Originally written December 2, 2010

At the last possible minute, as I was preparing to leave the house this morning, God laid something upon my heart.  He very softly and very quickly told me to wear “the shirt” today.  It’s cold today…in the 30’s, and the thought of wearing a t-shirt alone gave me cold chills from the comfort of my warm bedroom.  He softly reminded me that I could still wear a sweatshirt over it, but that I need to wear the shirt.  My heart kept telling my mind, “This is important.  Wear the shirt.”  As I put it on, God again spoke to me and said very calmly, “there are others out there with shirts just like this.”  It was then that I knew He was telling me to ask every member of the family with “the shirt” to wear it today, so I published a post to Facebook before leaving the house, asking those with “the shirt” to wear it today and be in prayer for Dave.

I will admit to you all now that I don’t pray enough.  I get wrapped up in the daily grind and rush that has become my life, and I hurry along my path to accomplish what I’ve set out to do that day…to mark the “to-do’s” off my list.  I often get so engrossed in what I think I need to be doing that I don’t do enough of what God wants me to be doing.  I don’t pray enough.  I began to reflect upon the time since I first joined the Facebook community, and how many times I’ve been asked via a friend’s status to pray for a need they had.  It seems as though I come across a friend every day who asks for prayer for one thing or another.  Sometimes I comment back to indicate that I’ve heard their plea for prayer and that I’m praying for them.  Often times, I shoot up a quick prayer silently without commenting on their post…and then move on with whatever it was I was doing.   Often, that friend’s prayer request rarely enters my mind again throughout the day.  I’m ashamed to admit that, because that’s not who I want to be.  It’s not who God’s called me to be.  I admit it, though, because the first step toward improvement is acknowledging what needs to be improved.  I wonder how many others there are out there like me.  Am I the only one guilty of this lackadaisical approach to my prayer life?

Pulling into the parking lot of the store this morning on my way to accomplish my daily tasks, I was so suddenly overcome with the guilt from what had just occurred that I had to pull aside and literally weep for 5 minutes.  God presented me with that “light bulb” moment…the realization that I was guilty of not praying enough…of not praying as diligently and fervently as I need to be praying for those I love…of being so consumed with my own little world, that I have not been committed in my prayer to those whom I love the most.

Well, as you can guess, I’m moving forward.  I spent the day in reconciliation with God and myself.  God has forgiven me, and I am working to forgive myself.  I’m moving forward in my prayer life.  My day with God today has brought me closer to Him…so much so that He’s laid something else upon my heart…the meat of why I’m sharing this whole story with you in the first place… He’s asking me to challenge you.  I set out to challenge my family, but it’s occurred to me as I approach this point in this letter that God will place this letter before a larger audience than what I initially thought I was to write if for.  What follows is for every person reading this letter.  God has placed this letter before you for a reason…to challenge you.

To challenge you to join me as I move forward.  To challenge you to look into your own hearts and ask yourself the same questions I was faced with this morning: 1. Is your prayer life all that it can and should be?  2. Do you pray enough for those you love the most in this life?  3. Are you guilty of the “quick shout-up prayer” that you put out of your mind as soon as you pray it?  4. Do you read your Facebook friend’s wall-post prayer requests and then “delete” them from your thoughts throughout the day?

After you’ve taken an honest look into your heart with those questions, I pray you come to a different answer than I did.  I pray your answer is “yes” to the first two and “no” to the last two. I think for at least one person reading this, the answers will be like mine were.  It is for you whom God has asked me to write this.  It’s no mistake that you’re reading this.  God is presenting you with the same opportunity He presented me this morning.  He’s knocking on the door to your heart through this letter, just as He knocked on the door to my heart this morning.  Will you open it as I did?  Or will you ignore it and dismiss this as just another rant from a crazy person?  I pray you open it and allow Him to come join you at the table Love with a plateful of Forgiveness and cupful of Grace.  After you’ve enjoyed His bountiful forgiveness and grace, move forward.  Move forward with me. Join alongside me as we move forward together with a pledge to pray more diligently and fervently for those we love.

For any member of my family reading this…for any person not in our family reading this that is willing to accept the second part of this challenge:  We have a very real need in our immediate family.  We have a member of our family and brother in Christ who is hurting…suffering daily…in fact, every minute of every day.  His pain is real…both physically and emotionally.  He is currently struggling with how to live with a medical condition that has become debilitating…a medical condition that as of this letter’s origination has not been accurately diagnosed.  He is struggling with the emotional turmoil that any loving father and husband who can no longer physically provide for his wife and two young children would battle.

Dave was born on the 4th day of the month.  So, on the 4th of EVERY month, I’m challenging you to spend the FIRST FOUR MINUTES of your day in prayer for Dave and his family.  On this day one day a month specifically, I’m asking you to give God your “firsts”, because who really wants leftovers when you can have firsts?  Our “firsts” are our best, and God doesn’t want the leftover part of our day as we’re lying in bed struggling to stay awake long enough to have a conversation with Him.  He wants our “firsts” more than our leftovers.  We should be giving God our “firsts” every day anyway, but I’m asking you to commit to one day of “firsts” each month.  And…I’m only asking for FOUR MINUTES!! I know that if I can spend 30 minutes watching the nightly news, I can certainly give God and my little brother four minutes once a month.

I’m also challenging you to wear “the shirt” on the 4th of EVERY month if you have one.  Wear it for the entire day if you can, or a part of the day if your job won’t allow it.  Just wear it on the 4th of every month, if even for the hour between you coming home from work and going to bed…wear it.  Wear it as a physical reminder to keep Dave, his wife and two kids in your thoughts and prayers throughout the entire day.  If you’re like me, you need a constant reminder and need it “in your face” practically all the time in order to keep something at the forefront of your mind.  In wearing the shirt, I’ve found that Dave and his needs have been in my thoughts all day.  Sure, I can’t multi-task that well…there are those moments when my mind is elsewhere, but I never went for longer than 30 minutes without looking down and seeing the shirt, putting Dave right back at the forefront of my thoughts and internal conversations with God (i.e. prayer).  I’ve found that the constant reminder in seeing the shirt on me all day puts me in a constant mindset of prayer…not just for Dave, but prayer in general.  And as mentioned earlier, that is a good thing!

God tells us multiple times throughout the Bible that there is strength in numbers:

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12

“Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

Wow!  What a powerful promise!  Strength and power in numbers.  Pretty simple.  Can you imagine the impact we will have when we gather in His name on the same day, at the same time, and again throughout the day for one purpose?  To pray for Dave and his family.  Please join me this Saturday and again on the 4th of EVERY month for the FIRST FOUR MINUTES.  By the way, it’s no coincidence that the theme of the shirt is “Fighting For Air”.  I believe it was in God’s plan all along, to bring the two separate themes together.  Four minutes without air is practically a death sentence for the brain and body.  As you give your FIRST FOUR MINUTES on the 4th of every month, remember that Dave truly is “Fighting For Air” with every breath, every minute of every hour.

For those who need or would like “the shirt”, please go to:  www.fightingfordave.com and make a donation to the Family Fund.  Due to his condition, he is not able to work, so proceeds from the fund are used to help support Dave and his family financially through this time in his life.  You can also follow his Facebook page @Fighting For Dave for updates on his battle, as well as learn about events planned for him.   I can speak for the entire family in saying that your prayers, thoughts and well-wishes are appreciated more than what could ever be explained in words.

Finally, to my little brother, Dave:  You embody the love of Christ in this battle you’re facing, and you have embraced what God has laid out for you through this pain and suffering.  You are more of a man than I ever thought possible while we were growing up.  I am proud of who you’ve become, as a man…as a father…as a brother…as a disciple of Christ.  You are an inspiration to me through your faith and trust in what God has planned for your life.  I hope one day I can face the challenges of my life as bravely and with such faith and determination to glorify God as you have.  You are a rock to so many people little brother, and you stay strong in this fight!  You hear me?  Others look to you for their inspiration and strength to fight their own battles.  Others look at your example and long to be as brave as you are.  You continue to focus your eyes upon the prize at the end of this fight, and your children will follow your example.  You are already so blessed with the two young boys you have, and I know that they will continue to bless you for generations to come.  God will reward your faithfulness through their lives and the lives of their children to the 3rd and 4th generations.  I love you more than I could ever say, and I’m not ready to walk this earth without you.  You keep fighting!

Jay

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