Prayer Calendar: Prayer as a Weapon of War

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Dave Acree is the EFCC’s Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This regular column on prayer is designed to accompany the Prayer Calendar.


We “peaceful” Canadians sometimes find it awkward to look at life through the lens of warfare. We see ourselves more as peacekeepers than warmongers. Yet when speaking of prayer, scripture injects it into two theatres of war. Perhaps we should embrace rather than shun the metaphor.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God . . . . And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (see Ephesians 6:10-18)

War Theatre #1 puts prayer into perspective. In prayer we enter the battle between God and the forces of evil. This unseen reality can drive us in many directions, from fearful to skeptical to watchful, but ignoring it should not be an option.

The armor we are encouraged to “put on” suggests some of the areas for this type of warfare praying: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation. The hard part is moving from abstract ideas to real life specifics in our lives and churches.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (see James 4:1-4)

War Theatre #2 makes prayer personal. While the first battle is unseen, this one is internal. It is between wanting God’s things or ours, between asking with God and others in mind or just us, between selfishness and generosity.

All warfare is tough and painful. How bloody are your knees?!

EFCC Conference 2016: Creation Care Lunch Invitation

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EFCC and Creation Care

A small, enthusiastic team has formed to develop a written resource for the EFCC on the subject of Creation Care. Rather than creating an opinion piece in a vacuum, this team hopes to initiate an important dialogue that will continue and grow throughout our movement. They want to get a sense of the concerns and priorities within environmentally-sensitive EFCCers.

If you’re coming to the Conference, you’re invited to a special focus Lunch.

This will happen during the lunch break on Thursday August 4th at the Fort Langley church (the Conference venue). There will be three parts in the hour-long event:

  • While we eat, an introduction to who we are, and to purpose and plan of the initial project we are working on
  • An interesting perspective on the lunch we just ate, presented by John Wood, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, The King’s University, Edmonton
  • A dialogue on the project and the topic of Creation Care in EFCC.

Your part has 5 simple steps:

  1. Register for Conference and opt-in for the lunch provided by the FLEFC caterers
  2. At the same time, register your intention to come to the Creation Care focus lunch with laniefung@gmail.com
  3. On Aug. 4, get and bring your lunch as quickly as possible to the Upper Room
  4. Upon arrival, receive a $5 cash rebate on your lunch price; yes, you read that right: we are so keen about this lunch that we are paying the first 30 people who show up!
  5. Enjoy the company and engage with the discussion.

 

Prayer: From BHAGs to BHARs

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Dave Acree is the EFCC’s Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This regular column on prayer is designed to accompany the Prayer Calendar.


Those who are familiar with the writings of Jim Collins on leadership and business know what a BHAG is. In his book, Built to Last, he introduces a BHAG as a powerful mechanism to stimulate progress in a company or corporation. BHAGs (pronounced bee-hags) are “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.”

If I were currently writing a book on prayer, I would entitle the book Built to Ask and change the “G” to “R” turning BHAGs into BHARs (pronounced bee-hars): Big Hairy Audacious Requests.

Even in my 70th year of life I’m still learning about prayer. Margaret Feinberg in her book The Sacred Echo, writes:

“If his son asks for bread, what I am asking God for? In all honesty, a lot of crumby prayers. I’d like to think it’s because I’m maturing in my prayer life. I’m offering God more reasonable requests . . . . Or am I just praying it safe?” (page 81)

I have to admit that the phrase “praying it safe” struck home. That’s me, the safe prayer. But there’s even more to it than that. My belief in the sovereignty of God limits my asking. God is going to do what he is going to do no matter what I ask him to do. I don’t really believe that but I pray like I do. I realized that I am hardly asking at all.

So I’m learning to ask. Here are some guiding principles I’m working from.

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3, NIV 2011)

After a parable on shameless audacity Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.” (Luke 11:9, NIV 2011)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV 2011)

I have two BHARs going right now. I am praying for two recently met individuals God has laid on my heart, one in Turkey and one in Australia, that God will reveal himself to them and that they will come to know him personally. These BHARs seem to be impossible to me. So I am undergirding them with this incident from the life of Jesus (Mark 10:17-27) and in particular this verse:

“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. “ (Mark 10:27)

I challenge you to a BHAR!!

Now for a shameless commercial. Come to Ft. Langley in August to the EFCC National Conference and attend my seminar on “Praying It Risky” to delve more deeply into BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS REQUESTS.

The Overwhelming Privilege of Prayer

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Dave Acree is the EFCC’s Prayer and Spiritual Life Catalyst. This regular column on prayer is designed to accompany the Prayer Calendar.


Last week I was in Istanbul, Turkey standing outside the Hagia Sophia (church/mosque/museum) watching as the imam sang into the microphone the call to prayer. It was picked up by the surrounding mosques until it was a wail across the area. I then walked several hundred meters to the Blue Mosque and observed those of the Muslim faith kneeling with forehead to the ground praying. While for many it was probably an act of devotion, being one of the five pillars of their faith, it also acted as “coinage” in purchasing salvation.  Allah is a pretty distant god with little grace to offer.

A couple of days later in Cappadocia I watched as the “whirling dervishes” (a mystical sect of Islam) “prayed” in a whirling dance where with closed eyes they fell into a trance-like state entering another existence in unity with the world around and “god.” I’m not sure what that was all about but it didn’t feel right.

And then home to Canada to an Angus Reid survey of Canadians and prayer, carried out in March of this year: 20% pray daily; 10% several times a week; and 5% about once a week. 32% never pray and 15% hardly ever. The remaining 19% pray a handful of times or less a month.

What I found interesting was, those who pray daily mostly pray out of gratitude and thanksgiving to God. The rest who pray do so to ask God for something. The more you pray the more thankful you are for what God has already done; the less you pray the more you want God to do.

For us, prayer doesn’t provide leverage for our salvation. There should not be a sense of entitlement in our prayer — that God owes us something or must give us what we ask for. Prayer should be more than a series of perfunctory requests punctuating our days. It should be a time of relational conversation.

I have always been overwhelmed by the privilege of prayer. It’s not just a time to presume upon God’s generosity. Think about it! The Lord of the universe, our Saviour and King, invites us to come running into his throne room, without appointment, and says, “Let’s talk.” I’m never gotten over that and hope I never do! And I hope you don’t either.

Why, then, don’t we take advantage of the privilege more often than we do?

 

MEMO Honoured By Canadian Governor General, Canadian Red Cross

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davep_smIt is always exciting when good things happen in the life of one member of a family. Everyone rejoices with them. Every now and then something GREAT happens, and we all need to celebrate together. This letter is an invitation for you to celebrate with the family.

Dr. Jerome and Maureen Harvey have given relentless leadership to MEMO for many years.  Over 50 containers of medical supplies have been sent to Cuba, El Salvador and Liberia.  Thousands of volunteer hours in Thunder Bay have made this possible.  But it has been the passion and vision of Dr. Harvey that has been the force behind this effort.

In a ceremony in Thunder Bay on March 29th, Dr. Jerome Harvey was honored to receive the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for his commitment, vision and hard work.

(Click this link to read more about the award.)

“The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character. It allows us to thank them for their contributions and for the positive impact they have had on the lives of others.”

MEMO will also be honoured by the Canadian Red Cross when Dr. Harvey receives the “Power of Humanity” award on May 5th. This award recognizes MEMO’s “relentless and selfless humanitarian efforts within the Thunder Bay community and beyond.”

Dr. Harvey shared this anecdote in a recent email:

When the GG’s secretary phoned me to inform me of the award, she congratulated me. I said,”Don’t send congratulations, send money!” Her very serious response was, “Oh I am sorry sir, we cannot do that.” When I pointed out I was just teasing she finally laughed.

His heartfelt desire is that in receiving this reward there will be increased awareness and support for MEMO and all it continues to accomplish. We all can join with the Harveys and the entire MEMO team in thanking God for the opportunity to share God’s love in such a practical way. May the Glory go to Him!

With gratitude,

Dave Penner (EFCCM Director)