Tag Archives: intercession

Petunias

Returning from Russia brought many happy moments, and some sad ones, too. My poor garden wasn’t doing so well when I left, and the eleven days of neglect while I was gone produced weeds in abundance and dry, brittle twigs where flowers once were. I shook my head as I gazed on the dead petunias. As beautiful as petunias are, they aren’t as hearty as they look. Their deep jewel tones and delicate blossoms delight my eyes in the Spring, and I plant them in abundance. But they don’t stay that way, and I’m hopelessly deceived into thinking that they are stronger than they really are. These dear flowers need pruning, watering and weeding more than any flower in my garden. More than that, they need protection from the rabbits who live in the bushes and find their blossoms to be a delicious treat. I don’t always consider these things when I plant petunias. I am enchanted with their beauty alone and assume they will grow and remain alluring simply because that’s what I expect of them. I don’t consider all the work it will take to keep them beautiful and thriving.

And such is the way with people. God gives us a gentle lesson with the petunia. Are we too eager to fill our lives with the beauty of others yet so blind that we neglect the care and keeping of them? I think we certainly believe that people need right relationships with God, but we fail to realize that phileo love is just as important to God as agape love. God created us for one another for accountability, fellowship, companionship, intercession and love so that we can be in authentic, life-changing relationships with one another. He delightfully shines through us to affect each other in the most incredible and penetrating ways. And like the petunias in my garden, it requires a lot of work, but the returning beauty of the blossom resonates a life filled with love.

This is a great lesson for me as I strive to fulfill the role of friend and mentor in a way which pleases God most so that we can all grow to know and love Him more. By caring well for others I believe we can change the world, one petunia at a time.

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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.