess and repent for my sins, as Yeshua washes off the grime of my sin so I can move toward intimacy with him.

As I step closer into his presence, I lift loved ones, my needs, my questions, my desires. I ask for truth, discernment, wisdom, and peace to know his will. I seek his heart for me and for those I love.

When God responds he goes right to my spirit. He takes care of my heart problems first. Sometimes, he reveals a motive behind my questions or hurt. The Lord may bring Scripture to my mind to answer my need or fill me with his love. He fills me with peace, calming my fears or distress. God cares for my physical needs (or my court).

What ways can you add to or change how you approach God in prayer? Ask him to inspire you to come to him daily. Renew your commitment to seek him.

That’s all for now.

Please share your thoughts about this short excerpt. I would love to know what you think! Thank you.

[i] Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John, (Tel Mond, Israel: Israel Study Center, 2015) xi-xiii

Picture is from my trip to Israel. It was a microscale representation of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple at the time of Jesus.