January 2017

Narrowly missing death twice, Abbas finds true life

My father provided for our family, but he was entirely focused on his business. Eventually he was put in prison because of a bad business deal. Prison was a dark, desolate experience, but God used the darkness to speak truth and light to my father. When he came home he was a changed man from the inside out! It showed in how he treated his family and anyone else who came across his path.

Do you ever go through seasons when your prayer life feels mundane and emotionless? You may be in a season like that right now. Or perhaps you’ve never had a passionate prayer experience.

Knowing the purposes and promises of God revealed in the Scriptures can increase the zeal of your prayer life!

Nehemiah provides a vivid example of this.

How God Answers Prayer

One night I was unable to sleep, so I began reading a book on prayer. The author stated how simple true prayer is, and Yolanda* came to mind. Yolanda had come to a few of our Nav gatherings and we started meeting to read the Bible together. The author said that God designed helplessness as a necessary component of prayer; I wrote “Yolanda” in the margins.

The next morning, I headed to campus to meet with Yolanda.

Our Bible study meets regularly at a sandwich shop owned by a Middle Eastern man. One day we met Mahir*, a cousin of the shop owner, who was new to the States, and very interested in our study.

One evening I noticed Mahir was down and discouraged and I asked him what was wrong.

He replied, “My wife and two children went to the American Embassy today to get visas and were told they would never get approval for visas.”

James* is a faithful friend who continually teaches me new things. He challenges me, he encourages me, and he loves me for who I am. James is in Kindergarten and attends our after school program. I drive him home every day and we have great conversations in the car. One afternoon last year we drove past an old abandoned school building. I asked James what he thought about that being our school. He got excited and said, “That would be awesome, Mr. Matt!”

I replied, “We need to ask God to give it to us.”

As followers of Jesus, we hold onto the timeless truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). This is comforting as we step into 2017. No matter what changes our country and the world will undergo in the coming year, we can hold fast to Jesus. As His people we choose to follow His example and His words as we seek to live generously.

A Conversation with Tricia McCary Rhodes

I became aware that even as a contemplative person, I was having increasing difficulty getting quiet and still. I also knew that this was a problem for many people. We knew something was wrong but didn’t know what to do about it. What I learned through my reading and research on the brain is that the neuropathways of our brain are reframed by the things we do over and over again. So as we interact with our devices throughout the day, our brains get wired to expect this kind of short experience, to be continually in motion. We need to retrain our brains in order to slow down and to contemplate. We do this through practices that strengthen our souls and our connection to God.

Many of the 800-1,000 Marine recruits who regularly attend the weekly chapel ask for prayer for their training, personal struggles, and family concerns. For many, it is their first time away from home.

At Camp Pendleton, the Navs Military ministry focuses on prayer support to give recruits hope and encouragement during the challenges of boot camp. The team also leads biblical education classes on topics such as starting a relationship with Jesus Christ, discipleship, marriage and growing deeper as a godly Marine.

My meeting with Tom was focused on business strategies, but the Holy Spirit prompted me to ask Tom some personal questions. I didn’t know him very well, but decided to gently probe. Tom opened up and shared that he was having serious family problems and was also on the brink of losing his job.

“Could I pray with you right now?” I asked.

A tiny red hand print on a poster caught Becky’s* attention as she walked into her church in Denver. When she looked closer, she noticed this plea:

NAME Lorenzo* in Namibia
AGE 10
PRAYER REQUEST a coat & a dog

Start the New Year 2017 with a daily prayer focus. Read through each day following the topics and verses as a prayer prompt for that day.
You can also share the calendar with someone you are discipling or with your small group.