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This post should have come yesterday, but I decide to include it anyway. When I woke up and prayed, I was pondering that question, asking God, “how do I pray for justice today?” We hear a lot about social justice, economic justice, racial justice – and those are also things I pray for, but my question was, What is God’s justice? What does God want to say about justice today? The scripture that kept coming to mind was Amos 5. I am including the chapter in full, without much personal commentary today. I re-read it this morning, and I can’t help be struck by these things which God spoke to the nation of Israel, at the time of the split kingdoms of Israel and Judah. So much calls to mind things that I see today, and things that have happened over the last few years. I do not pretend to know exactly what these words mean for us today, for I am not a prophet or a political commentator, but I can’t help being struck by some things, and wondering – We seek God’s justice, but are we experiencing it right now… and complaining?

When faced with scripture, and not fulling understanding, but getting an inkling of an idea, I think my proper response is humility and repentance. Truly, I am always somewhat in the wrong, and repentance and humility is a pretty safe response to anything God stirs within me! Perhaps not all the wrong is mine, but I can seek God on behalf of my nation and my people and even my church, for not only justice, but also mercy. I pray we would come to God whole-heartedly. I pray we would seek God for who He is, not for what we might want Him to be or do.

I also pray according to verse 5, and ask myself, When have I gone to Bethel or Gilgal to seek help, instead of coming to the Lord Himself for my deliverance? That is to say, when have I looked for answers from other people, or felt that solutions I might be able to derive (like the idols of v.26) could do more for me that God Himself could or would do? This is a question I will keep asking God, and considering in my decision making, in the things I want to change in my own life. Lord God, be my answer. Be the one I look to and trust above anything else. Show me Your path and Your way – the way You have designed just for me to walk. Help me to receive the correction you give now, so I don’t have to face the devastation Israel faced for their lack of love for you.

Amos 5: Seek the Lord and Live (ESV)

Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel:

“Fallen, no more to rise,
    is the virgin Israel;
forsaken on her land,
    with none to raise her up.”

For thus says the Lord God:

“The city that went out a thousand
    shall have a hundred left,
and that which went out a hundred
    shall have ten left
    to the house of Israel.”

For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
    or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
    and Bethel shall come to nothing.”

Seek the Lord and live,
    lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
    and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
O you who turn justice to wormwood
    and cast down righteousness to the earth!

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    and turns deep darkness into the morning
    and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name;
who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
    so that destruction comes upon the fortress.

10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,
    and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
11 Therefore because you trample on the poor
    and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
    but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
    but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions
    and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
    and turn aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
    for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good, and not evil,
    that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
    as you have said.
15 Hate evil, and love good,
    and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
    will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:

“In all the squares there shall be wailing,
    and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning
    and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,
17 and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,
    for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.

Let Justice Roll Down

18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
    Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
19     as if a man fled from a lion,
    and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
    and a serpent bit him.
20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
    and gloom with no brightness in it?

21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

25 “Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? 26 You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, 27 and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

I woke earlier than usual today and prayed, but as I then fell asleep again, and was awoken by my children, it’s been just that kind of day as to allow me no chance to sit and prepare a post here. I have, however, had a number of tasks that allowed my thoughts to linger on our prayer focuses of the day. As usual, I pray for transition, for the impossible, and today I pray for the LGBTQ+ community, which has a particular presence in my town. As I have prayed throughout today, there have been a couple of scriptures that have come to mind several times.

The first is 2 Corinthians 1:2-7 —

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Jesus came and lived among us, and suffered with us. When we, as Christians, face hard things in this life, we can experience the comfort of Christ through those times. When we encounter people facing hard times who are not able to connect with Christ in those times, then we have that opportunity to extend compassion and comfort as Christ would were he right there in bodily form. The LGBTQ+ community knows what it is to feel misunderstood, rejected, and uncomfortable in their own skin. What would Jesus do when he met someone like that? How can I, through Christ, help to convey a sense of dignity to misunderstood, rejected and uncomfortable people when I meet them? That is my first prayer point today.

The next scripture that keeps coming to mind is Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

We all have so many things that we feel keep us from God – or that would want to keep God away from us. And yet the truth is, nothing that we do or fail to do can keep us from the love of Christ. It is so wide, and deep and long and high as to encompass all of human experience. So I pray that we would know that love today, the kind of love that helps us to stop feeling judged, and stop judging others. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and it is the Holy Spirit who is to help us understand sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11).

I also pray according to verses 20-21, that God will do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, by His own power and to His own glory. Sometimes it is hard to know how to pray, or even precisely what we want to pray for. But whatever we have the faith to ask for, God can still do much greater work than that. Whatever impossible thing you seek, or whatever it is that is simply beyond you, I pray that you would see God do even more than you ask, as you trust in His power and give Him the glory.

rainbow

Genesis 9:16 “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” 

 

 

 

I was away for the weekend so I didn’t post my prayers, but I am back now, as we come to the last ten days of our Summer Prayer Challenge. Today’s focus is State & local senators and representatives. I confess I knew some but not all the names of my elected officials, so I looked them up, so I could pray by name. I have listed my people here, but also included websites so you can find out who your officials are, if you live in a different area.

To find your State Senators and State Representatives, you can go here.
My Representative to Congress is Peter Defazio, and my Senators are Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

For state government, you can go here to find out who represents your area.

James Manning

James I. Manning, Jr.

My State Senator is James I. Manning, Jr.

Julie Fahey and Nancy Nathanson are the Oregon House Representatives for the Eugene area.

I am also praying for our Lane County Sheriff, Clifton G. Harold, and the Eugene Chief of Police, Chris Skinner, and the Springfield Chief of Police, Richard L. Lewis.

Sheriff Harrold

Clifton G. Harrold,
Lane County Sheriff

Police Chief Chris Skinner

Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner

Chief Lewis

Springfield Police Chief, Richard L. Lewis,

As always, my purpose in my prayer posts is not to comment on politics or policy, but to simply prayer that God would be influencing these leaders toward his purposes. I pray He would give them the strength to do what is wise, right, and just. To make the hard decisions, and sometimes unpopular ones, if they are in fact the best decisions. I pray they would truly serve the people. Help them not to give in to pressures or pride, but to serve in honesty and humility. I pray that Christian believers in their lives would know more appropriately how to pray for them and influence them, and I pray that if they don’t already know Jesus, they would come to know Him.

These people have difficult jobs, and I truly do not envy these positions. But I do pray for them, and I thank God for their willingness to serve, and I pray that God’s will would be done through their work.

In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that He channels toward all who please him.
Proverbs 21:1

This week we pray for two heavy issues involving women and children without choice, and the men and others who help to take away that choice. The first issue was abortion, which we prayed for on Wednesday – in which the child is powerless, and the woman is generally scared and feels unsupported and without other options. Often the men involved escape culpability, and they don’t face the long-reaching physical and emotional scars a woman faces after she does choose abortion. Today, we pray for those victims of human trafficking – often women and children, again powerless. Perhaps they ended up in such a situation because of poverty, desperation, believing lies of someone who manipulated them, pretended to love them, and ultimately threatened and abused them. They cannot leave, and even if they could, they probably wouldn’t know how or where to go.

C FIrst

There is an organization called Compassion First who works to both prevent sex trafficking, and to rescue survivors and help them heal and form another life. They are based in Portland but work primarily in Indonesia. I found these statistics, if you’d care to read more about the issue.

For now, as my prayer today, I want to share a song I wrote while in college, inspired by some of the homeless people who were then in my area, as I tried to get to know them and somehow help. It comes to mind still as I pray for homeless people, those with mental illness, trafficked, kids in foster care, and so many others who are somehow lost. I pray it also over those men who seek out and victimize the women and children who have been sex trafficked, or those men and women who exploit unprotected persons as undocumented workers, domestic help, and for other reasons. They too are lost – for what person would so thoroughly use another person unless they also were deeply broken inside?

And what can I do? Very little it sometimes seems. But very much more when I try to have eyes open to what the Holy Spirit sees and I simply do what little things He may lay on my heart to do. I pray for hope to come to those who are trapped. I pray for healing. I pray God’s Kingdom would come, here as it is in Heaven.

For the lost and in need
For hearts crying and weak
Lord, make us strong
When we’ve nothing to give
But this one life to live
Lord, make us strong

I see souls crying out
Needing an answer for their doubt
I see souls who don’t know that they’re lost
I see souls storm-tossed

For the lost and in need
For hearts crying and weak
Lord, make us strong

Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

~ Proverbs 24:11-12

This morning our prayer focus is for missionaries, and specifically I am praying for one of the missionaries our church supports in South America, Lee Schnabel, and his wife Lisa. I am also praying for the South American churches they serve. Their ministry is called Capaz, which in Spanish means “capable” – certainly fitting, since their main ministry is training leaders and pastors in South America, and also God has worked physical healing on numerous occasions through their ministry and prayer. I received these prayer requests from Lee. Can you please join me in praying for these needs today?

Lee-in-Colombian-Pulpit

Lee (in blue) in Colombia

1. Please pray for the following national leaders of the churches that we are serving: Ruben Baldivieso (Bolivia), David Gimenez (Paraguay), Felix Gil (Peru) and Juan Marenco (Nicaragua). Each of these men are the presidents of their national churches and the pastors of local churches. These men are under a tremendous amount of pressure. We have had between 8-10 pastors die from Covid in Latin America. Currently we are meeting by Zoom with each of the boards of directors of these countries to project our goals for the next five years. However, the Bolivians were under such stress due to Covid that we had to postpone the meeting. 

2. We were planning on having a retreat with our entire ministry team in Bogota, Colombia and because of Covid it was cancelled. However,  we are going through some amazing discipleship material as a team between September and July of next year. There will be three groups going through this material. Please pray that the Lord will increase bonds between our team members and that we will deepen our personal sense of calling to specific ministry assignments from the Lord. You can see our ministry and advisory team on our website: capaz.info.  

Thanks for allowing our CAPAZ team to be the focus of your prayer on August 6. 
Grateful for ministry partners like NEFC,
Lee

Our Eugene Mayor is Lucy Vinis. Do you know who your mayor is? I have never been much interested in politics and I am sure there were many years even in my adult life when I couldn’t have named the mayor of my town. And yet many things in my immediate day-to-day experience of my home town depend upon decisions made by my mayor and local city council. Today I pray especially for them, by name. [Here is a list of the Eugene city council members.]

I looked into current city council topics, and so along with those agendas, and what I saw on our mayor’s blog, I am praying for these topics:

  • Federal CARES funds (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) extended to the city, much of which will go to address housing assistance and homelessness prevention, rent assistance and homeless services.
  • Ongoing peaceful protests in support of Black Lives Matter, and those who are trying to hijack the peaceful protests with violent and destructive rampages; the need to distinguish the two issues and not equate criminal acts with civic protests.
  • Farmer’s Market plans and our city’s Park Blocks and renovations needed, like new restrooms. The Farmer’s Market is a big deal in our community and we have many local farmers who need to make a living.
  • Library services, Urban renewal projects
  • New appointments to the police commission to include more ethnically diverse members

What are the issues in your community that need prayer? How can you be praying for them?

days 16.17.18

I will not be able to post for the next couple of days, so I wanted to mention our next daily topics.

Day 17: Our Neighbors

Who are your neighbors? Do you know them? I read this great post yesterday about how one man had a chance to be a true neighbor to one of his neighbors facing an extremely difficult time. It reminded me of myself and my husband (the one who is better at meeting new people), and just reminds me to pray – God, is there is someone in my neighborhood who needs some encouragement today, help me to notice with you and be available.

Day 18: Abortion and our local Pro-Life service for young mothers through Dove Medical

How to summarize a hot-button issue in a paragraph? I am not even going to try. I just pray, Lord, help me know what kind of weight to give this issue in electing my government officials, and how I can support LIFE – not just the unborn lives, but the lives of women who are irrevocably changed when become a mom, including how they handle a pregnancy. Help me not forget the kids who need to be adopted or placed in loving homes through foster care. Even if I can’t personally support these people, God I pray you would strengthen those who are working for you on the front lines, and show me how I can give and pray to support women and children who don’t know who they can turn to for help. I pray for Dove Medical that you would allow them access to schools to present their Stop And Think program to help young people fully realize the consequences of their actions and make wise decisions. I pray more women would have the courage to choose life, and that the fathers and the families would be supportive as well. Every life is important to you, Lord. Most of all, help me to show your love and grace to people on all sides of the abortion issue, and to know how to speak truth in a way that it will bear the most fruit for your Kingdom. Amen.

We are nearing the half-way point for the Summer Prayer Challenge. The novelty is over, and the real work begins. Will I keep doing this? Or will it be like a New Year’s Resolution that doesn’t stick? Another thing to throw in the pile of failed attempts? When I started, I wasn’t really sure why I called it a “Summer Prayer Challenge.” But now I know… Because it’s hard. It’s hard to have intentional conversation with a God we can’t see, even when we know He is there. It’s hard to hear sometimes, when there is so much else in our lives that can get in the way. The last few days there has been some of that “so much else” that has been getting in the way, and it has been hard to feel like my prayers are powerful and effective (James 5:16), or that God’s voice is saying which way to walk (Isaiah 30:21).

Yesterday morning was a bit of a breakthrough for me, which re-energized my pursuit of God, and prayer, as God reminded me of a few things that can get in the way of effective prayer, and a few things that can make it easier.

  1. First Things First
  2. Do the last thing He told you to do
  3. It’s hard to love God with all of you when all of you isn’t healthy

First Things First
Matthew 6:33 reminds us to Seek first the Kingdom of God – maybe you aren’t a pray and read the Bible first thing in the morning person. I don’t think that’s necessarily what this verse means. Many times what can get in between me and God’s Kingdom is whatever I am seeking before Him. Is there something you do everyday that you can make sure before you do that, you are seeking God? Maybe before you check Facebook each day, or before you check the news. Maybe sometime before dinner. Maybe sometime before you turn on your favorite show. What would happen if before you seek that thing, you seek God first. Come on – I know you can think of something that if you sought God first, you would suddenly find you have more time to seek Him than you realized. My current “Seek First” that I am trying to obey does happen to be a love God more than sleep kind of thing, but I’ve been loving my sleep, and blaming it on other things. I think one of the reasons it has been a hard week is because I didn’t seek God first in the particular way He asked me to right now, and some of my prayers were more cluttered than intentional and purposeful.

Do the last thing He told you to do
There is a common conversation in my house that goes something like this:

Kid: Mom, can I do this thing I really want to do?

Me: Did you do that other thing I asked you to do?

Kid: well, no… but… it’s too hard. I can’t. I don’t know how.

Me: Did you do the small part of it that I already gave you clear and concise  instructions for?

Kid: Well, no … but… I don’t want to. It’s not fun.

Me: If you don’t do the last thing I asked you to do, I am not going to give you the privilege/help/etc. you think you need. I wouldn’t have asked you to do it if I didn’t know that you could. Please obey me, then I will give you the next thing you need. Other privileges (screen time, dessert, sleepovers) are suspended until you take care of this.

Can any other parents relate? Yet I was surprised to discover that I have been having this same conversation with God for awhile now. I know some things God wants me to focus on in my life right now, but it seems too hard/I don’t know how/it’s not fun.

Sometimes we don’t feel like we are getting anywhere in our prayers because we are ignoring what we already know God has told us to do. This kind of obedience takes two distinct steps: Get other things out of the way, and Start Working!

Recently someone asked me to do something… it wasn’t a bad thing, it was actually a really good thing… but I realized that if I did that thing, I wouldn’t be able to follow through on the last thing that I know God told me to do. I was a little bit scared to say that, and I didn’t want to let anyone down, but I couldn’t ignore God. So it is good that I took that first step to make room in my life to complete the current assignment.

But not doing something that gets in the way isn’t the same as doing the thing we need to do. That seems so obvious, but — for example — just because we decide to fast and pray, and we in fact do not eat, doesn’t necessarily mean that we are truly fasting and praying in a spiritual sense. Not eating is not the same thing as fasting and praying. If God says “fast and pray” and you just don’t eat, you won’t get anywhere with God, and you may continue to feel like you aren’t hearing Him. There are things that God has told me to do, but I have been focused on other questions, and those questions about THEN are getting in the way of my obedience NOW. Obey what you know, and I believe God will tell you what is next when the time comes.

It’s hard to love God with all of you when all of you isn’t healthy
The way to inherit eternal life, as summarized in Luke 10:27, is this: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

When speaking of spiritual things I think the church can have a tendency to talk a lot about the heart and mind, but less about the strength/body, and the relational aspects of our spirituality. If you aren’t hearing God, maybe do a quick check – are your relationships good? Is there an area you are struggling with forgiveness? Are you taking care of your body? Exercise can have amazing mental/emotional/spiritual benefits as well as the physical! Are you properly hydrated? Eating too much sugar? All those things can affect the chemical processes in our brains, which can affect the way we think and pray. Are you filled with negative body image thoughts? There are several verses that speak about how intentionally God has made us, and how he loves us. But beyond that, we need to see ourselves not for what our bodies are. We need to take care of them but it is our hearts with which God is most concerned (1 Timothy 4:8, 1 Samuel 16:7). If we have bitterness in our hearts about how our bodies are, that can turn into bitterness against our Maker, which can hinder our prayers and ability to hear God.

Today’s theme for our Summer Prayer Challenge is Love Mercy from Micah 6:8. The Biblical concept of mercy as expressed in this verse has very much to do with kindness. How can we be kind to one another? How can we be kind to ourselves? Let’s think about that today as we pray for our own needs and for others’ needs, and our interactions with others. How can we be kind?

Imagine not knowing where your next meal will come from. That is a question that most of us reading this post have likely never have had to ask. I know there were some pretty lean times in my family when I was growing up – though I didn’t know it then. Even as an adult, with a family to feed, even in times of joblessness, I never truly had to wonder where I would get food. Maybe I didn’t know how I would pay rent, but I have always lived in places where if I really needed to, I could go to a food pantry, or we could get by on WIC assistance or Food Stamps. I’ve had food boxes delivered to my home because a church found out we needed help, and most of the time, we have a pretty good stock of dry goods set aside in case of emergency.

In my community, from the first week schools closed due to the pandemic, there have been free food bags made available to any child under 18, no questions asked, if you just come to one of the schools or neighborhood centers where it’s been identified that many of the free-lunch-qualifying families live. To tell the truth, I didn’t realize how many resources were available in my community that aren’t available in other parts of the country. I understand that those who live miles out of a small town might not as easily be able to get one of those free lunches, but I was more surprised to hear about city-dwellers who hadn’t received their stimulus check, unemployment benefits, or any food assistance even months into the pandemic.

So maybe they can imagine not knowing where the next meal would come from.

Imagine now, living somewhere other than America, and there being no unemployment benefits, no government stimulus, no food stamps, no food pantries, no WIC assistance, no free meals. Ever. All these things we, in America, or at least me, in my town, have come to think of as normal. How can anyone in America go hungry? But they do. And they do in many other parts of the world as well.

Often the problem isn’t that we lack supply — it’s a matter of getting the supply to where there is demand. When restaurants shut down all over the country, there were dairies whose contracts were with those restaurants, who had to dump thousands of gallons of milk, because contracts were canceled, and they had nowhere to store the surplus, and couldn’t get it re-routed to stores fast enough. Meanwhile, grocery store shelves were empty, because everyone was now eating at home.

I posted a story yesterday about how friends in Costa Rica helped to address this problem in their area. Today, I will share how friends in Cambodia — Uriah and Naomi Lyford — worked to end hunger in their area.

world hunger

Uriah & Naomi Lyford with the second truck of food – 11.5 tons! – that they helped fundraise for and arrange to be delivered to 850 needy families in their part of Cambodia.

First, they used their own savings to purchase a bulk supply of food to give immediate relief to familes. Then, early in May, they sent out a request for donations to feed these hungry families. In their area, $25 in American money can feed a family for a month. I’d be embarrassed to say how much my family spends on food each month. Their goal was $10,000, enough to supply 400 families for one month. By the end of May they sent out a response: their initial  goal of $10,000 had been met, but more people were coming to them, so they prayed and asked God for more. This is what they were able to share with their prayer and giving partners:

We have now exceeded our goal and raised enough money to feed 850 families! People have been so blessed and encouraged. More than just food, these deliveries have brought hope and joy in uncertain times. We are excited to stay connected to the various villages and families we have helped through this season and already have plans to show the Jesus film in many of the ares we visited when the situation is safe.

Praise God!

I know there is still work to be done to end world hunger. Can you join me in praying for these things:

  1. If needed, repent for taking each meal for granted, instead of truly being thankful for our food.
  2. Thank God for the victories He has brought, for generosity and faith of those who step out, to their own detriment at times, to obey in what God has put on their hearts to give. Thank God for the way our faith and obedience, when presented to God, becomes an offering that He multiplies for the benefit of many more.
  3. Pray that God will help bridge the gaps in supply and demand, so that food is not wasted, and no one goes hungry.
  4. Ask if there is anything in particular that God would have you do today or this week, and to help you be aware if there is a need in your immediate community that you can help fill.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”    – Matthew 25:31-46 – 

Screen Shot 2020-07-30 at 12.24.55 PM

It’s Missionary Thursday and today I am praying for one of the missionary families our church sponsors: Ezra and Gioconda Rice in Costa Rica. They work with YWAM (Youth With a Mission), also known as University of the Nations. I didn’t get in touch with them for a specific prayer update for today, but this morning I was searching them online and found this inspiring video about some of the work YWAM in Costa Rica recently participated in related to food scarcity and loss of income during the pandemic.

https://www.facebook.com/1493404667596547/posts/2758974551039Screen Shot 2020-07-30 at 12.18.50 PM546/?vh=e&d=n

After watching the video and thinking with God about the family, here is my prayer:
Help us to be a people of greater generosity 
Help us to remember that generosity begets generosity
Open hands are more able to give and also more able to receive – help me to have open hands regarding all the resources you’ve given me.
Lord I pray for Ezra & Gioconda’s family, ministry, health, sense of purpose right now, and financial provision. Give them wisdom as they parent not only their own kids, but so many of the volunteers with the ministry, and those in the community who see them as spiritual parents and leaders. As so many kids are having difficulty adjusting to the pandemic way of life, I pray their kids would be able to make that adjustment. 

There is also a song I thought of in praying for them today, and I wanted to share it – it’s such a beautiful song, inspired by the blessing the priests were to pray over the people, as recorded in Numbers 6:22-27.

So that is the blessing I pray over not only Ezra & Gioconda, but also over our church and our transition right now: God is for us. He is faithful.

Today’s prayer focus is one that needs no introduction. Everyday it seems there is some news on the way our national race-related history and current tensions have flared up. I recently wrote about some of my own thoughts on all that is happening right now.  Today, I am praying this way:

Lord, help me to see people the way you see them. Color does matter – not because it stratifies us, but because it is part of our unique identity and dignity. Help me to not be color-blind, but to be aware of how our various skin colors affect our life experiences. I pray for white Americans to have the courage to explore those issues that people of color can’t avoid. Help us to ask the awkward and difficult questions, so that we might broaden our understanding, empathy, and action on behalf of those who face injustice.  And I pray that if anything I have said here displays my own naivety, that someone would tell me, and that I would be open to hearing it. I pray that all people would have an identity that is rooted in You, Lord, and that we would see each other with your eyes, and know with confidence which fights You would have us fight. Teach me to pray how today I do not yet know how to pray. Help me to love all my brothers and sisters in You, and treat with dignity and celebration all those You have made.