5 Days to Fast & Pray for our Nation

If your heart has been broken by the state of affairs in our nation, we’re right there with you. What can we do?



Join 5 Days to Fast & Pray for our Nation

5 Days to Fast & Pray

Mary and I invite you to join us August 10-14, 2020, for the 5 Days to Fast and Pray for our Nation initiative. We’re basing this week’s prayer and fast on the following verse:

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Jeremiah 29:7 ESV

Here is a brief description of the group: This non-partisan group is for like-minded individuals who wish to pray in accordance with the truth of the Bible for the leadership, direction, and healing of the United States of America.

2020 has been filled with many challenges, and we think it’s important that as many people as possible are praying during this time.

Details

  • Join the Facebook group.
  • Pray according to the daily theme.
  • Try an activity.
  • Choose an optional fast: TV show, food or food group, meal, day, or technology.
  • Join in the daily Post & Pray on Facebook at any time of the day.
  • Attend the virtual live prayer time on Wednesday, August 12.

If the idea of fasting is holding you back, please don’t let that stop you. It is optional. If you’ve never done any type of fasting before and would like to try, we have several ideas that will allow you to try it out “gently.” Read through this previous post on fasting for some possibilities.

Thank you for considering this. Again, you can join the Facebook group here.We will be posting on the Facebook page leading up to the August event, and you will receive a 5 Days’ Prayer Guide to use as we get closer to the event. Our country needs your prayers. Please join us.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please respond to the end of this post. We’ll be happy to provide additional information.

Blessings,

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Monastery at Home

Today’s post is a guest post from author and abbess Beth Booram. She and her husband, David, own the beautiful Fall Creek Abbey in Indianapolis. I read this post and fell in love with their message of encouragement during this time of sheltering-in-place. Beth graciously agreed to let me share it in its entirety. I know you’ll find much to reflect on in what she shares. See more about them and a list of their resources at the bottom of this post.

Monastery-at-Home

(Even families with kiddos;)

I’ve talked to several friends and family who are about to go bonkers while taking care of kids who are restless and bored. This lifestyle of shelter-in-place is so foreign to our normal day to day lives. We feel held captive, in prison as it were, because of the restrictions necessary to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Yet what if we framed our current situation differently? What if we considered the gifts and ancient wisdom rooted in the tradition of cloistering—a term given to those living a monastic life? Are you prepared to monastery at home?



And if we must cloister, why not monastery-at-home?

David and I have lived a cloistered life for the past eight years. By that, we certainly don’t mean we’ve retreated from society and holed up at Fall Creek Abbey, cut off from the world. (Our close to 9,000 guests would suggest otherwise.) Eight years ago, when we founded the Abbey, we began to live life very differently. As we’ve reflected on the time in which we find ourselves, it seems that our broader society is also being invited to live life very differently—to practice monastic living. Far from the normal push of life, this new shelter-in-place mandate can be daunting.

So, we decided to compile a list of some things that we’ve learned about the monastic life and provide them for you, even those of you with kids! These suggestions are just that — suggestions that might help you intentionally turn this uninvited life-style change into something positive for you and your family.

Pray-Work-Study

In all monastic communities, the genius behind their order is a gentle daily structure that typically looks like pray-work-study. Each of these three activities receives about a third of the community’s daytime hours. Praying the hours (a term given to the five to seven times each day for personal and communal prayer) helps create a framework for when other activities begin and end each day. So, for example, after Lauds, which is morning prayer (6 am), the monks or nuns will do their assigned chores until Terce, prayer at the third hour (9 am).

So, what would it be like for you and your family to establish a gentle structure that works for you? (Emphasis on “gentle” and “works for you.”) Maybe it’s just morning prayer, or evening prayer, or meal-time prayer. And then decide what hours are given to work, including playtime, which is a child’s work, household chores, and job-related work for parents. Then decide what hours are given to study, which might include reading, writing, creating or quiet play.

Cultivate a Monastic Aesthetic

We’ve learned from what we do at Fall Creek Abbey that dedicated sacred space is profoundly important in helping us experience the shalom (peace) of God. We have intentionally created an aesthetic that mimics a monastery. When you enter the Abbey, often you will hear Gregorian chants playing in the background, notice candles lit in the foyer and on the mantle, and experience simply decorated and uncluttered space in each room.

So, what would it be like for you to create a monastic aesthetic in ways that work for you and your family? Kids love candles, and soft, instrumental music in the background is soothing to everyone. While it’s impossible to eliminate clutter if you have kids in your home, consider dedicating a “quiet room,” something I will describe next, where you can clear out space and create a touch of the sacred.

Dedicate a Quiet Room

Every monastic community has a chapel or sanctuary that is dedicated to quiet and prayer. In addition, the “cloistered” part of the community is exclusively for the brothers or sisters only—no visitors allowed. Having these protected spaces allow for individuals and the community to always have a place available when there’s a need for personal time, prayer and reflection. Something we’ve learned at our Abbey is that dedicating space for quiet and prayer creates an environment infused with the Presence of God.

While you won’t likely have space for a prayer chapel or sanctuary within your home, you can dedicate a room as a sanctuary. Then again, you may not even have a room to spare, so how about a corner or closet? Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a devoted place for silent being? Anytime anyone in your family needs some space, they can enter this quiet zone of your house where everyone knows the rules—no noise or intrusions. Parents who need a break from kids (if they’re old enough to understand) can explain that when they’re in the quiet room, it’s not okay to interrupt (unless, of course, the house is on fire).

Create a Family Altar

The altar is at the front of a sanctuary and is where Holy Communion is prepared and served. It’s a table where candles are placed and the chalice, plate, crucifix, and often a bible are arranged. It’s a focal point of the sanctuary and draws our eyes forward and upward, often to a stained-glass window or a crucifix/cross hanging on the wall. The altar’s purpose is ceremonial and symbolic, so it also infuses the surroundings with a sense of the sacred.

Creating a family altar is a wonderful activity in which to involve your children. Perhaps you could designate a surface in your quiet room, like a mantel, coffee or sofa table—or for that matter, a portable card table or crate upturned. You can select items together that have meaning for you and your family. Pictures, photos or paintings, flowers, pine cones, shells, ribbons or table runners, small figurines, crosses and, of course, candles (that can only be lit by adults). You can change-up the altar and add different colors for different seasons like Lent and Easter. The gift of the family altar is the way it creates a focal point and reminds you that your family belongs to God and God belongs with your family.

Establish Quiet Hour(s)

Within monastic communities there are established times of silence. There’s silence within the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours (those five to seven times of daily prayer) and at other times, like in the evening past a certain hour, or during Holy days. Space and time are given to silence. For silence is truly God’s native language. And silence is a repairing and healing balm for all of us who live in a noisy world, both without and within.

Establishing a quiet hour (or half-hour) during the day can begin to acquaint you and your kids with the gifts that silence offers. Give it a try! Of course, it will take practice and you’ll probably have a lot of resistance, not just from your kids, but within yourself. Yet the break from interactions and distractions might be the difference between losing your mind, or not! Even small children are capable of learning to be quiet (ask their teachers—they really can do this) and you can help them by observing the quiet, as well.

If we must cloister, could we embrace this as an opportunity to learn from the wisdom of the monastery?

Why not give it a try—even just one of the suggestions listed. These ideas aren’t intended to put anyone under the pile or suggest that you’re not doing enough already. Our hope is to cast vision for how this cloister time might help us welcome the Shalom of Christ through practicing monastery-at-home.

Warmly,

your doting Abbess and Abbott, Beth and David Booram

Connect with Beth and David on their Fall Creek Abbey Facebook page and at their website Fall Creek Abbey. Be sure to check out their books, free resources including a Holy Week guide and a Coronavirus prayer guide, and their blog. Join them April 2, 2020 at 9 p.m. EST on their Facebook page for “Light a Candle Virtual Prayer Vigil.”




Morning Prayer

As I have been on our trip across America, I have often watched God’s word come alive as I see the beauty all around me that He has created.

That was so true this particular morning. I was in Wyoming surrounded by beautiful mountains and cliffs. As I opened my Bible to my praise reading for that day (Psalm 90:1-2), it happened to be about mountains. : ) I love it when God makes our lessons so tied in to what we are doing at the moment.

I wanted to share the beauty of that moment with you, so I read the scripture and recorded a prayer on video with the camera pointed at God’s awesome creation. I pray it will bless you in your day today!

Pray on!

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Pray Like Hezekiah

I had something big happening in my life. Something hurtful. Something heartful.

Darkness was closing in.

I decided to pray like Hezekiah, so I ran to the temple to my Lord.

I got alone with Him and got on my knees and got humble and got truthful.

I spread out my hands and my heart and my bad news before my God, the King of kings.

GOD, do You see what they are doing?

Do You hear what they are saying?

Do you feel the ripping of their laughter on my soul? The whipping of their insults in my spirit? The stripping of their mocking on my heart?

I prayed like Hezekiah.

I reminded God of who He is– the Great I AM. I reminded God of who I am. I am I AM’s, His child.

I poured out my hurt and my hopes and my faith and asked God to act.

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:7

And He did.  One minute THEY were in my life, large and looming. The next minute THEY were gone. Silenced.

The prayer of Hezekiah. 30 seconds. 127 words. A nation is saved. Destiny shifts. Faith blooms. Who is like our God?

Pray like Hezekiah.

Have you prayed a Hezekiah prayer? Leave me a comment; I’d love to hear from you!

All rights reserved. Copyright 2017.




International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church with Guest William Stark

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The simple act of living out their Christian faith is dangerous for so many Christians around the world. Because of extremism, many are part of underground churches that worship in secret. Other have no community support at all and worship on their own.

Let’s consider some facts on persecution. According to Open Doors, every month around the world the following occurs:

  • 322 Christians are killed for their faith
  • 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed
  • 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (this includes beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages)

According to the Pew Research Center, among the world’s 25 most populous countries, these five countries have the highest religious restrictions: Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey.

2016 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

This Sunday, November 6, 2016, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Please take some time to pray for those who are suffering for their faith. I have listed resources here that will help you to pray in an informed way. These resources also highlight other ways you can help if you desire. For example, through VOM I have purchased Action Packs and filled them with blankets, clothing, etc. for displaced Christians. You’ll find numerous opportunities to make a difference. But remember, we need to start with prayer, as that is the most powerful way to affect change.

Update to 2013 Podcast

In 2013 I interviewed Todd Daniels from International Christian Concern. This year Only By Prayer welcomes William Stark From ICC as he gives us an important update on what we can learn from the persecuted church and how we can support them. Listen below or you can also subscribe on iTunes.

Resources for the Persecuted Church

There are other organizations as well. These will get your started as you seek to become informed and to help. Thank you for supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and feel free to post your prayers in the comment section.

Pray on!




5 Days to Fast & Pray for the Election Guide

fast-and-pray-electionWelcome to 5 Days to Fast & Pray for the Election. We are so happy to have you join us in praying for our country during this important time. No matter who you are supporting, we can all agree on the fact that prayer is needed as we head to the voting booth and as we transition to a new administration.

We are leaving it up to you to decide if you will participate in the fasting aspect of this prayer guide and if so, what type of fasting you will do. If you are able, remember to join us for prayer Monday-Thursday evenings from 8 p.m.-8:30 p.m Eastern time on our Facebook page. You may also post prayers anytime of the day or night on that page as well. If you have not yet asked to join that page and you would like to, go to the Facebook page and request permission to join, and we will grant it.

Day 1: Turn from Sin

Scripture: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Prayer Focus: Candidates and voters would humble themselves and seek the Lord and have a servant’s heart. That revival would sweep across our nation.

Actions Steps:
  1. Find a quiet place to process with the Lord. Take your Bible and a journal.
  2. Pray for revival to start in your own heart. Ask the Lord to show you any habits, actions, thoughts, words, attitudes, etc. that need to change in you so that you are ready for revival.
  3. Journal about what you feel God is showing you.
  4. Once you feel your own heart is set, move to praying for your community, state, and nation. Choose a scripture that you can pray specifically for our nation and use that throughout the week.

Day 2: Turn to God

Scripture: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13
Prayer Focus: That our purposes and plans as a nation would align with God’s.
 
Action Steps:
  1. Make a plan to pray for the elections several times throughout the day. If needed, set the alarm on your phone to remind you to pray.
  2. Pray for people in your building or neighborhood to pray for God’s will in this election. Ask another to join you in prayer today.
  3. Take a prayer walk and pray for the elections and issues in your own city.
  4. Get out a map or look up a map on Google and pray across the states in our great land. Ask God to raise up Christians tp pray and exercise their right to vote.

Day 3: Turn to Wisdom

Scripture:  “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15
Prayer Focus: That voters would seek the Lord’s wisdom as they cast their ballots and vote on initiatives.
Action Steps:
  1. If you haven’t done so yet, it is time to become educated about the issues of this election on every level. Please do your own research or click on the following link to learn about the candidates for 2016: Wall Builders. If you go to your state’s .gov site, you will be able to download a copy of the ballot to see all the candidates you will be voting on, plus any initiatives you may be voting on. 
  2. After you have completed your research, make a list of whom you plan to vote for and for the proposals in your community.
  3. Research the location of your polling place and check the hours.
  4. Help elderly neighbors and relatives by offering then a ride to their polling place.

Day 4: Turn Your Eyes

Scripture: And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, saying, ‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”‘ Acts 28:25-27
Prayer Focus: For this to be a peaceful, non-violent election and transition to the new administration.

Action Steps: 

  1. The time to act is now. The destiny of our nation hangs in the balance. I have heard several people say they plan not to vote in this election. This attitude is defeatist and irresponsible. It is time for the church to wake up and take our place in the shaping of our culture before we lose the right to do so. Remember, when we cast our vote for a candidate we not only vote for the individual, but for the cabinet members they will bring on board. Most experts believe that the next President could be choosing around three supreme court justices. Personnel makes policy.
  2. Spend some time interceding for peace and against violent protests or riots, especially the evening of the election.
  3. Watch the news for any “hotspots” of where violence is occuring, whether it’s due to the election or other reasons. Cover these geographic areas in prayer.
  4. Pray and ask the Lord if there is any specific geographic region He wants you to cover in prayer over the next few months until the new President takes office. Record any direction in your journal so that you remember to make it a prayer priority.

 Day 5: Turn Your Heart

Scripture: “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2:21
Prayer Focus: For our country to be unified and for Congress to work together for the good of the people. That God-honoring laws and legislations would be enacted. 
Action Steps:
  1.  In my experience, this has been the most rancorous, divisive election ever. I have even experienced being “unfriended” due to my political beliefs, and I know others have experienced this as well. This should not be happening. Pray for civil discourse in our country and the ability to agree to disagree without friendships and family relationships suffering for it.
  2. Decide to pray for our government officials at all levels. They need God’s wisdom. They need honesty. They need pure motives. And they need servants’ hearts.
  3. Become informed about local, state, and federal legislation. What decisions is your school board making about curriculum and other important issues such as transgender issues and bathroom/locker room/overnight arrangements for students? Many of us may think that Roe v. Wade is beyond changing, but God can do anything. Ask God if you need to get involved in working to change this law. Perhaps you have never been involved in politics before, but it’s important to let your voice be heard on policies and laws. Call and/or email those in charge. Here’s a link to find your local, state, and federal officials. We can’t afford to ignore these issues any longer.

We thank you so much for joining us this week as we pray for the election and our country. We know that your intercession is a fragrant offering to God, and we trust that your prayers will “availeth much.”

Please feel free to share this post with anyone else you think would be interested. Keep praying and God bless you!

Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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