Skeletons at a Buffet- A Reflection on the Summer Prayer Challenge

I love camping.

I hate camping for too long.

Presently, I smell like a mix of campfire, dirty dishrag, wet dog and human body odour. My lower back cramps and aches as I adjust to life without a pillow top mattress and goose down pillows. Instead of my usual devotional palace, I am sitting in a crowded bed, with a mug of terrible tasting coffee in hand, grasped by a finger which was sliced open and wrapped tightly in bandages (the consequence of groping around in the darkness and finding a razor instead of my flashlight.) My body is feeling the effects of living through seven nights of restless, short nights. In fact, before I hid myself in this cramped but quiet space, it was more dangerous to come across my path than any of the creatures you may find out here in the wild. I am irritable when my body feels uncomfortable.

And yet, now as I rest with Jesus, the comfort in my soul overflows. For this summer I have learnt the secret to thankfulness.

And it’s easy: Ungratefulness comes from staring at my problems. A heart of gratitude comes from staring at God.

It’s really that simple.

It’s as though I was stuck in this depressive state because I really did have a load of very real, very heavy burdens. It was a load far too heavy for me to carry and now and then, when I find myself picking it up again, I wonder how in the world it didn’t altogether crush me.

We weren’t meant to carry these things; we were meant to walk with God, to stare at him like the father he is and simply, trusting like a child watch him as he saves the day. Over and over and over again.

Helpless, but completely trusting, exactly like a child.

Some of you may think that I’m over simplifying things, I would respond that maybe we are so stressed and overwhelmed because we over complicate things.

Bad things happen to good people.  According to God‘s word, this shouldn’t surprise us…yet it does! Time and time again it causes us to question God’s love, God’s goodness.

Perhaps, instead of asking ourselves: “Why is God allowing this to happen?”  We should be asking God: “What are you trying to teach me through this situation?”

I’m starting to see that God allows these trials not for us just to survive but to shape us, to grow us for OUR good. Hebrews 2:10 says that through suffering, Jesus became a perfect leader! If Jesus, who is without sin, needed to suffer, how much more do we need suffering to learn!

But how do we learn what God is trying to teach us instead of being crushed underneath the weight of our trials? It’s all about the gift of the Holy Spirit and Prayer.

Picture a starving man who has survived outside of a buffet restaurant by digging through the dumpsters and finding scraps of leftovers to gourge on.

One day the owner of the buffet notices him and stops him. “Come!” The owner calls to him, “Come and eat all you could ever want! For free! All I ask is that you work for me, here at the buffet, and bring others in to eat!”

The skeleton comes in to dine for a while, but soon forgets about this offer and goes back to digging through dumpsters, only going in once and a while to eat when the hunger pains get overwhelming.

This is essentially how we treat Christ. Here we are, tired and half starved. We know that something’s not right yet we continue to feed on our garbage over and over again: worry, planning, stress, coping mechanisms and bad habits to drown out our sorrows, addictions, media and entertainment to distract our anxious minds…But we refuse to go to the buffet. We refuse to eat the real food! We refuse to ask God for peace which he longs to give us! We forget the times in the past where God has filled us fuller than we could ever imagine.

Some of us may not eat out of the dumpsters, but we rely on others to bring us their leftovers. They’ve spent the time in God’s presence and we live off of the crumbs they bring back to us.

Why not go for ourselves to meet with God?

It’s all right here. Look to Christ and worship. See the magnitude of who he is! Read his word in wonder! Remember what he has done in the past. Remember that he is not in the business of bringing us comfort and wealth, but in shaping us to look like him. Don’t just come when you’re starving, come daily to eat. He longs to provide for your needs. Ask him the hard questions. Trust in his answers.

The last two weeks of the prayer challenge were spent hidden away from the social media side of it, because I need this for me. I long for this to become so much more than just ten weeks of prayer; for it to turn into a year, a decade, a lifetime prayer challenge! No longer a skeleton bent on survival, but a healthy thriving individual able to bring others to the buffet.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

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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

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 5

I know many of you who follow my blog also read my posts on social media, so as this one is a complete copy of all I’ve already posted this week you can skip this one 🙂

BUT to those of you following solely on my blog, I apologize for this post being so late. I already put the previous days’ prayer topics on Facebook/Instagram, however, this week was a busy one for me and I hardly had a minute to spare.

Better late than never right??

Thank you for joining me in this challenge!!

Here’s the overview of the prayer focuses for this week:

Remember above the lists, to meet with Jesus. Experience his love for you. Allow yourself to relax and thank him for all of his many blessings. Turn your mind off all the business of your day and just think about Jesus: Who he is. His wonderful character. Pray for your spouse and individual family members by name.

Monday: Our Pastors/ Families – Today pray for protection for them. Each time I see a news article of a fallen pastor or a new “church scandal” my heart sinks. Are our first thoughts of them: “How DARE they? How could a godly leader do this?” Do these things really surprise us? Satan well knows that if he can hurt the head, he can cripple the whole church… “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.” Today, pray for your pastor and their family. For God to put his hand of protection on them. That they wouldn’t feel the need to look “strong” in the face of trials or temptations but that they would be able to have trusted people around them to share with and be supported by. Ask God to give our pastors renewal each day. May they never have to feel like they are in this alone. Ask God to give them hunger and a desire to walk closely beside him, spending time in his presence each day. Pray that they would overcome evil by the power of his blood. Pray that they would be quick to repent and to ask for help, that God would keep them from pride. Pray for their families, that they would not feel the burden of always having to look put together, but that we would view them as God’s children in need of his grace as well. Pray that God would give us, the church body, MUCH grace for our leaders. May we always be a support to them, ready to protect and believe the best in them instead of always looking for the next thing to complain about. God, may we be a church that is a delight, not a burden, to lead.

Tuesday: Philippians 3 for the Church

Today as I pray for the body of believers across the world, that is, in every nation, tribe and tongue, I am drawn to Philippians 3.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

What if every believer lived like this? As if everything else was garbage compared to Christ? That knowing Christ would become the biggest priority. Truly believing that all our righteousness isn’t because of our good works, but because of Christ! I tell you: we would judge less, hate less, sacrifice more, we would forgive, we would let go of our idols, we would live for Christ’s mission and not our own. Pray for these things!!

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Oh that we would not live as enemies of the cross! Pray that we would take our eyes off of earthly things and remember that our citizenship is in heaven! Pray that our glory wouldn’t be in our temporary idols. God, bring us into the joy of your presence!

Wednesday: Mental Health – Just why did I decide to devote one day a week this summer to pray into mental health issues? Was it just because I am coming out of a long season of depression?? Being diagnosed and then talking about it, completely opened my eyes to how HUGE this is. EVERYONE I talked to could relate in some way. “Wait. Did you just say EVERYONE?? You’re not truly saying that you believe everyone has a mental disorder do you?!?” No I am not. But everyone has mental health and physical health. And everyone I know has experienced sickness in some sort of way, so it would be naive to say that not everyone has experienced, to a degree, some hopelessness, depression, anxiety, etc. Here’s the thing: we feel ashamed to talk about it, as if we would be more righteous if we were just happy all the time. You know what has helped me the most? TALKING about it and finding people who will compassionately listen without judging or accusing me based on my feelings. Because feelings aren’t wrong, it’s what we do with them in our thought life and actions that matter. Today pray for those living with mental illness to be able to talk, to not lie to themselves and others about how they’re really doing, but to be open. When we are open, others feel free to be open as well. Pray for wisdom in responding to and dealing with these feelings. Pray that those who need medication for their illness would not be shamed because of it. Pray that they would also be open to Jesus, for he is the ultimate healer. Oh that we would find deep comfort in running to his arms and sharing the negative thoughts and feelings that torment us. He has promised to carry our burdens, if we only let him! Pray for our focus to daily be taken off our earthly situation and to be focused onto the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for thanksgiving to flow from the lips of those who are struggling, for a thankful heart is a joyful one. Pray for mental illness to become a topic that we no longer fear. And thank Jesus that it is becoming easier to talk about. Thank him for the many ways he is already answering these prayers.

Thursday:  The Attack on the Family – Today, I am praying about the attack the church is facing in homes. Pray for marriages/families in the church. Thursday’s we pray for returning to our first love and I believe a part of this is strongly connected to what we do with Jesus in our homes. One of the ways we can show Jesus our love for him is to prioritize what HE does. And we have not prioritized the family. We have not taken seriously the marriage covenants we made before him. Today, pray for broken families, broken marriages, broken children in the church. Pray that we would learn to see the importance of those nearest to us. That the church would become known for a place where families thrive. Pray for parents to be willing to pour in the time it takes to raise children for the Lord. That we would not try to put this responsibility onto others/the church but that we would begin to seek God together, serve together, do devos together. May our families honor God and be a reflection of our love/devotion to him.

Friday: Our Nation

For me that is Canada. And there is something that deeply grieves my heart in this beautiful, multicultural country and that is the fact that racism is still strong and present. Many would deny this. But bring up the relationship between the white folk and the first nations and the air becomes eerily quiet.

Not all is well.

There is so much brokenness. So much pain. So much anger, hate and unforgiveness. So much judgement and jealousy. Conditions for most of those living on reserves is terrible. Many families are broken. And the most heartbreaking thing is that everyone know there is no really good solution. What has been done in the past is now done. It can not fully be restored. From a human standpoint, improvement in this area is impossible…but with God, ALL things are possible.

This is my prayer today for Canada and the indigenous peoples:

“God, heal what has been broken. Restore what has been lost. Bring comfort to all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve. Bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes. The oil of joy, instead of mourning and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair. Father bring the indigenous people out victorious! May they be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. Oh God, bring compassion and forgiveness on both sides, soften our hearts toward each other. Money can never right the wrongs that have been done in the past. Only you can bring restoration. Come Lord Jesus.”

Saturday: I’m MUCH too Righteous for THEM!!! 

Outreach is one of the most important callings of the church, but I believe it is widely the most neglected one. Many, many Christian’s have no heart whatsoever for the lost.

I sometimes wonder if I do?

Do I care if people spend an eternity without Jesus? Do I care about the hopelessness that many people feel day after day after day? Or…do I deep down feel that some of these “sinners” deserve to live in pain? Alone. Forgotten.

Do I somehow feel that I’ve earned the right to walk with Christ, to know him? Today pray about this attitude. The attitude of thinking: if they would just smarten up, then they would be able to find Christ and turn their life around! You know the thing about lost people? They’re LOST! Lost people need help to find their way. LOTS of help. I needed lots of help. You needed lots of help. Think of the people who have all poured into your life. Where would you be without them? Pray for patience and a willingness to not just share the gospel, but to walk with those living in darkness. They NEED you to help them see! Pray that we would become so thankful for our blessings in Christ that we could not help but share them with the world!

  • CHALLENGE: Reflect on your attitude to those around you. Are there those who you don’t associate with because of something you feel they’ve done? Talk to someone you may have misjudged. Remember and imitate your Heavenly Father who “causes the rain to fall on the good and the bad.” Bless them in some way.

Sunday: Love for those Hypocrites/Sinners – As we gather together in our services, pray that our eyes would see those around us through the eyes of Christ. Often I believe many Christians are hindered in worship because they are so distracted by “those sinners/hypocrites” around them.  May we realize, but we are also among the sinners and hypocrites. Not one of us is 100% consistent with everything we believe. Not one of us always does the right thing and this attitude needs to go. Come and worship. Come and love. Come and receive grace and forgiveness. Come and serve others. Come and connect. Just come!

God bless you this week!

Jesus is Perfect – NOT a Perfectionist and Week 4 of Prayer Challenge

I smiled as I fondly looked at the happy pictures of my family from this past week. These little clips are beautiful memories that will stay in my heart for years to come.

One would think, by looking at them, that it was a perfectly happy week. But the pictures don’t tell the whole story…

Camping with little ones isn’t easy. Hard mattresses, hot tempertures and unfamiliar settings make for long and restless nights. Despite our few snapshots of the best moments, not everything was as relaxing and peaceful as it would appear.  Doing without the comforts and convieneces we normally have can be exhausting.

I am reminded this week that life isn’t perfect, nor can we expect it to be. That’s the fallen state of our world. It’s broken; incomplete.

I have also realized that life is neither about waiting for those golden “picture” moments (for they are far too short and few) nor about making the right decision at every opportunity.

It’s about overcoming. Never giving up. Learning and then relearning. All the while, finding joy in the ups, downs, and curves of life.

My dear auntie shared something with me a couple weeks ago that I absolutely loved. She said, “If all is well only when we frail humans finally come to our senses and make wrong things right (even though this is very important) what do we do when things can never be made right? Where we can’t go back, where permanent damage has occurred; or where people simply see things differently and don’t apologize…it HAS to be possible to overcome in all circumstances or we will constantly loose our joy.”

This is key. We often think it’s the big things that we need to overcome. The huge tests and trials. But for me, especially struggling with depression, I find it’s all too often the little things that I need to relinquish my control over.

This week I “failed” in my specific prayer challenges. My prayer times were short, interrupted and scattered throughout the day. I slept in because the camping nights weren’t great. I had little alone time in a little camper with five kids, no room to go to have peace and quiet. And I was really stressed about it! Because I said I was going to pray this week and I want to always keep my word. But then I stumbled upon this painted rock, hidden one morning:

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And it hit me: Jesus isn’t interested in my perfection or my legalistic prayer agendas.

He’s interested in my heart.

Now I’m not saying that the prayer challenge itself is legalistic, but as always, I needed to get back to the heart of it. The heart of prayer is ALWAYS to connect with Jesus, not to “accomplish” this or that.

So I let go of the weekly agenda and practised “being still.”

Oh how sweet it was to connect with Jesus when the pressure was off! While kayaking, I suddenly was full of joy at the beauty around me and sang praises to God. While running or biking the trails, I was free to worship. While lying in the sun I would pray for loved ones. During meltdowns and temper tantrums I would grit my teeth and ask for grace, patience and wisdom.

There is no formula to a “good prayer”. All you really need is a sincere heart that desires God.

I am continuing the Summer Prayer Challenge, for I still desire to grow in prayer. Yet after this week, I am more sure of one thing then ever before: Jesus is absolutely perfect, but he’s not a perfectionist. Holiness/Perfection is NOT the same as perfectionism. To be holy means to be pure or set apart. Perfectionism says nothing is ever good enough. Jesus is perfect, that is, he is without fault or flaw, blemish or sin or stain…But he has chosen to work outside of perfection; in chaos, really. He is consistent, but knows very well that we are not. Yet, he has chosen the weak, the broken, and the unimpressive as vessels to work through. He’s not interested in our perfectly thought-out rountines, our well-structured lists or cleverly worded prayers.

He’s interested in YOU…in ME! Even though we could never be good enough on our own. He’s interested in relationship. He is able to work through us, if only we will listen to his heart. So for those of you this week, burdened by the “lists”, let go of them and “just be”…

Be still in his presence.

Be thankful in his blessings.

Be touched by his goodness.

Be filled with his love. Allow yourself to feel his love for you. He made only one special you!! Irreplaceable, unique, beautiful and totally LOVED. Feel his smile of delight, enjoying you “be” who he made you to be. Don’t bind yourself to a list. This week, make connection – not completion, your goal.

Summer Prayer Challenge- Week 4:

Pray each day with joy and thanksgiving, for your family. As each precious person comes to mind, lift them up to God. Picture them as you pray for them.

Monday: Pray for bible camps going on this summer. For staff and children to encounter Jesus and to be healed by him. For lasting change and lifelong commitments to be made.

Tuesday: Pray that God would unite his bride, the church. That we would set aside our differences and LOVE as he has called us to love.

Wednesday: Pray for those struggling with mental health. That God would bring break through and healing in this area. That he would bring miraculous healings. That God would give wisdom and tools to the church, to help those suffering to find victory, to overcome!

Thursday: For us as a church to realize our desperate need and hopelessness without God. For the church to call out to God, to wake up and PRAY. For our eyes to be opened to the idols around us.

Friday: For our country, our government, our leaders. Bless them and pray in faith that God is in complete control over our leaders! Pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I’ll post again on Saturday with the prayers for the day and the weekly challenge!

Bless you this week, as you meet with Jesus. Always remember that this is really about him 💕

 

 

 

Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 3

Hey Everybody!! It’s week three of my Summer Prayer Challenge!

Last week, I read a biography about George Muller, and I was so encouraged to keep praying! George Muller lived in the 1800s, when disease and poor living conditions had killed many on the streets of Bristol. Many children were orphaned and left homeless. God gave George a burden for these poor, helpless children and he built five large orphanages BY FAITH. Literally. He prayed, he believed God to provide and God did. Never once in his ministry did he ask anyone other than God for money.

Here’s an example of just one of the hundreds of miracles God did for the orphans under George’s care (taken from the book “Christain Heroes: Then and Now – George Muller” written by Janet & Geoff Benge):

“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.”

George prayed, and there was always enough.

This week, I also happen to be camping with my family so, although I will continue to pray each day, this post will be it for the week, so you’ll get a nice break from me, LOL 😀

If you would like to continue following along with me, these are the topics I will be praying for this week:

Today (Monday): We’ll be praying for our home churches. Pray for the leaders and specific members of your church that come to mind. Pray for any difficulties your church is now facing. Pray for God to move in the hearts of his people, to renew their love for him. Pray a blessing over your church, thank God for the things he is doing!

Tuesday: We’ll pray for unity in local churches. They will know we are Christians by our LOVE!!! Pray the the churches in our community would not feel in competition, but work as a team for God’s purposes. May we pray together, forgive each other, work alongside each other in brotherly/sisterly love. Pray for specific churches around you that come to mind. Pray blessing over them, that God would increase their number. That God would be present among them. That they would experience his good gifts.

Wednesday: Mental Health issues are greater than ever before. We will pray for all those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Pray that God would be near them and comfort them, that he would take away feelings of false guilt and self-blame. That he would bring hope, in a very dark situation. That his peace would bring these family members/friends through the pain. That God would protect their lives against following a similar path/hopelessness. Pray for them to be able to comfort others who have gone through something similar. Pray for those around them to reach out and show them much compassion and tender care. Pray that we would know how to make a difference in the lives of those affected. Pray that God would give the church the right words to say, words to bring healing to a hurting world.

Thursday: For many centuries, Christians around the world have been persecuted, imprisoned, beaten and even killed for their beliefs. Still today their are many willing to die for Jesus. They would rather be mistreated in this lifetime in this life and gain Christ, than live in comfort and lose him. That is what love and desperation for Christ looks like. Yet in the west, we live in one of the rare places and times that we are able to choose comfort AND Christ. Although we rejoice in this freedom, this hasn’t always done us good. Often I believe we forget what we are really here for we when are living in comfort. Often our lives are so good, we forget all about God, except for one day a week, when we show up to a service. And if that becomes to inconvenient, we stay home and maybe watch a sermon on youtube. Where is the love? Where is the hunger? Where is the joy in his presence? Where is the excitement to meet with other believers? Today pray for us to choose to follow him in comfort and in distress, in riches and in poverty, in strength and in weakness. Pray that God would truly become our everything. Pray for desperation for God. Pray for him to FILL us with immeasurable joy in his presence, so that we yearn to spend time with him, to know HIM.

Friday: For God to raise up godly leaders in our government, who won’t be afraid to stand up for truth. For God to bring about the “Esther’s and Daniels” for our day and age, with wisdom, insight and influence to bring our nation back to God. Pray for leaders who stand up for godly values, who protect life, who fight for the poor, the alien, the widows. Pray for leaders who remember the elderly and fight to provide good care for them in their final year. Pray for these leaders to not get caught up in the “hot topics” of the day, or endless debates that go nowhere, but to be filled with God’s authority when they speak, which would silence the enemy.

Saturday: For us to remember the forgotten generation – If there is ever a culture that has forgotten about seniors it is ours. I am also guilty of being too busy to remember that thousands of elderly people are bedridden or shut in a care home, as hour after lonely hour ticks by. Pray for them!! That they would see their incredible value to God and to our society. That they would realize that God has them here for a reason, we NEED them. Pray that we the church would find the lonely ones, that we would reach out and care for them, reminding them of their beauty and their purpose. Thank God for these men and women, who have gone before us. Pray that our generation would learn to honour them and respect them.

CHALLENGE: Visit a lonely senior this week. This can be a grandparent, a friend of the family, or an older relative. If you don’t know a senior who’s lonely, try asking your Pastor or church office if there are any who would appreciate a visit. Stop by a seniors home, or hospital and ask if there would be anyone who would welcome a visitor. Look into any local volunteer services for caring for the elderly.

Sunday: For authenticity in our services. Pray for us to leave the “masks” at home. To come as we are. Pray that we wouldn’t try to look perfectly put together, but that our desire would be to meet with each other and with Jesus. Pray that we would open our hearts to one another and be real and vulnerable.

As always, thanks for joining me in prayer! If you have a neat experience or story to share about prayer/this prayer challenge, I’d LOVE to hear from you! Feel free to either tell it in the comments or share it with me! Let’s encourage each other and build one another up as we continue to follow the unique plan God has for each one of us.

God bless you! See you next week.

-Heather