Category Archives: Prayer

Katie’s Request

We arrived at the correct location a few minutes early, and found our seats among people who were more our age. I don’t know why we do things like that, we just do. But a young girl with a delightful smile immediately greeted Melanie and me.

“Hi! I’m Katie!” she said, as she extended her hand. We introduced ourselves and felt a sense of warmth and welcoming.

The YWAM base was three years’ new in our area, and I had been anxious to visit ever since I heard of it. When there was an invitation for community night, I didn’t hesitate to reserve a spot. When Katie turned to the next newcomer, I turned to my right and introduced myself to the young girl sitting next to me.

“I’m Katie,” she said quietly.

“Oh, tell me,” I joked, “are all the YWAM girls here named Katie?” I laughed. “If they are, it will make meeting people a lot easier!”

Katie smiled humbly and said simply that there were only two. I could tell that it wasn’t a natural thing for her to begin talking to random strangers. She was quiet and shy, but very sweet. I asked where she was from and we chatted a bit about a location I was familiar with until my son came along and sat in between us. I introduced them and as they began talking, I turned my attention elsewhere. But I kept thinking about Katie.

We had wonderful praise and worship, led by Libby (who after the event immediately pegged me as my daughter’s mother). After praise time, we heard from a dynamic speaker who challenged us to be confident in our faith. It’s a good challenge, solid and foundational to the Christian faith. Quoting scripture after scripture with whimsical ease, we were freshly reminded that God’s mercy and grace makes us holy, not anything we do. It’s amazing how we always go back to the doing of our faith, while in the back of our minds we track brownie points as if we’re competing with the rest of Christianity for God’s favor. Will we ever learn?

The time ended with prayer and we filed into the main lobby for beverages and snacks. I visited for a bit with a couple of students at the DTS, and just as we were about to leave, I spotted Katie. I really wanted to say goodbye to her, so I walked across the lobby and told her it was good to meet her. I then asked how I could pray for her. She seemed surprised that anyone would even ask. She thought for a very long moment and looked up. “Please pray that I can trust God more,” she said.

Katie could have asked for a million things. As a YWAM DTSer she could have asked that God provide funding for her outreach or that He would multiply the time she needs to complete her homework. She could have stated that she wasn’t sleeping well, that she missed her family, or that she was having a personality struggle with one of her fellow roommates. And in all these possible requests she could have even said, “Pray that I trust God to …” but she didn’t. She purely and simply requested that she trust Him … more.

The drive home left me astounded. This was no small request. It’s the stuff that bears witness to a living and active spirit within this precious human soul. In his book, Trusting God, Jerry Bridges writes, “Trusting God is not a matter of my feelings, but of my will.” He later adds, “We mistakenly look for tokens of God’s love in happiness. We should instead look for them in His faithful and persistent work to conform us to Christ.” Katie was asking to be conformed to Christ. It was a bold and courageous prayer request, and one which I have no doubt our God will take delight in answering. I would like to see Katie again one day. I think she could teach me much about the humble Christian faith, girded by solid trust.

Father, I pray for Katie tonight. May you fill her with a peace which surpasses all understanding, a faith that is strong and unwavering, and trust that in all things you are in total control. May she become strong and courageous in your sight, a woman of honor, dignity and value. May the things that move you move her, and may she be intimately acquainted with your voice whether she’s on the summit or in the valley. I pray, Lord, that she can learn to trust you more. And may we all adopt this very prayer request as our own.

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The Turkish Pastor

Istanbul, Turkey

I attended a leadership conference this week which focused primarily on the leadership principles of Christ.  It was both refreshing and challenging.  In the conference we had many nationals attend.  There were experts and field workers from Nepal, India, Africa the US and Turkey as well as many aspiring students.  The Turkish man I met is a pastor in Turkey and has had great influence in his nation among the protestant Christians.  In a nation of 72m people, there are only four to five thousand protestant Christians.  My friend has much work to do.

I mentioned to him that I was preparing my church to pray for Turkey this Sunday.  The day marks three years since three men were tortured for three hours and then murdered, or martyred, simply for their faith in Christ; one American, two Turks.  All three of those men were friends of this Turkish pastor I met, one was his best friend.  How penetrating.

Please consider engaging your church, Sunday school or prayer groups to pray for Turkey this Sunday.  You can download information and prayer points from the Pray For Turkey website.

Even if you get this information later, you can still pray.  The nation needs our prayers and our loving intercession.  And please pray for my friend, Ramazan as he continues to faithfully carry out the call to evangelize and offer the hope of the Gospel to a lost and oppressed nation.

Grace and peace be yours, my friends.


Who Cares?!

Sometimes I think I’m not supposed to hurt, that things aren’t supposed to trouble me, so I often don’t allow people to see the hurts I endure.  A misunderstanding, an unkind word, a hateful deed:  We simply hide them in our sock drawer and move along.  Who would care anyway?  What would it matter?  There are bigger crimes, bigger hurts, louder tears.  But every time I open the sock drawer, there they are.  I slam it shut and scream in my mind, “Who would care?!”  And I answer my question with cynicism, “Who? Like, a human?”

A friend said to me today, “It’s okay, I’m not afraid of tears. You can talk.”  Ah! He may not be afraid of tears, but God knows I am.  I struggle to regain composure and try to speak without squeaking … or sobbing.  I ask if we can talk later and hang up the phone.  Buried consequences rise in my throat like a tidal wave and my body trembles under the weight of grief, sorrow, misunderstanding and shame.

We were not meant for sin or grief; we were not meant to hurt.  Hurt comes from sin, and sin is something far more spiritually connected than we could ever imagine, connected through insidious forces we can neither see nor touch, let alone understand.  And when it makes its way into the human soul it can hardly be rectified without a bigger and more authoritative Spiritual Power.

My eyes fall on Mark 1:23-28.  Jesus had just healed the demon-possessed man.  In those days, demon possession was a very widespread thing and had many Jewish legends and folklore attached to it.  One noted historian, Harnack said, “The whole earth was a living hell.” We really don’t see that kind of widespread demon possession today, and that’s not the focus of my note; however, what I came to realize about the demon-possessed man is that he knew he was possessed.  Jesus could not cure him unless he admitted his trouble.  I think that’s why the story is in the Bible.  We must assume the reality of our disease before we can ask for a cure.

I open my sock drawer once again, and there are the hurts buried among the mis-matched.  I place them on the dresser and slowly expose them to Jesus.  Through tears and sobs, I admit the pain, the sin, the grief and the sorrow.  Slowly they fade and I am renewed and strengthened by His power.  And I realize that it isn’t the responsibility of any one person to meet us in these places.  When we assume that man should do what only God can do then we put man before God and we will always be disappointed.

“Who would care?”  I answer my question now with assurance.  My eyes fill with tears, but these are tears of joy which come from a new sense of maturity and hope. Jesus cares, and Jesus stands ready to cure the heart that admits the disease.

Lord, thank you for allowing me to give you these things which hurt so deeply.  I share them with you because you understand with great depth and clarity and you offer comfort with abundant mercy and loving-kindness.  My hope is in you and my heart is strengthened by your love. My cup is full to overflowing with this joy. Jesus, take me and use me as your light to shine your glory. I love you, Lord.

Abide With Me (MP Jones)


Breakfast

Fasting and Praying for Haiti

My 19yo son trotted downstairs with a plate in his hand containing a homemade burger on a bagel with a slice of cheese.  It’s only 11:57 p.m. and I wanted to wait until midnight before I took a bite.  So we chatted a bit about how it felt to be hungry.  In our home we have two refrigerators (with freezers), one large freezer and two pantries.  There are only four of us living here but I frequently host people in my home, as well as randomly give food to the poor.  And we still seem to have a constant supply of food.

Among many things spiritual or otherwise, fasting reminds us how much we have and how much others do without.  It reminds us that there are people everywhere who do without, and even if they have food, we oftentimes eat like kings compared to their meager meals.  The World Health Organization breaks up categories of hunger this way:  one-third eat well, one-third are malnourished and one-third is starving. Since you began reading this article, at least 200 people have died of starvation and over four million will die this year.  I am sure that with the recent catastrophe in Haiti, those numbers are on the rise.

It is difficult knowing why we are here and they are there; why we are among the well-fed in a world where two-third struggle and starve.  But I am convinced that while God allows some of us to have comforts others do not, He certainly does not mean that we covet these comforts and keep them as idols.  Jesus himself commands us in Matthew to share our crust of bread, for if we have done so to our brethren, we have done so to our Lord.  I wonder how many saints working among the inured and poor in Haiti have shared their lunch, their water, and gone without for the sake of the starving.

While we pondered these things, my food sits and waits.  There is no one to give it to, and to reject it would mean waste. But I remembered that just tonight a homeless lady I call Mary sat in my family room as I served her some stew, listened to her struggles and gave her some advice about her son.  She happily ate every morsel as we visited.  Somehow food brings us together.  It’s a universal thing we all need.  In the book, A Christmas Carol, we read as Scrooge eats his meal alone, night after night.  Charles Dickens not only paints a picture of a selfish and greedy man, but a very lonely man.  Food not only keeps us living, but it keeps us linked to one another in fellowship.  And as we deny food for the sake of one starving or for the sake of prayer, we are linked in a truly spiritual sense to our Heavenly Father.

My son and I closed out the day by praying together for Haiti and giving God the thanks and glory that He truly desires this nation be fruitful once again.  We look forward to the rebuilding with joy and hope.  May the prayers continue forth; may the giving never stop; may the hands and feet not grow weary.

It’s midnight.  Time to break the fast.


The Stones will Cry Out

stones

But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if they become silent, the stones will cry out!

As most of us who run in circles of mission work have heard, there is great need for prayer and mission work in the 10/40 Window.  This is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude containing enormous amounts of people who have never heard the gospel.  Many things keep them from hearing such as location, anti-Christian religion, law, oppression, etc.  These are people who range from the nomads to the wealthy, the young and old.  They are part of large systems of belief which hinder the spread of the gospel, sometimes by their own culture of religion (e.g. folklore, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.), sometimes by oppressive political systems and sometimes by war and bloodshed.  In any case, it is an all-out war between the rulers of darkness and the Lord of the Heavens.  The 10/40 window is a spiritual blockade, pushing against the Gospel and keeping its inhabitants in darkness.

The vision in Luke 19:30-40 is powerful and profound.  Jesus has secured a donkey to go into Jerusalem, and as He headed toward the city, the crowd was overjoyed. It says, “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Well this didn’t sit well with the Pharisees, and they were insulted that the king who comes in the name of the Lord would come seated on a donkey.  They turned to Christ and asked him to quiet the crowd.  Instead, Jesus pointed out that even if He did quiet the crowd then the stones would cry out!

I am praying for friends in a nation of the 10/40 window who are working as missionaries, feeding the hungry, ministering to the poor.  Ethnic cleansing is beginning to occur in the region where they work, and my friends may be forced to leave or they will be killed.  As I was in prayer over them recently, it occurred to me that whatever the outcome, they have done well.  They have been obedient to God’s call on their lives and moved where He would have them work.  And whether they count it as loss or gain, God counts it all as gain.  And whether they go or are killed, we cannot deny the words of Christ that even the stones would cry out in their absence.

But these truths do not mean we mustn’t go, send others to go, pray or mobilize people under the commission of Christ.  After all, Jesus did not squelch the praises in His name and the joy surrounding His presence.  He simply stated a penetrating truth that even if He did quiet the crowd then His very creation would magnify and glorify Him!  Jesus was profoundly stating that God will accomplish His plan to redeem the world and bring glory and honor to His name whether man obediently participates or not.  Isn’t it incredible that even though He doesn’t need us to carry out His plan, that He chooses us be involved and allows us to participate?  How humbling to part of this great movement.

The oppressor of this world can push back the gospel from the 10/40 window only so long. He and his dominion can have spiritual stronghold for a time only allotted by God himself.  They are bound by scripture, and the end of the story tells us that they will one day be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.  While they give a false impression that they have control over these nations in the 10/40 window, we know they in fact are only biding their time.  They know the end of the story, too.  They know their time is limited.

So this knowledge calls us to a greater awareness of the world in which we live and the places where the Gospel is incredibly thwarted.  Our response is prayer, intentional and deliberate prayer.  And whether that prayer leads us to go, send or mobilize, it is still powerful and paramount to any action we might take to further an awareness of Christ and His Supremacy in the 10/40 window.  If you are not praying for these nations and these peoples, then you must start right away.  There is no greater need for prayer in the 10/40 window than now.

I’ve listed some resources below to help you get started.  These are just a couple, and while there are plenty more, I find these ministries to be consistent, dedicated and solid in their research.  If you are using other means to pray for the 10/40 window, please comment below.  I’d love to know what other people are doing to pray forth the Gospel to the darkest places of our world.

Beverly Peagues’ entire life is devoted to the 10/40 Window. There she does an incredible job to keep us all informed politically, religiously and prayerfully on the countries in the 10/40 Window. If you join her email list, you will receive a new country to pray for each day. You can also download a monthly calendar called the WIN Reporter which highlights two countries per day for prayer. The web address is www.win1040.com.  Click “subscribe” to join the mailing list.

There is also the Global Prayer Digest which you can purchase via subscription for $12/year. If you cannot subscribe they also publish the prayers online each day. GPD focuses on people groups in the 10/40 window. The focus for November is South Asia. http://www.global-prayer-digest.org/

If you’d like to get your group interested in people groups, please download this 20-minute activity that a friend and I developed for our Perspectives classes. Though it was specifically created to help our adult students overcome the inhibition of doing a research paper as part of the course syllabus, I find that it’s also a great way to promote awareness and prayer in any venue. http://www.box.net/PerspectivesPeopleGroups

I pray that God will expose you to new ways to pray for the nations of the 10/40 window. I encourage you to create cell groups in your church or school which will commit time each week to focus on nations and people groups in the 10/40 window. On that note, I am working on creating a curriculum of sorts to help people initialize prayer groups for the unreached, and will load it here when complete.

Grace, peace and thanksgiving to you and your household. May you be blessed as you walk obediently with our Lord Jesus Christ.


Three Strand Prayer

For nearly eight years I have been meeting every Tuesday morning with the same two women for coffee and prayer.  We began meeting in a little church, then we moved to a coffee shop. When the coffee shop grew more popular—threatening our attention—we would fellowship in the coffee shop first and then pray in the car!  Now we meet in one of our homes which affords us much privacy and plenty of less expensive coffee.

The longevity of this little prayer group astounds me because it’s something that I would never have expected.  Not one of us have moved, and if something comes up to threaten the committed day, we simply switch to another day (I think we began meeting on Wednesday mornings).  One day we realized the power behind our regular gatherings was in our number.  One of us brought up Ecclesiastes 4:12 giving our little circle a name: The Three-Strand Prayer Group.  Slowly ponder the words in this powerful verse:

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.  Can you round up a third?  A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. (MSG)

Because we are not islands unto ourselves, we humbly and willingly submit to the fact that we are spiritually protected as we gather in threes.  Additionally, three people have more power to affect the Kingdom simply because they are not easily separated, broken or snapped.

On further study, we realized that our identity is found in the acrostic GRACE:

Grace toward each other
Reverence toward God
Accountability in the Word
Confidentiality in words shared
Encouragement through prayer

Without a commitment to GRACE we cannot work as a vessel of the Holy Spirit as interceders for each other. We would not love one another or draw each other to love our LORD. We would engage in petty arguments and judgments and turn them into our idols and castles.  We would cease in our upward movement. And in realizing the power of our group we also realize an adversary who seeks to devour the power. Therefore, we pray for protection, ask God to keep us committed and give Him the glory, honor and thanksgiving for this little group.  It’s nearly eight years since we began. We pray for 80 more.

Ready to start a Three Strand Prayer Group? Following are 10 guidelines to get you started.

  • Pray that God would lead you to one friend with whom you can begin praying.
  • When two of you are meeting and praying, ask God to reveal a third.
  • Be flexible. Weekly meetings that work in one season or location may not work in another.  Expect some change and be willing to work through it.
  • Be tenacious. If a friend shows signs of pulling away, talk to him/her and find out the problem.
  • Be accountable.  Hold one another (and yourself) toward higher accountability through biblical truths.
  • Be trustworthy.  Never, never, never repeat things spoken during prayer time. Confidentiality is of utmost importance.
  • Be reverent.  Always take time to revere God, magnify His name, pray power for His kingdom.
  • Be honoring. Honor not only each other but other people in our lives. A Three Strand Prayer Group is not a gripe session about our spouse or children.
  • Be honest. Trust will take time so be honest if you can’t share. Praying for an unspoken need is just as powerful as praying for a spoken one.
  • Be focused. Schedule any Bible study or service project at a different time. You will lose focus if it gets too complicated.  Remember, “if the devil can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.” Prayer is the last thing he wants you to accomplish!

Ways to pray:
None of these ways are right or wrong.  We’ve done them all and continue to change or mix as we feel led.

  • The Lord’s Prayer is the perfect model for prayer.  Simply stating a line and then praying application for it in each other’s lives is very powerful and humbling.
  • Meditate and pray through a Psalm or other scripture.
  • Sing a hymn before or after you pray. Don’t worry about music; you’d be surprised how much God loves to hear us sing even if we can’t sing.
  • Define a subject (via prayer requests) and everyone take turns praying, then move to the next subject, or assign each person a subject until all has been prayed.
  • Try praying without prayer requests. Simply bow your heads and pray as the Spirit leads you.

Finally, encourage others to start a Three Strand Prayer Group and commit to pray for the longevity of these groups.  God will multiply our prayers and gatherings when we do it in pursuit of Him and His glory.
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Interceding for the Home Educator

Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbour on our knees. -Charles Bent

Kids on LogI like to look at home education as a people movement. It started out with just a few people, and no one seemed threatened. It didn’t take long, however, before this little grass roots movement became an enormous group of people connected to each other for the same cause through a web of curriculum, lifestyle changes, new or revised laws, and No. 2 pencils. People took notice, and some were threatened. So support groups and conventions began springing up around the country linking people together in their goals, values and aspirations. Support included topical discussions on every subject from home educating multiple children to courtship to whether or not it’s okay to nurse a baby in public (it is—with propriety).

Unfortunately, however, I didn’t see much on prayer. More unfortunate is that I didn’t realize how much prayer was missing from these support networks, and from our own home environment. And I’m sure I haven’t noticed anything new nor am I proposing anything new; my goal here is simply awareness and a call to spur one another along in these good things.

Interceding for others isn’t a new concept. It traces back to Abraham who interceded for Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses who interceded for the captives in Egypt and all of the prophets who interceded for their people and cultures. As a matter of fact, part of the role of the prophets was to speak with God for the people of Israel. Most notable is when Isaiah prayed with King Hezekiah to save the nation from Assyria and the armies were suddenly turned back (Isaiah 36-39). No one can argue that God heard their prayers, their cries for help, and moved His hand for His own glory.

We also have examples from the New Testament beginning with Jesus who prayed protection for his followers and sought forgiveness for his captors. Jesus’ entire life was an example of One who intercedes for us for blessings, protection and forgiveness. Indeed, His whole life was an intercession, spanning the deep chasm caused by our rebellion. Paul prayed for the churches in Ephesus and Colossae and their people. He asked others to pray for them, and his devotion to prayer and intercession are timeless examples we still use today.

Intercession includes many things. We pray for safe travel, that others might come to know Christ, healing and health, childbirth or conception, wisdom, spiritual growth, marriages, blessings for others, etc. We pray for God’s mercy and grace, His discernment and for forgiveness. We intercede because we know that God is intimately involved with what is going on in our lives and we are called by Him to share in that involvement.

As a support group I feel we are called to a higher level of intercession. While it is important to pray individually, list in hand, during our private devotional time, it is equally important to pray as a group.

A friend recently pointed out the power of group prayer in The Acts of the Apostles. Chapter two depicts a compelling event we call, “Pentecost.” This event describes a culmination of all Jesus had done and said to be translated into action in the lives of the people. During this gathering, the Holy Spirit supernaturally entered into each person breaking them free from their bondage of religion and giving them a new, fresh calling. It was an incredible paradigm shift from a false trust in structures and laws to the Truth; the Holy Spirit now living in them. Similarly, when we gather together in prayer the Holy Spirit powerfully works in each of us both individually and as a group. He imparts a new, fresh calling; an insight into His work and vision to see things through the Word. We, together and individually, have become the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16), to be used by Him for His own glory.

Interceding for our brothers and sisters in Christ through group prayer is utterly powerful. We lay a fortress that the devil cannot rupture or divide. We set up an invitation for a strong army of heavenly beings, a rising of the Holy Spirit and a manifestation of God’s promises and miracles. And when we engage in regular meetings of group-oriented prayer, we are accountable, encouraging and hopeful. We get to know one another deeply and intimately through prayer. We love deeper and cast aside our petty judgments. And we spur one another along in these callings, these hard places and these uncertain paths. What proceeds from these prayer groups is hardly imaginable, but always and unequivocally Kingdom work. Hence, it should be what tops our list of home education support. Because without prayer there is no real support. It simply vanishes when we least expect it and cannot be found when we need it most.

All across the country home educators are beginning a new season. If you are a part of this people movement, I challenge you to partner with others who can be a support system for you in prayer, encouragement and accountability. I also challenge you to remain tenacious and diligent not allowing the adversary to gain a foothold on this good work you are doing. Practice intercession for the sake and longevity of home education. It will not return void.

Tomorrow I will post a creative plan for organizing an intercessory prayer group; a model which can be replicated anywhere.