Site of the day: NationalPrayerBank.com

I have been a beneficiary of NationalPrayerBank.com for over a year now. The faithful prayers of fellow believers were instrumental in helping me maintain faith during recent unemployment, and in giving me the courage to apply for other positions. I came across this article about the site today and wanted to share:

Michala Mesler

For Michala Mesler, 19, a computer offers a window into supplication.

At her family’s home in Fairhope, peering into a screen, she scrolls through petitions posted by the devout from around the world.

A man has cancer; a child is ill; someone has just lost a job. The human drama unfolds.

Pray for me.

The website is the Mesler family’s creation — http://www.nationalprayerbank.com — launched 3 years ago to create a spiritual online community.

The prayer bank, says Mesler, “touches those in need of prayer, but also blesses those who pray.”

“Everyone involved is a volunteer,” says her mother, Marlene Mesler, who explains that the whole family — she, husband Don, and their six children — donate not only their time, but also their various expertises, to furthering the mission.

A son-in-law in Birmingham is the programmer.

The family say they charge nothing, and do not fundraise. The entire enterprise, to participants, is free.

“A lot of people want to minister,” says Marlene Mesler. And those often most isolated — the elderly, the disabled — become “prayer warriors, too” she says.

Michala Mesler, a sophomore at University of Alabama-Birmingham, says the prayer bank has deepened her own sense of faith.

Home-schooled before heading off to college, she is majoring in music technology at UAB, and aspires to be a worship leader.

Merging the old and new seems natural to her.

“Prayer is the same today as it was in the early church,” she says.

“We haven’t done anything to change prayer, but rather to offer a 21st century way to share prayer requests and encouragement.”

Anyone can go to the website and read the exchange of prayers. A prayer request, though, requires creating an account and log-in. They ask that site participants be at least 13 years old.

The list of people who have signed on, says Marlene Mesler, is not shared with any other organization.

When people post a prayer request, it is read by the Meslers and other select volunteers to make sure it is appropriate.

Then it is posted.

The mom-and-pop ministry is growing.

As of mid-July, the site had logged 374,874 prayers.

And the requests —for healing, for financial well-being, for the repair of marriages — keep on coming.

Just this week, a request was posted by a man asking for prayers for a friend: “His needs are salvation, healing from drug and alcohol addiction, and healing for his body.”

So far that request has received 23 prayers in response.

A woman posted: “My children and I will be homeless at the end of the month. We are in extreme danger where we live and I am trying to get my family relocated to a place of safety . . . Our lives are in danger here . . . please pray that God will send relief.”

She has received 40 prayers.

“Please pray for me that I don’t have cancer,” writes another.

The response: 45 prayers.

For a request posted 1/29/11, titled, “Cancer On the Skull,” there are 14 pages, when printed, of prayers listed, culminating on June 5 with this response:

“Thank you to all my prayer friends for praying for healing for my son . . . the last cycle of chemotherapy was completed on last Saturday. The next step is to receive radiation . . . Please continue to pray for complete restoration . . . Luke 1:37: ‘For nothing is impossible with God.’ God’s blessing.”

With a click of the mouse, one can read prayer responses in full, and see how to contact those who have made them.

There are prayer groups, too, including circles of those down on their luck at work or those in prison.

The idea for the prayer bank came when Marlene Mesler was expecting her sixth child — a high-risk pregnancy.

One of her children, then 11, prayed for her health, she says, and gave her a calendar marked with the days of his petitions.

Later, that same son, then in his 20s, cut his hand to the bone and was rushed to the hospital. When members of their church, First Baptist of Fairhope, prayed for his healing, they kept a prayer registry — the church’s custom, she says — and gave it to her.

Those accounts of prayers gave her heart, she says, and she wanted to create the same effect in an on-line community.

Such prayer registries can be powerful tools, says Ryan Smith, First Baptist of Fairhope’s minister to students.

He says that his church’s prayer lists originate at Wednesday night meetings.

Prayers are offered for those who are ill, those in need, Smith says. All those who pray sign a letter that goes out to the person who is suffering.

Smith describes the “glimmer of hope” in the eyes of those who are hurting when they see that others have held them up in prayer.

Their faith, he says, is bolstered by “the encouragement” of friends.

There are parallels in the national prayer bank, he says, where the exchanges take place on a national, even global level.

“When you pray,” says Marlene Mesler, “God releases his resources.”

Downstairs at the Mesler home, away from the computers, there is another kind of keyboard.

Michala Mesler spends time at the grand piano, composing.

“Worship music,” she says, “is what the Lord laid on my heart.”

She has just recorded her first CD, a 10-song album called “The Nations.”

When people open up http://www.nationalprayerbank.com, they can listen to the title track from that album.

“God does answer prayers,” she says.

By Roy Hoffman, Press-Register.

Down with age discrimination in the church: Trumpeter shows he can still blow at 80

Inspiring story for the day. Hope reading it blesses you.

Mustard Seed Budget

Age DiscriminationFrom the time inside the womb, he attended the Santa Monica Foursquare Church – now called the Lighthouse – 80 years ago.

After a long absence from his native congregation where he grew up in love with the brass band, Duane Howard, 80, returned to see IF the church of his infancy was razed and converted into condos. It wasn’t.

He found a thriving congregation that received him with great enthusiasm as he played his trumpet, injecting an intoxicating jazz and blues undertone to worship service.

“I was absolutely convinced that the church wasn’t there anymore,” Howard said. “I’ve come full circle.”

In eight decades, a lot of life has brought upheavals, travels, ambitions, scares, heartbreaks. He did ministry, had three kids, lost two marriages, ran businesses and built a dream ranch house. In 2000, he underwent a quadruple bypass heart surgery in Chico, California. Read the rest of the…

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How to Witness to a Jewish Person (and other things Christians screw up royally)

A very funny and touching post from my Jewish sister in Christ, Melissa Presser.

I wanted to share tips on Gentiles witnessing to Jewish people as this seems to be a neglected outreach in many churches today.

God bless you for reading, enjoy. 🙂

Celebrating Christmas

God, our loving Father, help us remember the
birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of
the angels, the gladness of the shepherds and
the wisdom of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love
all over the world.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which
Christ brings and teach us to be merry with
clean hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy
to be your children and the Christmas evening
bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94)

Why I follow Jesus

You ask why I follow this Jesus?
Why I love Him the way I do?
When the world’s turned away from His teachings
And the people who serve Him are few.

It’s not the rewards I’m after
Or gifts that I hope to receive
It’s the Presence that calls for commitment
It’s the Spirit I trust and believe.

The Lord doesn’t shelter His faithful
Or spare them all suffering and pain,
Like everyone else I have burdens,
And walk through my share of rain.

Yet He gives me a plan and a purpose,
And that joy only Christians have known,
I never know what comes tomorrow,
But I do know I’m never alone.

It’s the love always there when you need it;
It’s the words that redeem and inspire,
It’s the longing to ever be with Him
That burns in my heart like a fire.

So you ask why I love my Lord Jesus?
Well, friend, that’s so easy to see,
But the one thing that fills me with wonder is
Why Jesus loves someone like me.

(Author unknown)

What a friend we have in Jesus

The Lord kindly brought this old hymn to mind while I was sitting at work feeling a little down. It made me smile and was a comfort. I hope it blesses you too:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

(Joseph M. Scriven, 1855)

Send me sleep

This is a favorite prayer of mine before bed-time. It may be short but it says a lot faith-wise in few words.

May it be a blessing to you too.

Lord, send me sleep that I may live;
The wrongs I’ve done this day forgive.
Bless every deed and thought and word
I’ve rightly done, or said, or heard.
Bless relatives and friends alway;
Teach all the world to watch and pray.
My thanks for all my blessings take
And hear my prayer for Jesus’ sake.

Author unknown. The painting is by Roberto Ferruzzi (1854 – 1934, Italian).

The glory of creation

“O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills and the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses by which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator, Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.”

Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918)

A Work Prayer

A few days ago I felt anxious about taking over my boss’s role while she is away over Christmas. I was wanting to ensure that if I said “yes” to my company, I was remaining in the Lord’s will and not doing things in my own (limited) strength. I feared being asked to take on responsibilities above my ability to manage.

So I posted up prayer requests at National Prayer Bank (which is USA-based) and the Australian version of this site too. A kind man called Roy got back to me from the Australian site and recommended some helpful Christian links. One of the links recommended was http://ydyc.org/.

While searching on this site I came across a lovely work prayer that gave me hope. I’ve posted it near my desk for inspiration and wanted to share it with others. Here it is:

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for supplying my needs today from your abundant resources.

Thank you for freely giving me your peace, in exchange for anxiety. Your love, in exchange for fear. Your joy, in exchange for heaviness. Your faith, in exchange for doubt. Your strength, in exchange for weariness.

Lord Jesus, your Word tells me that the same Spirit that raised you from the dead dwells in me. I need your power to help me to be in the world, but not of the world.

I yield myself to you and ask the Holy Spirit to enable me to be efficient, creative and honest. Help me to work today with integrity, diligence, self-control, faithfulness and forgiveness.

Your Word also declares that, if I lack wisdom, I can ask you and you will give it generously. I need your wisdom today, Lord Jesus, to enable me to make correct choices.

In the Name of Jesus I forbid the enemy’s schemes that would rob me of productive time by attacking me emotionally, mentally, physically or financially and claim your protection in every area of my life.

Help me to sow seeds of life, bringing encouragement and edification to those I meet. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for opening opportunities to share your love today.

Helpful scripture resources:

Jeremiah 32:17:
“Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee…”

Daniel 11:32:
“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

Hebrews 10:19:
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus…”

Philippians 4:19:
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:11:
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you”

1 John 2:15:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

James 1:5:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5:
“(for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

Ephesians 3:20:
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”

I trust you found the work prayer helpful.

As a postscript to this article, I was so encouraged when the Lord answered my prayers very promptly and gave me grace in my boss’s eyes. Several kind people posted up encouragements on National Prayer Bank (USA site), saying they were praying for me.

I then had a meeting with my boss (shortly after posting up my prayers online) that was very reassuring. She listed down all the tasks I will be responsible for while she is away and I saw that this was – thankfully – fair and manageable. Praise God! With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Until next time, Lord willing.

How do I know if my ministry is fruitful?

I was thinking today that my ministry is very small, certainly in terms of conversions. I honestly don’t know of one person I’ve influenced who has gone on to follow Christ. The closest example I can think of was a lovely 19-year old girl called Eva Rose who said she was considering “following God and Jesus” because of my example of faith. At the time this was a great encouragement but since then I have had very little feedback spiritually on whether I’m bearing genuine fruit for the Lord.

So this afternoon I started searching my site in earnest, trying to see what articles have been the most popular and helpful for people, if any. I came up with a small but, I feel, encouraging list:

There were other articles that were shared as well, which was a surprise and a little bolster to my faith, but the above are the dearest to my heart so I thought I’d mention these. I wanted to address the topic of fruitfulness in ministry because I’m sure I’m not alone in having anxieties about this at times. Another helpful strategy I adopted this afternoon was to comb Christian internet forums, trying to determine what others have done to overcome doubt and discouragement. I came across several helpful posts from http://www.puritanboard.com/f117/how-do-i-know-if-my-ministry-fruitful-48027/. I hope you find these encouraging too:

Firstly, this gem of a post:
“My grandmother used to fret about fruitfulness, because in her lifetime as a believer (she became a believer when she was 40 and died in her late 80’s) she never saw a personal convert. She told me that this bothered her until she realized that God might never show her fruit. What she didn’t see was the number of lives that had been changed (and are still changing almost 15 years after her death) because of her prayers and faithfulness to God. Abraham also believed without receiving the promise (see Hebrews 11:13 and the whole chapter in fact – my notes).

I don’t see in Scripture where God calls conversions or baptisms or large numbers “fruit”. He describes the “fruit of the Spirit” much differently. When I look at a pastor, I look at his personal life and example. I also look at his faithfulness to the word of God. If the congregation is healthy spiritually, then the pastor is doing his job.

Galatians 5 contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. If “body life” reflects the fruit of the Spirit, then the pastor is being the example he should be. If the church looks more like the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5, then I believe the pastor AND the leadership should take a long hard look at themselves and ask God what is wrong.

Being around my pastor and elders has made me want to know the Lord more. I watch their example of loving Christ, loving the church, loving the lost, caring for the flock and be(ing) grounded in God’s word. They are men I want to follow, and it has produced more growth in me and in my family.”

Then this:
“God is not concerned about your success. He is concerned about your faithfulness to Him and His Word.”

So there you have it. With God, the external signs of success matter less than where our hearts are at. I hope this encourages you to keep on fighting the good fight of faith with me.

Until next time, Lord willing.