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Prayers for Community

Prayer Spotlight: Junior Achievement

How many children in your community know how to balance a checkbook? How many adults do?

Financial illiteracy adds challenges to already difficult situations. If someone is struggling with poverty, not only does that person need employment opportunities and training. He or she also needs life skills to sustain that employment and provide for his or her family.

Many community organizations put volutneers to work, sharing and teaching life skills. Poverty is not the only stumbling block to learning life skills. In my own community, we have children living practically homeless, often without adult supervision; grandparents, aunts, and uncles trying to raise more children than they can care for; parents in jail; extreme levels of addiction in the population; and few corporate jobs or work-training programs.

Fortunately, our community has responded to these challenges with many organizations fueled by volunteers. As prayer warriors, it is important that we get to know the volunteer programs in our community, and not only join one that's appropriate for us, but also pray for one or two others. Each of us can ask the Lord: "Where should I volunteer to help my community? And please show me one or two organizations You would have me pray for." It's important not to overextend, but to hear strategically from the Lord. One person can't be everywhere or pray for everyone. But the Lord can orchestrate many willing hearts, so that everything is covered, and we are praying in unity.

To gain some experience in praying for a volunteer organization, let's look at one that made a difference to me when I was a teenager: Junior Achievement. When I was in high school, I learned life skills, entrepreneurship, and how to serve as a corporate officer through my JA company. I received a sense of self-worth by the fact that several corporate employees gave up one night a week to mentor us. And the life skills and financial literacy I was taught by my parents were reaffirmed and put to work in our JA company.

Recently, I was thrilled to learn from a teacher-friend that JA still exists, and has revamped for the young population of today. They provide weekly entrepreneurial and financial literacy training at learning centers, as well as "JA days" in the classroom. What a great opportunity for children K-12, as well as for the adults who volunteer.

I would encourage you to take a look at the JA website and see what they are offering. How might we pray strategically together for JA, or for other organizations like them?

Here are a few suggested prayer points:

  • Pray that the children will discover their God-given identities and a sense of self-worth.
  • Pray for hope to spread through the communities this organization is serving.
  • Pray that the children will discover God has provided this opportunity for them (James 1:17).
  • Pray that the volunteers will not overextend or grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
  • Pray for the Fruits of the Spirit to be exhibited by volunteers (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Pray that as the children are helped, whole families and neighborhoods will be impacted.
  • Pray for creative ideas for teaching life and work skills to each child.
  • Pray that the organization has sufficient volunteers, funds, and resources, and invests these wisely into the lives of the children and communities.
  • Pray for protection for the children and volunteers, and that the organization effectively screens out individuals who intend to harm the children.
  • Pray that the body of Christ will learn, through organizations like this, how to make a difference in the lives of the people in the community where God has planted them.

Let's each take a few minutes and pray through these points together for the JA nearest you. Your prayers right at this moment will make a difference for JA and those children today. They will feel your prayers, they will experience breakthroughs by God's power, and they will have an amazing day. How awesome is that! As we pray together, there is strength in our combined prayers.

What are other ways you would pray for Junior Achievement and organizations like it? Which organizations are doing similar work in your community? Let us know, so we can pray for them together.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

 

Get Out of Town

I was reminded the other day that sometimes intercessors need to get away for a few hours. We sometimes need to drive out of town for a change of spiritual scenery.

Of course, I often forget this wisdom in practice. I was on a particular intercessor assignment recently and became overwhelmed. I didn't think about what might be causing this feeling. I just got in my car and drove to another location. After spending a few hours in the other place, I felt completely refreshed and ready to return to my assignment.

Why? 

Often as intercessors we can feel oppressed by the enemy, especially when we are interceding for a situation that involves prayers to change the atmosphere – e.g., if someone has given us authority to pray over their home or land. We can also feel oppressed when interceding for situations in our church or community.

We know the enemy has critters assigned territorially. As intercessors, we often feel their oppression, even their assaults against us. Sometimes we just need to pick up and move out of their territory for a few hours of reprieve.

I used to serve as head intercessor of a church. We were also active in praying for the community. I often felt everything. I had my own prayer cover and so did the church. But sometimes, if you stay long enough, you just feel the oppression. So I used to leave the county sometimes just for a break.

I remember a friend texted me one evening, asking where I was. I told her I was two counties away, enjoying time at a bookstore. I live in a beautiful semi-rural county. Here I was, in the midst of Greater Atlanta, lost in the crowds.

My friend said, "That's the place you chose to find peace?"

I replied, "Yes. Sometimes intercessors just need to get out of town."

See, the territorial critters from my county couldn't bother me there. The critters in that place didn't know me. They left me alone. When I returned home, I felt refreshed and ready to go another round.

I do that every once in a while, just to get a break.

If you are an intercessor in your community, and you feel overwhelmed, see what crossing the county line will do. Maybe you will get a few hours' reprieve and a chance to re-set and refresh.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Group Prayer – Feel the Difference

When I arrived home tonight, I felt amazing. For me, lately, that's unusual. It's been a rough stretch. But I felt well and truly amazing.

That's when I realized I had been praying, together with other people, all day.

I got together with a group of folks in the morning and we prayed. What an awesome time with God.

In the late afternoon, another prayer group. Again, awesome.

Spent the evening doing our church service at the jail – again, a lot more prayer, together as a group.

And at the end of the day, I felt amazing – body, soul, and spirit.

There is nothing wrong with praying by ourselves. I do that all day long, and I encourage it! But praying with a group is so important too. There are amazing benefits in praying together that we can barely wrap our understanding around. 

But you can feel it.

And why should that surprise us? Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20 NKJV). That should make any of us feel amazing!

Do you have a couple people you can pray together with? If not, ask God to give you the names of a couple people. You might be surprised to discover those very people are looking for this as well.

You can also call your local church and ask if they have a prayer group, or if they would like to create one. They should be able to connect you with a couple like-minded hearts who would enjoy praying together each week.

If you haven't tried praying with a group lately – try it. You will feel the difference. Let me know how it goes for you.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Community Prayer Starts with You

Prayers for a community are powerful. Ideally, you want your whole community covered in prayer. Even better, you want your whole community praying.

It takes time. And lots of prayer.

If community prayer is your heart, then it starts with you.

Our community is blessed to have many prayer groups, some who have been active for decades. I also know of prayer groups who met here historically, so we are built on a bedrock of prayer.

Even if your community is newer, and doesn't have a deep history of prayer, I guarantee you God has already been at work preparing the soil. When you respond to His call to pray, He will bless and flourish the prayers you sow into the community.

For several years in our community, we had a group of intercessors meeting each month to pray together. We came from all different churches. We listened for how God would have us pray, and we prayed in unity. Folks in our community saw fruit of what God had led us to pray. (Remember: Prayer is inviting God to do what He already desires and intends to do.)

This summer, I felt led to start praying with others for the community again. We meet once a week at a sidewalk cafe and pray as God leads us. Sometimes we prayer walk around the streets of downtown.

We pray for our schools, health care, highway safety, law enforcement and first responders, businesses, elderly, people living in poverty, students driving for the first time, and other requests that arise with our community news and daily interactions. Our community prayer group meets right before another group of us goes into the jail for ministry, so we pray for the people in the jail as well.

We also declare together that Jesus is Lord over our community. We invite Him to come and have His way in our town. 

If you have a heart to pray for your community, see how God would lead you to respond. Do you feel led to start praying with others? It only takes a couple people to get this started. Don't feel discouraged if you are the only one at first. Spread the word and show up to pray. Often times, the person who starts the group will pray alone for a few weeks. That's okay. Be faithful and obedient. Before long, others will join you, and it will be amazing.

Keep track of your prayers. We write ours down and take them home to pray during the week. Notice when and how prayers are answered, and thank God together for what He has done. If people want to join you but can't come at that time, send them your prayer notes so they can join you in prayer from home.

I pray that God will bless your community prayer group immensely and multiply the fruits from the seeds He sows through your prayers.

If you have a community prayer group, I would love to hear about it. Please share with us in the Comments below about what you are doing, so others can be blessed.

If you haven't been able to get people to join you, let us know that as well, so we can pray for you.

Here are some ideas of what a praying community looks like. I would love to hear your suggestions of how to add to this list.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Prayer Lessons from God’s Heart

A week ago I returned from a surprise mission trip to Guatemala. What a blessing, in countless ways, many of which I am probably still not aware of.

God used that time in Guatemala – away from familiar surroundings and language – to teach me a lot about His heart for prayer. I am so grateful, and I am trusting Him to work these new lessons and changes through my heart.

Meanwhile, I would love to share with you some of my reflections on prayer during my time in Guatemala. I was able to post these at our team's blog site:

Treasure in Jars of Clay

I would love to know your thoughts, and to hear similar stories of how God has taught you from His heart of prayer.

God bless you.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Praying Family - background

Why I Felt Compelled to Steal a Car

I’ve never stolen in my life.

Imagine my surprise when the urge overcame me to steal a car.

My ministry friends and I were staying at a bed and breakfast while attending a conference out of state. I took a walk after breakfast, enjoying the peaceful morning and small town atmosphere. 

On one street, I noticed a car in a driveway and felt the urge to steal it.

What in the world?

I’m an intercessor; I pray for people. I know the enemy looks to trip me up, to distract me. But why the urge to steal? With a myriad of sins to choose from – sins I’ve actually struggled with – why prompt me to do something that’s never occurred to me?

I stopped and prayed in the middle of the street. Which is exactly what God wanted me to do. Turns out the urge to steal was not from the enemy, but from God. Not a prompting to steal. A nudge to pray. As I surveyed the street, listening in my heart, I realized God was letting me know someone was about to steal. I was feeling that person’s heart. God wanted me to pray for that person, so the theft wouldn’t happen, and the person could get help.

As intercessors, we need to be aware of thoughts and emotions that might not be ours. Nor should we give undue credit to the enemy. The thoughts and feelings that touch our heart might be God, allowing us to experience what’s happening around us, so we will pray. 

Our prayers change the atmosphere. We need to stay aware and attuned to God’s heart. 

Have you experienced something like this? 

When a thought comes over you, especially if it seems strange, or comes out of nowhere, stop. Ask the Lord: “What’s going on? Is this my thought? Am I picking this up from someone else who needs prayer? Is it an attempt from the enemy to confuse me? Or is it Your directive to pray?”

I didn’t steal a car that day. I walked the neighborhood for an hour, praying. I believe no one stole a car that day, and someone who needed help received it.

Pockets of prayer

Pockets of Prayer

There are certain stretches of highway that I love driving. One runs through Macon, Georgia, and another through Gainesville, Georgia. Those I travel frequently so I'm aware of them. But I believe many other pockets exist.

These are pockets of prayer on the highway. The result of someone(s) praying in that vicinity for years. It may be a church. It may be an individual. It may be a business. It may be a family. But someone is praying. A lot.

The best way I can describe the feeling of driving through that area is Peace. Rest. Exhale. An awareness of nothing but God's presence, all around. A lifting of every burden. A reminder that His Kingdom is real, and now.

When you pray, your prayers not only change your heart, your family, and even the world with the ways you're inviting God to move. Your prayers affect the atmosphere around you. Spend an hour just sitting in God's presence, soaking Him in, then go to Wal-Mart. You might not see the results but I guarantee you that people's lives will be affected for the better that day.

It's like the scripture verse where people were healed as Peter walked by and his shadow brushed over them (Acts 5:15). When you pray, you affect the atmosphere and the people around you in the very same way. They may not know it's your prayers that just brushed over them, but what they will know is an awesome encounter with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ that day.

I could sit all day in those pockets of prayer along the highway. It is so refreshing. One of them is good for local business – I always stop for gas there, because I can spend more time breathing in that Peace of Christ. 

Do you love to pray? I'll bet you have a pocket of prayer around you and don't even know it. Keep praying! The world needs your prayers. God bless you.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Summer prayer for our children and their families

Dear God, I pray for our Pre-K-12 students and their families, as they transition from school to summer. Give children and parents a smooth transition and a joyous, safe, nurturing summer. I pray that every child has the meals, the daily care and protection they need for the summer. Help each child with their summer reading. Be with our graduating seniors during this big change, and with our Pre-K, 5th and 8th graders as they move up to the next school. Bless our teachers and school staff. Give them rest and renewal. Give each child good friends and amazing experiences this summer, and help them discover more about You. Thank You for watching over our kids and our schools all year. In Jesus’ name. Amen

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.

Jail prayer vigil

Here is a 24/7 prayer vigil calendar, created prayerfully with the help of two friends of mine who were incarcerated. They know what the prayer needs are at every hour of the day and night. They have personalized this prayer vigil to those specific needs. 

When you click on the prayer vigil link below, you will be taken to the full calendar and will see the current day highlighted; you can scroll to find the prayer for the current hour. Visit as often as you'd like and pray what's highlighted for that hour. Know that you are praying this in unity with other visitors. Don't feel overwhelmed that you have to pray it all. God will prompt you and orchestrate visits from others to cover the full day and night each week. Ask God what your part will be. Let Jesus carry the burden, and find your rest in Him as you pray for these precious folks. Thank you and God bless you!

Please click here to visit the Prayer Vigil Calendar.

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Janet Eriksson is a missionary of prayer in Dahlonega, Georgia and founder/coordinator of the Hometown Prayer Mission. She also volunteers with The Center for Inner Healing. She would love to hear from you at hometownprayer.org.