Thursday, January 23, 2014

Praying for the heart of a "king"

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. - Proverbs 21:1 (NASB)

Late last night, the word came that Naghmeh Abedini has prayerfully decided NOT to proceed with her protest in front of the White House. Her announcement came the same day as news that her husband has been moved to a different section of the worst prison in Iran. Her stated reasons - the best interest of her husband and children, and the good of the Body of Christ - are admirable. I honor and affirm her decision not to protest just as much as I did her initial choice to protest. These decisions about whether to take a spiritual battle into the political realm can only be decided between the person in that situation and God. There is no one size fits all solution - there are biblical examples of all kinds of courses of action. 

As I have prayed over the past 24 hours about what God would have me do with my planned Monday prayer and advocacy times, God brought the verse above into my mind. I've been troubled by President Obama's failure to communicate with Naghmeh. God has reminded me that He is the only one who can change the president's heart. 

God's call for me to support Naghmeh with prayer and advocacy has not changed. However, instead of asking my representatives to go 'stand with Naghmeh' outside the White House, I plan to ask them to contact President Obama and ask him to reach out to Naghmeh. Specifically I am asking God to turn the president's heart toward Naghmeh as he hears from multiple senators and representatives asking him to contact her. I further pray that when he hears the story directly from this precious woman, God will turn his heart yet again and cause him to work toward Pastor Saeed's release. 

Many of you join me in praying for Saeed, Naghmeh, and their children Rebekka and Jacob on a continual basis. My request to you tonight is that you join me on Mondays in praying specifically for God to change President Obama's heart toward the situation and move for him to contact Naghmeh. After you pray, please act: write or call the White House; contact your senators and representative and ask them to contact the president; and pass the word on so others can do this as well. Let's see if someone from each of the 435 congressional districts will contact his or her representative and both senators from that state!

You can prepare this weekend by visiting and to find the contact information for your senators and representative, and preparing your letter or phone notes. (Please remember that "mass email campaigns" rarely work with congress; they really just want to hear from the people in their own district or state). 

Naghmeh's decision last night reminded me anew that the body of Christ is just that - all one body. As Paul teaches, when one suffers, we all suffer. The author of Hebrews exhorts us to remember those in prison because we, also, are part of the body. And in the passage below Paul makes them aware of God's deliverance that would be brought about through their prayers. As many prayed, God would receive more glory as many praise Him when the prayers are answered! That is my ultimate prayer for this season of prayer and advocacy - that we would see Him work and He would receive more praise and glory from His church!

2 Corinthians 1:6-11 ESV 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

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