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”

Praying around the World

As a missionary of prayer, I believe it’s important to pray locally, for my nation, and also for the world. There are many ways to pray for the world and the Holy Spirit should lead our prayers.

Praying for the world can also open up many educational family prayer opportunities – learning together about different countries, cultures, and attuning our hearts to the daily lives of people in different places. Even within a particular country, prayer needs can be vastly different from one region to another.

There is so much to learn and so much to pray. No one person can cover it all. It requires the body of Christ praying together with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and orchestration. I trust that the Holy Spirit prompts our individual and family prayers for the world, placing on our hearts something specific we can pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe.

One of my favorite ways to pray around the world is to contact specific organizations and missionaries to learn more about them and to find out about their specific prayer needs. Sometimes prayer points are listed on an organization’s website. It can be a fulfilling family project to look up some of these online and set aside time to pray for them. At other times, I have emailed organizations and missionaries to ask specifically how I can pray for them.

As I have searched for different ways to pray around the world, I was delighted to come across a blog that publishes prayer needs for ministries in different countries:

Pray for Ministries around the World

I subscribed to this blog and enjoy receiving these global prayer updates by email. Each blog post focuses on people serving in a specific location. It helps me focus prayers on specific people and current situations. I appreciate knowing that my prayers are joined in unity with people around the world. The praises are also wonderful – to hear how God is moving in different places. This is very encouraging.

I hope you will enjoy visiting this blog and praying around the world.

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.

Why Aren’t We Desperate?

I was talking yesterday with a friend who just returned from Uganda. She spent several weeks with a neighborhood ministry that had requested inner healing prayer. As she shared about the desperate situation and the hunger in the people’s hearts, she also lamented that she seldom finds that kind of hunger here at home.

We considered what it means to be desperate for God and why that often seems more prevalent outside the United States. Then we talked about the desperate situations all around us here at home. Perhaps there are two aspects of “desperate.” One involves situations. The other concerns attitudes of our hearts.

Despite the disparity of wealth among nations, people’s lives can be in despair no matter where they live. Here in the United States, I know plenty of people in desperate need of God. But they don’t recognize it the way people in some other places do. Why not?

A scene from a movie comes to mind. The doctor in Beyond Borders is operating on a dying woman in Ethiopia during a time of famine. He explains that people thank him with their whole hearts there, whereas back in London,  they don’t thank doctors as deeply. In the Ethiopian camp where he is serving, there are no pain killers, so the people feel everything. They appreciate help on a gut-wrenching level.

He asks the visiting American, “What do you do when you have a cold?”

She suggests several common remedies.

He says, “Do you ever just have the cold?”

The answer is no. When we have the means, we doctor ourselves up, doing whatever it takes not to feel the cold, the pain, the discomfort.

And that is the difference between desperate situations and desperate hearts.

Here in the United States, we have many ways to mask our pain. We numb ourselves, seek self-comfort, hide in false refuges, drown things out with our noise and busyness, deny our realities, and sweep truth under the rug.

We can only become desperate for God when we realize how desperate our situations are. The more we hide, numb, self-comfort, and deny, the less we will recognize our deep need for God.

In fact, as another friend pointed out, our ability to numb ourselves is what makes our situation desperate. We have become really good at blocking God from the places in our hearts that hurt the most.

How do we change?

It has to start with each one of us, individually, and then as families, and then as church families.

We have to be real with what’s going on in our hearts. We have to let God bring things to the surface so He can deal with them. We need to acknowledge the pain, feel it, and embrace it. To recognize that we have nothing without God. Then we need to invite Him into those difficult places in our hearts, so He can bring true healing.

We also must be willing to hold each other accountable to this – and to let ourselves be accountable to others as a family, and as a body of Christ.

What do you think? Wouldn’t this be a good day to start?

Will you join me in this prayer?

Lord Jesus, thank You that You came to set us free from the ways we have become held captive in lies, denial, and our ability to sidestep our own pain. Forgive us for the ways we cover up, numb ourselves, and whitewash the realities of our lives. Search our hearts and show us where our deepest hurts and fears are hidden. Bring Your light, truth, and healing to every area of our hearts. We want to be completely in relationship with You, with our whole hearts. Help us, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“’The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;'”

     — Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV)

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”

     — Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)

Congolese Cell Phone Prayers

I’m reading a book called The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer and Phil Smith. I highly recommend this book. In the final chapter, the authors introduce us to a Congolese village known for minerals such as coltanite, used to make cell phones. The authors note the irony that, at the time of this book’s publication, no one in the impoverished village owned a cell phone. Further research indicates Congolese coltanite as a conflict mineral, extracted through violence and oppression.

This presents an opportunity for prayer – and action beyond prayer. Prayer itself is an action and should precede other actions, whenever possible. (Obviously, in an emergency situation, action sometimes precedes prayer, or the two happen at the same time.) Often, prayer leads to further actions. That is the case regarding this story of the Congolese minerals.

If you are reading this and you have a cell phone, your phone has now become a good reminder of people struggling through difficult conditions in this and other Congolese villages. Let your cell phone become a prayer reminder. As you pick up your phone, pray first for the people living not just in this particular village, but also in remote villages all over the world. Take some time to put yourself in their shoes and say a fervent prayer for them. Know that God will work through your prayers to make a difference.

Let your cell phone also be a reminder that people who live near bountiful resources often do not benefit economically from those resources. Pray for God’s justice to bring redemption and restoration to those situations.

Finally, allow prayer to lead to a further action: Learn about global sources of injustice, such as conflict minerals. Do some research on the current state of legislation regarding corporations and source minerals. Know where the items you purchase originate, and at what cost to human lives. As Christians, we need to do at least that, just for starters. As God leads you further, in prayer and in action, to bring global justice, follow His lead.

Begin all things with prayer. Know that your prayers are powerful and will make a difference. Be willing to be used by God as an answer to prayer. And when your cell phone rings, take a moment to pray for the people living in Congolese villages.

Prayer Lessons from God’s Heart

A week ago I returned from a surprise mission trip to Guatemala. What a blessing, in countless ways, many of which I am probably still not aware of.

God used that time in Guatemala – away from familiar surroundings and language – to teach me a lot about His heart for prayer. I am so grateful, and I am trusting Him to work these new lessons and changes through my heart.

Meanwhile, I would love to share with you some of my reflections on prayer during my time in Guatemala. I was able to post these at our team’s blog site:

Treasure in Jars of Clay

I would love to know your thoughts, and to hear similar stories of how God has taught you from His heart of prayer.

God bless you.

Surprise Trip to Guatemala!

I’m heading to Guatemala today on a mission trip. What? You didn’t know I was going? Neither did I! Many of you don’t know the story so I’ll share, because it’s always good to be reminded God can do the impossible.

Hearts for the Children ministry has been part of my heart since my first visit in 2009. I love those people! I’ve been praying for this team that was leaving today but, as a missionary of prayer myself, my funds are at an all-time low so there was no thought of being able to join them. I’ve been doing a LOT of praying but staying close to home.

Imagine my surprise to wake up Wednesday morning and learn of an extra paid-for ticket. Three days later and I am packed and ready to leave tonight. AMAZING!!!!

It’s in the “little” details where God shows up even more – my passport is within 30 days of the cutoff; my school professors both gave me an immediate excused absence, which almost never happens. Every little detail came together so quickly.

My heart leapt when they said they were wanting intercessors to pray with folks in a village. I’ve been already praying for these folks from my living room, having no idea God would send me to pray in person.

This has been the toughest year of my life and I need God to revive me. He has pulled out all the stops.

I share all this to say, first of all, please pray for us – our team of 14 plus 3 missionaries who live there – June 11-18, and pray for the precious folks who will receive ministry, encouragement, medical help, food, and love.

And also I share it to say that for God, nothing is impossible. You have no idea what wonderful and amazing things He is doing right now on your behalf that He will soon reveal. It will be tailor made for you, even to the finest details.

Love you all! Thank you for your prayers.

More Faces of Nepal … Thank You for Praying

A beautiful daughter of God in the Trishuli, Nepal marketplace … please pray for her and her family …

A little one dancing with Jesus at a Nepali church service …

At home in the beautiful foothills of the Himalayas … the pollution is real and painful to breathe … but God is real too, and more powerful … please pray for the fresh air of the Holy Spirit to ease aching lungs, refresh tired bodies, and renew hurting hearts … thank You, Jesus …

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” – Isaiah 55:12 …

The future of Nepal … please pray for Nepal’s families … and their precious babies …

God bless your day, and thank you for your prayers.


Faces of Nepal … and Prayers

Remembering friends in Nepal today … and praying for them.

So many beautiful faces … adults trying to get through the day, as we all do … trying to keep their families safe … food on the table … finding joy and laughter … Nepal is not an easy place to live, but the people are so willing to smile, laugh, find joy in moments of their day …

Lots of children … smiling, giggling, despite walking miles over dusty, rocky mountain roads from school …

Faces of the landscape … despite the pollution that lies like a suffocating blanket over Kathmandu valley, God’s beauty cannot be dimmed… His beauty, His fingerprints, His heart can be seen everywhere you look …

If you’d like to join me in praying for people in Nepal, please take a moment to look through this post and the next one. These are real people who would love to spend their day with you, and they would love your prayers. Thank you!

God bless you –

A family walking in the midst of a busy day in Kathmandu … please pray for them …

A peaceful afternoon communing with God on a hillside in Kathmandu … He loves His kids!

Nepali school girls … sharing their smiles and laughter after walking on a dusty mountain road home from school … please say a prayer for them … thanks!

Continued on next post …


Kids’ Cross to Guatemala

Today I enjoyed this blast from the past … This photo has always been one of my favorites. It was taken in the airport while I was on my way to Guatemala in 2011. Our children’s director had the kids make the cross to send with us and I remember I was going to make absolutely sure it arrived. This has become one of my all-time favorite photos because to me it just describes being “sent” by God. I’ve kept it on my website all this time.

Today, I uploaded it to my profile on Pray! Network and immediately they grabbed it for their photo feature page! I thought that was cool. 🙂 Some of those kids are probably in middle school or high school by now. But their desire to share God’s love with people in Guatemala planted seeds He continues to nurture. The love returned with us as well – we always bring back more of Him than we brought with us. Visit Hearts for the Children and see the amazing things God is doing in Guatemala.