Day 05

Who is your neighbor?

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It’s late July in Savannah, Georgia when I’m writing this. That’s a brief way of saying it’s hot outside – Africa hot. We actually asked one of our students from Sudan and we found that it was actually cooler there than it was here. I am native to the north east of the US and, even though I have lived in Savannah for well over a decade, I have a hard time with the heat. So when the challenge asked me to walk outside I was not overly enthusiastic. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy meeting people and getting to know them, however, walking in 115-degree heat with 90% relative humidity is a sacrifice for me. I set out from our office for a quick walk around our block and not the best attitude. Prayer was not my problem, my heart was. “God, please don’t let me die of the heat.” A funny thing happened; God didn’t wait for me to get my stuff straight. Half way to the coffee shop (What? You want me to walk the whole time?), I ran into Joe and Randy. Joe and Randy are friends and they are homeless. I greeted them and we talked for a bit about how hot it was. I asked them if they had anything to drink and when they said no, I asked them to wait a few minutes and I would bring them some water. We wound up talking for an hour. They told me about their lives and I got to tell them about myself and what I was doing. We wound up praying for each other. It was perfect, and hot.

Where He Leads Me

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Today’s challenge included prayerwalking. We had originally thought about walking in the neighborhood of one of the parks in our community, but God had other plans, as it started to rain. He had assembled a team: our friend, my husband, my two step-children, and myself. We walked out our door and headed on foot wherever the Lord led us.

We stopped to pray for the future residents of a home that was for sale for a long time, but now it’s “pending.” May the future residents of the home come to a relationship with Christ, if they haven’t done so already. May their children, if they have any, be brought up in the Lord’s ways. May the home be full of Jesus’ love and laughter.

Around the corner we saw an elderly couple cleaning up a yard and asked how we could pray. The gentleman said his mom, that used to live in the home, passed away a year and a half ago. They’ve been blessed with finding a ton of neat memories. His parents were married in March 1941, and his dad was enlisted into the service in February 1942. There are 300-400 letters back and forth between his parents, and you could tell by the letters how much they genuinely missed each other. He went into detail about one of the letters his mom wrote to his dad. It stated that she had three hamburgers in a frying pan. The pan got bumped, the burgers fell to the floor, and the dogs ate them. Those three hamburgers were all of their ration of meat for the week!  What an amazing lesson, especially to our children, about just how blessed we are to be living in the day and age we do, as difficult as they may seem to us some days.

We walked toward a house that legend has it was a witch’s house. It has an upside down cross laid in the bricks. It seems like everyone that moves into the home doesn’t stay long, and the house is for sale again. We observed the very interesting house, and rebuked any demonic strongmen that may be tormenting any who live there.

As we continued to walk, we saw an elderly man sitting on his porch across the road from us. We waved and smiled. As we continued to walk, he looked curious as to what we were doing, so we went to talk to him.  At times like these, I fall in love with my husband all over again! He walked right up and started talking to him. The man invited my husband to sit down and visit for awhile. He proceeded to tell us that he was having a tough time with some things. He had been involved in a car accident, and it messed up his back. We asked if we could pray for his back, and he allowed us to do so. When we went to pray for him, something came to my attention: an occultic secret society symbol on his ring. After we prayed for him, I noticed that he was getting teary-eyed. We believe he was already feeling better. 🙂 I also noticed a big plaque on his house with the same symbol as the ring.  I have to be honest…it made me uncomfortable. My husband asked him if he knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and he reminded him that time is short before Jesus’ return. The man said he knew Jesus, but you could tell he had fallen away from that close relationship. A remorseful continence came over him. We were probably visiting with him for an hour. He attempted to keep us there as long as he could. He just had to show us his ’48 Chevy. I wonder if he ever talks to Jesus about his loneliness. How sad it must be to feel so alone. I pray the Lord gives him renewed hope today and draws him closer to Him. We certainly plan to go back to visit with him soon.

As we walked home, I was still feeling a little uneasy about us associating with someone that is part of that secret society, even if he was just a member for the social interaction.

I asked the Lord, “What do You want me to know about this?”

The Lord replied, “I came to seek and save the lost….and the deceived. Joni, you can’t be offended by those that practice the occult. I want a relationship with them, too.”

“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 NKJV

Oh, man. Of course, He was right…AGAIN. I keep telling the Lord that where He leads me, I will follow; where He goes, I’ll go. He reminded me that sometimes that means being uncomfortable. Those that need to know His love and goodness are often those that are involved in other religions and practices.

Lord, I truly want to go where You lead me. Please help me to remember that no evil can harm me, so that I can be used by You each and every day, the way You see fit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Discipleship Through the Eyes of Youth: Day 5

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I’m going to be honest, prayer walking didn’t happen for me yesterday. I had a packed full Saturday that began at 5:30am when I woke up to go waitress at a breakfast cafe and ended at 11:00pm when my family got home from a trip to the lake. It just didn’t happen. But this evening I did finally find some time to take my prayer walk. It’s a day late but better late than never, right!?

This evening I spent sometime walking and praying through out my own neighborhood because by the time I got home today it was almost dark and I knew my parents wouldn’t be up for me taking a nighttime stroll in a random neighborhood. I really enjoyed praying for my own neighborhood, though. I’m not sure why I’ve never done this before, but I for sure want to do it again. I know a lot of my neighbors so it made it more personal to pray for them and my community.

As I was praying and walking none of my neighbors were out and about for me to approach and ask for prayer requests from. But I did specifically focus quite a bit of prayer time into a certain neighbor of mine. He and his family have been close friends of my family’s for a long time now. Sadly, he and his wife are in the middle of getting a divorce. They have two sons that are friends with my sisters and my heart just aches for their entire family. I spent a large amount of my time praying over each individual in their family and for healing through out the situation.

Who are you Battling?

By | Day 01, Day 05, Day 11, Day 23, Day 26 | One Comment

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”  Ephesians 6:12

Think of the most difficult person, most pressing problem, and/or most overwhelming circumstance you’re facing in your life right now.  Think of several if you like.

Whatever it is you’re thinking about, whether a person or a circumstance – whoever or whatever it is – it is not your real problem.  Hear that again:  IT is NOT your REAL problem.  The most troubling things in your life, things that you perceive with your five physical senses, are not your real issue.  Though you may be wrestling with them verbally, emotionally, financially, even physically, you are wasting your precious time and energy that needs to be reserved for the real culprit – the one who is behind the scenes, striving to direct the details of some of your most acute difficulties.  Everything that occurs in the visible, physical world is directly connected to the wrestling match being waged in the invisible, spiritual world.  Sounds like a movie, huh?

But Paul’s words, directly out of Ephesians, tell us that we wrestle not against man but with the ruler of this world which is Satan.

Your real enemy – the devil – wants you to ignore the spiritual reality behind the physical one.  Because as long as you’re focused on what you can see with your physical eyes, he can continue to run rampant underneath the surface.  The more you disregard him, the more damage he is free to do.  The enemy may be invisible, but he is not fictional.  He is very real, and very persistent, waging war against us constantly.
Our enemy celebrates lethargic Christian living.  When we’re giving up on relationships, disregarding the purity of our reputations, yielding to our appetites without putting up much, if any, resistance, he can basically go unchecked.  Ultimately, the enemy can hamstring the church from achieving the purposes of God.  That’s why he works so hard to beat you down with discouragement.  Make you discontent.  Lie to you about who God is, causing you to doubt the Lord’s all-good intentions toward you.  Hammer you with accusations that place a burden of shame and guilt on your shoulders too heavy to carry.  Trick you into thinking your situation will never change, and that God doesn’t hear you or care when you call out to Him.  Soon your fire of passion starts to burn low.  You become disinterested.  Low in spiritual fiber.  Your spiritual armor goes unworn and unused.

Now you’re exactly where the enemy wants you – where you no longer want to fight for peace and passion in your marriage, where you no longer believe your child can be restored, where you no longer hope for healing in your body, where you no longer see any path to freedom from your addictions, where you just don’t see the purpose in praying anymore….so you don’t.   You don’t ask or seek or knock.

Did you know that more than 4,000 churches close each year?  That the 5th largest unchurched nation is the United States?  Could this be because His Church, the Bride of Christ, is not standing together, a vast army, united in prayer?  The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere.  God shapes the world by prayer.  Prayers are deathless.  The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive the world.

So what if our world is morally declining because our generation fails to pray?  What if this generation has been too busy or too unbelieving to pray?  What if God’s conquering days are when the Church has given herself to prayer – praying for the advancement of God’s cause?

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7

Ask of me is the condition – a praying people willing and obedient.  The strongest one to stand against the enemy is the one who is the best knocker.  The secret of success in Christ’s kingdom is the ability to pray.  To stop the advancement of the enemy we must stand together and fight in prayer.


Portions adapted from:

  • EM Bounds on Prayer
  • The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer
  • Moving Mountains by John Eldredge

Day 5 – Prayer Walking

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When we were missionaries in sub-tropical Taiwan, most of the year it was really hot and humid. Prayer walking needed to be done in the early morning, or evening (which fits the city-never-sleeps culture nicely). I chose to prayer jog in the mornings. I would run past the temples and pray for them to be empty of people. I would run inside the stadium and pray that one day it will be filled with believers singing praise to the Lord. I would jog past the homes of new believers and pray for them to be strong in the Lord. I would jog past my neighbors and pray, “Lord, give me opportunities to share the Gospel with them; the boldness and the words (Chinese) to speak your truth with love.” Often, on those early morning runs, while most of the city still slept; I would listen for God’s voice. Most of the Kingdom things we did came from listening to the Lord. Like Joshua and the Israelites marching faithfully around Jericho — good things happen when you prayer walk.

Day 5: Don’t judge walk, prayer walk

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Today was the prayer walk day.  Well I didn’t get to prayer walking as we had people over to our house for lunch and had to spend much of my day preparing for a chapel we are doing at a local high school about God’s heart for the nations.  So I had a little time before our congregational meeting at night so I decided to prayer drive, partly because it was raining, partly because I was running out of time.  I started driving around town and ended up driving around the college campus praying for the discipleship groups going on, praying for the spiritual well being of the campus, praying that as my good friend takes the job as spiritual director that lives will be changed, praying what my part will be in all of this.  

I did something similar to this earlier in the year.  The challenge was to pray for everyone you come into contact with…..So I started doing that.  At first it was a big adjustment because I so used to having thoughts of judgement toward others.  When I did this my whole attitude changed as did my posture toward people.  Instead of getting frustrated I prayed for what might be causing. them to be grumpy.  I filled my head with prayers instead of wandering thoughts.  I caught my thoughts and turned them into prayers and it was glorious.  But at the end of the day my mind was tired.  It just taught me how much I don’t train my mind.

As I finished my prayer driver I did see people biking and running and prayed for them.  On my way home I prayed over each home and the people I knew who lived in them.  I am going to work on praying at work tomorrow as well for people again.  It made my days much more enjoyable and I was way more compassionate.

Discipleship When Life Is Busy: Day 5

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Day 5: Prayer Walking.  This morning I read the challenge for today, and I’m gonna be honest, it made me a little nervous.  Not the prayer walking part of it, but the challenge to talk to someone about prayer along the way.  This is the first time in the challenge that we are asked to speak to someone who may or may not be a follower of Christ.  I thought through the logistics of how I would make prayer walking a part of my day today.  My husband works on Wednesday nights, so I am single momming it tonight.  I could have chosen to take both kiddos out in the stroller, but it was a tad bit chilly for that today.  Finally, I decided, what a better way to pray for my workplace?  After work, I spent time walking the halls of the school I work in praying for the teachers/staff that work there and the students who attend there.  I can’t believe I had never thought to do this before! Before I knew it, I had been walking the halls and lifting up needs of the school for 45 minutes!

As for the “ask someone what you can pray for them about” part of today’s challenge, I was approached by the custodian of our building as I was walking.  This is a woman who I have a conversation with every day I work in that school, however, it rarely gets deeper than: “How are you today?”  This afternoon, I decided to change that.  After I answered her question, I told her that I was walking the halls and praying for our teachers and students.  I asked if there was anything specifically that I could be praying for her about.  Surprise! She was not mean at all and she certainly wasn’t offended that I took up her time to ask her this question.  She smiled and told me her prayer request.  She then asked where I went to church and told me that she attended one up the street.  This is a lady who I have conversations with all the time and I honestly had no idea as to whether she was a believer or not.  It was sort of eye opening to me to realize how many times I interact with people who I honestly never have a conversation that is deeper than the work at hand.  I thought I was pretty good at looking for opportunities, but I guess not.  I definitely plan to be more intentional from here on out.

Oh, and don’t forget as you go through the rest of this challenge that yesterday we made a prayer calendar! I almost forgot about it, like I had checked it off as a completed challenge from yesterday.

From Brokenness to Blessing

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She was sitting alone on a rock with a faraway look in her eye. Children were playing not far from her, picking up and bringing her sticks, shiny rocks, colorful weeds and other treasures only children have eyes to spot.  We walked up to her, and just briefly she seemed startled out of her reverie as we greeted her calmly but warmly, introduced ourselves and asked how we could simply pray for her.

It was the simplest of interchanges. We’d barely exchanged our names, let alone begun to unpack each other’s stories. But it became clear this was someone God had put in our path, and He knew what He was doing as we took simple steps of obedience, imitating the Good Shepherd who intently seeks out lost sheep far from the fold. This young mother’s story of brokenness would not be what carried the day as we struck up a friendship with her and prayed God’s blessing and mercy over her.

What most deeply impacted both her and us was her total and immediate confidence that God Himself had sent us to her to encourage her and strengthen her to stay on a path, for her own sake and the sake of her children, a path that had moved her from the East coast to the Midwest to escape a life of addiction. She shared with us her number, shared very specific ways to pray for her, and had the children come meet us, telling them God had sent us to pray for the family.

Maybe not every prayerwalk holds such immediate and meaningful interactions. But why not ask for them, seek them and anticipate them? We are, after all, sent out by the very One who knows the number of hairs on each head, the needs and hurts of each heart, and who rejoices and celebrates in each lost sheep, each son and daughter found and brought home.

– – – – – – –

Scriptures that come to mind:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? … Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'” Luke 15:4, 6

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:26-27

How to Remember Prayer Requests

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During a recent webinar, a participant asked, “Is there some easy way to remember major themes in praying for individuals?”

We’re just brainstorming here — but, if the disciple maker carries a small calendar or notebook (e.g., a “Day-timer”), why not set aside a special page or section in back. And if the disciple maker carries a smartphone (e.g., an iPhone), why not use a “note” or a page in an app like Evernote? That way, one can always go back to it as needed. Microsoft recently made OneNote completely free to all. It allows for tabs, and pages within those tabs. Set up a system that works for you and you’ll be in business in no time.

Learn more about OneNote here:

Help YOUR Church figure out How to Make More Disciples

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If you tuned in with Curtis Sergeant for our webinar at noon on Feb. 24, it will come as no shock that Curtis shared a LOT of information. Looking for written summary? So were a lot of others! Well guess what: Elisha is here to serve you! Forgot about the Eastern Time zone thing and mised it? No problem. Elisha’s got your back! Here’s a rough copy of her notes from the meeting. (Thanks Elisha!)



Prayer Walking Tips

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There are many purposes one can pursue while prayer-walking, but for the purposes of the 30-Day Challenge, we’re hoping participants can be involved in …

  • Building relationships in the community in which you hope to multiply disciples
  • Discerning prayer needs
  • Asking God to begin working directly within the hearts of your new friends
  • What we’re doing is asking God, through prayer, to help us communicate the gospel. In this 3-minute video, Jon and Doug share how God can work through prayer to make that happen.

Here are some tips you can use to get started:

  • Schedule the time. If you don’t put a prayer walk on the schedule, you’ll rarely take one.
  • Plan the route.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • As a general rule, don’t stop walking to pray. There might be exceptions, for example, if you walk past a vista or a particular view of the community as a whole. Praying for the neighborhood from a mountain top is a very meaningful experience.
  • Pray with your eyes open as you walk. To outsiders your prayer walk should look like two people talking as they walk through a neighborhood.
  • Take a camera (or use your phone). You may want to take a couple of pics as you walk to include in your prayer updates. Obviously, be sensitive to those who might not want to be in your picture!
  • Take a notebook. When God tells you something, stop at a bench or in a coffee shop and write it down. You don’t want to forget it.

What do you pray? Curtis Sergeant articulates one line of thinking quite well in this little video, “Eyes to See where the Kingdom Isn’t.” He talks about creating a ‘map’ of the spiritual centers in a particular neighborhood or region. The ‘gaps’ between those centers are the places where the Kingdom isn’t… the “lost sheep,” one might say.

Here are some activities common to prayer walking

  • Praise: Glorify God and offer up praise to Him as you walk. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people. God’s presence fills the area when we praise and the demons flee.
  • Prayer: God can do anything He wants but He chooses to use the prayers of Christians as the vessel for releasing His power in the spiritual realm.
  • Proclamation: Share the gospel with those the Spirit puts in your place.

Check out Curtis Sergeant’s “Eyes to See” video for more ideas.

Prayer Walking as a Passion

By | Day 05, Day 23 | One Comment

Prayer-walking is one of my greatest passions. I’ve spent over 2 hours a day prayer-walking for many years. My physical therapist actually is trying to convince me to prayer-walk less miles a day. I used to prayer-walk more than three hours a day.

There are many positive results of prayer-walking. Some results you will see here and now. Some results will only become evident in eternity. You will see results in your own life: loving God more, loving others more, forgetting your problems as you see the problems of other people, opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus with others. You may even lose a few pounds. I lost 45 lbs prayer-walking in 2001.

One secret to prayer-walking more, is to use all those little trips you make, even walking your dog, at the grocery store, or at the mall, into minutes of prayer. Pray about the physical, spiritual, psychological, financial, family, etc. needs of others. Pray for those you see, hear, or even imagine that live in or work in the places you see.

You can learn more about prayer-walking at my page: