Prayer

Update on the Woolstenhulmes

Woolstenhulme Family

Jeff and Tessa Woolstenhulme have added a new member to their family! Join us in thanking the Lord for their wonderful 4-month-old son, Nate.

Jeff reports that he and Tessa are persevering in their ministry. He says that their primary prayer request is that students will begin building community within their ministry. Students often attend ministry events, but they socialize elsewhere with other friend groups. Jeff says that he would love to see the college students building strong relationships within the ministry so that they can all grow together. Jeff says that seeing a community that enjoys being together is a power testament to the gospel. This is a reminder of Jesus’ statement, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:13 NIV1).

 

Ways to Pray for Campus Ministries

This month, as you study the Woolstenhulmes’ ministry at Riverside, consider ways that you can pray for campus ministries in your area. Ask God to guide you in praying for your local schools. Use this prayer list as an idea generator:

All Things Big and Small

When I think of missions, my first thought is a big trip taken overseas. I think of going to Africa or Asia, eating strange new foods, forging new relationships and working hard, and meeting the needs of people who have never heard of Jesus.

Then I look around me and realize there are people right outside my front door who have never heard of Jesus. I realize that anywhere I am is a missions field if I’ll just let God use me as a missionary.

It’s hard to remember that we are called to be missionaries as soon as we accept Jesus into our hearts. It’s hard to be intentional about sharing His love with others as we go about our sometimes mundane day-to-day tasks.

We don’t have to pack a giant backpack and head to Africa in order to be missionaries. In fact, there are over 269 million lost people in North America, so we need to consider taking off our giant backpacks and reaching out to our many neighbors who are lost.

If you’re wondering how you can help all of those lost people, start with prayer. Prayer is powerful and intentional and miraculous. You are doing amazing things when you pray.

Attention Grabbing Group Time: Prayertime

Praying Preschooler

Praying with your preschoolers is one of the most important things that you get to do with them. When you pray with your preschoolers, you are modeling for them the essential skills for a close, personal relationship with God. You are both the model and the participant in this time of prayer, and the only way to learn to pray effectively is by praying yourself! Teaching preschoolers that God is active and listening to them always, and that they can talk to God like they’re talking to a friend are very important. Shaking off the formality and stiffness of a group prayer can help your preschoolers develop a positive attitude about prayer.

Here are several tips for opening your preschoolers’ eyes and hearts to prayer, and some tips for keeping their attention.

  • Preschoolers have notoriously short attention spans! Keep your prayer brief and simple, but meaningful.

Teaching Preschoolers the Significance of Prayer

Last week, during National WMU’s all employee meeting, our executive director, Sandy Wisdom-Martin, shared excerpts of her prayer journal with us. She emphasized that prayer should not be assigned to specific times or places. Sandy’s words created a beautiful picture, "When prayer occurs with frequency and passion, communication transforms into communion. When people pray together, it creates a climate for God’s Spirit to dwell in our midst. If we lead with prayer, God can do immeasurably more in and through us."

What if our preschoolers caught this vision? Preschoolers are ripe for learning about prayer. They accept matters of faith that our jaded adult minds may not accept. From birth, we can pray with our children. As you pray with your little ones, you are building a foundation for deeper, more fervent and faithful communion with God.

Use these suggestions to help your preschoolers understand the significance of prayer for followers of Jesus:

Are You Willing to Follow Where He Leads?

As I read the words, my eyes began to tear. The Prayer Patterns focus in Missions Mosaic was on Moses. Judith Edwards wrote, "‘Burning bush’ experiences come without warning and often in ways that are indescribable in human words. Any encounter with God causes us to examine where we have been and what may lie ahead, but ‘burning bush’ encounters are those that catch us by surprise, take our breath away because of their inexplicable wonder, and sometimes leave us asking, ‘God! Are you sure?’”

That sums up my journey to national WMU. In a way, that sums up my entire life. I am the daughter of a coal miner and foundry worker and have been caught by surprise time and time again. Repeatedly I have asked, “God! Are you sure?”

A friend sent me a book by Alton Lee Webb. In Go Outside, he writes, “So, if you feel completely called and completely inadequate at the same time, you are in the perfect place to get up, get out, and change the world.”1 I do feel completely called and utterly inadequate.

Praying for Disaster Relief Chaplains and Workers

pray for disaster relief volunteers

In one of my earliest experiences with Baptist Disaster Relief, I learned firsthand the precious value of those who support the ministry from behind the scenes.

Hurricane Hugo had devastated huge areas of our state of South Carolina. A friend from our church offered to care for our two preschool-aged children so that my husband and I could both serve with a Disaster Relief (DR) unit in a hard-hit area. Others in our church prayed as we served. The experience convinced me that those in support roles back home are just as much a part of the ministry of Disaster Relief as those on site in the disaster area.

You can be part of the DR ministry by praying for the chaplains and other volunteers who respond to offer help, hope, and healing to disaster survivors.

 

Pray for open eyes to see inner needs.

Pray About Everything

I’m using Mark Bethea’s book, 30 Days of Hope for Peaceful Living, as part of my devotional material for January. The topic of Day Five is Prescriptive Prayer. Mark writes, “Paul declares that if we are not to be anxious about anything, then we pray about everything. If we mix prayer with rejoicing and add thanksgiving, we have a recipe for living free from our anxious tendencies.” Later he outlines the exact prescription for dealing with anxiety and living with the peace of God.

 

We pray.

We pray about everything.

 

What a great reminder as we begin 2017. As we try to discern God’s future for us, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything. When friends, family members, and colleagues have hurts both large and small, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything. When we are overwhelmed by our list of tasks to accomplish, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything.

Does Prayer Really Matter? Really?

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You close your eyes, bow your head, and before a word crosses your lips you start to wonder, “Does this prayer really matter?” I mean, since when have words spoken in private ever changed global catastrophes like the war in Syria or the refugee crisis in Europe? Is prayer even all that important?

Oh, my friend, it is so important. When we pray, we’re really doing two things at the same time. We are (1) cultivating our relationship with God and (2) refining our own hearts in the process.

We pray out of a concern for others and with the faith that the One we pray to can actually hear us and cares about us. It’s an exercise in faith, plain and simple.

By voicing our hearts to God, we also underscore how important our words are. Sometimes we find that all we need is to sit in silence, at peace in the presence of a God beyond words.

Prayer is also the first step toward action. How many examples can we find in Scripture where someone wrestled with God in prayer over something they knew they had do? Honestly, more than I’d prefer to count . . .

Praying with Preschoolers

Always Remember to Pray

“I don’t know what to pray,” said one of my preschoolers after I read the title page in Always Remember to Pray. Several new preschoolers had just promoted into our Mission Friends class a couple weeks before at the beginning of this church year. I decided to read Always Remember to Pray before our prayertime to help us talk about prayer. I responded to this preschooler, “Let’s find out what we can pray!” I read several pages of the book until the preschoolers started fidgeting, and then I flipped the pages over to read the last page. Before we prayed, we talked about ways we could pray for the missionary family.

Preschoolers are learning that we can pray anywhere and at any time. In order to learn how to pray, they need to hear the prayers of their parents and teachers at church. In Mission Friends, we can model how to pray for others as we teach preschoolers of ways to pray for the missionaries featured and the people with whom they serve.

Tips about Praying with Preschoolers

Trust During Transition

Several years ago, former national WMU president Janet Hoffman sent me a little book by Robert J. Morgan entitled The Red Sea Rules: Ten God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times. Recently when I was preparing a devotion for a group of denominational leaders, I noticed the caption at the bottom of the front cover of the book: “The same God who led you in will lead you out.” Wow! What an important truth for me as I prepare to hand over the leadership of WMU to a new leader in the coming months.

I have prayed to know how to end well and transition well with all things in good order as the new leader arrives. This statement prompted me to pause and remember the journey God led me through as He called me to serve 16 years ago. I was reluctant, scared, and uncertain of my abilities to lead, but God ultimately demonstrated for me a most valuable lesson: whatever He called me to do He would be right there going ahead of me, with me, and coming behind me to make all things work for His good. I have seen Him do just that over and over during my years of service.

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