Throughout March we’re focussing (even more than usual) on prayer for different areas of our family mission.

Next week, why not take some time each day to pray for one of the needs we’re hoping to address through our Christmas Appeal? Involve the whole family if you can.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Monday: Releasing people from debt

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
— Isaiah 58:6 (NIV)

The money you donate will go to support the work of financial advice centres in Peterborough and Southend in the UK. Many people struggling with debt feel hopeless, and think they will never be free. Jesus has the power to break those chains that have trapped them, and the advice centre staff are some of the tools he uses to break those chains, through their advice, advocacy and support.

Picture a chain - or draw one as a family - and think about what different factors might be forming the links (family breakdown, insecure employment, long-term ill health, a crisis that has spiralled, life-controlling habits etc). Pray over each link specifically, and ask God to break it.

Tuesday: Empowering those experiencing mental ill health and isolation

The Choices Course at Kings Church Norwich, UK helps people who are trapped in cycles of anxiety, depression and isolation. It helps them to break those cycles and learn the skills they need to build resilience and increase their chances of finding employment or meaningful activity within their community.

God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing.
— Psalm 68:6 (NIV)

Think of a time when you felt lonely and unloved. Feelings like these make us want to hide away and not see our friends and family - even though they are the ones we most need at the time. Pray for people who feel like this every day. Ask God to send them good friends who will persist and not let them hide away for too long. And pray for the staff of the choices course, that they would help these people feel loved by Christians and by God.

Wednesday: Transforming broken families

He heals the broken-hearted
and binds up their wounds.
— Psalm 147:3

We all know families that have broken down, and we know the devastating effects this breaking of the closest social bond has on all concerned. The 180 project at Community Church Chafford Hundred, UK works with children, young people and their parents to help to overcome the effects of family breakdown.

Our giving to this year’s appeal will help to support a Family Engagement Worker for the area. Their job is huge. It must seem overwhelming at times, like a big, broken jigsaw puzzle, with the pieces all muddled up. It seems impossible, but the way to complete a jigsaw puzzle is simply to start. Pray for the Family Engagement Worker as he or she makes a start on this task. If you’ve got kids, maybe get out an age-appropriate jigsaw and pray together as you put in the pieces, that God would piece back together these broken lives and this community.

Thursday: Reaching marginalised communities

Sadly, prejudice against different groups exists everywhere, and in Serbia it is the Roma community who are marginalised and treated with suspicion. Good News Church in Nis is working to reduce the extreme poverty and social isolation this community faces, and to demonstrate God’s love for them to the rest of the Serbian society. They do this by helping to give the Roma children the things they lack - from food to school books…even occasionally to violins - to help give them the same opportunities as other Serbian children.

The Lord your God...defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.
— Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)

Picture one child getting ready for school in the morning and think about each of the things he or she needs for the day - a decent breakfast, clean clothes, a school bag with pencils, books etc, transport, acceptance by the other students, so they aren’t bullied or afraid, a quiet place to do homework… Pray for each thing they need through the day. If you’ve got kids, why not pray with them for a child just like them in Serbia as they do each thing while you get ready?

EXTRA: Good News Church is looking for an ID intern to work with them in 2019-20. Who could you send, along with your prayers, to help them? Learn more…

Friday: Addressing the need on your heart

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
— Micah 6:8

What part of our broken world has God put on your heart? One of these needs, or something else? Pray for whatever he leads you to today, for the people in need and for those who help them, for just political and social systems to meet the needs, and for godly men and women to help address the roots of the needs and introduce them to the only one who can meet our deepest need: Jesus.

And don’t forget to ask God how he wants to use you to meet the need. And ask him for the courage to do it.

If you would like to donate to the projects meeting these needs, as well as praying for them, there is still time. We are holding the appeal open until the end of March. Thank you for your generosity.

Empower conference

If you’ve been inspired to learn more about how your church can meet some of these needs, come to our Empower Conference in June. There will be worship, teaching, practical seminars, opportunities to meet new people, and hear about some great church-based projects, all designed to help you to make a difference in your local community, bringing hope and transformation to the broken world around us.

Early bird tickets (until 27 April) - £15