I’m blessed to be a member of a Cameroonian women’s ministry called Praying Brides” with the motto “From child of God to Bride of Christ”. This past week I was asked to join the team responsible for developing quarterly challenges and planning Praying Brides’ retreats. As my first task, I was to develop a challenge on a theme given to me by my friend Olivia Mukam who founded the women’s ministry. She said “so can we have a challenge that inspires us to practice biblical love for self and others in the ‘month of love’ and I was like: Cool!
After a really bad dry spell having nothing to write/no zeal to write. I am truly ecstatic at the divine inspiration that birthed this challenge so I decided to share it with a wider audience via my blog. Here goes:
Praying Brides Challenges us all TO KNOW LOVE & BE KNOWN AS LOVING more than ever over the course of 14 days spanning from the 13th to the 26th of February 2023.
Our challenge has two parts; we’re challenged to KNOW LOVE (to experience self-love as God called us to) and be KNOWN AS LOVING (to reflect the love of God to our fellow man).
Part One: KNOW LOVE
As per Jesus’s words, we would be keeping ALL the commandments if we but: “Love the Lord your God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength… and Love our neighbours as we love ourselves.”
This suggests if we don’t love ourselves, we’ll not be able to love our neighbours, not be able to fulfil the commandments, nor live as God has called us to. So over the first 7 days of the challenge, we will *pray scripture* and practice acts of genuine and biblical self-love.
Part Two: BE KNOWN AS LOVING
And John said, “If you do not love your [neighbour] whom you can see, how can you [claim to] love God whom you cannot see?”. In the second week, we challenge ourselves and others to exemplify Christ’s love so that we be known as His. For as scripture says: “… By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35).
Are you in?
Check out the details of the challenge below! I’ve made a nifty table to illustrate the underlying scripture of all we are challenging ourselves (and others) to do. The table also has a column which gives examples of how we can act on the challenge. These examples are just that- examples… You might have a different way to fulfil the challenges, don’t let the examples box you in.
I’ll love to know if you like the challenge and if you decide to take it up, do drop a comment or tag PrayingBrides on IG if you do!
|THE (UNDERLYING) SCRIPTURE(S) / SCRIPTURE(S) TO PRAY
|EXAMPLES OF ACTIONS TO DO (YOU CAN ADD YOURS)
|PART 1: KNOW LOVE
|Day 1- We challenge you to praise God for his Creation- You
|” For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
|Write an abridged version of Psalm 139 that appreciates how God created you (if you don’t want to write it out, you can do a voice note or a video of yourself appreciating how God took his time to make you and all that which shows you are wonderfully made.
|Day 2- We challenge you to find God in you…assess and appreciate all the ways you reflect your maker and all the ways God is changing you/conforming you to be more like Christ…
|Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
|Draw a figure of yourself, do a before after of yourself and appreciate your progress and God’s ‘shaping’ work as the Potter He is.
|Day 3- We challenge you to show yourself the ‘highest form of love’- discipline
|Proverbs 25:28 – He that [hath] no rule over his own spirit [is like] a city [that is] broken down, [and] without walls.
Proverbs 15:32 – He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding
|Commit at least one act of self-discipline today (telling yourself no to some indulgence you know would harm you, putting up boundaries for your eventual peace of mind… basically doing something that future you will thank you for And/Or Reach out to one person (or more) whom you can trust to give you critical feedback on how you can work on yourself- listen to them with an open heart and commit to working on what has been brought to your attention
|Day 4- We challenge you to get to know yourself
|Romans 7:15-24 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! Lamentations 3:40 Let us test and examine our ways and return to the Lord!
|Do a self-awareness exercise of your choice, it could be an online quiz or merely reflecting and journaling on what drives you, what fuels certain feelings etc… Pray in the Spirit that God searches your innermost being and reveal the things you may be overlooking- both good and bad. To love yourself you must know yourself.
|Day 5- We challenge you to forgive yourself and accept His Grace & Mercy
|[B]ut this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. —Philippians 3:13 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:1
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. —Psalm 103:10-11
|Write down the most ‘shameful’ things you feel you have done. What you consider your fatal flaws, that which makes you unworthy as per the enemy’s voice in your mind. Write them out or say them out loud and record. To each “failing” response I forgive myself for…. God no longer condemns me for…
|Day 6- – We challenge you to capture negative self-thought
|“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Psalms 94:19 “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. 19 When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.”
|What anxieties have you been dwelling on and what negative ideas about yourself, the future etc. have you been entertaining? Confront them as lies and expose them as schemes of the enemy… Cast them aside- some good songs to use for this are: “You must Break” by Tasha Cobbs ft. Kierra Sheard And “Hello Fear” by Kirk Franklin
|Day 7- – We challenge you to speak life/prophesy over your life
|Job 22: 27-28 “You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” “See, I have set before you this day life on the one hand and death on the other. Therefore, choose life!” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
|Make 7 declarations in keeping with God’s word over your life…
|PART 2: BE KNOWN AS LOVING
|Day 8- We challenge you to have eyes that see God in people different from you (different culture, beliefs, faith, way of life)
|James 3:9 ”With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.”
|Day 9- We challenge you to break the ice/take the first move towards healing…
|Matthew 5:46 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
|The “snobbish” person who never greets? Greet them first. The relationship that ended on a bad note? Write to them first. We often give back that which we receive, Christs’ love is that which takes the initiative and reaches out first. Be the first to say sorry, be the one to say hi first, the one to be vulnerable… the Lord you seek to emulate was vulnerable all through his life!
|Day 10- We challenge you to help lighten another’s burden
|Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
|Consider someone you can offer assistance to today no matter how small. Who is in need near you? N.B. It must not be someone you know personally. It could be helping a mother carry her child on public transportation or paying a student’s taxi fare
|Day 11- We challenge you to affirm/appreciate someone’s value today
|Hebrews 3:13 “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’…” Proverbs 3:27 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
|Pick one sister in church, a colleague at the workplace, an old neighbour or teacher or even a client… Let them know specifically that you appreciate them and why you appreciate them. Help them see how precious their role in your life has been.
|Day 12– We challenge you to speak the truth/correction for improvements to someone today
|Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Romans 15:1-21 “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us must please our neighbour for the good purpose of building up the neighbour
|Offer to correct, advise, counsel or otherwise help in improving someone IN A LOVING MANNER today. Pray for direction as to who to advise and about the counsel you want to offer…
|Day 13- We challenge you to be the blesser where you once were the blessed/pay it forward…
|Hebrews 7:7 Everyone agrees a person who gives a blessing is greater than the one who receives the blessing.”
|Recall an act of love you received (possibly double it) and pass it on start a chain by telling the person you help that you once received the same… This act of love could be grace or mercy which we all receive!
|Day 14- We challenge you to share the good news of salvation IN A MANNER OF LOVE!!!!
|Romans 10:15 “And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
|Pray for the Spirit’s guidance, then act with creativity and empathy to share the gospel with someone today. It could be as simple as inviting someone to join the Praying Brides’ ministry.