Monday, November 18, 2013

Prayer Warriors

When you think of spiritual giants who do you think of? Moses? Elijah? Chances are my grandma isn't on your list. But you probably know someone like her who is on your list. Someone who makes you say "I want to be like ____ when I grow up." I am blessed to know of a number of people like this, but I want to talk about my grandma who is probably the greatest prayer warrior I know.

To look at her, she may not seem like a prayer warrior. You might see a frail old woman with a walker. You might see a women who can't see much of the physical world anymore. You might see a quiet reserved woman with a pleasant smile on her face. Warrior? Not from outward appearances.

But when I look at her, I see a woman on her knees in prayer, I see a woman in the prime of life, fully clad with the armor of God (See Ephesians 6:10-18) charging up to the gates of heaven and rattling them with prayers. I see a woman who is humble before God and would likely be downright embarrassed that I wrote a blog post about her. "No no. I'm hardly worthy of all that. Write about someone else," she would say. But that is one of the reasons that makes her exactly the person I want to write about.

My dad would say "My ma prays holes in carpets." Meaning, she was on her knees so much in prayer or walking around the house in prayer so much that it would wear holes in the carpet! What a wonderful thing to have a child share with others. "This is my mom, she prays holes in carpets."

It is said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. Why should prayer be any different? Doesn't it make sense that the more you pray, the better you are at it? The more "natural" and "part of life" it becomes.  And why stop at a mere 10,000 hours? Prayer doesn't have to be long or eloquent. It can be short and sweet. "Thank you Lord for keeping us safe on the drive to and from the store today." It becomes a fluid conversation with God. Certainly wonderful and personal during quiet times, but just as important during the loud chaos times too. If I had to wait for only the quiet times, in this phase of life, I might not ever get the chance to pray!

My grandma has been known to stay up all night in prayer. Not on her knees anymore, but sitting in her chair. When she found out her great-grandson would need a major surgery, she spent the whole night in prayer.  Happened to be the best night he has ever slept too, I don't think that's a coincidence! Doesn't that paint a lovely picture? All the sincere love poured out by this woman, wrapping her beloved great-grandson up in prayer. And lets not forget all the other times she has done this. Praying her great-grandchildren home. Praying for her grandchildren. Her children. Her spouse. Her church. Her government. Missionaries. The poor and downtrodden. Etc. Constantly standing before the gates of heaven with her prayers.

And let's not forget the praise portion of prayer. It isn't just imploring God for something, it is praising him for His greatness and mercy. She's worn holes in carpets over those things too. We are talking thorough and complete praying.

I'm sure she didn't become a "master prayer warrior" overnight. I know it took practice. It took time to reach those 10,000 hours and beyond. For it to become thorough, complete, everyday, every moment natural way of life. Raising payers as fragrant incense to the Lord. To pray holes in carpets.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prayer in the "Small Spots"

I am a vivacious reader, of all genres. Kids has slowed me down a little. Now I only read one book at a time instead of four! 

This is Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie Berndt. One of her great ideas is to praying specific passages personalized to your family (such as swapping "yourself" or "you" with "name", nothing sacrilegious!) in the "small spots" of life. Such as when you're washing dishes or doing laundry.

I hung two of my favorites in my laundry area: Ephesians 6:11-18 and Colassians 3:12.

Clothe my family with your full armor so that they can take their stand against the devil's schemes. Help them to stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled around their waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place. Fit their feet with the rediness that comes from the gospel of peace. Give my family the shield of faith, with which they can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Place the helmet of salvation on their head and the sword of the Spirit, wich is your word, in their hands. Finally, teach them to pray, and to be alert. Ephesians 6:11-18

Clothe my family with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

You can change "My family" with the specific names of each family member, if you happen to be doing a lot of laundry. As laundry is apt to do! ^_^

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How everyone can help orphans and widows.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17 ESV

November is National Adoption Month. "But adoption isn't for me." Some may say. And then they ignore the month's plea. I'd like to present a different front that is for everyone. From those will little to those with much: Sponsorship.

There are child sponsorship programs. But there are also family sponsorship programs. This helps not only the child but the whole family.

An orphan can mean a child with or without parents. Many children grow up in orphanages simply because parent cannot provide for them. Orphanages are not nice places to grow up. See this article: Abuse in many forms. Not to mention the obvious fact: growing up without a family. So instead of spending money on orphanage care: Creating Problems in Haiti and Are we helping or hurting?

Let’s consider spending money more effectively: on sponsorship programs, programs that promote family unity instead of tearing them apart.

But let’s start with the statistics of this enormous problem. I am borrowing the statistics from this post, see the whole article here:

It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide (recent UNICEF report.)
The current population of the United States is just a little over 300 million… to give you an idea of the enormity of the numbers… (The current population of Russia is 141 million)
Every day 5,760 more children become orphans
2,102,400 more children become orphans every year in Africa alone 
Every 15 seconds, another child in Africa becomes an AIDS orphan
There are an estimated 14 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa (a number higher than the total of every under-eighteen year old in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland combined)
This figure is estimated to reach 18 million orphans in Africa alone by 2010 (only two and a half years away)
8 out of 10 children orphaned by AIDS lives in sub-saharan Africa
Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but… 
Each year 14, 505, 000 children grow up as orphans and age out of the system by age sixteen
Each day 38,493 orphans age out
Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home
In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen
These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70%of the boys become hardened criminals 
Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years…
Sources: Human Rights Watch: “Abandoned to the State: Cruelty and Neglect in Russian Orphanages” November 1998 ; ; ; UNICEF’s Childhood Under Threat: the State of the World’s Children, 2005 ;  ))
Those are some big number! What can one person do?! A whole lot! Check out the benefits of sponsorship.
Here are just some of the highlights:
-- As a result of sponsorship, children stayed in school an extra year to a year and a half on average - more than 11 years in all, compared with slightly more than 10 years for un-sponsored children. In Uganda, girls obtained three more years of schooling, on average.
-- About 65 percent of sponsored children graduated from high school, with the best results in Africa, where education levels were lower to begin with. Just 45 percent of non-sponsored children had graduated.
-- About 7.8 percent of sponsored children graduated from college, "a remarkable rate among low-income families in developing countries," Wydick said. Just 4.3 percent of un-sponsored children graduated.
-- About 27 percent of sponsored children became teachers, health workers or other white-collar employees. Just 19 percent of un-sponsored kids did so.
For the full scoop, read the full report “Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes” by Bruce Wydick.

Quite impressive the profound impact! And it helps not only the "orphan" but the family! (Here's to helping out those widow!)
Also quite impressive is that so much can be accomplished with only $20-$40 a month. “Ah, I can’t afford that every month!” Wait. Think about this. This monetary gift provides a child with 1) schooling 2) school uniform 3) school supplies 4) daily meals with CLEAN water 5) health care and, in many cases, 6) the lifesaving word of God. I don’t know about you, but I can’t feed myself, let alone my whole family for $20-40 a month. A visit to the doctor results in a co-pay of at least $25 here. And yet this little amount of money provides so much to a family elsewhere. And you can write to your sponsored child! This is a relationship.

Not sure where to look? Where will your money make the most impact? I happen to have a list of just a few sponsorship organizations with brief breakdown. Many of these I have personal experience sponsoring children from so if you have questions, feel free to ask! Also feel free to post your favorite sponsorship organization in the comments.