5th Day of Christmas Prayer Challenge- God’s love in your loneliness.

Have you ever felt alone? God’s will is that we be connected with his love through other people who love him.

Psalm 68:6 New International Version (NIV God sets the lonely in families,[a] he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

 This Christmas season, many are full of depression and loneliness. They remember lost family members or friends. Sometimes, people feel left out and alone surrounded by smiling people. There is a sense that “I just don’t belong.”
God created us for relationship. So, these feelings are very painful when someone is feeling suffocated by them.
This brings us to our Advent passage today. We see Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple, to fulfill what God’s law required of them. They meet two interesting characters. Both seem a bit like loners…maybe two people who time have forgotten. But, God hasn’t forgotten them!

Luke 2:22 Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

This passage is breath-taking. The one who stands out to me is Anna. She is a woman who loved for 7 years before experiencing a devastating loss. For her time, losing a husband was financially devastating. She would have no more income and no hope of children. But, she trusted in the Lord. 

During this time, in Israel’s history, scholars look at the time leading up to this as the 400 years of silence. No prophet could be found in Israel. It was a famine for the Word of the Lord. BUT Anna and Simeon were in fasting and prayer day and night and GOD SPOKE TO THEM. God gave them the comfort of relationship that no one else could give. He also gave them eyes to see the coming of his Son when other people were rushing past on their way to the market, not knowing that God in flesh had brushed past in a crowd.

When you are lonely and seek The Lord, he is a very present help in time of trouble. In fact, God delights in delivering the outcasts, the lonely and the broken hearted. He is close to the broken hearted.

Today is your day to know that God wants to break through in your brokenness. Christ came to you! Christ wants to use you! Christ wants to bless you! Christ wants to forgive you! In fact, the scripture that Jesus spoke when he made his public debut in ministry is the declaration of God’s love over those who are rejected and in prison (real prison or emotional, situational or mental prison):

Isaiah 61 New International Version (NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Prayer for the brokenness in your life and prayer for the broken:

Father, in Jesus name, I thank you that you are a God who loves those who are broken. I thank you that you do not reject those who turn to you. Jesus, you are gentle in Spirit. You won’t snuff out the smoldering wick of my life. You won’t break a bruised reed. 

This Christmas I give you my loneliness, I give you the parts of my heart that feel lost and alone. I know you love me, but I sometimes feel numb and don’t feel. Give me faith to trust your Word. Your Word is good. Your power of your love can reach into my deepest pain. 

God, take the brokenness in my life. God I give you those who have left me alone. I give you those who have abandoned me and left me. I give you those parts of my heart that are shut up tight. Please deliver me from my pain and the sin that binds me. 

Jesus, you came to bind up the broken hearted. Bind up my heart!

Jesus, you came to proclaim freedom for the captives. I declare the freedom of Christ over my life! It says in your word that everything we bind on earth is bound in heaven and everything we loose on earth you will loose in heaven. Bind up my heart and release me from the prison of ___________ (name the things that bind you. unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, fear, lust, pain, self-hatred, loneliness, depression, confusion…God, release me from ______ in Jesus name!) 

God, you comfort all who mourn. I give you the dark parts in my life that no one knows about. I give you the things that gnaw at me and the things that I can’t get out of my mind. Deliver me from this. Love me in the middle of my pain. Teach me to be like Anna and to go in deeper with you when I am in loneliness. It says that you put the lonely in families. Please, Jesus, (if you are lonely)…put me in a family. Give me hope of a family. 

(If you are not lonely) Put the lonely in families. Is there anyone I can help? Is there anyway my family can bless someone who is depressed, hurt , rejected and alone? Show my heart. 

God, teach me to fast like Anna. Teach me to give up food so I can know you better. Teach me to overcome in this way so you can do an even greater work in me. 

I pray you bestow on me a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair, in Jesus name! 

Amen!

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