Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"I'll Be Praying For You"

A man in our church has just been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I called his wife at home the other night and while talking to her, I asked if I could pray with her on the phone. She readily agreed.

When I finished, she asked if I'd call her husband at the hospital and pray with him, which I did.

You could tell that they both greatly appreciated it.

I got to thinking - we often tell people that we'll be praying for them, but how often do we let them hear us? I know a lot of people are uncomfortable praying in public - it merely takes experience to get comfortable with it, and you don't get experience, except by doing it.

So, in my weekly e-mail devotional this week, I sent the following "challenge" and "encouragement.'

Maybe this will help you, too.

“I’ll Be Praying for You”

Ever told someone, “I’ll be praying for you” or “I’ll put you on my prayer list”?

What about, “I’ll be thinking about you…” or (and I really hope not) “I’ll send ‘happy thoughts’ your way…”? (Sorry to tell you, but that won’t help a bit!)

If you’ve ever told someone, “I’ll be praying for you” then I’ve got a challenge for you - why not do it right then!

Instead of saying “I’ll be praying for you” say “Can I pray with you now?”

“Whoa,” you might say, “I can’t pray in public! I don’t know what to say.”

Why not? You’re just talking to God… about the person… for whom… you just told that you would! What’s the difference in doing that with them and doing it alone?

Try this - copy this prayer and put it in your purse or billfold and pull it out whenever you need it. You’ll be amazed at how much they appreciate it (and after a while, you won’t need a written prayer!)

Dear God, You know that I’m not real good at this, but I just want to thank you for allowing me to pray for __________.

God, we don’t always know how to pray, but then, we don’t have to; You alone are God. You know _________’s needs - the needs that are apparent, [name them if you want] and the needs that lie beneath the surface. And You know what will bring You Glory. We pray that You will bring those things together.

God, we just want to take this brief moment to share our friendship before You, and pray that You will bless that friendship, and our service to You.

In Jesus’ Name - Amen.

Now just think… wouldn’t you love for someone to pray that with you today?

I just did...

I prayed for you by your name, if I knew it; or by your e-mail address if I didn't - but rest assured, God knows your name.

I prayed for you, where you are at 6:30 this morning - it's Monday... that can be exciting or tough. Some of you are dealing with death in your family today, and some are facing extreme illness - either in yourself, or family or friends. I lift you up.

Many of you are caring for children, or parents, or more likely - both. I know from experience how difficult that can be. I pray for strength, and more importantly sometimes, wisdom - "just what in the world, God, do You want me to do here..."

I know, I've cried those very words.

I pray for pastors, pastor's wives, (or spouses) and church staff. I pray for teachers, staff and support personnel. I pray for students, employers, employees, the self-employed, and the un-employed. God is there.

And I pray for your homes. God knows your every need. I told a group last week, "Everybody thinks that everybody else has it 'all together'... I've got news for you - ain't none of us got it all together!"

Every single one of us feels alone at times; every single one of us is afraid at times; every single one of us needs God. And God created us to need each other.

I've prayed for you... you pray for one another - and don't be afraid to let them hear you pray...


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Monday, September 15, 2008

What's One Prayer

Many people believe that we are in the “last days.” I know just enough about prophecy to be dangerous. And like the old saying goes, “I don’t understand all I know about it!”

In the summer of 2005, Mahmond Ahmadinejad was elected as the new president of Iran. He made the statement that he believed the end of the world was 2 or 3 years away… (2005+3=_____)

I have read, heard and watched (in the past week) three completely different programs, conversations, and statements that have said virtually the same thing.

Then, when I read it again, the fourth time, I lowered the book (which was published in 2006) and began to pray, “Oh Lord, I pray for mercy and the forgiveness of Your people…”

But even as I said that, my mind replied, “What good is one prayer?”

We all know the scripture - 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If… My people, who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land…”

We know it so well that it has almost become cliché.

And I cried, “But it says ‘people’ Lord! ‘People!’ People are more than ‘person’! What good is MY prayer? How in the world can my prayer make a difference?”

And my mind went to Moses’ plea, and Paul’s plea. It went to Daniel’s confession and Nehemiah’s confession, and finally to Isaiah’s confession when he said, “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…”

All through Israel’s history we see God’s hand of wrath stayed or held back when repentance took place.

I fully believe that God is offering us, in America, an opportunity to repent; an opportunity to postpone the Day of Vengeance.

I believe He is calling us to “stand in the gap”. It is time to take off our camouflage and let the world know who we are and what we believe. It’s time to stop being politically correct, and start being faithfully strong - regardless of the cost.

I believe He is saying (to us, in our day, in this very year), “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”

Will you reply, “Here am I, send me…”

If my “one prayer” of repentance, is added to your “one prayer” of repentance; and your “one prayer” of repentance is added to the prayer of everyone who reads this, and their prayers of repentance - then we’ve gone a long way toward turning that “person” into “people.”

This is my prayer…

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of Your glory!

Oh Father, I am a sinful woman, and I live among a people who are sinful. But You have cleansed that sin, not with a burning coal, but with the blood of Your very own Son.

That Blood was poured out for the sin of the world, but it has been spurned, ridiculed, and rejected by so many, and there will be the Day of Vengeance.

God, we are torn - do we pray for a delay of the wrath, or for the coming of the Bridegroom? We so long to see His Face and triumph of Glory…

But, there are so many lost and hurting, and so we pray, in humility, hear us Father, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

May we seize this opportunity You are holding out to postpone the judgment a season longer, if that be Your Holy Will.

In Jesus’ Name - Amen.

One prayer + one prayer + one prayer + one prayer…


Friday, September 05, 2008

Where is our care?

If you knew some food was tainted, would you stop someone from eating it?

If you knew the bridge was out, would you redirect traffic?

If you knew someone was drowning, would throw a life raft?

And if you knew that a soul was perishing, would you call attention to sin?

“It’s none of my business.” we often hear people say. How come we’re “all about” saving lives (or the environment) but not souls?

Whether you believe that we’re in the “last days” or not, still, you must believe that we’re in perilous times.

Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah. He was called (in the vernacular) “Gloomy Gus”. And I have been told (by clergy as well as lay people) to “lighten up!” But then I think of the words of Paul in Acts 20:31 as he spoke to the folks at Ephesus, “Therefore be always alert and on your guard, being mindful that for three years I never stopped night or day seriously to admonish (or warn) and advise and exhort you one by one with tears.” (Amplified Bible)

Oh pastor! Are you praying and crying for your congregation?

Oh lay person! Are you praying and crying for your pastor and your fellowman?

Our prayers seem to be filled with “Fix it, God. Make my life (my spouse, my children, my job and my health) perfect.” Where is our cry with Moses as he interceded with God, time after time after time, from Exodus to Deuteronomy to spare the children of Israel?

Where is our cry with Paul as he said, (Romans 9:2-3) that if it was possible at all, he would give up his own salvation if that would save his fellow Jews...

Where is our word from the pulpit? Our churches have become more like a playground, less like a hospital, and not at all like a sanctuary or a haven of hope…

And our people are perishing for lack of knowledge…

The closing words to E.M. Bounds’ book, “The Necessity of Prayer” ring in our ears. “Prayer and preaching: preaching and prayer! They cannot be separated. The ancient cry was: ‘To your tents, O Israel!’ The modern cry should be: ‘To your knees, O preachers (and laity) to your knees!”

God help us!