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KEEPING THE FAITH | How prayer changes you

Too often, people believe God needs perfect situations in order to do His best work. God uses the uncomfortable situations of life as a staging area to do the seemingly impossible.   
RevLewisMacklin032020
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

As a child I remember the popular church cliché “Prayer changes things.”  

As I have matured in the faith, I have come to an understanding that prayer actually changes me. Too often, people believe God needs perfect situations in order to do His best work. That is not true. God does not need perfection. God does not need you to have it all figured out. In fact, God does not need you to have everything arranged.  

God can show up right where you are. In the middle of a messy situation, God will show Himself strong. 

Most of the blessings in the Bible do not occur when things are perfect or when there are sunny skies and bright horizons. God blessed in a fiery furnace for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as evidenced in the Book of Daniel. God also blesses in the midnight hour as Paul and Silas could attest in the Book of Acts. 

You may feel like you’re facing a heated situation or time is running out. Yet take heart, God is able to bless despite what the circumstances look like. In fact, if you feel like you are being smothered by the pressures of life, this is the perfect environment for God to reveal Himself in your life. God uses the uncomfortable situations of life as a staging area to do the seemingly impossible.   

I have shared in prior writings that there are five basic elements of a prayer: Praise, Petition, Supplication, Intercession and Thanksgiving. Each element garners God’s attention while acknowledging apart from Him, my efforts alone are inadequate and insufficient,   

Philippians 4:6-7 is clear, “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.”

That said, speak your heart to God who knows what is on your mind before you even utter the words:

"God, please show up in my life right now and be everything I need."
"God, grant me unmerited favor, extend grace and give mercy." 
"God, prepare a table of blessings before me, in the presence of all my enemies, haters and doubters."
"God, bind every illness and sickness in my body”
God, I know that all things work together for your good and perfect will"
"God, everything in Your hands, be my Shield and my Fortress protecting me from dangers seen and unseen."

The late Bishop Walter Hawkins’ message, “Thank You, Lord, For All You’ve Done For Me,” is a constant reminder to be grateful of His overcoming power in light of the current challenges.     

What Do We Want? PEACE!

The 2 p.m. community prayer walks will continue each Sunday in August. Persons with mobility challenges are welcome to participate in a stationary prayer gathering at the locations. 

The Stop the Violence March and Prayer Walk will convene today on the West Side at the corners of Fernwood and Mahoning avenues.  Parking is available in the rear parking lot of Hair World. The gathering time is 1:30 pm with the march and prayer walk launching at 2 p.m. 

In the event of inclement weather, the location will be inside New Covenant Church, 304 Matta Ave., which is next to William Holmes McGuffey Elementary School.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Stop the Violence, Pursue Peace Campaign will continue beyond August. 

Efforts are underway for a mobile canvassing of the community as an alternative approach to the marches and prayer walks for the month of September. This will help us cover more neighborhoods with our presence and message. The caravans will help us maintain our physical presence in the neighborhoods

However, the emphasis beyond the campaign initiative will be directing efforts toward the mediation and mentoring components. There will be an intentional focus to pursue and foster relationships with those we are trying to impact so that mediation and mentoring can occur.

Night of Prayer  

Innovation Life Church of Canfield is inviting people of faith for an evening of prayer, praise and worship on behalf of Mahoning Valley on Sunday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. Pastors and faith leaders throughout Ohio have been invited to participate in the “From Heartache to Healed” services at the Youngstown Wean Park Amphitheatre. 

Revive Us Again

A revival with the intent to encourage and rejuvenate The Church will be Sept. 28- 30. More details will be shared as they become available.   

October Non-Violence Week 

The bill for non-violence week observance within the state of Ohio was proposed by Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past students. These scholars, comprised of a small group of Youngstown high school students, advocated and successfully championed the effort. 

The Ohio Revised Code Section 5.2289 that designates the first full week in October as “Non-Violence Week” was enacted by the Ohio General Assembly and signed July 11, 2013, by then-Gov. John Kasich. 

The 2021 Ohio Nonviolence Week is Oct. 3-9 and you are encouraged to consider ways to personally embrace the concept of pursuing peace and addressing issues of violence. Among the events:

Sunday, Oct. 3 at 3 p.m. — Parade and Rally, downtown Youngstown;
• Oct.  3-8 — Five Day Reading Challenge;
• Monday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. — The Simeon Booker Award for Courage at the Tyler History Center. The national recipient is a posthumous award for the late Congressman John Lewis and the local recipient will be the Rev. James “Jim” Ray;
• Oct. 4 and 6 — Jeff Steinberg of the founder and visionary of the National Sojourn to the Past will speak to 10th-graders at East Chaney and Early College via zoom;
• Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 6-9 p.m. — Mingle with Minnijean Brown-Trickey, a civil rights icon at 2308 Market St., Youngstown. The cost of dinner is $12;
• Oct. 6 at 9:30 a.m. — The honorable Judge Michael Ryan of Cleveland will speak to the scholars in the Youngstown City School’s Early College Program.

For further details and information regarding the additional events or to become engaged in supporting these efforts, visit here

Benediction: 

Dear Lord,

You have watched over me all these years and have never failed me. I thank You for Your unconditional love and constant guidance. I am so grateful that you lifted me up because you had a plan for me.  I believe that I am where I am because of You. No matter what may come against me, You shall always be my refuge. I am keeping the faith for I know you are there watching over me. 

Amen

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living translations unless noted otherwise.

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