Have you been following Elizabeth Ministry’s prayer request blog? If so, we have good news. The general blog and the prayer request blog will now be one. Now, once a month, we will post Ruth’s beautiful reflections and your prayer requests here. Do you have a prayer request you’d like to add? You can send them to prayers [at] elizabethministry.com. Here is October’s prayer post!
We’ve all heard at one time or another the passage from the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot the plant,…”
Many of us — especially those of us associated with or supporting Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health — have experienced some of those less-than-happy “appointed times”. There’s likely not a person on the face of the earth who hasn’t wept through at least a few of those wrenching times of sorrow and grief.
At this time of year, in October, we in the north see the “appointed” process of dying and uprooting the plant. Our gardens, plats, and trees are changing as the “appointed times” arrive. We enjoy the beautiful fall colors, but we also know what comes next. One by one those varied leaves fall to the ground. We walk through them as they become crisp and dry, then we watch them decay and return to the soil. The trees themselves appear barren, naked, somehow sad, lonely, and transparent, yet stalwart in the knowledge of what comes next.
Our Father, who knows all things, knows our frailty as well. God knows that we need to experience the time of loss, live through it, and learn to expect the joy and the certainty of restoration. From the beginning, in Genesis 8:22, we’ve been told, “As long as the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” We live in a world that must include balance. Comfort and terror. Joy and desolation. “There is an appointed time for everything….”
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us in chapter five of more desolation: “If you see oppression of the poor and violation of rights and justice in the realm, do not be shocked by the fact, for the high official has another higher than he watching him, and above these are others higher still.” Why do some people oppress and violate others’ rights? Why do others condone it? Why is wrong tolerated? Is there in fact an “appointed time” for oppression and violation of rights? Unfortunately, it does seem to be true.
But why? “There is a time for everything…” Sin has its consequences; Satan has done that to us. Is there also a time for oppression to cease? Yes, praise God. Who is the highest “Official” of all? The Lord, Himself, the Just Judge!
But why must we live through this “appointed time” of oppression and violation of rights?
Here’s a consideration: A few verses after listening to the Genesis 8:22 cycle of seedtime and harvest, we read, If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has man been made.” [And the very next verse is interesting.] “Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it.” Genesis 9:6-7) And this verse is a repeat of Genesis 1:27-28: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him: male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.'”
So, it seems that the Lord is saying; Listen Up, Guys! I meant what I said! The life of human beings is sacred, because human life is made in My Image. You haven’t listened, and you haven’t obeyed my command.”
Rather than doing what God has commanded of us, we have in fact accepted the opposite: We have allowed, or at least tolerated, the shedding of blood, sacred human blood, made in God’s image. We have in fact allowed, in the name of free speecb and a free country, the culture in which we are surrounded — the Culture of Death mdash; to destroy God’s image rather than perpetuate it. We have seen the shedding of blood, the blood of the unborn, the blood of the “different.” This present culture has opted for — or tolerated — the use of contraceptives, causing infertility rather than fertility. It has blurred our gender identities, rather than acknowledging that God has created us male and female, each with unique gifts and abilities. How can our children know God as “Father” when so few have experienced a loving, caring and active father? What have we done to our children? Where are the children who romp through the leaves? Where is our next generation?
“The thief [Satan] comes to steal and kill and destroy…”
We might say, “But that wasn’t me! I know that life is precious!”
We might be tempted to clutch our stones ready in hand, to throw at those who are guilty of destroying life, but we hear the echo in our hearts: “Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.” We could put our stones together to build a wall to protect ourselves from “The Culture of Death.” Or we could humbly drop our stones, and reach out to lend a forgiving hand — and ear and heart — to teach those who don’t know or understand the call of God to love. This we MUST do!
“Come back to me with fasting and weeping and mourning,” says God, through the prophet. (Joel 2:12)
Perhaps the time has come to plead for mercy before the throne of God. Perhaps the time has come for serious prayer, fasting, weeping, mourning. Perhaps we need to be more active in our efforts to destroy the Culture of Death and promote a Culture of Life. What might we do? Here are some ideas and suggestions:
- Pray! Visualize a person or name the person or need for whom you pray. Lord Jesus, have mercy on “Mac and Rita” who are undergoing serious marital challenges as a result of pornography use. Protect Angie and her unborn baby as she undergoes the pain of kidney stones. Give courage and patience to those couples — “Tricia and John” — who would love to conceive and are unable. Help those women and men awake at night with sick or dying babies, or those waiting to miscarry a baby who has died in the womb. Help those parents so far away whose children are dying from starvation or violence. Lord Jesus, Have Mercy on our suffering civilization!
- Thank you, Lord Jesus, for those who have been healed, for Bruce’s successful knee surgery, and the ability to continue his ministry. Thank you for little Therese who was born at 1 lb 9 oz, and is now a normal and healthy little girl. Thank you for the life of baby Frances who lived for only 90 minutes, but has been a strong witness of the sanctity of all life. Let her be a powerful intercessor for those who struggle with life issues. Continue to help her family as the grieve their daughter’s absence.
- Father, source of all wisdom and power, help our governmental officials and judges.Share your wisdom with them, that their hearts, spirits and actions might support life!
- Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the men and women in monasteries and convents who have agreed to pray for the needs of Elizabeth Ministry and RECLAiM Sexual Health. Thank you, Lord, for those men and women who are consistent and faithful in their prayers for our needs.
- Lord, bless all Elizabeth Ministry members, leaders, parishes, clergy and lay leaders, those who work with RECLAiM, and the students of the RECLAiM program.
- Start or join an Elizabeth Ministry chapter at your church. Take note of pregnant women or new mothers that you know. Ask when you can babysit, send over a meal, or run errands for them.
- Order the Pastoral Guide: Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Newborn Loss for your church; it can be ordered from our store.
- Ask your pastor how your parish can remember and honor the babies that have died before or soon after birth. If you have had a miscarriage or infant death, talk about it. You may be surprised to discover many other women who have shared the same sorrows but have never publicly acknowledge their baby’s life.
- Contribute toward the cost of a pro-life billboard along your highways, especially near an “adult toys” shop. (Ask about the billboard put up by Elizabeth Ministry International! The design, costs, and other aspects are already worked out!)
- Send a letter or call to your legislators, reminding them of the value of life. Encourage them to consider the consequences of a Culture of Death.
- Encourage the family with several children, especially when they seem harried or experiencing difficulties. “Thank you for the hard work of raising good children.” Let the children know you appreciate seeing their happy sounds and faces.
- Speak boldly of your experiences with life issues.
“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” Ephesians 6: 10-13
After all, there is also a time to speak, and no longer a time to remain silent!