Tag Archives: Prayer

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.


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.


Watching the World through Glass Panes

WindowWorld

I’ve grown dissatisfied with this view of the world.

I have a huge window in my dining room which gives me a big view of the street upon which I live. I like to stand at that window and peer at the world early in the morning. A jogger passes by, a car speeds past, a stray dog sniffs something in the yard and moves along – all without any sound, all without any interaction with the people behind the glass.

It’s the very window where I watched my children grow up, remembering my daughter playing safari in the tall grasses of the field across from us—now inhabited with a house—where, donned in a bathing suit, a bicycle helmet and fuzzy winter boots, she single-handedly played the part of six safari animals. To this day her imagination never ceases to amaze and amuse me. It’s the window where I saw a man I did not know carry my son’s limp body across my front lawn, a moment I’ll never forget where time stood still and I briefly thought, “can I endure this?” The next moment revealed the unspeakable gratitude of my heart when I looked into my son’s beautiful blue eyes, full of life, but slightly traumatized by the daring bicycle stunt gone awry. He was out playing again an hour later and all his buddies thought he was the coolest. I think he still is.

But I’ve grown dissatisfied with this view of the world. Through it are now a new generation of children, not my own, and it only serves to remind me of a happy chapter in my life which is slowly fading away. And while the children are lovely, the world never changes and my heart grows increasingly dissatisfied with this view.

Twelve years later, I find myself standing at the window in the dark of night, waiting for one of my kids to arrive safely home from their evening with friends so that I can go to bed and sleep peacefully, knowing they are once again safe. Yet as I lay my head on the pillow I am reminded that these windows are only our views on the world, not a fortress against danger, and I contemplate that against a heart which leans toward danger.

The confines of my home provide me no satisfaction, no security of what lies out there in the world. Yet my nomadic heart grows restless as the years drone on and I find myself with the insatiable desire to traverse these lands outside my window; meet people I’ve never met; learn a language; feed and water a human soul; open another’s heart to truths and promises he never knew existed; and unashamedly give God glory for the light of wisdom.

My window has moved to the pane of my computer where I travel distant lands using the wide world of the Internet (thanks, Al). I see smiling faces, battered women, children in refugee camps. I see people helping people and planes falling out of the sky. I watch in horror as men overcome men in shallow conquest, their victorious smiles last but a moment as they lie awake at night knowing it could have been them.

I read stories of churches and temples being torn down in the name of a false governmental idea; women beaten and jailed for talking to a man who isn’t her spouse, young boys and girls taken captive to a most vile and sinister ring of human trafficking known to mankind. I listen to mp3 links as women passionately bear their shame for abortions they now regret, their gripping stories compelling young women everywhere to keep the child. I watch videos with unclear and unfounded statistics about the intervention of anti-Christian religion in the United States, a religion where we might well see the second wave of Christianity. And then a new window becomes my focus. It stands wide and narrow but it also stands firm against Truth. It wants no part of my culture. And I hardly blame it.

Our world is changing; no one can doubt that. Our view of the world has become smaller; no one will argue that. And these views open us to something very frightening, disturbing and sobering. My hand reaches for the blinds. My first instinct is to pull the curtain, lock the window and retreat to my vain and selfish desires. How easy it is to passionately strive for worldly things and at the same time block out the world while doing it. We rush toward Wall Street while the child starves. We have pulled the curtain on love. We forget from Whom we come; for Whom we exist.

But I stand and watch because it is all I can do right now. Yet each day I find a new Truth which gives me solid ground upon which to stand, a mission behind the mission of educating the uneducated into the precarious world of the 10/40 window—a world without a savior—a world of bloodshed, oppression, marginalization and torment masked by a false sense of peace and tight-fisted governmental systems.

These are the places that draw my heart the most. And when the marginalized and oppressed smile at me through these panes of glass, I smile in return because I know their smiles are genuine, brotherly and loving. I want to be a part of that. I want to see the sunrise of their smile brought forth by authentic joy and utter Truth. I want to see their light of understanding as they read the Word and know Him for the first time. I want to call them my brother in the language they understand and stand hand-in-hand with them in grateful prayer to our Lord and King.

These windows on the world show us harvests ready for the harvesting. We cannot deny, we cannot grow complacent, and we cannot turn and judge our neighbor. We are to become so entrenched in the harvest that our response is not apathy and indifference but fervent and passionate prayer for the workers—the brethren called forth by none other than Christ Himself to come and harvest the fields.

Lift your blinds, O man! Open your curtains and unlock the window of your soul to the sacrificial love of Christ and stoop down to feed the hungry child. Go visit your field, ready for the harvest, and bend your knee to the lowly. For as you do He will lift you up and make your work a spectacular glory so all man can see and no one can doubt Whom you serve and from Whom your light shines. It’s time to open the window and see the world through the eyes of 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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ENSLAVED!

humantraffickingThere is nothing more vile and sinister as the wickedness of human trafficking in the U.S. and all over the world.  My missionary heart compels me to pack a bag and run—to these places—and offer relief through a helping hand, a shared word, a crust of bread.  Yet each morning finds me in that hollow place between comfort and grief as I pray and seek God’s will.  It is in that place that I realize His will for me right now is deep and fervent prayer.  We must believe that the wounds of any nation can be significantly healed through awareness and prayer.  I’ve listed below some ways you could and should help.  One person can make an incredible difference in the life of one young girl or boy, a life snatched for the purpose of the filling of a pocket. May God give us zealous and passionate hearts to respond to these so desperate.

TAKE ACTION!

Read Isaiah 58:6-11
A strategy of prayer is paramount to engaging our compassionate efforts.  This strategy must include both faith and faithfulness for the lost and broken.  Each prayer holds abiding value on earth and in heaven. Commit to praying specifically and fervently for hurting hearts.   There are three ministries below you can pray over and then seek God’s will for how you can help.  Action must first begin with prayer.  Then God will reveal the work He wants you to accomplish.

MINISTRY FOCUS – CALL & RESPONSE

Slavery is defined as exploitation, violence and injustice, and involves children and young people who are forced to work without pay and without the ability to leave.  Very often they are abused and beaten.  At over 27 million, there are more slaves in the world today than any other time in history.  Over 17,000 slaves are trafficked in the U.S. every year, and they can be found in restaurants, hotels, domestic and agricultural jobs. Slave traders made a staggering $32 billion just in 2007, and the numbers are dramatically increasing. http://www.callandresponse.com/trailer.html

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LABOR SLAVERY:

Subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery for the purpose of using a person for labor.  Victims are often kept in a condition of servitude by abuse, threats and/or lockdown.  Female victims are often sexually abused.  Read Kumar’s story here:  http://www.callandresponse.com/giving_project_0809_ijm.html

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SEX SLAVERY:

The use of a person for a commercial sex act induced by force or fraud and used on the account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.  Sex trafficking is considered the largest specific sub-category of transnational modern-day slavery.  Read Puja’s story here: http://www.callandresponse.com/giving_project_0810_ten.html

What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city. –Lamentations 3:51

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CHILD SLAVERY:

The sale and trafficking of children for bonded and forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation and/or forced conscription into armed conflict.  Child slavery is perpetuated by poverty, debt bondage, mass displacement, pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, war, and the traditional roles of girls.  Meet Ravi, Rama and Rambo through this powerful video: http://www.callandresponse.com/giving_project_0809_fts.html

“You understand, O Lord; remember me and care for me. 
Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering–do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake.” –Jeremiah 15:15


The Validity of Prayer

prayer

The adversary wants nothing more than to keep us from an intimate walk with Christ and a ministry of prayer for His people.

I was talking to a friend recently who was questioning the validity of prayer and intercession.  He isn’t a new believer, but he does move very slowly in his faith.  His question, however, helped me appreciate the journey and value of prayer more than ever.  The adversary wants nothing more than to keep us from an intimate walk with Christ and a ministry of prayer for His people.  He wants to bind us to this earth, dismiss the importance of prayer in our lives, and keep us captive and enslaved to flesh out the problems of the world with the makings of our own minds and hands.

We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray unceasingly.  To the casual reader, that seems daunting or impossible.  To the somewhat seasoned Christian, that feels like hard work (and it is).  But to the prayer warrior, unceasing prayer is compared to the regular beating of our hearts or the repetitive intake and withdrawal of our very breath.  Prayer is always on our minds; it rests constantly on our lips ready for the moment of whisper.  In his book, How To Pray, E. Stanley Jones explains that in prayer “you are being fashioned into a person who lives by principles rather than pulse-beats, by decisions rather than by delights.  Prayer is always right, with or without an emotional content … for prayer is not only an act; it is an attitude.”

When we resolve to pray unceasingly, we will no doubt have moments of interruption, but that should not thwart the act or keep us from this good work.  Jesus’ whole ministry was a constant interruption, but He prayed unceasingly and maintained a continuous dialogue with God.  As we intimately align ourselves with God, we open our hearts and souls to His light so that we may shine for others.  As that light shines, people are drawn to us; hence, they are drawn to the Father.  Prayer is like a flowing current of water interlacing itself through us and God, and then He and His created beings.  It has a simultaneous vertical and horizontal effect on the Kingdom, freely giving way for the work of the Holy Spirit.  When we see the Holy Spirit at work we realize we are just the vessel being poured out for His work.  We relinquish our human desire to control and humble ourselves to His service.

I took my friend to Revelation 8:3-4 which describes the prayers of the saints as like incense to the Lord.  How encouraging to know that our prayers are sweet and pleasing to the Lord.  He stores them in great golden bowls in heaven and He hears our cries and petitions, our thoughts and desires.  The prayers of the saints are valuable to God.  And when we sincerely and humbly pray and intercede for others, we are working with an almighty purpose, and an Almighty Purpose is working with us.
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Copyright (c) May, 2009 Angela Zimmerman, New Albany, IN