Tag Archives: persecuted church

Day One: Fast for a Breakthrough

Starting today, I’ve set aside the next twenty one days as a season of prayer and fasting.  I’m doing this largely to stand with my friend, Naghmeh Abedini.  Naghmeh is asking friends and family to  intercede with her for the release of her husband Saeed from two years of captivity in an Iranian prison.

Like Naghmeh, I’m following the example of Daniel in the Bible (Daniel 10:1-14), who set aside three weeks during which he sought God fervently through prayer.  The book of Daniel has been a source of strength for Naghmeh during the over two years that Saeed has been in prison. You can check out the complete version of her Facebook post about the 21 Day Fast by clicking here.

Naghmeh writes to friends and family:  I would like to ask you to join me in prayer and fasting for three weeks. January 6th through January 27th (the day that Saeed was convicted to 8 years in the Iranian prison because of his Christian faith). I plan to abstain from coffee and chocolate. You are free to abstain from food, social media, TV or skip a meal or two…the point is to spend that time in prayer.

For a Daniel fast, there are lots of books and websites that go into more detail.  But Daniel makes it pretty simple:  No “choice” food.  Naghmeh is giving up coffee and chocolate.  I plan to go gluten-free.  The text says that Daniel “ate no choice food, no meat or wine…and used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over (Daniel 10:3).”

Point being:  Ask the Lord what this time of fasting and prayer should look like for you. Perhaps you will give up a meal each day, or maybe you feel the need to fast from something besides food.  Be creative and keep it simple so it will be sustainable.

This is also a good time to fast for areas in your own life that may feel stuck.  I’m not sure why fasting adds power to prayer…it just does.  And the Bible is full examples of fasting and prayer as a way to get “unstuck.”

Prayer:  Lord, I commit the next 21 days to you for a season of prayer and fasting.  I pray for a breakthrough for Pastor Saeed, Naghmeh and their children. I also lift up _________, someone I love who also needs a breakthrough. I watch expectantly to see what You will do and I praise You in advance.  Amen. 



Getting Unstuck

Do you have a problem that just won’t budge?  You feel stuck, no matter how much you pray and pray and pray. Perhaps you need a breakthrough. Originally a military term, breakthrough has come to mean sudden or dramatic success in an area where there has been repeated failure.  In short, a breakthrough gets you unstuck. 

Breakthroughs in the Bible often come after a period of fasting and prayer.  Jesus explained this to his disciples after their repeated failures to heal a  demon possessed boy.  “This kind,” Jesus pointed out, “only comes out by prayer and fasting.”  Daniel, Isaiah, and others discovered that fasting and prayer helped them get unstuck.

For the next 21 days, I’m joining  Naghmeh Abedini as she fasts and prays for a breakthrough for her husband Saeed. Will you join, too?  For over two years, Naghmeh and her children Rebekkah and Jacob have been stuck in the agony of missing Saeed.  Each day, they live with the  painful awareness of his suffering in an Iranian prison.  They desperately need to get unstuck.

It’s time for Pastor Saeed to be released from prison and returned to his family!

Beginning on Tuesday, January 6th, Naghmeh and others will follow the example in the Bible of Daniel (Daniel 10:3), who abstained from “rich food” as he prayed 21 days for a breakthrough.  Naghmeh is giving up coffee and chocolate.  I plan to go gluten free. Others are fasting from social media or television.  One friend intends to use this time to bridle her critical spirit and fast from judging others (ouch!).  Be creative and do what works for you.  Let your fast be a daily reminder to pray for Pastor Saeed.

While fasting and praying for Saeed,  I’m also devoting this 21 days to seeking breakthroughs in my own life.   I encourage you to do the same.  Make a list of three or four areas where you need to get unstuck.  I’ll post several blogs with helpful tips on prayer and fasting, along with stories from friends who have experienced some remarkable answers to prayer.

Breakthroughs require perseverance and strategy. Especially in the spiritual realm.  But remember, nothing is too hard for God.  He’s even referred to as the “Lord of the Breakthrough” (1 Chronicles 14:10).

Prayer: Lord of the Breakthrough, we thank you and praise you for your powerful Presence at work in the life of Pastor Saeed and his family, even while he has suffered in an Iranian prison.  Lord, we cry out for his soon release!  Amen. 



Week Six: Answer God’s Call

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

Do you hunger to make a difference in this world?  Even children yearn to discover their purpose.   My husband’s father, the late Dr. Howard Chadwick, served God faithfully as a minister for over seventy years.  He used to encourage our three children to search wholeheartedly for their life’s calling.  “Look around you at the needs you see in the world,”  he would tell them.  “Then take an honest look at your own gifts and talents.  Your calling may be found where those two intersect.”  Or put another way,  Where is your holy discontent?

This week is the final stretch of our 40-Day Challenge.  Let’s wrap up with Step Six:  ANSWER God’s Call. We’ve devoted 40 days to training our hearts to hear God’s voice I hope you’ve learned how to become more ALERT and I’m guessing you’ve noticed signs of God at work.  I especially pray that you’ve become more sensitive to His voice.

But friends, here is where I must pause.  If the wonderful blessings of learning to hear God’s voice, draw near to Him in prayer and claim the promises of His Word extend no further than our own little world, then so what?  I am convinced God’s amazing blessings during this prayer journey are so that I will be His hands and feet in this hurting and broken world.

Therefore, I constantly ask myself Is my life a so what? or a so that?   Continue reading

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!

40-Day Challenge: Week Two

Week Two:  Be SPECIFIC

Don’t worry about anything; Instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6 NLT).

Back in high school, I enrolled in a Martial Arts class.  Our training included hand to hand free-sparring.  I was in a class with all guys and easily outmatched. Yikes!  I remember the instructor coaching me to “use my opponent’s size and strength against him.”  In other words, I was to channel the attacker’s force into a powerful counter-attack.  To my surprise, this strategy worked!  Continue reading