Week 9 Of Prayer – The Local Church

Over the years, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to be critical of the local church. Sometimes the criticism has foundation in genuine concern and comes from a caring heart, sometimes (most times?) it comes out of hurt and offense. Whatever the case, what if we started praying regularly for the church we’re a part of, not just the leadership, (though that certainly is important) but for the church as a whole – those who collectively make up and are called to that particular body?

So this week, here is my prayer for my local church. I invite you to pray it for yours too.

Father, I know that you love the church and have chosen us to be your people. So this week, this year, I ask that your Word will go forward with power in our midst so we may have full assurance of the truth of the gospel. Let us experience fully the joy your good news brings.

Help us, together and individually, to stand firm in the faith you have given us, in the midst of trials and even severe suffering.

We want to imitate Jesus and all those who have gone before us and suffered much for the joy set before them. Help us to be an example, by the way we live and conduct ourselves, by our word, attitudes, and actions, to those here in our community and beyond.

May our faith and testimony encourage others as we turn from idols and serve you, the living and true God. And may we be a people who are always looking forward to the coming of your Son.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Advertisements

Week 8 Of Prayer – Rest

A deeply personal prayer this week.

I want God involved in every area of my life. Maybe more accurately, I want to be involved with God and his Kingdom with every area of my life.

Yet so often I do things on my own, relying on my own strength, wisdom, and ability. You would think after decades of living I would know better. Instead, this is still my prayer.

Father, for so long I’ve labored so hard to do life on my own and in my own strength. I say I trust in you, but somehow, I always have a backup plan, in case you don’t come through.

This week, this year, for the remainder of my life, I want to cease anxiously striving. I want to experience the rest you give to your loved ones.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Mat 11:28, NLT). That is what I want.

So, as I go about my labors for this week, as I set out to do what you place before me, I want you to be involved in it all.

I want to rely on you, trusting you to work. I want to seek you in the midst of whatever I may be doing and let you lead and guide.

In Jesus name. Amen

Week 7 Of Prayer – Experiencing God’s Love

So far this year, I’ve been writing out prayers for myself (which I desperately need), but I love what Paul prays for others in his letters to them. You can see and feel his fond affection for them as he prays for them. And in this year of growing in prayer, God has been placing on my heart his love and affection for his people, so I am glad for these prayers of Paul that I can use.

What would happen if we all began to pray this for one another? For those God has connected us with? This week, use Paul’s prayer as a starting point to lift up His people. And if you’re so inclined, I would love it if you would pray this for me (like I said earlier, I need a lot of prayer 🙄).

I would love to pray for you as well. Just leave a comment or a like to let me know you’re there.

From your glorious, unlimited resources, empower __ with inner strength through your Spirit.

May Christ make His home in their heart as they trust in him and let their roots grow down into your love and keep them strong.

Let them have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is.

May they experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully, so they will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from you.

(Adapted from Ephesians 2:16-19, NLT)

Week 6 Of Prayer – Generosity

One of three areas of growth I believe God laid on my heart for the beginning of this year is generosity. Generous not just in the giving of finances, talents, time, or words, but in my spirit as well. The Pharisees of old proved you could give a tenth of all you had, even down to the smallest measurement of spices and still be far from generous in mercy and love and heart.

Besides, God is a cheerful giver and loves us to be as well. So my prayer this week is to see generosity grow in me and in God’s people.

Father, you are generous, and as you are, so am I. Your Spirit lives in me, you have given me new life. I have your spiritual DNA.

So this week, and for the rest of this year, as I meditate on your Word and the truth of who you are, may I grow in generosity in all that I do and say and in my very nature. May my heart and thoughts be filled with the realization of your abundance in grace, in love, in kindness, and in resources.

You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so.

You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy.

The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy! (Psalm 65:9-13, NLT)

What kind of impact would the church have in our communities if we were known for our generosity?

Asking For Help

God wants us to ask for help. While I know the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible, as a pretty self-reliant and independent person, I find myself living as if it were true. When I get in a jam or am struggling with a problem, my first inclination is not to ask for help, it’s to figure out what to do next.

Developing the practice of asking God for help is not mutually exclusive with trying to solve problems, I just too often forget I have the Creator of the universe, the infinitely wise God who loves me as a dearly loved son, waiting for me to call out to Him.

Consider David, the one anointed by God to be king, the slayer of giants, the leader of men. Surely if anyone could figure and work things out, it would be him. Yet look at his language:

Hear me
Answer me
Protect me
Save me
Be merciful to me

I want his language to be my language. I want asking God for help to come out in the trials and hardships and, in the process, come to realize what I really long for is not always answers and deliverance, but for him to teach me his ways that I may live according to his truth (Psalm 86:11).

What about you? Do you find it natural to turn to God in the midst of problems? How has He shaped you in the process?

Week 5 Of Prayer – Harvest Of Good Deeds

While good deeds don’t determine our standing or relationship with God, they should flow out of that relationship. I don’t like seeing bitterness, irritation, and more coming out of me. And yet it does, far more often than I care to see.

This week, maybe not so much a prayer as a declaration of truth that I want to see manifested in my life.

Jesus, I am united with you. Your nature is my nature. Your life is my life. Your kindness, patience, love, and compassion, as well as your generosity and grace flows through me and produces a harvest of good deeds. Thank you for this and let me see more of this in my life with each passing day.

Adapted from Romans 7:4

A thought, besides praying/declaring this over yourself, pick one other person to pray this over as well.

What would happen if this truth were manifested in God’s people as we prayed for each other this week?

Taking Notice Or Taking For Granted?

It’s so easy to take life for granted. The sun rises and then it sets. The seasons cycle: winter, spring, summer, fall, and back to winter again.

The moon waxes, becomes a brilliant light in the night sky, and then wanes away to darkness.

We follow our routines: go to work, come home, eat, watch some Netflix, sleep, and do it all over again. Thank goodness for the weekend to break it all up! But..Monday inevitably rolls around again.

And the days and moments pass on by while we hardly take notice.

No more! We serve a great God who fills this world and our lives with wonderful things. So the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 104.

O LORD my God, how great you are!

You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind.

You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor. You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth— wine to make them glad, olive oil to soothe their skin, and bread to give them strength.

O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all.

Psalm 104:1-3, 13-15, 24, NLT

Don’t let the days just slip away. Seize each moment and take notice of God’s wonderful creativity. Appreciate the beauty of His handiwork around us. Do it today.

Week 4 Of Prayer – Witness

Getting older (not old!) and embarking on new adventures (new career, new part of the country to live in, new stage of life) can get you to think, what am I here for?, what have I really done with my life?, do I matter? (Can you feel the mid-life crisis angst?)

And while I’m still working through the answers to these questions (and/or figuring out better questions to ask and answer), I “stumbled” across Psalm 71, the inspiration for this week’s prayer.

May it encourage you and be your prayer as well.

Lord, you alone are my hope, my strength and protection whatever my circumstances.

Make my life an example to many. Let me never stop praising you; let me declare your glory all day long.

And now, in this stage of life, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon or forget me.

God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, so give me courage and grace to constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.

Now is the time.

Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. Thank you, for you will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

The Power Of Affection

If anyone could have been excused for being too busy to build relationships or for using people to accomplish a greater goal, Paul surely qualified.

After all, who has time for people when you have to write for God? Or establish churches across the Roman empire. Or work to support yourself and others on top of all that. Plus, people disappoint. they act immaturely (Corinthians), they desert you (Mark), and even cause great harm (Demas).

Yet with all this, Paul not only developed relationships with those he met, he calls both Timothy and Titus “my true son.” Epenetus, Ampliatus, and Stachys are his “dear friends.” Rufus’ mom is a “mother to him.” Paul shows a deep care, concern, and affection for many in his writings and in his “chance” interactions with them (think Philippian jailer).

It’s not simply a business relationship or even a mutually beneficial partnership to a common goal, Paul allows them into his heart. Possibly the most driven, type A, goal oriented man who ever lived allows others to touch him, to express love, kindness, and tenderness toward them. I want to do the same.

How would our homes, work places, communities, the church, and the world be changed if this were true of all of us? What do you think?

Week 3 Of Prayer – Wisdom

If anyone prayed this in Hawaii this past week, the answer surely came in an unexpected way. For those who may have missed it, imagine waking up to the following text message from the Hawaii Civil Defense:

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

20 minutes to contemplate life and what really matters before everything as you know it drastically changes. The truth of the matter is, none of us really knows how much time we have left. It may or may not come with some type of warning. But when it comes, will we have lived life to the full? To say we have faithfully carried out all God has given us?

Perhaps we haven’t lived that way to the present, but we can certainly do so moving forward.

So Father, teach me to realize the brevity of life, so that I may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, paraphrase)