We are in the grip of an ice storm here in southwestern Missouri. Like the local schools, Central Assembly will be closed today. Activities scheduled in the church building have been cancelled or postponed and the office will be closed. Even by the time I left the office late yesterday afternoon our parking lots were layering with black ice. Freezing rain and light snow have continued overnight. Icing is forecast throughout the day today.
This is our third ice storm of noticeable size in three years here in Springfield. If you live in this area be careful walking and driving, try not to resent the disruption too much and, for some of you, enjoy the gift of a day at home. Hopefully you can get some extra time with the Lord and with your family. And may the Lord protect the people in our communities from serious injury and damage. God bless you!
Sunday Focus: Pray for the release of Christ’s miraculous power among us.
Mighty God, we dedicate this day of worship and fellowship to you. Thank you for your living church, your gathered people and your awe-inspiring presence. May your Spirit be among us in corporate worship today, advancing Christ’s finished work at the Cross to forgive, save, heal, deliver, renew and lead. Let our eyes be upon you and may faith be alive towards you. We let go of our distractions and other dependencies. We seek you — your power and your wisdom. And in our healing service tonight may your supernatural power be released among us. What more can we pray that what the early church in Jerusalem prayed: “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the neame of you holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:30) In turn, may it be to us as it was to them: “. . . the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled the the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4: 31) We pray this for Jesus’ glory alone, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Saturday Focus: Pray for the growing of our relationships with those who do not know Christ.
You who loved the world so much that you personally suffered to reconcile it back to yourself, we seek after your heart today. Thank you for the relentless grace that has changed our lives. Thank you that we can do nothing to make you love us more or love us less. Thank you for your blood shed and the price paid in full. Thank you that “all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). So we embrace gladly your reconciling love — not only in us, but through us. Open doors today for conversations with people outside of Christ. Help us to take time to cultivate authentic friendships with those those within our cirlce of acquaintance who do not know you. Give us courage this year to venture outside of whatever Christian bubble we might be trapped in. Make us creative and intentional in reaching spiritually lost people. You who is “reconciling the world to [yourself] in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19), would you make us ‘hands-on’ agents of that reconciling work? Would you allow each of us the privilege of personally leading someone to Christ over these next few months? Would you let your compelling love become a like a hunger inside of us that will not be satisfied until those we know find Christ? To this end and for their sakes we receive the gift of your Spirit to anoint and empower us, in Jesus name, Amen.
Friday Focus: Pray for the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit for this New Year.
Dear Lord, as we walk prayerfully through this first month of 2009 would you lead us unmistakably and clearly into tomorrow? Help us to “understand what the Lord’s will is” and “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17,18). Give us the sharp eye of discernment and let us see past headlines, conversations and day-to-day activities. Help us to be alert to your purposes undergirding the events of our lives and to have faith that your hand will faithfully lead us as we seek your guidance. Keep us from either fatalism or assigning meaninglessness to daily routines. As you do, also give us an ear to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Help us to hear from you — about our hearts, our loved ones, people without you, the ministries you have given us, our jobs. Let the ‘perception’ gifts of the Holy Spirit work in us, gifts of wisdom, knowledge, discerning of spirits and prophetic insight. Speak to us out of your Word and let us hear your voice as we walk with you today. We surrender our wills and our ways to you. We ask you to order our steps not only today but throughout the many uncertainties of the year ahead. For this we praise you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thursday Focus: Pray for a deepened life of intimacy and fellowship with God.
Spirit of God, I open my heart to you this day. Come and do in me that greatest of your works — to reveal Christ’s reality and person to me. Answer in me what Paul prayed: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17). How else can I put it? Help me to know you better. Let me experience the fellowship of your Spirit and the deepening of my own relationship with you. Forgive my indifference to you, my passion for things other than you. Let me experience you active and living in every moment of my life. Let joy that is rooted in your presence transcend routine, boredom, drudgery and even pain. Make me alive to your heart and deepen my love for you. Let adoration and gratefulness mark my disposition as you reveal yourself to me. Help me to relish alone times with you and give me grace to defeat the distractions and noise of the world I will navigate today. Help me to also find you in ordinary converstaions with others, tasks done in the power of your Spirit and moments of divine appointment. Take me further with you and in you. You are my heart’s desire and I set my heart upon you today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Wednesday Focus: Pray for faith and provision for those suffering from the economic downturn.
Dear Lord, we acknowledge you as the giver of every good thing and the ultimate source of our provision. Help our eyes to be upon you today. You told us not to worry about what we shall “eat,” “drink” or “wear” but rather to seek first your kingdom and righteousness and “all these things will be given to you as well.” (Jesus, Matthew 6:31,33). Forgive us for our seeming inability to do that so much of the time. Replace our worry with faith, replace our fear with peace and, where necessary, replace our greed with contentment. We ask you to provide for our needs if we have lost jobs or cannot make the house payments. And we pray for those who are struggling financially all across our nation . We ask that soon we will witness a turn-around in our economy and a new footing economically in people’s lives. Provide jobs and lift people up. Meanwhile give us the courage to reduce debt, to budget wisely and to keep your kingdom principles and priorities first. Provide also for churches and charitable organizations that are feeling the impact of reduced giving. Help your people to be generous and to stay focused on your mission in the world as the opportunities to minister grow in this environment. Through these historically difficult days financially open our hearts to you and meet our needs as we seek you. This we humbly and dependently ask, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tuesday Focus: Pray for wisdom and grace for President Obama on his inauguration today.
Sovereign Lord, we thank you for your justice, your righteousness and your Kingly rule. Like Jesus we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We also acknowledge the role of civil authorities in human society. May they, too, serve as extensions of your justice and righteousness in governing the affairs of our nation. On this historic day we pray specifically pray for President-elect Obama. As he places his hand upon Lincoln’s Bible and pledges the oath of office to be our next President, give him unusual grace and wisdom. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” (Proverbs 21:1) Lord, would you do that on behalf of President Obama? Direct his heart in your way, deepen his own personal relationship with you and be his strength today. Give him favor among world leaders and give him supernatural ability to govern our nation well. Like Solomon, give him breadth of understanding and insight. Protect him from ungodly pressures or convictions and make him an instrument of your hand in our day. Bless his family, his staff and advisors, his Cabinet members and all who serve with him. Help him to navigate the incredible expectations that have been projected upon him and may he glorify you as you place your hand upon him. We give you praise for this in Jesus’ name, Amen.