Tag Archives: justice

Day Fifteen: Glimmer of Hope

This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting (NKJV Mark 9: 29).

Today is Day Fifteen of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed.  We’ve seen a surprising new development which has given Saeed’s family a glimmer of hope.  President Obama has chosen Boise State University, Naghmeh’s hometown, as one of his stops on his national tour.  He will speak there at 11am tomorrow (MST). No one knows just why the President chose Boise.  Could this be the breakthrough that Naghmeh and the thousands fasting and praying with her have been looking for? I agree with Naghmeh that this looks to be a God thing.

We must continue to pray fervently that Naghmeh will actually have an opportunity to talk with the President.  That his heart will be moved to bring Saeed home.  Naghmeh has made repeated attempts to have a face to face meeting with the President during her many trips to Washington on Saeed’s behalf. She has come up against repeated roadblocks.

Click here to read the letter Naghmeh just wrote to the President.  As you read her letter, allow yourself to carry her burden and feel her grief.  Fasting enables us to grieve and mourn over things that are broken.  Suffering, loss, and injustice.  We grieve for what’s not right and we intercede in prayer for God to intervene.

I’ve noticed that prayer and fasting seem to bring hidden things into the light.  This compels me to seek God more fervently.  Perhaps that’s part of the secret.  Fasting weakens our flesh so that we kick into the spirit mode. We replace our hunger for food (or whatever we are fasting from) with God’s Word and find His Word fills us in ways food does not. And that Word makes us strong. Continue reading

Day Fourteen: For Freedom

Think about how long Pastor Saeed Abedini’s  family has been crying out for his freedom.  Over two years separated from their husband and father!  How can this be for a man who is a United States citizen and has committed no crime?

The Bible tells us that freedom is at the core of our faith:  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1). 

Freedom is worth everything.  Just ask anyone who is not free. Today, on Day Fourteen of our 21 Day Fast for Pastor Saeed, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on what it means to worship freely. 

Today is Martin Luther King Day.  I’m reminded of our God-given, right to be free.   Dr. King died defending the right of our African American brothers and sisters, along with those of all races and backgrounds, to enjoy the full spectrum of human rights  promised by the Founding Fathers.   These inalienable rights, as they called them, were endowed by our Creator.  The rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” They include the freedom to worship as we choose.  Perhaps we don’t share the same faith, but I will defend your right to worship freely.

The cry for freedom is always the same.  For all people.  Everywhere.  I once had a conversation with an African leader from a country where Christians have been fiercely persecuted.  A Christian himself, he had fought hard, long years for his nation’s freedom.  “All we want is for the people in this nation to have the freedom to worship as they please,” he said,  “whether Christian, Muslim, or even tribal ancestor worship.”  He added,  “I may not agree with what they believe, but I will die for their right to worship freely.”  Then he paused for a minute and spoke the following words as if hearing them for the first time:  “All we want…is liberty and justice for all.”

Pastor Saeed is in prison simply because he is a Christian.  He has violated no laws, committed no crime.  This man has been unjustly mistreated and even tortured for his faith. He is not alone.  Many others around the world are being denied their rights and imprisoned for their faith. Saeed is the face of all people who are unjustly deprived of liberty and justice. We fast and pray for his soon release.

Today, let us cry out with one voice for freedom.  Let Saeed go! 


Day Two: How do I fast?

I’m glad you’re on board for for the 21 Day Fast.  People around the world are standing in agreement with Naghmeh Abedini, fasting and praying fervently for her husband Saeed’s release after two years in an Iranian prison.  I encourage you to follow her on Facebook, where she’ll post her daily thoughts and insights during this 21 Day Fast.

It is possible to fast from things other than food….as long as they cost you something in terms of time, energy, comfort, or convenience.  My friend Ashley once did a month long fast from all social media.  Click here to read about her “Anti-social Prayer Experiment.”  That kind of fast might be harder than giving up food!

 According to the Bible, fasting is part of a normal prayer life.  When Jesus was giving his disciples some tips on prayer,  he said “When you fast…” not “If you fast…”  If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have come up with the idea of fasting.  Food is too much fun.  But the Bible is clear.  Fasting sharpens prayer.

One friend doing the fast decided to abstain from food all day on Day One.  She asked me for some tips on fasting.  I’m not an expert, but I’ve tried to make fasting a regular part of my prayer life for the last several years. Here are a few thoughts off the top:

1. Staying hydrated is one secret to effective fasting.  Throughout the day, I  drink lots of water, especially a lemon water recipe recommended by a naturopathic doctor:  Squeeze the juice of 4-5 lemons into a pitcher of pure water and add 3 Tablespoons of grade B Maple Syrup.  You can’t taste the syrup, but according to my doctor friend, it helps regulate blood sugar while you fast. Sip on this all day, making sure to get the recommended eight glasses of water.  I usually have a cup or two of green tea first thing in the morning to avoid getting one of those nasty little caffeine-withdrawal headaches.

2. When the urge for food hits, that’s my alarm bell to pray.  I also take extra time to read and meditate on the Bible.  Fasting heightens my spiritual sensitivity and seems to propel my prayers in ways I don’t understand.  Like I’ve said, I don’t know why fasting works.  It just does.

3. I feel more motivated to fast when someone I care about has a pressing problem.  Also, I sometimes fast when I need the Lord’s guidance or when I just plain feel stuck.  I’ve encouraged you to list a couple of issues in your own life during this 21 Day Fast where you need to Get Unstuck.

4. I’m compelled to fast and pray when I see suffering or injustice.   Pastor Saeed has endured terrible suffering during his imprisonment.  Naghmeh and their children desperately want him back home.  Fasting and prayer are one way we can share in their suffering.

God is pleased when we fast and pray for those like Pastor Saeed who are being oppressed.  

“This is the kind of fasting I want,” God says in Isaiah.  “Free those who are wrongly imprisoned…Let the oppressed go free,and remove the chains that bind people (Is. 58:6 NLT).”

Prayer:  “Lord, we cry out for you remove the chains that bind Pastor Saeed and other persecuted Christians worldwide.  Remind us daily when they need us to take a minute to stop what we are doing and pray.  We fervently pray for you to bring Pastor Saeed home to his family.”  Amen.





got a minute?

Got a minute? We toss our minutes around like spare pennies. But pause and reflect: Your minutes matter. Your life is made up of minutes. Minute-after-minute-after-minute. So what can you do with a minute?

Apparently, lots. One university study found that students who listed their anxieties for just ten minutes prior to taking a test performed better on the test–by nearly half a letter grade. Another  group of researchers discovered that subjects who relaxed and closed their eyes, letting their minds wander for exactly eight minutes experienced a significant boost in short-term memory. Still another team of scientists (don’t you wonder who has time to do all this research?) discovered that when people practiced “sustained gratitude” for five uninterrupted minutes, their bodies produce disease fighting antibodies!  And the list goes on.

What can happen with a minute of prayer?  It might just change the trajectory of your life. That’s what happened to me when I began to pray this simple prayer:  “Lord, break my heart for the things that break Yours.”

I began praying for people in places I’d never met…just a minute a day here and  there. Monday, it was a minute a day for the Sudan, a place where Christians were undergoing intense persecution.  In time, my feet found their way to the Sudan, and I met people like Ryan Boyette, the young American who is risking his life to tell the story of genocide in the Nuba Mountains.

Tuesdays, I prayed for the tiny African nation of Burundi, and I’ve now completed my fourth missions trip to the war ravaged country.   Soon, I’ll travel to India, also on my “Tuesday list.”  I set my cell phone to pray each day at noon for a persecuted pastor in Syria whose name I can’t mention.  And I lift my voice in a prayer of agreement with the thousands praying for the release of  Pastor Saeed Abedini a US citizen unjustly imprisoned in Iran.

Hebrews 13:3 gives us this reminder:  “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Friends, something miraculous happens when you give your minutes to God for prayer.  It’s as if the Holy Spirit carves out a pathway in your brain and begins to remind you to pray.  A minute here.  A minute there.  Day after day.  And prayer, God promises, can move mountains.

Got a minute? Are you willing to pray for a nation? Just a minute a day.  Then ask God to break your heart for the things that break His. Hold on tight…it just might be the ride of your life!


 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:3,4)

Discrimination! It’s to be avoided at all costs. The word is a hot-button for me.  I grew up in the deep South during the birth- pangs of the Civil Rights movement. The first African American student in our high school’s history was on my cheerleading squad. This was the 70’s in Georgia and racial tensions were high. As captain, I fought to help our team overcome racism and achieve unity.  I wasn’t a follower of Christ at the time.  But in my heart, I knew discrimination was wrong, sinful, unjust. Continue reading