when God speaks

Gabe had his first outing last night. We met with our community group from church at our friends Doug and Rebecca’s house. It wore him out, but it was good to do something normal. Out of the 11 folks in our group, 6 of us spent time in the hospital last week. Sean and Meg had a baby (darling Ella!), Doug and Rebecca’s son & daughter-in-law had a baby (beautiful Evelyn!), and Gabe had a heart attack. And Britt and Pam visited us every day (and Sean and Meg once), so WHEW!

We’re going through the Strong Challenge at church for six weeks, and this week is all about Training and Discipline (so far, we’ve had Play, Pray, Study, and now Train), specifically the disciplines of fasting and solitude and examining our hearts. We have a pack of Strong Cards that we’re working through with activities on them, and last night at Group, we paired up and decided to give something up for a day this week.

My friend Bre fasted from food today, and I’m fasting from Facebook, Twitter, and my blog tomorrow (Friday). Keeping texting/e-mail open for “emergencies.”

Well, this morning I decided to do one of the other cards (we’re supposed to try to do one per day, and I’ve failed miserably). “Skip a Meal” was the first one I saw, and I knew I was supposed to do it. And since I rarely eat anything until 10:30 or so anyway, I knew it would be easy (lame, right?).

The card reads: “Skip at least one meal today and use that time to write out a prayer for something specific in your journal. Use any hunger pangs as reminders to pray and listen to God.”

Felt strongly that I’d pray for wisdom and clarity about our trip to Cambodia.

The card suggested three Scripture passages to read, so I decided to do that first. Matthew 6:16-18 is all about not making a big production of your fasting, i.e. showing off how spiritual you are (you know, by blogging about your fast and stuff). Daniel 9:3 was about Daniel fasting and praying for the sins of his people. And the last one, Ezra 8:21, was OHMYWORD.

I read the verse and almost fell off my chair. Or maybe I did fall off my chair. I can’t even remember.

Ezra 8:21 (ESV)–“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods.”

Um.

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the kitchen table, that I might humble myself before my God to seek from him a safe journey for Gabe and me, Livi, Ava, and Nina, and our 10 suitcases (+ carry-ons) full of supplies for schools and orphanages in Cambodia.

After I picked my jaw up, I kept reading. Verse 22 made me smile. Ezra was ashamed to ask for bodyguards, because he had already bragged on his God to the king. Verse 23–“So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.”

And that’s what I did today. I fasted and implored my God for this, and I know he listened to my entreaty.

Less than an hour later, we got an e-mail from John McCollum, the director of Asia’s Hope. He had passed our story along to his friend, Dr. John, an ER doc who’s on the board of Asia’s Hope and has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia. A little bit after that, Dr. John himself e-mailed us.

He told us he was so glad we would most likely still be going on our trip and that he had “no problem being under the care of the Great Physician as long as you are acting wisely and following the counsel of your physician.” He gave us advice for what to do in an emergency, gave us phone # and e-mail for a doctor friend in Cambodia, and gave us the name/# of a missionary who had a similar experience on furlough earlier this year and is back in Cambodia.

Praise you, God!

My “plan” for tomorrow’s social media fast is to spend time in prayer for others, like Daniel did (9:3). Not so much asking God to forgive their wicked rebellion (well, maybe in some cases), but to ask him to hear their cries and remember their needs and meet them where they are.

Would you join me today in praying for 3 people? 1 in your community, 1 in another state, and 1 in another country?

I’m going to pray for 1.) our pastor and his family (he’s leaving for Ethiopia in a few days and they have four small kiddos). 2.) my friend, Joanne, who lives in Colorado and had a stroke in January. 3.) the folks at Heartline in Haiti.

If you feel so inclined, I’d love to know who you prayed for (or at least what states/country they’re in). Of course I won’t be checking my blog until Saturday. See you next week, friends. And I can’t stop thanking you for all your encouragement this week after Gabe’s heart attack. THANK YOU.

8 thoughts on “when God speaks

  1. Rachelle

    praying today specifically

    1) Our 3 new kiddos social worker

    2) my friend who is officially 43 weeks pregnant and still determined to wait for nature

    3)Gabe’s mom in Africa. I keep thinking about her mama’s heart through his heart attack and how I would feel if that were me and one of my sons.

  2. Lisa

    Thank you so much, Marla for sharing this and for the specific prayer idea. What a great reminder to be stretching our prayers out around the globe.

    1 – My friend who is broken-hearted over issues w/ her adult children and is feeling very alone and like a failure as a mom.
    2 – A friend in MT who got married recently. Praying for salvation for her new husband.
    3 – Friends waiting to come home, hopefully this next week, from Uganda with their two newly adopted sons.

  3. valerie

    I laughed. out. loud. at your comment about “not making a big production of your fasting”. 😀 hahaha!

    The Strong Challenge sounds awesome – I’m going to have to learn more about it. And thank you for the prayer challenge today. It seems there are so many in need of prayer.

    Praying today for:
    1) A family in our school district whose 17 year old son was killed last weekend.
    2) YOU and Linny from A Place Called Simplicity, who’s traveling home from Uganda today.
    3) My sweet son-in-love, Chris, who I met on my trip to Uganda in June. (not son-in-law by marriage, but just a sweet boy that I love, who started calling me “mama”). 🙂

    Blessings to you on your technology fast today!

  4. Brooke

    how good is our God! So glad you were able to fast/pray that scripture!! 🙂

    I’m praying for
    1) Our local Fire Chief who has an inoperable brain tumor
    2) Jay’s Pawpaw (nursing home in WV)
    3) My sister’s MIL & BIL (in Belfast)

  5. Laura E

    1. I am praying for a little girl…she is actually almost 24 and married but a little girl to me….Krissy, who is officially one of my daughters-by-another mother…she was in a serious accident yesterday. She fractured her skull and has 7 staples in her head but PRAISE GOD….absolutely no brain injury or spinal problems. She even got to come home from the hospital! She needs healing!
    2. Krissy’s mother….Denise…who also happens to be our pastors wife…who was on vaca in TX when they received word of the accident. Travel mercies and peace is what I am praying for her as Pastor Jim drives back from TX as quick as possible…and safely!
    3. My nephew, Andy, who is studying in Columbia for a year! Praying for his safety!

  6. Sharon W

    No words. Marla. That is awesome about the verses and the contact in Cambodia in case of emergency.

    1) My sister-in-laws Grandma who had a stroke (her second one) in CO

    2) One of my best friends in NJ who is not a believer.

    3) Missionary friends in Brazil.

  7. Ruth Chowdhury

    1. My friend, Delores, who has health issues among other things. She lives in Hamtramck, MI (same as me).
    2. My friend, Andrea, who just moved to Tennessee to help with a ministry to girls in trafficking.
    3. My missionary friends, Bill & Lena, who are in Lima, Peru.

    Thanks for the prompt! God is so good!

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