Simple but Powerful Prayer for Children in Extreme Poverty

For the past seven years I’ve been moved in various ways to support the work of Compassion International, including volunteering as a correspondent sponsor. (This means I get the joy and privilege of writing letters to children who, for various reasons, aren’t receiving letters from financial sponsors.) My involvement with Compassion has taught me one of the most powerful ways to help these children, their families, and their communities is through prayer.

God is working in their midst and He already has an amazing plan to bring individual children, families, and entire communities out of extreme poverty. We need to invite His vision through prayer.

I appreciate so much that Compassion has created an app that gives daily prayer reminders and prayer prompts for the children I write to. I also put their photos on my fridge, so I pray for the kids and their families every time I see them.

Something else God has been teaching me to do is to pray for these children, their families, and their communities as I go about my day. Anything can be a reminder.

Continue reading “Simple but Powerful Prayer for Children in Extreme Poverty”

How Do I Pray for a Performance-Driven Child?

I was asked a question about prayer from a mom who also works with children. Her concern was about how to pray for/with children who are performance-driven.

We see a lot of that, especially in American society. I’m not sure about other places in the world, but in the United States, we have a way of raising competitive, driven, perfectionist performers from a very early age.

What Does Performance Look Like?

When children are performance-driven, this can lead to all kinds of behavior that is not biblical fruit of the Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit should be how we measure our behavior. If something is not producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, it is not led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Think about the fruit you might see in a performance-driven child. The fruit can vary depending on the personality of the child, situations at home, family history, and more. But here are a few examples: anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, inappropriate appetite (either stress eating or lack of appetite), addictions (which can take many forms), meanness, lying, manipulation, intolerance of others, self-hatred, pushiness, irritability, inability to focus, emotional instability, self-injury, and so many other struggles.

Whatever form it takes, and whatever the immediate causes may be, performance-driven behavior ultimately runs on a lie the child believes deep in his or her heart: “I have to perform in order to be loved.”

As a parent, you might wonder, “How can my child not know he or she is loved!”

There can be many reasons for this lie to take hold in a child’s heart. No matter how good you are at parenting, children misunderstand things and react to things. Look at God – the best parent ever. And look how we, His kids, behave. If you see performance-driven behavior in your child, don’t let the enemy win by beating yourself up. There are powerful ways to pray and invite Jesus to turn things around.

Why Do Children Think They Have to Earn Love?

It might help to realize how children begin to misunderstand, react, and take lies into their hearts. This happens because every child is conceived in the womb with free will. From that moment on, the child is brought into a sinful world. And what a way to enter that world – without a fully formed brain, without the ability of speech, without an understanding of emotions, and without knowledge of God’s Word. If it weren’t for Jesus, we’d all be a train wreck.

Reflect for a moment on what it might be like for a little one in the womb. She hears voices around her, and those voices might express any number of emotions. She senses things from mom and dad. Even parents with the best intentions will have bad days, fears, worries, and sinful reactions to things that happen. The little one in the womb picks up on all of this. Add in the fact that some sins carry down through the generational lines, and the child is already being harassed by the enemy because of this.

The little one doesn’t have cognitive abilities to understand what’s going on or know how to express emotions in healthy ways. (Most of us can’t even do that as adults!) Instead, the little one just reacts to whatever is happening. Seeds of behavior get planted in the child’s heart, and now the enemy has a project: To nurture those seeds in the child, rather than allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow.

God Has a Plan!

Of course, the enemy isn’t the only one with a plan. God has a plan too! And from the moment of that child’s conception, Jesus is on the move. He is ready to help that child take truth into her heart, rather than lies. This is where your prayers come in. You can invite Jesus to help your performance-driven child learn that he is unconditionally loved by God. And that there is nothing he needs to do to earn love. He is loved just for who he is. (As adults, we need to learn that too, for ourselves.)

Extremes of Performance

Performance can take extremes as well. Some children will bend over backwards in the effort to earn love. They believe love is available, but they also believe they have to drive themselves into the ground just to find it. When they are “rewarded” for their performance, that immediate feeling of love doesn’t last. They are already trying to earn the next reward.

On the other extreme are children who don’t believe love is available to them. I was one of those children. They perform to avoid punishment. They constantly worry when the next shoe will drop, and they race and perform to stay ahead of that. This can happen even in a loving home. My parents loved me and were kind to me. But my mom was emotionally unpredictable. Somehow in my little heart, I came to associate that with fear. I tried everything in my power to prevent an emotional outburst from my mom, which was way too scary for me. Do you see how this stuff happens?

Not only does performance or driven behavior hurt your kids in childhood. If it’s not taken care of by Jesus, it will stay with them into adulthood. Then it just multiplies and takes on so much dysfunction. However, if you start praying with your children now regarding performance, and help them learn the truth – that they are unconditionally loved by God – not only are you saving them a lot of grief now. You are also helping them have much less strife as future adults.

Praying for Jesus to Help Your Child

How do you pray for/with performance-driven children? Ultimately the Holy Spirit will have to lead you, but here are some suggestions to help you get started:

1. Pray the truth with them. Pray God’s Word. Help them hear, in the words He gives us, that God loves them unconditionally. John 3:16 is always a great place to start. Pray this verse with your children. Help them pray it out loud. Help them turn this verse into a prayer about God’s unconditional love. And teach them what “unconditional” means.

Help your child know that when the Bible says, “God so loved the world” that He means your child specifically. Put your child’s name into the verse. Keep praying this until the truth gets into your child’s heart.

It’s important for you to realize the difference between “heart” and “head.” Your child may have learned John 3:16 in Sunday school (that’s “head” learning). But now your performance-driven child needs to get this truth into his little heart. It’s easy for a child who has learned about the Bible to “know” something about God without believing it with his own heart. (For performance-driven children, this tendency can be magnified, as many of them will try to memorize Bible verses in order to please their parents or teachers, without believing the Bible verses in their own hearts.)

Then look for other Bible verses – there are many! – that teach about God’s unconditional love. Zephaniah 3:17 is a great one. It talks about how God sings over your child. How awesome! And how God brings peace to your child’s heart by His love. It would be wonderful to help your child pray and sing this verse back to God.

Psalm 139:13-18 helps children realize God has been with them from conception (and they were in His heart already, even before that moment). This Bible passage teaches your children how God carefully and lovingly planned and created their life. Depending on the age of your child, you may have to help put this Bible passage into words they can understand. I recommend that you pray over these verses first, and really hear God’s heart. Hear His love for each person that is so clear in these verses. Then help your child hear God’s heart through this beautiful Psalm.

Whichever Bible verses you choose, help your child hear God’s unconditional love specifically for her. Help your child make it personal. Be sure you read and pray it from the Bible. It’s fine (and necessary) to teach these things to your child, using your own words. But your child also needs to hear it from God directly, in His own words. That biblical truth, prayed straight from the Bible, has a spiritual power that will take root in your child’s heart. That truth will counteract the lies. Pray it, sing it, read it together. Then on your own time as well, pray those verses for your child, in intercession, putting your child’s name in each verse.

2. Help your child recognize the ways he performs to earn love. Help him see how this is affecting him. Do this prayerfully and filled with love. The enemy will try and use this to heap shame and more self-loathing on your child. So help your child recognize performance, but in a way that is healthy and loving. Help your child know that he is forgiven and that Jesus is here to help make things better. Give your child permission to be exactly who God has created him to be. Then pray together. Here is a sample prayer, but it’s always best if you let the Holy Spirit lead you in your prayers together:

God, thank you for showing me that I’ve been trying to earn your love. And thank you that I don’t have to earn love. What a relief! God, you love me just for who I am. Not because of what I do or don’t do. You just love me. Period! You made me exactly the way I am, and you are so happy about that! Help me to feel your love in my heart every day. Help me to love myself the same way you love me. Jesus, I know you live in my heart. Teach me about your unconditional love. Amen

3. Help your child to realize that she learned performance somewhere in her young life. She may have learned it from someone, and she may even know where it came from. The Holy Spirit might show her, or you. Either way, help your child pray to forgive whoever taught her to perform. (If the Lord shows you some responsibility in this, repent to your child.)

Even if she doesn’t know where it came from, she can still pray, “God, I don’t know who taught this to me, but you do. I want to forgive those people.” (That prayer alone might bring specific situations and people to mind, for further prayers of forgiveness.) And then have your child apologize to God for deciding to perform to earn love: “Jesus, I am sorry that I’ve been trying to perform to earn love. Thank you that you forgive me. Help me to just be who I am and to be filled with your love.”

Then you can be God’s messenger: Tell your child, in your own words and from your own heart, that you love your child just for who he is. That you are proud of your child just because of who she is. Children need to hear this. They need to hear it from you. And they need to hear it more than once.

4. Then pray together and invite Jesus to show His love to your child every day. Jesus will do this. He will absolutely answer this prayer. Jesus wants to show your child how much He loves him. So pray and invite Him to do this. Help your child to pray this directly to Jesus. And then on your own time, pray it for your child as well.

Jesus will show His love to your child in different ways. It might be through a Bible verse, or He might put words of love in her heart. She might have a dream that tells her God loves her. Jesus might show love through people who encourage her. Through friends who show unconditional love. Or it might be an overall feeling of being loved.

But trust that Jesus will answer this prayer, and He knows the best ways to answer it. Keep your eyes open and watch for what Jesus does. Help your child to recognize how Jesus shows His unconditional love. Notice it and celebrate it together. The more your child sees and feels Jesus’ love and takes it into his heart, the more he will accept that he is truly loved by God.

Let the Holy Spirit Lead

These suggestions barely scratch the surface. And they are just suggestions. Be careful not to turn these prayers into another type of performance – a religious performance. These prayers are meant to help you and your child simply connect with Jesus so He can heal a performance-driven heart. Remember that you don’t need to pray more, or prayer harder, to earn God’s love in response.

Just sit together with your child and share your hearts together with God. He will meet you there. Jesus knows what to do, and you can trust Him with your child’s heart. As much as you love your child, God loves your child infinitely more than you can imagine. And He is so proud and pleased with your child – just for who your child is.

For Teachers: A Word of Caution

Everything I have shared here is geared toward praying with your own children. But for those who are reading this, who work with children in a spiritual environment, you may be wanting to pray for these children as well. For teachers, I would add two words of caution:

First, it’s best if you and the parents are on the same page with this teaching and with these prayers. Whenever you are praying for deep issues of the heart, other issues can come up. So it’s best if the parents are involved in this process wherever possible.

Secondly, this teaching and these prayers should be offered in an environment where children understand how to honor their parents (Deuteronomy 5:16). Getting free of performance issues is not about placing blame on someone else. It’s about repenting for how we ourselves have responded to situations. And it’s about forgiving the people who have taught us to perform. It should be done in a loving and honoring way. These prayers shouldn’t become an excuse for anger, resentment, or rebellion.

Adults Can Pray This Too!

One final thought – If you, as an adult, recognize performance tendencies in your own life, you can pray all of this for yourself as well. You were taught performance somewhere in your childhood. Just as you pray these prayers with your child, on your own time you can pray them for yourself – and maybe ask your spouse or a trusted friend to pray with you. Jesus can show His unconditional love to your heart, so you too will stop believing the lie that you have to perform to earn His love. If you let Jesus break you free of your performance tendencies, this freedom will affect your children spiritually as well.

 

A Shoebox of Hope

I remember one Christmas when I was a teenager, I opened a box from my cousin who lived on the other side of the country. She had stuffed it full of goodies – “little things,” she called them, but they meant so much to me. She had listened closely, through letters and visits, and knew my heart really well. The items in her box were handpicked especially for me.

It wasn’t the size of the item that mattered; it was the way each item spoke to my heart and affirmed me. The contents of the box told me how much she cared and how important I was to her. The timing was also significant because I had just lost my father. The Christmas box from my cousin was a way to celebrate life in the midst of grieving. That’s where I first learned that really good things can come in a small box.

I love the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoeboxes. Just like my cousin’s Christmas box, these shoeboxes tell a child that you care enough to pay attention to his or her needs. And that a lot of love can be stuffed into a tiny box. More importantly, your shoebox sends the love of Christ. Your gifts tell this child that God loves him or her so much that He moved someone’s heart from miles away to fill their Christmas with joy, love, and hope. Your shoebox allows God to touch a child’s heart with His love.

Operation Christmas Child’s shoebox collection week is only one week away! There is still time to send your love and prayers to one of God’s kids this Christmas. Have fun! God bless you.

I volunteer for the public Samaritan’s Purse Blogger Network.

Grow Your Family’s Prayer Life with Prayer Stations

Prayer is a journey. It’s an amazing daily adventure with God. You never know where He will take you, but you know it will be good. He is good. Time spent with Him daily in prayer will make your whole life an amazing adventure.

Prayer is largely invisible. Sometimes it helps to find symbolic ways to make visible what is happening in the spiritual realm. Prayer stations are a great way to do this.

You might have seen or participated in a prayer station. It’s a space that is set up to visually represent and prompt a time of prayer. The station might depict a scene from the Bible. It might suggest a prayer for a particular situation, with pictures or items to represent that prayer. It’s just something that makes prayer tangible.

A more elaborate form of prayer stations are the well-known Stations of the Cross that are often set up during Holy Week. We did this at our church one time with live actors, and it was a very moving experience. At one of our stations, we invited people to write out their prayer requests. The bowl was overflowing with their heartfelt requests, just like the incense of Revelation 5:8.

At a local monastery, they have a beautiful outdoor path that moves you through the various Stations of the Cross. It invites you to walk where Jesus walked as He carried His cross to the outskirts of Jerusalem. If you go to Israel, you can find these moments marked with signs.

One year during the Lenten season, our church set up small prayer stations in the sanctuary. We left these up in the window sills for the entire season. They weren’t Stations of the Cross, but simply prayer stations, each one focusing us on a biblical theme of prayer. It was a great reminder to pray, and it was a way to interact with God in prayer each time we entered the sanctuary. Our sanctuary was open during the week, so people could stop by anytime and pray through the stations, or just find one station to focus on.

Those are some of the ways churches can offer prayer stations for their church families. But how about your own family? Have you considered creating prayer stations at home?

There are many ways you can do this. If you enjoy decorating seasonally along with your children, it might be fun to set up seasonal prayer stations – for Advent, Lent, the four seasons, or even school exam time. Let your children have the biggest part in putting the stations together, which might include drawing pictures or collecting natural items from outdoors. Then spend time each week as a family at those prayer stations. Don’t be surprised if the children or grownups enjoy additional time stopping to pray on their own.

Another way is to set up smaller prayer stations that stay there year round. This could be as simple as putting a post-it note in a corner of the hallway that says, “What are you thankful for?” or “What do you love best about talking with God?” These could serve as daily reminders and prompts for prayer.

One of your family prayer stations might include a cork board with pieces of paper, pens, and pushpins, where family members can write and pin up prayer requests. Encourage your kids to write prayer requests for themselves and for friends they are concerned about. During your regular family prayer times, you can talk about and pray for these requests. The prayer station offers a way to keep those requests in front of the family all week.

Prayer stations are a great way for your family to grow in prayer. They will help you keep prayer as a major focus of your family’s day.

Have you tried prayer stations at home? How about in your church? What are some of the ways you have done this? What do you like best about prayer stations? What results have you seen in your family?

I would love to hear about your experiences. Please consider sharing in the Comments below so that others can benefit too. God bless  you! Have a prayerfully adventurous day with God.

Bringing Home the Lion of Judah

Prayer takes place mostly in an invisible spiritual realm. On one hand, we need to learn how to appreciate God’s presence in that invisible space. We are in relationship with a Spiritual Being who is Other than we are. We need to learn how to relate in ways that cannot be seen.

On the other hand, sometimes tangible symbols help us to learn about prayer and our relationship with God. That’s why the Lion of Judah first made his appearance in our Kidz Church.

We ran Kidz Church just like a regular church service, with worship, Bible, prayer, and sermon. Except we didn’t run it. The kids did. They were the ones who greeted, ushered, and prayed. They led worship, wrote their own sermons, and preached. They cried with friends at the altar and laughed together in celebrating God’s joy – often in the same moment.

The children were always willing to share their prayer requests out loud. They wanted to pray for each other too. One day, our associate pastor arrived at Kidz Church with a plush lion. She introduced him as the Lion of Judah. When asked who the real Lion of Judah is, the kids cried out, “Jesus.” They knew the plush character was only a symbol. But it was a tangible way for them to learn about prayer and God’s presence with them.

Every week, the children would offer their prayer requests out loud. All prayer requests were important and treated with honor and compassion. But each week, the children chose one person who seemed to need the most strength or comfort. That child would receive the Lion of Judah to take home for the week. The child would then return the Lion the next week.

As the child was chosen, the kids circled up and prayed for each other. And the Lion of Judah went home with that child. The plush animal was a very hands-on reminder that God was with that child every minute of every day, bringing comfort, strength, healing, and other answers to prayer.

The children took this very seriously. Seeing the Lion go home with one of their classmates made them want to pray for that child. The adults were amazed at how the Lion was returned each week with great care.

I sometimes wondered if the adult church service might have benefited too from bringing home the Lion of Judah.

This is one of many creative ways to teach children about prayer and to make it visible for them. In some ways, adults need this lesson more than children. Little ones have a way of navigating the invisible spirit realm with more confidence than adults.

But little ones also need a strong foundation for a life of prayer. If you are looking for a way to teach your kids, try bringing home the Lion of Judah.

Summer Prayer for Our Children and Their Families

Dear God, I pray for our Pre-K-12 students and their families, as they transition from school to summer. Give children and parents a smooth transition and a joyous, safe, nurturing summer. I pray that every child has the meals, the daily care and protection they need for the summer. Help each child with their summer reading. Be with our graduating seniors during this big change, and with our Pre-K, 5th and 8th graders as they move up to the next school. Bless our teachers and school staff. Give them rest and renewal. Give each child good friends and amazing experiences this summer, and help them discover more about You. Thank You for watching over our kids and our schools all year. In Jesus’ name. Amen

School Kids in Nepal – A Prayer

Thinking about these precious Nepali school kids tonight. Our kids here are out for the summer. Some of our kids have a hard time when they’re not at school to receive meals. Some can’t count on family being around when they’re home on summer break. I wonder about these sweet girls in Nepal. What’s going on in their lives today?

Lord Jesus, bless these girls. Protect them. Let them know how much You love them. You know what their needs are, their fears, their hopes, the stuff they struggle with every day that I can’t imagine. Meet them where they are. Let them know how much they matter to You. That You have an amazing plan for them, and that You will help them every step. Lord, I remember these children walking long distances through the mountains to school. Let them know You walk with them, and You will never leave them or forsake them. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege of praying for these girls tonight. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Prayers Like Feathers

When I talk to God … I feel like I’m curled in a nest of feathers. Not a bird’s feathers. Feathers made by God.

Every prayer feels like a soft feather. Makes me feel safe with God.

I wonder … when I pray for people, do they feel safe in God’s feather nest too?

We learned at school about a little girl who lives in Nepal, who has to walk a long way over the mountains to go to her school. I prayed for her. I wonder if she will feel the prayers like feathers, and it will help her feel better. Maybe if lots of kids would pray for her, she would feel all snuggly in her prayer feather nest like me.

My parents told me about a little girl who lives nearby and doesn’t have a mommy. I prayed for her too. I know feathers can’t replace a mommy, but God can be her mommy. And God can give her lots of other mommies to love her too. Maybe she feels those feather prayers, and feels hopeful that God will take good care of her.

A little boy got hurt on the playground today. Our teacher said his dad called and he is doing all right. He just doesn’t feel good right now. I just prayed for him. I wonder if he will feel the prayers like feathers and not hurt so much. Maybe he will even smile and know God loves him. I know he will get better with God’s help.

There’s lots of people to pray for. I can’t pray for every person in the world. But if we all pray for someone, then everyone will get prayed for. Imagine everyone in the world, snuggled in their giant feather nests, knowing God loves them.

That is my prayer.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge – Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

 

 

31 Days of Prayer for Our Children

These prayers were written for Gisele, a little girl in Burkina Faso. As you pray, you can speak the name of the child/children you are praying for, and let’s pray together each day for God’s love to change these kids’ lives. This is a great way for families to pray together too. Your prayers mean so much!

1st
God, thank you for Gisele. Thank you for how precious she is. Thank you for how much you love her. God I pray that you will help her to know you better each day. That she will always feel safe and secure in your love. That she will know she belongs to you.

2nd
God, please help Gisele accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Help her to learn your Word. Help her always to walk in your ways. Thank you that Psalm 1 says she is like a tree planted by fresh water, that bears amazing fruit. God bless her.

3rd
God, help Gisele know she can talk to you anytime she wants. Help her to learn how to listen to you, how to recognize your voice. When the enemy tries to talk to her, God, tell him to be silent. Make your voice loud and clear for her, and let her come to love the sound of your voice.

4th
God, please help Gisele’s family with their daily needs. Give them food and shelter, warmth and cool in season, meaningful work, joyful experiences, love in community, and everything else you know they need. Help them to feel your presence and your love daily. Lead them, guide them, strengthen and encourage them.

5th
God, help Gisele to have good dreams at night. Dreams created by you, just for her. Encourage her through her dreams. Let her see your power and love. Inspire her. Help her to follow your path. Give her visions of how amazing you are, and how precious she is to you.

6th
God, help Gisele smile today. No matter what is going on, no matter what she experiences, help her to smile, just for knowing that you love her. Fill her with the joy that comes only from Jesus. Sow seeds of the joy of the Lord deep into her heart.

7th
God, thank you that your Word says in Zephaniah 3:17 that you sing over Gisele. Help her to hear your song of love for her. Teach her to sing in her heart back to you. Let her spirit dance and soar. Fill her to overflowing with your love. Let her day be blessed.

8th
God, help Gisele to learn and grow as your child. Let her know that you have an amazing plan for her life, and that you will help her to walk on the path you’ve set for her. Give her the daily nourishment – in body, soul and spirit – that she needs to thrive as your daughter. Let her know that she matters to you, that your heart is for her, and that she is the great love of your life.

9th
God, help Gisele to see you in nature. To see your presence, your fingerprints, your handiwork all around her. Whatever she sees today – trees, flowers, grass, clouds, sky – let her see you in all of them. Fill her with awe and wonder, as she recognizes that you are right there with her. Your Word says in Hebrews 13:5 that you will never leave nor forsake her. Fill her with that assurance today, deep in her heart, and seal it with joy.

10th
God, let Gisele enjoy ordinary experiences today. The stuff of daily life – help her to find your presence in it. Let her enjoy just sharing her day with you. Help her family, as well, to put you front and center of their daily life. Strengthen them, God, and let them know that every part of their life matters to you.

11th
God, as your Word instructs in Matthew 6:33, help Gisele and her family to seek you first, today and every day, in all things. Help them turn to you for answers, for encouragement, for comfort. Give them your wisdom and direction. Let them know that you want to be close to them, and help them draw closer to you.

12th
God, thank you that you are Gisele’s provider. Help her to learn to trust in you, that you will always provide what she needs. All she has to do is ask. Don’t let her fall into discouragement that she lives in a place of poverty. Let her know that you are more than able to provide all she needs, and that you love her so much.

13th
God, give Gisele hope for the future. Stir excitement and peace, deep in her spirit, to know that you have planned an awesome life for her, and that you will see her through it. Help her, day by day, to take each step as you lead, and to grow as your precious child.

14th
God, your Word in 2 Timothy 1:7 says Gisele has not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and sound mind. Help her to not be afraid. Help her to trust in you. Silence the voice of fear, and bring her freedom and peace. Help her to sleep through the night peacefully, as your precious daughter. Give her strength each day to face every circumstance, knowing you are right there with her, and she does not need to be afraid.

15th
God, help Gisele learn that she is a valuable part of your kingdom, the Body of Christ. Give her ways, even now, to serve others. Help her to follow your lead, and serve in ways that bring her joy and grow her gifts. Teach her even at a young age how to be a servant leader. Help her to wash the feet of others, just as Jesus did, by thoughts, words, and actions.

16th
God, surround Gisele with godly people to instruct, mentor and guide her, and to encourage her daily. For her family and the folks who teach her in church and in school, give them your words of life to speak over her. Help her to flourish as your daughter. Keep her in safe, healthy community in the Body of Christ. Let her know how much she matters to you.

17th
God, keep Gisele in good health. Protect her from the diseases and environmental toxins in the land where she lives. Speak life daily to every cell of her body, and fill each cell with the joy of Jesus. Help her to grow strong and healthy, and teach her the things she needs to know to live a healthy life. God, please provide what  is needed to bring good health to her family and her whole community.

18th
God, give Gisele safe, fun things to do each day. Even when she is working – at chores, at school – help her to have fun. Let her spirit sing and dance. Let her find joy, even in the mundane, even in the difficult things. True and lasting joy, from the Lord Jesus Christ. Help her to carry that joy in her heart, that others around her will be affected as well.

19th
God, teach Gisele that she carries your Holy Spirit everywhere she goes. Help her to know that she is a lantern of your goodness and peace, that she can change an entire atmosphere, just by being herself. Don’t let her conform to the ways of the world, and don’t let her feel pressured to perform for you or for anyone. Help her to know it’s enough to be your child, and to be just the way you made her. Help her to know that your presence in her will help those around her.

20th
God, help Gisele discover the unique gifts you’ve given her. Help her to see where she fits into the Body of Christ. Help her family and teachers to recognize and encourage her unique gifts, and not to try and fit her into a mold. Help her to live and thrive in true freedom and joy, as your daughter.

21st
God, help Gisele know that nothing is impossible for you. Help her to grow through each challenge she faces, and to see how you show up each time. Help her to rejoice in thanksgiving and praise for all that you are, and all that you do in her life. Teach her how to praise you at all times, in all things.

22nd
God, help Gisele’s community to be safe and thriving. Fill her whole community with the presence of your Holy Spirit. Give wisdom to the leaders of the community, and to the spiritual leaders of each family. Help them to make wise decisions and to be good stewards. Give Gisele a sense of peace and hopefulness, to know that you are working on behalf of her whole community.

23rd
God, fill Gisele with an excitement and desire to learn more about you, and to grow closer to you. Teach her how to grow and live in relationship with you. Help her to share you with others, in whatever ways you’ve equipped her to share. Let her relationship with you become as much a part of her life as breathing. Let her rejoice in your presence.

24th
God, fill Gisele’s life with laughter. Give her good friends that she can laugh with, and play with, and enjoy each day with. Help her family home to resound with laughter. Even as she grows older, help her to keep the childlike joy you’ve given her. Let that joy spread through the land like wildfire.

25th
God, when Gisele has difficult days, let her know you are there. Let her know she matters to you. Wash her clean of all traumas, all fears, all sorrow, all discouragement. Fill her with your unshakeable peace. Let her know that her tears matter to you. Help her to learn how to ask for you in all difficult times, and to trust and know that you are there.

26th
God, let Gisele know you are fighting for her. That she doesn’t have to be enslaved to the lies of the enemy, or to the poverty that surrounds her. Let her know that you are moving mountains on her behalf. Give her the courage to step into the life you’ve created for her, and not to be knocked down by the enemy, or by her family’s past. Loose the generational blessings that you’ve intended for her family and for her nation.

27th
God, give Gisele a voice in this world – the voice you intend for her. Help her to learn how to use her voice, by the strength and leading of your Holy Spirit. Let her know that what she has to say matters, and will be heard. Prick people’s ears and soften people’s hearts to listen to the way you speak through her. Give her favor in all areas where you want her to speak. Help her to know when to speak, and when not to speak. Give her the courage to speak truth in love as you lead.

28th
God, give Gisele’s family the assurance of knowing how much you care for her – as well as for them – and that they don’t need to worry. That you will provide all she needs. That you will fulfill your plan in her life. Help her family to believe your words in Jeremiah 29:11, that you know the plans you have for her, plans to prosper and not to harm her, plans to give her hope and a future. Help her family to praise you for all that you are doing in Gisele’s life.

29th
God, help the wealthy nations of the world to respond to your call to help the people of Gisele’s nation, and other nations in poverty around the world. That the Body of Christ will grow stronger and purer around the world, lifting up each other and loving each other to life. Let those who have enough trust you in sharing what they have with other children and families in Gisele’s community and nation, and in other places where poverty is deep. Dramatically increase the number of children around the world who find sponsors to help them, to hope for them, and to encourage them.

30th
God, help Gisele to know that you are her best friend. Let her know that you would love to talk with her every day, about whatever she wants to talk about. Let her know that you cheer her on each day, and that you love to celebrate with her. Help her to feel your comforting arms around her on the tough days, when things don’t go right, when she gets discouraged. Help her to know you’re a friend she can count on through all things, and that you will always be there, forever, loving her.

31st
God, let Gisele know that Jesus died for her to live forever with you. To be reconciled with you, and forgiven for her sins. Help her to know the power of the cross in her daily life, and that she does not have to live in a yoke of bondage. That freedom in Christ is your gift to her. Keep her in a healthy Christian church that has life, that walks in godly ways, in genuine relationship with you, in active service in the community, in discipleship and missions. Help her to find her place in the Body of Christ, and to be encouraged and excited about her life, and about her eternity with you.

IN JESUS’ NAME. AMEN

 

Do You Have a Beard, God?

Hi, God.

Do You have a beard, like my dad?

He doesn’t have a super-long beard like some dads. I guess he doesn’t really have a beard at all, because he shaves his chin every morning.

But when he comes home at the end of the day, his beard has grown back.

It’s kinda rough around his chin. I can’t really see it unless I look really close. But I can feel it.

He walks in and smiles, because he knows I’m gonna do “show and tell” about my day.

He picks me up and brushes his chin against my face. I giggle. I like the way it feels. It makes my dad feel real. When he lets me take a turn and brush my chin against his face, he laughs too. I feel like he’s all mine.

Are You that way, God? Do You have a beard? Will You brush Your chin on my face, so I know You’re real?

Somehow I think You would!

And You’d laugh too.

Anyway, I guess You must be real, and pretty smart too. Cuz You gave me my dad. Dads are pretty cool.