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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

In the eight months we’d been married, prayer had never been a harder task. Words were said, expectations weren’t met, and feelings were hurt. After a long discussion, I kissed my husband on the cheek, walked away from him, and went on a walk alone. The moment the door closed behind me, I whispered desperately, “Please, Jesus. Please help me pray for my husband.”

The reality was, I knew I couldn’t pray for him in my own strength. Every prayer I’d initiated ended in self-pitied anger, complaints, and the good ole, “If you’d change him, Lord, this wouldn’t be so hard.” I wasn’t praying for my husband. I was licking my wounds.

Words eventually dried up, and I stopped in my tracks. I starting singing hymns I had learned as a child. I sang songs like Rock of Ages, Glorious Day, and Create in Me a Clean Heart. As my tears dried, I somehow went from focusing on the hurt between my husband and I, and started focusing on my Savior.

After a while, the songs faded, and I was able to pray. “Lord, I’m hurting. Make me more like Jesus anyway. What do you need to change in me so I can encourage Peter to become more like you, too?” The following season of prayer was more about restoring my brokenness at the foot of the cross, rather than fixing Peter’s humanity.

Sometimes, the greatest hurdle standing in our way of interceding for our spouses is ourselves. When those days come, there isn’t a self-help book out there that can truly fix that issue. Our only option is to run to the Father, and ask Him to change our hearts so we can love as deeply as He does.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I’d never ridden a horse. I’m fairly certain I was clueless in regards to chariots. But that didn’t matter. Memorizing a Bible verse about chariots and horses was exciting and mysterious. I loved declaring my trust in the Lord my God alone as I quoted Psalm 20.

For an innocent kid, it was an easy declaration. As life grew more intense and lonely, as everyone’s life does, declaring my trust in Christ got harder. Did I trust Him when my family seemed as if it was falling apart? Did I trust Him when health problems stole my childish abandon at an early age? Did I actually trust Him more than any other resource my life provided? Could I?

I had my moments of doubt. Honestly, I had my seasons of doubt that Christ was enough. Why should He be enough, when the comfort of money and modern medicine were easily accessible? However, as I look back on nearly 30 years of life, I’m refreshed by a very tangible truth.

The things I could depend on in addition to, or instead of, Christ, will always fail at some point. Though there have been moments where God hasn’t done exactly what I wanted Him to do, He does, in fact, keep His promise.

He always answers me when I call out to Him. My life has tested His faithfulness, and His faithfulness has never been found wanting.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“I wish someone would make sure the children were quiet,” she said in exasperation. “This is church, after all.” I smiled at the woman’s complaint. I, too, was raised to believe children were to be seen and not heard — especially while sitting in a pew!

Despite being raised to cringe at noise during a church service, nowadays I can’t help but chuckle at the unabashed squeals, the stage-whispered questions, or unrelenting cries of the youngest generation. They don’t really seem to care what other people think of their behavior. The Bible calls us to have childlike faith. What’s more childlike than making your presence known before Jesus whether you’re laughing, screaming, joyful, scared, confused, or impatient?

Every time I hear the squawk of a kiddo, I’m reminded of Jesus commanding the disciples to let the children come to Him (Mark 10:14). He didn’t specify the children had to be on their best behavior, or in a good mood. He just told them to come—end of story.

What would happen to our faith journeys if we came to Him as uninhibited as children do?

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“Freedom!” His unnaturally high-pitched voice echoed throughout the jail’s cold, cinderblock chapel after the chaplain had asked his audience, “What does every man want the most?” When my client’s announcement was met with shocked silence, he turned to me and signed angrily, “Tell him what I mean!”

With my hands corresponding with my voice, I explained to the audience that my client — we’ll call him Caleb — believed no man could know what he wanted if the person was not free. Mentally, I reminded myself he meant free from the jail cell he was confined in. He wanted freedom; he didn’t seem to know how to want God.

After my explanation, Caleb patted me on the back in affirmation that I had interpreted his anger efficiently. He seemed proud of himself for speaking up. He no longer wanted me to interpret the service and sat there annoyed and impatient, waiting for the guard to come and return the inmates to their cells.

My heart ached when I left work that day. Caleb may have had deaf ears, but he had a jaded and uninformed mind when it came to things about God, love, and true freedom. The week prior, I had asked him to define words like “salvation,” “grace,” “love,” and “sin.” None of his definitions made sense. None of his explanations came with conviction. He’d told me rather nonchalantly, “I don’t really know what these things mean, I just know you want to hear me say them. You are a Christian after all.”

I was reminded during my time with Caleb that often times people who need truth the most long for freedom, but don’t know how to ask for it. Such a reality means we as Christians — freedom and truth holders — must be watching for them and be willing to pour into them.

They may think they’re free, but are they?

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I used to make a big deal out of prayer cards. Back in the day when fridges—not phones—were filled with prayer reminders, I thought it was my duty to make sure our family stayed up-to-date on every missionary’s prayer card. It was so much fun giving my mom new pictures every so often. In my seven-year-old mind, it didn’t matter that the people in the pictures were strangers.

They were missionaries, and my job was to pray for them. I rarely remember giving Jesus specific prayer requests as I looked at my treasured photo collection. To be honest, I’m fairly certain I barely grasped why praying for missionaries was important. I just knew praying for them made Jesus happy, and that’s what I wanted to do more than anything.

Don’t you love that we serve a God who listens to the hearts of children? Isn’t it amazing that the naïve, uninformed prayers of a child are treasured just as much as the wise prayers of a weathered saint? I grew a joy for praying for ministries as a young child because my parents encouraged my desire to talk to Jesus. They understood that my childish grasp on Jesus was enough because Jesus doesn’t wait until we reach a certain level of maturity to pursue us. (In fact, He pursues us even if we don’t return the favor!)

May we never squelch the childlike faith of the younger generations. Who knows where their pure desire to know and please God could take them in the years to come.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl 

The leaky kitchen faucet was the bane of my existence. Its methodical dripping seemed to interrupt every quiet moment I had. Multiple times a day, I would glance at the leak, roll my eyes and think to myself, “Someday, we’ll actually get the stupid thing fixed.” We’d only been in our apartment a few months; we weren’t ready for repairs just yet.

So instead of fixing the sink, I cleaned up the aftermath of its messes. The bowl in the cabinet below the sink’s pipes caught so much excess water it would overflow onto the floor every few days if I wasn’t careful. My husband and I both became pros at mopping up murky water in our spare time!

Finally, months later, we had had enough; we called a plumber. We naively hoped our issue had a simple solution. The plumber took one look at the pipes and cabinet and glanced at me hesitantly. “You haven’t been coughing and wheezing a lot, have you?” He asked. “This is one of the worst sinks I’ve seen. You’ve been growing black mold by the bucketfuls down here.”

What had started out as just a leaky faucet — an easy fix — turned into a partially-gutted cabinet, torn up kitchen flooring, hundreds of dollars of repairs, and a concerning respiratory issue.

How many times do I treat my sin in the same way? I see some ungodly characteristic in my heart, deem it annoying but don’t bring it before the Lord to change me at the core? Why do I spend so much time “mopping up” the aftermath of my sin when truly repenting from it and letting the Holy Spirit change my ways saves me from unseen dangers?

Oh, may God give us the courage to address our spiritual leaky faucets! 

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~ Written by Erin Shuler

I wonder if God wishes we would all stay babies.

While preparing for my return to Uganda, I’ve been thinking a lot about how ready I am to be there and to love on the children (especially the babies!). I can’t wait to sit and hold them in my arms (Baby Fever, ha-ha).

I told my mom the other day, “I would be happy for the rest of my life if all I did was sit and hold babies!” For me, there is nothing like the feel of a baby in my arms. They have complete trust and faith in the one holding them. I don’t mind the dirty diapers, the messes, or the crying (which drives some people crazy). It is all far outweighed by the feeling of love that I get as they sleep in my arms, smile up at me, cuddle with me, and just be. I feel at peace with them resting in my arms.

I often have a hard time wrapping my mind around how God sees and loves me. Today the thought hit me, “Wow, I wonder if God thinks the same way about his children as I do about holding babies. Maybe God longs to hold us in his arms the same way I long to hold a baby in mine. Maybe he doesn’t mind all the chaos, the messes, the crying that we go through, if we are going through it with him. His love goes beyond our dirt. He wants us to rest in his capable hands and rely on him.”

I’m sure God doesn’t actually wish that we would stay babies, but I wonder if he doesn’t often miss some of the qualities that we have lost over time. How often do we place our lives in his hands? How often do we just lie in his arms and be?  

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