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September Prayer Prompt Ready, Set...GO!!!
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Meet the Conspiracy Theorists Who are Turning to Christ
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September Prayer Prompt: Christian Churches Network of London
Photo credit: Branden Collum_Unsplash

Does September make you identify a bit with fellow Londoner Olympic medal winner Damien Warner, poised at the starting line, ready to run the race of a new year this fall? It is a race that we have run so many times before and trained for. September 1st, or Labour Day in reality, always seems like a new beginning, even more so this year. Are you ready to run in the days ahead that seems like a decathlon - physically, mentally, spiritually... at home, at work, at school, at church, with family, in relationships, in learning? Or maybe it feels like you have been doing nothing but running for the last year? Whew - each day a new adventure.

C.S. Lewis reminds us at crucial points like this: "There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind". Please take a few moments of silence and just meditate or dwell on that statement before God and with God - explore what that may mean to you personally this month as we are each in different circumstances and stages of life. Take those better things you imagine or hope for your future to Him who loves and knows you.

The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 "I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”(MSG) As followers of Jesus, let's remember we are in this race together...some are sprinters, some are hurdlers, some long distance runners, some pass the batons on to the next runner...and some may give out water bottles to refresh racers. We need you all.

Together, we pray for churches, pastors and Christian ministry leaders.
May there be far better things ahead in our faith communities than what we leave behind. Yes, we do encourage you to pray for Christian leaders often, but since CCNL is a network of Christian leaders, it seems natural. The coming months will still be challenging with a fourth wave of COVID on the horizon, with ministry fatigue, and much cautious uncertainty about the future. Fill us all with renewed hope and eager passion. Fill our congregations, boards, staff and many volunteers with thoughtful encouragers who are eager to see the mystery of God unfold once again in people's lives in our community. Give us each a fresh vision of holy, sacred work to do. Karen Stiller, a Canadian writer, speaker and Senior editor of Faith Today wrote this: "Faith can easily curl up under the covers and go to sleep like a cat if we let it. But then someone comes along and nudges it and says; ‘Wake up. There is beautiful work to do.’ And faith awakens. It stands and stretches." Wake us up and stretch each of us, O God and point us in right directions. Help us ask you expectantly with open hands and hearts "What do you want me to do?" in the coming months. Let us not be the cat, sitting lazily in the window, too cautious to engage in the dailies of our faith life. May Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG) shape our days in September: "Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

We pray for schools - educational administrators, teachers, parents, and most of all, for kids of all ages, from preschoolers to university students - all at the starting line! May there indeed be far better things ahead than what we leave behind...because the last year or so has certainly been a confusing hodgepodge of learning and teaching for everyone, doing the best we all could given the circumstances. We actually long more than ever for routine and consistency, for safe spaces, for noisy children laughing and talking together with renewed anticipation of learning and of teaching. Much daily discernment will be needed by all in order to understand the unique intellectual, physical, emotional and learning needs of each student - the continuum has been stretched seemingly to the limit. We pray for an abundance of daily grace, resiliency, energy, and innovation. It will be a challenging year for sure. And we pray especially for students and teachers alike for their health and protection from COVID, especially for those under 12. May safe, effective, well tested vaccines be made available soon for younger children. May all seek to follow protocols of social distancing, mask wearing, and handwashing - repeat. Give peace to those who are anxious. There are so many vulnerable young lives who are yearning to return to schooling but cannot yet join their classmates because of compromised health conditions.

We pray for an ever increasing consciousness of "the other" this fall.
For a number of us during the pandemic, in the midst of restrictions and times of greater vulnerability, we became more aware of the increased needs of others in London. We all yearn for every person to experience better things ahead than each has experienced in the past.

The last year was hard beyond just the pandemic. Let us not put aside or forget the many racial and religious prejudices and injustices that were revealed over the past year - the multitude of uncertain truths or outright lies that were rampant - our indigenous history that was painfully uncovered again - the many sexual assaults that were confronted, especially by those in power positions - the deep disparity that was exposed in care of the poor and the aged - the fatigue and overwhelming demands on both health care workers and the system. What does it actually mean for each of us "to stand with" those in need? In coming months, provoke us God to be attentive to these issues, to search for answers, to ask more questions and to act on what we learn. Help us seek to make a difference in "making one of these things better" if not for all yet, at least for some.

We pray for the federal election coming up quickly this month on Sept 20.
Our expectation in this democratic process is always about hopes for "far better things ahead than what we leave behind." God, may we not ever take for granted this privilege that we have to actually elect our political leaders - too many places around the world do not have that precious opportunity. It is difficult, sacrificial work to be a good politician at any level, because one cannot possibly make everyone happy. We pray for ethical, diligent, wise individuals to come forward who desire to seek the present and future common good. Many "promises" will be made - not all are possible. Give us discernment to choose leaders willing and able to engage in the myriad of complex decisions ahead regarding climate change, healthcare, poverty strategies, childcare, fiscal accountabilities, international relationships and national challenges, affordable housing, economic recovery, balancing freedoms and rights, and much, much more. We all have personal preferences and priorities - give and take required. Remind us to pray for these leaders often that they may desire to work together despite their differences, no matter who is ultimately elected. We expect so much from them... and we can criticize so quickly. Guard all from deepening polarization and creeping cynicism - those can be like deadly viruses to the exercise of democracy.

And we pray God for the chaos of the world around us. In just the past few weeks, wildfires have raged out of control, not only in Canada, but around the world. Thousands were evacuated and left homeless. Drought destroying crops, farms lost. Afghanistan was overtaken by the Taliban in only a week - unknown thousands were murdered or displaced, freedoms taken away, families lost or destroyed. Fear reigns. In Haiti, another devastating 7.2 earthquake hit in an already impoverished country killing many, destroying homes, schools, hospitals and recovering infrastructure - then a tropical storm. Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana once again. Despair everywhere.

Daily, in our local spheres, people share of families deeply divided by angry words, differing strongly held opinions, hurts from the past, broken by pain, unresolved conflict. News of COVID variant outbreaks grow again in London. Often we feel helpless and hopeless in light of all of this. How we pray for help, for rescue, for relief in all these heartbreaks and disasters - bring comfort and compassion to those grieving such loss.

It is too easy for us to believe when these tragedies occur, that brokenness ultimately wins. If that is the case, the temptation is to think the best we could ever do is hunker down, gather our loved ones, find a safe place to hide out. Either that, or maybe we simply try to block out hearing or thinking about the pain people experience, or we temporarily numb the pain, fill our lives with our own self-gratification and comfort in order to ignore it.

But scripture thankfully offers a far different reading. It tells us that God's world, the one He created in love - for all its brokenness - is good and is worth engaging and will someday be made whole again. We are called as followers of Jesus to be part of that restoration and believe that God rewards those who seek Him. "I would have despaired" David confesses "unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living." Psalm 27:13 (NASB) Amen to that.

During the recent Olympics, many of us watched as Dutch runner Sifan Hassan experienced a runner's worst nightmare when she fell near the back of the pack during the first round of the women's 1500 meter race. The Ethiopian-born runner stumbled and fell with roughly 350 meters to go and somehow recovered, got back up to not only catch up to the other runners but to actually win her heat of the women's 1,500 meters. Oh God, we know we too will stumble and fall all too often in our race of life. Grant us we pray, the endurance, the courage, the utter stubbornness mixed with pure hope to face the days ahead - in the inevitable ups and the downs of life - trusting you are with us and in us through it all. "But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him." Philippians 3: 20-21

SUMMARY....In September, we pray for far better things ahead than what we leave behind:
1. for churches, pastors and Christian ministry leaders
2. for schools and for all involved, most of all, for preschoolers to university students
3. for an ever increasing consciousness of "the other" this fall.
4. for the upcoming federal election
5. for the chaos and brokenness of the world and our role in participating in the goodness of God making things right.