The Collegiate Day of Prayer is February 26
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The Scope of Our Prayers
When we pray we are sowing seeds of faith into the Kingdom of God. Our prayers today are literally adding to the prayers of all those who have gone before us. Yes, our prayers are contributing to a larger Kingdom story that has been unfolding throughout the generations. Psalms 9:12 says, "He does not forget the cry of the humble." Therefore, we can be assured that all these years of prayer will not be ignored or forgotten. The God who inspires us to pray is faithful to answer and awaken His Church. So, we must continue to pray for another student awakening. Yet, more than that - We must pray for our whole higher education system, along with all of it's professors and faculties to be awakened and transformed by the presence of Christ. We must stand together and pray as a united and multi-generational Church, until we see the Kingdom of Christ awakened and established in this generation.
The Purpose of This Prayer Outline
The following prayer points are designed to give you a general road map to follow throughout the course of a corporate prayer meeting. These three different themes or stages of prayer are meant to help you manage the direction and flow of your prayer meeting as you move from one prayer request to another. These points are not intended to be an exhaustive list of everything that you might need to pray concerning your campus. We understand that each college campus is different and that you will need to add to the prayer outline to better address those specific needs. The purpose of the outline is simply to provide a biblical and Christ centered approach to praying for a student awakening that will serve and respect the whole evangelical community. Follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and use the outline accordingly.
Focus First & Foremost on Jesus Christ
Most importantly, start your prayer meeting by reflecting on the person of Christ with a significant time of worship and adoration. This will build corporate unity and put you in the right frame of mind to effectively pray together. An undivided focus on Jesus Christ is the best way to start and sustain a meaningful and rewarding prayer meeting. May God richly bless you in all your prayer efforts for this generation!
A Three Phase Approach to Praying for a Student Awakening:
1) Pray for an Open Heaven — A Posture of Worship & Adoration
- Pray for the fullness of the power and presence of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for an accurate view of the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for a renewed passion and an intimate affection for Jesus Christ.
2) Pray for an Open Heart — A Posture of Humility & Submission
- Pray for a response of faith, humility and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for a turning away from anything that would hinder a strong relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Pray for a revelation of the unfailing love, comfort and adoption of the Father through faith in Jesus Christ.
3) Pray for an Open Hand — A Posture of Joyful & Sacrificial Giving
- Pray for students to joyfully share the hope of Christ's love through generous acts of compassion and evangelism.
- Pray for students to defend the defenseless and care for the orphans and the widows.
- Pray for students to finish the remaining task of evangelizing every tongue, tribe and nation in this generation for the glory and pleasure of Jesus Christ.
Not to us, O Lord, but to You goes all the glory.
We depend on you. You give birth and breath and determine our days. You make every nation and set every boundary. We exist by your power.
We exist for your glory. Showcase your power through this land. Display your justice in our courts, wisdom in our governments, guidance in our schools and love in our homes.
Have mercy upon our sins. We have disrespected Your word, disregarded your gifts, discarded your children. We are sorry. Forgive us, dear Father.
Grant strength to all our leaders. May they serve you first and honor you most. Remind us of the brevity of this life and the beauty of the next. Prepare our souls for the day we meet You in eternity.
This we pray in your holy name,
Our Father and Our God,
We praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve.
Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face.
Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace.
We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it.
You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord.
This we pray in Your holy name, Amen.
- Billy Graham
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples" (John 15:1-8).
It is not unusual for Christians to pray. What is unusual is to see regular, positive answers to our prayers. Many believers have opted for a prayer life in which dramatic answers from heaven are rare. Though that seems to satisfy many, it doesn’t fall in line with the teachings of Jesus regarding answered prayer. Five times in John 13-17, Jesus seems to offer answered prayer to Christians as a mark of their walk with Him. The passage above from John 15 is one such instance. "...ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (v. 7). That’s pretty clear language. Jesus opens the door wide for Christians to expect to see amazing answers to their prayers.
Of course, it’s absolutely imperative that we not pull this verse out of context. The Lord gives this promise of answered prayer to those who will fulfill the condition of remaining in Him and allowing His words to remain in us. With that condition fulfilled, the amazing promises of prayer begin to be realized.
Another way of translating "remain" is "abide" or "dwell." Thinking of this in terms of living with Christ is helpful to me. Too many of us fail to grasp hold of the promise of Jesus that He and the Father would come and make their home with us –"If you remain in Me and My words remain in you..." (v. 7). God dwelling with us, and we dwelling with God. There is an intimacy, a closeness that can be achieved in this world as we draw near to God.
Let me try to give an extended personal paraphrase of what I believe Jesus is saying to us. I think He is saying, "I want you to walk through this world in such close intimacy with Me, that it is as though you were walking through My house with Me. In My house you will see the things that please Me and how I desire things to be ordered. You will continually hear My words and know what is on My heart. If you will live like that, you will be so in touch with My will that you will be able to ask Me for anything, and I will do it for you."
What an amazing promise from our Lord! Not a superficial granting of any request we desire, but instead an invitation to walk in such intimacy with Him that He allows us to participate in His plans and purposes by praying His agenda. The exciting point for us is that He is inviting every single one of His followers to dwell (remain) with Him and be a part of His desires and purposes.
If that isn’t exciting enough, do you see why this promise and its fulfillment in our lives are so important? Look again at this passage of Scripture from John 15. Answered prayer has other purposes. It brings glory to the Father and demonstrates that we are a part of His family (v. 8). When we pray and things begin to happen, it shows that we are walking with Jesus and belong to Him. Jesus called it "bearing much fruit." Bearing fruit is not just an option for the super spiritual. It is for all who follow Jesus.
Jesus equates answered prayer with bearing much fruit. That might be a radical thought for some. We typically think of bearing fruit either as winning people to the Lord or as the maturing process described in Galatians chapter 5 as the fruit of the Spirit. But here in the Gospel of John, Jesus adds another dimension to what it means to bear fruit. When we pray and God answers, that would be a demonstration of God at work and our partnership with Him in prayer is described as bearing much fruit.
I love that Jesus describes this whole prayer encounter as bringing glory to the Father! Prayer is such an awesome act of humility and dependence upon God. Rather than depending upon our hard work and careful strategy and planning, when we pray we entrust the results to the Father, who then receives glory and honor when things begin to change as a result of prayer. This doesn’t mean that our work and planning have no place…but that we realize that ultimately it is the work of God that is lasting and that brings transformation.
Are you bearing much fruit in your Christian walk? Are you seeing God glorified because He is answering your prayers? The life that bears fruit and brings honor to God begins by deciding today to accept the Lord’s invitation to dwell with Him in His house. You may have been a believer for many years, but have been living on the front porch instead of inside the house. You catch glimpses of the Lord, but you’re not dwelling where He is. Come on inside! He’s waiting for His whole family to join Him. Living each day where Jesus is (remaining in Him) will allow us to pray with power and authority and demonstrate to a watching world how amazing our God really is.
If you would like to read more articles by Dave Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” I Timothy 2:1-2
On the First Thursday in May, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) will take place and millions of Americans will unite at more than 43,000 locations from coast to coast to pray. Every year there is a theme that the Chairman of the NDP Task Force, Mrs. Shirley Dobson, will select as a rally cry, and at 12 noon, a prayer will be given in unison throughout communities large and small.
So, this begs the question; does prayer even work? After all, why would millions of people stop what they are doing, gather together and then speak into the air or in the thought recesses of their minds with some expectation that things are really going to change? Is there truly someone listening who can do anything about the current state of affairs in our homes, work places, communities or even our nation? Our leaders have called for National Days of Prayer since 1775, so where is all the change these people have been crying out to God for?
Before we can talk about whether or not prayer makes a difference in our nation, we have to first address prayer for what it is and if it is making a difference in our personal lives. So, let’s jump into one of the greatest theological questions of all time. It was the disciples who inquired first, so you are not alone. While Jesus was praying he was asked, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John (known as John the Baptist) taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). They could have asked him anything. They could have asked, “Lord, teach us how to turn water into wine” or “Lord, teach us to raise the dead”. No, they asked him how to pray and what he did was teach them how to build a personal relationship with God. Then and only then could they be ready to learn how to pray as a group with an understanding of what a solemn assembly was all about.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean states, “Prayer is an interchange of love between the Father and His child. That desire you feel to pray is His love drawing you to delight in Him. You only need to respond.”1 For Christians, prayer (proseuche in Greek) is “communion with God.” It is the medium of divine revelation. Through prayer, we actually experience relationship with God. The quality of our prayer life then determines the quality of our relationship with God.
Prayer is talking with God and listening to Him, and it is enjoying the presence of God. In his book, Prayer on Fire, Fred Hartley describes prayer as, “What we do. It is our initiative to meet God, whether we are asking for favors, singing in celebration, or crying out in distress. Regardless of what shape or size in comes in, prayer is our effort to engage God.”2 Prayer can take many forms, including worship, confession, thanksgiving, praise, petition (asking for what we need and desire), waiting (silent listening and sensing of God), and warfare (command).3 As believers, we can pray in the Spirit—even in language that may be unknown to us but is fully known to God (1 Cor 14:2, 27–28; Romans 8).
Our goal through prayer must be to know God better, to experience the fullness of relationship with Him. Through prayer, we honor Him. We give something back to the Almighty, something He desires greatly. God reveals Himself to us in the “prayer closet”—a quiet place where we cannot be distracted in our time with Him.
God desires relationship, but for many years I was preoccupied with works. Not only that, I was preoccupied with self. When I prayed, it was a preconceived line of thought followed by a list of needs and I was often impatient for results. In my mind, God needed to provide fast results, and if one prayer was not sufficient, I took measures into my own hands. Hey, at least I gave God a chance to perform, and then I did what any good Christian should do, right? But I was still missing the point.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:10,
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death. (amp)
And in Ephesians 1:17, he wrote, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Paul got it. And he wasn’t alone. Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, had such a deep relationship with God that one day God just took him to heaven (Gen 5:22–23). Later, Elijah, who lived every day in wholehearted devotion to the Father, was escorted to heaven in a chariot of fire. That must have been an incredible sight.
Throughout time, God has opened Himself up to men and women to initiate friendship. Friends with the Almighty—what a concept! In Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, DeStefano states,
The fact is that we have a God who loves to communicate. And the reason is that communication is the starting point for any relationship. Everyone has heard it said that God wants to be able to have a relationship with us. There is no truer point in all theology. Indeed, the thrust of God’s communication with mankind over the course of history has always been relational and not conceptual. That’s why he actually prefers it when we come to have faith in him through prayer, instead of through logical arguments alone. God doesn’t just want to satisfy a curiosity we have, He wants to enter into a friendship with us.4
If you knew that ours was the last generation before the coming of Christ, how would you live? When you stand before the throne of God, will you know Him intimately as your friend, or will you be a stranger? Are you going through the routine of your Christian walk without experiencing friendship with Elohim? Through Spirit-led prayer, your eyes will be opened, and you will have an indescribable relationship with God that is rich and fulfilling.
In Experiencing Prayer with Jesus, Dr. Henry Blackaby writes, “How deep is your relationship with the Lord as you pray? Do you pour your heart out to Him with complete confidence and trust in His help, because you’ve come to know and experience His love? It takes time, like any relationship. The more time you spend with Him, the more you’ll come to understand His ways, His heart, and His will as you pray.”5
Prayer is making a difference, transforming the landscape of homes and communities across the globe. A few years ago, Heritage Builders conducted an unofficial study of the American family to determine the factors that increased overall family health. What they discovered was truly incredible. A summary of their findings indicated that families who ate together at least four days a week and prayed at the dinner table showed the highest percentage of honor roll students and church-attending teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.
A Lifeway Research survey estimates that 70 percent of Christian teens and young adults will walk away from the Church during college.6 But families that prayed together were among the 30 percent whose teenagers were more grounded in their faith.7 In the Lifeway survey, participants indicated that prayer was not just a part of religious practice; rather, it was the concerted effort of parents making sure that prayer was emphasized in daily living, not simply as a response to life’s trials and tribulations. Even secular universities agree that prayer makes a difference in relationships.
You may have heard the saying, “A couple that prays together, stays together.” Although we know this to be true, it is helpful to examine the evidence that best supports this common perception. An article published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology had this to say about prayer:8 “There is some evidence that religiosity is similarly related to several positive relationship outcomes. Specifically, greater involvement in religious activities [including prayer] is related to higher levels of marital satisfaction … and marital stability with three longitudinal studies indicating that religiousness predicts lower risk of divorce and divorce proneness.” The report goes on to cite that “prayer may help couples to more often ‘think of the needs of others, be more loving and forgiving, treat each other with respect, and resolve conflict.’”9 The researchers suggest that the relationship people experience with God through prayer helps them handle their emotions, be more empathetic, become less self-focused, and gain greater skills in reconciliation. They also note that “prayer for the partner might prime partners to think about each other in more loving or compassionate terms and so treat each other with greater respect and sensitivity.”
Praying regularly together also “helped couples prevent conflict in their relationships.” Researchers note that couples who included “God in their marriage through prayer” were more skilled in problem solving and reconciliation. Other couples “reported that prayer alleviated tension and facilitated open communication during conflict.”
With this in mind, imagine what the action of prayer does for a community. If religious leaders are praying for civil leaders, they are honoring that which God has put in place. As Romans 13:1 states, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Paul also encouraged believers to pray for their leaders: “I urge … that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:1–4).
Let’s please God by actively seeking, through prayer, “peaceful and quiet lives” – for our nation and especially its leaders. Indeed, we must remain in fervent prayer for those who serve as representatives of the people. Mrs. Shirley Dobson has stated, “if Christians would follow through on this, we would change our lives and the course of history.”
Truth be told, a nation can be punished by the actions of its leaders (II Samuel 24) and disciplined with poor administrators because the heart of the people is wicked (II Kings 17). In the same way, a country can be blessed with good leadership because the people honor God (II Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 3:6-18; Proverbs 8:14-16) and Proverbs 29:2 reminds us that, “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (nrsv). Therefore, we can honor the structure of leadership that God has blessed (Exodus 18:21; Deuteronomy 17:14-20), by our humble intercession, even if we do not agree with all the decisions that those in authority are making, which is all the more reason to pray for them.
The action of prayer is healthy for a home and a community. We know that God does hear these prayers, which is where the real power resides and the evidence is undeniable. So, with a resounding “Yes” we can say that prayer does work! It is making a difference in our nation today. From the farm lands to the booming metropolis’ of this great country, prayer is interfering with the plans of the enemy and I could share with you story after story of the change that is often unseen or unreported by the media. From the various reports showing declines in crime, cancer admissions, abortion, and divorce to the restoration of marriages, individuals in prisons, new salvations and more. The challenge we have today is to remain in prayer. The stories of change are powerful, showing that God does hear and heal, but the problem is that we often get complacent, return to our old ways and then wonder why our home life, work life and national life are all in chaos.
The concepts that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights are foundational to our country and have had a profound impact on the United States and the culture at large. We must continue to pray that God protects our nation asking that He would install in office men and women who are committed to serving their constituents with integrity. And we must remain in prayer for our elections, beseeching God to prompt our fellow citizens to become involved in this process. Voting is both a duty and a privilege, and the outcomes of our political races are critical in determining the future course of our nation. 11
The need to pray is as great as the authority of God, who commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17 nkjv). Prayer is so vital to all that God wants to do on the earth, and it is so essential to us, that He commands us to do it all the time. But the key to successful prayer is the relationship that develops in and through this interstellar conversation. Sometimes we just need to listen, while other times require focused intercession, even repentance, praise and petition. If you want to know the will of God, it is discovered only through devotion to the Word through prayer. So, let’s pray as we have never prayed before and be united in One Voice.
May God’s hand of wisdom and guidance remain upon each segment of our society, and through His Spirit, may believers be inspired to pray continually. We are assured that the Almighty hears our petitions. As people from coast to coast lift their voices in prayer, repentance, and humility, we simply cannot underestimate how the Lord will respond. Let us come before His throne with these words on our lips and in our hearts, “God Bless America!”11
Let’s pray: Lord, we live in a diverse country with blends of many cultures, faiths, and values. I pray that the power of Your Holy Spirit would move among us and tear down the barriers that divide us. May You breathe upon us and instill in us a desire for unity and agreement through a spirit of mutual respect and brotherly love. Forgive us for any discrimination or cynicism or cruelty or superior attitudes we may have harbored I our hearts. I ask You to help my own heart to be free to bring peace to others, to work together with others who don’t share my perspective, and to make a difference in the world. Help me, Father, to be a force for unity (Psalm 133:1). Lord, teach me to be submissive to Your will rather than be filled with criticism for leaders who do not share my values. I resist the cynical spirit that wants to creep in, and I choose to trust in Your sovereignty over all the situations that trouble me. Help me to remember to show proper respect to all people (I Peter 2:13,17) and to pray for them earnestly, serving as a witness to Your love.
Father, I pray that You will raise up godly and righteous men and women who are strong to stand up and represent Your values and purposes for our nation. May the right people find favor with the citizens and be voted into office, and may those who desire to be in office but lack the integrity be kept out. Give our leaders wisdom to govern and spirits that are willing to work together to do the best for our nation. Guide and bless them that they may enact such laws that please You, to the glory of Your name and the welfare of our people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
About the Author:
John Bornschein is the Vice Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and Senior Pastor of Calvary Fellowship Fountain Valley church. At 38 years of age, he and his wife, Brandi, have 5 children and together they have served in ministry for more than 20 years. To learn more, visit www.NationalDayofPrayer.org
1 Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Heart’s Cry: Principles of Prayer (Birmingham: New Hope Publishers, 2007), 18.
2 Fred A. Hartley, III, Prayer on Fire: What Happens When the Holy Spirit Ignites Your Prayers (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006), 16.
3 List compiled by All About God Ministries, http://www.AllAboutGod.com, cited on National Day of Prayer Task Force Web site, http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org.
4 Anthony DeStefano, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers to Life’s Most Difficult Problems (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 10-13.
5 Henry Blackaby and Norman Blackaby, Experiencing Prayer with Jesus: The Power of His Presence and Example (Sisters, OR: Multnomah), 28.
6 Lifeway Research survey conducted April–May 2007, cited in Cathy Lynn Grossman, “Young Adults Aren’t Sticking with Church,” USA Today, August 6, 2007.
7 The Barna Group Ltd, “Twentysomethings Struggle to Find Their Place in Christian Churches,” September 24, 2003, http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/127-twentysomethings-struggle-to-find-their-place-in-christian-churches?q=twentysomethings.
8 Frank D. Fincham, et al., “Spiritual Behaviors and Relationship Satisfaction: A Critical Analysis of the Role of Prayer,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 27, no. 4 (2008): 362–88.
9 M.G. Dudley and F.A. Kosinski, “Religiosity and Marital Satisfaction: A Research Note,” Review of Religious Research 32 (1990): 78–86, cited in Fincham et al., “Spiritual Behaviors.”
10 Heritage Builders Association, http://www.heritagebuilders.com.
11 Excepts from the book, “A Time for Prayer” – developed by Inspired Faith with the National Day of Prayer Task Force (2010)
Happy New Year! Hard to believe it is 2015. It is quite amazing when you think about it that another year is in the history books and you contributed to the greater story. That’s right – every action you make has an outcome that impacts potentially generations to come. It is not our story but HIS story we are blessed to be a part of – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). I am especially blessed to know that God directs our path and every day is purposeful and strategic despite ourselves. He takes our mistakes and our successes, our aspirations and our trials and all are building materials in the Architect's hands: “A man's heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
It has certainly been a year of trials and tribulation both at home and abroad. The moral and spiritual decay of our nation has impacted every home and has left none unscathed. Yet we find our hope in God and it is through Him that we stand boldly at the front line seeing victory and not defeat. You have persevered in prayer – day and night you have given the enemy no joy in your countless words of petition on behalf of our nation, accompanied with powerful expressions of praise that are a sweet aroma to the nostrils of the Most High. Many of you have taken blow after blow yet you have demonstrated unwavering faith and determination to hold the standard high. In your presence I am often reminded of the words of Theodore Roosevelt who said:
It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
This year, the theme for the National Day of Prayer is “Lord, Hear Our Cry” and what a powerful statement to make – a beacon to this lost and wavering society that we must return to the God of our fathers in humble intercession. Abraham Lincoln said it best, “I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.” For we are given power not to advance our own purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name (1). There is but one just use of that which He has given us, and it is to advance His will. May we always remember that it is not our will but thy will be done.
The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us; so that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways... that all peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other (I Kings 8:57-58, 60).
1: Quoting from the Inauguration of President George H.W. Bush, January 20, 1989
I am alive because of prayer.
Let me begin by taking you back to 1973. During that year, gasoline was 40 cents a gallon, the Sears Tower opened in Chicago, the U.S. withdrew its troops from Vietnam, Skylab was launched into space, Nixon declared “I am not a crook” during the Watergate hearings, Billy Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs during the Battle of the Sexes tennis match, and the Supreme Court rendered a decision on January 22 making abortion a U.S. constitutional right. It was also during this year that the course of my life was dramatically altered—before I had even taken my first breath.
You see, it was in 1973 that my mother, only a teenager at the time, fled for her life. She was running away from the sexual abuse she had endured at the hands of her stepfather. Living in perpetual fear, her only recourse was to run. She made her way to California where she found a group of other troubled teens. The leader of the pack was a smart but wayward mechanic who was also a drug runner.
Trouble is a magnet for the lost—an oasis to the broken. The group welcomed my mother, and she followed her angry heart into their open arms. The phrase “troubled-youth” does not adequately describe the rebellious outcry that became her defense against vulnerability. In her mind, she would never again be the victim. Yet in the midst of bad choices and a lifestyle that was sure to lead her to prison, she became pregnant. This seems to have been the inevitable outcome of this environment of “free love,” with an endless supply of drugs and alcohol.
Like so many others in her position, she made the only choice that seemed right—after all, how could she possibly raise a child when she couldn’t feed herself and had little desire to be alive? The man responsible encouraged her to abort the baby, and she did. The affects to her body were harmful. She bled horribly, and the scar tissue was severe. Suddenly aware of the brutal reality that she had just become the victim of her own choices, she cried out to God for help—a God she didn’t know and resented.
But this experience didn’t stop her from returning to the lifestyle she knew. It wasn’t long before she became pregnant again, despite the scar tissue. Shocked and disbelieving, she again determined to end this life interruption. But as she contemplated in exasperation, the God she had cried out to answered her. At that moment, she knew she had to take a stand. God had intervened. My mother made the decision for life and chose to carry her baby to term.
But here is the cold reality: There wasn’t a red carpet awaiting her when she returned home that night. There were no flowers in a thoughtfully positioned vase. No, there was only the reality that she was about to become a young mom. She still had no idea how she was going to make it through tomorrow—let alone the next day or the day after that. She had no support and no plan. But that wasn’t a problem for the God who had just touched her heart. He was about to make a way in the wilderness and I praise God for the pregnancy centers across America that are doing this service for women every single day. They aren’t just engaged in the business of saving babies—they are engaged in a business of saving lives by reaching out to the moms and dads that society has turned its back against. They are God’s hands in action, giving medicine to the brokenhearted and hope to the hopeless.
That’s only the beginning of her story. There were still more turns and twists to come, but God was present in each part of her journey. My mother decided it was time to move forward with her life. She moved, took a new job, and tried to create an environment suitable for her new son. She knew the best place for her son was at church and there just happened to be a small but growing church down the road from her new home, Teri Road Baptist Church. She contacted the church, acquired the van schedule, and prepared to send me off to Sunday school the next weekend. As much as she wanted to, she felt that she just couldn’t take those first steps into the church herself. She was too ashamed of her past. She was scared she would be judged and confronted, but she didn’t want those fears to hold back her son. Her strength and firm resolve against vulnerability would serve her well to push through those tough decisions. So, my mother did one of the bravest things I can remember: She walked with me right through the front doors of that little church. And you know what? Not one person put their finger to her chest and judged her for her previous life. No, the body of Christ acted as the body of Christ, welcoming her with open arms.
I have fond memories of Sunday School - of friends, fun, and stories of hope and redemption. I took home all of my art projects—those illustrated stories of Noah, Moses, and Jesus. My mom would take those projects into her hands, smile, and pull me in with a warm embrace. She would then put magnets to all four corners and proudly display them on the refrigerator. Little did I know that each weekend, those stories were opening her heart to God more and more. At just eight years old, I was an evangelist. As a result, my mother started attending regularly, gave her heart to Jesus Christ—and I accepted Christ right there with her. Eventually she became the church secretary, planned the youth programs, and even went on to work for Dr. Charles Stanley in Atlanta, Georgia. What a turnaround. Sure, she’d made some mistakes. But God had a greater plan for her life, and she took the baton and ran with it.
My family’s story is still being written, but we know that we have made the right choices—ones that we can live with for all eternity. The enemy tried taking life at every opportunity. He wanted my mother to abort me. But God loves life. He intervened at every turn when we submitted to His will, despite all odds.
Today, my mother is a devout woman of faith—truly a woman of prayer. She is married to a godly man, and because of her love for God, she has been a blessing to the entire family. Several people, including her mother, have given their lives to Jesus as a result of their relationship with her. Does she still hurt from her pervious decision to take a life? Of course. But God heals and forgives, and He never hated her for her decision. Instead, He bandaged her wounds, gave her love that she had never experienced, and honored His promise to give her a hope and future (Jer 29:11).
Just look at what God has done! In the midst of tragedy, one choice—a choice for life—was the first step on a path to complete transformation. That child that almost wasn’t, that almost-notch in Margaret Sanger’s belt, that “inconvenience,” is now a husband, father of five, pastor, teacher, ministry leader, and more importantly, a devoted servant of Jesus Christ.
God took what the enemy had planned for evil and turned it to good (Romans 8:28). He stopped the lava flow, and from the crusted surface, He brought forth a sprout of hope and restoration in my family legacy. Every conception is a life with limitless potential in the hands of a Holy God.
I shouldn’t be here today. My whole life is a miracle. And guess what? So is yours. Turns out my grandfather, who was a man of faith, had been praying for my mother regularly. He wept for her and always made sure to intercede on her behalf and I fully believe that it was his prayers the Lord answered that day when my mother was about to go back to the abortion clinic. You see, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16) and God heard my grandfather’s prayers. As a result I am here writing this to you today.
We all have a testimony, and like it or not, we have all been affected by decisions to take the life of the unborn. I am a pastor that was one decision away from never giving a sermon. Every child is a member of our society and abortion denies them a God-given opportunity to add their brush stroke on the tapestry of life.
We have to own the fact that when we made a decision for Christ, we embarked on a new path that puts the world behind us and the cross before us. We are no longer our own. We belong to Him. That means we must take responsibility for the impact our decisions are making on the future generations. We must own up to what is happening on our watch at this very moment. This is not someone else’s problem—it is our responsibility. We must not sleep until we have done all we can to alter the course of a society on the verge of genocide and self-destruction. Now it is time to live it.
Prayer is needed in America to restore the foundations of Christianity in our homes. Now is not the time to grow weary. Now is not the time to give up. We must not allow our prayers to diminish. Rather, we must amplify our prayers with persistence and perseverance. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:56). May our days be filled with praise and adoration for the King of kings. Let our faith be contagious with our passion of service, and may the joy of our love for Him fill our home and impact generations not yet born. We must be intentional for such a time as this.
- John Bornschein, Vice Chairman, National Day of Prayer Task Force
A dear friend wanted to ensure that I began the new year on the right note so he gave me a wonderful, one-year devotional called New Beginnings. Each page brings inspiration, challenges and motivation to grow in our walk with Jesus Christ. After reading this morning, I felt compelled to share the following thoughts with you as we develop our active prayer life throughout 2014 and beyond:
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Of the spiritual luggage that you will carry with you into the new year, prayer is one of the most important components. Some people maintain that prayer is easy. Others believe that it is difficult. If you are trying to develop a growing and meaningful prayer life, you will know that both these statements contain some truth.
With the best intentions in your heart you set aside time for a peaceful time of prayer, but just as you are preparing yourself, something intrudes upon these precious moments: a telephone call, a knock at the door, a sudden reminder of something you should have done. You can be sure that the devil will leave no stone unturned to prevent you from praying.
It would be a good idea to take these things that distract you and enfold them with your prayers. Take the disturbances that the devil places in your way and change them into subjects for prayer.
Prayer is not a static entity, but a dynamic, pulsating force that needs to be used continually if it is to retain its power and fulfill its function of leading you into a more intimate relationship with God. If your prayer life is weak and ineffectual, you become like a motor battery that hasn't been used for some time: it cannot fulfill the task for which it was created. Recharge your prayer batteries through disciplined prayer and feel how God starts working in your life.
Lord Jesus, let me discover the wonder and the power of prayer anew through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Sanctify my prayers and make me faithful in my prayer life.
On May 31, just a few weeks after the largest National Day of Prayer (NDP) in U.S. history, the NDP Task Force set out on a journey to travel community to community, church to church, encouraging all to remain in fervent prayer over our nation.
[hr] [typography font="Cantarell" size="18" size_format="px"]The team set-out on a mission that was grounded in Acts 18:23[/typography] [hr]
What began as a vision to have regional gatherings quickly turned in a grander adventure when the owner of Champion Coach donated a 45-foot bus for the ministry to use to mobilize prayer from coast to coast. After wrapping the bus with a large “Pray for America” graphic, the team set-out on a mission that was grounded in Acts 18:23, where they “traveled from place to place throughout the region…strengthening all (who followed Christ).” In just the first 25 days of the tour, the following occurred.
- 25 Days, 8 States (PA, NY, RI, MA, ME, CT, NH, and VT)
- 34 Cities covered in prayer
- 137 Prayer Gatherings
- 3,610 Miles of Prayer
- 14,590 People joined together in prayer at the bus stops - 67 commitments to Christ (all new believers receive Starter Bibles provided by Harvest Crusades). These are only the ones we know of who spent time with us to understand what it means to follow Jesus.
- 1,250,140 People have watched news reports and heard radio spots on the bus tour
- 1,419,288 People have read updates on Facebook and the National Day of Prayer Website
- 1,650,733 People have viewed the Bus since it departed
The stories of hope and transformation are humbling. We have watched families reunited, fathers crying with their children asking for forgiveness, children coming to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior, addicts falling to the ground in repentance and even church leaders re-energized to continue serving on the front lines. There are few words to encompass or adequately describe the transformation that has occurred. Indeed, every day the wheels have turned under the bus, we have called them miracle miles as the next stop is always filled with opportunity and praise.
At one stop in Connecticut we ended up worshiping with three churches for over 14 hours straight. At another stop in Buffalo, NY, we set-up tents for prayer and resources and although it poured rain for much of the morning, lines circled the building with people just praising God. It was as if the whole central district just closed up shop and all came out for prayer in the heart of the city despite the weather. Every single day has been like this so if you are just hearing about the Pray for America Bus Tour for the first time, please take a moment and read the updates on Facebook and at Commit2pray.com. We know you will be blessed and encouraged just as we are.
God is raising up His church for such a time as this!
There is a fresh wind blowing across the nation as God is raising up His church for such a time as this! It is our prayer that we can continue to travel the nation but we need your help. God has provided the financial support for us get from Maine to Colorado, May 31 to August 10. However, it is our goal to cover at least 37 states (if not more) and we need to raise an additional $32,400 to make sure we can cover the Midwest, West Coast and Southern states. Our final journey will take us to the West Coast and then back across the Southern states toward Greenville, SC, for the finish line in mid to late September. Please prayerfully consider standing with us in this Pray for America mission and if you have a church or location in mind for our next stop, don’t hesitate to let us know.
Here are the anticipated stops through August 3:
- July 18-19: Knoxville, TN
- July 20: Mount Juliet, TN
- July 21-22: Nashville, TN
- July 23: Elizabethtown, KY
- July 24: Louisville, KY
- July 26: Terre Haute, IN
- July 27-29: Chicago, IL
- July 30-31: Des Moines, IA
- August 2-3: Lincoln, NE
May God bless you and may God bless America!
On July 4, 2013, the National Day of Prayer Task Force will host its very first 5K – Walk, Run, Roll event in Pennsauken, NJ, just outside of Philadelphia. Indeed it is the season when we spend a great deal of time outdoors enjoying the beauty of the world around us that often goes overlooked in the busyness of our day. But this is not just another event. For those of you who enjoy the challenge of a good 3.1-mile run, you won’t be disappointed. This Pray for America 5K event will feature state-of-the-art race results, t-shirts, music and more but for the rest of us non-runners, this is going to be a special time of camaraderie as we unite in one-accord and in one voice to celebrate the work of prayer across our nation.
In the spirit of I Corinthians 9:24-27, we shall all run the race – and this is also in the everydayness of life – but we celebrate the fullness of I Timothy 4:8 that although exercise is good, we preserve in all godliness to do the “good work” (Eph 2:10) to which we have been called. So this is a race like non-other. Many other notable organizations put together walk and run type events regularly, but this is the first and only 5K event dedicated to prayer and the work of the prayer mobilizers from coast to coast. All are welcome! On this special day we will celebrate our Independence Day and cheer on the Pray for America Bus Tour team as they cross the finish line of the first route. Many of us will have been on the road for 35 days straight engaging, equipping and encouraging communities – speaking as many as 5x per day – leading up to this Pray for America 5K. So, the finish line will be momentous and exciting…and we want you there!
To learn more about this special event, sponsored by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, Joni and Friends, Turning Point Ministries with Dr. David Jeremiah, Harvest Crusades with Greg Laurie and Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson, then click here and get registered today. If you don’t plan to walk, roll or run during the race, then make plans to join us anyway for what is sure to be a special time of celebration with friends of family. See you in Philadelphia on July 4!
[button link="https://www.runtheday.com/registration/select_race_type/19067"]CLICK HERE TO REGISTER >>[/button]