Praying for our Leaders: 2016 Municipal Elections

Last Friday was our final stop in our 2016 Summer Prayer Journey. But wait! There’s more! On Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7pm, New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting a city-wide prayer rally in which East Lake and the ministries we’ve been praying for will be the focus. Mission Birmingham will be facilitating the evening.

This past Tuesday, many of the municipalities we’ve prayed for had elections for those who will be leading their cities. I don’t have info on all of the 90-something cities we’ve prayed for, but of those I do have, I see a mix of incumbents, new mayors, and run-offs, and lots of new and returning council members in various cities. I will eventually be updating each blog post with the new mayors information. At the end of this post, you’ll see a list of municipalities that I don’t have info for as of yet. If you do, please share it with me so that I can update those posts. Thanks!

I Timothy 1: 1-8 – 1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

In Your Sovereignty, Lord, You have appointed men and women to lead our local governments in the metro-B’ham area over the course of the next couple of years. We thank You for the leaders You have chosen for this time, even if some of them aren’t the ones we voted for. You are in control and You are the one who raises up kings and brings them down again to accomplish Your plans and purposes.

We pray for these men and women who will be leading our cities and hometowns to be wise and humble servant-leaders who are even-tempered, not willful or greedy, temperate. We pray that they would be men and women who love what is good, sensible, just, and self-controlled. (from Titus 1:7,8) Let them lead with integrity and honor. We pray that their homes would be places of love and peace. Protect these leaders and their families from every spiritual attack and from every demonic spirit that stands against them and against the cities they serve. We pray for the salvation of every mayor and every council person in the metro-Birmingham area.

As the citizens of these cities, I pray that we would be faithful to support our leaders through our prayers, as You have commanded us. Before we complain, prompt us to pray. Our politics have become a source of such hate, anger, and ungodly behavior. Forgive us, and cause us to turn from those habits and toward the habit of praying for our leaders. You promise in the passage in I Timothy that when we pray for them, it will lead to tranquil, quiet lives in godliness and dignity. That’s what we long for. Lord, we pray for cities that would experience Your kingdom and Your will in our midst as it is in Heaven. I pray that we would pray without “wrath and dissension”.

I also want to specifically lift up those who are facing run-off elections. Running in an election and going through the campaigning process has got to be an exhausting process. I would imagine it can be rather discouraging to realize that you have two more months of it ahead of you. We lift up those men and women who are facing that prospect this week. We pray that they would find their rest in You. Cause them to wait on You as they prepare for their run-offs, so that can then mount up with wings like eagles, they can run and not grow weary, they can walk and not faint. Cause them to see Your hand of grace and mercy on them and their families in the process.

We pray all this to You, praising You because You are worthy of all praise, and because You are in control. Amen.

I would love to read your prayers, and come into agreement with you, in the comments as you pray for the mayor of your specific city.

 

 

 

Praying for the Homeless – and Us

By now you have probably heard about, and maybe even experienced, the outrage regarding the homeless being left out in the cold because the Boutwell Auditorium, which is used as a warming station on cold nights, was being used for the Bernie Sanders rally. Don Lupo, the director for the Mayor’s Office for Citizens Assistance in the City of Birmingham, and the one who has managed the warming station at Boutwell for years, took to his Facebook page to challenge everyone to get involved in being part of the solution instead of just getting upset and looking for someone to blame. As a result of all of this, several churches, shelters, and some city leaders will be attending a meeting on Monday to develop plans for additional warming stations to use when the Boutwell is not available. You can read more about that meeting here. Don Lupo also mentioned on his Facebook page that the Boutwell warming station always needs personal hygiene items for their guests – toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water, etc.

Matthew 25:34-40 – 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Lord Jesus, forgive us for becoming passive and unengaged from the profound needs that exist in our city. Thank You that over the recent years, more of Your Church are being awakened to the needs and are stepping in with sleeves rolled up to help and serve the least of these. Thank You for the many non-profit organizations in our city who have labored tirelessly to address the problems that often cause homelessness, from substance abuse, to mental illness, to abuse at home, to illiteracy and everything in between. But I know I’m guilty of sitting in my pew, listening to people from these organizations talk about what they do, and then walking away feeling good about the two minutes we took praying for them in the service – and leaving it at that. Forgive us, Lord, for leaving it at that. Forgive us for celebrating the amazing cultural opportunities that have come to Birmingham while doing nothing to address the needs of those who are in such desperate places. It cannot be one or the other to fix our city. It must be both. Thank You for using this incident with the political rally this week to open our eyes to the need. I pray that You would not let us drift back off to sleep on this issue again as it fades from our Facebook timelines.

We pray for the men, women, and children who don’t have a roof over their heads, who don’t know from where the next meal will come, who don’t own a coat or shoes or any of the things we take for granted. We pray especially as it’s supposed to snow this weekend that You would provide them warm, safe places to stay. Provide them with opportunities to feel the dignity that most of us take for granted just because we’re human. Give them opportunities to hear the clear message of the Gospel, without being tied to politics or religion. Lord Jesus, You know their need for a Savior is just as profound as it is for any of us. We pray that they would receive Your gift of salvation and that the power of the Gospel would set them free from the prison of addiction and poverty. For those who are mentally ill, we pray that You would equip us to know how to respond to their needs in a way that restores their dignity. Raise them up through the power of the Gospel to be seated with You in the heavenly places.

Forgive us for dismissing them out of our judgmental pride, thinking that they just need to pull themselves together, or get off the drugs/alcohol, or whatever reason we use to absolve ourselves of any responsibility we might feel to help. These are people created in Your image, who are precious to You, and so they should be just as precious to Your followers. Change our perspective, Lord. Compel us with supernatural compassion to get involved. How hard is it to collect new toothbrushes?? Bottled water? How can it be that easy and it still be a need? I think because we’re afraid that if we get involved a little bit, You might call us to get involved in the hard part of minister to the least of these. We pray that Your love would cast out every fear that keeps us from getting involved.

So Father, thank You for Bernie Sanders – well, his rally, anyway. Thank You for using it to highlight a problem so many of us tend to overlook. Out of Your mercy and grace, don’t let us miss the opportunity to be different, to be better ambassadors for the kingdom of God in our city. Let these men, women, and children out there feel the love of Christ – and let it be done through us. Amen.

 

Blessing the Children – a Back-to-school Prayer

Throughout this month, children all over the metro-B’ham area will be going back to school – public, private, homeschool and college. Some have already started back. Even though I have the next 2 cities prepped and almost ready to go up on the blog here, I could not get away from the thought that perhaps we should lift up these children in prayer together. After all, not only are they precious gifts from the Lord, but they are also the future of the cities and towns we love and are praying for. My prayer has been mostly prompted from The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13. I might also reference parts of other verses as I pray.

Heavenly Father, You sit enthroned in Sovereign Lordship over all the earth. Nothing happens to us or to our children that You are not aware of and divinely allow into our lives, as hard as it is sometimes. Praise be to God, who can take all of the moments that touch our lives and redeem them for our good and Your glory. In Your holiness, You never fail, and in it we find Your perfect love, Your amazing grace and mercy for us and for our children; we also find Your justice and wrath when evil is suffered by Your children. Indeed, were it not for the blood of Christ shed for us, all of us would have to endure the full measure of Your wrath. Therefore, we plead the blood of Jesus Christ over the children of the metro-B’ham area. We proclaim salvation over them. May the power and the truth of the Gospel become more real than all the other voices clamoring for their souls.

Father, let Your kingdom come into every schoolroom, every hallway, every locker room, every place where children will be through the course each school day. Let Your kingdom come into every home, and into every heart of every child and parent and teacher, so that righteousness and justice and truth would reign in them and through them. Let Your will be done in their lives. We praise You that Job 42:2 says that You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Help us and help these children to trust in Your good and perfect plan when it requires them and us to experience very hard and painful things. Thank You, Father, that the truth is, through the pain we can see redemption if we keep our eyes on You. You are the God who redeems and restores. It is what Your kingdom is all about. It is the purpose for which Christ died – to reconcile all things back to God. Hallelujah!

Father, You know that there are children who will go to school hungry, both physically and heart-wise. Thank You for the school programs that help feed these kids physically. Yet You are the only one who can feed their soul and hearts. So we pray for physical provision for them, maybe even raising up local churches to help meet that physical need. And we pray they would encounter the Bread of Life, who would fill them like nothing else can in their heart, mind and spirit. Let them know You and experience You every single day, even in an environment and circumstances that would try to deny You.

Because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness for our sins. Forgiveness, though, is becoming a foreign concept in our culture, which is breeding so much violence. Father, by Your Spirit, we pray that these kids would experience forgiveness, and would learn how to extend it to others. Dispel the lies that we’ve been taught about what forgiveness is and isn’t, and show them how powerful true forgiveness is.

Father, there is so much evil surrounding us and these precious children in this day and age. Please protect them. Oh how my heart aches and grieves at the headlines which have become all too common about children suffering abuse at the hands of the very ones they were supposed to trust. Father, can I be so bold to ask that this school year, not one child would be abused in the school setting? We also pray that for all the children who have been abuse and are still suffering in silence and fear, that You would expose the evil that was done to them, and bring justice on their behalf. Deliver them from evil, O God!

Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

What would you pray for the school-children of the metro-B’ham area?