Day 21 of the Pray-May Challenge: Praying for all those who pass by the church

It’s Sunday: what about those we’re missing altogether? That question drives my heart and mind as a pastor. I care deeply for those who gather with us whenever we meet as the church, but I’m more haunted by the many who don’t. 

On any average Sunday morning, millions pass by buildings in which people gather to praise God, care for each other, receive healing and forgiveness, listen to God’s Word and be sent back into their week re-ordered around God’s kingdom come.

And they pass by because they don’t know the gathering is for them. They are either unaware, uninterested, or uninvited. “Church”, they think (if it crosses their mind at all), is “for other people, not for me.”

But I’m convinced that’s not true. In fact, I’m absolutely committed to helping people who think God is irrelevant and church is outdated move toward meaningful engagement in this life-giving community of faith. To put more of a point on it, I’m committed to helping Christians eliminate many barriers preventing others from gathering with the church, so that they can really hear about Jesus. Those barriers could be unhelpful traditions, unwelcoming practices, inaccessible language or inward-focused programs.  Or it could be that they’ve never been invited by Christians who care. In the words of Craig Groeschel, we should be willing to do whatever it takes, short of sin, to help people find Jesus.

Whatever the reason, I long for the day when churches provide welcoming atmospheres of exploration, even as they sing songs of praise to Jesus, receive life-transforming truth from Scripture, and offer pathways to follow Jesus, wherever people are at spiritually.

Day 21: Praying For All Those Who Pass By The Church

So, would you pray with me today, on yet another average Sunday, for all those who would pass by unknowingly? Our prayer is not that they simply “come to church.” We have a much bigger vision than that!  Our prayer is that those who are far away from the life-giving love of Jesus would receive the Spirit’s invitation, offered through his people, into the grace-and-truth body of Christ. And that in that community, they would discover the Father who loves them, the Son who died for them, and the Spirit who wants to bring them to life. Let’s pray for those who don’t know that we are for them.

And we need to pray for ourselves, too–for Christian churches. Let’s pray that we become relentlessly committed to doing whatever it takes to make the gospel available and the church accessible to people, wherever they are at. Lord, help us see people with your eyes,  and do whatever we have to do, short of sin, to help them find you. Give us the courage to give up comfort and convenience and safety for the sake of others.

That’s my prayer for today, and I invite you to pray along with me. May we, God’s people, make room in our lives, in our gathered communities, in our hearts and minds, for all those God is drawing to himself, by his Spirit. 

 

Giving God Praise Through Creation, with Francis of Assisi: Day 20 of the Pray-May Challenge

It’s the long weekend of May, a major Canadian holiday. Traditionally, May-long has marked the weekend for planting gardens. Spring is here to stay, and we are so thankful.

Watching the world wake up after the deep winter is a wonder. To hear creation’s song, lifted in joy to its Creator, is a privilege for us. We must take the opportunity, regularly, to listen to this song of creation, for in it we not only witness our Creator’s praise, we also receive his continued call to care for his creation, so that their song continues and flourishes.

On day 4 of the Pray-May Challenge, I invited you to pray the Lorica of St. Patrick, a prayer of protection. Today, would you join me in praying along with St. Francis of Assisi?

St. Francis is often depicted in creational settings, with birds and animals around him. His care for all of creation’s praise provides a powerful vision for our ecological calling today.

Francis, famous for his absolute dedication to sharing the good news of Jesus everywhere he went, wrote a beautiful prayer called a Canticle. In this Canticle, we are drawn to see how aspects of God’s creation give praise to God, by simply being what they were created to be.

Brother Sun, Wind and Fire, along with Sister Moon, Water, Earth and Death, all give praise to God–by praying this prayer, we, too, are called into that praise.

Today’s challenge is simple: Go outside and pray this prayer. And as you do, bear witness to how creation gives praise to God.

Canticle of Creation, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

Most high, almighty, good Lord
to you belong praise and glory and honour

and every blessing.

To you along do they belong, O Most High

for no one is worthy to pronounce your name.

Praise to you, Lord, through all your creatures,
and especially through our noble Brother Sun,
through whom we have daylight and illumination
for he is beautiful and radiant and dazzling

and he reveals to us something of yourself.

Praise to you, Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars
which you have set in the heavens,

bright and precious and beautiful.

Praise to you, Lord, through Brother Wind
and air and clouds and stillness and every kind of weather

by which you uphold creation.

Praise to you, Lord, through Sister Water

who is very useful and humble and precious and pure.

Praise to you, Lord, through Brother Fire
through whom you light up the darkness

for he is beautiful and cheery and vigorous and mighty.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Earth, our mother
who feeds us and governs us

and produces all kinds of fruits and colourful flowers and herbs.

Praise to you, Lord, for all who forgive each other through your love,
and who endure illness and tribulation.
Blessed are they who endure it peaceably

for you will honour them, O Most High.

Praise to you, Lord, for our Sister Death
for no living being can escape from her.
Wretched are they who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are they who are found doing your will
for the second death will not harm them.
Praise and bless my Lord and give thanks to him

and serve him with great humility.

(Translated by Mary Low and taken from Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation, by Sam Hamilton-Poore, page 132.)

These words have inspired countless generations to praise, but perhaps there were none so inspired as the musical rendition gifted to us by William Draper in 1919, who took Francis’ prayer and composed the famous hymn All Creatures of our God and King. To finish today, enjoy this video made by All Sons & Daughters, singing this song back in Assisi.

May the Lord of creation bless you today, tuning your ears to creation’s praise, for his glory. 

Prayer for Harvest Workers: Day 19 of the Pray-May Challenge

I want you to imagine a pre-industrial farmer checking his field, discovering that his crops are ripe earlier than expected. Harvest is needed now, but he doesn’t have anyone lined up to help for another two weeks. 

What does he do? He puts out the call immediately, trying to recruit workers early. And his main message? Come now, the harvest is ready. Let’s get to work!

When Jesus saw the great needs of the people around him, his compassionate heart broke for them. Seeing huge response to his kingdom message, he compelled his disciples to pray. Pray for what? For more workers to get in on what God was doing in the lives of people.  

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  (Matthew 9:35-38 NIV)

The same is true today. There are people all around us who need Jesus to heal them and begin his work of new creation in them.  And, contrary to what Christians often think, many people open to discovering who Jesus is, if they had people genuinely interested in them and willing to get into their lives for the sake of their healing. Rather than viewing those who are not yet following Jesus as somehow set against him, we need to see with the eyes of Jesus, who views the broken and hurting around him as signs of God’s harvest work happening. Too few of us do.

Today’s prayer challenge is to pray for more Jesus-workers in the lives of people who need his healing.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do today.

  1. Open with a prayer, asking Jesus to give you his eyes to see the people around you who need his healing and compassion.  Ask him to help you see beyond the exterior (be that grubby clothes or a shiny SUV), and by the Holy Spirit, to see the brokenness and the need that is present, so that you might have his compassion for them. We must start there, for people are not projects for ministry–they are people God loves.
  2. Next, let’s pray this prayer Jesus told his first disciples to pray. Lord of the Harvest, you who sees all and views our true condition with such compassion, send more workers into your harvest. Empower, equip and send more of your children into the lives of their neighbours, friends, and communities, so that they can be your healing agents, as you have called us to be.
  3. Consider, before the Lord of the Harvest, what is holding back the release of more workers. Is it apathy on the part of Christians? How must discipleship grow in our daily practice? What must be done, as the body of Christ, to equip more workers? How can we position ourselves to be more available to those God is healing? As you ruminate prayerfully, bring all your heart to Jesus and discuss this with him. What is he saying?
  4. And fourth, what must you do? We cannot pray this prayer without asking about our own role. Jesus, who are you calling me to love today? How can I be a more compassionate presence in the lives of those around me? Help me to move beyond my own concerns and into your mission to see lives healed and restored in you. 

You may want to mediate prayerfully on this story from Matthew 9:35-38. What challenges me as I do is how the cry for more workers comes from the compassionate heart of Jesus; it’s his compassionate heart that must inspire my own prayer and action. May it inspire all of us today.

We are surrounded by people desperate for the loving, healing power of Jesus, whether they are able to articulate it clearly or not. Can we see with Jesus’ eyes, and cry to the Lord of the harvest on the behalf of the world Jesus loves? That is our call to prayer.

May the compassionate heart of Jesus shape you today, as you see with his eyes and cry with his heart, and then follow him into the ripening fields. 

Personalizing a Psalm to God: Day 18 of the Pray-May Challenge

Do you have a hard time being fully honest with God? Do you tend to hold back and say only what’s “appropriate”?

We can all struggle with full disclosure with God, even when we remind ourselves that he already knows what we are experiencing. Getting close to saying what we feel, we might pull back from what we regard as dangerous emotions, thinking them unsuitable for Christians.

But what if we could tap into a range of examples of how others have spoken to God, with raw, unfiltered honesty? That’s exactly what we have in the Psalms.

This collection of songs cover the whole range of human experience and emotion, from elation to anger, praise to prejudice, deep depression and extreme anxiety and wonderful delight. The writers experienced betrayal, insight, discouragement and comfort, at times expressed within the same song. And they took their emotions and struggle, as well as their joy and wonder, to the One who always hears.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5 NIV)

While the Bible is God’s Word to us, there is a sense in which these 150 Psalms are actually our word to God. They give us language for our hearts and minds, inviting us to get real before our Father.

Here on Day 18, our prayer challenge is to personalize a Psalm to God.

The challenge runs like this:

  1. Pick a Psalm which resonates with your heart today. This may take a little time. You may already know which one fits the bill, but here are a few suggestions.
    • Do you need comfort? Try Psalm 23
    • Need to be reminded of God’s goodness? Psalm 30 is great.
    • Want to tell God how great he is? Psalm 8 or 103
    • Feeling insecure? Psalm 91
    • Just want to praise God? Psalm 148
    • Deeply discouraged? Psalm 13
    • Time to confess? Psalm 51
  2. Read through the Psalm a few times to get a feel for it. 
  3. Then, using a notebook, journal or paper, write out this Psalm in your own words. Personalize it, fill it out, take what it’s saying and expand it for your situation. It’s important to realize that you are not “translating it” so that you are restricted to making some kind of paraphrase. Rather, you are free to write more than is there, change images, express your own heart in it. Take the Psalm as a basic form, and insert your own life, experiences, struggle, metaphors, challenges, joy, and delight right into it. You may put the names of others in it, or insert your own name. You can say exactly what you are feeling, hoping, or raging about to God.
  4. Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! (Psalm 96:1 NLT)

    A beautiful option: If you are a musician or poet, you could express this Psalm in music or poetry. For centuries, Christians have done this–the Psalms are deep wells from which inspiration springs. As a photographer or graphic designer, you could also set your Psalm to image.

  5. When you are done, reflect upon this word of yours to God. Does it capture what you were trying to say? Is there something yet to be expressed? And how do you feel about what you’ve said? This is your Psalm now, though it may have been originally penned by David or Asaph.

Many have found personalized Psalms powerful, as it has helped them articulate their own words using the framework of someone else’s prayer. And by using the Psalms, we who may have held back feel permission to express more fully our emotions. The raw honest of the Psalmists give us ways to become more honest with God, and with ourselves.

What Psalm will you pick? Let us know by leaving a comment below. And tell us how it went for you. The more we share with each other, the more we will all grow together.

My prayer for you today: Father, you are not frightened by our emotions. In fact, you invite us to come into your presence with boldness, exactly as we are. Thank you for these Psalms, and for those who put their heart into words before you, leaving us these profound examples of honest prayer. Help us today to personalize these words, and express them to you. And in your grace, hear us and respond.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Prayer of Mercy for the Sick and Hurting: Day 17 of the Pray-May Challenge

Hurting people are everywhere. Every day we pass by them, and we ourselves need healing.

Day 17 of the Pray-May Challenge: Today we cry out for Jesus’ mercy for those sick and hurting, as well as ourselves.

We will pray using the words of the blind man of Luke 18:35-43 (NIV). (And by way of connection, this is a powerful Scripture we could prayerfully read, in the style of Lectio Divina, as we explored yesterday.) Here’s the whole story.

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

What a compelling story. Seven quick points:

  1. The blind man, upon hearing of Jesus’ coming, was not shy to cry out for mercy from his place of need. He did not hide.
  2. The blind man seemed to know something of Jesus, crying out to him with reference to his royal lineage. He professed faith even in his crying.
  3. There were those around him who tried to deter him, feeling he was not worthy of attention or healing, wanting to keep him in his place of hurt. He would not be silenced.
  4. Jesus heard. Through the crowd, Jesus’ ears were tuned to the cry for mercy. They still are.
  5. Jesus asked what the blind man wanted. Think about that: isn’t his need obvious? Yes, but though Jesus knew what he needed, but the man had to admit his need and articulate his desire.
  6. Jesus responded with compassion to this man’s desire for mercy.
  7. This man’s healing resulted in praise to Jesus, both from the man and from the crowds. Healing always does.

So what do we know? Crying out for mercy, we have a God who hears and responds. We can pray this simple prayer from our own place of need, as well as on behalf of others.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

First, take a few moments and identify people in your neighborhood, your church, your workplace or school, and your own family who need Jesus’ mercy today.  Write their names down, along with their specific need.

It may be that the person you are crying out for is experiencing deep trauma today. Cry out for them to Jesus, for his mercy.  Like the four friends of Luke 5, bring someone to Jesus, knowing that your faith on their behalf matters. Others may have ongoing need for mercy, and we will ask Jesus, the Son of David, to have mercy upon them, too. For each one, ask for Jesus to have mercy.

Next, what do you need? If Jesus were to stop and look you in the eyes, asking “What do you want me to do for you?”, how would you answer? What do you want Jesus to do for you? Perhaps you have a physical need for healing, or you have been struggling with anxiety or depression, or are experiencing financial problems. Whatever your need, cry out to Jesus knowing that he hears you, and that he will respond. In the style of breathing prayer, you may even let this cry permeate your day.

Jesus will respond, though that does not always mean that Jesus will answer you according to your stated desire, as he did in the above story. But respond he will, to your deepest need and for your greatest good. Even as we ask, we declare him our king–the Son of David–submitting to his will for us. He may heal, he may call us to trust, he may have a larger vision in mind which sees beyond what we can see. We can trust him. However he responds, he is compassionately loving us.

But we do cry out boldly, not letting the “crowds” deter us, be that the crowds of doubt, cynicism, self-hatred, or insecurity. We will yell louder than any dismissive crowd.  And Jesus hears. Oh yes, he hears.

Let’s cry out to him today. My prayer for us as we do: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of David, we cry to you for mercy today, knowing how compassionate, how loving, how attentive you are to the hurting, the sick, the blind, the lame, to all those who weep and mourn and struggle. Today we lift to you friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, asking you to have mercy upon them. And for ourselves, we cry for mercy, ignoring all the voices which would seek to silence our insistent boldness, knowing that you will hear, and that you will respond. May your mercy be upon us today. Amen. 


Have you been enjoying these prayer challenges? Please share this post with someone who would benefit from it.

Are you new to prayer or to this series of prayer challenges? I’m glad you joined us–you don’t need to have taken in all the month’s challenges. You can pick up right here today. However, if you are interested, scroll back through the month and discover ways we can all grow in conversation with God.

Prayerful Scripture Reading (Lectio Divina): Day 16 of the Pray-May Challenge

One of the most wonderful ways to talk with God is to hear him speak through his Word. During our Pray-May Challenge, we’ve used Scripture a number of times to form our conversations with God, from the Lord’s Prayer, to Mary’s Prayer, Paul’s Prayers, and the Psalms.

Today, I invite you to practice a way of prayerfully reading Scripture called Lectio Divina. Though unfamiliar to some, this will be quite common to others. Very simply, Lectio Divina (which is Latin for “divine reading”) approaches Scripture as the living Word of God through which the Holy Spirit speaks.  Rather than approaching the Bible as only a text to be studied, we come ready to listen, expectant for God’s voice. Lectio Divina is not a “better” way of reading, but one among many–there will be times when the proper approach is to study the Scripture and figure out what it says through exegesis, discussion and a close reading. But then there are times when we can sit with gentle openness, ready to receive what the Father is saying. Lectio Divina helps us do just that. Though an awesome personal experience, Lectio Divina works very well in a group setting as well (in fact, I’ve done it more in groups than alone.)

Read, Meditate, Pray, Contemplate: The Four Movements of Lectio Divina

Day 16: Prayerful Scripture Reading (Lectio Divina)

  1. Start by choosing a portion of Scripture. A short selection from the Epistles (New Testament writings of Paul, Peter, James, etc), the Psalms, or the Gospels work very well. For our purposes today, I want to encourage you to select a brief story of Jesus from the gospels. (Stuck for a choice? Mark 4:35-41 or Luke 5:27-32 are great.)
  2. Sit quietly for a moment, and then invite the Father to speak to you through his Word.
  3. Read through the selection you’ve chosen. And then take a few moments to let that story sink into you.
  4. Now, read it through again. This time, as you read it, be attentive to a phrase or a word or an image that stands out to you.  It could be something a character speaks, or a striking visual image that the story evokes. When you have read it through this second time, again sit with it for a few moments, or longer if you like. Ask: “Father, what are you saying to me?”
  5. Confident that you are hearing God speak, read the story for a third time through.  Read it slowly, leisurely, open to God’s loving voice. Watch for the word or phrase or image that may have already been highlighted for you (if there wasn’t a particular thing that surfaced, no worries at all–just keep receiving the whole story.)
  6. Finishing the 3rd reading, let the story rest in you. Chew on it, let your heart and mind focus on aspects of the story that stood out to you, or more generally the whole story. The temptation at this point is to begin analyzing the story; resist that temptation. Instead, consider what the Father is saying to you, how Jesus is speaking to you through the Holy Spirit. Perhaps he is addressing a fear in your life. Maybe he is inviting you into deeper friendship with him. He might be speaking of his love for you. Be open to hearing whatever he is saying to you.
  7. And then, to complete your time of Divine Reading, thank God for his Word to you. If there was a particular word spoken, praise God for that, and ask him to drive that deep into your heart and help you to live in that truth today. If you didn’t hear something specific, express your gratitude for God’s word and the time you have had to receive it.
We are confident that God speaks through his Word.

Though Lectio Divina may seem to involve many steps (as I’ve broken it down), it is really very simple. You read through a portion of Scripture three times, pausing long enough to let God speak to you through his living Word. Another way of understanding the flow of Lectio Divina is through four steps: read, meditate, pray, and contemplate. As a prayer practice, Lectio Divina has experienced much development over the centuries, and if you are interested in doing deeper, this Wikipedia post will get you going.

I can’t wait to hear about your experiences with Lectio Divina. One word of warning: this practice may take some time to grow in you.  You may try it today and think, “Well, that didn’t work for me.” May I encourage you to keep practicing this method of prayerful Scripture reading? I assure you, as you learn it and practice it, you will hear God speak to you and will be so encouraged and rewarded for your faithful insistence.

What an awesome truth: God speaks to us through his Word. May the Lord bless you today, as you listen to his voice through his Word. Father, speak to your people, revealing your Son to us.  Holy Spirit, may you breathe into us your living words of power and love. And may we walk today with your words echoing in our souls. Amen. 


New to prayer or to the Pray-May Challenge? The last 15 posts on my blog feature 15 prayer challenges for you. Scroll through and try a few that stand out to you. Let us know in the comments what you’ve done.

Do you think there are others who would benefit from more conversation with God? Invite them to join. Share this post or another one that has been helpful to you. I’d be honored, and I know others will be grateful, too.

Pray for Our Work: Day 15 of the Pray-May Challenge

Monday.
How does it make you feel?
Excited? Tired? Discouraged? Relieved? 150 lbs heavier?

In a TGIF culture, Monday can be seen as the beginning of the weekly grind, rather than the start to a week of good work. Can we view it differently? I think we can.

Today’s prayer challenge is to pray for our work, and it’s based upon the prayer in Psalm 90:17:

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

    and establish the work of our hands upon us;

    yes, establish the work of our hands! (ESV)

Perhaps you love your work, and feel privileged to do it every day.

Or you might be like many others, who have a love-hate relationship with work.

There are some who feel really stuck in work that seems to be killing them.

Work is a good gift from God, and yet it can feel like the bane of our existence. Where can we go with it? We can take it to God.

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Just so we’re clear, work is not only “paid” work. Work is anything that we are given to do to meet the needs of ourselves and others, and it can cover daily chores within our households, raising children, volunteering in a community group, serving in church, studying at school, weeding in our garden, running a business and working a paying job.

Our prayer today is that: 1) We would experience the favor of our Lord. And 2) That God would establish the work of our hands.

First, we ask God for his favor. Does that seem like a bold prayer? In some ways, it is. And yet, remember to whom are we praying? Our loving Father, who longs to see us grow and flourish as his children, in all of our relationships. To ask for the favor of God to be upon you is a prayer we can pray with confidence, for by the Holy Spirit, the Father wants to pour his love and grace and insight and revelation and power in our lives, permeating our work in the process.

By praying for his favor, we are also lifting up the very work we do to God, asking for his blessing upon us as we work. And what a great way to remember that any work we do can be offered to his glory, so that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV)

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Second, we ask God to establish the work of our hands. The truth is, our work–even our good work–can often feel meaningless. We wonder if what we are doing is making any difference at all. The prayer to God to establish our work is given in recognition of the brevity of our lives (read the whole of Psalm 90 and you’ll see that). We know we are only here for a short time, and we long for God to take our work and make something of it. Establish it. Make it worthy. Give it significance. Do something with it and with us.

That, too, is a bold prayer, and it reminds us that even mundane, everyday chores can be offered to God as an act of faith–that through our work God does his work in us and through us. It’s amazing to think that God cares for the needs of others through our work, and cares for our needs through the work of others. So we pray that God will establish the work of our hands, meeting the needs of many as we do our work for his glory.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

    and establish the work of our hands upon us;

    yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:17 ESV)

And so, that is our prayer challenge for today: Heavenly Father, we work this week knowing that we are your children, asking boldly for your favor to rest upon us. Take our work this week, and establish it for your glory and our good. And through our work, may other’s needs be met and may people see your care.  For your glory, Amen. 

 

Praying for Mothers (when it’s good and when it’s tough): Day 14 of the Pray-May Challenge

Who would we be without mothers? Even if we’ve had a challenging relationship with our own mothers, we recognize how significant mothers are.

On Day 14 of our Pray-May Challenge, I invite you to pray for mothers. Let’s keep it simple today: Moms need prayer.

I’ve tried to cover as many aspects of mothering as I could think of. If I missed someone, please do pray for them.

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  1. Pray for those who gave us birth and raised us. Be thankful, and give praise to God for what they poured into our lives.
  2. Pray for those who have struggled to be mothers. Infertility, miscarriages, difficulties having biological children is a very real hurt that many carry. Pray for grieving all those over a lost motherhood, especially today when being a mother is so celebrated.
  3. Pray for our spiritual mothers. For all those who have nurtured us, helped us, comforted us and protected us, standing in the role of mother for our souls.
  4. Pray for those who don’t have a mother, for whatever reason. May they discover mothers who care for them in their communities and churches.
  5. Pray for those who have a broken relationship with their mothers–for restoration, healing and forgiveness.
  6. Pray for the forgotten mothers, who (for whatever reason) are not being cared for or are not very connected with their children.
  7. Pray for adoptive mothers, that they may continue to be the gracious images of the God who adopted us.
  8. Pray for step-moms, who find themselves often caught, and are sometimes mothering in less-than-ideal circumstances.
  9. Pray for aunts and single women and good friends who become moms in the lives of other kids, filling in a crucial role of care within whole or less-than-whole family systems.
  10. Pray for the hurting moms, who are watching their prodigals make life choices that are harming them.
  11. Pray for grieving moms, who have lost kids through death, miscarriage, custody battles or any other form of tragedy.
  12. Pray for moms who struggle with depression, anxiety or other forms of mental illness. There are many, and we want to pray for them as they continue to be the best moms they can be in the midst of struggles.
  13. Pray for single moms, who are holding so many things together for their kids and being awesome moms with fewer resources.
  14. Pray for any mothers that come to your mind and heart–perhaps a neighbour or a friend who could really use your prayer today.

Here on Mother’s Day, “motherhood” can be both cause of celebration and experience of loss. So, yes, let’s joyfully give thanks for our mothers, and honestly acknowledge those who hurt today, all with a deep sense of God’s mothering care for all of us. 

My prayer for moms: God, who is our Father and yet mothers us with such a maternal love, we thank you for moms. Thank you for mothers who have loved us and nurtured us! They are a sign of your grace. And for all those mothers who struggle today, for all those who are hurting without the mothers they needed, we ask for your grace and healing and motherly love to flow into all of our lives. Help us to celebrate the gift of mothers, and turn our hearts to you, who cares for us as only a true mother can.  In the name of your Son we pray. Amen. 

Let’s Go For A Walk! Prayer Walking for Our Community (Day 13 of the Pray-May Challenge)

Yesterday, we prayerfully watched people. Today, we get more active by prayer walking. 

Day 13: Prayer Walking For Our Community

Prayer walking is a way of getting present to your community and praying for your community in the name of Jesus. It’s active engagement, intended to get us out to where the prayer is needed, letting the Holy Spirit guide our hearts and minds, even as he guides our feet.

So our practice for today is very straightforward. Go for a walk, and as you do, pray. This can be done alone, or with a friend (though you should tell them why you are walking and they should be willing to join you in audible prayer as you walk together. And if walking is an issue for you, then substitute driving for walking. The point is to get out there.)

I don’t want to complicate the practice with more words, because it really is that simple. However, here are 13 areas into which you could pray as you walk.

Pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, in the name of Jesus:

  1. In the families who occupy the homes you pass by
  2. In the schools of our community; for teachers, principals, admin and support staff, as well as the students themselves.
  3. For the flourishing of local businesses, farms and non-profits
  4. For those in our community who are lonely and hurting and who may be hidden from sight: shut-ins, seniors, immigrants or people struggling with physical or mental illness
  5. For those places of healing (hospitals, hospices) as well as all those who work to bring healing and care to many (doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, and care workers of all kinds)
  6. For those who have suffered recent loss, such as divorce, a bad health diagnosis or bankruptcy
  7. For the animals, soil, air and water–for health and blessing
  8. For the abused and the abusers–mercy and healing and justice
  9. Against any hidden darkness that seeks to destroy–principalities and powers and the work of the evil one
  10. For the local churches you may pass, their pastors, leaders, parishioners and witness to the community
  11. For the lost!! For every man, woman and child to come to know Jesus’ love for them
  12. For local leadership–political, ministerial, social, medical–any influencers you can think of
  13. For the growth and health of your whole community, that your neighbourhood, city or county may become a better, more loving community for everyone who lives there.

These are just suggestions–the main point is to get out there and pray as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray.

The fact is, Saturday is a great day for a walk. So let’s go for that walk, and as we do, let’s talk with our Father about his world, for the sake of its healing, restoration and salvation.

(Want to find out more about prayer walking? Check out this great post on prayer walking from WayMakers.)

Here’s my prayer for us today: Spirit, guide our feet today, as we walk with you and pray for our communities. May we go to the places that need us most, and intercede for them as you would have us do. You are the one who gave everything–even your own Son–to see the lost found and the broken healed. May we walk with you today, and pray for your kingdom to come and your will to be done, on this bit of earth, even as it is in heaven. Amen. 

And hey, after you’ve walked, let us know where you went in the comments section! Let’s celebrate together that places which received prayer today.

 

 

People-Watching for Prayer: Day 12 of our Pray-May Challenge

People-watching is a thing, defined by Google as “the action or practice of spending time idly observing people in a public place.” And you can even get good at it. Practicing good observation skills, you may be able to deduce certain things about a person’s life, likes and dislikes, culture, passions, situation, emotional state, self-esteem and priorities, just by watching. Sherlock Holmes could take someone apart by looking, and I’ve embedded a fun clip at the end for you to see him do just that. The challenge is to take a little of what he’s doing, and use it to pray.

Welcome to day 12 of our Pray-May Challenge. Today we will take the art of people watching and morph it into a new practice: Prayer Watching.

Prayer Watching takes the observational skills of people watching, and with an attentiveness to the Holy Spirit’s voice, uses what we see to shape our prayers for someone else, someone we don’t even know.

Here’s the challenge: go somewhere that others are present, even for a few minutes. Rest on a bench near a park, enjoy a coffee at a local shop, or sit among a crowd at a sports game. 

And then just watch. Do it unobtrusively–no one should wonder what you are up to (this should not be creepy!). Simply observe others around you, and try to imagine what is going on in their lives.

What do you see? (PC: Pixabay Free Images)
Watch for body language, for facial expressions, for signs of who they are. See them interact with their kids–are there signs of frustration, joy, worry, stress? Are they alone? Walking fast, or loitering with no purpose? What can you tell about their passions and interests Is there anything that you notice as you watch?

And then, ask the Holy Spirit to show you who you should pray for, and how you can pray for them. Be open to what he says to you. You may be surprised at a thought which pops into your head, or an image that you see–pray into that as it may be the Holy Spirit praying through you.

Based upon what you see and what you’ve heard from the Holy Spirit, pray for the person or people you’ve been watching. You may pray, for example, that God would grow joy and patience in that stressed-out dad, or that he might grant peace to that woman who seems to be struggling with mental illness.  Or, you may only offer a brief prayer, asking that they experience God’s grace and peace. You may even use one of Paul’s prayers, as we practiced back in Day 2, that they may know “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” for them.

The point? Watch people, and then pray for them.

This is a practice that can be used at various times throughout our lives–whenever we find ourselves waiting somewhere for a ride, or even sitting quietly amongst a larger group. We can watch people, and instead of simply observing (or worse, judging them negatively), we can pray for them.

That’s our challenge for today. Let’s see the people around us–people God loves–and pray for them.

My prayer for you today: Father, would you enable us to see others as you do, so that we might pray with your heart for them? Help us to see the hurts and the joys, the passions and the challenges, so that we might silently and anonymously intercede on behalf of others. Take this simple practice and use it to grow our heart for others, and see your kingdom come and will be done in them. Amen. 

Share how it goes for you! I’d love to hear. Comment below.


And, as a little bonus, enjoy this clip from Sherlock Holmes. Amazing observations, with little tact. Can we take the skills and apply them more helpfully to prayer? Yes, I think we can!