I've said it before, but I don't mind saying it again. The thing I love most about Kennedy Stern from my Kennedy Stern Christian suspense series is that she is always growing. She's being constantly stretched, her worldview is constantly expanding, and she's slowly gaining that maturity she lacked in chapter 1 of Unplanned when she made her way to Pastor Carl's pregnancy center for the very first time.
It's not just her view of the world that's expanding either. Kennedy's faith is slowly growing, slowly gaining momentum. Included in that is her prayer life. This conversation from book 4 in the Kennedy Stern series really stands out to me because it speaks so much about our own prayers and quiet times. I actually heard a pastor preach the same thing the camp speaker told Kennedy so many years earlier, and I think a lot of us have fallen into the same trap she did.
Kennedy knew she should pray but lacked the spiritual stamina to do so. As a little girl, she’d once gone to a Christian summer camp where the speaker shared a story about what happened when he told his atheist friend, “I’ll be praying for you.”
“Why?” the atheist wanted to know.
It's no secret that I've got a heart for the people in the closed nation of North Korea. My first three novels were set in North Korea, and my Kennedy Stern series is about the daughter of missionaries who have devoted their lives to supporting North Korean refugees.
In case you're wondering, I'm not Korean. In fact, my Japanese ancestry means that my great-great-grandparents would have been considered the wicked oppressors of the Korean peninsula. Today, it's no longer the Japanese but the ruling Kim regime that is holding God's children of North Korea in bondage.
So how did a half-Japanese woman who's never set foot in Asia decide to write about North Korea? It all began with a prayer burden.
I once knew a woman I really looked up to who told me, "Prayer is like sex. Everybody assumes everybody else is doing it better." Although as a very young newlywed, I was (more than) slightly scandalized at her choice in metaphor, I've come to at least appreciate the sentiment behind her words.
My husband recently got back from a week-long trip out of state to attend a pastors' conference. Thankfully, everything here went as smoothly as could be expected. The car battery died once when temperatures dropped to twenty below, our hot water heater went out the same day, and our toilet malfunctioned and was out of commission for a day and a half, but at the very least we all stayed healthy and (relatively) happy.
I'm so happy to have Scott back home and just as glad for the time he received of spiritual refreshing. Seeing how blessed he was reminded me how important it is to cover our pastors in prayer. Their jobs are tiring, demanding, and take more spiritual stamina than most of us realize.
You probably agree that it's important to pray for your pastor, but sometimes it's hard to know exactly what to focus on. Here are a few quick areas where I'm sure your pastor would appreciate prayers.
Before he died, George Meuller was estimated to be responsible for the salvation of thousands of souls through his orphanages and other ministries in 19th century England.
George Meuller, nicknamed the Man of Faith, had far humbler beginnings. In his early adult life, he began to fervently pray for the salvation of five friends of his.
I think most of us can admit we'd like a little help growing in our prayer life, right? Busy schedules, small faith, and wandering thoughts keep nearly all of us from praying the way we should.
Several months ago, my friend Jaime (who's also a Christian author) and I were talking about how there aren't that many online resources out there that are specifically designed to help you pray. We both like listening to podcasts, but there weren't any we could find that focused only on prayer.
We launched The Prevailing Prayer Podcast to give people like us -- ordinary people who want to grow in their prayers lives -- encouragement and practical support.
Thanks so much for letting me wrap up the next Kennedy book last week. God, you really helped me with that one. So I'm at it again, fresh start Monday afternoon, a blank document staring me in the face.
I confess that I'm scared.
Have you ever been on mulitask overload? Sometimes I get so bogged down with so many different projects on my to-do list that I sort of freak out and go into stress paralysis mode.
Can you relate?
Most of us want to enhance our prayer lives. Unfortunately, a dichotomy exists in our minds and in our churches, a dichotomy that distinguishes between “seasoned prayer warriors” and the rest of us. If you don’t feel particularly gifted in prayer, you might feel like your prayers have only a little or no impact. And if that’s the case, you’ll probably pray with little or no impact.
Before we explore the world of Christian persecution, let’s take some time to reflect on our own personal prayer lives and preconceptions about the power of prayer. Do you pray because you have to? When you talk to God, is it hard enough just to keep from falling asleep? How might your prayer life change if God were to show you the real-life impact of your prayers?
My favorite non-biblical quote about the power of prayer says, “History belongs to the intercessors.” In other words, history changers are not in capitol buildings, palaces, and battle fields. History changers are on their knees, asking God to advance his kingdom here on earth. Do you believe this? Do you really believe that your prayers can change the world? Do you act as though your prayer life has the ability to make a difference in the outcome of human history?
Here’s a thought to ponder. If you knew with absolute certainty that God would release a prisoner from jail if you fervently prayed, would you take the time to do it? If you were convinced that every time you prayed for a certain country God would bring one new soul to salvation, how would that impact your devotional life?
When we go into prayer with low expectations, it’s likely that those expectations will be met. When we enter God’s throne room with the absolute certainty that our prayers can change the world, it’s very likely that those expectations will be met as well.
Taken from 30 Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
See it now on amazon.
Libya made international headlines in February, 2015 when 21 men were executed by Islamic extremists. The Christians were dressed in orange jumpsuits and knelt on the beach, where they were summarily beheaded. The video was made public, which led to a widespread humanitarian outcry.
Mathew Ayairga was amongst the victims. His identity at first was unknown, but he was recognized by family and friends. Unlike the rest of the Christians who were killed, Ayairga was not an Egyptian, nor was he a Christian. Ayairga was kidnapped in Chad and had been missing for a month before the video was released.
While the men on the beach were executed, many of them cried out to Jesus in their final moments. Apparently, their great display of faith impacted Ayairga, because when the extremists demanded that he follow the ways of Islam, he refused, saying, “Their God is my God.” With that proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ, he was killed.
Libya is the most dangerous country in Northern Africa for Christians. There is a strong secret police network, and neighbors can receive up to $700 US for reporting on which of their neighbors are Christians. Muslims who convert to Christianity face extreme pressure from their family and neighbors. When Christians are attacked, police and legislatures usually refuse to punish the responsible parties.
On a more positive note, Libyans have shown tremendous response to the gospel. There are so many new converts that Bibles are in high demand. Let’s pray for God to keep on spreading his Word throughout this needy region.