As we are getting ready to head back to Alaska soon (Shirleen on Friday and me on May 9th), I have had a bunch of great opportunities to start saying my good-byes and to pray with people. One good time of fellowship and prayer was with a couple that are our friends from Alaska, (the husband was actually the pastor who did our pre-marital counseling). We had lunch with them and were able to just sit and pray together. It was awesome. As we're closing up our time here, we look forward to even more good times of prayer...with our friends and with in my classes...prayers of praise for the year, and intercession for the future.
Yesterday at prayer breakfast I was the only one who showed up (besides the leader). We were the only ones there for the first hour (it usually goes about 2 hours). Since it was just the two of us we just shared testimonies with each other and prayed for each other. It sure is good to spend 1 on 1 time with a brother and to pray. I'll miss pray breakfasts when I head back to Alaska, but I'm sure I'll find other opportunities with our church back in Kenai...we're looking forward to being home!
Tonight we had a good prayer for our fellow student Yasu who is returning to Japan to do ministry. Our Bible Study group hosted a dinner and presentation by Yasu and it was fun to hear his heart for his people. I love hearing missionaries share their about what God is doing around the world. As we closed the evening a group of about 20 people laid hands on Yasu and prayed for him as he leaves in July. I love when intercessory prayer is to pray for blessing!
Yesterday our Men's Prayer Breakfast was invaded by the women. Ok, maybe not invaded. Our leader, Ben, invited the North Park prayer team (which includes women) to join us for a one time prayer and pancake breakfast. It is interesting how prayer among men is different than prayer among a mixed-gender group. (I assume that prayer among women is different too, but I couldn't say :-) ). In any case, it was good to hear the hearts of the prayer team and to share testimonies of how God has taught each of us this school year. I think it is important to share in regular intercessory prayer with both same-gender groups as well as with the wider Body of Christ.
Today is the 3rd day of a 4 day conference here at North Park called "4days4justice." I've been going to about half of the sessions, which have been interesting. This morning we talked about the role of prayer in bringing about justice. Everyone agreed that prayer needs to be a more central role, which was cool to see. Then we broke up into smaller groups, talked about practical way to bring about justice and ended in prayer. Good times.
Last night we had our weekly couple's Bible Study. We started out the year with several couples, but this semester we've been meeting with smaller group of just 2 other couples. Only one other couple was there last night though, so the 4 of us had a good time of reading Titus and then praying for each other. We are very thankful for all God has done for us here in Chicago...we are truly blessed! It was great to pray with our friends and to think about the good times we've had this year. Only 3 more weeks and I'll head back to Alaska. We'll miss praying with our friends.
In the last couple of days I've had the opportunity to join with two groups of folks who prayed for missionaries and world mission. What a privilege it is to pray for the faithful servants that are laboring around the world! Before we prayed in one of the groups, people shared stories from various missionaries, one of whom was Monganga Paul Carlson, a Covenant martyr in the Congo. Hearing those stories encourages my soul. I love to pray for missionaries which also reminds me to pray for my own walk that I might be a faithful servant as well.
I had another good prayer breakfast yesterday with Ben B's sourdough pancakes. We had a pretty good turnout, although I was the only Seminary student. It's fun to get together with the undergrads and pray. As we closed in prayer we each got to go around pray for the person on our left in the circle. I really like that style of intercessory prayer. As we are often assaulted by the world's needs in prayer, sometimes we forget to pray for who is right beside us. I was especially blessed to pray for the person on my left that is leaving in a few weeks to go to Mexico and serve as a missionary for the summer at a ministry that one of my friends used to serve at. After the summer this young man will stay in Mexico and be an exchange student. It is exciting to see younger people than myself have a desire and fire to serve the Lord on the mission field.
Since my last post I've had the opportunity to pray with friends a few times. It is fun to see how God seems to have designed group prayer to strengthen relationships. Of course, that is always what God is about: God wants healing in our relationship with Him and with our relationships with each other.
Today I also ran into a person from a small group I was in last semester and it was good to catch up. And wouldn't you know it...he updated me on things in his life that we had prayed about together. I was able to rejoice with him about the peace that God had given him. If we had not been in a small group together and prayed together, I would never have experienced how God was building relationship with my friend which in turn built a relationship between us.
I have 9 more required prayer journal posts before the end of the semester, so I need to get on that...expect another post on Sunday...until then, grow your relationship with your neighbor...pray for them!
Shirleen and I drove 13.5 hours on Thursday and 13 hours yesterday to go to and from Lancaster, PA to visit our cousins Mike and Kathy and their three children, Seth, Nate, and Hope during Easter. I was am amazing Easter weekend. We were truly blessed to get to know our cousins more. We loved hearing about their time as missionaries in Cameroon, Africa...but even more we loved seeing their hearts for the Lord.
We were blessed to pray with each other one evening and it was an excellent time of sharing our hearts with one another and interceding on behalf of each other. We also shared in their family prayer time on Sunday (Easter) evening.
To share our hearts and then to join in prayer together must be beautiful music to God. We will treasure our time with our cousins, but also look forward to sharing prayer with our other family, the family of God here in Chicago and also in Alaska when we return in about a month!
Lastly, here is a YouTube video that I really enjoyed. My teacher sent it to me in preparation for Easter...I hope you enjoy it as well. :-)