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””

Where Has God Placed You as an Intercessor?

When you are called to serve God as an intercessor, and you say “Yes” to Him, don’t be surprised where He will place you for the purposes of intercession.

Continue reading “Where Has God Placed You as an Intercessor?”

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.

What Does It Mean to Be an Intercessor for Someone?

Has anyone asked you, “Will you be an intercessor for me?”

We all need intercessors praying for us. Daily. Weekly. (Sometimes hourly!) And whenever led by God. If you don’t have intercessors praying for you, ask God to give you the names of people you can ask to pray. My article, “Why Every Intercessor Needs a Cover” goes into more detail of why this is so important, and how to go about it.

What happens if you are on the receiving end of this request? If someone asks, “Will you be an intercessor for me?” what does that mean?

The simplest answer is to ask the person, “What kind of intercessor do you need?” Does this person want someone to pray for her daily? Once a day? Throughout the day? At certain times? Does this person plan to email or text you of specific needs? Or is it more like this: “Pray for me as God leads you”?

When I was leading intercessory prayer at a church, I needed a group of people who were praying for me daily. The daily cover was vital to keep me hidden from the enemy as I went about my work of coordinating the church’s prayer cover.

This daily intercession can be as simple as, “Lord, please help this person today. Keep her covered.” Or it can mean inviting the Lord to bring that person to your heart throughout the day. God will help you know what kind of intercession He is calling you to offer. I knew I had a group that prayed daily. And others prayed as led by God.

At that same church, we had teenagers who volunteered to pray for staff members and special situations. I remember one young teen, who I asked to pray for one of our ministers. She set her alarm early every morning, so she could wake up and pray for that minister. What a comfort it was to the minister being prayed for. And what an awesome time that teen had with God each morning.

I have covered individuals and families in prayer as a dedicated intercessor. Sometimes, the person has asked me and God has confirmed it. At other times, I have felt prompted by God to intercede,  without the person asking me. Each time, I have told the person, “I feel like God has called me to intercede for you.” Then I have asked the person if there is a specific need. If not, I have trusted that God would lead me in how to pray.

In some situations, I intentionally keep the person before the Lord throughout the day. In other situations, I pray as prompted by God or by the person.

I have also interceded for healing ministry sessions, where I pray at certain times when sessions are taking place. I literally set aside that time to pray – but that’s because this is what I’m called to do.

When someone asks you to be an intercessor for her, and you feel called to respond with a “Yes,” just ask the person: “What does this look like?” Also ask that question of God. The reason for asking the person is to be sure you’re on the same page. The reason for asking God … well, it’s because He knows what He is calling you to do as an intercessor. You want to be in line with His plan, and follow His leading.

Sometimes being an intercessor for someone means asking God to keep our hearts and spirits open to a person’s prayer needs.

This happened recently with a friend of mine. I was going through a circumstance where I desperately needed immediate prayer. I told God that I needed this particular friend to pray. Because I was in the middle of a difficult moment, I had no opportunity to contact her.

Imagine my amazement (and relief) when out of the blue, I received a text from that very friend, saying, “I am praying for you.”

I managed a quick text back to her, “How did you know?”

Later, she told me God had nudged her, while driving, to pull over, text me, and pray for me.

I have long believed that when we cry out to God, He can nudge even people we’ve never met, perhaps on the other side of the world, to pray for us in that moment.

As intercessors, we can make ourselves available for those kinds of prayers as well.

So, when someone asks, “Will you be an intercessor for me?” the first thing to do is pray and ask God if this is what He is calling you to do.

If God says no, that is okay. Just tell the person you don’t feel called in that way. Trust that God will bring the right people to that person’s heart to ask. It is much better for you to say no than to take on a burden God has not called you to. It won’t help you or the person you’re praying for.

If God says yes, then you can prayerfully consider what that might look like for you. What can you offer that person by way of prayer? Do you feel called to be a daily intercessor? If not, do you feel that you’d be able to receive and respond to prayer requests as they come up in that person’s life? Don’t offer what you can’t commit to. Once again, trust God to orchestrate all of this, and follow His leading.

Do you feel called to pray for just that person, or for the person’s family, or ministry? Or do you feel called instead to be available for God’s promptings, like my friend who prayed for me at the side of the road?

All of these are good, and needed. It just depends on how God is leading you. God will orchestrate the prayer cover needed by that person. Just do what you feel called to do, offer what you have, and leave the rest up to God.

Once you feel like you have your response to that question, just let the person know what you can (or can’t) commit to. Don’t overstep or over-commit. Stay focused on what God has called you to do.

Remember that to be an intercessor for someone means that you are following God’s lead, and praying in the spirit. You are not responsible for carrying that person (that is Jesus’ job!).

When you pray for someone, it might be tempting to take that person’s burdens on yourself. But those aren’t for you to carry. Ask God to lift those burdens Himself.

God might help you to be aware of specific burdens, but that is only so you will know how to pray. The burdens are His to carry. Read Matthew 11:28-30 whenever you need to be reminded of this.

Just keep inviting God, through prayer, into that person’s life and situations. Let Him do the rest.

How has God used you as an intercessor for someone? Daily? Weekly? As led? Have you ever felt prompted to pray for a person you don’t know? Or an unfamiliar situation the Lord has placed on your heart? God bless you for your prayers for others.


Now … Later … Yes … Not

A fellow intercessor and I were just talking about how easy it is to feel schizophrenic when listening to God and praying for people.

If you’re an intercessor, you can probably relate to this feeling. Not just intercessors, either. Any follower of Christ can feel this way.

It’s that question we all have when God shows us something in prayer for another person: Do I share it with the person? Or is this just for intercession?

I can’t answer that question. There’s no formula, unfortunately, and there’s a reason for that too. God wants us to seek Him. He wants us to bring those questions to Him – again, and again. The Holy Spirit wants to guide us – not just giving one formulaic answer for all time, but rather guiding us, step by step, through each moment of every unique situation.

It can be frustrating. You might feel like you’re losing your mind. Your friends may think you keep changing your mind. But really, it’s simply the step-by-step process of navigating in the spirit realm, and the way it affects life in the natural. You’re following the Holy Spirit, and often that means step forward, back up, move sideways, come back this way, go that way, stop, start, rest, okay, let’s run!

Don’t be discouraged. This is a normal part of worshiping God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). He knows how to lead you in every situation. He will make Himself clearer as you press into Him. With every step, keep looking at Him for your next direction. You won’t get the big picture. But you will get what you need for this moment.

You’re not schizophrenic. You’re a human being (and perhaps someone who is called as an intercessor) learning to follow the Holy Spirit, the creator of all things, who is absolutely Other than we are.

Keep at it! Keep following the Spirit, listening, praying, seeking Him with every question, at every turn, in every step. He is molding you, growing you in relationship with Him and with others, and restoring His image in you. It’s an amazing journey. Enjoy the ride!

What Is God Doing?

Have you prayed for someone you care about on an issue that seems overwhelming? Are you discouraged because you haven’t seen your prayers answered?

Don’t be discouraged. God is answering. He is working in the life of the person you are praying for – and He is working in your life as well, through this experience.

When you get discouraged, stop and focus on what God is doing. I guarantee you He is doing something. If you look closely and ask for His discernment, you will feel His response in your spirit and you might even see it in the flesh.

Here’s the problem we often encounter with intercession (besides our impatience and unbelief) – we expect the outcome to look a certain way and we get discouraged when we don’t see that particular outcome.

What if God is answering our prayers in ways we didn’t expect?

Let’s say I am praying for a loved one to break free of addiction. I’ve prayed for months and have seen no changes in the addictive behavior.

But what do I see? If I look closely enough, I might see that the person’s heart has softened toward his family. Or maybe he spends more time with his children, wanting to be involved in their activities and hear about their day.

Maybe this person is starting to suffer with stomach problems. Don’t be surprised if that is an answer from God. It could be that God is allowing my loved one to feel an immediate physical result of his addiction, to get his attention. The stomach problem might be intolerable enough to drive my loved one to get help for what he really needs.

How about my loved one’s family? Is his wife becoming more willing to confront her husband’s behavior? Are his children less angry or afraid? Have they started to pray for him? Are his parents enabling him less and speaking the truth more?

What is God doing in my heart through this process? Am I so focused on what isn’t happening to my loved one that I have failed to notice how many people in addiction God has sent to me for prayer? Or maybe He has presented me with an opportunity to speak about addiction in the community, and I never realized this was part of God’s response to those prayers for my loved one.

Has God improved my heart toward my loved one in the process of praying for him? Are my prayers getting more specific and rooted in God’s Word? Am I spending more time with God?

Every one of these changes is an answer to those prayers. God is working hard to respond to the cries of our hearts. It’s important that we open our eyes to see what He is really doing so we can surrender our prayer lives to Him.

The next time you wonder why God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, stop and look closely at what He is actually doing in response to those heartfelt prayers. You will be amazed.

Intercession Takes Time

Intercessors don’t often get to hear the answers to their prayers for people. Often, people move on with their lives and forget to update. Or prayer requests are passed along so many times that we pray for someone we don’t know and can’t contact.

Sometimes the answer itself takes time. That can be the hardest of all, especially when we are watching for fruit and don’t see the results. This doesn’t mean God is not working. It just means we can’t see, with our eyes, what He is doing. He is faithful to answer our prayers. Like the widow in Luke 18:1-8, we have to persist and trust.

Recently, I’ve had two opportunities to see major transformation in the lives of people I prayed for many years ago. I have been through a long season of discouragement. I am grateful for God’s kindness in showing me the fruit of intercession because it encourages me.

Even so, I didn’t stop to think of these changes as fruit of intercession until a friend reminded me that’s what I was seeing. Lest you miss it like I did, this is my advice to you:

Keep a prayer journal. Mark your prayers for other people. List the date and write what God is leading you to pray for that person. Leave space to update with a praise when that time arrives.

Periodically go through your journal and ask the Lord if He still wants you to pray in specific areas. Remind yourself of the things you have asked Him in intercession, and realize He is still working in the lives of those people, even if He has moved you on to pray for others.

This will help you to be aware when He gives you the opportunity to see the fruit of intercession. At that point, go back and look for your original prayer entry in your journal. Add today’s date and write a praise of what God has done.

Recognizing the fruit of intercession and praising God for His faithfulness will help you to grow in faith. It will encourage you during bleak times. If you feel called as an intercessor, those moments when you can see the fruit will keep you persevering in prayer during those long times when you don’t see results.

God is faithful. He is always working in our lives. He responds to our prayers. Keep praying. Trust Him for the rest.

Abba, Hear Us!

During our Harp and Bowl worship service tonight, the Lord helped me to feel with the shattered heart of those who are crying out for help and can’t find their way to Him. The darkness, the cold, the loneliness, the desperation, the panic, the fear that all is lost forever. It was devastating … until He gave the answers. The prayer went something like this; I wrote this in a journal right after praying in the spirit.


Lord, we can’t see you, we can’t find you, we don’t know your name. We’re trying to call you, can’t you hear us? Where are you, Father? You gave us life, we’re your children, why don’t you answer when we call out, we don’t know your name. Lord, please, hear us, don’t leave us, where are you? Lord? Father? Abba?

Help us. We’re lost on a dark road. We don’t know where you are. How can we get to you? We’re outside the temple gates, we know you’re in there. We see your veil – blue, purple, red like scarlet. Lord, how do we get to you? Help us. We don’t know your name. How can we call you? Don’t you know we need you but we don’t know how to reach you? Don’t you know?

Why do you turn away from us? Lord, Father God, please don’t leave us alone! Help us! Hear us! Tell us where you are. Tell us how to call to you. Tell us how to be found by you. You gave us life. Don’t you know we’re here? When we cry out to false gods and speak lies and seek after things that aren’t of you, don’t you know we’re looking for you? Show us how to come to you. Show us how to walk through the veil into your glory and love. Please, Father, don’t leave us! We’re out here! Can’t you hear us?

Lord, we need you. We’re deaf, we can’t hear you. We don’t know your voice. Our throats are dry, we can’t call you. We don’t know your name. We don’t know who you are. It’s so dark and cold, Lord, and the path is so long, and we’ve wandered forever and we’re lost, and we can’t see you, Lord, please, hear us. Open our eyes so we can see your light. Open our ears so we can hear your voice and find you and run to you and know your name.

Open our hearts so we can receive your love and know that you have torn the veil wide open with your flesh, and we can come to you and be your children forever. Don’t leave us forgotten, Father, don’t leave us alone. We’ve lost our voices crying out to you, Father. Soothe us, revive us, save us! Tell us your wonderful name. Teach us to cry, “Abba, Father!”

It’s simple, really.

Speak with the Father’s words of truth, that their ears may be opened.

Let His light shine in you, so that their eyes are opened to see His grace and love.

Open your heart, let yourself receive His love, that you may be His love for someone who is lost.

Let His Spirit flow through you, that they might be awakened and revived and remember their birthright.

Reach out your hand, that they will know they’re not forgotten.

It’s simple. Why do we complicate it?


Father, help us to speak Your words of truth, always. Let Your light shine in us, and Your Spirit flow through us. Don’t let us stand in Your way. Keep our hearts open to receive and give Your deep love. Give us ways to let others know You’ve never forgotten them, and You never will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God’s Words to Us as Children

I pray for kids a lot. Many of them have had a tough time in their young lives. I also pray for “big kids” who had a tough childhood. (I did too.)

As I was praying this morning, I felt that the Lord was showing me how much He is there for each child, how present He is in their lives, whether or not they realize it.

We read in Scripture how Jesus picked up each child that came to him, and held them close and blessed them. I believe He spoke to them His love, His truth about who they are to Him, His plans for their lives.

I felt that the Lord was saying He does this for every child – that He is always present, always holding them close, always blessing them, always speaking to them – how much He loves them, who they are to Him, all the truth they will ever need to hear.

I think things get in the way of children hearing those constant words of His. But the words are still there, to be claimed.

That’s my prayer – for the little and “big” kids I’m praying for (and for me too) – that the Lord will help each one of us to receive every word of love and life and encouragement and truth, every blessing that He’s ever spoken to us. That we will become alive to His words for us. That He will restore to us every word of His that we’ve missed or “lost.” That He’ll help every part of us to receive all that He has ever spoken to us, since the day He first breathed life into our spirits.

In Jesus’ name.