In this episode…
Way back when our ministry was still basically just a blog, we held a series of prayer calls with our readers ahead of the 2016 election. We really loved these calls, but they only existed for fifteen minutes every two weeks. If you missed it, you were out of luck.
Now, we’re in another election year, and by God’s grace, we’ve moved past a lot of the things that made it hard to record podcast episodes regularly.
So, starting this week, in addition to the longer episodes we usually produce that include interviews, class excerpts or commentary, we’re also going to release shorter, prayer-call-style episodes, and release them more frequently.
Our hope is that if you’re looking for people to pray along with—which is something I know I need more often than I’m usually willing to admit—or if you’re looking for models for how to lead other people in prayer, these podcasts will be what you’re looking for.
Look for a new episode—either a longer one or a shorter, prayer-focused one—every week.
This week, we’re going to start this series off by praying through Psalm 46.
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“Pandemic” is a scary word. It’s a big word. It’s a dramatic word. And the way the world around us has responded to it over the past few weeks has been just as dramatic.
Some of us coming to you today have lost savings over the last few weeks. Some of us have lost jobs. Some of us have lost health. Some of us have lost loved ones. And most of us feel like, to one degree or another, for one reason or another, we’re losing our minds.
This is not the first time your people have watched the world we thought we knew change dramatically. Social structures have been overturned. Nations have risen and fallen. The very ground under our feet has, at times, split apart and shifted in an instant. We’ve found ourselves in places that used to be familiar but aren’t.
Over and over and over again, you tell us that when we lose our grip on the things we thought we knew, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost your grip on us.
Each of us praying today asks you to speak that truth to us consistently and repeatedly over the coming weeks. When we are tempted to be afraid, remind us of your promise to guard us. When we are tempted to be reckless, remind us of the enormous price you paid to give us that guarantee. When we are tempted to despair, remind us that the day of the Lord is coming, as surely as the Son of the Lord got up from the dead.
Speak these truths to us through your word, through our brothers and sisters, and through the still, small voice of your spirit.
And when we suffer real loss, remind us that you know that loss—your son wept and raged alongside us—and give us the ability to grieve honestly and with hope.
Thank you that you have given so many of us the ability to connect with one another even while we are isolated. For every prayer happening over Skype, every homily being delivered over Zoom, every phone call offering sympathy, encouragement and love, thank you.
It looks like more towns and more states are going to restrict travel before this crisis passes, and we are asking you, as your people, your hands and feet on this earth, show us how to make the most of this time. Show us how to build one another up, how to show mercy and grace and generosity to the people around us who are most vulnerable, and how to shine like lamps on a stand when most of us are in a different room.
Help us especially to hold one another accountable for the way we speak online. The words we speak reflect on you—we bear your name, we carry your banner. For those of us who use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, we can’t know everything. We will say things improperly. We will get facts wrong—dishonoring the truth that you say will set us free. Give us people who can correct us in love, and make us quick to listen, slow to speak, and humble enough to correct ourselves when we need to.
We want to speak words that are life-giving. You have given us every reason to be calm and brave—not to deny the danger, but to respond to it appropriately. Give us hearts that break for people who don’t know the security you offer, and out of the overflow of those hearts, let us speak.
So many of our churches usually find ways to fulfill your commands to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the widows and visit the prisoners. But following through on that will be harder during this pandemic. We pray for those who rely on our churches for their daily bread, and for their daily experience of love. We pray for every church and every non-profit that is working quickly to find ways to continue meeting those needs even in light of the emergency declarations sweeping the country—and the world.
This virus crawls across the world, but you loom over the world. And so, along with Dr. Petri who led us in prayer last week, we ask you boldly to heal the sick, and halt the spread of this virus. Let the world behold the wonder of your power and love.
Our redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand. And we will get to stand, too.
We pray all of these things in his name, so that when we get to stand, we will get to see so many more people glorifying him than we expected.
Let millions of us learn to sing his praises for the first time because of the way we see his people model his unique combination of wisdom, patience, grace, and enthusiastic, irrepressible, sacrificial love during this pandemic.
Thank-Yous and prayer request
I was not very healthy last year. For the last few years, honestly, but last year was especially bad.
I was completely out of commission for a few months, and barely able to work a few hours a day for a few more months after that.
I’m fine now. I have felt God’s grace and mercy and his healing hand—and I’m grateful for the gifts and talents he gave some great doctors.
But this ministry wouldn’t be here anymore without a lot of people who stepped up and kept the wheels turning without me.
First, I want to thank last year’s summer interns, Curneisha Williams and Zach Graber. They came in expecting three months of mentorship, discipleship and job training, and things changed on them a lot. But they changed gears incredibly well. I’m really proud of the work they did, and I’m grateful for the way they demonstrated humility and grace and for how they found ways to contribute to our work that I wouldn’t have expected and wasn’t healthy enough to guide them in.
Next, our Advisory Council and Executive Board, and my co-founder, Danny Leiva. For most of June and July, I wasn’t even able to leave my couch—and the times I did leave my couch probably set back my recovery in pretty big ways. But while I was pretty useless, Danny and the board and the advisory council and my wife Haley filled in a lot of gaps for me, and they worked with me to make big changes to how our team is structured and how we work together. The end result was that our ministry could keep going while I was out, and everything worked even better once I was finally back.
We even added new members to our team in the middle of all of this, and I want to welcome Dr. Vincent Bacote to our Advisory Council and I want to welcome Daniel Chun, Conlan Northcutt and Stacey Scholl to our Executive Board!
Once I was back on my feet, a lot of my time was spent fundraising, and I want to thank the dozens of people who started supporting our ministry over the last four months. Thanks to you all, I’m able to say for the first time ever that I’m confident this ministry will still exist a year from now.
Your support also made it possible for us to bring on two part-time staff members for the last few months of 2019—Melissa Musser and Elizabeth LeRoy. For everything that was hard about last year, I’m more excited about our ministry in 2020 than I ever have been before. Without your support and their hard work, I really don’t see what tools God would have used to get us to this point.
So, if you’re listening to this and you’ve been blessed by our work, please take a quick moment to thank God for all of those people I just mentioned.