Last Sunday’s Sermon From The Ranch – Enlisting Others To Pray For You

***Sorry this is so late!***

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Enlisting Others To Pray For You

Lesson 36 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder


Are you struggling with something in your life today?  If so, I’d like to encourage you to do something special:  enlist others to pray for you.

If you think asking for prayer is a sign of weakness, you might want to think again!  Asking for prayer is one of the smartest things you could ever do-and one of the best ways to keep you strong.


The Apostle Paul knew this secret and often called on others to pray for him, as he did near the end of his letter to the Romans.  Paul said:


“I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed” (Romans 15:30-32).


Paul asked for prayer with boldness.  He urged the Romans to pray for him, “by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit.”  And he didn’t just ask for a blanket prayer to cover him in all ways at all times.  He asked them to pray for him specifically, particularly in those areas where he struggled most.  He asked that he would be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, that his service in Jerusalem would be acceptable to the saints there, and that he would be able to come to them in Rome with joy and together with them be refreshed.


These struggles were real, as the dangers that faced Paul on his trip to Jerusalem-and then on to Rome-were significant.  If you read about this trip in the book of Acts (chapters 21-28), you’ll see that Paul was captured, imprisoned, and threatened with death on several occasions, not counting the shipwreck that obliterated his ship along the way. Paul needed prayer, and I have no doubt that the prayers of the Christians in Rome helped to sustain him all along the way.


But it’s not easy to ask others to pray for you.  I know.  Just last week I was celebrating my 23rd wedding anniversary in New York City with my superb wife, Lana.  We had an awesome time, filled with fun, romance and a wonderful walk through Central Park.  But on the last day of the trip, I got sick-and not just a little sick, but a violent, wrenching sickness like I haven’t experienced in a long time.


At one point, Lana asked if she should call a few people and ask them to pray for me.  I said, “No, I’ll be all right.”  I hoped it would just pass quickly, and I didn’t want to worry anyone, as they knew we were on our anniversary trip together.  But as the hours passed, and I was just getting worse and not better, I finally agreed and Lana made a few calls.


Although the sickness persisted throughout the night and on into the next few days, I felt different immediately, just knowing that others were praying for me and checking in on me from time to time.  I was also able to see the fact that I was sick in a new way, realizing that my body was doing just what it should do in trying to forcefully expel whatever had maliciously entered into it.


It turned out I had the flu and the healing process that God had begun on that first day finally prevailed.  Thankfully, I’m almost back to full strength again.  Unfortunately for Lana, she got what I had a few days later, so you can still pray for her!


The reason I bring this up today is to let you know that I understand what it’s like to need prayer, but not want to ask for it-especially at those times when we feel the weakest.  But the truth is, without prayer, we’ll just get weaker and weaker.  With prayer, God can give us the strength we need to go on.


I also wanted to tell you this story because prayer not only changes things, it changes the way you look at things.  Even though I still had to walk through the rest of my sickness, I was able to realize that the very thing that was making me feel sick was the very thing that was bringing my healing.  By being able to look at what I was feeling differently, I was able to better endure the rest of what I had to go through.


Prayer really can renew your mind, and by enlisting others to pray for you can help you to renew your mind even faster.


If there’s an area in your life where you’re struggling today, I want to encourage you to do as Paul did and enlist others to join you in your struggle-through prayer.  As Paul said,


“I urge you… to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”


There are all kinds of struggles you might be facing right now:  whether they’re struggles with lust or secret sins, fear or doubts, real dangers or imaginary dangers, hardships, relationships or bothersome thoughts.  The list is endless.  The beauty of prayer is that it can address every single struggle you could possibly face.


One of my friends and mentors says that everyone needs a prayer team.  You don’t have to be in full-time ministry, or going through a particular crisis, to ask people to pray for you on a regular basis.  You could be an expectant mother or a struggling student, a successful architect or an aspiring teacher.  You could be married or single, with kids or without.  You could be needing money or managing your money.  You could be traveling full-time or at home full-time.  Whatever you’re doing or going through, you can benefit by enlisting others to pray for you.


Not sure who to ask?  You might ask a friend, or a co-worker, or a neighbor.  You might ask a pastor or a priest.  You might ask someone you don’t even know, like Lana and I did last week in New York.  We were blessed to visit a couple of different churches, and at one church, I sensed the man sitting next to me was a truly “a believer.”  I could tell from his “Amens” that he not only believed in God, he believed in the power of God.  So after the service, I asked if he could pray for us.  He was not only glad to pray, but he invited us to dinner, which we unfortunately had to decline because of our schedule.


At another church, we were talking to a man outside the church before the service, and afterward, we connected again.  This time we asked if we could pray for him, and then he returned the favor and prayed for us.


For years now, we’ve been asking for and benefiting from the prayers of others.  We’ve asked for prayer from family and friends, small groups and Sunday School classes.  We asked for prayer back when we were single, when we were dating, when we got married, and when we started having children.


When Lana was diagnosed with cancer this year, she set up a blog to keep others updated and let them know how they could pray for us.  The effects have been tremendous already, as the prayers of others have given us both an abundance of strength, wisdom, healing and encouragement.


If you’re going through a struggle in life, you don’t have to go through it alone.  Enlist others to join you in your struggle by praying to God for you.  (If you’re not sure who to ask for prayer, or just want to get some additional prayers from believers who love to pray, I’ve included a link in the P.S. below where you can post your prayers on our website and enlist others to pray for you.)


By the way, the Apostle Paul did eventually make it to Rome, just as he had asked the Romans to pray for him.


It may not have been exactly the way he expected, or the timing he expected, but he did get there, through God’s strength-and the prayers of others.  As the last chapter of the book of Acts records:


“When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him… For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30-31).


Will you pray with me?


Father, thank You for showing us the value of enlisting others to pray for us.  Help us to reach out to others when we’re struggling so that we won’t become weaker and weaker, but grow stronger and stronger each day through Your strength.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


P.S.  If you don’t have someone to pray with you, or if you’d just like to get some additional prayers from believers who love to pray, we have a special prayer page set up on our website where you can post your prayer.  Although we’re not able to respond in person to all of the prayer requests that come in, we do have about 275 volunteers who have signed up to receive these prayer requests each day and who are glad to pray for you and your needs.  To post a prayer request, or to read the requests of others and pray for them, too, please visit:
Prayer Requests


Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 15:30-33 .  What are some reasons people might be hesitant to ask for prayer?
2. What difference could it make if you enlisted others to pray for you?
3. In what areas are you struggling right now where you could ask others to pray for you?
4. Who are some specific people that might be willing to pray for you?


To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind,please visit:

The Romans Study


To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:

The Ranch Giftshop


To read Lana’s blog, please visit:
Lana’s Blog


To make a donation to our ever-growing ministry, please visit:

Make a Donation


To invite Eric or Lana to speak to your group, by Skype or in person, please visit:

Booking Information


To find us on Facebook, please visit:
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If you’d like to invite your friends to join us in receiving these regular messages directly, just forward this email and invite them to sign up at the link below.

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Overflowing With Hope

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Overflowing With Hope

Lesson 33 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder


Happy Easter!  I’d like to pray for you today that the God of hope would fill you with joy and peace so that you may overflow with hope.  This is what the Apostle Paul prayed for the Christians in Rome, as recorded in the book of Romans, chapter 15:


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).


What a prayer! Paul wanted them to be so filled with joy and peace that they overflowed with HOPE!   If there’s any day on the calendar that could give you hope, it would be today, Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day, the day that Jesus overcame death itself.  Because Jesus died and rose again, we who have faith in Him can know that when we die, we’ll rise again as well.  This is what I love about Christianity:  even in the face of death, there’s always hope!


My wife Lana was filling up a glass for one of the kids this week, but she filled it up too far and the glass overflowed and ran all over the table!  That’s the kind of hope that God wants to fill you with, too.  He doesn’t just want to give you a drop of hope, or a glass that’s half-full of hope, or a glass that’s even full of hope.  God wants to give you a glass of hope that overflows with hope!


Picture Of HopeIf you remember back in Lesson 10 of this study, you might remember that I wrote about a picture my daughter had given me.  The picture showed a hand reflected in the side view mirror of a car.  On the palm of the hand, the word “HOPE” was written on it.  Below the word hope were the words on the mirror that said:  “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”


You might also remember that this picture filled me with hope at the time because Lana had just been praying for a car.  Our car was on its last legs and we had to get a new one.  But the car she was praying for was twice what we could afford.  So I told her that night that I’d pray for her car and added, “The same God who takes care of me will take care of you!”  It was my way of saying, “Sorry, I can’t help you on this one.  God’s going to have to do it Himself!”


The very next morning, as I drove into a parking lot to go to a men’s meeting, a man pulled in right behind me driving the very  car that Lana had been praying for!  I’d never seen this man nor his car ever before!


Objects In MirrorWhen I got out of my car, I introduced myself and casually asked if he ever thought about selling his car.  He said he had just been thinking about it!  He said I could take a look at the car, so I sat down inside it and looked out the window.  That’s when I saw the side view mirror with the reflection of the car in it, and these words in the mirror: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear!”


I couldn’t believe it.  I took a picture of the mirror with my phone and confessed my unbelief to God, reminding myself that God could do anything, absolutely anything.


Over the next few months, I checked back with the man several times about the car.  He wasn’t quite ready to sell it and I wasn’t quite ready to buy it.  But I kept the picture on my phone from that first day on, as a reminder that with God, there’s always hope.


As the months went on, I began to give up on the idea of ever getting the car for Lana.  The picture on my phone began to be more discouraging than encouraging, so I took it off.  But a few days later, I decided to put the picture back on my phone.  I needed the reminder that with God, there’s always hope.


Then one day, a few weeks ago, we got a tax refund in the mail.  I had already decided that I would put the money towards a new car, and even though it wasn’t enough to get Lana the car she was praying for, I was glad to finally be going shopping for any car, as we had been borrowing and even renting cars in the mean time to get where we needed to go.


But as I shopped around, I was disappointed in the cars I was seeing.  I tried to think of any way I could get Lana the car she had been praying for.  With a bit of desperation, I called a friend to see if she had any ideas, because she had recently bought a car similar to the one Lana wanted.  It turned out that she happened to be at the car dealership where they sold these cars, for only the second time in her life!  She looked around the lot found a car that was exactly what we wanted.  Not only was it the perfect car, it was the perfect price, too!


Lana's carI drove home, picked up Lana and drove a couple more hours to see the car.  By the end of the day, she was driving home in a car that just a few months earlier, I thought we’d never be able to get!

Now I don’t have to look at the picture of the car to give me hope… I can look at the car itself!  God continually reminds me that He’s the God of hope, and that He wants us to overflow with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit!

God cares about the details of our lives, and I want to tell you why this answer to prayer is especially meaningful to me at this particular point in my life.

If you’ve been reading my messages for the last few weeks, you’ll also know that we’ve had some other prayers on our heart as well.  A few months ago, Lana was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, meaning that the cancer has already spread to her lungs, liver and spine.  The doctors say she’ll have to live with it the rest of her life.  They give us very little hope that she’ll ever be fully healed.

But that doesn’t mean that we’re without hope.  If you know my wife, or have read her blog, you’ll know that she’s overflowing with hope!  Why?  Because we serve the God of hope!  Even in the face of death, there’s always hope!  The Bible says:

“But as for me, I will always have hope;  

   I will praise You more and more” (Psalm 71:14).

We recently heard a pastor say that when Satan shoots his fiery darts at you, just say “Thanks for the ammunition!” and throw them right back at him by giving praise to God in the very area that’s being attacked.  So as for us, we will always have hope.  We just keep praising God more and more.  By doing this, we’re holding up our shield of faith, which, as the Bible says,

“… can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16b).

How can you keep renewing your mind, in both the good days and the bad?  Keep putting your faith in Christ for everything in your life.  Keep putting your trust and hope in Him.  God really can to anything, absolutely anything.  Hope is just around the corner.  As it says on Lana’s new mirror:

“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for raising Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday, so many years ago, and thank You for promising to raise us from the dead one day, too, if we’ll just put our faith in Your Son.  I pray for each one reading this message today that the God of hope will fill them with all joy and peace as they trust in Him, so that they may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S. If you’ve never put your faith in Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins and for the assurance that you’ll be with Him forever in heaven, I pray you’ll do it today.  Jesus said:  “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).  Every one of us will die some day.  The question is what will happen to you on that day?  Jesus said if you’ll put your faith in Him, you’ll have eternal life:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  But if you don’t put your faith in Him, you’ll have to pay the price for your sins yourself.  Jesus also said:  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).  Jesus didn’t come to condemn you, but to save you.  He doesn’t want you to die, but to live an abundant life, both here on earth and in heaven forever.  Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins.  Invite Him to become the Lord of your life.  Then live you’re life like it’ll never end, because if you’ve put your faith in Him, you’ll live forever!

To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind,please visit:

The Romans Study


To read Lana’s blog, please visit:
Lana’s Blog


To make a donation towards our special Easter Offering, please visit:
Make A Donation


To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:

The Ranch Giftshop


To invite Eric to speak to your group of any size, whether by Skype or in person, please visit:

Booking Information


To find us on Facebook, please visit:
Find us on Facebook


If you’d like to invite your friends to join us in receiving these regular messages directly, just forward this email and invite them to sign up at the link below.

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Living Like You’re Going To Live (Sorry it’s late)

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration
Living Like You’re Going To Live

 By Eric Elder


Dear friends,


I’d like to give you one more update on my wife Lana this week, and then next week we’ll return to our study of the book of Romans and the topic of “Renewing Your Mind.”  Although I know my messages these past few weeks have touched many hearts and lives as you’ve been watching Lana go through this, she’s never really liked being the center of attention, so she’s ready for me to go back to writing about you instead of her!


But I had one more thought I’d like to share with you before we return to our study of Romans, and as I said last week, we’ve never been so aware of the importance of “renewing our minds” and keeping our thoughts focused on God‘s thoughts than we have been during this whole experience.  It’s so much better that way!  Given that, here’s Lana’s most recent update, which she posted on her blog at  (If you’d like to keep up with her over the coming weeks, you can sign up for her updates at the link on her blog.)




I just wanted to follow up with everyone on my visit to my oncologist on Wednesday. She put together a treatment plan that would use chemotherapy to help shrink the tumors and would alleviate any symptoms from the cancer that I might have down the road. She also explained that treating stage 4 cancer is like treating diabetes. You can manage the symptoms of diabetes with insulin but it is something that you will have the rest of your life. In the same way, the treatments I would have for any symptoms of my cancer would be something I would likely need for the rest of my life. She said I could take a break from the chemo for a couple of months from time to time, but that the tumors will most likely grow back and then I would be back on the chemo to shrink them.


However, currently, I feel very few symptoms and have a lot of hope from the prayers and nutritional changes I’ve been making.  She agreed to let me continue doing what I’ve been doing and check the status of my tumors in two months. I was so thankful and happy that she agreed to this. I could have kissed her! Thursday I met with a nutritional doctor to help me determine the best way to build up my immune system over the coming months. I have also read many books regarding nutritional approaches to treating cancer. I am currently taking more supplements than anyone I know but I feel very good about this approach and I’m so thankful to be able to treat the cancer this way. I’m praying my tumors will continue to shrink and disappear through prayer and nutrition.


On a funnier side note, as we the left nutritionist yesterday, walking out with a bag chock-full of supplements, Eric said he felt like he was in a scene from the movie “The Princess Bride” when two men take their friend Westley to see Miracle Max.  Even though they thought Westley was dead, it turned out he was only “mostly” dead according to Miracle Max, so he made a special pill to bring him back to life.  As the two friends left with the pill in their hands and their friend Westley over their shoulders, Miracle Max and his wife Valerie are seen standing at the door waving. Valerie then leans into Miracle Max and says, “Think it’ll work?” to which Miracle Max says, “It would take a miracle!” and they just keep waving. (It’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it.) Apparently, that’s how Eric felt leaving the nutritionist yesterday with all these pills, smiling and waving and thinking “It would take a miracle!” Thankfully, he makes me laugh. I credit him for most of the wrinkles on my face! I told Eric I feel like some people think I am like Westley….that I’m “mostly” dead. But I just want you all to know I’m alive and well. I continue to eat very healthy and exercise (either walking, running, weights, or stretching). I also know it probably will take a miracle to cure me from this disease. But thanks to your prayers, I’m chock-full of faith, too!


So thank you for adding your prayers to mine! I do believe they make a difference. A psalm I read last night that encouraged me is Psalm 121.


I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.


He will not let your foot slip-
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.


The LORD watches over you-
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.


The LORD will keep you from all harm-
He will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
(Psalm 121:1-8)


I am very much aware that my help comes from the Lord. But I also know that God works through His people and I have seen Him working through many of you. Whether it’s a word of encouragement, a prayer, a card, or a gift, I sense God working through you all to encourage and strengthen me. You are being the hands, feet and body of Christ to me. So thank you again for everything. May God bless you back abundantly!!




As you can tell from Lana’s note, she’s planning on living!  And I, for one, am thrilled with that plan!


One of the gems that emerged like a diamond for me through all of this high-intensity pressure of the past few weeks was a comment from a friend that captivated me when I first read it and still does today.  At the end of her note she wrote:


“… and for everyone’s sake, LIVE like she’s going to LIVE!”


Wow!  That made me sit up in my chair and think long and hard about how I was going to live in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.  Was I going to live like my wife was dying?  Or was I going to live like she was going to live?  They seemed like two diametrically opposed paths.


But the truth is, we’re all on a path towards death, and have been ever since the day we were born (even the day we were conceived, really!).  And at the same time, we’re all on a path towards life.  The only difference in the situation that Lana and I are facing is that we truly believe we’ve been given a great gift:  the gift of seeing both the brevity and fullness of life, simultaneously.


We all have a choice to make each day.  We can either live like we’re dying, or we can live like we’re going to live.  Lana has chosen to live like she’s going to live, and with that attitude, the chances are good that she could outlive us all!  I know I want more of that attitude in my own life, too.  When people live like they’re going to live, it’s contagious.


So many of you have written to say that even though we’ve been asking for prayer for ourselves through all of this, that you’ve been blessed by praying for us through it all as well.  It’s an interesting phenomenon, and I think is summed up in this thought by a woman named Marianne Williamson:


“And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


Lana’s not afraid of dying.  She just wants to live!  And by choosing to do everything she can to stay healthy and alive as long as possible, she’s giving me and many others the inspiration to live our days to the fullest as well.


The truth is, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  But we can choose how we’re going to live today.  As the apostle James said:


“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:13-17).


God has called us to do as much good as possible in the days He’s given us here on earth.  So while none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, the challenge–and the joy–is to live like we’re going to live, while at the same time being fully conscious that at any moment we could die.


Neither Lana nor I are trying to be heroic nor presumptuous about what God might have in store for either of us in the future.  But what we do want to do is to be faithful with every day that God gives to us here on earth.  Every day really is a gift from God.  As the saying goes, that’s why it’s called “the present.”


I want to encourage you today:  don’t be afraid of dying, but live like you’re going to live.  As Jesus said,


“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).


God has created you to do many good things here on the earth, things which He has prepared in advanced for you to do (see Ephesians 2:8-10).  So live like you’re going to live!  That’s what Lana’s planning on doing, and that’s what I’m planning on doing, too.  I hope you’ll join us!


Will you pray with me?


Father, thank You for giving us another day of life today.  Thank You for reminding us of the importance of living every day to the fullest, and living in such a way that our lives bring glory and honor to You and to those around us. We pray that Your light would shine through us, even in the darkest of times, so that people can see You more clearly, putting their faith and trust in You for everything in their lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


P.S.  My sister, Marilyn Byrnes, has recorded a beautiful piano solo of a song for Lana and me to listen to as we go through all the tests and doctors’ visits and unknowns of this whole process.  It’s called “You Raise Me Up” by Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham.  With Marilyn’s permission, I’ve posted a copy of it on our website so you can listen to it to give you encouragement for whatever you might be facing in life right now, too.  You can listen to it free anytime at the link below:
Listen to “You Raise Me Up”


Joshua 1:9 T-ShirtP.P.S.  ALSO, if you haven’t gotten one of the T-Shirts yet that our friend designed to remind you to pray for Lana, you can still get one for a donation of any size to our ministry, no matter where you live in the world.  The shirts have a verse from the book of Joshua on them that says: “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.”  If you’d like to make a donation and get a shirt, just click the link below and our friend will be glad to mail you one.  Your gifts really do help us to continue sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people all over the world, and our friend would love to send you this gift as her way of saying thanks!

Make A Donation


To read more from Lana’s blog, please visit:Lana’s Blog


To find us on Facebook, please visit:
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If you’d like to invite your friends to join us in receiving these regular messages directly, just forward this email and invite them to sign up at the link below.

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – A Picture Of Healing

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration
A Picture Of Healing

 By Eric Elder


Dear Friends,


The words “thank you” just don’t seem enough to convey to you how very much we appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers and words of encouragement over these past two weeks since I shared with you that my wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  How could we not cry and be touched when we get letters like this one from a man we’ve never met, but who is literally rallying the troops to pray for us from a naval ship in Japan


“Hello Eric and Lana,


I just want to start this email off by thanking you for your “this days thoughts” messages. My Mom has been sending these to me daily and your messages have not only been helping me get closer to GOD but also helping keep in contact with my mom. You see I am currently stationed out in Japan and i can say that i do not get to go to services as much as i would like too but your messages help me out in major ways. It is very stressful out here sometimes but i can honestly say that within this last few week things have gotten a lot better for me and i have no doubt that it is because of your messages. So once again. Thank You.


When i read the message about how Lana has breast cancer i immediately stopped what i was doing and began to pray. I can only imagine how difficult it is to for you two to deal with that. I told your story to some of my fellow sailors and soldiers out here and asked them to also pray for you both. They agreed without thinking twice about it. We plan on sending your ministry some donations and as well as little care package for you two. Many times when we are out to sea or deployed we have had many churches and people send us care packages to help lift out spirits. Believe me when i say that it really does lift out spirits. So we decided that we would get some things together from here in japan to lift your spirits. Also i am currently getting the sizes of some people who want to wear the t-shirts(if any are left) and we are going to get a photo of it and send that to you too also.


You said that prayers came from Kenya, Ghana, Malaysia, the Bahamas, Qatar and Dubai. Well you now have prays from the troops in Japan too. We hope that our efforts encourage you to stay strong. GOD is going to take care of you. I, and the sailors and soldiers, will pray for you everyday just as you all pray for our safety day in and day out.  Once again thank you for your messages you send out daily! Take Care and God Bless You Both.”


Wow! What a perfect picture of the body of Christ in action…people lifting each other up in their time of need.  Here’s another one from a woman from South Wales who was praying for us while waiting for a flight in Hong Kong:


“I am sitting here in Hong Kong airport waiting for a flight to Bangkok and thought I would check your developments – Lana your courage and faith take my breath away. I said my prayers for you on the plane yesterday and I keep praying although I am not as familiar with the bible as the other folks! When my holiday is over I am faced with some tests but you have helped me already by your strong commitment to God. As we say in the South Wales valleys (UK) ‘fight the good fight with all thy might’. God Bless and keep you safe.” 


Or this short note from a man in South Africa whose three short lines spoke volumes to me on our day of prayer and fasting for my wife’s healing…


“Your wife will live.

He is Jehovha rapha [the God who heals]! 
greetings from South Africa.”


In fact, my faith was so touched by these words that I wrote them down on a piece of paper and took them to bed with me that night.


Right below those lines on my piece of paper, I added these words from Psalm 21, which another friend here in Illinois had sent me later in the day.  She said she had been listening to Psalm 20 on her “Listener’s Bible,” praying through the words of this Psalm for Lana, as I had asked people to do.  She was praying that God would give Lana “the desire of her heart,” which is not just to live, but to live long.  She said she wasn’t paying attention to stop the Bible reading at the end of the chapter, and when it read these verses in Psalm 21, the next chapter, she shouted for joy.  The words record what God did for King David when he first prayed that prayer almost 3,000 years ago…


“How great is his joy in the victories You give! You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. 


“He asked You for life, and You gave it to him–length of days, for ever and ever” (Psalm 21:1, 2, 4).


Then on Tuesday morning, when our 24 hours of prayer and fasting were just ending, I added one more word to my paper.  It was Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day” for Tuesday February 28th, which I’ve been getting in my inbox daily for many years.  The words are totally random each day, but the word for that morning was anything but random!  The word in my inbox was this:




Praise God!  I’m holding onto each of these three thoughts as special reminders to me that my wife can live, that God can give her the desire of her heart, and that she can “live long.”


Some people might worry that I’m holding onto false hope.  But with God, there is no such thing as false hope.  With God, there is infinite hope!  As the Bible says:


“For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).


Believe me, I’m not naive enough to think that this cancer doesn’t have the power to kill my wife.   It does.  The first person I prayed for when I started this ministry seventeen years ago died three weeks later.  And twenty-two years ago today, on March 4th, my own mother died of breast cancer.  I know it’s a killer disease.  Believe me when I say that I cried for 24 hours straight when I first heard the news.


But believe me, too, when I say that God gave me a picture of healing last week that renewed my faith and hope in Him that He could do the impossible in this situation still.


When Lana and I first found out the lump in her breast was cancerous, we scheduled an appointment with a breast surgeon to meet with him and talk about doing surgery.  The appointment was three weeks away, as he was going to be out of town and his schedule was full.  So we prayed during that three weeks that by the time we met with the surgeon, the lump would be gone and she wouldn’t have to have surgery at all.   Since the biopsy showed that this was a solid mass in her breast that was growing aggressively, the chances of the lump shrinking at all, let alone disappearing completely were little to none.


Every day, Lana could feel the lump in her breast, about the size of a marble.  And every few days, she would anoint it with oil and pray that God would take it away.  But every day, it was still there.  Then we got the report that the news was worse than we thought:  the cancer had already spread from Lana’s breast to her lungs, liver and spine.  The oncologist said she was going to cancel our appointment with the surgeon for the next week because it was no longer necessary.  The tumors were now too numerous for it to make any difference to take out just the one lump in her breast.  The news was devastating.


That’s when I sent out my note for prayer to all of you, and you began to pray for us. The next day, we went in for a bone biopsy and another conversation with the oncologist.  She reconfirmed the diagnosis that she had told us before, and reiterated that our appointment with the breast surgeon the next day was no longer necessary.


But later that night, just before going to bed, Lana went to pray for the lump in her breast as she had done all along.  When she went to find the lump, it had shrunk to the size of a BB, smaller than a pea.  When she woke up again at 4 in the morning, she went to feel it again, and she couldn’t find it at all!  It was completely gone…just as she had prayed it would be, as that was the day we were to meet with the surgeon!  She woke me up to check it out, and I couldn’t find it either!  Perhaps the words of the oncologist weren’t as dire as we had thought, but that they were prophetic:  that she had cancelled the appointment with the surgeon because it really was no longer necessary!


I began to cry and praise God, saying that I wasn’t sure if I could even believe it or not, and not knowing what it meant about the other tumors throughout her body.  But it gave me a picture of healing that matched the picture of healing I get from the Bible where the blind see, the lame walk, and the lumps are gone.  I began to pray for Lana’s whole body, that God would take away every lump from everywhere and that He would complete this incredible work that He was doing.


I also put my hand on my own forehead, where I had had a mild but constant headache for the previous three weeks.  I assumed it must be from the stress of the diagnosis.  I rarely get headaches, and if I do, they last for a few hours at most.  But this headache had persisted day and night for three straight weeks.  It didn’t cause me severe pain, but enough to be noticeable, and it got worse when I leaned forward or put on my glasses.


After praying for my head, I returned to praising God with Lana.  Unsure if we could believe this had really just happened, or if we might find the lump again in the morning, or what might be happening with all the other tumors in her body, we finally laid down to try to sleep again. As I laid down, I took out my Bible to read and put on my glasses.  When I put them on, I expected to feel the pain in my eye again.  But there was no pain.  I leaned forward in the bed, and there was still no pain.  I got out of bed, and leaned my head way down to my toes and there was still no pain.  None whatsoever. The headache that I had felt for three straight weeks was gone, completely gone.


I began to cry again, not because of what God had done for my headache, but because it gave me yet another picture of healing and what that would mean for the tumors throughout Lana’s body.  I finally fell asleep, praising God that no matter what, He had restored my faith that He could do anything, absolutely anything.  I finally believed again that with God, nothing is impossible, even the healing of my wife.


When we woke up the next morning, we felt for the lump again, and after some time searching, we think we might have found it, much, much smaller than it had been for almost two and a half months straight.  We contacted the doctor to ask if this was normal, for the lump to shrink like this.  The doctor said that the biopsy from three weeks earlier could have caused it to become inflamed, and now the inflammation had gone down.  When I heard those words, the pain in my head returned. I prayed:


“God, no matter what’s going on, thank You for giving me a picture of healing, a picture of what it can be like when you heal someone, suddenly and miraculously.  I believe, Lord, that You can heal Lana in an instant, just as You’ve healed me in an instant of other things in the past, and just as I’ve seen You heal others.  Thank You Lord for giving me a picture to hang onto no matter what happens next.”


Over the past week, my headache has come and gone, fading in and out, but no longer continuous as it had been.  The lump in Lana’s breast has also seemed to come and go, some days she can find it, and it’s so very small, other days she can’t seem to find it at all.  We’ve scheduled an ultrasound on the lump for tomorrow (Monday, March 5th) with the doctor who originally did the biopsy to see if the technology confirms what we are seeing:  that the tumor has indeed gotten smaller or gone away completely.  I, for one, can’t wait to see the results!


But I can also say that my faith this week has soared to the point where it doesn’t much matter what the doctor’s report says.  What matters is that God has shown me that He can do anything, absolutely anything.


If you’ve been reading my messages for the past several months, you know that we’ve been studying the book of Romans and looking at the topic of “renewing your mind.”  While I hope to return to our study of the book of Romans again soon, I must also say that this whole experience has been one intense crash course in the importance of getting our thinking in line with God’s.  Every time we get a doctor’s report, or read an article on the internet, or hear a story from someone else who’s died of cancer, we have to take our thoughts captive, and ask God to replace our thoughts with His…that He’s the only one who truly knows how this will turn out in the end.


It’s not like I need God to heal Lana for me to continue to believe in Him.  It’s not like He has to keep doing miracles for me to continue to believe in Him.  I’m already in.  I’m fully committed.  I’ve signed on the dotted line and given my whole life to Jesus.  And it’s not like I’m troubled of what will happen to Lana if she dies.  I know she loves Jesus with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and she’ll be with Him forever in heaven and I’ll be with her someday there myself.


But what God has done for me these past two weeks, thanks to His help and your prayers, has been to renew my mind and believe in Him again that He can do ALL THINGS.  That truly nothing is impossible with God.  That God can work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  And that God really can give Lana the desire of her heart, at any time and through any means: to live a long and full life here on earth, and then on into heaven forever.


What do the coming weeks hold for us?  I can’t say for sure.  But I can say this:  I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead more than ever before, because I know I’ll be going through them with a God who loves me, and loves Lana, and loves you, more than any of us could possibly imagine.


I pray this week that you would know this love of God as well, and if you haven’t put your faith in Christ, that you would do it now, for the forgiveness of your sins so you can live with Him forever, and for everything else in your life, so you can live the abundant life He’s called you to live here on earth.  Like the Apostle Paul, I pray for you, that you would know His immeasurable love and His remarkable power.  As the apostle Paul said:


“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  


“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21).


I look forward to sharing another update again with you next week, then I hope to return to our study of Romans again with renewed vigor of the importance of “renewing our minds.”


Will you pray with me?


Father, thank You for being Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, and for giving us a picture of healing that we can hang onto.  Lord, we pray that You would continue to heal Lana’s body, completely and gloriously, and through it all, that Your name would be glorified in ways that go beyond all we could ask or imagine.  We pray also that You would use this situation to spark our faith to believe once again that nothing is impossible with You, no matter how dire the circumstances, and no matter how bleak the reports.  We trust and believe that Your report is always good, for You truly can work all things for good for those who love you and who are called according to Your purpose.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Joshua 1:9 T-ShirtP.S.  My friend who helped organize the day of prayer and fasting for us still has some T-Shirts left that she’d be glad to send you as a reminder to pray for Lana, and also as a reminder that God is with you wherever you go as well.  The shirts have a verse printed on them from Joshua 1:9 that says: “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.”  Our friend would be glad to send you one of these special T-Shirts anywhere in the world for a donation of any size to our ministry.  If you’d like to make a donation and get a shirt, just click the link below.  Your gifts help us to reach out with the message of Christ in very practical ways every week, and our friend is glad to send you this gift as her way of saying thanks!

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This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Update on Lana’s Cancer – Praise God!!!!

(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)
The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration
Hit Your Knees!

 By Eric Elder


Dear Friends,


In my message last week, I shared that I could use some encouragement, and thanks to your prayers and God‘s help, I got it!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your prayers and notes and words of encouragement.


In case you missed last week’s message, I shared that my wife Lana and I were surprised a few weeks ago to find out that she has breast cancer, and we were even more surprised to find it was not just one lump in her breast, but had already spread, with multiple tumors showing up on CT scans and MRI’s throughout her lungs, liver and spine.


This news was devastating, as you can imagine.  But within hours of sending out our note asking for your encouragement, prayers started coming in from all over the world, from places like Kenya and Ghana, Malaysia and the Bahamas, Qatar and Dubai and all over the U.S.  The prayers of the saints were spreading faster than any cancer ever could!


I heard from a chaplain of a prison in New Mexico who said that all of the inmates in his prison were going to be praying for my wife.  I heard from another man in Uganda who said:


“I bet you or your husband has never been to Uganda. Yet you have. This Day’s Thought has been the highlight of my inbox since 2007. I feel like I know you, the picture is more complete with the family photo. Am surely praying for you.”


As the week went on, God continued to speak to us, reminding us that Jesus already drank the cup of death for us, and that He was holding out a cup of life to us instead!  We feel that Jesus wants us to drink from His cup of life, and drink deeply.  Whereas I wrote my message last week in part to comfort my own soul in the event that this cancer might take my wife’s life, this week I’m writing with full faith and confidence that God could heal her in a moment, completely and gloriously! And I’m thrilled to say that this miracle may have already begun!


The day after we sent our prayer request to you, Lana noticed that the tumor in her breast had shrunk suddenly and significantly.  And by 4 o’clock in the morning, she wasn’t sure if she could even find it at all!  We began to pray hard that this would be just an indicator of what’s going on in the rest of her body, that the cancer is being driven out by the power of God, and what was once in the darkness must now flee in the light!


We’ve been praying toward that for the rest of the week, and with that in mind, I’d like to ask you to consider praying and fasting along with me and hundreds of others who have already told us they’ll be praying with us during a special 24 hour prayer vigil for my wife.  You don’t have to go anywhere special, just pray wherever you are starting tomorrow morning, Monday, February 27th at 7:00 a.m. Central Time (-6 GMT), through Tuesday morning, the 28th, at 7:00 a.m.  We’re going to be praying and fasting that God would spare Lana’s life, confessing that her life and ministry isn’t at the end, but that it’s just at the beginning in a whole new way!


We believe that even one prayer, offered in faith, has tremendous power!  As the Bible says:


“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:13-16).


One prayer, offered in faith, can make the sick person well.  One prayer, offered in faith, can bring forgiveness.  One prayer, offered in faith, can stop the rain or start it up again.  One prayer, offered in faith, can lead us to eternal life.  As the Apostle Paul said:


“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).


We’re praying and believing for Lana’s healing, not just because we’re afraid she’ll die, but because we believe that it pleases the heart of God whenever we pray a prayer offered in faith.


Whereas last week I felt like I needed a cheerleader to keep me up in my spirits, this week I’m feeling like being the cheerleader, cheering you all to stand up and clap and shout and make some noise for the Lord.  I remember watching cheerleaders at a college football game stand in front of one section of a stadium full of people.  The cheerleaders would raise their arms and shout to the people to do the same, calling on them to lift their hands, too, and to shout and clap and stomp their feet for the victory that they were hoping would soon come.  Then the cheerleaders would move to the next section and call on them to stand up on their feet and do the same.  Then they’d take off running around the stadium, going from section to section, until the whole stadium was on their feet, clapping and shouting and stomping!  As this message goes around the world this week, I want to call upon all of you to stand to your feet in prayer and praise, shouting and clapping and making some noise for the Lord!  (You don’t have to do it out loud, but you can do it in your spirit if you want!)


While it may seem selfish of me to call on so many of you to pray so intensely for my wife and myself and my family, after reading your notes and letters this week, I know for sure that this is not just about saving her life for my sake or the sake of the kids, but for God’s sake and what He is wanting to do through this to bring glory to His name.  I pray this is yet another testimony that will bring hope and healing and salvation to people all over the world.  So with that in mind, I want to encourage you to pray with us, and fast with us, for 24 hours this week. that Lana’s healing would be complete and glorious, and that God’s name would be glorified through it all!


There are times when fasting should be done in secret.  But there are other times in the Bible where fasting is done in the light, in full view of everyone, like when Esther was about to make a special request of the king to save her people, but which could cost her her life. Esther said:


“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).


Esther declared her fast, publicly and widely, because she knew that God could use those prayers for the salvation of many, many souls.  Esther was placed in a unique position to call this fast, and I believe Lana has been placed in a similar position.  As Esther’s cousin said to her just before she declared her fast:


“And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b).


If you’d like some ideas for how to fast and pray, here’s a link to some tips that I’ve found helpful.  (7 Steps to Fasting)


If you’re thinking of joining us, I’d like to encourage you by sharing a note I received this week from a dear friend who had mistakenly, but thankfully, thought that the day of prayer and fasting was last Monday instead of this coming one.  As she set out to fast and pray for 24 hours, she wrote to us and said:


“This morning, I pledge a day of fasting and hourly prayer for Lana’s healing. I pray for her recovery and the Lord granting her 50 more years of ministry at Eric’s side. I pray for the possibility of unbelievers hearing of Lana’s healing and following their curiosity to the Gospel. I pledge to pray each hour for Lana’s healing not only for the benefit of her family and friends, but for the benefit of the Body of Christ. May God hear my pleas.”


Then, when her fast was nearly complete, she wrote:


“Lana and Eric, Soon – as in fifteen minutes – my day of fasting and prayer will be over, so I wanted you to know how much it meant to me to carry you both in my heart and mind all day.  During the day and night, I remembered many moments of laughter and friendship, but I thought mostly about how you express your faith. It is inspiring, yes, but also challenging, because your faith makes me – and those who listen to me share about your work – question if we are doing as much, being as faithful. While I know comparison is not the answer, I can’t help but think that the Lord uses those moments to nudge me, and others, along. Lana, you are so dearly loved and I am in your debt for thousands – yes thousands – of little ways you have encouraged my faith. P.S. While praying about whether or not I should commit to doing the fast and prayer day, I went to check the dates so that my prayers could be added to others. I believed I saw 20-21. I was convinced, in fact, so I was shocked to read, this morning, that the prayer vigil is set for next week. So, it is my hope that the Lord directed me to this day for His purposes, but I will add my prayers to the others on the 27th as well. :)”


I am fully convinced that God directed her to pray for us that day, and I would love for you to join us in prayer, too, whether it’s on the the 27th and 28th, or at any other time when you receive this note.  I’m sure time zones and dates don’t mean nearly as much to an eternal God as they do to us here on earth!


But if you’d like to join us on this special day when hundreds of others will be praying, too, we’re starting as 7:00 a.m. Central Time (-6 GMT) on Monday, February 27th through 7:00 a.m. on the 28th.  You don’t have to go anywhere special to pray, just pray wherever you are.  And if you’d like to post your prayers on Lana’s blog, or read the prayers of others, you can do so anytime at


And at some point during your prayers, can I encourage you to “hit your knees,” by kneeling on the ground?  As one of our friends said who is organizing this special day of fasting and prayer:


“Hit your knees when you pray, because we want Satan to feel the earth tremble as we pray for Lana.”


I know I’ll be hitting my knees several times tomorrow, and I’d love for you to do the same.  If you need some words to pray for Lana throughout the day, here’s a Psalm I’ve been praying over her, line by line, for the past few days.  I pray it encourages you in making your own requests to God as well!


May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;  

   may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  
May He send you help from the sanctuary  
   and grant you support from Zion.  
May He remember all your sacrifices  
   and accept your burnt offerings.  
May He give you the desire of your heart  
   and make all your plans succeed.  
We will shout for joy when you are victorious  
   and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.  
May the LORD grant all your requests.


Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He answers him from His holy heaven
with the saving power of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
O LORD, save the king!
Answer us when we call!
(Psalm 20: 1-9)


Thanks again so much!  Your words and prayers are already glorifying God in ways that go beyond anything we could ask or imagine!


Will you pray with me?


Father, thank You for what you are already doing in this situation with Lana, both in the healing we believe is taking place in her body, and the glorifying of your name that is taking place around the world.  Let this day of prayer and fasting be a testimony to Your power, Your might, and Your victory over darkness, once and for all.  We pray for healing and more, that You would heal Lana’s body, completely and gloriously, and through it all, that Your name would be glorified in ways that go beyond anything we could ask or imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Joshua 1:9 T-ShirtP.S.  Many of you have asked if there’s anything you can do for us during this time.  Your prayers mean the most to us, and have helped us already so much.  And while I’m extremely hesitant to say so, the gifts that some of you have been sending in to our ministry at this time have been extremely helpful and a tremendous blessing as well.  I don’t want to use this situation in any way that looks like I’m trying to raise funds for the work we’re doing here.  Yet I know that God has so much He wants to do in and through us and the financial pressure of running the ministry and dealing with all of this at the same time is sometimes almost more than I can bear.  I’m trusting in God every step of the way, but I must also confess that the gifts you’re sending are going a long way towards helping us personally right now, and practically as we continue to try to use this ministry to reach out to people in the name of Christ throughout the world.  Our same friend who has asked you to “hit your knees” in prayer has also donated some special T-Shirts she has made to remind you to pray for Lana.  The shirt has a verse printed on it from Joshua 1:9 that says: “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.”  Our friend would be glad to send you one of these special T-Shirts anywhere in the world for a donation of any size to our ministry.  If you’d like to make a donation and get a T-Shirt as a reminder to pray for Lana and our family, just click the link below.  Your gifts really do make a difference, and our friend is glad to send you this gift as her way of saying thanks!

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