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”

Did You Know Charles Wesley Wrote Prayers to Sing? A Prayerful Look at Intercession Hymn #1 “For All Mankind”

In 1758, Charles Wesley published his collection of 40 Intercession Hymns.

These hymns are examples of intercessory prayers set to music. Music is a good way to remember words, and singing helps people have words of prayer and scripture on their hearts and tongues throughout the day.

Although Wesley’s collection of Intercession Hymns represents an era different from our own, many parts of these intercessory prayers are timeless, especially given their biblical foundations. All of Wesley’s hymns are steeped in scripture, and his Intercession Hymns are no exception. Even portions of hymns that are specific to Wesley’s day can be adapted for current situations.

Continue reading “Did You Know Charles Wesley Wrote Prayers to Sing? A Prayerful Look at Intercession Hymn #1 “For All Mankind””

Prayer for Individuals and Families Living in Poverty

In 2013 I was very blessed to be teaching an eight-week course to a church women’s group. The focus of our course was on the challenges of poverty in the community and the church’s response. We worked through a book on poverty. To use with their reading, I printed up and gave each woman a bookmark containing Bible verses that focus on poverty:

Continue reading “Prayer for Individuals and Families Living in Poverty”

Pray Through It

Have you ever taken on a new challenge where you weren’t really sure you could do it? I think we all have – probably many times. It’s in those experiences where we learn how to pray from a deeper level of dependence on God. What a great opportunity to grow in prayer and relationship with Him.

Last summer, I took on a part-time job I never thought I would do. I became part of a family’s home health team. I was trained by a home health care nurse in how to dress a surgical incision that had opened and become infected, as well as how to administer IV antibiotics through a PICC line.

If you are shrugging your shoulders like this is no big deal, then maybe you work in the health field or you can stomach a lot. If you are, at this point, hoping I won’t give any further details about that job, then you are like me. I am not a person who wants to be around any situation where things that should be inside the body are, in fact, on the outside or visible. The sight of blood freaks me out and makes me just about pass out. And I certainly can’t look at an open wound, let alone touch it.

Yet there I was, on the morning of the Fourth of July, heading to the assisted living home for home health training.

I prayed as I approached the place: “God, please help me do this.” While I often pray that prayer, it seldom comes from the place in my heart where I realize, “Without You, I literally cannot.” And yet, without God, I cannot do anything, even the things I think I can do. I cannot even draw breath without Him. Note to self: Pray from that place in your heart all the time!

I learned how to do the PICC line, which isn’t complicated, but it’s also not something you want to mess up. I began to pray through every step, asking the Lord to do each part for me. As I attached the bag of antibiotics, I asked Jesus to move throughout her body, administering the healing Himself. I prayed through the entire process, each and every time, all summer. I prayed with the patient, and I prayed over her. I prayed before arriving, the whole time I was there, and after I left. I prayed as I sterilized equipment and took inventory of supplies. I put the entire procedure into God’s hands, each and every time.

When it came time to learn about wound care, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the sight of the incision. When I had surgery many years ago, I couldn’t even look at my own incision until weeks later. And my incision was closed, not open and infected. Yet as I approached the patient’s bed, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, You are going to have to make this okay for me.” He did. I was able to look at the wound and follow the instructions for wound care without flinching. All I felt was a determination to do what God and the home health nurse asked me to do, and let Jesus take care of healing the wound.

The first time I tried to change the dressing myself, I had difficulty with some of the steps. It was necessary to place a debriding strip into the wound. That was hard to do. The strip kept falling out. I realized how much discomfort I was causing the patient. I knew I had to move faster, and yet I could barely make the process work. So I prayed harder. Before my next shift, I prayed, “Lord, please take care of changing the dressing Yourself. You are the Healer. Use my hands as You know best.”

Driving to the assisted living home for the next treatment, I felt the Lord prompt me just to go in and talk with Him the whole time I was changing the dressing, and to do it out loud, so the patient could hear. That’s exactly what I did. As I began to remove the old dressing, I said, “Lord Jesus, thank You for helping us do this. Thank You for protecting her skin. Thank You that the wound is already starting to heal by Your power.” I just kept a running dialogue (or monologue, really) through the whole process. And it worked out fine. From that point on, I never had a problem. We were done quickly, and the patient said she was fine through the process.

A few nights after I started wound treatment, the Lord gave me a dream about the patient. In that dream, I walked in, removed the dressing, and the wound was completely healed. It looked beautiful. I began to pray for that, and to thank Him for that dream, every time I went in there. I told the patient about the dream, and she was grateful to God for giving us that promise.

Thus began the daily miracle of watching her wound heal. Every single morning, it had improved. When I removed the dressing, I would say to her, “Let’s see what Jesus did last night.” Sure enough, there was a marked difference, each and every time. I have been involved with healing prayer ministry for many years. I have seen God heal many times. This was a different way to watch Him heal. To see the daily improvement of His handiwork. What a miracle, and what a privilege.

Toward the end of the summer, the course of antibiotics was completed. The patient was doing so much better now that the infection was gone. Wound care had to continue until the incision was completely closed. I don’t remember how many weeks that process continued. But I do remember the morning I went in, removed the dressing, and all that was left was a dent the size of a pin prick. The wound was completely closed. Just like in the dream. The Lord had allowed me to see it with my own eyes.

This experience taught me a deeper awareness of my utter dependence on Him. I would love for all my prayers to come from that realization in my heart – that without Him, I can do nothing. It also reminded me that with Him, I can do whatever He asks me to do. I just have to pray through it, and leave the rest up to Him.

What is God calling you to do that you don’t think you can do? Talk to Him from that place in your heart that knows how desperately you need Him. See what He says, and see what He shows you. Enjoy your fellowship with Him.

Praying for Students Entering College

If you feel called to pray for your community and/or your church, one of the best ways you can pray right now is for young people who are entering college.

Our community prayer group is currently praying for:

  • Students still in high school but starting dual enrollment classes in college this semester.
  • College freshmen returning to school after their first home break.
  • High school students applying for college for next fall.
  • High school graduates who took off the fall term and are just entering college for the first time this spring.

If you went through this process as a young adult, you may remember how stressful it can be. At that age, students often feel that the rest of their lives depend on the decisions they are making in the moment. They put a lot of pressure on themselves.

It is helpful to pray that the Lord, first of all, will keep them in His peace. That they will be fully aware of His presence and His leading through this process. That they can trust Him with their lives and their futures. That they will be able to enjoy the moment and the experience with Him.

Pray for wisdom. For God to open and close the right doors. For God’s intervention where the enemy or man might present an obstacle.

Pray for God to keep them encouraged, and to help them find peace in their own identities and in knowing they are absolutely precious to God. Pray for godly people in their lives and for God to keep them from the wrong influences.

Above all else, pray as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray.

Remember also to pray for the parents as they guide and support their young ones through this process.

You can pray this in general for your community and/or for your church family. God knows who the young people are that need your prayers, even if you do not know.

If you personally know young people going through this process, tell their parents you are praying for their children in their transition to college life.

If you are part of a church prayer team, perhaps the pastor would like for you to say a prayer out loud on a Sunday morning – ask him or her about it.

In whatever ways God leads you to pray, just know that this process of transition to college is a big prayer need for our communities and churches at this time of year. Thank you for your heart for prayer. God bless.

Thanksgiving Prayers

Thanksgiving Day is a beautiful time to reflect on God’s goodness in our lives. We are reminded to really focus our hearts on who God is and how much He loves us. It’s an opportunity to ask God to align our hearts with His, so we can see through His eyes, and love with His love.

As we give our thanks to God, we become aware of the many ways – large and small – He is involved in our daily lives. Thanksgiving is a time to recommit, through our prayers, to live in gratitude each day. Our Thanksgiving prayers can open our hearts to be more thankful, and to pay attention to what God is doing in our lives daily – even (and especially) on difficult days.

As I began to prepare for my Thanksgiving prayer time, I wondered what kinds of prayers people are praying. I found this beautiful website that shares prayers for Thanksgiving, along with prayers for many other moments of our lives. It’s a resource I have bookmarked and will revisit often. I hope you will enjoy their collection of Thanksgiving prayers as much as I did:

12 Thanksgiving Prayers for Family, Children & Dinner Times

May God bless you and  your family on this Thanksgiving Day.

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.

Talking to the King

Have you seen the movie, Anna and the King? There is a great scene that reminds me of the authority we have in intercessory prayer. Because of Jesus, we have access to the throne room of God:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)

What follows contains a spoiler from one scene of Anna and the King. If you haven’t watched it, you might want to see the movie first and then read this. In fact, now that you have this hint, if you watch the movie you might see exactly which scene I’m referring to without reading this article. If you’re curious, read on.

In the movie, the king has many children. But he has one little daughter who could melt his heart like butter. She has his utmost attention because his heart is for her. Sounds not unlike the way our heavenly Father’s heart beats for each one of us!

There is a scene in which some school kids start fighting, and this includes the king’s eldest son and heir to the throne. This little girl takes it upon herself to run to the palace to get her father’s help.

Her father is the king of Siam. The court has a strict protocol regarding visitors. A group of guards with sharp blades line the walkway leading to the throne. If someone approaches in the wrong way, that person’s head could be chopped off in an instant. As the little girl runs into the palace, we can see people approaching the king, bent low before him, awaiting his response.

None of this stops the little girl, his precious daughter. She runs deftly down the walkway, weaving between the guards and the people who seek an audience with the king. She runs straight up the steps, right to the throne, climbs into his lap, and whispers in his ear. Immediately, he responds to her plea. He leaves the palace with her to go where his help is needed.

If you aren’t covered with Holy Spirit chill bumps at this point, stop for a moment and consider: This is exactly the access we have to the throne room of God. We too can run straight to the throne and climb up to whisper in the King’s ear. We are not hindered by court protocol because Jesus has torn that veil for us (Matthew 27:51). God’s heart beats for us and He is ready to respond to our prayers.

The next time you go before the throne of God in prayer, remember that because of Jesus, you have the same access to the King as that little child. Talk to the King. Give Him your heart. He loves you so much!

Prayers for Community Organizations: Junior Achievement

How many children in your community know how to balance a checkbook? How many adults do?

Financial illiteracy adds challenges to already difficult situations. If someone is struggling with poverty, not only does that person need employment opportunities and training. He or she also needs life skills to sustain that employment and provide for his or her family.

Many community organizations put volutneers to work, sharing and teaching life skills. Poverty is not the only stumbling block to learning life skills. In my own community, we have children living practically homeless, often without adult supervision; grandparents, aunts, and uncles trying to raise more children than they can care for; parents in jail; extreme levels of addiction in the population; and few corporate jobs or work-training programs.

Fortunately, our community has responded to these challenges with many organizations fueled by volunteers. As prayer warriors, it is important that we get to know the volunteer programs in our community, and not only join one that’s appropriate for us, but also pray for one or two others. Each of us can ask the Lord: “Where should I volunteer to help my community? And please show me one or two organizations You would have me pray for.” It’s important not to overextend, but to hear strategically from the Lord. One person can’t be everywhere or pray for everyone. But the Lord can orchestrate many willing hearts, so that everything is covered, and we are praying in unity.

To gain some experience in praying for a volunteer organization, let’s look at one that made a difference to me when I was a teenager: Junior Achievement. When I was in high school, I learned life skills, entrepreneurship, and how to serve as a corporate officer through my JA company. I received a sense of self-worth by the fact that several corporate employees gave up one night a week to mentor us. And the life skills and financial literacy I was taught by my parents were reaffirmed and put to work in our JA company.

Recently, I was thrilled to learn from a teacher-friend that JA still exists, and has revamped for the young population of today. They provide weekly entrepreneurial and financial literacy training at learning centers, as well as “JA days” in the classroom. What a great opportunity for children K-12, as well as for the adults who volunteer.

I would encourage you to take a look at the JA website and see what they are offering. How might we pray strategically together for JA, or for other organizations like them?

Here are a few suggested prayer points:

  • Pray that the children will discover their God-given identities and a sense of self-worth.
  • Pray for hope to spread through the communities this organization is serving.
  • Pray that the children will discover God has provided this opportunity for them (James 1:17).
  • Pray that the volunteers will not overextend or grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
  • Pray for the Fruits of the Spirit to be exhibited by volunteers (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Pray that as the children are helped, whole families and neighborhoods will be impacted.
  • Pray for creative ideas for teaching life and work skills to each child.
  • Pray that the organization has sufficient volunteers, funds, and resources, and invests these wisely into the lives of the children and communities.
  • Pray for protection for the children and volunteers, and that the organization effectively screens out individuals who intend to harm the children.
  • Pray that the body of Christ will learn, through organizations like this, how to make a difference in the lives of the people in the community where God has planted them.

Let’s each take a few minutes and pray through these points together for the JA nearest you. Your prayers right at this moment will make a difference for JA and those children today. They will feel your prayers, they will experience breakthroughs by God’s power, and they will have an amazing day. How awesome is that! As we pray together, there is strength in our combined prayers.

What are other ways you would pray for Junior Achievement and organizations like it? Which organizations are doing similar work in your community?