This is Part 1 of a two part post on my experience with Lent this year. What I’m learning about prayer, myself, and The Father’s heart.
I’ve never participated in Lent. My background is non-denominational and it was never really discussed or promoted. I’m not sure why. However, this year I’ve read more about the tradition of Lent and the reasoning behind it. I wanted to participate. I began to pray and ask the Lord what He would have me do. I felt a need to offer some type of sacrifice in order to show my gratitude for the great sacrifice that Jesus made for me on the cross.
Some people give up, or declare a fast from, all sugar. Some simply give up desserts, probably so they can eat sugar at other times. Some give up television, video games, or the internet. When I was in high school I remember a Lutheran friend giving up Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. I was glad I wasn’t a Lutheran!
I don’t think what we give up is as important as why we give it up. It needs to cost us something or there is no real sacrifice involved. Otherwise it becomes just another religious practice that has no real impact on our lives.
This year, my first Lenten experience, I am fasting until noon, giving up my breakfast in order to devote that time to prayer. As a world champion list maker, I decided that I needed to have a word for each day of the week that would prompt me to pray for specific areas, rather than random prayers. Here is my weekly list:
Ministry Monday: Today I pray for those in ministry leadership. Lead pastors to children’s pastors. Missionaries to music ministers. My local church as well as churches across America. Can you imagine the change that would take place if everyone committed one morning a week to intercede for our ministers? I also pray for my own personal ministry. I ask for God’s guidance and blessing as I serve through Standing Stone Ministry and Marriage Growers International. The power of prayer is awesome. I challenge everyone to pray diligently for our Christian leaders.
Texas Tuesday: I have a Texas-sized dream. In fact, I dream of living in Texas! My dream is to one day build a retreat center home where I can host ministry couples. It is a powerful dream because I think it was birthed in me by the Holy Spirit. Yet, I need to be willing to relinquish my Texas dreams in order to accomplish God’s will for my life here on earth. I have other dreams, hopes, and aspirations, as do you. Can we stand before Our Father, with all of those dreams in the palms of our hands, and say, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, Father, but your will be done.”? This one is a huge sacrifice for me.
Worldview Wednesday: Some days I need to get away from my tunnel vision regarding my ministry, my dreams, my needs, my life and instead focus on the bigger picture. There are areas of need all over the world. I specifically pray for friends who rescue, rehabilitate, train, and nurture young victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia. I pray for a beautiful young woman, one whom I’ve watched grow up since birth, who has dedicated her life to serving others in Africa. I pray for a ministry that brings hope, training, and financial support to the persecuted church in Myanmar, Vietnam, and China. I pray for a retired British couple who have committed their “golden years”, as well as their finances, to bringing the practical and personal love of Jesus to remote villages in Zambia. I dig deep on Wednesdays. My hunger pains remind me of the millions who go to bed each night hungry, without hope, without Jesus.
The rest of my list will be posted in another blog. What do you think about the list so far? Can you add to these areas of prayer with suggestions of your own?
If you decide to accept the challenge of praying weekly for our ministry leaders I’d love to hear from you. If you are a ministry leader yourself, I challenge you to pray for other ministry leaders. I’m sure you know a young man struggling with burnout or a young wife that is ready to walk away from vocational ministry with her husband because she is overwhelmed. The best and greatest thing you can do for them is to pray. I can’t say it better than this ~ “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16b
Peace to all of you who are in Christ,