90 Days of Prayer

June 21 - 27, 2021

Nehemiah 9:12-21

Focus Passage of the Week:
You came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke to them from heaven. You gave them impartial ordinances, reliable instructions, and good statutes and commands.

The Barna Research Group recently released their annual “State of the Church” report regarding how people see the church. While a large chunk of it can be very discouraging, this understanding is beneficial to church leaders to identify ways in which we can more fully engage with our neighbors.
Of the American people who participated in this study, 41% said the Church is known for what it is against. We can easily read this to mean the overall Church in America and believe our church is different, but we also must keep in mind many of us have viewed the church, and God, in the same way at different points in our lives. After all, we’re Baptists and we have a long history with dancing and other related activities.
When we imagine God descending upon Mount Sinai to give the Israelites instruction, we might be tempted to believe this is where all the things we can’t do originated from. However, what we have to keep in mind, thinking back to last week, is not only is humanity young, the Israelites are learning, many for the first time, what it means to be freed from captivity. If God does not offer them instructions on how He has created them to live, then the other option is to learn from the cultures they encounter.
If last week we took time to consider how our pre-COVID lives were lived enslaved to our obligations, then this week we would benefit from time spent learning how to be human as our Creator created us. A prime example of this is the 2nd of the 10 commandments: Do not have other gods besides me. This is a powerful instruction to a people living in a polytheistic world which believes in many gods and were driven to please all of them. So a do-not-do-this command is not to eliminate the fun of worshipping other gods, it’s to bring freedom from the need to please something that doesn’t exist and cannot bring life.
To say we still live in a polytheistic world may not be a surprise to many of us. To say we are polytheistic people ourselves might cause some to be defensive. But consider how many people and activities we seek to please by dedicating the best of our time, while participation in the Kingdom movement here on earth takes a backseat. This is what is means to have other gods before God. This is what God is trying to free us from.

This week we will have a few hundred children and a bunch of very brave adults gather at the church for Vacation Bible School. This is a great opportunity for these children to hear the Gospel, and at the same time, for these adults to be used by God in an amazing way. As we take time to consider how God is teaching us how to live as He created us, we also will pray lives will be changed. This is our Church Family’s way to participate together in the Gospel movement.

Monday, June 21: Re-discovering our humanity
As we seek to better understand how God created us to live, it’s important we not try to  be the teacher, but the student. May you’ve walked by faith for years, or your just beginning, we’re all learning what this looks like for our lives. It’s like the child learning how to walk and falls down 50 times, they never think to themselves, “Maybe this isn’t for me,” or after a few steps, “I now know everything about walking.” Spend time considering how your daily living is not reflective of how God created you to live. Genesis chapters 1-2 outline Adam and Eve’s relationship with God which serves as a blueprint for us today.
As you pray, will you also pray for the children who will attend VBS beginning today? Many will hear of God’s love for them for the first time.

Tuesday, June 22: Re-understanding freedom
We sometimes think freedom is about what we can do or what we can have. This often leads to thinking Christianity is just about what we can’t do, rather than understanding Christ has truly set us free. A trustworthy definition is: Freedom is not having everything you crave, it’s being able to go without the things you crave and being alright with it. This changes how we understand the freedom which comes through knowing Christ. He has not only set us free from our sin, but has called us to live in a way which is holy, which is set apart. So instead of spending a few minutes talking to God, take a few minutes to sit in the silence of your freedom. Soak it in as you consider the bondage of sin you have been set free from.
After you have spent a few minutes in silent reflection, will you take a few more minutes to pray for the adults leading VBS today? The first day jitters for the children are gone, they’ve got this all figured out, but the weariness is just beginning to set in for our leaders. Will you ask God to give them strength today?

Wednesday, June 23: Discovering God
One of the greatest temptations is to assume we have discovered and understand God in His fullness. This false belief is what leads to complacency in the life of the believer. While one may come to know God, we will never, this side of heaven, know God in His fullness. This is what the writer of Lamentations, chapter 3, means when he writes: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Take a few minutes to ask God to reveal Himself to you in new ways today, and then spend the rest of the day paying attention.
Today in Vacation Bible School children will be presented with the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Will you pray for those adults who will be sharing the Gospel, that they would speak clearly and plainly? And will you pray God will prepare the hearts and minds of the children to hear, understand and receive?

Thursday, June 24: Re-focus
Do you remember what life was like pre-COVID? Many of us assumed we had a good understanding on how our lives worked. We knew when to be where, and what to do when you get there. We lived by routine and we were thriving, or was it just surviving? No doubt COVID brought a major disruption to our lives. Everything came to a screeching halt overnight. We spent so much time last year trying to survive and less time focusing on God. While we’re not out of the COVID woods just yet, we are at a place to re-focus our lives on what God is calling us to do. Are you bold enough to ask God to help you re-focus your life around Him? Would you pray like Samuel, 1 Samuel 3.10, “Speak, for your servant is listening”?
We’re four days into VBS today. Adults are tired, children are tired, but God is still at work. This would be an excellent time for children to be less engaged in what they’re hearing, but our leaders, because you’ve been praying for them, are still going strong. Will you ask God to help the children to focus in on what they’re hearing today?

Friday, June 25: Re-prioritize
While COVID threw us into survival mode, it also gave us the opportunity to re-prioritize our lives. An entire year was given to us to evaluate the priorities of our days. The question is: Did we do it? Unfortunately the isolation for many caused us to long for normal again, much like the Israelites long for slavery back in Egypt while wondering through the desert. But we’re not too far back into normal living that we can’t pause and re-focus our lives. Asking “What are my priorities?” Is a great place to begin re-focusing your life. Take today to make a list of what you feel are your priorities, and then look at them and identify where God is in your priorities and how they fit into God’s redemptive story.
Today is the last day for VBS. As the children head their separate ways, will you ask God to take with them the truths they have discovered this week? And for our leaders, as they return home tired and weary and worn, will you ask God to renew their strength and to bless them for their faithful work this week?

Saturday, June 26: Re-awake
The greatest revival movements in history began with prayer. But what impacted thousands of lives, started with just one. One person praying being united with another, who was united with another, until the prayers of the many began to spread like wildfire. If our hearts truly desire a spiritual awakening across our world, then we must be willing to allow such an awakening to begin in our own lives first. It is a daring prayer to pray because it is a prayer which leads to one’s death to self. Ask yourself today if you’re willing to pray such a prayer. Are you willing to die to self in order that others might experience new life in Christ?
We may think VBS is over, because it is, but in the lives of many children this morning the seeds of faith have just been planted. Will you ask God to send others into the lives of these children to further nurture what has been planted?

Sunday, June 27: Re-gather
When you walk into church today, or join virtually, you will find you’re not the only one who has spent the past six days pursuing God in new ways. As a matter of fact, you will discover many who are on the same journey and have been praying in the same way. Through these things our hearts and minds have become more unified over the course of this week. Perhaps even more than ever before. While following Jesus will cost each of us something different, but one of the greatest realities for us today as we gather is that in these moments we will be more aware God is with us. As you find yourself before God today, will you ask Him to help you just breathe? Breathe in the moment of being with other believers. Breathe in the excitement of the second week of our 90 day journey. Breathe in the fact that He is with you, illuminating the way you should go, and teaching you what it means to be human.