Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Compare And Contrast

While in Jamaica we spent two evenings at each church doing outreach events.  On Wednesday we were headed to a new church after two great nights at another church.  The youth that were planning the evening had just come off two nights of successful outreaches where many kids came with their families.  As we ended each evening we gave an invitation to accept Christ and get connected into the church that we were ministering in.  Many people responded each night and it was an amazing feeling for each of them to be able to lead people to the Lord.

As we came up on night number three of the outreaches and night number one at church number two the plan was to go with what worked.  We would do what we had done the previous nights.  The bus ride to the new church was filled with laughter and joking by all as we figured that we were all set for the upcoming ministry that we would be a part of.img_2840

It was a nightmare.  The kids all showed up without families in tow and they all wanted to fight.  Not many were interested in listening and took every opportunity to run around the church that they could.  As one of the teens were sharing with the people I noticed a rooster jumping from limb to limb in a tree just outside the church that we were in.  This alone would have been fine aside from the fact that the church that we were in had no windows.  It was very much and “open air” church.  Throughout the whole time that this teen was trying to speak this rooster was climbing to higher branches and crowing louder and louder.

It struck me as the rooster was crowing just as it must have when Peter heard the rooster crow for the third time the following morning of Jesus’s crucifixion.  We had denied Christ in our planning.  We got cocky.  With the previous evenings successes we felt as though we were all set.  We were not.  Absolutely not…

I shared the revelation of the rooster with the team when we were back at our base camp and we each repented for thinking that we could do this alone.  We spent much time in prayer that evening and then discussed a strategy for returning to this church for a second night of ministry.  The bus ride to the service was full of prayer and reviewing of our plans.  It was amazing.  Their was a peace in the church that we had not experienced the night before.  The kids were not unruly.  The noise in the surrounding neighborhood was silenced.  The message of Jesus was preached and many people responded to the invitation to accept Jesus as their Savior.  

The rooster still crowed.  I noticed it in the tree outside the window while one of the teens on our team was sharing a testimony.  This time it was an empty crowing.  This rooster carried no weight with it.  Many prayers had been spoken on behalf of this night and this time we had God going before us as we entered that building.  The difference between the two evenings was like night and day.  

When was the last time you got cocky?  How were you humbled by running out in front of God?

Long Way To Go

This past Sunday we had the unique opportunity to have the youth that have just returned from a mission trip to Jamaica share with the congregation.  It was a beautiful service where many testimonies of healing and salvation were spoken.  At times I was moved to tears and at others I was wanting to stand and cheer.  To hear of how far some of the youth that I have had the privilege to pastor have come is very heart warming for me.

praying_hands014But I also realize that there is still a long way to go.  We have a great youth culture in our church and they are a real priority to many.  One of our values as a church is intergenerational ministry.  We saw the evidence of this as many adults as well as children were ministered to by the messages and testimonies that were shared.  Towards the end of both services an opportunity was given to come and have the youth pray for people who may have been struggling with some of the same issues that the youth were able to find freedom in.  Depression, fear, anger, unforgiveness, thoughts of suicide – many issues had been brought up.  I truly felt as though the front of the sanctuary would have been flooded with people responding to their need for prayer in these areas.  That wasn’t the case.  Sure, some people came forward and received prayer.  It was great to see.  I am not discouraged by that.  But I know that there are still many who needed to come who did not.  

That is why I feel we still have a long way to go.  Pride keeps us from admitting that we need help.  Pride keeps us from receiving from others who may be younger and less experienced than us.  Pride also keeps us from finding true freedom in our struggles.  My prayer today is that we would become a fully transparent people who would run boldly to receive the help that we need.  Then, and only then, will we be seen as a truly intergenerational ministry where all generations are free to help each other.

Where It Hurts

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That’s where the pain is in my leg.  I’m discouraged right now because I am 1 month away from running my first ever 1/2 marathon and at this point I should be running well.  I’m not.  The other day I got two miles into what was supposed to be a six mile run and had to stop.  The pain has been increasingly worse over the past few weeks.

I’m sure you all want to listen to me wine for a bit more but I’m not going to.  Instead I would ask that you would pray for me.  I have 4 more weeks to get my training in and on May 9th I WILL be running 13.1 miles.  Please pray that my shin splints would miraculously go away.  I don’t know if you believe that God can heal like that or not but I do.  So keep the prayers coming!

I Love Prayer

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I get a weekly email from Foursquare that gives a little write up on a devotional thought and then a listing of specific people to pray for in different roles within Foursquare.  I was excited to see this weeks email as I was one of the people listed to be praying for.  I love prayer!  I love the thought that leaders from around the nation are praying for me and my wife this week.

Do you have a group of people that pray for you regularly?  Isn’t it about time you recruit some to do that?

Silence

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I attempted something completely different than we have ever done at Impact last night.  The stage was set with a few candles.  The music was muted and slow.  The lights were dim, almost dark.  We spent a good half hour listening for God to speak.  No noise.  No speaking.  No music playing in the background.  Just silence.  Sheer, utter silence.

It was refreshing.  It was freeing.  In today’s culture there seems to be so much going on around us at every moment.  We are very well connected.  We get texts, emails, pictures and more on our cell phones.  We update our Facebook every few moments on order to let everyone know that “we just had the best ice-cream sundae ever!”  We are never disconnected.  We never turn off.  We fail to settle down or stop entirely.  We did a simple experiment.  For a total of an hour we turned off our cell phones, iPods, and anything else that may connect us to the world around us.  We sat silently, focusing on a few specific questions.

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • What do You want from my life?

These three questions were the only ones asked last night.  We were not seeking answers from our own thoughts.  We simply sat quietly, alone in our own spots throughout a large room, and asked over and over again for God to give us answers.  It was amazing to hear the silence.  It was invigorating to hear Him speak.  Not that we heard an audible voice, but many have gotten back to me that they sensed specific answers from God for the questions that they were asking.  

Most times we can’t hear God because we don’t make the time to listen.  On average we pray more of a wish list and then move on than ask questions and wait for an answer.  I believe the message that I spoke last night, while extremely brief, was one of the most important I could preach.  We all need times to connect with the slow rhythms  of God.  To connect with the Holy Spirit through silence.  To ask questions and then allow time for the Holy Spirit to speak to us.  He still speaks, we just aren’t listening most times.

I’m grateful that last night we were listening.  I am thankful that many found clarity.  Tonight I give thanks that there were many who experienced rest, peace, and quiet for the first time in ages.  My prayer is that many will make this more of a common practice in their lives.

Rwandan Mission

Mike Mavity is over in Rwanda right now with a team of about 15 people serving in areas that many would run from.  You can catch all that is going on over at his blog.  It’s encouraging to read about all that the team is doing there.  Please remember to pray for them this week.  Later this week they will be witnessing the drilling of our second clean water well!

Prayer Jogging

I started jogging again a while back.  It’s not something that I love to do, or even something that I like to do.  But I know that just working out with weights is not enough for me.  I want to be able to run with my  grandchildren some day.  Running will help me be in the position physically to do that.  

Everything we do sets us up for the future we will live in.

A practice that I have begun is to run at the local High School and Middle School at night.  As I run through the parking lots (the track is dark but the lots are lit) I pray for the schools.  To be honest the schools don’t have the best of reputations right now academically or socially.  I pray as I run that there would be students that know God that would be bold enough to share their faith with their friends.  That the students in the school would begin to walk in the light of the Lord and that the negative forces that have taken hold of many of the students at the school would be overpowered by positive, affirming words from many caring, grace-filled students.

I pray for these schools not only because I am passionate about connecting teenagers with Jesus and helping them grow in their relationship with him but also because in a few short years my oldest daughter will attend the middle school.  I want that school to make a turnaround even before she walks through the hallways for her first day of school.  I want that school to be a place where my daughter will make lasting healthy friendships that will carry her through her jr. and sr. high school years.  I also want the school to be a place where many students are sent from to impact their world.  I pray for world changers to be produced by that school.  That many students would look beyond their own desires for success and find creative ways to help those around them to succeed in life.

Prayer is powerful.  The end of James 5:16 says that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  I love that.  Not that I would go so far as to call myself righteous – I’ll leave that for Bill & Ted to speak of me – but that my prayers are effective.  Lord, may that be so!  I am all to aware that I do not battle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) and that there are spiritual forces at work in every school.  I know that there is a battle going on for this generation of students.  That is why I pray.  I know that the words that I utter through my strained breathing as I run laps in the parking lots are powerful and effective.  I honestly can’t wait to see the fruit of my prayers and the many others that have gone before me and are still currently praying.

Let me challenge you to do the same.  You can skip the running, but start praying.  Pray for the schools in your communities.  Maybe you live nearby a school.  Walk around the school.  Touch the bricks that the school is built with.  Pray that students, teachers, and faculty would be blessed in the school.  Pray that they would be encouraged.  Pray that they would meet God!  

As I said in the beginning of this post – Everything we do sets us up for the future we will live in!

Violent (Silent) Man Prayer

The room was set for Violent Man Prayer this evening.  The lights were dimmed, the music was cranking loud, people were beginning to come in for prayer – and then it happened.  I opened my Bible and began reading from Acts when a verse jumped out at me.  Acts 10:33

“and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

I walked towards the soundboard and muted the audio that was playing through the room.  I shared with those that were there that I believed the Holy Spirit wanted to speak directly to us during our time and that this was not an evening for loud prayer but a time for quiet.  There are times when great music can be distracting.  There are times when we create noise that keeps us from hearing what God wants to whisper to us.

As the room went silent we each took a moment to cry out to God – “speak Lord, we are listening.”  I sat quietly for about 20 minutes just waiting for what God wanted to reveal to me tonight.  The Holy Spirit will never let us down.  He spoke and I listened.  It is very comforting to hear confirmation come in the whispers of God.  

Quiet times can be uncomfortable.  Tonight was a great exercise for each person that attended VMP and I am sure that each person heard what they needed to in relation to what they were seeking.  May you each be encouraged to unplug and sit quietly.  Removing distractions from your life, even for a short time, can add to the depth of your time with God.  Many times we spend a lot of time speaking to God but then expect an instant answer from Him.  Find the time to be quiet and wait on Him.  Sit and listen – He will speak.

The Sacred Echo

Margaret Feinberg has done it again.  The Sacred Echo reads easily – as if you were speaking together in a cafe over a warm cup of coffee.  As Margaret writes, she shares with us stories of her friends and how she has been praying for them over the years.  This book serves as a great reminder to never give up on God and to persevere in prayer for the long haul.  I was refreshed after reading the examples she gave about the many people she has been praying for over the years but was also challenged by her thoughts on what to do when it feels like there are no answers.

The Sacred Echo reminds us that God wants to be known and the best way He can be known by us is through repetition.  God wants us to get it and sometimes listening for His voice isn’t enough for us.  Being a thick-headed as I am some days I know that through His “echo” or repeating messages His desire for me and others will eventually sink in.  The Sacred Echo reminds us to listen for the recurring themes in our conversations, prayers, and emails that all tend to send us in a single direction.

When God really wants to get your attention, he doesn’t just say something once.  He echoes.

Pick up a copy of The Sacred Echo when it becomes available and enjoy.

Violent Man Prayer

We began something new last night with the youth of Impact.  It was birthed through the Scripture of Matthew 11:12

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent men take it by force.

and also from being fed up with the phone calls, conversations, and results of so many people being torn down by lust, greed, selfishness, and hate.  We went on the offensive last night at 5:30pm.  Last week I cast the vision for this time of prayer.  We would gather in the sanctuary – just the guys – and play loud music and pray.  This wasn’t a time where we stood in a circle holding hands, quietly praying and asking for requests.  This was just as the name describes the group – Violent Man Prayer.

There were 17 guys that came in through our time and joined together in the room.  Some of us paced, some of us lay flat on the floor, others were kneeling.  At times we did all of the above.  This was a group of guys that were hungry for God to do something in the lives of our friends.  Through our time there were words that were shared to the group, cries yelled out to God on behalf of family and friends, repentance for things that have not been pleasing to God, and unity.  It was amazing to see the young men at Impact begin to truly seek God’s face during this time of prayer.

We began this last night.  It will continue for as long as we feel the Holy Spirit leading us to do so.  Join us if you so feel led – Wednesdays at 5:30pm.

And yes, not to exclude the ladies – they meet in the Prayer Center at the same time.  It was great to hear that there were about 7 that came for that as well.

God is stirring up a generation that will boldly proclaim His name to their friends and family – those who will live an uncompromising life for His glory.  Thank you Lord!