Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 8

This week, I feel something shifting in my heart. It’s that struggle again…This was no easy challenge for me. I am tired of posting. My insomnia has returned this past week, which means my early quiet times with God are usually cut quite short. My prayers are scattered throughout the day, often interrupted by our busy schedule or children’s needs.

For those of you thinking I must be someone super spiritual, or amazing to pull this one off, trust me: I am NOT super anything. 

I am simply determined.

And desperate.

And somewhat needy.

What I long for is a touch from God. Without soaking in his love each day, I feel empty. I naturally become someone who works and works and works, yet find myself unsatisfied and wondering if I am doing enough. Wondering: Am I enough?

Last week, I found social media was draining me. I was exhausted and saddened at the hours I was throwing away, and while some of those hours spent online have been super productive; encouraging, connecting and building others up…other hours were spent not so wisely…checking out “likes”, getting sucked in to reading the comment wars on other posts.

SOOOO, I took a break. A glorious break from the pressure of daily posts.

And I’m back again for this next weeks challenge. Did I mention only three weeks left? Summer passed by so CRAZY fast!!

Please, please, PLEASE, above all, soak in God’s love. Thank him for his blessings. Remind yourself of all his benefits. Remind yourself of his goodness. These prayer lists are just lists without connection. Prayer becomes tiring, burdensome even, without true friendship. Oh God, if I could ask you for one thing this week for everyone reading this, it would be that they would experience you this week. May they encounter your deep, unfailing love, which is poured out on us regardless of what we have done. You loved us enough to come and die, while we were still your enemies. In fact, you knew all along that we would turn on your son and kill him. But still, you came in love.

That, is true love. That is the kind of God we serve. That is the One we long to meet with when we come to pray.

Pray for your family next. Your spouse. Your children. Your parents. Pray for brothers or sisters. Anyone God puts on your heart.

Then pray each day for the following:

Monday: Our pastors and their families – Previously I have mentioned how there is tremendous pressure on them and their families to “have it all together”. What a difficult burden to bear! Pray for our leaders to be free of this unreasonable expectation of perfection. Pray for them to be able to be open and vulnerable. Pray for close friendships, for people to walk beside them and be forgiving and gracious to their faults. Pray for purity in their lives, for them to have a fear of the Lord and walk in humility before Him. Pray for protection over your pastor and their family, as the devil would like nothing more than to see your leader fall.  Pray for them to speak the truth of God boldly, and to not fear what people think of them, but to care more about what God thinks. Pray for their marriages, for their family time, for their children. Pray for them to have wisdom in each situation, and to have a Shepherd’s heart for people.

Tuesday- The Global Church – This week I want to pray for a group of churches we often write off as hopeless. We see their crowds, we see through the “feel-good” messages and we shake our heads in disgust.

But Jesus LOVES them.

He LOVES his church, even lukewarm/seeker-friendly ones. And he weeps for them as they shut His truth out of their lives.

Last week I read this verse in Hebrews 1:3- “He holds everything together with his powerful Word.” Think about that for a minute. That means EVERYTHING is held together by the truth: His Word. It’s no wonder then, as we see churches erasing the “offensive” parts of God’s word, that they begin to fall apart. They become corrupt and sinful. They can not survive without God’s Word. It holds all things together. This is why societies that get rid of God, who become proud and discard his word as unnecessary eventually collapse. They all end in ruin. We don’t want him in our courts, in our laws, in our politics, or in our schools…and yet His Word is what holds it all together!! Pray along these lines today.

Wednesday: Mental Health – God’s Truth vs. Satan’s Lies: Satan is the father of lies. When we are at our weakest, he knows when and how to attack us. He knows exactly how to speak a devastating lie to our souls when we are already about to fall. Struggles with mental health are in the mind. This is why I believe those living with a mental illness are the most susceptible to believing these lies. I have found the ONLY way to fight back against such lies (which can even be spoken through words others have said to us), is to combat them with God’s truth. Pray that we would learn to hear his TRUTH! How life giving it is when someone who has believed the lie: “I’m unlovable” hears the TRUTH: “You are absolutely, entirely, and perfectly LOVED.” OR someone who has heard: “I’m not worth caring for,” hears God speak over them: “You are worth FAR more than any precious gold or diamonds!” How about the lie, “I don’t belong.” It has no power when God says, “You belong to Me!” Pray that we would speak God’s truth over those lies. Pray that those living with mental illness would be able to hear and accept God’s truth spoken over them.

Thursday: Idols – Sports/Entertainment – Pray today, that we would not live to be entertained, but that we would live ONLY for Jesus. It’s so easy to waste hours in front of a screen. It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on sporting events or even for our children’s teams… what if, we spent this much time and effort on Christ? Let’s be honest here! Think about it.

I’m not calling sports or entertainment evil, but picture for a moment how different our lives would look if instead of running to two soccer practises and a game each week, then crashing on the couch for two hours and watching some mind numbing show, we would spend those hours meeting with Jesus, memorizing his word, praying for others, and serving. What if we turned off the screen and actually talked with our families? What if we visited the sick? What if we stopped watching shows that glorify the very evil that Jesus died for? How different would our relationships be? Pray that we would turn from anything that takes precedence over Christ in our lives. Pray that we would desire that which can truly satisfy. Pray that we would come and drink the living water. Confess today the ways that you have failed in this area. Pray for us to use these things, not as a way of filling ourselves but as further opportunities to enjoy life in Christ.

Friday: Our government – We Need a Law: Sanctity of Life/Caring for the Forgotten – Right now, in my country it is legal to kill a human being. In fact, it is paid for, by the people through taxes. This is astounding to me. One one hand, a window washing company in Winnipeg made headlines for breaking a birds nest off a building. It wasn’t a rare or special nest. It didn’t hold an endangered species. It was an ordinary birds nest. The people liked watching those eggs and were outraged when the nest was destroyed. They called for apologies, for the people to boycott the company. Because of birds eggs. But tear an unborn baby from it’s mother’s womb, limb from limb, and somehow all these people shrug and say: “But who am I to judge…Woman’s rights!”

THIS IS NOT OK. It’s not ok. It’s not ok that unborn crows are more dear to us than unborn children.

Now let’s talk about Euthanasia for a second…

From a CBC article: As of October 2017, More than 2,000 Canadians have ended their lives legally with the help of a doctor. According to the latest report from Health Canada, there were 1,982 medically assisted deaths in the one-year period after it became legal in June 2016. There have been another 167 in Quebec since it was legalized in that province in December 2015, the report said. The total has been rising faster, with 803 assisted deaths in the first six months after it became legal nationally and 1,179 in the following six months from January to June 2017. That marks a 47 per cent increase. 

And we sigh and say: “Well, it’s their choice!”

You know why we don’t fight to save these precious souls? Because we do not care about them. It is much easier, cheaper and efficient to just kill the unwanted, the suffering. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves is FAR too big of a burden for us to bear.

And most of these subjects are taboo, even in Christain circles. What can we do about our country’s complete disregard for the sanity of life?!? PRAY. It’s time to pray. Pray that God would soften our hardened hearts. Pray that God would open up our blinded eyes. Pray that he would make all our self deceiving lies fall hopelessly short in the light of the TRUTH. May we begin to care about people, created in his image, enough to care for them to the end. Even in suffering. May we give them a death with dignity by tending in love to their needs, rather than shoving them into hospitals or nursing homes and forgetting them. Pray that the church would begin to take in unwanted children by the hundreds, by the thousands, so that every argument about “too many in foster care” would fall short. Pray that we would love the unloved, that we would want the unwanted. Pray that we would value life. May we see each and every person as precious in God’s sight.

Saturday: Outreach– You Can’t See Poverty if Your Gate’s too High One thing that often stops us from reaching out to those in need is failing to step out in the world. It feels so safe to find the best neighbourhood to live in. It feels safe to surround ourselves with Christain friends. It feels safe to stay in the better, more well-to-do areas of town. Now what I’m not suggesting is to go out and be careless…but really, should we be shutting out all the people God really wants us to be bringing in? I sometimes go months in my comfortable little life without coming across (or taking time to see) someone in need. Jesus gave his LIFE for us, can we not go out of our way to at least bless them in some way? Jesus came to seek and FIND the lost. Pray that we, the church would be willing to go and find the lost, instead of waiting for them to come to us.

CHALLENGE: Go out of your way to find someone in need and bless them. You can do this anonymously or in person! Ex: Drive around a poorer area of your city until you actually fins a homeless person, or a beggar bless. Make blessing bags and handout or give them a gift card. Anonymously drop a gift card/package on a struggling families doorstep or mailbox. Find someone who has been going through a difficult time and drop off a meal.

Sunday: God’s Healing Presence in our Walls – Pray today that God would heal our congregations. There is so much pain, so much hurt, so much loneliness and struggle. Pray that God would move powerfully so we may be healed from our pain. So we would let go of our sins, our bitterness, our burdens, our worries, our grudges and find freedom and great joy in him!!!

Thank you for joining with me in another week of prayer. May God bless you richly!

Love always, Heather

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Summer Prayer Challenge- Week 7

This afternoon I dropped off my sweet nine-year-old boy at church to be brought to camp. It’s always hard for me to let him go. Some people who know my relationship with Jonas might smirk at this, because our personalities often clash, but it is absolutely 100% true, he’s always the hardest for me to leave.

I see him there, standing among the boys his age. I see the nervousness in his face, which I so relate to. BUT in spite his struggles with social settings, I see him TRYING. He waves at a boy who doesn’t see him. He awkwardly puts his hand down and waits, unsure of what to do next. He inches closer and calls out the boys name, waving again. The boy casually smiles and nods at him. Jonas’ face lights up with relief.

He belongs. This time he was not rejected. These types of settings are hard for him. I blink back tears because I can feel every emotion in this little boy and I pray for his protection this week as if I’m praying for my own.

This is essentially what I’ve discovered intercession to be: seeing, experiencing, empathizing and then bringing all these thoughts and emotions to Jesus.

Some of those following this challenge have sent private prayer requests, some of you have commented and shared publicly and I want to say THANK YOU! That is what prayer is for, carrying each others burdens and lifting them up to Christ. Please do not hesitate to share! I love to pray for each one of you and with you! I cry with your heartache! I hurt with you in your pain and struggles. I rejoice with you in your triumphs! This is the body of Christ!

Here’s what we’ll be praying for this week.

Monday: Summer Camps – I already posted this on Facebook/ Instagram yesterday but pray for specific bible camps you know of. For Jesus to meet the children. For safety, for protection, for belonging, for the staff, etc. The specific camps on my heart this week are Eagle Lake Bible Camp (my childhood camp), Bird River Bible Camp (my current church’s camp, where my son will be attending) and Roseau River Camp (my kids have also attended this camp).

Tuesday: Specific churches in our areas – Praying for our own churches is essential. But praying for other churches in our area to grow in numbers, in love, in gifts, in character is super important! We are not competitors, we are a team. Let me say that again, WE ARE NOT ON OPPOSITE SIDES. We are actually part of the same body. So that means if the church down the road is suffering, I don’t look down on them and say “at least my church isn’t…”

NO!!! We ALL are the church. We need to get this “us” and “them” mentality out of our heads. May we pray that God purifies our desires so that we rejoice when others are lifted up and that we weep when others are torn down or fall apart. Pray for truth to be taught in our churches. Pray for unity. Pray for healing and forgiveness. Pray for joy! Pray for connection and friendships. Pray for loyalty. Let’s lift our community churches up instead of bringing them down!

Wednesday: Mental Health – Insight into Roots of Depression/Road to Healing – Where there is hurt or pain there is a cause. Pray that we would have eyes to see into the roots of mental illness, whether physical, spiritual or emotional and that we would have grace and wisdom in dealing with each unique situation, so that true healing can be found.

Thursday: Returning to Our First Love – This week more specifically I want to pray into our attitudes as believers. Often we really want the world around us to change this or that – but are we ourselves open to change? Are we willing to stay true to God, no matter what the world around us begins to look like? Even if they DON’T change?? Pray for this kind of faith amoung believers.

Friday: Religious Rights and Freedoms – That God would protect our rights as Christians in our country. Right now we still have a lot of freedoms, but this is changing. Pray that our country would once again value what Christianity and see our rights as ones worth protecting. Pray that those in government positions who believe in God would stand strong and be a testimony to the world of righteousness and integrity.

Saturday: A Heart for the Homeless – Be Ready – A few months ago I was doing a devotional/journal our church put out called the “Abide Journal”. During one of the weeks God spoke clearly to me about my attitude towards the homeless. You see, I was always filled with good intentions to help, but when I would see a need I never had time. So my excuse to not stop and help was, “God, I guess I’m just too busy in this stage of life with my kids.” 

And God quietly spoke to my heart, “If you’re to busy in the moment, why don’t you prepare ahead of time?” I was speechless. Because God had, in his gentle way, revealed the real reason for me not helping: I was too lazy. So that week, me and my kids put together a bunch of “blessing bags” to be kept in the car. These bags contain little melt-proof snacks, gift cards, mini bibles with a note explaining my testimony and the difference Christ has made in my life, sanitary products and other little items to make someones day. The kids had a blast! And now I am ALWAYS ready!

1 Peter 3:15 says: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Pray that we, the body wouldn’t be lazy about sharing Christ. Pray that we would be prepare to love, to give, to share the gospel!

CHALLENGE: I bet you can guess today’s challenge…Make a Blessing Bag or Buy a few gift cards to keep in your vehicle! Always be ready to share the good news!

Sunday: Popular or True? I absolutely LOVE that many churches have the desire to be as welcoming to everyone as possible! But loving people and connecting with them means that we absolutely must be willing to tell them the whole truth of the gospel, not just the easy parts. Pray that churches would fearlessly preach the word of God in its entirety. This includes teaching about the hard things: for without hell there was no need for the cross. Without confronting sin, there is no repentance or forgiveness. Without a heart change, there is no salvation. This doesn’t mean that we elevate certain sins and cover over others we feel are less important. Pray that our churches today wouldn’t be concerned about popularity or gaining numbers, but that they would speak the truth completely – unwilling to be ashamed of Jesus or his Word!

Bless you as you seek God with me!

Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 6

This post marks the halfway point of this challenge AND summer holidays!

SAY WHAT?!?

How is it that February feels like it lasts 100 days and summer feels like 20 days?

Last night I had a dream about wasting my summer…I woke up to realize that I need to spend time with my kids NOW. Isaiah, my oldest is 12. That means that counting this one, I only have 6 summers left with him before he’s 18.

Now that’s an eye opening thought.

One that prompted me to get up in the night and make a note to myself to be with my kiddos. I don’t need to go on an extravagant vacation or expensive outings.

Isaiah loves running with me and playing dodgeball with the family. Bella likes reading side by side and drawing together. Easy enough! I like the same things! Jonas likes biking with me, he also loves doing crazy tricks and dares…which is not me at all, but I can watch him get hurt…nooooo problem. 😜 Dallas is my game guy; he LOVES any card or board game. He’s also a huge sports fan: soccer, badminton, baseball, anything really! And Emerson, he doesn’t really care what we do, he just likes being with me.

What are your kids like? What do you do together? I’d love to hear!

One of the most important parts of parenting is connecting with each individual child…but each day, it starts with connecting to God and praying for them.

Here’s the prayer topics and Saturday’s challenge for this week:

Monday- Pray today for your home church that you attend.

Tuesday- Pray for the persecuted church again. These suffering brothers and sisters NEED our prayers!

Wednesday- Pray for Mental Health. Specifically, for God to provide godly councillors and intercessors for those struggling.

Thursday- Pray for us believers to return to our first love: Jesus. This week specifically (and maybe ironically???), I’m focusing on praying into our idols of social media/smart phones.

Friday- Pray for our Countries. I’ll be praying about Canada’s outright flaunting and celebrating of sexual sin, confessing my part in this and asking God for a desire to walk in purity and holiness with him.

Saturday-  Those Who Have Not Heard. Basically I’ll be praying for the unreached and also those who have maybe heard of Jesus, but don’t really know his message.

CHALLENGE: God didn’t leave his followers on earth for them to sit back and live comfortably until his return. That’s just not what scripture teaches. He chose to leave it up to his followers to share with the world our amazing hope, the message of the cross. Ask God: How can I share the gospel in my workplace? In my neighborhood? In my city? Am I ashamed of you Jesus? Am I afraid because of how it may look? Am I closing my eyes to those around me who are starving to hear the message of hope? Obey what you feel the Lord speaking to you!

Sunday – Lay Down Your Hurt And COME. There are many reasons a lot of Christians have stopped attending church. Maybe thy’ve been hurt by the church or people in the church in some way. Maybe they’ve become bitter or angry at God. Maybe they don’t feel good enough or worthy. This week I want pray for them.

You can also follow along on Facebook or Instagram for more insight into each prayer for the day. Find me as everysmallvoice on IG and Heather Bergen on FB. Love doing this together 💕

– Heather

 

Summer Prayer Challenge: Week One

Ok time to be honest about this ten week Summer Prayer Challenge: I couldn’t be more unsure of what I’m doing.

I’m actually terrified of what I got myself into.

I don’t mean prayer. I absolutely am 100% sure that I want to grow in my prayer life. I want to know God like a close friend. That is my deepest desire right now. I am desperate to see God work in my life. I hunger to know God in a way I’ve never known him before, to see things and people through HIS eyes and not my own. I’ve quite honestly realized that I’m a very average person, and not even a very good one. If I don’t have the power and love of God behind my words and my actions then they will amount to very little. I’m desperate to wake up and actually make a difference in the world. Prayer is my ONLY hope to make any positive change – of this I have become convinced.

But this social media challenge…it’s not me.

I don’t want to come across as some spiritual superstar, or as if I’m flaunting my prayer life online. That’s literally the furthest thought from my mind.

I’m simply beginning. Which means I’m decades behind many of you.

I’m also flaky on social media at best. I like to be on it for a while and then I turn it off completely and love being away from it. So I honestly don’t know if I can do this…if I can post regularly, if I’ll have the zeal, charisma and passion to keep going…I mean, I’m struggling with depression for crying out loud! How can I encourage others to pray?

Also, being open and honest about my prayer life online, in front of dozens if not hundreds of people whom I may or may not know, some who are probably far more experienced in prayer than I am, it scares me.

And yet, it’s not about me.

It literally comes down to a stirring I had in my heart last week when I decided to pray all summer like I never had before. Something moved my heart to invite others along on this journey. Anyone who has this same desire, really. Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, whether you’ve been praying for hours a day or if you’re also just beginning: It is time for the church to seek God like never before.

And if this encourages even ONE person to pray, then it’s worth the time spent. 

Today’s prayer items are firstly: THANKSGIVING. Turn your focus off of your list and onto Jesus. Spend a couple minutes thanking Jesus for his provision, his goodness, his forgiveness, his blessings in your life. Don’t just say the words. FEEL them. Where would you be without these things? What would become of you if it hadn’t been for the Cross? Spend time in worship.

Secondly, pray for individual family members…each individual by name, starting with your spouse (if you have one). Thank God for them. Pray about your deepest concerns for them. For example, one of my children is struggling with angry outbursts and I’m seeking God for heavenly wisdom and eyes to see the root of what is going on in his heart. I’m begging for wisdom. Ask God if you are holding any offences against them. Don’t rush this. Spend time listening attentively and write down any thoughts, verses or pictures which come to your mind.

These two things will become your daily prayers before we unite in the third “weekly items.”

Today, as it’s Monday, let’s focus on praying for our home church pastors. Pastors in a way have a never ending job. There is tremendous pressure on them and their families to “have it all together” as they quite literally are like a showcase for the church they lead. This burden, is FAR too heavy a weight for a person to bear. Many leaders feel incredibly lonely because of this, yet at the same time they also feel overwhelmed with the needs of their congregation. I realize some of us have leaders that we look up to, others have leaders that we struggle to respect. But here’s the thing:

We are all human. We ALL mess up. We ALL say stupid things we regret.

Today let’s decide in our hearts to be very gracious towards our pastors. Decide to protect their reputation by refusing to gossip. If you are harbouring any hurt feelings or anger towards your leaders, now is the time to forgive them. Ask God to show you HIS heart towards them. And now pray. Pray for purity in their lives, for hunger for them. For him/her to have a close spiritual walk with God, to spend time with God daily. Pray for protection over your pastor and their family, as the devil would like nothing more than to see your leader fall. Pray for his/her health. Pray for them to speak the truth of God boldly, and to not water the message of the gospel down to gain popularity. Pray for their marriage, for their family time, for their children. Pray for them to have wisdom in each situation, and to keep a heart that is tender/merciful towards their flock.

If you want you can also ask God to show you something you can do this week to bless them. These are just ideas to get you going…keep praying until you feel your heart overflow with love and compassion for your leader. Bless them!

This will most likely be my only prayer blog post for the week. If you want to see the list for the whole week, check out my previous post: Summer Prayer Challenge or get daily updates by following me on Instagram as everysmallvoice or Facebook as Heather Bergen.

Thanks for joining me in this journey! And please! If you see any encouraging changes as a result of these prayers, or have an amazing/uplifting story to share, or even if you are just deciding pray for the first time, let me know in the comments or email me! I’d love to hear from you!

Love always, Heather