The Pentecost Prayer Marathon (a PINK Tuesday post)

Prayers

Image by Xerones via Flickr

A number of years ago, in the midst of a season of unprecedented awareness of the power and presence of the Spirit of God, I gathered a group of women together for what became known as the Pentecost Prayer Marathon.

A marathon, as you may well know, is an endurance race that measures out to be 26.22 miles long. It has quite a history, the marathon, going back to the Battle of Marathon and the Greek soldier Pheidippides – a messenger who ran the distance from the fabled battleground to Athens in order to proclaim their victory over the enemy (in a battle which he himself had also fought). A feat which he did, as the story goes, without stopping until his pronouncement had been heard (at which time he fell down and died).

More than 500 marathons are run every year. Athletes prepare for months for this race which, for many, emerges as a defining moment of glory and achievement in a lifetime of athletic endeavors. I’m not really sure where the connection between 26.22 miles of road and a miraculous outpouring of Spirit-presence came from, but I began to wonder about what it is that drives a person to such a strenuous undertaking as the running of a marathon. I began to marvel at the dedication and intense preparation of marathon runners. I pondered the fruit of such an athletic commitment – maybe a medal? Certainly feelings of self-satisfaction!

But I am not an athlete.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t imagine enduring the pain and maintaining the focus and discipline needed in order to run this kind of race (as much as I admire those who can and DO)!

On the other hand, I CAN appreciate the value of the LENGTH of the marathon. Yes, it is long. But it also has an END. A finish line.

I find that people (myself included) often function better with deadlines. Can you relate? When I diet, I am a maniac at following the rules! I almost NEVER cheat, because I can see the results AND I know there is an END – a goal – in sight. When faced with a huge project (say, writing curriculum for a retreat), I ALWAYS do better work as the deadline looms larger. There’s a date when this work must be presented, and the closer that event is, the more efficient I am at staying focused on it.

Anything I want to do better CAN be done better if I assign a goal or deadline to it!

This may drive one person to successfully finish a marathon, another to lose those last five pounds, and yet another to finish a project that has been pending since 1992.

Can the same be true about PRAYER? Can I be more effective and focused in prayer if I designate a sort of ‘finish line’ for it?

My hope is that you will find, as I have year in and year out, that the answer is an absolute YES! Herein lies your invitation, then, to join me in my annual marathon – my PRAYER Marathon – purposely connected to the memory of the Spirit-bath Jesus’ disciples and followers received when His promised Friend arrived on the scene, thousands of years ago.

Be mindful, though, that this marathon of prayer isn’t about ME. It isn’t about what I can do, what I think I need, or what I think is important to God. This Prayer Marathon is about the power unleashed in the lives of believers when the Holy Spirit is given room to breathe His mystery and comfort and momentum into the very lives of those who seek Him. Today.

So… here’s how it works! The Prayer Marathon begins on Saturday, May 26th at 8:00pm. It ends at 10:12pm on Sunday, May 27th (the day we celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit). In case you missed the connection, the Prayer Marathon lasts for a total of 26.2 hours.

For the sake of focus, there are four stations to pass through during the Prayer Marathon. Each one is designed to help us focus on a particular area of prayer/need. Designated times are just suggestions here, so don’t get too legalistic about them! Simply use them as a guide and allow God to move you through the Marathon to the finish line – the celebration of the arrival of His Presence with us!

Prayer Station #1: 8pm on Sat. May 26th

Focus your prayers on preparing your heart to receive all that God wants to pour out in YOU! Seek scriptures that connect the work of God in His people. Include times of confession in these early prayers. Invite God to move in your heart. Ask Him to show you what a life of discipline and focus on the things He cares about might look like. Ask Him to surprise you as the Marathon unfolds!

Prayer Station #2: Dawn on Sunday morning, May 27th

Intercede on behalf of those in your family, your church and your community. Make a list of those whose needs are greater than the resources you have to meet them. Take your time and ‘download’ any/all prayer concerns or requests you might have on behalf of those you know and those you love.

Prayer Station #3: Sunset on Sunday evening, May 27th

Intercede on behalf of those in our culture, our nation and our world. Bring to God your concerns for the people who live near and far, in familiar and unfamiliar places. Use a map or globe as a tool for your prayers! Consult websites for agencies like International Justice Mission, World Vision or Wycliffe Bible Translators. Identify specific places and people groups whose issues and needs tug at your heart, and lift them up in prayer. Light a candle on their behalf. Let your prayers shine light into their darkness as only God can.

Prayer Station #4: 10:12pm on Sunday evening, May 27th

REJOICE! Revel in the faithfulness of the God whose Spirit is ever-present in THIS DAY. In THIS MOMENT! Thank Him for His promises and celebrate His presence! Take note of what this Marathon has brought your way, taking time to write down your impressions and His responses to your cries. Ask yourself: what is the ‘medal’ He wants to lay across your shoulders, now that you’ve completed this Prayer Marathon? Is it a fresh awareness? A clearer vision? A deeper passion? Pay attention to the fruit of your commitment!

If you choose to pray this marathon with me, I invite you to pray these words from Habakkuk throughout the journey. Because the rushing wind and tongues of flame didn’t just come and then go. The Spirit of God is moving still, and something in me says that this is what our prayer should be…

“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known.” -Habakkuk 3:2a

Wear ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em!

I’m not satisfied with Sunday School answers. I come by this quality honestly as I’m sure I inherited at least part of my inquiring mind from my mother. She “graduated” early from Confirmation classes because the Pastor couldn’t deal with her challenging questions for another year. Not that she quit asking them, mind you.

I guess Martin Luther wasn’t satisfied with the answers the church was giving him, either. Rather than continuing to drink their Kool-Aid, he chose to boldly go where (practically) no one had gone before. He pounded his challenges to the wooden Wittenberg door and took a stand on the irrational grace of God. Many faith traditions will celebrate his boldness this Sunday, on Reformation Day, claiming for ourselves the inheritance of this Gospel of grace. 

Tradition suggests the wearing of the color RED on Reformation Day. Red for the fiery flames of God’s Holy Spirit, which came down to rest upon the heads of Jesus’ followers at Pentecost and which burn true and steady in believers all around us to this day. Red for the blood shed by the faithful whose lives were given in the name of the God of love – martyrs who risked all for the One whose body was pounded to a wooden cross in the ultimate stand for the irrational grace of our radical God.

Unfortunately, tradition can get tired and result in mindless repetition. Too often we freeze in time the reformation that happened centuries ago, failing to realize that reformation HAPPENS – even today.

I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to do some pounding of my own! The Spirit in me is being stirred up at the prospect of continuing the Reformation in THIS DAY, in OUR WORLD and in TODAY’S CHURCH; actively participating rather than passively celebrating something that someone did somewhere else a long time ago…

So, here’s the challenge: I’ve got a pair of pink shoes that are ready to pound some pavement on Sunday morning! These shoes represent to me the unique imprint of the Spirit of God on my life, showing up in counter-cultural (and sometimes very ODD) ways as I walk the path of my faith journey with Him. I suspect that YOU have a PAIR of PINK SHOES, too, and in recognition of God’s reforming work among us, I ask you to…

Wear ‘em if you’ve got ‘em this Sunday, October 31st!

Wear ‘em to worship.

Wear ‘em to the grocery store.

Wear ‘em to the movies.

Wear ‘em to family dinner.

Wear ‘em as a physical sign of the spiritual truth that God is alive, active and OBVIOUS in those who choose to let Him make His home within.

You’re sure to stand out if you take up the challenge (especially if you pair the pink shoes with Reformation red), but you’ll be in good company! I’ll be watching for you, my friends in the faith, and I can’t wait to see where YOUR pink shoes will take YOU!

Wear 'em this Sunday - the BRIGHTER the BETTER!

Disclaimer: Don’t get hung up on the literal “pink shoes!” While it’s FUN to identify with each other in this way, the “pink shoes” are really that which makes us stand out in unique ways for the Kingdom of God. You can choose to forego the wearing of pink footwear, but please let your gifts SHINE THROUGH! Because, if you’re OPEN, God will make things HAPPEN – with or without the shoes!
Please SHARE your “pink shoes” stories and photos with Pink Shoes Ministries! Post a comment below OR find us on facebook to add YOUR pink shoe photo to the mix:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pink-Shoes-Ministries/163071777052799?v=app_2373072738#!/pages/Pink-Shoes-Ministries/163071777052799?v=wall

My Pink Shoes

The summer before my daughter’s freshman year included one rigorous shopping trip for clothes and school supplies. It was all fairly routine until we found ourselves in the shoe section of a favorite store…

I saw these shoes, and I’ll admit to you that there was only a hint of attraction when I picked them up to show my daughter; it was her reaction to them that made the sale.

It was something like, “NO WAY! Don’t EVEN think about buying those, Mom.”

The word hideous was used, and I remember a comment about “not being seen in public” with me before she put up her hand, turned on her heel, and walked away.

How could I RESIST? Of COURSE I bought them!

These shoes have stirred up emotions and sparked lively conversations over the years. One friend wrote a sappy poem about them while another conspired with my daughter to make them “disappear” while I was on a trip out of town. Even when they are tucked safely away in my closet, threats of a one-way trip to Goodwill have been made by both family and friends.

I’ve also found I can’t blend in with a crowd while these beauties are on my feet. They make a STATEMENT when I wear them, in a language all their own; not unlike what happened in Jerusalem, at Pentecost (Acts ch. 2).

When God unleashed His Spirit on Jesus’ followers that day, He made them STAND OUT! What else could the tongues of fire have been for? They certainly weren’t going to “fit in” with any crowd while flames erupted on their heads!

God’s invitation to His followers at Pentecost was clearly NOT to a life of predictability and status quo. When His Spirit comes in power to willing disciples, PEOPLE TAKE NOTICE! In just one day at Pentecost, about 3,000 onlookers witnessed the unusual events, felt the power of the Spirit of God, and responded by putting their faith in Him.

Scripture teaches us that when God’s Spirit of truth comes in power to willing disciples, we will KNOW the truth, and that truth will SET US FREE (John 8:32). That truth does something else, too. Author Flannery O’Connor once said that, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you ODD.”

THIS I BELIEVE – just look at me! I sit at my computer today, a willing disciple of the risen LORD (pink shoes notwithstanding), and while you probably won’t believe that there are flames of fire on my head, I promise that those flames ARE HERE, in my HEART. I feel something like a Galilean these days, because although I’m equipped with a head (somewhat) filled with knowledge, I’m not formally “schooled” in religion – I’m simply a follower of Yeshua, like the first disciples were. An unlikely candidate to deliver a message that might affect, or even change, the world.

Yet the Spirit of God comes in power to set apart the lives of those who yield to Him.

  • We are MARKED by His glorious presence.
  • We are CLAIMED by the God who created and breathed life into us.
  • We are EMPOWERED to DO, in Jesus’ own words, even greater works than His own (John 14:12), putting God’s glory on display for all to see.

In the process of all of this marking, claiming and empowering, as with the disciples at Pentecost, these lives we live are changed.

Gone are the days of getting lost in the crowd; instead, let’s wear our uniqueness like a pair of pink shoes while the fire of God’s truth burns brightly in our hearts.

"Let's wear our uniqueness like a pair of pink shoes..."