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Timely Ways to Pray for the USA

With all that’s going on in America this year, have you ever felt discouraged about the state of our nation? I know that Mary and I have. In the late spring, and into the summer, we were feeling stressed. Truth be told, we’d felt like that for a few months. We both had a lot of changes going on in our lives, even without Covid-19, the election, and the chaos in our cities.

Called to Hope

However, as the summer progressed, God was drawing us back to the basics, and one of the things that meant was back to our Only By Prayer website. We did a major revamp of the site and went into a planning frenzy. As we sought Him for what that looked like, God reminded us that Jesus calls us to be people of hope and to faint not. One powerful tool that we always have when we need to fight the enemy and his schemes is prayer. Rather than despairing of ever seeing things change for the better, God reminded us to be a catalyst of change for the better.



Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The lord is my portion,’ says my soul. ‘Therefore I hope in Him.’

Lamentations 3: 22-24 NKJ

Pray for the USA

Patiently, He impressed upon us the importance to stop moping and to start praying for the USA more and to mobilize others to pray too. With that said, we’d like to give you an update on what’s in the works here at Only By Prayer so you can join us if you’d like. 

  1. Facebook prayer group. We revamped a Facebook group we started four years ago and renamed it Pray for the USA. We then launched an event called 5 Days to Fast and Pray for our Nation in August. To our surprise, as of October 2020, God has brought over 800 people to the group to pray. Thank you, Lord! We’d love to have you join us as well. It’s a non-partisan group, and we do not allow any political arguments on the page — just praying.
  2. October Event. We are ramping up for our next event on Pray for the USA: 5 Days to Pray for the Election. This is another virtual prayer event held on October 28, October 29, October 30, November 2, and November 3. We are adding 24-Hour Prayer to this event in addition to our daily prayer topics. Be sure to check out the details. 
  3. Pray for the USA Prayer book! As we were organizing the prayer group, we realized how hard it can be sometimes to pray specifically about issues that are happening in our country. Mary felt God leading us to write a 31-day book of prayers targeted to culturally relevant issues of our day. Again the Lord came through. We recently finished this short book called Pray for the USA, and it’s now available for sale on Amazon. You don’t have to have an actual Kindle tablet to read it. You can download the Kindle app for your phone or computer and read it that way. We think you’ll find it helpful to pray through the relevant issues of our day. It only takes about two minutes or so to pray each prayer. If you happen to be a member of Kindle unlimited, you can actually read Pray for the USA for free. If you do purchase it/read it, we’d love if you’d leave us a review on Amazon.
  4. ThanksLiving event. In November we are hosting our 12 Days to ThanksLiving event. It will run from Friday, November 13, to Tuesday, November 24. It will be held entirely on our website and is completely free. Details to follow soon.
  5. Advent devotion. In late November through December, we will be leading a group through our Advent devotional (also published on Kindle) called Advent-urous: Seeking Jesus in the Season of Advent . This starts on Sunday, November 29 and runs through December 24, with a bonus week after Christmas. 
  6. 3 Weeks to a Healthier You. In the works for January 11-29 is a new venture we are starting called 3 Weeks to a Healthier You, Body, Soul, and Spirit. More information to follow on this, but we are excited because the body segment will include an exercise program developed just for our group by certified fitness trainer Sarah Lewis. Sarah is also available for online training in these Covid times if you’e interested.

Join Us

Finally, we thank you for your support. We hope you join us for Pray for the USA and however many of the other events you wish. We’re excited for the upcoming months and how God is working in each of our lives during these difficult times. We pray He is encouraging you and your families too. Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below. May God bless you!

Our latest book on Amazon called Pray for the USA
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12 Days of ThanksLiving, Day 6: Service

ThanksLiving: ServiceDay 6: Service

“There was an abundance of burnt offerings, along with the usual liquid offerings, and a great deal of fat from the main peace offerings. So the Temple of the LORD was restored to service.” 2 Chronicles 29:35

Service [sur-vis] noun

  1. an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service.
  2. the supplying or supplier of utilities or commodities, as water, electricity, or gas, required or demanded by the public.

verb

  1. to make fit for use; repair; restore to condition for service: to service an automobile.
  2. to supply with aid, information, or other incidental services.

Have you ever endured the breakdown of an appliance or other convenience at your home?

About one year ago, we purchased a new washing machine. Shortly after we bought it, it malfunctioned so I called the service department number. Unfortunately, the service department was going through a computer upgrade and as a new customer my information had not yet been entered into the old or the new system. I was assured it would happen the next day, and they instructed me to call back then. This same scene played out every day for 5 days. My impatience and anger grew as large as my mountain of unwashed laundry on the basement floor. My out-of-service washing machine was doing me no good. I wasn’t feeling very thankful.

Out of Service

Well, during the reign of King Ahaz, the people of Judah had an out-of-service problem too, but it wasn’t an appliance; it was much more serious than my inconvenience. They posted an out-of-service sign  on the door of the Temple. It closed due to the people’s freefall into idolatry and sin.

Open for ThanksLiving Service

When Hezekiah became king, he reversed this slide into sin and, as we saw on Day 2, began cleansing the temple. The temple was cleansed, the people were cleansed, and sacrifices and burnt offerings were made. Today’s verse may seem a bit odd, talking about burnt offerings, liquid offerings, and fat ( well, then again, maybe not with Thanksgiving next week!), but then the writer of this books slips in this sentence, “so the Temple of the Lord was restored to service.” Now we see that this verse is actually cause for great celebration and thanksgiving. For years the Temple had been closed. No worship, no cleansing of sins, no restoration. But now the out-of-service sign is ripped off the door and once again mercy and forgiveness are flowing.

Pray for Service

As New Testament Christians, we are temples for the Holy Spirit. What kind of signs are we hanging on the doors of our temples? Do they say “Out of Service” or “Open for Service”? I have to ask myself, do my attitude and actions draw people to the Lord or am I driving them away? Am I only concerned with my needs, or am I setting aside time to do acts of service for others? Today I am thankful for all those who have served me in so many different ways. Let’s pray that we can offer this selfless gift to others too.

  1. Pray to see the needs around us. It’s all too easy to put on blinders to people’s pain, especially when we’re in a rush. Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear the needs around us today.
  2. Pray to do something. All around us are acts of service just waiting to happen. Can we each bring one to life this week? Lord, let us do good when it is within our power to do so.

More Thanks Living Service

If you’d like to explore this theme further, please see The Ministry of the Word and Table.

Comment

Please leave a comment below in the Comment section on what God teaches you today about Service.

Previous Links

service. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/service (accessed: November 20, 2014).

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12 Days of ThanksLiving, Day 3: Sacrifice

ThansksLiving SacrificeDay 3: Sacrifice

ThanksLiving: living a thankful life

 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:12

sacrifice: [sak-ruh-fahys]noun; verb

  1. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.
  2. a surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing some evil
  3. (verb) to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.
  4. (verb) to make a sacrifice or offering of.

Please carefully read the definitions above and highlight the sections that mean the most to you.

Sacrifice in the Year of 2020

In this year of 2020, we have seen a demonstration of sacrifice lived out right before us on the part of our health care workers as they have tenderly cared for our Covid patients. Many doctors and nurses have contracted the disease themselves, and sadly, some have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

Sacrifice for Sin

The first sacrifice for sin was accomplished by God in the Garden of Eden. The last sacrifice for sin was confirmed by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The road to the cross was paved with sacrifice. Most of the definitions above speak of the giving of One for the sake of another. God gave Jesus, His Son in sacrifice for us (for you , for me) not only because of our great need, but because of His great love.

In this season of ThanksLiving, let’s give thanks to God for those who sacrificed to give us life.

For Jesus: Thank you, God, for giving Jesus as sacrifice for our sin. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we now live an abundant life.

For Caregivers: Thank  you, Father, for the sacrifice of our caregivers; for their struggle to feed, clothe, love and care for us, often at the expense of their own needs and comfort.

For First Responders: Thank You for those You’ve set in place who sacrifice their comfort and safety to cover us with their protection and service. Give them your strength and courage to go forth in the work You have given them; the defense and care of those in need.

For Health Care Workers: Thank you, Father, for the tireless service and ministry of health care workers,  who often risk their own health for the healing of others.

For Teachers: Father in heaven, thank you for teachers who are often underpaid and overworked. Many teachers give from their own resources to supply their classrooms, and provide food and clothing for their  students. Give teachers rest and peace this ThanksLiving season.

More Sacrifice

Please click on a link for more information on sacrifice.

Serving Others an article by Joyce Meyer Ministries

A Servant’s Heart a short Bible study by Mary Kane

Sacrifice  a blog post by Jane VanOsdol

 

Comment

Please leave a comment below on what God teaches you today about sacrifice in the Comment section.

sacrifice. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sacrifice (accessed: November 15, 2014).

all rights reserved. copyright 2017




12 Days of ThanksLiving, Day 1: Light

Day 1: Light

“And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5

 light1 [lahyt] noun 

1. the medium of illumination that makes sight possible
2. mental understanding or spiritual insight
3. the radiance or illumination from a particular source:
4. a person who is an outstanding leader, celebrity, or example; luminary:
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Let there be light. God’s first act of creation was to create light. This makes sense as God is the Father of Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. Despite our modern age and technologically advanced society, an estimated 1.5 billion people in the world today live without electric light. When was the last time we entered into the mindset of ThanksLiving for the light we easily access with the flip of a switch?
Light helps us see where we are walking, avoid danger, create, work, play, and read. Without light there would be no life. How can we be so careless of something  so essential? We are never more thankful for something than when we’ve had to do without it for a while. Remember the last power outage at your house? This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks to the Father of Lights.
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 Pray for light

  1.  Do you have any dark areas in your life? Since darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, find a Bible verse that applies to a current area of challenge or temptation  and pray the light of God’s Word into your trial.
  2. Pray for God’s light to shine on the next step for your life, and the lives of your loved ones.
  3. Pray for the lost of the world to accept the Light of the World.

More Light

Do you want to go a little deeper in your study of light? Click on the link below.

Walking in Love, Light, and Wisdom

Comment

Please leave a comment below on what God teaches you today about light in the Comment section. We’d love to here from you!

light. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/light (accessed: November 12, 2014).

all rights reserved. copyright2017.




3 Steps to a Peaceful Heart

3 steps to heart copy smallBeing one of those people with a “sensitive nature,” (read that as touchy and taking myself too seriously), I spent many years of my life in inner turmoil of some kind. If I received what I thought was a wrong look, harsh comment, or short response, I stewed on it forever, analyzing and reanalyzing what I did wrong, why  that person didn’t like me, how could they be so mean … you get the picture. I could worry myself into a frenzy.

Worries Everywhere

I’d also worry about any perceived threats: storms, accidents, bad grades, and so on. My mom was always telling me to quit being a worry wart! Maybe you can identify with that struggle. Goodness knows, there’s plenty of things to be anxious about in the world today.

Over time, however, I realized that worry is actually a bad habit, a sin, that God tells us not to do.

As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve thankfully gotten over myself, although I will always have to keep a check on this area.

Now don’t mistake peace for sweeping things under the carpet. If an issue needs to be addressed, address it. What I’m talking about is the daily drip of worry and anxiety that drains the life out of you and robs you of peace and joy. If your first waking thought is a rehash of all your current worries and problems as you readjust the load into your mental backpack for the day’s hike, then it’s time to break this cycle.

3 Steps To Ditch Worry and Get Peace

We’re going to take our steps from Philippians 4:6-7 NIV:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Step 1, Pray

This step is pretty straightforward. God tells us to pray. The thing to note here are the words every situation. Nothing is too small or too big for God to handle. Skinned knees, injured animals, and hurt feelings should all be taken to God. So should accidents, job loss, sickness, and death. Everything falls Doubtunder His jurisdiction.

Step 2, Petition

At first, I didn’t see much difference between this and prayer. But when I looked at the Greek meanings, the subtleties became clear. in the Greek, one definition of petition is “prayer for particular benefits.” God wants us to be very specific in our prayers. Dig in. Rather than praying general prayers of “Help John feel better,” we can pray targeted prayers. “Help John acknowledge this addiction and seek healing for it.”

We can pray a verse of scripture for added power “Lord, we thank you that you sent your word to heal John and deliver him from his destruction,” (Psalm 107:20). If you have a particularly difficult situation and just don’t now how to pray, a prayer strategy may be helpful.

Step 3, Thanksgiving

The third step to peace is that we are to have a heart of thanksgiving. In the Greek, the word is eucharistia, and it means “actively grateful language (to God as an act of worship).” So as we are praying, we salt and pepper our prayers with thanks for what God has already done and is in the process of doing.

In Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, she discovers how offering thanks in every circumstance is necessary to us finding the miracle of a joy-filled life. Notice I did not say offering thanks for the circumstance, but in every circumstance. For example, When a spouse loses a job, we can say “Thank you, God, for the meal the neighbor sent over. Thank you that you are providing for our needs and are working to lead us to a new job.”

Sweet Peace

As we make a practice and habit of continually praying our worries and fears and thanking God for what He’s doing, something happens: the peace of God guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We exchange worry for peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. Does that mean that everything in our lives is perfect? No, it means that we can choose peace no matter the circumstance.

Application

I know worry is a hard habit to break. But we now have the key to breaking this vicious cycle. Let’s make 2016 the year we embrace the peace that only Christ can give.

To make it personal:

  1. Step one: Write down a worry.
  2. Step two: Write down a specific prayer concerning this worry, incorporating a verse of scripture into the prayer
  3. Step three: Write down something you are thankful for.

Repeat your prayer as much as needed, especially when you feel yourself taking the worry back and becoming anxious. With practice you’ll soon be a reformed worry wart, known for your peaceful spirit.

What have you learned over the years about handling worry? Please share any strategies you use to cultivate a peaceful heart in times of stress.

Pray on!

Resources:

132018: The Armor of God, Bible Study Book The Armor of God, Bible Study Book
By Pricilla Shirer / LifewayAll day, every day, an invisible war rages around you. A cunning, devilish enemy seeks to wreak havoc on everything that matters to you – your emotions, your mind, your family, your future. But…when the enemy meets a woman dressed for the occasion, he fails miserably. Join Priscilla Shirer in a 7-session Bible study that will challenge you to suit up, stand firm, and secure victory in your life. This study guide is designed to be used in conjunction with the DVD sessions and includes 5 days of study per session, leader tips, and prayers strategies. In the back are perforated prayer cards for you to craft your own prayers.
321910: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
By Ann Voskamp / ZondervanIn One Thousand Gifts, author and blogger Ann Voskamp invites you into her own moments of grace, gently teaching you how to biblically lament loss, turning pain into poetry and intentionally embracing a lifestyle of radical gratitude.Discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to everyday amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of experiencing the constant presence of God that will bring you deep and lasting joy. There is purity in simplicity and a breathtaking beauty that can be found even in life’s slightest details and heartbreaking moments. Ann Voskamp welcomes you in to explore her grace-bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing, and encourages you to live a life filled with gratitude, no matter where you are.Not a book merely to read, One Thousand Gifts begs to be embraced as a dynamic, interactive primer inviting you to engage with truths that will serve up the depths of God’s joy and transform your life forever. Hardcover.

*Just a note, Mary and I are affiliates for CBD bookstore. If you buy any resources from them using our link, we will receive a small donation from them. We only recommend resources we ourselves use and benefit from. Thank you!




The 12 Days of Thanks Giving: Day 11

Pump OBP Header 12Day 11:Boldness

“But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2

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Boldness  [bohld] adjective

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1. not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero.
2. not hesitating to break the rules of propriety; forward; impudent:
3. necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure.
I am often confused as to why people associate Christianity with weakness and timidity. The International Society for Human Rights estimates 7,000 to 8,000 Christians are martyred each year.  It takes great boldness to swim against the tides of culture and be what God has created us to be — born again believers. Thankfully God did not save us then leave us to fend for ourselves in a world that is not our home. He did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, sound mind, and love. Because of the gift of His  power, we may live with great boldness, despising persecution and oppression. Read our focus verse for today again. What is the result of suffering? Boldness.
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This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks  to God for His gift of boldness.

Boldness with Our Gifts: Dearest Father, we thank You for the blessing of boldness. Gifts are meant to be used; not relegated to  a shelf  to collect dust. Help us to claim Your gift  as our own, and boldly use it to make disciples, edify other believers, and bring You great glory. Give us  discernment to know when You’re calling us to boldly leap by faith and witness for the Gospel. We pray in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Boldness with our Words: Dear Lord, thank You for entrusting us with the Gospel. Help us to faithfully fulfill this amazing privilege. We do not have to worry about what to say because You have given us the words in Your Word. We may boldly proclaim the truth, sowing seeds of salvation in every relationship, situation, and experience we encounter. Help us to boldly speak and trust You for the outcome. Thank You we don’t have to feel bold to be bold. Amen.

 

More Boldness

Worship with Abandon a blog post by Jane VanOsdol

 

Comment

Please leave a comment below in the Speak Your Mind section on what God teaches you today about boldness.

Bold. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sacrifice (accessed: November 15, 2014).

“1 Thessalonians 2 (New King James Version).” Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 22 Nov, 2014. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Psa&c=111&p=0&rl=0&t=NKJV>.