What Praying Did

We did it! We prayed for all 90 municipalities in the metro-Birmingham area! It took 100 posts over a year-and-a-half. I was looking back through some of the first posts, and was surprised to see how much the posts changed over time. It was interesting to also notice how one of our smaller towns, Eldridge easily got the most visits – with over 200 in one day! That was amazing!

Kevin, the executive director of Mission Birmingham, of which this blog is an initiative, often reminded me that the goal of this blog wasn’t about readership, follows and comments, but about simply praying for the entire metro-B’ham area, one municipality at a time. As I focused on just praying, I saw how God really gave me His prayers to pray, and we even got to see God working in some of these towns and cities. My prayers also changed. I noticed they became much more evangelistic in nature, which is not my normal “prayer-default”, if you will. It made me wonder what ministries and evangelistic efforts we were coming along-side of through prayer in those cities and towns. We may never know this side of Heaven how God used those prayers, but we can be confident that He heard and answered. As we wrapped up praying through all 90 municipalities, the Lord suddenly started reminding me of His Scriptural promises regarding prayer. Nearly every day over the that week, it seemed I “happened across” another one. I think one of my current favorites is I John 5:14-15 – “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” If you keep that in mind as you look over the posts, and all the things we’ve prayed for the metro-Birmingham area, you should get pretty excited at what God is up to. At least, I do.

I have always loved the City of Birmingham, even from the time I was a little girl. We lived in Bessemer at the time, and whenever we had to drive into Birmingham, I would be in awe at the huge, old buildings, the straight streets laid out in a grid, the parks, all of it, really. I’ve also loved Bessemer, because it was my hometown, and even back then I could “feel” the history emanating from the buildings and streets, even if I was too young to understand it. For instance, I used to think DeBardeleben Park (I think I spelled that right. I hope.) was named for a Spanish explorer, not the man who basically founded the city and contributed so much to the development of the area and the steel industry. But then as I started looking into the history of the towns and cities – with the help of our awesome researcher, Ginny – I became so fascinated by how so many of them in this area were tied together by the steel-making industry or other common denominators. I also fell in love with each one we prayed for. I have long believed that you cannot pray regularly for someone without a them becoming knit to your heart. Apparently, it is also true for places you pray for. I feel so connected to all 90 of municipalities. I would love to have the time to go and explore each of these places in person. Maybe someday….

So as we turn the page of this blog, and start focusing our prayers more on current events and needs in the metro-Birmingham area, my heart is full of thanksgiving to God for allowing us to play a part in His plan for each town and city. I’m grateful to know He has heard our prayers, and will accomplish His will in them as it already is in Heaven. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Is there a particular city or post that stuck with you? If you were with us for most of the journey, did it change your perspective in any way as well? I would love to hear about it if it did!

 

Helena, Alabama

I completely missed posting earlier this week. School has started for us (we homeschool), and as much as I tried to be prepared, it has thrown my schedule for my extracurricular activities out the window. I did start off our school week in this city of Helena, as our homeschool co-op meets at Helena First Baptist. It’s a very cute, friendly little city.

There was a LOT of information about Helena, and all of it was very fascinating to me, so it was hard to pare it down.

Website: http://www.cityofhelena.org

Mayor – Mark R. Hall

Sits at the foothills of the very southern extent of the Appalachian Mountains as they descend into the coastal plain

Originally called Cove in 1849

  • Name changed to Hillsboro in 1856 when the rolling mill was built to serve the Confederate war effort
  • Name changed to Helena when it was incorporated in 1916 and again in 1917 (Paperwork error made first incorporation invalid)
  • It was named Helena after the Helena Station – named after Helen Lee, the sweetheart of the engineer who built the station

Played a vital role in Birmingham’s steel industry and growth

City was hit hard by economic changes in the 1920’s, the Great Depression, and a devastating tornado in 1933

  • Remaining residents were determined to rebuild
  • The city today is enjoying what those residents and city leaders worked toward

Safest City in Alabama – one of the lowest crime rates per capita in the Southeast

Helena High School is expected to open in the Fall of 2014

Isaiah 58:11-12 – “And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a well-watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”

Heavenly Father, we thank You for allowing Helena to rebuild back into a city that knows peace and prosperity. Thank You for raising up the men and women who were willing to do the hard work of rebuilding. Thank You for causing those plans to succeed for this city. I am also struck at the enormous privilege and responsibility it is to be the generation that enjoys the benefits of the hard work of those who came before us, and so we pray that the current residents of Helena would recognize that it is by Your hand that their city has become what it is today. May they seek You and live by Your statutes and commandments, so that their city could continue to enjoy Your blessings.

We pray that You would continually guide Mayor Hall, the city council, and the business leaders of this city. Let them find their satisfaction in You and not in political or financial power. Give them strength to serve well. May Your Spirit be the source of their wisdom and strength, because You never fail.

We pray for the Church in Helena to rise up like never before and to lift up the banner and cross of Christ in their communities. May they take up the call to intercede for their city; to preach the gospel; to reach out and love and serve like Christ did. We pray that the Church would seek You as their constant Source for life and growth. May Your Word continually wash them, so that they may be without stain or blemish. Use Your Church, Lord, to stand in the gap and to repair the former devastations of the evil one in their city. So that Helena would enjoy not just financial blessing, but spiritual blessing as well. We speak LIFE over Helena and over the Church. In Jesus’ name.

How do you see the Lord reviving you or your city?

Birmingham from the Mountain

Birmingham from Vulcan

My family and I visited Vulcan Park last Monday. While I’m not crazy about a huge statue of a false god looking over the city, I absolutely LOVE the view from up there, and reading about the elements that God blessed the metro-B’ham area with and how the steel industry shaped this city and surrounding areas.

As I stood at the railing, looking at the magnificent views, I felt an ache of longing in my heart. The city looks so beautiful from that vantage point. The sun bright and the sky was a brilliant blue that day we were there, and the city shone like a jewel. It made me ache for the future, when Birmingham becomes “the city of Jesus’ dreams”, as Paul Hughes of Birmingham Prayer Furnace always talks about.

Then the Lord gave me His perspective, which made me ache with grief. When He looks at Birmingham, He can see the least and the lost in the streets. He sees the poor and homeless, who have created their own little community among the city’s abandoned buildings. He sees the abused and neglected, who are almost completely devoid of hope. He sees the broken homes, and the children who need a mom AND a dad. He sees the drugs, the human trafficking and other crime. He sees the corruption, the pride, arrogance, and self-serving attitudes. And it breaks His heart.

So what hope do we have that this city will ever become the city of Jesus’ dreams? We have the best hope of all – Jesus Himself. When God looks at this city, He also sees the shed blood of His Son, covering the land. He sees the prayers of His people rising like incense before His very throne. He sees His Bride, the Church in Birmingham, starting to wake from her slumber and become the Bride He has been waiting for. He sees how He will cause all things to work together for our good and His glory by redeeming everything the enemy meant for evil. Hallelujah!!

So join me in praying for those real needs in our cities, and rejoice with me that the God of this city – the One True God and not a false statue of a god – sees us and has redeemed us by the blood of Christ.