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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Pray For Rifqa Bary – and Her Family

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Rifqa Bary, the teenage girl who said she ran away from her Ohio home to Florida because she feared physical harm for converting from Islam to Christianity could soon be returning to her home state. Rifqa fled after her parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, learned that she was baptized into the Christian faith without their knowledge. The parents reported her missing on July 19. Police used cell phone and computer records tracked the girl to an Orlando-based Christian church. This month, a Florida judge said stated that he would send Rifqa back to Ohio, but set no date for her return.

In a television interview aired on the Florida station WFTV, Rifqa, said she expects to be killed if she is forced to return to Ohio.”If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn’t be alive,” she claimed. “In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first — imagine the honor in killing me.”

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Rifqa’a father Mohamed Bary, who emigrated with his family from Sri Lanka in 2000 responded in another interview that has no intentions of harming his daughter.

“I love my daughter and I want her to come back to the family,” he said, declining further comment.

This is a tough story. Where does parental authority begin and end? What is the right balance between religious freedom and parental choice? We’ve seen several examples of this question lately, with several well publicized child medical treatment/prayer treatment controversies. As a parent, and a supporter of societal support of the nuclear family I side with the girl’s parents. But as an individual believer in Jesus, firmly aware of the hostility Jesus-followers often encounter, my heart goes out this brave young woman.

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From a distance, the most we can do is pray.

“God we pray for Rifqa Bary and her parents and extended family and friends. We can pray that you would give Rifqa increased courage and conviction to maintain her personal faith in the face of opposition. We pray too that you will bring a miraculous reconciliation between Rifqa and her parents and family. Open everyone’s mind and heart in this matter, show them the path to walk. Give Rifqa relationships with people who can help her follow Jesus without believing that she has to leave every element of her culture. Show her how to honor her parents and yet retain a full loyalty to Jesus. There is no simple human solution here. It will take a miracle, which is why we pray! In Jesus…”

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Bargain Basement da Vinci for $19,000

posted by Mark Herringshaw


new-painting-324x205.jpgA fingerprint worth 150 million? Yes, when that fingerprint on an obscure painting can be traced to Leonardo da Vinci . This week forensic art experts revealed that an overlooked work does appear to bear da Vinci’s fingerprint. If confirmed, they say the value of the painting would be almost impossible to calculate.  

The profile portrait painting called “Profile of the Bella Principess” was presumed to be a 19th-century German work. New York art dealer Kate Ganz had owned it for 11 years after purchasing it at auction for a similar price. Imagine her angst today! But no one knew. All the while, no one connected to the painting even suspected its true origin or imagined its worth.

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Until an anonymous Swiss collector followed a hunch and purchased the piece from the Ganz gallery in New York in 2007… Price: $19,000.

A team of experts spent the next two years investigating the painting. They found a print of an index or middle finger on the canvas that matched a fingerprint from Leonardo’s “St. Jerome” in the Vatican. Experts acknowledge that Leonardo used his hands frequently as part of his painting technique. The consensus among experts is that it is the first authentic da Vinci discovered in more than 100 years.

A priceless treasure for $19,000…

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Jesus told a story about a man who discovered a treasure in a field, then went and sold everything he had to buy the land where the treasure sat. Jesus is teaching wise investment. When we find something of infinite value we need to pay whatever price necessary to secure that treasure. Things of spiritual value are far greater treasure than material wealth. We’re wise, even shrewd when we exchange our time, energy, and physical resources for what has infinite, forever value.

Prayer well invested brings us long, long, long term returns. The investments we make in intercession invite God to change circumstances now and for all eternity. The moral of this modern story of discovered treasure bought at a bargain price echoes Jesus’ parable: we’re prudent when we cut a deal at whatever price for that which is priceless. Investing time in prayer reaps boundless rewards!

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Question: What returns have you seen in the prayer investments you have made? What eternal returns are you counting on?

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Prayer for the African Nation of Zimbabwe

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Every day our family prays for the turbulent situation in Zimbabwe. We’ve never been there ourselves, and we don’t know any Zimbabweans personally. And yes, there are crises all over the world, some perhaps even worse than the plights facing this African nation. The difference for us is our 19 year old daughter. She and her team of health care workers have been in Zimbabwe for three weeks, working in schools and small rural clinics.  Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.” How poignantly true! We have no greater treasure than our precious daughter. And now that her heart, soul, mind and strength is invested in Zimbabwe, so is ours.

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The news is dire from this beautiful nation filled with amazingly buoyant people. Once called the “bread basket of Africa,” it has recently suffered waves of famine, epidemics of cholera, and of course the heartbreaking blight of AIDS. The political situation in Zimbabwe is also volatile, with tensions rising between different governmental factions.

Taken together, these troubles seem to be far beyond any human situation. Good people – Zimbabweans as well as internationals – are doing good work there. And yes, God uses his people to provide opportunities for him to do miracles in the lives of individuals and nations. But in the end true healing and restoration requires miracles! And miracles are sparked from prayer.

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Yes, we can pray for crises in the Congo, in Somalia, in Afghanistan, and in 100 other points of concern in the world. Today, I’d like to muster prayer for Zimbabwe. Join me.

“God, today we join our voices and our faith to pray for the African nation of Zimbabwe. You have a destiny for this wonderful part of your world, and for the beautiful people who steward it. We thank you for the work that you are already doing there. We ask that you would build on this. Bless the schools working with children. Bless the medical clinics that bring healing and knowledge of health. Bless those working to bring peace between the many, often competing elements in the government. Lord, you know what you intend for Zimbabwe and her people. Put in place whatever will bring that destiny to light. We pray this in Jesus…”

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If you have a personal connection to a nation in crisis, add that request below. As your read these requests, offer a prayer for God’s involvement. He is a God of justice and peace, healing and rescue.     

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Prayer for a Return to the Intent of “Sweetest Day 2009″

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Sweetest Day, 2009 is October 17. It’s celebrated each year on the third Saturday of October. Sweetest Day originated in Cleveland, Ohio in 1922 when Herbert Birch Kingston a candy store employee organized a group of people who packaged small gifts for the homeless, orphans, and others in dire straits. Today the “holiday” which is most ardently practiced in the Great Lakes and Northeast involves presenting small gifts to family and friends.

Given the financial crises in which many now find themselves, perhaps this would be a good year to revive the original intent and bring some “sweetness” to the bitter pill of unemployment, debt, foreclosures and bankruptcy epidemic in our land. A foodbasket, a new pair of shoes, a Target giftcard… The needs are huge; the opportunities are limitless.

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“God, you are the provider of all good and perfect gifts. You promise too that you will supply all our needs, that we can pray for our ‘daily bread’ and know you will answer. Often, Lord, you answer these prayers through the hands of your children. As we pray for those in financial need today, bring to our minds anyone you would like us to bless in a tangible way. If you be a blessing as we pray this blessing, let it happen! We know that you say, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good!’ If we can offer a sweet opportunity of someone in need to taste that sweetness, we’re willing. We pray in Jesus…”

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