Welcome to our prayer devotions
Psalm 100 encourages us to ‘enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise’, and this is foundational to everything we do at MAF.
Every flight begins with prayer before take-off because God is, and always will be, at the centre of all we do.
As we begin this series of monthly prayer devotionals, it seems fitting to ‘enter in’ with thanksgiving and praise, to focus on who God is and what He has done – expectant of all He promises to do.
We hope you find the monthly prayer devotionals both inspiring and challenging. It is our prayer that you will increase your knowledge of God’s power, His love and His plans for the world we live in.
As we partner together, let’s do so expecting God to hear our prayers and answer them and that His power and glory will be known here on earth as they are in heaven.
Thank you for journeying with us to see help, hope and healing across the nations. Remember, your prayers go even further than our planes do!
22 June 2018
Almost a year ago in the August 2017 Prayer Devotion, I wrote about the journey God took Paul on in order to get Paul to where He wanted him to be.
It was neither the most obvious nor straightforward plan – by human understanding — but it was nevertheless perfect. At times, it must have felt like the plan had gone wrong, but all the time God was in control.
I also wrote about my own journey and how it also felt like something must have gone wrong, and that I couldn't see the way forward.
Yet, in spite of all that, I knew God was in control and that He would lead me through.
The dead end that my journey appeared to have reached was a period of illness. An illness which left me unable to do very much — with no apparent diagnosis or cure.
But although the doctors didn't know how to make me well, I knew that God did, and would, in His perfect timing.
So I asked for your prayers, and you prayed! And your prayers joined the prayers of literally hundreds of others from all over the world who'd also prayed.
And all those prayers were later joined by one final prayer. Not a prayer that was more powerful or more important, but one that was ordained by God at just the right time, so that no one could doubt that it was He who had brought about my healing.
That prayer was spoken by Becky, my girlfriend. She realised that, although she had facilitated lots of prayer for me, she had never actually prayed over me herself.
In fact, she easily allowed herself to fade into the background because she didn't feel confident in her own prayers — particularly when surrounded by so many people with greater experience and eloquence.
But one night Becky really felt that God wanted her to pray over me — particularly over each part of my body. And so she did. She didn't pretend to know what was wrong with me, or even to know what to say. But she knew that God knew what to do, and therefore prayed.
As Becky started to pray, I began shaking violently all over — which is something that sometimes happened with my illness.
She started with my head and she prayed over it. Then she prayed over my neck. Then my shoulders. Then my chest and my back.
Then she prayed over my upper arms and — as she did — I realised that they were shaking less. Eventually, they were completely still. Then she prayed over my forearms, and the same thing happened. And then again with my hands.
Eventually, my whole upper body was still.
My legs, on the other hand, were still flailing around as if they had a life of their own.
So Becky prayed over my thighs, and they became still. And then my calves, my feet and my toes, which also stopped moving. By then, I was completely still, from my head to my toes — for the first time since returning from Papua New Guinea!
Touch of heaven
My season of questioning — of battling the small whisper of failure and of feeling lost — was over, as my body knew the touch of heaven.
God had healed me and brought me from a dead end to endless possibilities. God truly is a God of miracles!
I don't know what God has for me next, but for now I am resting in Him as I regain my strength and wait excitedly for His leading.
Thank you so much for your prayers. Not only because it means an awful lot to me that you would choose to share in my struggle, but because your prayers are powerful!
Please continue to pray for me as I seek to follow God in this new chapter of my life.
Please pray for Joey
- Please pray for wisdom as Joey seeks God for His leading. Ask the Lord for clarity and wisdom in this new season.
- Ask God to provide Joey with all the patience he needs, as he rebuilds his strength and waits on Him.
- Petition the Lord for new and consistent levels of energy for Joey.
18 May 2018
Too often we overthink prayer.
Whether it's for a scheduled meeting, a regular quiet time or a pressing need, many of us know how we should come before God.
Perhaps with hands folded — or maybe stretched out. Perhaps sitting comfortably — or maybe on our knees.
When we approach Him, it's so easy to posture ourselves in ways that seem appropriate. We follow the lead of others or repeat understood patterns to remain comfortable or accepted.
But does it matter? Does God look upon our stance, our expertise or even our words when we come to Him in prayer?
If our hearts are being 'tossed back and forth' by the inevitable waves of life (Ephesians 4:14), why do our prayers flow out calm, collected and composed?
When we utter the same, unanswered plea for the umpteenth time, why do we appear so positive and hopeful when our faith is really in shreds?
If you want to get to know someone, you talk to them. You say what you're thinking, and maybe later delve deeper. And if someone wanted to know you, they would listen, and you'd begin to understand one another.
So why are our exchanges with our heavenly Father so different at times?
God hints about what prayer means to Him in the words of Matthew 6:5-6:
'When you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production... Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.' (MSG)
If you want to know God better, don't cling too tightly to pre-rehearsed lines of prayer which can leave you feeling distant, unchanged and empty.
God longs for us to come to Him just as we are, without polished public prayers, but with hearts of raw, human weakness.
Imagine the thrill of sharing your day with someone who has walked by your side through it; someone who already knows your words before they leave your lips (Psalm 139:4).
Imagine speaking to someone who understands, no matter how easy or difficult it is for your words to flow out.
So why not start sharing your thoughts with God during the day, sometimes out loud and at other times in your head?
Why not come to God in the midst of life as it's happening; uttering your feelings in real time without waiting for the comfort of a special chair or the solitude of an empty room.
God is waiting for you now — even as the world is unravelling through unrest and our minds grapple with countless distractions and escalating demands.
Whether your day has been crushed by suffering or elevated by success, bring Him your anger, sadness or joy. Whisper your thoughts to Him, the One who knows and sees all things.
But wherever you are right now, make sure you come and speak freely before your King as you would to a friend who knows you better than you know yourself.
If you struggle to express yourself freely before God, read these words from Psalm 109:1-15, where David is so full of anger, resentment and hatred that he even wishes death upon those who have upset him:
'My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me... In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer...
'Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand... May his days be few; may another take his leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
'May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has... May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children... May their sins always remain before the Lord, that He may blot out their name from the earth.' (NIV)
Who knows what God makes of this prayer? Perhaps it's printed in the Bible to show us David's raw, exposed, shameless emotions, and his intimate relationship with God.
Perhaps you're comfortable relating to God intellectually, but struggle to express yourself more creatively to expose how you really feel.
As a short exercise, read a current news story — in print or online — and take a pen and paper. On a blank page, draw a circle in the middle and write the names of a few key people who need God's help in this story.
Around the outside, draw arrows pointing towards or away from them which represent areas where God could provide or remove something to improve their lives.
Now turn the page over, and draw the circle with you in the middle. Then do the same exercise, using words or pictures to describe areas of breakthrough you'd like to see in your own circumstances.
20 April 2018
‘Sometimes things break, sometimes things break, you don’t always see it coming, out of nowhere without warning, like a punch right to the stomach takes your breath away…’
These lyrics from Steffany Gretzinger’s song ‘All That Lives Forever’, paint the poignant picture of life in a fractured world. In a single moment — often through circumstances outside our control — our lives can take a hit and we find ourselves wounded. Breathless, we ask the question, ‘Why?’
Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from the troubles of life. People will make mistakes and hurt us. We can experience ill health or loss. Reminded of our fallibility, rejected, lied to or about, we can get things wrong. Jesus Himself warned us of the many trials and sorrows we might encounter (John 16:33).
However, there is the assurance of eternal hope (1 Peter 1:3), as we choose to push into God, shelter in His presence (Psalm 27:5) and allow Him the access He needs to minister to our deepest hurts and fears.
But it’s a choice.
Often, our first reaction in times of trouble is to try to find solutions in our own strength, adopt a victim mindset, or look for someone else to blame. We can struggle with unforgiveness and even question our faith when our prayers seemingly go unanswered.
But God is bigger than the pain of this world. His grace, comfort and mercy are all we need. As we navigate this earthly pilgrimage — sometimes with tears streaming down our face and weakness in our bones — it is in choosing to trust the Lord with all our heart, leaning not on our own understanding, that we can discover a deeper intimacy with Him (Proverbs 3:5-8).
We experience God’s peace and — despite our circumstances — discover His strength in our weakness and an unshakeable inner joy (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with Him, we get closer to His heart and find ourselves held by an unfailing love that never runs dry. We experience His forgiveness and are enabled, by the power of the Spirit Who’s alive in us, to forgive others (Luke 23:34, John 20:22-23) and ourselves.
The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). Rather than one of His attributes, God’s very nature is love. It is the light that illuminates the darkness (John 8:12), the life that invites us (John 3:16) and the voice that whispers (1 Kings 19:12). It is the sacrifice that saves us (Luke 23:46), the power that connects us (Galatians 4:6) and the grace that sustains us (2 Timothy 2:1).
We see His love reflected in the courage of the girl who was told that she would never be good enough, but who returned to college to retake her exams — her mind renewed by God’s truth.
We see it in the peaceful eyes of the man battling cancer as the doctors tell him that no more can be done — knowing that death is just a doorway to God.
We see it in the smile of the displaced and hungry child who, having lost everything, experiences the love of God through those who have given up their time to come and help.
And we can see it in people like us.
As we trust the One who knows the end from the beginning, then — whatever our troubles — we can become a light that shines His life, His invitation, His voice, His sacrifice, His power and His grace on those around us.
We reflect a love that can rescue and redeem the broken pieces of our troubled world. A love that cannot be extinguished by failure, death or pain.
All that lives forever is love.
Although the last thing you may feel like doing is worshipping, it’s probably the most powerful choice you make. God’s Word reminds us that He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). God is always worthy of our praise and, as we fix our eyes on the One who saves — declaring our love for Him — we can receive a peace, strength and knowledge of His ways that’s priceless.
Keep it real
Be real with God, He can handle it. Don’t be afraid to let Him know how hurt you feel. Tell Him your frustrations and fears. It’s important to admit that you can’t do it alone (1 Peter 5:7). He knows. He cares.
Listen and respond
Allow yourself to listen to what God has to say, then respond. If you’re struggling to hear His voice, the Bible is a great place to meet Him. Persevere. There may be areas of unforgiveness that need addressing, or past hurts or lies that might adversely affect your relationship with your heavenly Father. Whatever your concerns, remember that God will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
16 March 2018
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are — face-to-face! They suddenly recognise that God is a living, personal presence… And when God is personally present… We’re free…! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of His face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him’ (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 MSG).
Like most Christians, we go through life with a sense that we know God. After all, we’ve read His Word, have walked with the Lord, and have experienced life with Him. But do we really know God?
The delight of the Lord
Throughout Scripture, the message that God delights far more in our efforts to know Him rather than in any gift we have to offer, occurs repeatedly.
Jeremiah 9:24 reminds us that ‘those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things’ (NLT).
Ephesians 3:19 exhorts us ‘to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ, which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]’ (AMP).
Beginning in the garden with Adam and Eve, God demonstrates His desire for us to have a close and authentic relationship with Him. His ultimate demonstration of this is seen in Jesus’ death on the cross. And it was this that, following the Fall, provided the means by which we can be reconciled to God.
This painful, compassionate, unsparing act reflects the depth of love and mercy that the Father has for His children. Not only that, but he sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us — pouring His truth, love and life into our hearts.
Become more like Him
It is in knowing God that we become more like Him. As we purposefully spend time getting to know Him through His Spirit and by reading His Word — in stillness and in struggle — we gain wisdom.
Knowing God provides a practical understanding of who He is. It enables us to experience an intimacy with God that touches our hearts and souls in a way that’s far deeper than just touching our thinking. Knowing God affects our lives in ways that will last forever.
In moments of crisis when our faith is shaken, or we’re forced to endure difficult circumstances beyond our control, we often discover a reliance on God and a depth to our relationship with Him. His promise to never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) becomes tangibly real.
But we don’t have to wait for a valley moment to know God more. As we spend time with Him — carefully looking at His way of doing things — we experience His great love and endless grace. His priorities become ours. What’s important to God becomes important to us.
As we continue to know the Lord more deeply, our hearts and our thinking realign. We grow in our ability to become His hands and feet — bringing lasting transformation to a broken world, one person at a time.
The apostle Paul knew the heart of His Saviour. From a place of imprisonment, he shares his own heart with the church in Ephesus:
‘My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit — not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength — that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in.
‘And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God’ (Ephesians 3:14-19 MSG).
- Ask the Lord for a greater hunger to know Him intimately, bringing an even deeper revelation of who He is that transforms your relationship with Him and with others.
- Pray that the light of His love and grace will continue to shine brightly through the work of MAF as our staff go deeper with Jesus in their daily walk.
16 February 2018
The human desire to be loved is considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs. In fact, it is thought to be a significant cause of human happiness.
Love gives us the assurance that we are not alone in the world and often motivates us to achieve great things. Living without love can even lead to apathy.
However, psychologists suggest there’s a parallel need that we often fail to recognise: the need not just to be loved, but to love.
We love God because He first loved us
Created to love as well as to be loved, our ability to do so comes from the One who formed us.
1 John 4:19 reminds us that ‘We love because He first loved us.’ But what does this really mean?
To love comes from a place of being loved. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16, NIV).
The cross represents the most selfless love we could ever experience. Jesus, suffering unthinkable pain and torment, called out, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34, NIV).
Despite His betrayal, arrest, interrogation, humiliation, torture and death, Jesus still speaks words of compassion, mercy and love.
Theologian and author John Piper suggests it is ‘in beholding and spiritually apprehending God to be the kind of God who loves sinners like us with such amazingly free grace and through such stunningly wise and sacrificial means of atonement, we are drawn out to delight in this God for who He is in Himself.’
We love others because God first loved us
God is love (1 John 4:8). It is the very essence of His nature and character. As we attempt to grab hold of this truth, our response is awakened to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind, and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Luke 10:27).
This call to love is not limited to our love for the Father, but is to be extended to each other.
Across the nations, people are crying out to experience genuine love and care. As MAF’s personnel reach those living in remote and isolated areas, let’s take a moment to think about the people in our own geographical area who may also feel isolated, alone and unloved.
We love because we reflect His love
As recipients of Christ’s love – poured into us – we are called to pour out His love on those around us. This isn’t always easy. People who have been hurt, rejected, abused or neglected can often put up a wall around themselves as a form of self-protection.
The Christian writer CS Lewis describes it like this:
‘To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.
‘Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
‘But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.’
As the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to reflect the love of God that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), heals the broken hearted (Psalm 147:3), brings freedom (Psalm 119:45), and strengthens and renews (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Loving others doesn’t happen in our own strength. Romans 5:5 reminds us that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
We love because of His great love for us.
- Take a moment to reflect on the love and character of God, and how you’ve experienced this great love for yourself.
- Prayerfully seek out those around you. Consider reaching out to them with the love of God – asking the Holy Spirit to enable you to be vulnerable and courageous as you step out in faith.
- Pray for MAF as we continue to reach remote and inaccessible people with Jesus’ love. Pray that many will come to know the Lord’s redeeming love.
19 January 2018
The words of Psalm 46 are widely sung in churches across the country. You may have received a card containing the words of verse 10, exhorting us to be still and know that God is... well, God.
Although this command sounds simple and undemanding, it can provide both a challenge and an impetus for our prayer lives.
The MAF UK office in Folkestone is just 328 feet from The Leas, a Victorian promenade that overlooks the English Channel and — on a clear day — provides stunning views of the French coast.
This proximity to the sea allows us the opportunity to witness the changing conditions as the seasons pass and weather fronts come and go.
On wet and windy winter days, the surging breakers roll in and strike the shore with power, churning the sand and shingle, producing a deafening roar as if attempting to pound the land into submission.
In summer, the same water can appear motionless, lightly lapping the sand as it reflects the clear blue sky above like an ornamental pond. The transparency of the water is transformed, depending on the intensity of the swell.
On unsettled days, the depths become opaque — the seabed hidden from view as though a veil has been drawn to hide ancient maritime treasures.
However, during days of calm, the sediment slowly settles and the waters become limpid, revealing the wealth of marine life below the surface such as tiny fish, iridescent shells and mermaid’s purses.
In Psalm 46 we are encouraged to ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ The Hebrew translation of ‘still’ in this context is ‘raphah’. The word appears 64 times in the Bible and is used in the context of letting go or becoming weak — it means to literally let your hands drop.
It implies submission, surrender and weakness — words that strike a counter-cultural tone in 21st century Britain. This is the physical, mental and spiritual posture the psalmist calls us to when we enter a time of reflection, prayer and communion with God.
Forgetting to live
Singer Lou Rhodes wrote these lyrics to her song Little Things:
There’s so many things that we miss in our everyday lives
We’re so busy hustling, bustling chasing far away dreams
We forget the little things
Like blue skies, green eyes and our babies growing
Like rainbows, fresh snow and the smell of summer
We forget to live
Give us eyes like children so we live each day as our first
We’re so sure we know so much that we forget to listen
Then we want the fickle things
Like cheap thrills, fast pills and constant consumption
Like TV, CDs and cars that speak our names
We forget to live
We are busy people with increasingly hectic lives. One of our greatest challenges today is to stop. To drop our hands physically and metaphorically. To. Be. Still.
In the same way that we can allow life’s small joys to pass us by, so we can neglect and forgo the privilege of drawing near to our Creator and Saviour in prayer.
The reason we are exhorted to encounter stillness is contained, as are many of God’s truths, in the natural world.
As we rush about — minds filled with information, screens demanding our attention, diaries filled with appointments — our activity hinders our ability to truly connect with God. Our lives become clouded; obscuring our ability to hear from God and to know Him.
Only when we allow the swirling fragments of our lives to settle are we able to come to that place of surrender to the knowledge of who God is. This is the starting point for prayer.
Only when we allow our hands to drop and our minds to rest — becoming vulnerable in the process — can we pray with God’s heart.
Still new year
As we embark upon a new year, let us respond to God’s call through His Word to let our hands drop; to surrender our time and energy to Him as a form of worship. May this inspire and infuse our prayers as we pray from a place of knowing God and being known.
- Ask God to grant you stillness in body, soul and spirit; making Himself known to you and guiding your prayers.
- MAF staff and partners face intense pressure on their time and energy. Pray that they too will be able to experience the stillness of God in the face of the many storms they face on a daily basis.
14 December 2017
Throughout the Gospels we read of Jesus’ miraculous ministry. Each account invites us to unpack the writer’s intended message, as well as ponder the significance of the text.
An unnamed woman
As Christians, we know we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). This can be difficult as we experience life’s challenges and unanswered prayers. Yet, as we read page after page of God’s Word, we find ourselves inspired and hopeful as our faith is renewed.
An inspiring story of ‘desperate faith’ can be found in Mark 5:25-34, where we meet an unnamed woman who had been bleeding non-stop for 12 years.
She had spent all her money looking for a solution. She was desperate. Because of Levitical law, she was deemed ‘ceremonially unclean’. Leviticus 15:31 gives clear instruction about keeping separate those deemed to be ‘unclean’. She was extremely isolated.
But then she heard about Jesus
It is significant that Mark emphasises this fact. Someone must have been talking about the miracles Jesus had performed — of Him calming the storm and casting out demons.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to talk about Jesus. Who He is, what He has done and what He promises to do.
After hearing about Jesus, the woman, with desperate faith, pushed through the crowd, telling herself, ‘If I can just touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.’
Why the hem?
Perhaps it had something to do with a promise found in Malachi 4:2: ‘But for you, who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.’
The original Hebrew word for ‘wings’ also translates as ‘corners of a garment’. It could be that this woman, after hearing about Jesus, thought, ‘This is finally the One with healing in His wings.’
In the ancient Middle East, the corner of a person’s garment represented their identity; it was a symbol of who a person was and what they stood for.
In Mosaic law, God instructed His people to make tassels on the corners of their garments as a reminder that they were God’s people, called to keep His commandments. That’s why we read in Ruth 3:9 that, when she was seeking to marry Boaz, she asked him to spread the corner of his garment over her. It was a request for Boaz to identify with her.
There was nothing magical about the cloth Jesus was wearing. It was more about this woman publicly aligning herself with Jesus. Often it is when we come to the end of ourselves, that desperate faith begins. This woman had nothing left but to trust Jesus.
The next part of the Scripture is breath-taking! Immediately she was healed.
After 12 long years of suffering, isolation, poverty and shame, the flow of blood dried up and she felt in her body that she was free.
Although she wasn’t allowed to touch anyone for fear of defiling them, she nevertheless touched the right person. A touch that caught Jesus’ attention as He felt power go out of Him. His disciples questioned how He could know someone had touched Him when there were so many people around. But He knew.
His question ‘Who touched me?’ was possibly more of an invitation for her to step forward and publicly declare what had happened. It was also an opportunity for Jesus to acknowledge and encourage her faith.
The enormity of what had happened caused fear and trembling in her body as she knelt before Him and told Jesus the whole story. Jesus’ response is beautiful:
‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
He calls her daughter. This unnamed woman becomes a somebody. He acknowledges her faith. Her action to step out in faith caused Jesus to heal her. He makes a declaration. ‘Go in peace’ indicates that more than just physical healing took place. It denotes wholeness. Perhaps it was also intended for those who were listening – as if to say, ‘This woman is no longer to be marginalised.’ He speaks complete healing over her.
At the heart of this story is Jesus’ readiness to include the excluded; to redeem those who are marginalised, isolated and cut off. It shows the value He puts on all people — male and female — at a time when equality was almost non-existent.
It reminds us of the need to introduce others to His redeeming love, encourages us that faith can move mountains and shows that our identity is best found in Him. It reassures us that He restores and heals — that His power and desire to heal is as strong today as it was then.
- Give thanks that our faith can touch Jesus and bring His power into our circumstances.
- Remember those who are isolated and marginalised, asking the Lord how you can reach out and shine His redeeming love and hope into their situations.
- Lift up MAF and our many partners as they reach out across the nations to bring help, hope and healing in Jesus’ name.
17 October 2017
Everyone can use a little encouragement sometimes. A kind word or a simple comment of appreciation can boost our feelings of acceptance, achievement and wellbeing. The reality is, most of us get satisfaction from knowing that we’ve done a good job and are on the right track.
Encouraging someone is like giving them a gift!
The gift of encouragement is listed in Romans 12:8. The word used in this verse comes from the Greek word ‘parakletos’, which can mean to exhort, come alongside of, comfort or encourage.
Son of encouragement
The book of Acts tells us about a man called Joseph, a Levite who sold his land and generously donated all the proceeds to the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37).
As a result, the apostles renamed him Barnabas, which means ‘son of encouragement’. The donation of Barnabas’ proceeds was indeed an encouragement to the apostles, but his encouragement went far beyond financial giving.
A noticeable trait of Barnabas, a prominent leader in the early Church, was his desire to seek out, encourage and assist others. He is known for his personal courage in bringing Saul (who was also known as Paul) to the apostles.
Having been a violent persecutor of Christians, Saul had a physically and spiritually sight-restoring conversion experience when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. The change in Saul was extraordinary as he began to speak boldly about Jesus wherever he went.
The disciples, however, were afraid of Saul, and found it hard to believe that he now followed Christ. Although many shrank from Saul in fear and confusion, Barnabas came forward and showed him great kindness. He stood between Saul and the apostles and — bridging the gap — testified on his behalf. Because of this, the believers eventually welcomed him.
Paul (his name change reflects his new identity) later wrote many of the books in the New Testament, including Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, etc, and spent his life proclaiming the risen Lord Jesus throughout the Roman world — often at great personal cost.
Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. His kindness, generosity and forgiving nature helped to console and encourage many. His courage and humility, together with his ability to be openminded, helped him to see the treasure in Saul. It enabled Barnabas to come alongside, mentor, guide and release Paul into all that God had called him to be.
Hope has wings
The MAF family seeks to encourage people in all we do. Our vision of bringing help, hope and healing is done in the powerful name of Jesus.
The isolation, poverty and conflict that exist throughout the world can devastate peace and destroy hope. Can you image how frightening it must be to go into premature labour, living deep in the jungle and days away from a hospital?
MAF reaches those who are in need and provides care and attention. We also pray for our passengers as we transport them to places where they can get help. These acts of love bring encouragement and renew hope.
The faithful prayers and generous giving of our supporters make what we do possible. We are so encouraged by all the ongoing support we receive!
Be like Barnabas
As Christians, we are called to encourage others. The Passion translation of Romans 12:8 illustrates this beautifully: ‘If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others.’ Will you dare to be like Barnabas?
Some people are more comfortable encouraging others. They carry the ‘grace-gift’ we read about in Romans 12. For others, it can be a little more challenging.
It takes courage to look at someone and see the potential inside. It takes commitment to come alongside another person and journey with them. It needs optimism. But this shouldn’t be an excuse to leave it to someone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 calls ‘believers to encourage one another and build each other up.’ Challenging stuff…
Holy Spirit helper
But we need not fear. In John 14:16, Jesus tells the disciples shortly before His death that God will send another advocate to help us and be with us forever. The term used in the original text —‘paraclete’ – most commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.
Barnabas was a man ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ and we too can ‘be like Barnabas’ and let the Spirit lead us: listening and watching for opportunities to encourage someone — whether in word or deed!
- Ask the Lord to help you be in tune with the Holy Spirit; giving you eyes to see, ears to hear and the opportunity to encourage someone today.
- Pray continued blessing on the work of MAF and its partners. May we and our partners be an encouragement to those that we reach and serve, in Jesus’ precious name.
15 September 2017
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23 (NKJV)
A funeral psalm?
Psalm 23 is commonly used at funerals. The words are used to help personalise the listener’s relationship with God, and paint Him as comforting and nurturing.
‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me’ gives mourners a sense of hope in a time of darkness and loss.
For Christians, the words ‘I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever’ remind us of the promise of eternal life after death.
The evangelist Luis Palau, however, believes Psalm 23 is better suited to dealing with present, worldly matters rather than with death.
As Christians, we are not exempt from trials and tribulations – we all go through different seasons in life.
Sometimes life is great and everything is going well. Then there are other times when life is hard and we struggle to see beyond our dispiriting situation. We have mountaintop moments and we have valley moments.
The reality is that there is always a valley between two mountains. We reach a mountaintop experience and live there for a while, but when a wind of defeat or discouragement comes, it blows us right down to the bottom of the mountain again.
A charmed life?
King David didn’t have a quiet life. He became a soldier in his adolescence, spent much of his life on the run and, as king, struggled both politically and spiritually.
He failed in his relationships with his wife Michal, sons and contemporaries. His personal life was fraught – full of pain and difficulty. One son died at birth, another grew up to rape his sister, which led to yet another son killing him for it.
David knew what the valley was like. But, as we see from Psalm 23, he recognised that God was in the valley with him.
The truth is that every valley moment has a story that God will use to bring life and revelation. If we let Him, God will use our situations to advance His Kingdom.
They build our character and equip us to help others.
Romans 8:28 (NLT) reminds us that ‘God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
A life of defeat?
There are so many things that can knock us down. Health issues, financial worries, marriage breakdown, bereavement, family problems, loss, loneliness, busyness, past hurts, unforgiveness, the unknown...
In many of the countries in which MAF serves, the terrain and isolation can be overwhelming. The poverty and conflict people experience there cry out a desperate song that echoes through the land.
But one of the things we need to understand about valley seasons is that they are unavoidable — bad things happen. They are unpredictable — you can’t choose when you experience them. They’re impartial — no one is immune.
Yet they are also temporary. They won’t last forever. Remember, we are just walking through. And they have a purpose.
1 Peter 1:6-7 (Message) tells us:
‘I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.’
God is using these moments to refine us as evidence of His victory! Hallelujah!
The green pastures this psalm speaks about were not belly-deep alfalfa but small tufts of grass growing where there was moisture by the rocks.
The shepherds led their sheep to the sustenance they required, then led them on to the next mouthful whenever it was needed. Today, however, we often find ourselves dealing with tomorrow’s problems on today’s pasture.
Take a moment to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you about this, and lay down tomorrow’s problems at His feet. Ask the Lord to help you to trust Him for His provision right now.
Remember those MAF serves in isolated communities – seeking the Lord to meet all their needs in Jesus’ name. Pray that those who don’t yet know Him will find God in the valley and choose Him as their Shepherd.
Lift up the MAF family as they live their lives as a witness to God’s goodness for His glory.
18 August 2017
Sometimes we can find ourselves going in a different direction to the one we felt God call us, which can lead us wondering if we misunderstood God’s leading. This month’s Prayer Devotion, written by MAF Senior Technician Joey Redhead, who, in 2016 moved to the other side of the world to follow God’s call to serve with MAF in Papua New Guinea. Joey shares his own personal experience of such a challenge.
There was once a guy called Paul. You’ve probably heard of him.
He brought Christianity to Europe and wrote much of the New Testament. But, sometime before all that, he felt called by God to tell the Good News about Jesus Christ to what is now modern-day Turkey.
Turkey and the surrounding area was the socio-economic hub of the world at that time, so making an influence there would be a way of influencing the world.
It was a big job and one that Paul was no doubt excited about. However, only a short way into his journey, he found that he was unable to share God’s Word there.
In some ways, I can relate. At the beginning of 2015, I felt God call me to go to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to serve the people there with my engineering skills.
It wasn’t that I thought this would be a good thing to do, or that it was something of which God would approve.
No, God made it irrevocably clear that this was what He wanted me to do. It happened with a clarity I couldn’t doubt and a certainty that I knew I’d need to hold on to in the future — although I didn’t know why at the time.
In the summer of 2016, I moved to PNG and began to work with MAF there. I very much enjoyed myself, settled in well, and like to think that I made an impact for God’s glory there too.
But after six months, I became ill and had to come back to England to be treated. Much about my illness still remains a mystery. The prognosis for my recovery in the future is good, but when this will occur is totally unclear. I am very much in a time of uncertainty.
It is easy to question whether I misunderstood what God was telling me when I felt called, but I know this is not the case. It’s easy to feel that I failed in some way, that I wasn’t strong enough, but I know this was always God’s work and it was only because of His strength that I’d be able to achieve this task – a strength that I know never fails.
It’s easy to feel lost because, well, I am. But that’s okay, because I’m travelling with God and He doesn’t just have the map, He made it!
The Bible doesn’t tell us how Paul felt when he was unable to carry out his plans. It’s also unclear as to why Paul wasn’t able to share the Good News about Jesus.
It does however tell us that God was the author of this interruption.
It also tells us what Paul did next. He carried on! He tried to preach throughout the whole region and, when he wasn’t able to, he moved on to the next.
He carried on and on until he found himself at the very tip of Turkey.
From there, God led him to bring the Gospel to Europe, which would remain the social and economic hub of the world for the next 2,000 years. It was something Paul could never have known at the time, but was something God had planned all along.
Please pray for Joey
- That he will always find his hope and his rest in God.
- That God will use this time of uncertainty however He pleases.
- That God will bring him healing in His perfect timing.
- That God will bless and encourage our team in PNG
21 July 2017
‘Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I AM with you every day, even to the completion of this age.’ Matthew 28:19-20 (TPT)
As believers in Christ, being on mission is our commission. Whether paid, unpaid, overseas or at home — in school, working or retired — we are all called to tell others about Jesus.
Acts 1:8 tells us that, when we receive the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. For some, this means serving people overseas. For others, the mission field may be closer to home. (The use of Jerusalem in the verse above refers to a local area.)
Mission, at its simplest, is sharing God’s love with others. It can be as modest as stopping to chat with someone who needs a listening ear, or sharing the burdens of those in our neighbourhood, churches and workplaces — shining God’s love. It is about discerning where God is already at work and seeking to join Him in building His Kingdom.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, He was calling every Christian to step out in faith and spread the Good News. It is an invitation to obedience, adventure, divine destiny and purpose. We are called to ‘make disciples’ and should see discipleship and mission not as separate callings, but as one and the same thing. Rather than being about activities or certain people serving in distant countries, the call to mission originates in the very nature of God. After all, the God of the Bible is a sending God.
Throughout history, God has been sending people. He sent Abraham into the unknown to experience the presence and power of faith. He sent Moses to the oppressive dictator Pharaoh to let the bells of freedom ring through the corridors of history. He sent the prophets to God’s people with a message of judgment and forgiveness.
And He sent His Son, Jesus. And Jesus sent His disciples.
As Christians, our mission is an extension of the nature of God, who cares enough to seek, search and save people, meeting them where they are.
Miriam Swaffield, Fusion UK’s Student Mission Leader, says:
‘Mission is really about relationship. Relationship with God and others. Loving Him and so loving others with that love of God that is arrestingly different to the love of the world, covered in the aroma of Christ. Mission isn’t an event, it’s a person.
‘Discipleship is really about relationship. Relationship with God and others. Loving Him and so loving others as we all walk in His ways and help each other keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Including those who are yet to live in obedience to the Holy Spirit themselves. That’s where we can bring life, and life in all its fullness, because that is where it is needed. Discipleship isn’t an event, it’s people.
‘If discipleship and mission are all about relationship between God, His people and all of humanity, then the whole thing is inseparable. Both discipleship and mission are about sharing and knowing more of Jesus with each other in community with God.’
MAF is a family of missionaries. Some are based overseas, serving people in isolated communities. Others work in MAF support offices and resourcing groups all over the world, partnering with our supporters, volunteers and prayer partners to see God’s love and power reach those in need of help, hope and healing.
As disciples of Christ, when we step into our ‘missionary shoes’ — being the hands and feet of Jesus and sharing Him as a natural overflow of our relationship with Him — we find ourselves more aware of His presence in our lives.
We start to mature in mission, being discipled by the Holy Spirit as we search for the right words and responses to those in need.
Ask the Lord to show you what your mission field is for this season in your life, seeking Him for boldness, direction and open doors.
Think about people you could disciple, whether helping them grow deeper in Christ, or perhaps teaching those who do not yet know about Jesus’ redeeming love.
Continue to pray for MAF’s family of missionaries as they serve Jesus. May they continue to draw close to the source of all life — being led by His Spirit in all they do.
Finally, please pray for more people to hear God’s call to serve with MAF throughout the developing world.
16 June 2017
‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
The tragic events over the last few weeks will forever be etched on our minds.
The senseless bombing of a packed arena in Manchester and the vicious attack in London resulting in the death and injury of so many innocent people, reminds us of the vulnerability of human life and the devastating effects of someone’s choices.
At such times, many question the existence of a loving and powerful God as they search for reasons and answers; the poignant question ‘why?’ hangs heavy in the air.
‘Where is your God in all this?’ is something we’ve all heard at times – a question we don’t always know how to answer.
Was the same question asked when Jesus, nailed to the cross, took His last breath?
The King of Kings who was coming to save the world was dead. Confusion, heartbreak and despair consumed His followers. Doubt and fear crept in. Self-preservation overtook Peter as he denied Christ.
The story wasn’t over
Yet that was not the end.
The death and resurrection of Jesus is an illustration of triumph over tragedy, light out of darkness, life from death. It challenges our understanding of what power and authority look like; rooting us in the truth that Love always wins.
Love wins little by little with every act of kindness, each selfless choice, every bold decision to serve.
In the midst of loss and bewilderment, as the stark reality of what happened in both Manchester and London gradually unfolded, we witnessed the unity of people standing together to support the community.
In all the heartbreak, we experienced something of God’s presence.
In many of the developing countries in which MAF serves, tribal conflict, false beliefs and superstition result in loss of life.
Changing a culture is possible, but it takes time
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), a measles outbreak has led to innocent women and children being accused of witchcraft. But God is at work.
With MAF’s help, missionary Anton Lutz and a young woman called Nes Mark have been confronting accusations of sorcery head on. Through the work of an intervention team including missionaries, pastors, a police commander and public servants, communities have been renouncing their tradition of attacking those believed to be harbouring evil spirits. Unfortunately, despite the churches efforts to combat false allegations, lives are still being lost in PNG.
When Dr Rosie Crowter attempted to teach the women of PNG about TB and malaria, she found that everyone believed the diseases were caused by witchcraft and evil spirits.
So, to combat these beliefs, Rosie adapted her workshops to bring God’s Word. She is helping to change people’s mindsets by teaching them who God is and what He says about sorcery and death.
In Papua, it was the Word of God, alongside missionaries placed ‘for such a time as this’, that helped save the life of little Emma Grace who, because of false beliefs, was left to die shortly after being born.
The only book to be translated into the native Moi language was Exodus 1, but this was enough for missionaries to share with Emma Grace’s father the story of the Hebrew midwives who, despite Pharaoh’s orders, saved the Israelite boys from being killed. God softened the man’s heart and the family now follow Christ.
Let faith arise
God is at work in this broken world. His ways are not our ways, but His Word brings revelation and renewal. Let faith arise as we ask the Lord to reveal His hand at work in the little things – giving us eyes to see, ears to hear and the courage to be His hands and feet in a world that desperately needs us.
- Romans 12:2 reminds us not to conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we find ourselves with questions we cannot answer and despair in our hearts, let’s ask the Lord to renew people’s minds throughout this troubled world; setting them free for fear and superstition.
- Pray for Anton Lutz, Nes Mark, Dr Rosie and others doing the Lord’s work, asking for protection as they continue to challenge false beliefs in Jesus’ name.
- Pray specifically for Pastors and Christians in remote communities who are the first line of defence for those accused of acts of sorcery.
- Give thanks for MAF’s ability to reach remote and isolated communities – enabling emergency medevacs, missionaries and the Word of God to reach those most in need.
19 May 2017
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-3 we read of the reaction of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, when he received word that an alliance of three vast armies were coming to attack. Understandably, he was terrified.
A faithful man of God
King Jehoshaphat was a faithful man of God, devoted to the ways of the Lord. He had strengthened Judah to stand against attacks from Israel.
He had sent out teachers and priests to declare the word of the Lord.
He had appointed Judges, telling them to ‘always act in the fear of the Lord, with faithfulness and an undivided heart’ (19:9 NLT).
He was a good man. He didn’t deserve this. Yet he found himself under attack.
When we find ourselves facing undeserved opposition, we can become overwhelmed and adopt a ‘Why me?’ attitude. We can even get angry and blame God.
A call to pray
King Jehoshaphat, however, chose a different response. He called a national prayer meeting, asking his people to fast.
As the people gathered, he prayed, ‘O LORD, God of our ancestors, You alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against You!’
He fixed his eyes on who God is, rather than focusing on the impending attack.
He remembered what God had done before: ‘Did You not drive out those who lived in this land when Your people Israel arrived? And did You not give this land forever to the descendants of Your friend Abraham?’
And he brought his problem to God – admitting his own weaknesses and vulnerability.
Do we do this?
Dependency on God
Often our great dependency on God is revealed in times of opposition; in those times when we’re unable to keep fighting alone.
The story continues with the Spirit of the Lord coming upon a man called Jahaziel. He spoke the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s... stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.’
When we come together to seek God, He encourages us and guides us.
What they did next was incredible. They worshipped!
We don’t worship in response to His presence – His loving presence responds when we come before Him in worship
King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah knew the secret of lifting their hearts above their troubles and entering into God’s presence. Their response provided a channel for God’s power to operate.
Psalm 22:3 reminds us God inhabits the praises of His people. We don’t worship in response to His presence – His loving presence responds when we come before Him in worship.
Verse 22 of 2 Chronicles 20 tells us that at the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies to turn against each other, and all were killed.
Sweet fragrance of affection
The fragrance of our affections, our praises to the most high King, repels the darkness of the enemy – bringing God’s light, love and redemption in its place.
- There is power in our praise and worship.
- There is power in our responding.
- There is power in our standing.
Paul and Silas knew this power as they sat chained and beaten in a dark, dingy cell. Their choice to pray and worship, despite their circumstances, saw the earthquake come, the doors fling open, the shackles fall off and – more poignantly – through choosing to remain where they were, salvation come to the prison guard and his family.
- There is power when we join together to pray for the work and people of MAF.
- There is power when we share stories of God’s provision and breakthrough.
- There is power when we declare the promises of God to restore the land.
- There is power when we admit our weakness and dependence on the Lord.
Power of praise
For further encouragement on the power of praise, check out this short testimony from MAF Pilot Israel Neale.
As you ponder the power of praise and worship, ask the Lord to direct your prayers to one of the countries in which we serve.
Seek His heart for the people of that country, our partners and for the MAF staff serving there. Let’s stand together for the things that are yet unseen, giving glory to our King!
Share what the Lord has spoken to you with our Prayer Communications Leader, Victoria Fagg by emailing her so we can join you in praying for those God lays on your heart – praising Him for all He intends to do.