Pray For London

"we invite you to set aside one day a month to pray specifically for the city of London, on your own, with your family, together with a small group, in your church or at your workplace. There is a new topic every month.  These prayer prompts have been an experiment for CCNL this year and we are so very grateful for your responses.

Below are monthly prompts for you to use to pray for the City of London. Need more? Visit 24-7 prayer for more prayer ideas. If you would like these prompts delivered to your inbox, please email usIf you would like these prompts delivered to your inbox, please email us at praylondon@ccnl.org

 


 



CCNL Prayer Prompt
January 2021...... dream again




In 2020, we all could certainly affirm that it was not what any of us envisioned or dreamed about in any way - nor one we probably want to ever repeat again! As we begin this new year, God invites us, as His much-loved children, to pray - to talk with Him, to ask in His name, to listen for His promptings, to act as His hands and feet, to imagine new horizons and to dream with Him for a better world. 

At times, we may speak of those who are "dreamers" as not being very practical or wise. A friend's Irish mother used to say somewhat disparagingly: "Aye, he's such a dreamer that he thinks all his geese are swans!" Yet we NEED to dream - God created us with such amazing creative minds and spirits to discover new ways to resolve small and big challenges, to see potential beyond what is  to what could be in people, and to tackle even the most daunting of problems with courage and passion. Let's be grateful for dreamers.

This January, the scope of our dreams sometimes seem more limited to daily things that we easily took for granted last January. We dream of once again having meals or celebrations with family and friends - birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and even funerals. We dream of times ahead when we may not need to wear masks or stay two meters apart. We dream of warmly welcoming strangers, worshipping together singing at the top of our lungs, and greeting one another with hugs and handshakes. We dream of visiting without fear, our elderly parents, or newborn babies, or those in hospital. We dream of simply talking face to face and not on a screen, laughing and crying together! But not quite yet.

Inspiration to pray sometimes can quite frankly come from some pretty odd sources as the Spirit of God catches our attention! Recently on TV and radio, Lotto Max has been airing frequent ads that urge the listener to wonder what would they could do if they won $40,000,000. The sales hook is always to get people to "dream bigger" than just paying off debts, buying a new car, or getting a bigger house. And dreaming bigger evidently inspires many people to action - 57% of Ontario adults on average annually buy Lotto Max tickets according to the OLG website! Hearing a recent sermon about John the Baptist's birth, that thought of "dreaming bigger" was repeated in a much more powerful way. John was born to be a dreamer of big dreams, whose purpose in life was to "prepare the way of the Lord". He was to announce this Jesus, this "made flesh" part of the Godhead, incarnate, who was to usher in a new Kingdom here on earth. His father, Zechariah, shared these prophetic words in Luke 1, just after John was born “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Jesus' kingdom dream is an upside-down kingdom where the last shall be first; love not power will control the narrative; and all things are in process of being made right. Big dreams. 
 
What if we - you and I - began to dream bigger about the Kingdom of God being at hand in 2021 - what would that dream possibly look like?

God, even though we may feel a little wearied and battered in this last year by so much loss, fear,  conflict, and much change, we pray these Kingdom dreams for this coming year:

... For each of us personally, we dream God, that you will help us remember so many of the daily lessons we have been learning in the midst of this difficult year - adversity can be a diligent teacher. The value of family, the patience to wait, the joy of reading, the discovery of creativity, the gifts of friendships, the simple pleasures of walks and being outdoors, the practice of gratitude, the blessing of neighbours, the adventures in cooking, the respect and concern for others, the simpler life, our desperate need of you ...this list could be long. May we find ways to integrate these valuable lessons into how we live out this coming year and not waste them.

...  For those living in poverty, we dream all may have sufficient daily food to eat; access to safer affordable places to live; greater community to care and support them; and opportunity for jobs to provide sustainable income. May ongoing local actions continue in the right direction in 2021. We pray for the City of London Homeless Prevention Team, together with the Covid WISH coalition, Ark Aid, Sanctuary London, Mission Services, Salvation Army and many others committed to looking for longer term solutions, seeking new ways of addressing these complex societal issues beyond temporary shelter. We are grateful for all in our community who offer financial and volunteer support  in big and small ways to begin to accomplish this dream.

...For those living on First Nations reserves, we dream that they have equal access to education and quality healthcare; that continued reconciliation and healing from past abuses and present challenges will take place; that those without clean drinking water will finally get it; that past promises will be kept and trust will grow.

...For the many frontline and essential workers in healthcare and out in our community, we dream that great mental, physical, spiritual and emotional healing will take place in their lives where needed. They have sacrificed and risked so much in past months to care for others, God and continue to do so. Pour out your blessings on each of them to restore their spirits.

...For people of colour from all races, we dream that all will feel welcomed in London - that there will be greater effort to reduce both obvious and hidden racism in government systems, in business, in our churches and in our schools. We dream that there will be an end to racial slurs in our language, or subtle profiling in our thinking; that you will reveal to us any prejudices we may hold, and we will seek to treat each person as equally created and loved by you.

...For those who are addicted to drugs, we dream God that this year, the devastating, growing opioid crisis will be recognized and confronted here in London and around the country; that the thousands of needless deaths will stop; that dealers and suppliers will be found out and held accountable; that the underlying causes for addictions will begin to treated to help break the power of destruction in precious lives. May this break our hearts as it does yours.   

...For those families and relationships strained to the breaking point from the stresses of this past year, we dream that families will find renewed determination to come together and seek wise counsel to help resolve conflict;  that parents will find supports they need to care well for their children; that physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women, men and /or children will be revealed and necessary steps taken to stop it.  

... for  leaders in our city, our province, our country. They too are weary. We pray that they would seek to be ethical and trustworthy -  in government, in business, in churches. Oh God, every leader is human still and will make mistakes. Most seek to make best decisions with the information and resources available at the time. Some right, some wrong. Others give in to selfish voices within them. Help us to offer grace, encouragement, prayer and healthy accountability generously to all leaders. It is not easy.   

...for children growing up in this unsettled period of history, we bring them to you. Teach them God of compassionate respect for others, develop deep resiliency in them in the midst of uncertainty, and grow in them a longing for spiritual answers to life's difficult questions. May we as the adults in their lives, in various roles and relationships, model such trust in you, such integrity, such hope, that they desire to know you. Help us to demonstrate daily what it looks like to not be afraid, "to be strong and very courageous".

...for all of us as people of faith, we dream as "the church, the visible body of Christ", that we would put aside our differences, and we would love one another deeply with sincere hearts. The isolation of the pandemic has challenged us to think about who we really are as "the church".  As your people, we should be a reflection of your reputation God - may we bear witness well of who you are. It must sadden you, as it does us, when according to recent studies, that the culture around us reports that when they think of Christians, the words "judgemental", "hypocritical", "self-righteous"  or just "anti-everything" are the first that come to mind. You said that we should be known by our love for one another.
How winsome and awesome would that be!  Shane Claiborne shared in a recent December Veritas forum  at Kings College this compelling thought, that "the Gospel spreads not by force, but by fascinating people with how we love one another."
Let's fascinate London with that love of Christ in us! 
 
This new year, let's consider this prayer together, attributed to Sir Francis Drake:
"Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity. And in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. Amen"





CCNL December Prayer Prompt 2020

 

Maybe you wonder why we call these prayer prompts.  "Prompt" as a verb means "to trigger, stimulate , provoke or encourage" - a way of promoting conversations with God about relevant topics and needs in our city of London, collectively as His dearly loved children - the church. May His spirit in you use these to prompt you to pray!  

As we begin this Advent season, we look ahead with all the hope that our annual celebration of Christmas brings, particularly this year which is unlike any other. Hope is not just a childhood wish for a specific toy or the hope that the Christmas lights will soon come on in Victoria Park. Spiritual hope is much deeper than that - it's about expectation and longing, anticipation and confident desire, a likelihood of happening or a source of rescue or relief, and a trust that good will actually win out. Job 11:18 (NLT) says "Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety."

 

Recently, in our daily lives here in London, and all around the world, we have witnessed an increase of anxiety and hopelessness as the second wave of COVID has hit hard. The recent outbreak at University Hospital is such a cause for prayer.  But also in the last few weeks, there are growing glimmers of hope about potential effective vaccines coming soon. A recent CBC report called it a "growing cautious, conservative optimism", "a light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems like a very long dark tunnel still until we get there". Then there was this thought-provoking statement "A vaccine is only good if people accept it." While masking, maintaining social distancing, washing our hands, and diligent care of our health is so vitally necessary and good, it ultimately will not fully protect us.

What a powerful reminder of our spiritual lives! Centuries ago, the bible tells us that Israel experienced this despair - a very long dark tunnel of exile, of distance from God, of a dimming yearning for a messiah, or any hope of a saviour to come and rescue them. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming King who would bring reconciliation to this amazing Creator God, who loved them so much He desired to enter their world and become human, be broken for them, who would become the ultimate sacrifice for us all. Yet we all still need to accept that gift. Just like it will not be good enough to only talk about, or even annually celebrate the discovery of a vaccine - we will need to get it!  And the same is true of our need for Jesus.

Admittedly  quite mysterious, miraculous, and supernatural!  God tells us "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. And God kept his promise and did just that - as the angel said to the shepherds about Jesus' birth in the book of Luke “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

This Christmas - may we pray for that hope to flourish in our hearts and pour out into our families, our neighbourhoods, our workplaces, our city, our country and all around the world.

 

God, we pray for your hope to invade the lives of those who are suffering and oh so vulnerable this Christmas. We pray for housing for those in London who are living on the street, under bridges, in tent cities, couch surfing. We ask you God for protection for them from predators and dealers who would bring harm to them. We pray for those volunteers, care-workers and agencies who are giving practical, critical help, checking in on their safety and physical and mental wellbeing, offering protection. Provoke us to find ways to participate in being bringers of daily hope - through the financial support of organizations and/or thru volunteering, through giving of essential needs, through government influence, though diligent prayer. This year, while many of us may be missing going out to Christmas dinners or parties, remind us that can still give generously to protect others and pour out your love.    

 

We pray for those who have lost loved ones this past year - there have been too many around the world. Grief can make us feel hopeless, alone, overwhelmed and isolated, especially in this unusual Christmas season. While we have prayed this every month recently, it seems more profound at Christmas as past memories flood in. Remind us, God, to think of those who have suffered loss this year and reach out with a listening ear, a phone call or video chat, a note (remember those!) or email, a token of caring left at a door or provision of a meal made with love.  

 

Jesus, work in and through the lives of healthcare workers. They are pretty weary emotionally and physically. It seems that hospitals are moving towards capacity again. Difficult days and months ahead will take a toll on people and systems. Give them refreshment and deep rest when needed, optimistic hope when the impossible seems looming, understanding when encouragement is just empty. Long term care homes too will be remarkably different this year too. Oh God, we pray for your hope and your presence to somehow protect and support our older citizens. Remind them of truths about you that they may have learned in past years. Let them not give up - they are so important and valued.

 

God, many of us will celebrate alone this Christmas. It can be painful not to hug family members or reminisce with loved friends. It is often difficult to communicate well from afar. Bridge the gaps, God - sometimes they are gaping holes that are sometimes there because of broken relationships.  Soften our hearts towards one another. Our natural tendency is to think about ourselves and what we are missing. Give us new vision to see those around us and notice their needs. A small gesture can mean so much. Inspire us God with your creativity to respond - we experience you in us when we do that!  Give us attentive ears to hear subtle nuances of voices as we speak with others - so that we can respond with much needed words of love and care.  Give us patience we pray, with not only our owned unfulfilled expectations, but also when dealing with the disappointment of others' expectations.

Many of us as people of faith admit freely to being part of entitled generations who have grown accustomed to the many glorious trappings of Canadian cultural Christmas celebrations - choirs and special music, potlucks and parties, children's pageants and gift exchanges, decorating and cookies- so many cookies!  Take us back to the manger we pray. May we too kneel humbly before you, simply awed at the miracle of your love for us and worship you with open hearts.  And then may we also go out like those crazy shepherds who responded outwardly and like Mary who responded inwardly: " So they (the shepherds) hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."

May we too ponder the great gift of Jesus in our hearts and for our world this Christmas, and then go out praising you,  sharing and spreading your good news of hope!              

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;

He will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not be disheartened or crushed
Until He has established justice on the earth

(Isaiah 42:1-4)

AMEN and Merry Christmas from CCNL .







PRAY LONDON
November 2020

"Light in the darkness"       



 

November is here, along with ever growing concerns of potentially darker times in the days and months ahead as colder weather moves us back indoors. We will continue to do battle with the ongoing COVID crisis. Pressure, unrest and division seem to be growing in our world, and we all experience more uncertainty. It feels especially unsettling or discordant with our 'normal' November habits, when we usually anticipate our traditions of family, church and community preparations for the coming Christmas season. This year, we simply do not know what to expect.  

Now, isn't that a happy way to start a prayer conversation!

 

But wait, here is the better news. Matthew 5, the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, can reposition our thinking with these wonderful words of Jesus.

Pause and try to imagine Jesus, right here in London Ontario with us, speaking these blessings on you and me every day this month. It could be at a quiet place, like Springbank Park, or perhaps along the many Thames River trails, or in one of our beautiful conservation areas. Arriving, Jesus sits down and begins to pour out these words of hope, approval, and divine help over us - US!, as his friends, his followers, even total strangers - men, women, children. Blessed doesn't mean mere "happy- sappy" emotions or temporary fixes. It means being truly deeply satisfied in a trust relationship with our Creator. He speaks these blessings on us.... and we have the great privilege of then offering them back to Him as prayers of blessings on our families, fellow citizens, friends and neighbours.

 

Here is what he says to you and me (from The Message version of the bible):

 "You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you,  there is more of God and his rule."

As we pray back to you, Jesus, we boldly ask you to also bless those around us this month who are very lost, who are alone and feel like they have no hope left, and for whom despair is settling in. Remind each of these precious ones that you see them, love them, know their pain, and that you desire to fill them up with your peace. May we be compelled to find ways to demonstrate to those hurting that kind of love and peace so there is more of you. 

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you."

Jesus, many around us also have loved ones who have passed away over the last days and months - parents, grandparents, spouses, friends - and it has been even more difficult to grieve their loss without much opportunity to connect in community for funerals and collective comfort. Some too have lost close relationships in many other ways - marriages broken up, children disconnected, cherished friendships gone. Some have lost jobs, or future opportunities, or dashed dreams. For all of these who mourn, God, please embrace them in your loving arms and give them great comfort in their souls. Help us to be agents of that comfort.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought."

Contentment seems really scarce these days. A number of us need your help to just get through each day right now - financially, emotionally, physically and/or socially - and the prospect for contentment seems a long way off. We should be humbled frequently by what we place our hope in, as the instability of our world grows.  Help all of us not to place our own, or others' self worth or identity in the amount of possessions, titles, or successes we have, but in you alone O God. Sometimes, it seems you are all we have left. We pray especially for those without jobs, financial support, secure housing or supportive community right now - those who are struggling to just survive. Bless them enormously for yours is an upside down Kingdom where the least shall be first. May these inequalities begin to made right in this Kingdom, in this city now.   

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat."

Honestly, God, the temptation is great to satisfy ourselves on spiritual junk food like Netflix or video games or social media, forgetting the good habits of prayer and gratitude, or neglecting filling our souls with your words or treasuring the beauty of your creation. May we all hunger for more of you each day and seek more justice in our world, especially more justice, more righteousness here in London.      

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for"

Jesus, help us also take the initiative and effort to care for others more deeply. Pick up a phone. Send a text or a card. Make cookies or muffins as snacks for those on the street. Bless the Food banks with donations so they can in turn bless those who need food. Listen to lonely people. Attend online charitable fundraisers in the city, learn more and give to their causes where we can - they need our help desperately in times like these to care for the most vulnerable. Mercy is needed to be spread all around!.    

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world."

As we look ahead to Christmas, we pray you will remind us, Jesus, that you came into our world in human form in a very unsettled time of Roman occupation in history. Your life was threatened. Your own family fled in exile. Even as you were cared for by others Jesus while in exile, remind us to care well for those who have fled here to London in troubled times. Give us much wisdom to look not only at own experiences - our inside world, but also to learn from history, and look around our present global world  to gain greater understanding of what can and should shape our hearts and minds, our expectations and our dailies. May we seek to be more pure in heart.   

 "You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family."

God, help us to remember the deep responsibility to model you wherever we are. Our kids, our neighbours, our workmates watch us and listen to us. We desire to represent your great name as Christ-followers - your patience, your gentleness, your truth-telling, your forgiveness, your compassion, your grace, your kindness, and your justice. You call us to be peacemakers - may we rise that challenge in our daily lives.  

 "You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom."

This is indeed a tough one. Sometimes God, people do not like what we say. Sometimes, to be honest, it may be because of how we say it! Conflict can happen when there are differing opinions and opposing world views. Give us deep discernment to know how and when to speak - and to remember that as John 3:17 says 'you so loved us that you came into our world, not to condemn, hurt, or point an accusing finger at us,  but to help put the world right again, to heal, to save and protect us, to reconcile us to you'. May we reflect your Kingdom's values with integrity, courage  and grace in this unprecedented time.   

Thank you, God, for blessing us with your words. And we pray that you will make us a blessing to others in this city. Just a few verses later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also said this:

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives.

 By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

An apt conclusion to this prayer prompt for each of us as His church in London this November. Better than any one that we could ever write! By opening up to others, may we be light in the darkness who will indeed prompt people to open up conversations with you God. Let's shine in the darkness ever so brightly with the Spirit of the living God alive in us, regardless of the circumstances around us.  AMEN

  




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OCTOBER 2020

"HOW LONG...?"

The inner question that lurks around the edges of our dailies

In 2020, all of us have asked many "How long?" questions. How long will this new wave of the pandemic last? How long will everything seem so tentative or uncertain? How long will politics in the world seem so utterly divisive? How long until greater justice prevails for all people? And on a more personal basis - how long until we can greet each other with a handshake, a hug, or meet safely face to face?  How long until I see my relatives again? How long will these often overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, loss, and grief last? There are hundreds and hundreds more "how longs?" Some are simple daily frustrations, some are extraordinarily complex realities, many are both.

Let's bring those hard questions to God together in prayer this month for our citizens of London.

Canadian singer and songwriter Steve Bell beautifully captures this question in his song "How Long" - listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN314Bm2mHc.  It is inspired by this poignant lament in Psalms 13.   "O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?  How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?  Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.  Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.  But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me."  Many of the Psalmists asked "How Long?" questions. It is comforting to know that this is not just a 2020 question, but one through all the ages and cultures.

Think for a moment about how many times in the Bible that this question must have been asked. Noah and family could have said it often on an ark with all of those animals and an uncertain future. The Israelites asked it often wandering in the desert for forty years. Job had great reasons to question how long his sufferings would last. Jonah must have cried it out while in the belly of a large fish for three days, because even five minutes there would have seemed like too long!

Jesus himself - fully human, fully God -  wondered how long it would take for people to recognize who He was and what He was doing. He knew the agony of waiting, especially in the week before his crucifixion. And his followers must have asked "How long?" in the difficult days following the crucifixion, resurrection and transfiguration. We still ask you God, how long until your Kingdom comes in all its fullness?

Pause for a moment and think about how many times in your life that you have asked "How long, God"? Right now, it feels like being on a train that we cannot get off, that we did not buy a ticket for, we do not know where we are going or how long the journey will be.  We confess  honestly....most of us are not patient people.  Forgive us God.

So we bring to you, Father God, all these cries of our hearts, our "how longs..." Lord, hear our prayers.

We pray for those who have already experienced COVID19 in London and have thankfully recovered, especially those who may be dealing with lingering symptoms. Be present with them. We pray for those who have sadly lost family members to this virus, who may not have had opportunity to grieve that loss well with loved ones. Comfort them daily.  We continue to pray for all our healthcare workers who now face the potential of a second wave and wonder how long they can sustain caring, energy and focus in the days ahead.  Continue to protect them God and give them peace. We pray for our young people who are recognizing that they too are vulnerable  - give them extra wisdom and compassionate hearts beyond their years for those around them. Teach them of community responsibility - it is not easy.  And we pray for many, many people who have other pressing health issues besides this virus. We do not forget them.  May they also receive the important care and advice they need in timely ways - for appointments, medications, healing, support, surgeries and tests.  Give us grateful hearts for our healthcare system.

We pray for our political leaders - civic, provincial, and federal. We know that present, urgent decisions will impact future plans and hopes - there will be many difficult consequences ahead requiring much financial and social wisdom. We do not know how long these difficult days will last. We pray for much needed collaboration, communication, and respect. We especially pray Lord for our American neighbours in the month ahead  leading up to their election. Like any neighbour, their choices and challenges will not only impact them  but also impact us in Canada and here in London. We need to love them too as we love ourselves. How long can their tensions and conflicts of the last days, months, and years continue? Remind us to pray for them earnestly, just as we pray for our own leaders.  

We pray for local pastors and ministry leaders as they continue to figure out weekly what ministry looks like right now.  It is not  easy, with no 'one size fits all' answers. At a recent CCNL online event with over ninety local Christian leaders, we addressed what it means to lead in times of crisis. How long can they keep going in these new realities? How can all of us as followers of Jesus encourage and support one another? What creative new opportunities can spring up? How will this change the church in the future and how will it affect the culture? How may the gospel move forward? May we be faithful to our calling. 

We continue to pray for those who are most vulnerable in our city. All of them have many daily  'How long'  questions?  "When will I have an affordable place to call home? How long until I can get help with deepening addictions or food security? Can I even get a job or keep a job? Where do I belong? Who cares what happens to me?" If many of us have nagging questions, their concerns are amplified many times over -  without good supports or family connections, safe housing, mental health or physical health capacity, or any form of financial security. We thank you God for those who help in London - individuals, ministries, city officials, agencies, churches -  all seeking to become more proactive in addressing these mounting needs in challenging times. Bless them, strengthen them as they serve. May we work together well to make a difference in precious lives.

 

We pray also God for justice. How long, O Lord must we, like the widow in Luke 18 “cry to You day and night” for justice to be seen?  Help us and our church and civic leaders to discern how to bring an end to the systemic racism experienced  in our city and society.  Give us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us as a Christian community through our brothers and sisters of colour.  Help us to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer oppression so that we, both individually and as a church community can “do justice” as we also love kindness and walk humbly with You (Micah 6:8).  May we share Jesus’ heart and mission who said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor".

 

We pray for the many workplaces in London - for business owners, employers, and employees. All are anxious about how long they can keep going without customers while seeking to respect necessary restrictions. There are many hard choices ahead about sustainability and recovery in order to provide jobs, benefits, training, rent payments, and opportunities. We pray too for all the educational institutions. All of us wonder how long they will be able to safely stay open. Give leaders in these places such nimbleness and responsiveness to know how to engage in these very difficult decisions that may change daily or weekly. We pray for many who are underemployed or jobless right now. May they get financial supports and opportunities to find  work.

 

We pray for so many who are anxious, discouraged, depressed, or overwhelmed. Sit with us God in these times. Give all of us much more patience, sensitivity and grace with one other - in our relationships, in our workplaces, out in our community. We acknowledge Lord,  that at times, we are all probably a little snappier, a little tenser, and short of forgiveness. We need you to calm our Spirits, to enter into our conversations, to inhabit our reactions as we engage in these daily new realities. We ask that the evidence of your Spirit in us grow:  kindness, gentleness, self -control.  We pray for hope to win out in our lives. These verses in Romans 5 seem awfully challenging right now "We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Some of us might confess that we honestly don't want to "exult" or "rejoice" in these current challenges. But we will choose to turn our faces towards you God, and pray that you give us sufficient courage to submit to seeking patience and greater perseverance in these tribulations or trouble. Sometimes, we again confess that we just want it to stop! God, keep on teaching us about resiliency, and keep on building into our character. Keep us from petty whining and complaining, attacking and arguing, and undermining your good work in us.

 

As we do all this, please God give us not only an upward view, but also a constant outward view. Now more than ever, we need to care for those around us. Bless this community of London with extraordinary compassion, generosity, thoughtfulness, and gratitude  through you, made alive and present  in us. Galatians 5 says this: "Let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time, we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith".

AMEN - so be it here in London Ontario, in our churches, in our marriages, in our families, and in our neighbourhoods. In our workplaces, in our schools, in our friendships and in our quiet moments.  With thankful hearts, we trust in you for the journey.

 

 






PRAY LONDON "a parent's heart..."    September 2020

 

As Londoners, "back in the good old days", September was all about the anticipation of going back to school; the influx of thousands of Western and Fanshawe students into our city;  the normalcy of re-entering busy schedules & routines after summer vacations; the hectic calendar planning of church events, programs, and groups kicking into high gear; the savouring of sweet sounds, smells and tastes of annual local events like the Western or Ilderton Fair.... back in the good old days, just last year!

This year, we don't know what September will bring. That can be a pretty unsettling space. More questions without answers as we move into more uncharted territory. Politics, culture, social unrest beyond COVID seem to grow even more chaotic.

If that feels somewhat disturbing to you, we invite you to pause quietly and imagine with God, in prayer and in praise, your own personal list of what you do know, maybe some simple or profound ideas like these: "We do know apples will still ripen; leaves will beautifully turn colour; days will grow pleasantly cooler; the laughter of children will be sweet music; there are many exciting things yet to learn; resiliency, determination and hope continue to surround and surprise us; old friendships thrive and maybe new ones begin....and God still loves us as much as He ever has, and as much as He ever will, because His love and faithfulness is abundant, free and never ever changes."  Give God thanks for the things on your list.   

 

Usually in September, it seems logical to pray for children (for sure, we should be praying for them) or for teachers (again, be praying for them too). But our September 2020 focus of prayer is on parents.   

All of us have or have had parents. A number of us are parents, parents of newborns, toddlers, school age-children, adolescents, young adults, middle aged 'children' and even senior 60 year old + children (will we ever stop calling our children "the kids"?). Many of us also parent, or were parented by individuals of all ages, with much love, care, support, nurturing & concern offered, not always because of kinship, but willingly and gladly by choice. Parenting, "existing in family" (both in masculine and feminine words in scripture) is indeed such an honorable and valued relationship that it is the primary image that God uses to expresses His character, His relationship to us and the nature of the Trinity. He is the father in the story of the prodigal son, welcoming back his lost child. God creates us in his own image, gives life to us, sustains and nurtures us, knows our comings and goings, sits with us in sorrow and delights with us in joy, and invites us to move in and live together with forever - like a parent would.

 We pray to you God, our heavenly parent. Your tenderness, your mercy, your forgiving spirit - constant in our lives. Thank you for who and what you are. We turn to you with our daily concerns. We run into your arms for comfort when we are hurting or grieving. We talk to you with words of gratitude when joy bubbles over in our lives. We seek your wisdom, insights, and understanding when the world does not make sense to us, in small things or in big things. And we confess that sadly at times, we ignore or forget  you completely - some days, some weeks, maybe for months, or even years on end.  When some parents maybe comment to their children, "You never call, you never write", you too must feel like that God - patiently longing to be connected with us. As a perfect parent, you still have imperfect wayward children to whom you gave a free will. May each of us turn towards you, to your welcoming embrace, no matter how long it has been, knowing you love us enormously, just as we are. You seek us out, remind us often of your presence, whisper words of love.  

We begin by praying for parents of new babies...in January, we encouraged you to pray for those babies yet to be born this year...and many of them have been.We do not know how many have already been born  but  In Ontario last year, there were 145 806 births. 2020 will be a memorable year to be born. Young parents have faced brand new challenges and increased isolation. They have missed many of the added supports of family, neighbours, and friends in those early days of sleepless nights, crying infants, shared joys, and so many questions. They have had to seek collective parenting wisdom to their many questions online - even for doctors appts. They have persevered without the companionship of playgroups and family gatherings, and found new ways to share treasured milestones and first words. We pray for strength and courage for them for the journey ahead. God, give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hands to help in new wise socially distanced ways. Grant these parents much joy - wrap your loving arms around them.

For parents of toddlers and preschoolers... such active, social years. It is the time of life when children usually begin to understand the concept of "the other". Many parents admit to feeling stressed and worn out, seeking to juggle work life and home life in new ways. Daycare has not been available, and older relatives as caregivers are not as accessible. God , please give these parents much energy, creativity and patience.  Protect them from discouragement.

For parents of school age children... God, this group more than ever needs both our prayers and your wisdom. Fears abound - please be there in the midst of it all with them. There are so many differing ideas, concerns, questions, answers, and just unknowns. We pray for school officials and teachers who are trying to find the optimum solutions to bringing kids back to school safely for now. Parents feel much anxiety as to what is right and we know children take their cues from us as parents and adults in their lives. Most confess that they actually do not know what is best. Grow resiliency and trust in parents so they may model this to their children. Churches too are deeply challenged about how to provide activities that are safe and fun-filled. We pray that parents, teachers, and leaders can work with one another step by step, speak graciously to each other when there are concerns, and together seek the good for children. Please protect all from the spread of this virus, Lord. Allow abundant learning to take place despite the circumstances - academically, socially, emotionally, spiritually. For parents who choose to home school instead, please grant them the same added strength, support, and understanding needed. Whatever choice people make regarding schooling, for whatever reasons, please guard hearts and minds from being judgemental or critical of one another.  Help all to cope with the shifting sand beneath their feet as it may all change tomorrow. The uncertainties seem exhausting. Remind parents to cry out and ask for help when feeling helpless or hopeless.

For parents of children with special needs... God, we pray for these vulnerable families in these difficult times. They can easily feel abandoned and forgotten as plans get made  - these precious parents who have been and continue to be passionate advocates, care-givers, teachers, and loving parents for their special needs kids. Let their requests be heard God in places of power and decision-making. Provide the financial assistance and physical daily supports and quality of care that are required for both their children, and for themselves. 

For parents of highschoolers...  as parents of adolescents, it is challenging to motivate and monitor independent learning at the best of times, and these are probably not the best of times! The current virtual /in class plan allows for online learning and some social contact in classroom settings. Please help both parents and teachers to seek the delicate balance that will foster robust discourse and healthy communication of ideas with others as well as diligent completion of  assignments. Much self-discipline required. Teen years are traditionally as much about social learning from peers by hanging out with friends in various settings. But they also desperately need necessary building blocks of academic content, increased understanding, and critical thinking skills for the future. We ask you God for parents and teens to find ways to work in partnership, with great sacrifices of time, effort, patience, and self- discipline required to fit in around the missing gaps in teens' lives. Remind parents often of these wise words from Gary Smalley, a well known author: “Affirming words are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s or teen's life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.” Help us as well to speak not only encouraging words into the lives of teenagers we know, but into their parents'  lives too!

For parents of postsecondary students... those would have begun or may be beginning university or college, or those who may be returning to campus. "Not what we expected " is the most common phrase heard from both parents and young adults. Help these parents God  to know how and when to respond to the disappointment of failed expectations, to assist their "children" to figure it out, when asked for help, and to know when to stand back and let them figure it out themselves when they do not ask. Guard parents from undue worry. Oh God, you must feel that same parental angst with us sometimes - when you watch us struggle, when you see us maturing or not into adults. Thank you for giving us freedom to learn and fail. We live with that same tension with children growing up into adults, making mistakes and learning along the way. This parenting business appears to become more complex, not simpler!. Keep them safe, physically and mentally,  God - make them wise - grow their independence and decision-making. Teach parents at this stage of life how to step back and  wait appropriately.   

For parents of "children" who are now parents... Oh, the precious role of being grandparents - watching their children parent their children! Some nearby, some far away, maybe close in spirit but still distanced relationships, some with strained connections, sorting out expectations and new boundaries, fostering independence and confidence while desiring to offer wisdom and support, knowing when to keep quiet. Sometimes, children make the same mistakes parenting as their parents did and sometimes they creatively make brand new ones. No parents are perfect all the time.

Lord, especially bless abundantly those grandparents who, for whatever reasons, have stepped into the role again of parenting grandchildren for a season -  or a lifetime.

And comfort those parents, and for those children also God, who have broken relationships within their family units for whatever reasons, at this point of life.  Bring healing, grace, gentleness, self-control, forgiveness, perseverance, patience, understanding  to these relationships in time. Tough spaces.   

 For children who are now "parenting their parents"... for many, as people live longer, the tables gradually or suddenly turn and children begin to parent their parents, because they are elderly or because of circumstances or illness, even as they themselves grow older. A new juggling act. We pray for our senior citizens - that their medical care needs may be met and that their worth as people may be deeply valued.  For those living alone at home, or in retirement homes, with family or in longterm care,  please protect them from infection and harm God. Let them be treated with dignity and honor in whatever situation they are in. The isolation of recent months has been especially painful for many. We pray too for those who have lost their parents in the past days and months. As they grieve the hole left in their lives by the loss of a parent, we ask that you will fill it God with much comfort,  sweet  memories and much courage to face things that may be left unresolved.

Our children are watching us as we watch over them. That is a deep, profound responsibility, privilege  and blessing, generation after generation.

Thankfully our God is also always watching over us. He is our very present help in times of trouble. He is for us, not against us. He is there to help us, not condemn us.

May the same be said of each of us in our parenting opportunities at every stage and season of life. Give us strength daily. AMEN.

 



July Prayer Prompt 



CCNL PRAYER PROMPT

"GOOD NEWS" IN LONDON - July 2020

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There is a line in C.S. Lewis' classic Narnia children's series, "They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed. ....... At the name of Aslan, each one of the children felt something jump in its inside." In these books, the lion "Aslan" was an allegorical representation of God. Today, our God is on the move, advancing His Kingdom here in London in ways that we do not always notice or understand. That is not only good news, that's the best news!

 

The culture all around us craves some good news right now, for good reasons. In the spring, John Krasinski was a Youtube sensation with his weekly podcast of "Some Good News". He started by highlighting essential workers and it just grew. CBC's "The National" news program ends each nightly broadcast with a heart warming good news story of individual Canadians making a difference in their communities. We appreciate these reminders, in light of daily catastrophic news stories of pandemic spreads in some areas, random odd weather systems, racial inequities unresolved, uncertainties about jobs and economic outlooks, even giant Asian hornets...the list can seem endless.

 

We want to share some local London good news of God at work. This month, let's shape our prayers into grateful words of abundant praise to our God for glimpses of His goodness, His kindnesses, His justice, His salvation and His truth that we can discover if we go looking - a Kingdom treasure hunt! We need to seek out these precious reminders of hope. How we wish we could gather up ALL of your good news stories of God at work in our community to tell you about.  Hope you too can find and share many more with one another. Or share them with us at info@ccnl.org!

 

God we join together to praise you for what you are doing here in our community: 

  • Thank you God for the remarkable generosity of people. It seems that many faithful givers are continuing to be really faithful givers, despite the present circumstances, as much as they are able. Through them, you have provided for many needs in ministries, in churches and in our community. For all charities, it has meant finding new ways to reduce expenses, or alter 'hoped for' plans. For some, your abundance has allowed them to share even more generously with others. We know you are not surprised by this, God. We loved the recent story of how INDWELL held an online gala in June and were happily shocked that they raised almost twice as much as they hoped,  allowing them to move forward on more affordable housing projects. Praise to you God! Like a loving parent, we realize it brings you great joy when we, your children, share well with one another. For some churches/ministries, the pandemic has dealt some devastating blows. May we become aware of these needs. There may be new challenges in the future, but we place our trust in you for the present - our days and our resources are in your hands. Keep nudging and provoking us to give, God.   
  • Some have shared encouraging stories of personal opportunities during these isolated times to mentor or disciple others, helping them to grow more in love with you, Jesus, wherever they are in their spiritual journeys. We praise you God for these faithful people - what good examples! Whether it is through zoom, emails, phone calls, or socially distanced walks....vital conversations are continuing about who you are,  what you do, and how great your love is for us. We asked a couple to share what it means to them: "My mentor and I meet once a week on Facetime and I come with so many questions. We laugh, we talk, we pray and we look at the bible together. Pretty thankful for this consistency in my life when I am alone. Helps me feel God's presence." "I really look forward to our "walk & talk" every couple of weeks when we can pray together and explore my thousands of faith questions. It has been wonderful as a fairly new Christian to have someone walk with me not just physically, but spiritually." May this kind of private ministry thrive.  
  • God, remind us that when we speak of the gospel, the "good news", that it needs to be good news for all - not just for us. It needs to be good news for those without shelter, those impoverished, those oppressed, those who are broken-hearted. How encouraging to see Christians and many others in London stepping into gaps to seek justice. Especially now, in times of isolation, economic hardship, restrictions of resources - O God, make our hearts more tender for what breaks your heart in our city. 

 Churches in our city of all sizes and types are full of many enthusiastic individuals eager to provide help for those in need by donating to the London Food Bank, providing mountains of homemade muffins, and cookies (pandemic baking!) for ministries like Sanctuary London, My Sisters Place, Ark Aid, Mission Services and more. Some are providing cases of sports drinks, freezies, and water bottles, especially needed in the recent heat wave.

A number of downtown churches are partnering together to prepare a variety of takeout meals to help,  when regular meal programs cannot take place due to COVID.

YFC London is preparing 750 meals a week in their cafe, actually delivering them to vulnerable youth & families, together with other community agencies, chefs, and such willing volunteer drivers. This has been made possible for those at greatest risk,  thanks to the great generosity of community corporate donors, businesses, and food suppliers....working together at being the heart and hands of Jesus, bringing good news in very practical ways.

Many churches are taking meals to seniors, helping pick up groceries, or enhancing their food programs to meet current challenges, showing much love all around.

Salvation Army has both a water truck around the city ensuring that people on the street are hydrated and their daily parking lot food truck, staffed by amazing volunteer teams from 21 churches and some local businesses. Listen to this observation: "It's wonderful to see their joy and just how quickly comfortable they (the volunteers) become engaged in welcoming all of our “guests” to the supper table." What a beautiful Kingdom photograph!  Bless all those, please God, who demonstrate such care. And even more, pour out your blessings on those who are being cared for - all valued citizens of London.

  • Your great creativity, God, is now being expressed in online worship services for all to see. Thank you for so many gifted people who are sharing their musical, visual, and technology skills to engage us in worship of you, even while we sit at our kitchen table, on our decks with a coffee, or cozied up in a chair. A number of churches are noticing that their "congregations" have grown online, not diminished. All of us are being challenged to break out of the patterns of the past to utilize new ways to express our love to you.  One elderly friend delightfully confessed she actually danced to the music in her living room while listening to her church's service online - she had never done that before!!  Thank you too God, for all the children and youth ministry leaders who are creating meaningful learning experiences weekly for children. It may be creating online visual stories, or delivering activity boxes during the week to families - such wonderful ideas to share the good news of Jesus. May you encourage these workers and use these expressions of your creative spirit in the lives of our kids and families.
  • Many have also commented that they are rediscovering the joy of next door neighbours. Your words, Jesus, to "love our neighbour as ourselves" are taking on deeper meanings. Hear these voices:  "I've learned more about my neighbours in the last three months than I have in the last five years." "God has challenged me to care more deeply for the people next door to us during this COVID lockdown -  we are having great open conversations about family, faith, fear and just the dailies. I was too busy before, caught up in my own life. " "My neighbours have been a real blessing to me." God, may these actions bring joy to your heart and we ask you to help these relationships to keep growing.
  • As churches are figuring out when & how to open up again, we thank you God for the careful consideration being demonstrated for "the other". Each has its own benefits and challenges, and such thoughtful discussions are taking place, figuring out how to worship and engage in community together safely and joyfully again. We confess that we may whine and complain a bit, God, that "it is not the way it used to be" - forgive us for that - and speak to us in our 'discomforting'. It can be a healthy mental wellness practice from time to time to make a list of all the things we are grateful for (the Bible is full of lists) :
  1. Remind us that Jesus said  " where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Whether it is ten or twenty, fifty or three hundred, we invite you to be alive and in the midst of us, God, however and whenever and wherever we join together. 
  2. We thank you for diligent leaders - pastors, elders, denominations, boards of directors - collective wisdom doing the best they can. These are difficult decisions.
  3. We thank you for good advisors in our communities - health units, doctors, governments - all trying to do the best they can given what they know now and anxious about what they don't know yet.
  4. Help us remember God,  that throughout history, there have been many more difficult circumstances that these we currently face, and your church has not only survived but thrived.
  5. Thanks for positive ways we have been able to use technology at this point in history to stay connected with one another. Who knew social media and Youtube could be good things?
  6. Please add your own thanks now  - fill in the blanks __________________!

To quote N.T. Wright "The good news is that the living God is indeed establishing his kingdom on earth as in heaven, through the finished work of Jesus, and is inviting people of all sorts to share not only in the benefits of this kingdom but also in the work thorough which it will come to its ultimate completion. To grasp that good news fully, or rather be grasped by it, will mean being turned inside out by it, so that our self-centred prayers ( for help, for rescue, for forgiveness and for daily bread) will turn into a God -centred prayer kingdom to come in His way, not ours. His will be done."

1  Thessalonians 1: 9-10 says "The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message!"  May this be said of each of us as Christians in London.