Prayer for Survivors —Part 9

As time passes, it is easy for many of us to think that the effects of abuse have disappeared. But we are reminded that each day these women face new challenges, grow beyond where they had been. But their pain is real, the consequences significant. This is a small reminder that not one is forgotten.

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Heavenly Father, You know the challenges and attacks that each of these people have faced. Reassure them of Your presence in Jesus Christ. Grant them strength, wisdom, and insight on how best to proceed, especially in the coming days. Refresh, restore, and renew them according to Your mercy in Jesus Christ. May they continue to be a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the voiceless. Protect their hearts when attacked, and sustain them with Your Word.

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Day 124 Whitney Burns #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we lift up Whitney today as she lives in light of but beyond the trauma of abuse. Bring healing, hope, & growth. In the dark days reassure her of Your love. Bless her family as well as they provide care & support. IJN Amen

Day 125 Isabell Hutchins #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we pray for Isabell in all her needs, challenges, hurts. Bring grace to her in all relationships, strengthen her when she is weakest, love her when she might feel unlovable. May she speak & respond w/grace influenced by Your Word. IJN. Amen

Day 126 Meaghan Ashcraft #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors God, You invite us to bring our prayers before You. Today we ask for Your special love, support, mercy on Meaghan. Whatever is of greatest concern bring help and healing to her. Reassure her of Your love. Bless her family. IJN Amen

Day 127 Natalie Woodland #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors LordGod, grant Your blessings for Natalie as she copes w/ & grows through the abuse. Give her wise counselors, strong friends, intentional caregivers to supply all that she needs. Reaffirm Your love for in Jesus. IJN Amen

Day 128 Jillian Swinehart #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor on Jillian. You know her needs, hurts, desires. Grant her wisdom, strength, & mercy as she continues face the past, even more as she looks to the future. Heal her heart & grant her grace for all situations. IJN Amen

Day 129 Allison Chauvette #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, as Allison moves forward in life, grant her healing, strength, wisdom, & hope. Raise up people who can understand, care for, & speak into her life words of truth, courage, & love in Jesus. We pray for her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 130 Anna Dayton #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your mercy be evident to Anna. Strengthen her for each task & challenge. Be her Rock in all situations. Teach her even more about true love, true life, true friendship. Guide her steps, teach her Your ways in Jesus. IJN Amen

Our prayers continue
Psalm for the broken but not destroyed
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Prayers for Survivors — Part 8

As time passes, it is easy for many of us to think that the effects of abuse have disappeared. But we are reminded that each day these women face new challenges, grow beyond where they had been. But their pain is real, the consequences significant. This is a small reminder that not one is forgotten.

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Heavenly Father, You know the challenges and attacks that each of these people have faced. Reassure them of Your presence in Jesus Christ. Grant them strength, wisdom, and insight on how best to proceed, especially in the coming days. Refresh, restore, and renew them according to Your mercy in Jesus Christ. May they continue to be a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the voiceless. Protect their hearts when attacked, and sustain them with Your Word. 

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Day 108 Lauren Michalak #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Yourname. You invite us to pray for those in need. Today we pray for Lauren & her many needs. Altho we don’t know them You do. May You strengthen, comfort her, & guide her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 109 Vanasia Bradley #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving God, we bring Vanasia before Your throne of mercy. In the midst of her coping/healing grant her strength, courage, and focus. Bless her & her family w/love in all her needs. Give wisdom to those helping & loving her. IJN Amen

Day 110 Breanne Rata #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your blessings rest upon Breanne today. Surround her w/people who can support, love, and guide her. Give her wisdom as she moves forward. Strengthen her to meet all challenges w/grace and compassion. IJN Amen

Day 111 Erin McCann #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Look w/favor on Erin. You have given her voice to speak about & against abuse. Heal & protect her. Help her family stand strong w/her. May they all know love, compassion, & joy. Whatever her hurts, bring wholeness. IJN Amen

Day 112 Catherine Hannum #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, today Catherine needs Your love and reassurance. Strengthen, comfort, & encourage her. Raise up people to speak words of hope. We pray for her family as well, and their many needs, for wisdom, & strength. IJN Amen

Day 113 Victim 170 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we turn to You in behalf of Victim 170. You know her needs, hurts, concerns, challenges. You can more than meet them because of Your great love. Surround her w/people of love and compassion. Bless her family as they walk w/her. IJN Amen

Day 114 Jessica Chedler Rodriquez #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving God, may You bless, comfort, & heal Jessica. While time passes some issues remain. Bring this to closure for her. Give her family strength, compassion, & encouragement. Whatever he needs may You more than meet them. IJN Amen

Day 115 Victim 138 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look with favor upon Victim 138. Whatever her needs & her family’s needs, may You more than meet them. Protect her from further attacks, and from indifference by others. Heal, strengthen, & comfort her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 116 Morgan Margraves #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we approach Your throne of mercy in behalf of Morgan. Grant her comfort, healing, strength. Enable her to grow in knowledge thru all that she has endured. Raise up people to love, encourage, & protect her. IJN Amen

Day 117 Victim 127 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts are touched by the needs, hopes, fears, and joys of Victim 127. Grant her full healing, live in peace, and strive for that which is good. Encourage, comfort, sustain her by raising up people to walk alongside her. IJN Amen

Day 118 Victim 142 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we trust that You have Victim 142 in Your loving care. All that she has been thru, You have seen, & You raise up people to care for & love. Continue to heal her. Grant her strength, confidence, & passion as she speaks & lives forward. IJN Amen

Day 119 Victim 162 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for this victim of sexual abuse. Altho unnamed, she is known to You. Grant a special measure of Your mercy, compassion, & love. Bring people alongside her to help, encourage, & comfort her. IJN Amen

Day 120 Victim 186 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious God, our hearts ache with the abuse that so many have endured. May You continue to bless Victim 186 in the healing process. On the difficult days give her strength, comfort, & encouragement. Raise up people to walk w/her. IJN Amen

Day 121 Victim 185 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may You bless Victim 185 in all ways necessary. When she is weak, be her strength; when hurting, be her healer; when discouraged, be her encouragement; when needing a friend, may she know You are a perfect friend. IJN Amen

Day 122 Victim 73 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, pray for Victim 73. Where there are hurts bring healing. When comfort is needed equip people to do so. Most importantly bring the good news of Jesus Christ, who took all sins upon Himself & gives life, hope, & love. IJN Amen

Day 123 Victim 165 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we bring another unnamed, but well known person to You for all Your help in her life. Whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual may You more than satisfy them. Grant her strength, wisdom, compassion, & joy in life. IJN Amen

Our prayers continue
Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Prayers for Survivors — Part 7

As time passes, it is easy for many of us to think that the effects of abuse have disappeared. But we are reminded that each day these women face new challenges, grow beyond where they had been. But their pain is real, the consequences significant. This is a small reminder that not one is forgotten.

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Heavenly Father, You know the challenges and attacks that each of these people have faced. Reassure them of Your presence in Jesus Christ. Grant them strength, wisdom, and insight on how best to proceed, especially in the coming days. Refresh, restore, and renew them according to Your mercy in Jesus Christ. May they continue to be a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the voiceless. Protect their hearts when attacked, and sustain them with Your Word. 

Day 95 Taylor Livingston #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord Jesus, grant Your mercy & blessing on Taylor. Bring healing, help, strength, & comfort. In all of her work & activities may You be evident, guiding each step. Raise up people to care for her each day. IJN Amen

Day 96 Victim 163 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, while we do not know her name, You know her fully, her needs, her hurts, her desires. Grant her healing of mind, body, and soul. May she not be defined by what happened to her, but how she is growing, responding. Grant her love. IJN Amen

Day 97 Victim 183 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, a person unknown to us has faced known predators. Sustain her in healing & recovery. Grant her friends who show her kindness, listen to her, & walk w/her. May she always be welcomed in Your name & places. IJN Amen.

Day 98 Presley Allison #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, we pray for Presley in all her needs. Where there is hurt, comfort her; where challenges, strengthen her. Grant her a clear vision as she moves forward. Open opportunities for her to serve, grow, and lead. IJN Amen

Day 99 Kamerin Moore #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Faithful God, may she see Your hand guiding her, may she know Your love in Jesus. Grant her peace that passes understanding, strength from You, & a loving heart as she grows & serves regardless of circumstances. IJN Amen

Day 100 Krista Wakeman #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, may You loving and healing touch be upon Krista. On the difficult days be her Rock. Grant her days of recovery, strength, patience, and love. Surround her & her family with people who can love, comfort, & encourage. IJN Amen

Day 101 Samantha Daniels #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, today our prayers are focused on Samantha. You know all her needs, weaknesses, strengths, & areas in which she needs special help. Raise up the right people to care for, encourage, & comfort her. Grant her peace and strength. IJN Amen

Day 102 Victim 159 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for Victim 159. Nameless to us, You know here well. Grant her mercy in all phases of her life. May her voice be strong, her courage sufficient. May You continue to bless her w/those who encourage & comfort. IJN Amen

Day 103 Alliree Gingerich #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your blessing be upon Alliree today & each day. You know the places of hurt, concern, & fear. Bring her peace, hope, strength in all areas of her life. Bring into her life people of love, hope, & encouragement. IJN Amen

Day 104 Megan Farnsworth #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for all who have been abused. Today we pray for Megan and her needs. Whatever the situation, bless her work, activities, and healing. Raise up people to walk with and encourage Megan. IJN Amen

Day 105 Kourtney Weidner #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, may You continue to strengthen Kourtney each day. In loneliness be her Rock, in sadness bring gladness, in despair, bring hope & joy. May she be loved, comforted, & encouraged by those around her. IJN Amen

Day 106 A. N. #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the needs for A. N., her hurts, concerns about the future, her need for love. May You more than meet them. Raise up people to care for and minister to her. Bless her family as well as they live in light of all she has been thru. IJN Amen

Day 107 Charla Burill #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious God, look with favor upon Charla in the days/years ahead. Guide her, provide people to love & care for her. Heal the wounds, comfort her & reassure her of Your love in Jesus. Bless her family as well. IJN Amen

Our prayers continue

Praying the un-prayable

As Christians we cherish the Old and New Testaments for many reasons. They teach us about God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The prophecies and promises of His coming in the OT, and the revelation of Him through the Gospels, and then expanded teachings in the NT letters. 

There are many texts in the OT that you can read that point ahead to fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Here are just a few (look up their fulfillment in the NT):

Gen. 3:15; 12:1-3; 15:1-6; Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7; 53; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9-10; 13:7-9

As part of our new relationship with God (saved, not condemned), God invites us to approach Him in prayer.

Praying

Jesus invites the hearers/readers/listeners to believe on Him and be saved. This includes forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, etc., and to approach God in prayer and to do so with confidence. In fact, we see in both testaments the encouragement to pray, the models for praying. Reading the Psalms can be great sources of praying, and learning about prayer.

For centuries Christians have grown in their prayer lives as they are influenced, guided, and directed by the Bible.

Praying can be hard

As we live in this world that is scarred by sin, it doesn’t take us long to hit the brick wall of difficult prayers. I don’t mean simple prayers, but those prayers that are so agonizing that we can’t even express ourselves. Words seem to fail us.

Having lived through decades of agony, fear, inability to change circumstances, I can’t even count how many times I was flat on the bed, floor, ground, crying out loud, “How long!?!” One Psalm captures that extreme sense of loss, abandonment, despair.

God does not leave us in that condition. And it is a good thing. Perhaps the pain of what is happening is monumental,  and we stutter, frozen in a failure to even pray. God promises that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in that exact spot:

At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.  (Romans 8:26-27 GW)

What a comfort that God helps form our prayers even in those difficult, trying times.

Praying the Un-prayable

But now we come to the most difficult part. Trying to pray the un-prayable. This is the extreme condition when praying even seems unspeakable. When the pain is beyond description. To even say words at that point would mean that even God would be offended!

Psalm 137 comes to mind. It begins with a lament.

So far, this seems like a normal lament. But notice how this ends:

That is startling!! A few years ago I read one commentator who wrote strongly that this is “sub-Christian” and should never be uttered by anyone! Or in the words of this subheading: Praying the un-prayable.

I would offer that this prayer is precisely a Christian prayer, a faithful prayer. For the Jew writing this, the agony of seeing Jerusalem and the temple destroyed was overwhelming. The agony of deportation to other lands (not just Babylon, but also Egypt). The death of many family members and friends boils in the backdrop of the mind. The Psalm is not written with a “peaceful, pretty, gentle” background. The raw emotions of the Jewish people comes through very clearly.

But God… and this is key… But the Psalmist who utters this prayer brings the full brunt of the desperation before God. Notice, however, that the Psalmist does not act on this violence, namely “smashing babies against the rocks.” Rather the Psalmist is praying in faith before God. And that faith is such that God can handle the anger, the frustration, the hopelessness. The worst of all imaginable words, yet the Psalmist brings those emotions, hurts, losses, and now even words before God.

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A word about justice:

The Psalmist does not take matters into his own hands. His heart is open about what he wanted to do—before God. But justice was not in his hands. God raised up others (namely, the Persians) who conquered Babylon. Was it instantaneous justice? No, but it was far better than one person trying to take on personal vengeance.

In the case of the sexual abuse scandal at MSU, USAG, and OSOC, God raised up people to address not one abuse incident—remember that many were not aware how extensive it was—but the larger scheme. Therefore, God raised up Rachael, Morgan, Makayla, and many others to become the voice that shouted “no more!”

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the courtroom allowed those many voices to be heard. The voice was no longer one lonely, fearful voice, but a combination of hundreds of voices, angry voices of women who were finally being heard. The Psalmist of 137 gave way to God’s greater justice. And now that same process is being played out. Justice is being served.

And the voices of others who have been abused are now catching worldwide attention: Abby Honold and the law named after her in Minnesota. Sammy Woodhouse who survived the Rotherham abuse ring is telling the story through her book and personal appearances. 

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Hope in Praying the Un-prayable

In praying this way, we are not offending God by our words. Rather we are actually trusting Him to hear, and respond in His perfect way. Not our way, not the expedient way, not the way we planned, not in the time we demand, but in His perfect way and perfect timing. We do so, knowing His promises to hear and to act.

Over the years when the ongoing turmoil was moving beyond 30 years, and part of it was our one son was missing for 18 years, life was beyond messy—it felt like the Babylonian captivity. It was what I described privately as “hell on earth.” That was the strongest way to describe it. Was God offended? No, he welcomes the prayers that are un-prayable. My heart was broken into a million pieces, my words inadequate. But, God listened.

My prayer of lament, the un-prayable prayer, was answered in a dramatic fashion two years ago. What I struggled to utter during those decades was answered in a way I didn’t think possible. But God…

Abused, broken—
prayers for them and with them

As I think about those who have been (and are being) abused, I think of Psalm 137. We can pray their un-prayable prayers for them and with them. We can open our mouths before God to say the difficult words, express the hurt, anger, rage, frustration. And we know that God can handle it.

That is one reason I began the daily prayer on Facebook and Twitter for #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors who suffered (and still do) under the abuse by Larry Nassar, MSU, and USAG, USOC, etc.

But now, we can expand that to pray for the many who have suffered abuse in so many ways. I think of Madeleine Black, Abby Honold, Lori Ann Thompson, Sandy Beach, Mary DeMuth, and so many others. And prayers for those who care for and minister to those who have been abused.

When we pray for them, we do not in any way minimize or diminish what has happened, what they are experiencing, the anguish, despair, sense of being forgotten. Rather, we pray in light of all that, we pray that God brings what we cannot.

Let’s storm God’s throne of mercy with un-prayable prayers, for the sake of our sisters and brothers.

Our prayers continue

Additional Thoughts on #Prayer-Survivors-Conquerors

This last week as I was struggling with some sickness, I let slip a day or two of prayers for the women who were abused by Larry Nassar. I had gone 87 days following that pattern. Yet I missed two days last week. 

The sickness wasn’t life threatening for me by any stretch. But with my age and the challenges this past year with adjusting to a new normal after my accident, it caught me by surprise. This thing wore me out, not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I reflected on that last night. I began thinking about the more than 200 women who had been sexually abused by Nassar, some more than 20 years ago. How many days have they faced their burdens? The weight of no one listening to them for years. And when some reported the people who could have helped never did anything. No one responded with help for them. 

I wonder how tired, overwhelmed they felt all that time? And then they faced their abuser, and yet still they are attacked, sidelined, and ignored by #MSU and #USAG and others. This was not a episode from which they would recover with a couple weeks of rest. 

This is daily, weekly, monthly, yearly —drains on the life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That is the tiring and wearying reality of so many. My little episode pales by comparison. 

This reminds me when we pray for each of them, it is not just an instant in their lives, it is their lives. Yes, they are growing, maturing, but also hurting, angry, standing strong in public, and setting a course for many others who are beginning to address the horror, injustice, and pain.

And new names beyond the sports scandal are added to the list of abused, seemingly each day. Our prayer life is extended, not as a burden, but a necessity, a promise, a joy. They are Survivors and Conquerors. And, yes, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, these women are strong. And we stand with them as Prayer Warriors.

I am no longer sick or tired; my illness has passed. But my prayer focus for each of them continues. They all need our prayers, every day. 

If I fail to do that, Lord, forgive me, strengthen me, and even give me the appropriate words in prayer. Here is God’s promise for us as we pray:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 NAS)

Our prayers continue

Places of the Passion Pt 1

The Upper Room

During our midweek Lenten services we will take a look at five places connected to Jesus’ death. Each place will expose us to the people involved in Jesus’ death. We will see people taking actions that reveal that they are not only witnesses but accomplices in Jesus’ death.

Our first look  tonight will be at the upper room. The upper room is a place for intimacy, a gathering familiar and cherished by Jews. The Passover celebration was not a private event, but a family and friend oriented event.

In the midst of this, Jesus addresses two items of critical interest: 1) the identify of his betrayer, sin exposed, and 2) the institution of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins.

As we explore tonight we begin our walk to the cross. Like the disciples we ask “Is it I, Lord.” As we examine our hearts, we, too, will see our own sin—confessing during the service. And the solution is the forgiveness that Jesus earns for us and He gives to us through the Word, through Baptism, and especially tonight, the Lord’s Supper. We cherish the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness we desperately need and want.

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17  Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

20 Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved, they 1each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24“The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:17-29 NAS)