Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Center
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 6:10-20 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
In the early 1990s, my wife Wendy and I were in the Ukraine telling vast amounts of people about Jesus in public meetings in the evenings and teaching English during the day. We did this with a large group of Canadians. We were there for five weeks and really had the time of our lives.
One of the most memorable experiences we had was with a woman who had an eight- to ten-year-old son named Dimitri. One day, this woman brought Dimitri into Wendy’s classroom. He was grey and lifeless. Through an interpreter the woman told Wendy that the doctors had given Dimitri weeks, maybe months, to live and that he’d been listless and lifeless like this for several weeks now. She was beside herself with grief as she begged Wendy to pray for her son, a striking request from a woman who had only recently heard the good news of the Gospel.
That night, Wendy remembered the request and gathered several members of our team together to pray for this little boy. It was 10 p.m. when the prayers were uttered. We know this because that was the time set for our team to meet and debrief in the hotel common area. They prayed (I wasn’t in that prayer meeting because of the people wanting to talk to me in the auditorium across the street) and then went to their rooms.
The next morning, Wendy was preparing things for her English class when a little boy came running into the room. He was pretty much bouncing off the walls. His face had all its color and his energy was overflowing. Following him came the mother. Her face was filled with tears of joy as she approached Wendy. Through an interpreter she asked, “What were you doing at 10 p.m. last night?”
Wendy answered, “Praying for Dimitri!”
The woman said, “At 10 p.m. Dimitri was laying on my lap, limp and listless as usual, when, all of a sudden, his eyes opened, his color came back and he started jumping around the room saying, ‘Mommy! I feel good! I feel good!’”
This is a cool story. And it’s only happened once in my lifetime that I know of. I can’t tell you how many people my wife and I have prayed for that didn’t get healed. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve prayed in a certain direction and things went the opposite direction.
Yet Paul writes, “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” So we do. We pray for our family members, we pray for our church, we pray for God’s will, and yes, we pray for God’s healing in the lives of those we love. It’s really all we have. All we can do is take our burdens to the Lord and lay them in His capable hands.
I may not get what my heart desires from every prayer I pray, but for sure I do get the benefit of talking with my friend and trusting Him with my cares.
Recalibrate: Tell someone about a time when prayer produced a miracle in your life.
Respond: Spend an assigned period of time talking and listening to God today.
Research: Here’s a cool article on the benefits of prayer.
Remember: “Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need” (Ephesians 6:18, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
With your little one, go to the big heart that we drew on the mirror or window on Monday. Position both of you in the heart and write your prayers for today in the heart space. Write the names or draw picture of the people you have prayed for inside your heart. Remember that your prayers are going straight to the heart of God.
Challenge: Find a wise person you know and ask them how they talk to God and how they hear from God. Compare your prayers with some of their prayers. Ask them if they remember a time they asked for something they needed and God responded clearly! Take time to pray with your friend and thank God for His answers to our prayers!
Our Words to Remember this week talk about praying all kinds of prayers and asking God to supply all of our needs. I catch myself listening to the last part of that verse and only asking God for stuff. I want a new house or a truck or a safe trip to Hawaii. I forget to pray the other kinds of prayers sometimes. Try to remember to not only ask God for things, but also to thank Him for the things you have! Today, during your prayers, try to think of things that you might not normally thank God for. Maybe you’re thankful for a close friend or a pet. God tells us He will answer our prayers, but I’m sure He enjoys being thanked from time to time as well.
As young kids we were told that in order to pray to God we needed to kneel on the ground, fold our hands, and close our eyes. That is how you pray and there is no other way. However, the older I have grown, the more I realize that this is not quite the case. I pray to God all the time without closing my eyes. (I know, how taboo!) I don’t usually fold my hands, and I rarely kneel. When we read that we should pray to God on all occasions, we might think that it has to be this constant formal prayer to God. However, sometimes talking to God is simply thanking Him for the beautiful scenery on the way to school or telling Him something frustrating that happened to you that day. Maybe it’s even just sitting and listening. Prayer can be creative and it doesn’t always have to involve kneeling. Maybe it’s sending text messages to God, journaling, singing praise songs to God. Find a way to pray to God throughout the day that is meaningful to you and allows you to have frequent conversations with Him.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.