Words of Encouragement & Hope
Submitted by Sharon Stewart


All of us are longing for the days when we can once again gather to pray within the walls of our beloved church or chapel. As I was sitting in my condo one Sunday attending the service via my computer, with my own little “altar” and serving myself communion, I was reminded of the many places I have prayed outside of the walls. 

One of my very favorites was a service in a wooded park overlooking the Tetons! What a glorious morning with a few campers and two young people who led the service with only a bible. I still get goose bumps when I remember singing “How Great Thou Art” in that setting. God was there!

Because our faith is strong, we can take what we learn inside the walls along with us into our everyday life. Do you realize how little of our time is really spent praying inside those walls? Think about it. What about the time you were praying like crazy when the teacher put that test in front of you in school? Or lying in bed praying the night before you were married or made a job decision? Did you say prayers of thanks in the hospital when you gave birth to that first child?  Or prayers for guidance and safety when you sent that child off alone to school? God was there!

I would like to share a personal story. Several years ago, I was in the bedroom making the bed, and having a very serious discussion with God. My family and I had been waiting – for about 2 years – for the placement of a foster child in our home. That day, I was asking HIM very strongly to give me a sign to move forward or forget it. During the discussion, the phone rang. Really!! The voice on the phone told me there was a little baby girl in the hospital waiting for us to pick her up and bring her into our lives. We did. And, nine years later Betty Jo became our adopted daughter. In the courtroom, we said a prayer of thanks. God was there!

The following is a quote from Joni Eareckson Tada, “I love that portion of Scripture that says we should pray without ceasing and I used to wonder how to do that. How do you pray without ceasing? Oh, my goodness, you’d be hitting your knees all day long, locked away in your prayer closet. Is this what God means?”

Personally, I don’t think so. We carry Him with us wherever we are in our lives. He is always there to listen within or outside of the walls of our church. When the time is right, we will all be able to pray together in that “old fashioned” way – sitting together inside of our walls of our church. 

In the meantime, keep smiling – keep praying. God is there!

Sharon Stewart