The following was written by my dear friend, Michelle Ule. Over the course of the last month I have been looking for 31 friends and family members who would be willing to pray for me and for Italy for one half hour, one day a month, for one year. I hope eventually to have 62 people (2 for every day of the month), but for now I am about 5 people/days shy of meeting my first goal of 31. Please consider joining the team! See below for a more detailed explanation about how the prayer team works and how to sign up.
Today is April 17 and it’s my day to pray for Hillary Cummings and Sicily.
I signed her sheet, “Robert and Michelle Ule,” and joked we’d split the time: 15 minutes each.
But it was a joke and this afternoon I sat down for half an hour to pray.
I set the timer so I wouldn’t keep looking at the clock. I’ve done this before while praying—usually when I have somewhere to be and don’t want to be late. Setting the timer frees me to focus what I’m doing- praying- and allows me to relax and wait for the Holy Spirit to lead my prayers.
I like to use the PRAY acronym and that’s what I did today. I can’t tell you how long I spent on each letter– each component of the prayer time– but it helped organize me and the time.
Here’s how my half an hour went today.
P stands for Praise.
I began by thanking God for the honor to pray for Hillary and for Sicily. I praised God for specific things I knew about Hillary’s life and circumstances. I remembered incidents from the past that God had used in her life and thus in mine.
I praised God for Hillary’s family, for her education, for her experiences, for her love of Scripture, for her enthusiasm for the gospel, for her obedience to Christ.
I praised God for experiences I’ve had with Hillary, for things I’ve learned from her, for the people in her life who have blessed me, for her perseverance and a host of other things.
(I got waylaid by praying for other missionaries I knew during this time—thanking God for their willingness to leave so much behind for the sake of Christ. I didn’t think Hillary would mind, but when I realized what I was doing, I returned to the task at hand.)
I also spent time just praising God for who he is and how he works in our lives; for the Holy Spirit’s promptings, Jesus’ willingness to die on our behalf and so forth.
It’s probably worth noting that prior to praying for Hillary, I read through passages of Scripture.
When I felt like I had exhausted this category—it feels like I’m mentally gone through the closets in my brain looking for things to praise God for—I moved on.
R stands for Repent.
What does that have to do with praying for Hillary?
I asked God that myself!
I don’t personally know of any areas in her life that Hillary needs to repent, and it’s none of my business anyway. However, the Holy Spirit knows her heart and so I asked that she would be receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in any area that needed to be addressed.
I repented for things I may have said that have not been helpful to Hillary—my own lack of faith in certain areas of her ministry.
Now that I’m writing this, I realize I should also have asked for God’s forgiveness on Sicily itself. My mother was born in Sicily, I have distant cousins still there, I’m a little familiar with attitudes of unforgiveness, superstition and fear that can prevail. I could have mourned over those and asked God to forgive.
Next month on the 17th . . . .
A is for Ask.
Most of us think asking God for things is prayer, so I knew this would be the easiest section of my prayer time and I’m sure I spent the most time here.
Hillary gave us a list of specific prayer concerns, and I worked through those. Several in particular caught my attention and I prayed around them from different angles.
In addition, I prayed for:
*People—those in her current life encouraging her, those whom she encourages, those she needs to speak with, those with whom she will be working with in Sicily, those who need her in Sicily.
*Places—her current barista job, her ministries, the towns of Belpasso and Catania, wherever she is today.
*Things—specific items I know she needs (visa, new computer, more financial support)
*Responses to the Holy Spirit—that she would recognize where and when she is being sent and respond in accordance with Scripture.
I’m sure you have similar lists.
I decided to spend some time praying about Belpasso—the unity of the body of Christ there, thankfulness for the community of believers already developing, and against Satan’s minions. I asked the Holy Spirit to till the spiritual soil of that town and prepare the citizens’ hearts for the gospel.
I realized I didn’t know a lot about Belpasso, so I opened my iPad to look at pictures and get a better feel for the place.
To my surprise, the timer said I only had 3 minutes and 59 seconds left to pray.
I closed the iPad; I’ll read about Belpasso another time.
Next month on the 17th . . .
Y stands for Yield.
I yielded Hillary up to God, gave her ministry and her situation to the Lord and asked him to bring peace into her heart about her current circumstances.
I started to praise God and thank him as well, because that so often is the result of prayer.
The timer dinged off and I was done with my half hour.
It went faster than I thought!
Author Carolyn Weber on April 15, 2014 Family Life Today, spoke of the result of one man’s willingness to share the gospel with her. (The whole story is told in her wonderful memoir Surprised by Oxford):
“As the result of Kent sharing the gospel with me—living the gospel out to me, and even marrying me—it’s changed the hearts of my family, of my unbelieving friends, of my students, of my community at Oxford, my community in Canada, my children—everything. Everything has changed from that one drop in the pond.”
Is half an hour one day a month a long time?
What would I do to break the hold of sin on one person’s heart?
What does it mean to love my neighbor?
It’s a privilege to join with my brothers and sisters in Christ on behalf of Jesus in Sicily.
And to thank him for providing a willing heart in Hillary Cummings.
Join me, won’t you?
Here’s the link to Weber: http://transcript.familylifetoday.com/fl2014-04-15.pdf
For fun stories of historical research and every day life, check out my blog: http://www.michelleule.com/
How the Prayer Team Works:
Here’s what I am looking for: a half-hour commitment, once a month for one year. That’s a total of 6 hours spread out over twelve months. Here’s how it works: choose a date or ask me to find out which days still need to be filled, let me know which day you chose and make sure I have your current e-mail address. Every month, on that day, set aside a half hour to pray for me and for Italy. At the beginning of each month I will e-mail you a list of current prayer requests so when your day to pray comes, you can pray for those specific needs along with whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to pray for. Each year I will e-mail each prayer team member to reaffirm your commitment for the following year.
If your day is the 29th of February or a particular month does not have 31 days, pray on the day before.
Make a note in your calendar now so you can plan ahead each month to make time to pray on your day. Also consider setting a recurring alarm on your phone or computer to remind you.
It is the faith and submission that takes place in prayer that moves mountains, changes hearts, tears down strongholds and transforms entire communities. God will do amazing work in Italy as we pray diligently for His kingdom to come and His will to be done. Please prayerfully consider joining the team!