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Monday, December 1, 2008

Acadia National Park (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Acadia National Park in Maine
(Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
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"Somebody's Praying For Me!"

"As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right" (1 Samuel 12:23).

Post-it noteThe other day Brooksyne and I received a brief blue Post-it note with a Thanksgiving greeting from Ken and Vickie, two friends from Ohio.  It had this energy-giving phrase, "We lift you up in prayer often."  It's such a blessing to have people praying for us.

I once heard an interesting perspective from a young lady who taught English in China for three years.  She shared a point of blessing I don't believe I'd ever considered.  She passed out a variety of different photos of Chinese people whom she had met during her time there.  Pictures of typical people: children, adults, and families. She pointed out that these Chinese people had likely never had  contact with anyone who had specifically prayed for them.* 

She then pointed out how virtually all of us "church people" had believers praying for us here in America.  It may have been godly parents and grandparents, pastors, Sunday School teachers, friends, etc. We ended the time by praying for these Chinese people as we looked at their pictures.  It was a memorable service.

That lesson really struck me.  The blessing of the many, many people who have prayed for me through the years and continue to do so.  The prayers began before I was born as Mom prayed for me while patting her growing midsection.  These prayers continued through my infancy, childhood, and rebellious teen years.  The earnest prayers asking that God would show me the way to salvation.  Then the sustaining prayers offered throughout the years of my ministry and today in present overcomings.  These prayers silently undergird my life often in indiscernible ways.  I would consider that most all of you who read our message today have similar stories of being prayed for!

In the daily text Samuel had anointed Saul as king and is returning to "private life", although there was still some public rebuke he had to carry out.  This is his transition address to the people of Israel and in it he provided a wonderful assurance to them:
"As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right." He was planning to continue to pray for them and teach them.  In fact he considered the failure to pray for them a sin against the Lord!  What a heavy sense of responsibility and important lesson for us regarding the importance of praying for others.

Today, why don't you pause for a moment and thank God for the prayer warriors interceding on your behalf!  And remember the lesson of the power and importance of prayer as you go to your spiritual closet today.  And finally, although you probably don't know them personally, remember to pray for people who do not have the blessing of believers praying for them.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, we are so grateful for those who, with vibrant faith and in faithful obedience, offer our names up to You in prayer.   Their prayer covering serves us much like an invisible shield that protects our vulnerable hearts against the brutal fiery darts of Satan.  In our growing walk with You move us beyond the singular "Bless me" type prayers to asking Your blessings on others as we call out their names and present their needs to You in prayer. In doing so we will be following the model Paul speaks of in Philippians 2 where he says we are to be interested not only in our own lives but also in the lives of others.  May we be faithful in putting Jesus first, others second and ourselves last in our daily thoughts and in our intercessory prayers.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

* Brooksyne makes an interesting observation.  The people in China and other places have surely been prayed for as part of the burden for missions as we have prayed for the "Chinese people", etc.  Surely these prayers are not to be discounted and only eternity will reveal how they have been answered.  We have had a personal mystery in this regard.  For many years Brooksyne had a Chinese pen pal named Yhang Sue who was a teacher in China.  Brooksyne prayed and sensitively tried to share the gospel with her.  After many years (probably over 10) Yhang Sue wrote that she was moving to Canada and had married.  In the mid-nineties we found a letter from Yhang Sue on our porch in Massachusetts that had apparently been dropped off but with no current address where we could reach her.  We have lost contact and of course have moved ourselves as well.  We are awaiting the outcome of this and earnestly pray that we will hear that Yhang Sue has come to know Christ.

Another note from Brooksyne:  We hear from many readers who have deep hurts and major challenges in their lives.  So much so that I'm often at a loss in knowing how to respond and time restraints are always lurking.  But I feel strongly that, if possible, I will respond with a personalized prayer on their behalf.  Some of you reading this note are recipients of one or more of those prayers. I often hear from the respondent that they downloaded the prayer and posted it as a reminder that they were being prayed for.

May I encourage you to carry out this spiritual exercise on behalf of those who come to you in need, or better yet, for those you perceive to be in need.  It certainly does not take a special gifting from God to do this – just write down the prayer God is laying upon your heart.  One of the best methods in writing prayers is using prayer models throughout Scripture.  There are so many instances of written prayers in the Bible.  I read through II Thessalonians this morning in my personal devotions and came across 4 prayers Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers.  They can be used exactly as written or adapted as needed for the recipient in need of prayer.  II Thessalonians 1:11,12; 2:16,17; 3:3-5; 3:16.  Two favorite prayers I use often are from Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11. These can also be used in prayer services when we pray aloud for others.  Scriptural prayers are a wonderful blessing and prayer tool especially when we are at a loss for words or feel inadequate in ourselves.  God's Word is always adequate for every situation.

A final note from Stephen: The other evening I was gathered in prayer with two young brothers and we were praying for each other. Well, being in public ministry for nearly 35 years now I suppose I am fairly competent and comfortable in praying for others. After we prayed one of them commented on my prayer and wondered if God still answered even if we had a harder time getting the words together. I assured him that God is most concerned with our hearts not the formation of our prayers!  Those of us who've walked for years with the Lord are most touched by the earnest prayer of a new believer who has not yet memorized the "church type prayer lingo" but simply prays from his or her heart.

Photo of Pat and Laverne WeberSaturday we were blessed to have my brother and his wife join us for dinner. Pat and Laverne Weber live in the Lehigh Valley about 100 miles northeast of us and serve a church in Easton Pennsylvania. They are now empty nesters with all three of their children  married and they're also proud  grandparents. They met in Bible College and have been married 36 years, faithfully serving the Lord together. Pat came to faith in Christ while in the service in Europe and Lavene is the daughter of George and Helga Hemminger, longterm pioneering missionaries to Sierre Leone, West Africa. Brother Hemminger was a remarkable mission statesman and I still meet people who recall his ministry since he was characterized by weeping as he shared his burden for the people. Many years ago I shared an encouragement message about him titled, "God Will Not Forget".

Roxie and Dottie sharing basket
As it gets colder outside our pets, Roxie (dog) and Dottie (cat), snuggle up in front of the coal stove. Yesterday we had ministry at Longwood Manor, a local assisted living center. Roxie joined us to provide "pet therapy" so she was pretty tired when we got home. Dottie doesn't like to get out and pretty much rests 23 and 1/2 hours a day.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to open and play. In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Somebody's Praying Me Through"  Video  Here's a touching version by a young girl dealing with cancer.

"Somebody's Praying"  

"I Must Tell Jesus"  Video  As we prepared today's message we both recalled our blessing from this old hymn we haven't heard in many years.  In fact as we were sharing I said "Number 400 in the old hymnal."  This is an earnest choir version with an interesting string instrument in the very beginning. Can anyone tell us what it is?  This song starts out slow and quiet but builds with a stirring crescendo as it goes along.  

Howard Blichfeldt

Today's photo is by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. His website is here. Howard desires to honor the Lord through his photography.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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