Devotional Week 23, 2020 Thursday
Week 23 Thursday
June 4, 2020
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
II Corinthians 12: 9
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end.”
Matthew 24: 14
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 14
“Standing In The Need of Prayer” Part 2
“There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christians so much as our prayer life.”
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones
What do I think the role of prayer has in my life and in the lives of others around me?
Have I ever thought that praying for others is sharing the “Good News” of God’s love?
“As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.”
“Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done in earth.”
As I shared with you yesterday, I believe in prayer, most importantly, because it is the greatest thing I can do for God and for those individuals God has placed in my life.
As Thomas Chalmers so beautifully wrote, “Prayer does not enable us to do a greater work for God. Prayer is a greater work for God.” Prayer is likened by Christmas Evans to a rope in a belfry. When you and I pull on that rope, “it rings the bell up in heaven.” I just love this word picture for it helps me to better visualize the ringing bells in heaven, tolling loudly as all of us raise our voices in prayer on behalf of the needs of God’s children on earth, including ourselves. This particular point leads me directly to the second reason I believe in prayer.
Growing up in a family where my grandparents served for many years as self-supporting Christian missionaries in South and Central America and in Haiti and Curacao, I saw first-hand, in their lives, a spirit of love exhibited for people who lived in countries that I was not at all acquainted with. What’s more, this was the way my grandparent’s lives of service affected their view of how they chose to live their own personal lives when they returned to the United States. Theirs was a very simple life with few wants. As time passed, I was impressed to see that even those “things” they found to be “necessities,” grew less all the time.
What mattered most in grandpa and grandma’s lives was prayerful service for others. At the age of seventy-five, when most people retire, my grandmother could be found at the local hospital, working as an assistant in the Chaplain’s office, going room-to-room offering to say a prayer on behalf of each patient at bedtime. This wasn’t something grandma did except to express comfort to a sick person who loved to have a soft, loving voice and a kind-hearted grandma speak words of love to her Father in heaven. I can’t tell you the joy that patients expressed to the hospital administration for her “prayers” that often gave solace to hurting hearts at just the perfect moment.
I share this story with you because when Transformation Garden began, and the prayer requests began to arrive, something transpired in my own life that completely changed my viewpoint on the value of prayer, not only for myself but also in the lives of others.
During the first few months at Transformation Garden, most of the prayer requests were from individuals living in the United States of America or Canada. But it didn’t take long before requests arrived from every nation you can imagine – even North Korea, Cuba and yes, Iran. I couldn’t believe it. In fact, my mother would often call me each morning just to ask me, “What countries did you hear from last night while we were sleeping?” She even got a big map of the world and whenever a prayer request came from a new country, we would mark the country with a big “X”. And now, we have received prayer requests and have God’s daughters and sons reading the devotionals in over 192 countries that we know about.
This explosion of having prayer requests come to Transformation Garden from around the world turned my life upside down -- this is the only way I can explain it. When this wonderful change in my life transpired, it had two very distinct effects. The first thing that happened has to do with our study text for today – a very familiar passage of Scripture to most church-going folk. This text is frequently used in “evangelizing” conversation. People who are preaching about end-times often go directly to Matthew 24 after some catastrophic disaster or a war erupts and point to some particular event as proof positive that this is a definitive sign which proves the “end is near.” Now I don’t say this to demean or make light of such warnings. But as we do here in Transformation Garden, when Matthew 24 is read in context, we will uncover the truth that while there is a very direct warning of times of trouble and iniquity found in Matthew 24, one of the most hopeful parts of this chapter is found in verse 14, a passage which helped me clearly understand my Father’s longing that each one of His beloved children, here on earth, be filled with such joy and hope that “Good News” flows out through them in a constantly refreshing stream. And not just to those whom we happen to have personal contact with every day, but to the entire world. This is where, after reading Matthew 24: 14 several times, it hit me that Transformation Garden, and our tightly linked worldwide prayer circle, becomes a fulfilling of sharing the “Good News.” Yes, sharing the Gospel, around the world through our united prayers. One of the most inspiring things here in the Garden is how touched individuals are who write to me and say, “To think that people I don’t even know are praying for me has changed my life.” All I can say is Praise God!
For a long time, I had the mistaken idea that if I wasn’t in some foreign field of service I couldn’t really assist someone in need in that country in a tangible way. Right now we continue to pray for the remaining young women in Nigeria who were captured by Boko Haram and while it may not seem like a lot, it is the most powerful thing we can do as Christians. We can pray! While I can and have sent funds to help projects around the world, what I found lacking in my own life was that deep heart’s burden for all my sisters and brothers around the globe. Receiving prayer requests there in Transformation Garden from so many countries in the world has changed my viewpoint – tremendously! Telling the “Good News” has become a passion of my prayers for people I may never know personally, but whose lives matter to me in ways I could never have conceived before. As Thomas Goodwin pointedly wrote, “Those prayers that awaken God must awaken us.” And it is this thought which required a soul-stirring change in my own life, profoundly moving me to care for what happens not only in other countries but secondly, to other individuals – my sister and brothers, for as I pray not only for the entire world, I also pray for individual people and my heart is drawn to them in the same way my heavenly Father’s love touches every child on this planet. I love the way Mother Teresa describes the opening of our hearts for others: “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself.” I’ll add, that once an open heart is filled with our Father’s presence, His love will overflow to all we meet and all we pray for – and we will be a witness to the hope and joy we spread of the “Good News” of God’s kingdom.
I want to share with you this inspiring prayer, written by Peggy de Cuehlo, entitled, “Lord, You Placed Me Here”:
“Lord, You placed me in the world to be its salt.
I was afraid of committing myself,
afraid of being stained by the world.
I did not want to hear what “they” might say.
And my salt dissolved as if in water.
Forgive me, Jesus.
Lord, You placed me in the world to be its light.
I was afraid of the shadows,
afraid of the poverty.
I did not want to know other people.
And my light slowly faded away.
Forgive me, Jesus.
Lord, You placed me in the world to live in community.
Thus You taught me to love,
to share in life,
to struggle for bread and for justice,
Your truth incarnate in my life,
So be it, Jesus.”
Prayer for the World
“Lord Jesus Christ…
You come in unexpected ways
and speak through people
whose background and outlook
are different from our own.
Help us to listen with respect
to their experience
and reflect upon their insights.
Free us from pride
to find Your dignity and
presence wherever You are.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
The Women Who Met Jesus
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