21 Days of Prayer: August 2020

Introduction

 

“He has shown you, O mankind, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

 

Over the last several months our nation has watched division, hate, pain and more pain play out in front of our eyes, on the streets and on the news. Many people are asking questions and trying to decide what is right in all of the chaos.  Further, they are asking, “What is our response? What do we do? What do we say?”

The first thing we want to do is see what God has to say on the subject and what he is requiring from those who call him Father. So, for the next 21 days, we will pour into this simple verse of scripture and examine what God is requiring of us as we live out his will for us individually, as a church and as an influencer in our community.

God asked of us three actions in this verse from Micah. We will take one action each week and discuss topics that relate to that action. Each day we will use supportive scripture to expand the topic, share an action item to do that day and write a prayer to place before God.

We ask you to join us every day as we seek God’s will in asking him to expand our influence in the community and move us into humble action for His name sake.

WEEK ONE: ACT JUSTLY

Day 1: August 9

Action Needed

“He has shown you, O mankind, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8
 

Micah was a small town prophet who witnessed first-hand the oppression of the poor and he targeted his message to people who abused their power and privilege. To those in power, he exposed them by saying:

  •       The rich get richer through extortion and violence
  •       Merchants use scales weighted in their favor
  •       Judges sell judgment for a bribe
  •       Prophets and priests say whatever the people will pay to hear
  •       Rulers do whatever it takes to live in luxury and preserve their power
Surely this doesn’t still go on today, does it? But Micah does not stop there. He also has a message for those oppressed and victimized. He told them they could have turned to God and asked him for help. Instead, they turned to idols and selfish actions they thought would serve them well. They were wrong. Micah told them they would all suffer, the victims and the abusers.
 

Micah shared with his people three actions that could change the course they were currently on; Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with God. Begin asking God to show you what this means for us today as we take steps to heal our community.

Prayer: O God, the message of Micah is still relevant today. We continue to see people both oppressed and abusing power and you call us into the mix to lead all of them into a growing relationship with you.  Bless us with wisdom as we begin taking steps to impact our small towns with the message of love and justice for all. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 2: August 10

Justice Required

 
“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice,  nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.”  Exodus 23:1-3

 

The law was clear when it came to what God meant when he said “act justly.” Today, we will discuss the first one recorded in Exodus 23; fair treatment in the courts for all people. There has always been a temptation for powerful lawmakers to slant laws in their favor and maintain their power. God challenged his people to make sure this never happened in their courts of law.

The plea of day two is to make sure we fight for systems of law that are fair for everyone. If we see injustice happening we should work for change. Pray that we see, “liberty and justice for all.” Work to elect those in power who will reflect God’s values and not show partiality in their judgements.
 
Prayer: Holy Father, you see all injustice done on earth. Your heart breaks when the scales of justice are slanted against those who are vulnerable and cannot defend themselves. We pray for systems of law that reflect your heart and glorify your name. We pray for lawmakers that will fight for the oppressed and work selflessly for those who rely on their actions. We pray that all our personal decisions every day will show generosity and fairness. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 3: August 11

Justice For The Poor

 
“You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.”  Exodus 23:6-8
 

The second command God required for his people when it came to “acting justly” was not to take advantage of the poor. Jesus told us we would always have poor among us who struggled with daily essentials. He demonstrated how to engage them with love and simple provisions. However, he also gave us a balance of action that really led to a partnership.

The Bible says if we see someone in need and would give even a cup of cold water, it would not go unrewarded. On the other hand, it says, “If a man will not work, don’t let him eat.” This later verse is not intended for us to sit back with judgement but rather engage with grace. We are to partner with those in need and help them with the effort to gather the resources needed for a better quality of life. This requires an investment of time and this is the real struggle.

Prayer: Lord, there is a responsibility on those of us who have to help those who do not. I pray that you give us the desire to share life with all those around us who struggle even for the simple things. We can get so busy on our own journey that we lose interest in assisting others. Help us to see as you see and do as you did. I am not praying about giving a handout but rather an investment of life into the needs of the poor among us. In Jesus’ name, Amen
 

 

Day 4: August 12

Special Considerations

 

“You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.”  Deuteronomy 24:17-18

 

The last command of God for his people when he called them to act justly was to give special considerations for widows, orphans and the vulnerable.  These are often the ones left out and forgotten and yet they really need someone to care for them. James calls this pure ministry and connected to the heart of God.

I am so grateful we are involved in this ministry at First City and I pray God continues to expand our influence. I invite you to join us in both the Lift Ministry and in helping us with upcoming social justice initiatives. God blesses all this work, his work.

Prayer: Lord God, we know you are close to the hurting and vulnerable. You have made provision for widows, orphans and those abandoned all around us. As we “act justly” in our community, I pray we are faithful to care for those who silently suffer due to no fault of their own. Cover their needs, Lord, and consider us among those willing to help. Lead us in the everlasting way! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Day 5: August 13

Fighting For The Oppressed

 
“Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.”  Psalm 82:3-4
 

This day is a continuation from yesterday. I am struck by how intentional God expects us to be in the efforts of the poor and abandoned. He uses these four verbs that moves us into action; give, uphold, rescue and deliver. It is very easy to assess myself to see if I am doing any of the four commands God has given me.

This is a call to everyone to ask, ”In which part of this rescue plan am I involved?” Are you giving of your time, talent or finances? How are you upholding the rights of the oppressed? What role do you play in rescuing the helpless? Who have you delivered from the grasp of evil? This is not intended to make us feel guilty. It is a call to action to participate with God in a work He wants done for those He loves.

Prayer: O God, move me to action. I desire to be used by you to make a difference in the life of someone who needs rescuing. Thank you for the opportunities in front of us. Thank you for making it easy to get involved so we are not alone. Help us to not stop until we have covered every foster child and family in Escambia and surrounding counties. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 6: August 14

Getting Involved

 
“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:13-14
 

Esther was born around 492 B.C. Jewish tradition says her father died before she was born and her mother died in childbirth. This left her an orphan and in need of a family. She was raised by her uncle, Mordecai, and God provided all her days. As God would have it, through her beauty she came to be the queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus at a time when an enemy wanted to kill all the Jewish people.

It was now Esther’s time to get involved and rescue others but she was afraid. Her uncle reminded her that God places us in moments of time and position of influence to help others in need. Today, we are a blessed people with a responsibility to help those around us just like Esther. We, too, must overcome our fears and reasons of inactivity.

Prayer: Father, you have called us to make a difference in this world. You place us in positions of influence for your name sake and we have a holy opportunity to participate with you in the blessing of people. Lord, help us overcome any spirit of timidity so we may do our part in the powerful work transforming lives in the name of Jesus! Amen

 

Day 7: August 15

Worship Leads to Righteous Action

 
“Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”  Amos 5:23-24
 

This is the last day of our theme “act justly.” This verse of scripture from Amos tells us just how much this subject means to God. Worship is so important to the believer and important to God since it is the key which unlocks the power of heaven on earth. So, God says unless we act justly on the earth our worship is useless. 

What this tells me is that God wants everyone saved. Let us go and do His work and help those He is trying to reach and then come together and celebrate his goodness. This pleases God. However, if we fill our lives full of worship and never bring a “mighty flood of justice” in our city, God will be greatly disappointed. On this day, let us determine to do His will.

Prayer: God in Heaven, worship means everything to us and we know you are pleased with us when our hearts cry out to you. However, we know that what you really want is for us to do your will for all those you want in heaven. Shape our determination to bring your justice to our city. May we resolve to act in your name then worship your name all to the praise of your great name. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

WEEK TWO: LOVE MERCY

Day 8: August 16

The Call to Kindness

 
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”  Luke 6:27-31
 

Last week we discussed the passion of God’s people to do justice in our lives. We are to make sure there is social justice in our nation. However, God clearly tells us to go about this work with a spirit of kindness even when we have suffered at the hands of those who would harm us. This is not an easy thing to do because everything in us wants to fight back.

So here God sets the standard of treating others the way we want to be treated. As long as everyone keeps trying to get revenge on others and push their power over others, things continue to get worse. Someone has to be the first to submit. Pray that God will give us this spirit of submission.

Prayer: God, this passage is easy to read and hard to live. Everything in us wants to fight when attacked so that we can protect ourselves. And yet, you challenge us to let go and trust you. So, we will and we do. Please help us to have the patience to return love when we would rather be harsh. Teach us to live up to the standard of treating others the way we want to be treated. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Day 9: August 17

Kindness and Forgiveness

 
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
 

Paul reminds us that forgiveness came from God and is to be passed on to others.  Our human nature is to be harsh with our words and behavior toward those who are cruel to us or those we love. We are challenged here to forgive as God forgives. It comes first from a tender heart. A tender heart does not want to wound anyone even when attacked.

Today, we should determine to develop a heart of God which is a heart of love, kindness and forgiveness. We should work with all our might to overcome all bitterness, rage, anger and harsh words. Kindness will win the world if we just trust God.

Prayer: Lord, our desire is to be humble enough to release bitterness, anger and rage. Please help us to let go of wounds of the heart and love others the way you loved us and forgave us of our unholy actions. Help us to teach our children how to be kind and tenderhearted. Thank you for your overwhelming love. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 10: August 18

Clothed in Mercy

 
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:12-13
 

How do we train ourselves to make allowances for the faults of others? This would mean that we must forgive before a wrong has happened. It means we predetermine the outcome. There is no way to accomplish this without clothing ourselves in kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Let’s begin today to not take offenses personally but to see these offenses as attacks from the enemy and not from the person doing the attacking. Our fight is not against “flesh and blood” but the invisible enemy working to tear us apart. Our goal is to become the holy people God is calling us to be.

Prayer: Holy Father,  make us holy by changing us from the inside out. Keep our hearts tender enough to not take offenses personally. Teach us how to forgive before any offense has happened. Just as Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, lead us to offer our mercy and kindness to those who hurt us. We long to have a heart that reflects your heart.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 11: August 19

Kindness Brings Blessings

 
“A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth. Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:16-17
 

Look at the contrast in the Bible between those who are kind and those who are selfish. Those who only look after themselves may gain wealth, but they will bring ruin on themselves in the end. Those who are kind gain honor and will benefit in the end.

However, even knowing this, there are those who still choose riches over what is right. I believe this is the source of social injustice. Greed is an awful thing that leads people to not care about how others are affected by their selfishness. However, kindness will win the day eternally. God protects those who are kind.

Prayer: Lord God, our trust is in you. Our hope is in you and we believe you will protect us and work all things out for good if we love you and seek your face. We do not want to be among those who run after wealth at the expense of others. We believe that being kind to others will benefit everyone and make the world a better place. Thank you for being so kind to us. We love you and choose to live for you in the name of Jesus. Amen

 

Day 12: August 20

Kindness Leads to Godly Change

 
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4
 

When God set the principles of change in human behavior, he decided to use kindness instead of harsh punishment as the path to better behavior. He believed love would be a better motivator than guilt or shame. He was right. We are drawn to love. We are built for relationships and God wanted to make it easy for us to desire more of Him. So, He chose love and kindness.

God now is leading us to trust that our kindness to others will have the same effect on them. When we are kind and patient with others, we allow God’s Holy Spirit to move in their heart. This is the way to change the world. We can move the world to do what is best for everyone if we just use kindness to win the oppressed. We will let God deal with those who are cruel. Hopefully His kindness will change them as well.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your kindness. You have been so good to us even when we did not deserve it. This humbles us and creates in us a heart that longs for more of you. Lord, help us lead our family with kindness. Help us change our world with your kindness. We long to see all the people of our world treat each other with kindness. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Day 13: August 21

The Hard Work of Forgiveness

 
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Matthew 18:21-22
 

This is another tough teaching. When someone has wounded you over and over again it is normal to ask how many times you should have to forgive them? Then the answer comes back that forgiveness must be endless. This means year after year, time after time, forgive.

Now, this does not mean that God wants anyone to live in an abusive situation and just keep taking it. No! However, it does mean that choosing to forgive old wounds is the best way to live free and find healing. The world would be so much better if everyone practiced forgiveness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father,  teach us how to live a life of forgiveness.  Show us the way to let go of deep wounds and continually forgive those who have hurt us. Jesus was so quick to forgive even while being crucified. Develop in us a heart like his. Teach us to love our enemies and do the hard work of forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Day 14: August 22

Born Again Through Mercy

 
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation. 1 Peter 1:3
 

Mercy brings salvation. Forgiveness brought us eternal transformation. We have been born again by his great mercy. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus changed everything and now we live with hope.

Our world will come alive through love, forgiveness, and mercy. Not everyone will change but God is watching and will protect those who trust in him. We believe that social justice for everyone will be accomplished if forgiveness and mercy is our approach to bring change.

Prayer: Lord, your mercy changed our lives. We have been brought close to you because of your great love. Oh, Father, our desire is that our city, our state and our nation treat everyone fairly in our courts with special considerations for the poor and fatherless. Teach us to approach this work with kindness, love and forgiveness. We want to reflect your glory. We love you! In Jesus name, Amen.

 

WEEK THREE: WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD

Day 15: August 23

Take An Interest in Others

 
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:3-4
 

We begin our final week of prayer with the most important part of Micah’s message. Walking humbly with God is the key to unlocking all of God’s power. It is the decision to totally submit before God and let him lead everything we do, everything we say and everything we will become. 

This prayer places our highest value on God and all other values on everyone else. We completely rely on God to provide all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus just as Paul said in Philippians. This will require a total change of mind compared to the way of the world.

Prayer: Lord God, we desire to walk with you all the days of our lives. We want to release all selfishness. We want to be free from trying to impress others as if it is all about us. We seek to be humble, thinking of others as better than ourselves. Our goal is to please You in everything and honor others above ourselves. Lead us into a life of selflessness. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 16: August 24

Let God Transform You

 
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:2
 

I love the line in that verse “let God transform you.” It is a decision we make. God has put the power of decision in our hands. He will not force us into transformation but rather He waits for our asking. We let God, we ask God, we choose God. Then, He changes us into a new person. He changes our thinking and we learn His will for our lives.

This is when our lives find peace and joy. The world tries to “find themselves” and we seek to lose ourselves in God. His way is good, pleasing, and perfect and we find rest for our soul. I believe we all want this transformation to happen. Our challenge is beginning that process today. Don’t delay! Give into God right now.

Prayer: Father, into your hands we give our life. We offer ourselves to you today. We give you our dreams, our desires, our hopes and our decisions. We seek to only do your will. Transform us according to your will. Change us to become like you. Our lives belong to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Day 17: August 25

Living in Harmony

 
Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:14-16
 

Think how much different our world would be if we could live these simple verses. To bless those who persecute us and pray that God will bless them too? Wow. Fighting would stop. Wars would end. However, the enemy preaches a very different message and too many people follow that voice.

We are to be different. We are to be counted among those who seek to bless our enemies. Why? Because that will change the world for the better. We sacrifice ourselves for the good of the world so that everyone can be saved. Do we have this in us? Can we live in harmony with each other? Can we stop being so proud?

Prayer: Holy Father,  we need you if we are to live out these verses. We seek to have our emotions flow based on how others are doing more than what happens to us. If others are happy, we are happy and if they are weeping then we are weeping. This is so different than expecting everyone else to adjust their lives according to ours. Help us, Lord, to be as selfless as you. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Day 18: August 26

Humbly Bless Others

 
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

 

Today is part two of yesterday’s message to bless others. God is saying that if we take on the burden of blessing others even when it is difficult, then He will ease our burden and bless us. He will give us His blessing and there is nothing in this world better than that. 

So, we don’t repay evil deeds. We do not retaliate with insults. We love as brothers;  meaning, we see others as God’s children and we do not dare discipline His children. That is God’s job. We will bless them as their father does. This is such a good message for us.
 
Prayer: God, thank you for blessing our lives. Help us bless others as you bless them understanding it is not our job to discipline your children. We have enough trouble taking care of ourselves. So, grant us hearts that are sympathetic to others, tenderhearted and humble. Thank you for your kindness and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 

Day 19: August 27

Dressed in Humility

 
And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.  1 Peter 5:5-6
 

Do you see how much God keeps giving us this message? Are we beginning to see how important this is to God? This is the way God has called us to live. I love this word picture of being dressed in humility. Covering ourselves in humility is how everyone will see us and describe us to others.

Today, let us humble ourselves under the mighty power of God, clothed in His righteousness and prepared for his good work. Let’s never forget that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Prayer: Our prayer, O Lord, is to clothe ourselves in your grace and humble ourselves in your eyes. We hunger for more of you and desire to see your power displayed in our lives. We submit before you and ask you to lift up anything in us that can bring others closer to you. May our eyes be focused on you in all things. Use us in your service. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Day 20: August 28

Restoring Our Land

 
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14
 

Look at this amazing promise of God. Our land needs restoring and we need our sins forgiven. These are the two most important things for any people in any nation. And it is all available to us if we do the four requirements listed. We must humble ourselves, pray, seek intimacy with God and turn from evil.

The beginning is humbling ourselves. If we become good at that, all the rest falls into place. The 1875 hymn by Theodore Monod “None of Self and All of Thee” describes the progression from a selfish life to a selfless life. Each verse moved the singer closer to God; all of self and none of thee, some of self and some of thee, less of self and more of thee and finally none of self and all of thee. This is the journey of a lifetime.

Prayer: Holy Father, we desire to lose ourselves in you. We know this is a journey and a process. Our goal is to die to ourselves and live to you. We long to be used by you for noble purposes. Shape our thoughts to dwell on you and the things of heaven. Mold us into your image and transform us into the image of your son. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Day 21: August 29

The Humble Will Be Exalted

 
The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12
 

As this 21 Days of Prayer comes to a close, we have been very specific with our requests. Micah 6:8 gave us three actions to bring healing in our land. Each week we took one of those actions and prayed it out. The first week was all about fighting for justice. Last week was the challenge to love mercy and show kindness. This week has been all about walking humbly with God.

This final verse says we are all in relationship with God. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled but those who willingly humble themselves will be exalted. Two opposite ways to live out our lives. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be humbled by God. That is not fun. So, I desire to humble myself, giving God the opportunity to trust me with His blessing.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we end this 21 days of prayer, we thank you for being a good, good father. You pursue us and love us and invite us into a growing and blessed relationship with You. We long to be close to You. Teach us to be servants. Forgive our sins. Heal our land. We are your people called by your name. Take our lives and have your way. In Jesus’ name, Amen