21 Days of Prayer – Day 4

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As we continue on this journey of 21 Days of Prayer, we start today’s LivingItOut Study with our Executive Pastor of the Arts, Nate Manuel sharing a few words about our relationships and what they will look like in heaven.

Today’s LivingItOut Study:
I Knew God Like I Knew Abraham Lincoln

I have always “believed in God” even from a young age. My parents took me to Mass almost every Sunday, and I attended Catechism weekly. As a child, God was as real to me as any figure I learned about in history class. I believed in him because a teacher taught me about him. He was as real as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. The problem was, I also knew God about as much as I knew those dead presidents. My relationship with God was distant, if not non-existent. He was just not relevant to my life.

This went on for some time, until I reached high school. After my sophomore year, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time for a friend to invite me to attend what I believed to be a Christian summer camp. The trip was set to leave in less than a week, and I had a hard time explaining to my parents where I was going, what I was going to do, and why I wanted to go (mostly because I didn’t really know, but my friends were going, so why not?) Nevertheless, they said I could go, and a few days later I got on a bus to a Young Life camp called Lake Champion somewhere in rural New York.

I had never been to a church camp, but I heard a lot of stories so my expectations were low. When we arrived, however, I was blown away. This place was like a resort. There were real beds with mints on the pillows, three all-you-could-eat meals every day, pristine landscaping, hiking, basketball courts, a pool, a lake, mountain bikes, zip lines… I didn’t realize it at the time, but every detail was intentional, from the folds on the sheets to the manicured grass. The camp was designed to be a glimpse of heaven, to transport high school students to a place they could never imagine, to experience even a glint of what God has prepared for those who love him.

Little did I know, but my favorite part of the week would be the two times each day when we were rounded up to listen to another installment of what I now know to be the gospel. The speaker for the week delivered the Good News in such a way that it finally became real to me. From those early days in church, I knew that God loved us and that Jesus died for my sins, whatever that meant. But for the first time, I heard about the love God had for me and that the creator of the universe wanted to have a personal relationship with me. I prayed in earnest for the first time in my life, as I realized that God the father had given me the right to be his son.


John 1:10-13
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.


The first Bible verse I memorized, shortly after that trip, was 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” The personal affection I felt from God, knowing that he loves me so much that he would send his Son to die for me, coupled with the hope of heaven, of a place so amazing that my mind can’t even imagine it, convinced me that God is not just something I read about in a history book. He is alive and active, and he is waiting in his glorious kingdom with open arms to welcome us into all of heaven’s splendor.


What is your initial thought when you think about God as “father”?

What obstacles stand in the way of your relationship with God?

Do you believe that God wants to have a personal relationship with you?


Next Steps:
If you want to begin a relationship with God, you can start with a simple prayer, asking God to be your father, acknowledging that we are his sons and daughters, created in his image. If you have questions, seek out a campus pastor or staff member because I know they would love to hear from you. Or email us at LIO@cedarcreek.tv.

Also, attend week one of the GrowthTrack where you will learn more about knowing God and receiving his best for you.

Check out www.cedarcreek.tv/growthtrack for times and information at your campus.


God, thank you for the gift of life, and even more for the gift of eternal life in the most incredible place anyone could imagine. Paul said that to live is Christ, but to die is gain. I don’t fully understand what he meant, but I do know it speaks to the glory of heaven and life with you at my side. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer -Day 4

This Week’s Prayer Focus:

Personally, pray for God to help you to know him more. Ask him to reveal the things in your life that keep you from knowing him more and to identify the things that you need to add to your life. Ask, what step you need to take this year to know God more. Collectively, pray that CedarCreek will be a place where thousands of people who don’t know God, come to know him this  year.

Today’s Prayer Focus:

Our Nation – national missions (partnering churches and church plants).

This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is an executive director for two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Toledo, so if you see him at church and think he looks familiar, that’s where you know him from. He is married with a son and a daughter. Follow him on Twitter @CookfilA.

Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!

Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media

7 replies
  1. Lauren Snyder
    Lauren Snyder says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Ryan!

    God also used Young Life to help me understand the gospel and receive His grace. So as I focus on today’s prayer focus, our nation and national missions, I’m thanking God for ministries like YL, along with other ministries and churches across our nation, and I’m praying that God would increase their influence and impact.

  2. Sarah Rankins
    Sarah Rankins says:

    Great writing, Ryan! God also used a youth ministry to impact my life, Acquire the Fire. I loved when you wrote that He is alive & active. So grateful for an active God!

  3. Cathy Thibodeau
    Cathy Thibodeau says:

    Love the idea of that camp! What a perfect way to introduce the love of God to young people!
    Great post!

  4. Julie Barnett
    Julie Barnett says:

    Love the idea of that camp. Wouldn’t it be great if they had one for adults. In the Methodist Church where I was before coming to Cedar Creek by an invite from my sister I was involved with taking the kids to the Alive concert. We would camp for the week and have group bible studies daily and everyone had to pitch in on meal duty. I remember most the talks around the fire between us parents and children at night. And now as my kids are 32, 28 and 26 and heading the memories from them and watching them grow in their faith and revisiting our Alive concert days I’m amazed on how God worked in all if us beginning then. Thanks for sharing the memories start my day with a smIle and grateful heart.

  5. Andy Rectenwald
    Andy Rectenwald says:

    Great stuff, Ryan!
    What a dangerous and powerful prayer (that God would reveal to you what things keep you from knowing him more). I have found that through fasting from some form of entertainment, I have much more time to spend in his word and talking with him in prayer. Every time I want to watch television, I am reminded that this time can be much better spent with God.

  6. Ben Snyder
    Ben Snyder says:

    Haha. The idea of church camp or your favorite grade school camp as an example of what heaven would be like. I guess it depends on what your church camp experience is like…but for me what a fresh thought! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Luke Shortridge
    Luke Shortridge says:

    Did anyone else get suckered into going on a “Snipe Hunt” during church camp? Let me tell you… it was nothing like Heaven!

    Great post, Ryan! It is pretty wild to think about all that God has prepared for those that love Him!

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