Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Intercession – Over the Long Haul

             Sometimes there are people that we pray for over many years and their faith seems at times to be becoming so real to them and at other times it falters and we wonder if they will ever find their way again.  This is the case for someone who has been on my prayer lists for many years now.  I have known her since she was just a little girl and remember how strong willed she was then.
 Her parents are wonderful people who would do anything to help anyone.  They are kind and generous and we are honoured to count them among our friends.  At sixteen, their daughter gave birth to a child that she gave up for adoption.  She went through a difficult time after that dealing with depression and at the same time rebelling against what she felt were the constraints of her upbringing.  Eventually she married and as the children came, she returned to her roots and embraced the faith.  Her greatest sorrow was that her husband was not interested in joining her in her involvement in the church. 
            This woman has musical talents and eventually became the leader of the worship team in her church.  This gave her an opportunity to work with the pastor, who was facing some challenges in his own family.  Both were vulnerable and sadly sought solace in one another instead of in their faith.  The result was two shattered families.  They are living with the outcomes of all of the subsequent upheaval and I continue to pray for her, that somehow she will come to know that difficult as it might be, she can find her way home again.  As you can imagine, I know only the superficial realities of her situation, so in my prayers I must ask the Lord to help her to find her way and provide for her the people and experiences that will enable her to do so. 
            At the same time, I pray daily for her parents.  I know they carry a burden for her and for her family.  They want so much to help her, but like so many of us, they have learned that it is not their place to try to help adult children make their decisions.  We have to allow them the freedom to make their own choices and yet offer our help and encouragement when we can.  I often pray for them, as I do for myself that they will have wisdom and discernment and know when to speak and when to remain silent.  I also give thanks when we see any indication that God is at work in this difficult situation.
            I have to admit that sometimes I wonder how long it will be before we will find evidence of the changes that will indicate a renewed faith and strengthened family relationships.  Nevertheless, I do not doubt that because of our prayers (mine and those of others who continue to remember her) grace continues to flow into the life of this dear woman and her family.   I intend to keep on remembering her daily in my prayers.
            I have invited your comments to the blog and I know that for some of you reading this, your first language is not English.  Do not worry about that.  You can just say, “I want a free copy of your book.”  That will give me concrete evidence people are reading the blog. 
Winner of The Word Guild
Christian Leadership Award 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011


          I mentioned in an earlier blog that I include in my daily lists the prayer request lists that friends send to me for their ministries.  One of these lists contains the prayer requests that I receive from The Salvation Army’s Social Justice Commission.  This international commission was set up in New York about four years ago.  It has significant links with different operations of the United Nations.  The goal is to help The Salvation Army become more aware of the role that it can play in social justice in the world.  At the same time, it is a means whereby The Salvation Army can offer in an official manner its gifts to others for the purpose of social justice activities.  The first person that was responsible for the operation of this Commission was Commissioner Christine MacMillan and she was my friend and former boss.  I offered to help her set up her prayer support team when she began in this function, but she has since been able to develop a helpful and informative prayer newsletter that she sends out monthly or bi-monthly and I am fortunate to be one of the recipients of this letter.  It keeps alive my own passion for social justice, as I pray daily for the concerns that she brings to our attention.            
         Since Glen and I served for nearly thirty years as officers of The Salvation Army, we receive regular communications from the person at our National Office who sends out information to those who are no longer in active service.  Sometimes, one of the “retirees” will send her a prayer request and she will circulate it to the rest of us.  One of my daily acute requests is one of these.  It came from friends of ours and concerns her niece and husband, who both have serious health issues and are the parents of two little boys.  Our friend has spent some time with the family to help them out, during a month when both parents had to undergo surgery.  I am going to e-mail my friend in the next couple of days to ask her for an update on the situation for this family, so I can continue to pray intelligently for them.
          Another of the lists that comes to me by e-mail from the national office of The Salvation Army is the list of prayer requests that are prepared each month for the Canada and Bermuda Territory of The Salvation Army.  This Salvation Army global region governs our area.  At one time in my career with The Salvation Army, I was responsible for the preparation and distribution of this list, so I have some idea of what is involved in that.  The requests are now listed by week, rather than by day, so I am able to remember one of them each day in my prayer time.  Also, this month, the person who is currently responsible for preparing and distributing the list sent us a link with the National House of Prayer in Ottawa.  Going to the place on their website, she suggested, I found a list of prayer requests from the Christian Legal Fellowship of Canada.  They feel the outcomes of certain cases will shape the future of our country in significant ways, so request prayer for these particular cases. These I have added to my list.
            Since I know that there are people from many parts of the world who are reading this blog, but I have not had many responses to the blog, I am going to offer an incentive. I am going to put the names of all those who respond to the blog, in a hat and once a month, I will pick a name and send that person a copy of my book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. In this way, we will be able to make the blog more interactive. 
I will look for your comments.