Prayer and “Keys to the Kingdom” by Alvin Vander Griend.
A few years ago, I went on a research trip to visit churches with strong prayer ministries. At each church, I looked at the prayer ministries, interviewed key prayer leaders, spent time with the staff, and sought to discern the effect prayer had on the church’s overall ministry. By the time I had visited the fifth church, something dawned on me: Every church I had visited was spiritually healthy, impacting its community for Christ, and growing through evangelism. Prayer, it seemed, was key to the health and vitality of these congregations.
The staff members of these churches agreed. One pastor said that “surprisingsupernatural serendipities” had occurred since their church had begun to focus on prayer. Another told me that prayer had brought about revival, and there were new commitments to Christ every Sunday. The pastor of a large church in Houston, Texas, summarized the experience of his church, which had quintupled in 12 years, by saying, “What we have learned is that when we work, we work, but when we pray, God works.”
Prayer and “Take Care” by Wanda Fielder.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23 ).
After enjoying a sweet time of fellowship, a frequent parting phrase that can be heard amongst friends is – take care. Not just ‘so long’ or ‘love ya’ or ‘see ya later’, but . . . take care. Perhaps it was tossed carelessly or nonchalantly as you exited a friend’s vehicle after a day of shopping. Or the words may have conveyed deep heartfelt concern as your friend observed you during a time of grief, pain or hurt. Two small words displaying empathy to the recipient transfer the implied meaning that you need to give yourself extra care.
As we begin a brand-new year that follows an unprecedented year of uncertainty, I could not think of any better encouragement to each of you than these two simple words – take care. The implicit connotation covers every area of our life, and I offer to you the following guidance. Although it may not be new or profound, we often need a reminder to continue on the right course.
Physical care: We simply cannot survive in a healthy manner without the proper care given to our bodies. Eating good nutrients creates a healthy environment for our digestive system to perform properly. The food pyramid isn’t a myth to be ignored. Daily exercise keeps our physical form in good shape, helps manage blood sugar, improves our mental health and reduces the risk of heart disease. My doctor informed me that walking is one of the best overall exercises for the body as well as the mind, and that has become a daily goal for me.
Spiritual care: Lack of spiritual care results in a sluggish, lukewarm Christian, and we all know how God looks upon this condition (Revelation 3:15,16). Daily spiritual exercise must become a priority in our lives continually. Beginning a day with prayer, Bible reading, and meditating with the Lord brings focus to our sometimes conflicted and distressed lives. Just as our physical bodies become weak from lack of care, our spirits also become sluggish due to careless disregard. Thankfully, it can be repaired!
Friendship care: Although friends are considered a priceless treasure, it is easy to carelessly neglect them. Even though friends may still exist with abandonment, nurturing will bring their value to fruition as you give them the proper attention and care. I have found friends to be my lifeline during troubling times, helping to keep my thought process on the right track and bringing me back into focus. If you’ve been inattentive to invaluable friends, make it a point to cultivate and nurture these cherished ones in our lives. A phone call, a card, a text or lunch together is time well spent in the sustenance of friends.
Beginning this brand-new year, I pray that you will consider these timely words. Is it a New Year’s resolution? Not really. It is a lifestyle that is vital to success in every area of our lives. You are loved beyond measure by our limitless God who desires for you to be victorious in each of these areas. You are also loved by me as I treasure each one of you as we journey together in the year ahead. Please . . . take care!
(Info from: UPCI Ladies Ministries – firstname.lastname@example.org)