Forward from The One Year Pray for Life Bible
by Joni Eareckson Tada, Joni and Friends International Disability Center
I am truly excited that you are joining me in using The One Year Pray for Life Bible, especially during this incredible season of opportunity in the Kingdom of Christ. When I look across our broken land and consider the heartbreaking needs around the globe, I am invigorated as never before to pray—to discipline myself to pray for life over the next twelve months and to use the Bible as my prayer guide.
As an aging quadriplegic and a Christ follower for over sixty years, I have witnessed a gradual eroding of the precious safeguards that protect the weak and vulnerable. Whether in America or in the darkest corners of the least-developed nations, a ferocious battle is being waged against all life. Who are the casualties of this war? The baby in Africa left to starve to death because his disability is considered a curse on the family. The clinically depressed teenager in Europe who qualifies for state-sanctioned, doctor-assisted death. The elderly woman in an unlicensed nursing home who suffers from loneliness and abuse. The preborn little girl who is aborted for the simple reason that her mother preferred a son. I am not being an alarmist, nor am I exaggerating facts. A culture of death is advancing throughout the earth and is threatening lives—young and old.
Look across the world and you will find that wherever there exists a famine of God’s Word, all life is at risk. You can see why I am so glad you have chosen to use The One Year Pray for Life Bible. We desperately need to pursue earnest worship of the Creator of life and sincere intercession on behalf of those who bear his image—every single human. Yes, works of mercy and justice are necessary, but prayer is the primary work in this battle. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”
Will You Be an Eleazar?
Let me tell you a Bible story. Eleazar was a great warrior who stood alongside the three mighty men of David. During a fierce battle against the Philistines, Israel’s army gave up and fled, but Eleazar “killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the Lord gave him a great victory” (2 Samuel 23:10). The king was impressed that Eleazar ke
pt his heroic grasp on his sword and bravely fought on while others ran away. This exceptional warrior did not cower before the enemy; instead, he put his strength into his sword and rushed into battle with victory on his mind. Because of his noble courage and persistence, God smiled and gave his people a great victory—all because of one brave warrior.
I envision you as a modern-day Eleazar. Our land is teeming with strong and ruthless enemies that war against life. God is calling you to battle on behalf of preborn children in danger of being aborted; families who are breaking apart; depressed teenagers; at-risk children; the homeless; the elderly and medically fragile; and those struggling against addiction, disease,
and loneliness. These people have a target on their backs. Because they are also created in the image of God, they are in the adversary’s crosshairs—especially so because they are weak and vulnerable. These people are in need of earnest prayer support. They are being assaulted by overwhelming enemies such as euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, abortion, and suicide. Pandemic can now be added to the national woes that threaten to overwhelm the vulnerable in our society. Consider how the coronavirus festered and left serious mental health challenges in its wake, not to mention fear and debilitating anxiety.
You are a modern-day Eleazar who will battle against these foes in our land, using prayer as a powerful weapon. You are the mighty warrior who will grasp the Sword of the Spirit—that
is, the Word of God—in your hand. And with God’s Word, you will not run away from the fray; you will overcome our enemy as you weave Scripture into your prayers by reading and praying through The One Year Pray for Life Bible.
This special edition of God’s Word is designed for prayer warriors who long to champion the cause for life. It is filled with hundreds of prayer prompts and other resources to help you pray
as God would want you to pray, whether your prayers are for aging seniors, despairing teens, fractured families, people with disabilities, people with mental health issues, children at risk, or young ones still in the womb. The heart of God is turned toward these precious ones whose lives are at risk because of the dark forces rising against them.
The Bible is the best prayer book you will ever possess. When we pray using the Sword of the Spirit, our praises and intercessions carry weight before God’s throne. The Bible is full of language that you can infuse into your prayers, enriching each petition and intercession with an eternal perspective. The Bible is the key to finding God’s will when we pray against the enemies in our land. Great themes abound—God’s holiness, wisdom, faithfulness, sovereignty, love, and mercy—all of which beautify our praises, adorn our intercessions, embroider our petitions, and give bulk and significance to every supplication as we pray for life throughout our land.
Why This Bible Is Critical in the Battle for Life
We all want greater faith in prayer, but how do we gain greater faith? Romans 10:17 provides the answer: “Faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” When you employ the Word of God in your prayers, your faith will grow—you will believe that God will accomplish great things through your intercessions. You will possess a greater authority in prayer, and your prayers will be large in their scope and importance.
It is wise to keep an open Bible before you as you pray. After all, the Bible underscores two things that God honors above all else: his name and his Word. “I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:1). “Your promises [your words] are backed by all the honor of your name” (Psalm 138:2). When we bring God’s Word directly into
our prayers, we are bringing God’s power into our prayers.
• “The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word gives our prayers life, infusing vitality into our praises and petitions and the thoughts that frame our petitions. God’s Word is active and powerful, interjecting dynamism into our praises.
• “‘Does not my word burn like fire?’ says the Lord. ‘Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?’” (Jeremiah 23:29). To use God’s Word in prayer is to employ divine power in breaking down spiritual strongholds and demolishing arguments of the enemy.
• “We never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). If God’s Word works in our lives, think how much more it works in our prayers.
This Bible is especially powerful in your hands because it will lead you through twelve months of praise and intercession. Imagine how forcefully the Kingdom of Christ will be advanced through a year of Bible reading and prayer, all of it geared toward the sacredness of life. My husband Ken and I have been reading through the Bible together for nearly fifteen years, and we have witnessed an astounding increase of faith in our prayers. As we read through the Bible each year, we have developed a fuller understanding of God’s redemptive plan in history and how much he values the life he has created. Ken and I boast in the Lord when we say that our prayers are rich and weighty as we accompany our Bible reading with prayer. We have invested years of praying for the sacredness of life to be exalted in our land.
For Ken and me, the discipline of reading through the Bible in a year and praying along through Scripture has forced us to meditate on our petitions—to think about what we are praying for. Over the many years of praying alongside our Bible reading, we can picture God and his responses:
• Referencing our Bible when we pray shows God we have thought through our praises and petitions and lined them up against the plumb line of Scripture.
• Using Scripture in our prayers demonstrates to God the importance we are attaching to our requests. It shows the high regard and appreciation we attach to his Word.
• Employing scriptural themes in prayer underscores that we desire to search out God’s heart in a matter and seek to know his will.
• Praying with an open Bible gives our prayer a “divine familiarity,” earmarking us as servants who possess a working knowledge of the most powerful prayer book ever written: the Word of God.
In closing, let me bring you back to the story of Eleazar. I want you to notice a powerful yet poignant insight in 2 Samuel 23:10. The King James Bible tells it this way: “[Eleazar] smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the Lord wrought a great victory.” Eleazar was so unyielding in battle, so persistent and confident in the outcome, so tireless—eve
n as others retreated—that his hand and his sword became one. His flesh fused, as it were, with his sword. Pastor J. Saxtell observed that Eleazar did not realize that the hilt of the sword was eating down into the palm of his hand, and that while he was taking hold of the sword, the sword was taking hold of him. I believe that as you use The One Year Pray for Life Bible, it will take hold of your life. Your hand will fuse with the Sword of the Spirit. You will become one with the Word, and it will be your mark of valor and distinction. Others may cower as the culture of death moves through the earth like a dark, poisonous cloud. Others may retreat from the frontlines. Some may collapse in fear before the enemy, overcome by anxiety and overwhelmed by battle fatigue. But you will stand firm on the frontlines, holding fast to Scripture and winning victories for the cause of life and for our King.
God has committed himself and his purposes to prayer. And the Word of God gives you great leverage as you pray for life. So be encouraged. Be blessed. Be invigorated. For Jesus Christ will
delight to bring every intercession that has to do with life before his Father’s throne. After all, he is the Resurrection and the Life; the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and the Word of Life. God bless you for taking hold of your sword—The One Year Pray for Life Bible—and gaining victories for the Prince of Life and his people!
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