Category: <span>thoughts by Penny Cooke</span>

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 ESV

My cell phone sounded the emergency signal: “Hurricane approaching! Seek shelter now!”

As the hurricane loomed, news stations cautioned viewers to prepare for a very dangerous storm. Examples were given of those who ignored or procrastinated in past storms and met devastating consequences.

But we were prepared – house boarded, necessary food and water purchased and storm kit replenished. Still, the wind pounding against the house was frightening, especially since the storm shutters prevent you from seeing what’s happening outside. Eventually, it was night and the power went out, so we were blind to what was going on anyway.

All we could do was pray and trust.

Jesus cautioned, “…in the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33 ESV). Tribulation is from the Greek word thlipsis, meaning pressure; confined and without options; a no-way-of-escape kind of pressure. Sounds like a hurricane, but also life’s storms.

Jesus prefaced His warning with, “I have said these things that in me you may have peace.” How do we have peace amidst life’s binding circumstances?

It certainly wasn’t peaceful that night. But the word peace, eiréné, is an inner peace, like peace of mind. Moreover, it indicates wholeness, as in all essential parts joined together. Like “abiding.”

Many leaves and branches blew down when the storm winds ravaged, but I noticed the ones closer to the trunk stayed intact. Are you abiding in Him, so closely joined that nothing can shake you lose?

In John 15:4, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself...”

Fruit? What is one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23?


Every day without a storm is preparation time. If we have our spiritual storm survival kit equipped, abiding in His Word and prayer, then we will be strengthened and have His inner peace whenever life’s storms surge.

Lord, thank you that as I abide in you, no storm in life can shake me loose.

By Penny Cooke
Used by Permission

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Further Reading

•  Setting up a  Proper Foundation in Your Life 

•  More than a Father

•  Salvation Explained


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thoughts by Penny Cooke Thoughts by Women

I had no more words. I had prayed the same things for my prodigal, addicted son day after day for several years. My heart hurt. My hope waned. “God, I’m so tired of saying the same thing. Are you even listening? Why haven’t you answered?”

Have you ever felt this way, like your prayers are hitting the ceiling?

During that desperate time, I found scriptures I could turn into prayers. It gave me new words to pray. Scripture always brings me peace, and this gave me a increased faith as I prayed God’s words back to Him. Not that God doesn’t listen to our words, He does. But when we don’t know what to pray, or wonder how to pray God’s will, how can anything be more His will than His words? And Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV) assures His word does not return void.

Then one day my daughter’s friend said she had a vision as they prayed for my son. She saw “angels fighting with swords.” This gave me comfort, and I needed the additional hope, but I still questioned God about it. “Sounds nice, Lord, but do angels really fight with swords?” He led me to Psalm 103:20-21 (NLT):

Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will!

Armies” of angels? What do armies do? They fight enemies. Something more is going on when we pray. After all, God is called “Lord of Hosts” or “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” repeatedly in scripture. Furthermore, Paul told us in Ephesians 6:12 that our battle is not against flesh and blood enemies, but against principalities, evil rulers of the darkness, and spiritual “hosts” of wickedness.

I began to realize the spiritual battle that goes on when we pray. The enemy was fighting for my son’s heart, soul, and purpose. The Word of God is part of the spiritual armor we are to put on, and prayer is spiritual warfare. And just as in the physical, some battles need more soldiers, greater weapons, and more time.

Though I didn’t completely understand, as none of us do this side of heaven, I held onto that image of angels fighting with swords for my son as I continued praying for him for several more years.

Then one day, as I read Ephesians 6:17, I noticed something I hadn’t before:

“Take up the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.”

God’s Word was the sword!

I prayed scripture—the Word of God—the Sword of His Spirit. Just as Jesus used the Word to fight Satan (Matthew 4:1-11), God’s Word is as a sword in Satan’s heart. Angels were not fighting with physical swords, but spiritual ones.

How powerful is the Word of God in prayer! Let’s not be discouraged. Jesus said, “Always pray, and don’t lose heart” (Luke 18:1). I’m so glad I didn’t lose heart in those 13 years. I found out, prayers do get through the ceiling—my son is a pastor now.

Later, before knowing anything about the angels with swords, my son shared with me what he wrote in his journal: “Angels were around God’s throne pleading, ‘Save him! We have to save him now!’ But God repeatedly said, ‘Wait.’ But when I finally fell to my knees and asked for God’s help, God said, ‘It’s go time,’ and my life changed from that moment.”

Looking back, perhaps God was giving me hints to encourage me all along. Before all this, my other son, while serving in the US Marine Corp, got a tattoo on his back—an angel with a sword.

Keep praying. And if you don’t have the words, God has an abundant supply we can use. And His angels sure know how to use them!

By Penny Cooke
Used by Permission

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Further Reading

   Hope for the Hopeless

•   Did You Know that You are Someone Special?

•  Salvation Explained

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thoughts by Penny Cooke Thoughts by Women

Martin Luther said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” However, some of us can get a bit short of breath.

Let’s face it, our lives are busy. It’s a challenge to fit specific prayer time into our hectic schedules. Besides, we can pray popcorn prayers any time, any place, right? Just pop one up whenever things get a bit hot.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can have an on-going conversation with our heavenly Father all day long. But could we be missing key elements of prayer if we only pray quick, on-the-go prayers? If so, we may find ourselves desperate for a deep spiritual breath. Perhaps man cannot live on popcorn prayers alone.

Jesus gave us an example of going off by Himself often to do nothing but pray. He also taught us how to pray in The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Could He have been teaching us what to include in prayer, not just a prayer to recite? When we take a closer look, we see key elements we may be missing when we pray on-the-go prayers.

Let’s look at those elements of prayer Jesus taught using an acrostic for PRAYER to help us remember them.

  • Pursue Prayer Proactively – In this manner pray... (Matthew 6:9a NKJV).  Jesus was proactive about prayer. If we’re going to get anything done in our busy day, we’ve got to be intentional about it, and it’s the same with prayer. We must schedule time for fervent prayer and add prayer to the top of our to-do list.
  • Remember His Righteous Deeds – Hallowed by Your name (Matthew 6:9b). When we remember who God is and praise Him for what He has done, we bring Him glory and hallow His name. It also reminds us what He is able to do (Ephesians 3:20) and builds our faith for what we are about to pray.
  • Acknowledge Sin and Ask Forgiveness – Forgive us our debts... (Matthew 6:12). King David said, “If I cherished in in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18). When we pray on the go, do we take the time to confess and repent, and to forgive others? Do we pray to avoid temptation and be delivered from evil (v13a)?
  • Yield to His Will – Your kingdom come, Your will be done (Matthew 6:20). Job 26:14b says, “The thunder of His power, who can understand?” Why seek our will when our knowledge is limited and our power is lacking, when we have a heavenly Father who is all knowing and all powerful to accomplish what is best for us.
  • Enjoy His Daily Bread – Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11).  This is where we bring our requests and trust and enjoy His provision. But is there more to daily bread than physical bread? Do we enjoy the Bread of Life?
  • Rest in Him – For Yours is the kingdom, power and glory (Matthew 6:13b). Jesus began and ended His prayer with worship. When take time at some point of our day to include these elements in our praying, we will be able to trust He has everything under control. If His is the kingdom, power and glory, we can rest in Him and boldly say, “Amen” – so be it!

If we are going to change our lives, our families, our countries and our world, we must pause long enough to catch our spiritual breath and pray fervently as Jesus modeled and taught.

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

By Penny Cooke
Used by Permission

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(From the book, Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World.
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Further Reading

•   How to Pray

•   Sample Prayers

•  How to be Saved

thoughts by Penny Cooke Thoughts by Women