Sunday, September 23, 2012

A tour

I’ve been so excited about this post! Are you ready for a tour? :) 

For quite a while now I’ve been anxious to introduce you to the project that I’ve been working on for months now… our Prayer Room! We just engaged in 24 hours of nonstop prayer as a church, and it was an AMAZING time! Many were overwhelmed at signing themselves up for an entire 1 hr. time slot in the prayer room, but nearly everyone I talked to after the 24 hours were over said the same thing: “One hour in there was just NOT enough time! I’ve got to go back when I don’t have a time limit!” :) Praise God. We look forward to many more weekends of prayer to come, and as a church we’re trusting that this will be the hub of our fellowship; that the prayers uttered here will rise to the sanctuary above and then to the ears of God Himself! That He will revive us even as we pray for world revival! That He will lead us to an understanding of what it means to pray fervent, rightous, effective prayers.

So… welcome to our church! Come on downstairs and I’ll show you around the Prayer room. Maybe you’ll get a few ideas for adopting this idea in your own Christian community. 

Before we walk on in feel free to make yourself a cup of coffee in the room adjoining the Prayer  Room. And while that's brewing, I should show you the bulletin board next to the door. This is where we've posted some helpful things like the schedule for our 24 hours of prayer (names and phone numbers filling up slots) and a checklist to make sure you've turned off everything you need to if you're the last person to leave the room. There are also a couple magnetic signs to place on the door for privacy if you want, and then there's a 5x7 card for each of the "stations" in the Prayer Room. There are 8 prayer stations around the room, by the way...and less than 10 minutes at each will make an hour fly by:
The Worship Area,
The Revival Wall,
The Cross Station and Wailing Wall, 
The Fountain, 
Praying for the World, 
Praying for our Nation, 
Praying for our Community, and 
Our (church) Family. 
Each card has prompts and ideas to help facilitate your time with God at the stations around the room. Who knows; you might only make it through one station! Once you enter the room, God will guide you to where you should spend your time. 

Okay, coffee's ready so in we go!

To start, I'll guide you to the right of the door. There, behind a privacy screen, you see our Worship Area. A chair invites you to sit and rest, while a picture with text from Psalm 37:7 on the wall encourages "Be Still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." Next to the chair is a bookshelf with some books we thought would facilitate prayer and meditation along with some pens and a journal inviting you to jot down your thoughts and prayers while you are still before God. 

As you sit in the chair, your eyes are drawn to the wall next to you. Some of the precious names of God are painted on the wall along with a verse describing Him as our Rock, our Salvation, and our Fortress! You see a CD player and varied types of music and decide to play some worship songs while you meditate on the names of God. next to the music is a little booklet filled with HUNDREDS of the names of God along with the references where they are found in Scripture. Perhaps one of the names will capture your heart as you sit quietly, and you will begin to praise Him for who He is! 

As He brings praise and prayers or special verses to your mind, I'd encourage you to write them out on the giant scroll next to the chair so others who come after you can be blessed by them! There's a little plastic loaf of bread on the table with Scripture slips in it. Some of us have picked a Scripture from the loaf only to be astounded by the appropriateness of the promise we've just read! Why not tape that up on the scroll too, so someone coming behind you can delight in it? 

Before you leave this station, you might take a moment to read the verses in a little golden frame next to an oil burner. You can already smell the sweet, musty fragrance of frankincense in the room, and as you turn on the burner and read the verses you are blessed by the truth that our prayers rise like the sweet smell of incense to God, filling his senses and delighting His heart! 

When you're ready, you move on to the next wall; a wall dedicated to prayers for personal, corporate, and worldwide revival! Verses posted on the wall, including the Lord's Prayer (because revival is the essence of "Thy Kingdom come...!") assure you that God WILL send His glory to cover the earth like waters cover the sea; that He WILL send justice rolling like a mighty river once and for all! Many definitions of "revival" have been written on the wall for you to see, fully understand, and LONG for what this wall is dedicated to! 

Within a black frame painted on the wall are words from a Charles Spurgeon's devotional on revival. Within this frame you are invited to post prayers in the form of poetry, paintings, drawings, or any artistic expression that your heart finds voice for!

Some art supplies are under the table. Don't get messy, but DO get creative! God is the Author of creativity and sometimes He gives our minds pictures or analogies to express our prayers.

Moving past the semi-sheer dividing curtain, you see the next station; the cross. Kneeling here, we are reminded by the tangible rough, wooden beams before us to humbly lay our burdens, sins, and failures before the Lord. A sign on the cross reminds us that "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live to righteousness. By His wounds we have been healed." (1 Pet. 2:24)

Some take advantage of the paper and pen on the little table next to the kneeler to jot down a heartfelt prayer for deliverance, a prayer of repentance, or to candidly and publicly share personal struggles they are dealing with. Some things are too personal and deep for anyone other that yourself and Jesus to see, so you may take advantage of one of the little envelopes on the table, slip your prayer into it, and pin it to the cross, exulting in the fact that our sins are nailed to HIS cross and we don't have to bear the weight of them anymore!

What a beautiful time to take communion...just you and Jesus... as you praise Him for the Body broken and the Blood spilled for your deliverance and freedom! Little packages containing an unleavened wafer and juice can be found in a bowl near the kneeler. 

Also on the table is a golden bowl filled with rocks. You might notice the little prayers listed on the rocks--many of them just one word but full of unspoken desire for God's intervention: "Marriage revival," "Vanessa," "Job," "Joy," "Deliverance from sin..." Next to the bowl another framed passage tells of the significance of this bowl filled with "prayers." God collects the pryers of the saints in a golden bowl in heaven! Scripture promises that He bottles our tears, He records or prayers... each and every word breathed in this room is carefully recorded and treasured by a Loving, Almighty Father. As you write your one-word prayer and drop it in the bowl with the others, you might see a rock that grips your heart; a name, perhaps, that some other person before you has written, and you slip it in your pocket as a reminder to pray for that need until the next time you're in the room. 

The "Wailing Wall" is directly behind the cross and within reach of the kneeler. Take time to pray for the requests others have written and taped on the wall, and write your own prayer request for the next pray-ers to see and lift to God.

As you rise from the kneeler with a heart full of gratitude for prayers heard and sins forgiven, burdens lifted and tears seen by God, you'll turn to see the next station; a simple, beautiful fountain. Our church is called "River of Life." Water is used over and over in Scripture to refer to spiritual truths, the character of Christ (HE is the Living Water!) and promises of refreshment from heaven. A journal is placed beside the fountain for you to record your thoughts and prayers as you contemplate the fresh water bubbling from the fountain in a never-ending stream. 

Verses placed in a golden frame on the fountain start your thoughts flowing...

Lifting your eyes to the next station, directly adjoining the fountain, you see the words "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" emblazoned above a huge world map. This is the section where we pray for the world that God so loved, that he gave His only Son to save it. You notice a smaller, color-coded wall map along with booklets, posters, and magazines posted at this station also. These are dedicated to the persecuted church around the world; guides to help us to pray for our suffering brothers overseas in an informed and impassioned manner. Perhaps in thumbing through the magazine (The Voice of the Martyrs), reading the detailed accounts in the country-by-country prayer guide, or simply seeing by the color coded maps which countries are hostile and restricting the Christian faith, you are challenged to lift a certain part of the world to the Lord. Perhaps in looking at the pictures of our church's missionaries pinned below the map, or reading the news clips on areas of the world needing prayer that someone else has posted, you'll feel a burden to pray. If not, ask God for one and He will surely grant your request....because He's a GLOBAL God with a GLOBAL agenda!

As you lift up an area of the world to God, place a pin on that spot so we can track the flow of our prayers across the world! Maybe you could read the little slips of requests others have posted to the map and see if God leads you to pray for one of those nations or people groups as well. 

And now, as your prayers become more localized, you've reach the station where we're praying for our blessed, beautiful nation: America. A cross on the wall reminds us that as David declared, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!" A posted directly beneath it promises that we were, indeed, founded as "one nation under God." A painting of the writers of our Constitution kneeling together in prayer fills our hearts with longing for righteous men and women to once again be leading in all branches of our government!  Pictures of our supreme court justices guide you in prayer for these men and women in the highest court of our land, and a picture of the President and his family, along with a prayer guide for America's Commander in Chief and his family are tacked to the bulletin board. next to the American flag hangs a large map of our country, and again, you notice tacks pinned on the states and cities which others before you have brought to God in prayer.

The next station is a white "picket fence" reminding us to pray for those within our own towns, communities, and neighborhoods! You see local prayer requests tacked up such as the local, schools, police departments and rescue workers and needy persons in the vicinity of the church.  Someone has cut the crime report from the local paper and placed it where you might read it and be grieved as our Lord is with the sin that runs rampant on our streets. You pick several names and situations to pray for, and ask that God would work mightily in your community! 

This is the place where our prayers find feet. What can YOU do right here and right now in your own sphere of influence to bring God's glory to earth in some small or practical way? As you've been praying, as God placed a burden for action on your heart? Has He given you a vision or has He opened your eyes to a need that YOU can be instrumental in meeting?

You've come full circle around the room. The final station before you reach the door again is a station dedicated to prayers for the Church family.  What a joy to bear your spiritual family's burdens and bless them through your specific prayers!

Pictures remind you to pray for the elders, pastoral family, and ministries of your church. Urgent needs in the church body are tacked here for you to lift to God. A directory of church members is pinned to the board for you to pray through. 

On the table below the board is a photo album of the teens in our youth ministry. You may not know their specific age and names, but their faces are familiar and you find yourself drawn to pray for their adolescent needs. Who knows? You might find the desire to pray for new chances to reach out to them and befriend or mentor them.

Well, we've come to the end of your tour. As you reach for the doorknob to enter "the world outside" again, you pause and thank the Lord for meeting with you in this special place. There is a benediction on the door, and hopefully in reading it your heart is grateful that God has indeed blessed your meeting with Him in this room, and He will keep you until the next!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


This morning, as I was brooding over a situation which has caused me great discouragement and worry, God spoke to my heart about hope through His word.
Praise Him for the transforming power of this Book, written so many thousands of years ago yet potent and powerful for MY situation today!
I think this has transformed my life, my prayers, my outlook and I wanted to share it.

I read Romans 15:13: 

"May the GOD OF HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in HIM, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit."

I wrote this in my journal. (It did not even cross my mind to share it publicly until after after I wrote it, but now I very much want to share what God led me to pray so that maybe it will encourage others to fight for hope to):

"Faith, Hope, Love.
My Lord you see—and I am sad and ashamed to know—that I struggle to live daily with all 3! Lately it's been hope. Hope and faith are what drive my prayers! And yet lately my hope has been attacked.
My God, I repent!!!
I repent for embracing doubt!
I want to fight for FAITH, HOPE, LOVE!
Oh God, hope comes from YOU! Joy and peace which birth hope are gifts from Your hand!
Fill me, I ask! Fill me with hope so I can pray the prayers of expectant faith that You love!
So I  can speak LIFE where there is death,
JOY where there is depression,
STRENGTH where there is weakness,
PASSION where there is apathy,
FIRE where there is ice,
FLESH where there is stone,
ENLIGHTENMENT where there is darkness,
and so I can speak JESUS where there is any situation needing His beautiful, mighty, wise, unstoppable power!
Oh fill Your deficit child with this, my mighty Lord. I hunger for faith, HOPE, love! Begin this transformation in me right now, today!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Photo Book

WOW--it took all day (literally!) but I finally made my free photo book from Shutterfly. Thought I'd share it with you! LOVE it and can't wait to hold it! :) I couldn't decide which trip I took this year to make it of, so I made it of all three... Brazil, Alaska, and Ukraine. :) I'm off to Alaska again, Asia, and Australia in a month so hopefully they'll send me another free photo book offer before too long. :)

The new way to make a photo album: photo books by Shutterfly.