40 Days - Day 28

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" Acts 2:42-47 NIV.

Four simple things are mentioned: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer; yet, do we DEVOTE ourselves to them? I think we do a great job with fellowship sometimes. I mean, we are pretty good with talking and socializing with one another, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, how much teaching do we truly savor and take to heart? How often do we listen to something for thirty minutes or an hour just to forget it minutes or hours later? How often are we able to teach others because we have devoted ourselves? What does it mean to be devoted anyway? Words like steadfast, attentive, perseverance, and constant when combined together give us an idea of the powerful meaning of this simple word: devoted.

When it comes to breaking of bread, how often do we really take time to remember what Christ has done for us? The sacrifice, the pain, taking on our sins, and setting us free from the bondage of sin often get lost in the hectic pace of our lives... Lord, help us devote ourselves to remembering as it changes us. We cannot remember and remain the same!

Finally, the act of prayer is mentioned. This 40 day journey has been especially wonderful as various students have allowed God to work in their lives. I have been so blessed and thankful for each of their entries. God is at work. Lord, may we devote ourselves to prayer. May this become such a part of who we are as a youth group, as Your children, and as Your servants. Knit our hearts together with Yours Lord!

God, help us be devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer! We want to know You more and more. May Winter Retreat be a time of seeking You and You alone. We desire sincere hearts filled with praise for You!


40 Days - Day 27

"When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace, the LORD appeared to him at night and said:

'I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. '"

2 Chronicles 7:11-16 NIV

Father, this is Your student ministry. May we be humbled as we cry out to You and seek Your face. Hear our prayers, and unite our hearts. Forgive us for being lukewarm and not putting You first. We want a relationship with You Lord. We desire to serve and follow You... Heal us Abba!


40 Days - Day 26

Unfortunately, looking back over this past year, I must admit that I haven't grown as close to God as I could have. I have been living a lukewarm life. Sure I've had moments where I felt great potential, and if I had continued to pursue God like I should have, I probably would have become closer to Him. The reason why I'm lukewarm for Him right now is no one's fault but my own.

By a seemingly random reading out of the Bible by my cousin, (except of course it wasn't random, it was God) I knew that I had to change.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV).

In Greek, spit means vomit. If we are lukewarm for God, He will vomit us out of his mouth. Being vomited out of God's mouth is something I want to avoid at all costs. To know He would detest my lukewarm passion for Him so much as to rather me be completely cold for Him has made me stop and think. How can my passion become hotter and more intense for Him? How can I avoid being lukewarm? I've been praying about it a lot lately. I've come to realize that God wants us to constantly seek Him by reading His Word and talking and listening to Him. Just spending time with Him. He longs for us to be all that we can through Him.

My prayer for Winter Retreat, and for everyday, is that we will not be lukewarm for Him. That we will renew our passion, and that our passion will not die out. And most of all, that through our passion, God will be glorified.
Beth Rouse :)


40 Days - Day 25

God, please show us Your never ending love;
show us Your mercy and Your ceaseless grace.
Let them come down to us like a dove,
and let us feel Your warm embrace.

Help us see the plans in store;
may they be full of You.
Soften our hearts to open the door
to Your purposes, some strange and new.

Help us let go of our past:
the pain, the dark, the sin.
For we know evil will never last,
and Jesus Christ shall always win.

I pray for Your guiding light,
our unity under attack and weathered.
Ha, yes Disney got it right;
We're all in this together.

Life's journey for God's people is rough
trials and doubt may come like tidal waves,
but having Your hand on this trip will be enough
to make this Winter Retreat the one that saves.

This prayer, in Christ, I pray
with all of my heart I moan,
that for the rest of our days
we will never feel alone.

Jesus, thank You for the loving staff we have. I pray that You will equip them with the strength and the heart for this Winter Retreat. I pray that no one shy away from coming, that they know they will be loved and will grow. I pray for a united front against the struggles of our youth. Let this be a Winter Retreat we remember for the rest of our lives. Finally, I pray that the ones who don't attend feel the impact of Your love and guidance as much as the ones going. I pray that we grow and hold close to You. I pray for the youth who feel detached from You. I pray they know that they are not alone and that we love them. In your precious name, Amen.

Maddie Burford


40 Days - Day 24

Recently during this 40 days of prayer, I have come to realize more about who we are as God's most precious creation. We are warriors that are here on this earth to fight for Him. The sad part about all of this is some of us are reluctant warriors and are not fighting for Him. It seems that now people live their lives the way they want to until something happens, and then, they expect God to just pick up the pieces for them so they can continue with what they were doing. While He is there and will help us, He does expect a little help from us too. We are not completely helpless. Without minimizing the possibility of God intervening in our lives at special times, it is safe to say that He usually expects us to use the resources given to us to work through the problems of life. He made us in His image with the abilities to feel and make decisions, and He encourages us to use them. There are certain things in life He WILL NOT do for us, and these are usually the times when we feel He has left us. When really, He is there to mentor us, help us and encourage us, but He will not excuse us from using our minds. John 16:33 says that the victory is already ours, but that does not mean we won't have troubles. It just guarantees we will win in the end. What we have to remember as a youth group is that with continuing prayer there will be spiritual warfare, and the primary location for this battle is in our minds. Either we choose to believe the lies that hold us in bondage, or we choose to believe the truths that set us free. This is a never ending process that comes along with prayer. I am here to encourage you and tell you that no matter what you are going through or how you are getting attacked, God knows exactly what you are going through because He has been there too. When Jesus came to earth, He took on human form meaning that He desired food, He became tired, He needed sleep, He cried, and He died, etc. There truly is nothing He won't do for us. As a youth group, I want to challenge everyone to make a new year's resolution to not only continue in prayer but to stick with each other through these guaranteed times of struggles, and we will find it to be so much easier to pull through. This is my prayer for the youth group.

~Brittney Harrison~


40 Days - Day 23

Being the last day of this extraordinary year, I find myself thinking back upon all the memorable times, things I did wrong and events that I would love to relive. For me, this was a hard journey full of intimidating trials, exhausting climbs and unfortunate set-backs. However, I still feel that I have been blessed. My relationship with God has grown more than I had expected, though it was harder than I had anticipated by far. And, while I had originally thought that I would be able to look back and say, “Wow, I’ve finally made it! This is it!” I have only reached what I thought to be the top, finding it was a mere cliff. Still the view is amazing, and a view that many people go their entire lives without seeing has been opened to me.

A few of you know this, but at an AMAZING event this past summer (The Call 07.07.07), I experienced God like never before! The encounter was so overpowering, and I decided to do something that I’d wished to happen every year. Not really knowing what I was getting myself into I prayed for hours, begging him to “break me of myself.” I reached a place in time that I felt closer to God than ever before (right as school was starting), and then at the height of it all, I began to be painstakingly broken. For a while I didn’t understand what was happening, and while I still pressed into God, I sought the counsel of my “godmother” Vicki who is a marvelous woman of Christ. She began to help me out of the spiritual state of oppression and encouraged me to continue pressing into God. After many months of fighting for truth with myself I have reached a place of achievement and trials. The process has been long and hard, but I have learned the importance of enjoying life and living it through the love of God.

I know that many of you are looking back at the previous year’s happenings and finding the many things that stick out to you as “good” or “bad,” and a few of you are even wishing for more time, finding it now gone. I too find myself wishing for things to have worked out better, but I know that no matter what I say or think about it, the past is history. It is in this understanding and experience that I encourage you to join me in beginning the New Year with this verse to head us off and really press to have this Scripture reverberate through us as a body of Christ day to day.

“So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect” Romans 12:1-2 NCV.

Abba Father,

We praise Your abundant love, adore Your mighty power, and seek Your mercy in our lives. We come to You with the most humble hearts - thanking You for the blessings we have been given this year. It’s been an amazing journey, and we cry out for more. God, You are all we need. We desire only to seek You in everything we do. Our hearts and souls beg for You to enter every crease and fold of our hearts. God, I have felt You in waves of utter awe, and I pray in Jesus’ name that You give each and every one of us a new burning love for You. We ask that You forgive the sins we committed this year knowing that You will forget them and remove guilt other than that we choose to bring up ourselves. You are an awesome God, and we love You! Let our hearts be pure before You and our minds clear. Father we thank You for loving us before we even thought, for being so amazingly forgiving. We ask that You lead us into this Winter Retreat with an overpowering desire to have nothing but You in it. I pray that we keep our minds on Your glory through it and our hearts enflamed with Your love.

In Christ, Love Always Endures,

Marisa Anne


40 Days - Day 22

After listening to “Alyssa Lies,” I finally realized what it really was talking about. A little girl met a new friend on the playground named Alyssa. Her parents abused her on a daily basis, and Alyssa tried to cover up all of the bruises she had. I had heard this song before, but this time it was different. I was sitting down at the computer listening to the words, singing to the top of my lungs, and reading the lyrics. When I got to the chorus, I noticed my eyes were filling with water.

This song reminds me of Joash. There was a wicked woman named Athaliah whose son, the king, had just been killed. She decided that if she killed all his children (her own grandchildren), she could rule the kingdom. Fortunately, Jehosheba, the dead king’s sister, took Joash, son of the dead king, and hid him from Athaliah. Joash remained hidden in the temple for six years, while Athaliah ruled (2 Chronicles 22:12).

If you ever feel in danger, there is always a place for you to be safe, just like Joash was saved from being murdered. When you are in a safe place, pour out your heart to God. He made you and will heal you. Think of Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" NIV.

After reading these passages and listening to this song over and over, I remembered our group's first session over Elevate weekend. I was sitting there listening to all of the horrible things that girls the same age I was had gone through. I sat there wondering to myself, why would anyone want to endanger a child who was created in God’s hands and eyes? Some kids think they have mean parents who don’t love them, but there are children out in the world who have gone through some terrible things.

My prayer for the Winter Retreat is if you ever feel down or abused, cry out to God; He will help you get through it. The Bible has many passages that talk about biblical men that were abused.

Megan Johnson