‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’ – John 1:14
I love Christmas. Even more than the twinkling lights, cosy fires, familiar carols and smell of roasted chestnuts, I love to think about the God who came close. The God who didn’t stand at a distance but, just as John 1 tells us, ‘took on flesh’ and stepped right into our mess and brokenness. The God who upholds all things by his word, becoming a baby who couldn’t utter a single one. The God who set the stars in place, submitting himself to the care of his own creation. The God of heaven who came close and ‘dwelt among us.’
In this time of advent, where we eagerly anticipate, wait and prepare for him, what better time to lift our voices and hearts to him in prayer? You see, he still does it. The God who lay as a baby in a manger is still, right now, stepping into broken, hopeless situations and bringing transformation, restoration and hope. He still listens to the sound of his people’s voices, draws close and acts.
This is why prayer is so important to us. This is why every single day at CAP HQ we take time to ask the God who steps in to do just that, and to break through in the hardest situations. This is why we’re inviting you to join us in doing the same, through the CAP Prayer Advent Calendar!
Every day throughout December until Christmas Eve, across our social media platforms, we’ll be giving you the opportunity to hear from a range of voices across the world of CAP. This includes our patron the Archbishop of Canterbury, our Founder John Kirkby, some friendly head office and frontline faces, and more (watch this space!)
There’ll be scripture for us to reflect on, prayer needs to lift up together, and really quick, really easy ways to engage and respond.
This December, let’s come together and call on our mighty God to step into the complex situations faced by CAP’s clients, to pray for the future of this organisation and for the society we live in, and to remember and be thankful for everything he has done already.
I believe we will be changed as we pray. I believe that situations will be changed as we pray. I believe that Emmanuel, the God who is with us, will do what he loves to do and step right in.
Follow us on social media to take part:
Alicia Chapman is Prayer Leader at CAP's head office.
‘The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”’ – Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
As far back as Genesis, God saw the importance of community. In the act of making Eve for Adam, he proclaimed that we are not intended to be alone; that we are infinitely more powerful when we are together, unified.
This year, Christians Against Poverty, for which I am patron, has been campaigning for an end to the desolate isolation brought about by poverty. Millions across the UK are trapped with nobody to talk to, or silenced due to fear and shame, when they are most in need of help. However, through organisations like CAP and the local Church, God is at work, placing the lonely in families.
Today, will you join me in saying this prayer for those who are isolated and lonely?
Heavenly Father, thank you that through your generous love for us, you taught us how to love one another.
We pray you would make your Church a refuge for the isolated, filled with people ready to welcome in new brothers and sisters; a reminder of your love; a place where they would find family.
Lord, we ask that this Christmas you would send your Holy Spirit to anyone who is lonely, so that they may know that they are never truly alone.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
– Written by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and CAP’s Patron
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ – Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)
Do you ever have those winter mornings when it feels like the sun will never rise? Minutes then hours tick past, but still the darkness refuses to budge. Just like our clients so often feel – you are longing for light.
Isaiah prophesies into that longing. Not just to those in twilight or near night but to those in ‘deep darkness’. He sees that the ‘great light’ of the coming king matters most and shines the brightest, in the most hopeless places.
This is the light we see in Jesus. It’s the light that changed my life 26 years ago, and it’s the light that 8,000 CAP clients have now experienced by inviting his light into their lives.
Today, let’s pray for thousands more CAP clients to see this great light at carol services this December.
Why not try this to focus yourself?
Turn off the lights, close the curtains and surround yourself with darkness. Picture the clients who feel the weight of that darkness over their lives. Now imagine yourself in a candle-lit church as the first carol is sung.
- Those being helped by CAP would go to a Christmas service this year
- They would feel welcomed, loved and accepted
- They would respond to the great light of Jesus and invite him into the darkness
– Written by John Kirkby CBE, Founder of CAP
‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ – 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)
This Christmas time, as we prepare festive hampers to share with CAP clients, we have the wonderful opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Yummy food, an invite to join Christ’s family celebrations – it all helps to show people that they are loved and valued.
Three years ago, a client responded to the Alpha invitation in his hamper. He was overwhelmed by our generosity. Not only were his physical needs met, but his eternal destination was changed as he welcomed Jesus into his heart. These hampers are an expression of God’s abundant provision. He wants to lavish his love upon us.
- Please pray for all the hampers that are being given out this Christmas time
- Pray that God's love will be experienced by everyone receiving one
- Pray for opportunities to share the gospel too
Could you stretch to give to our emergency food aid appeal this Christmas? Ask God, he loves a cheerful giver.
– Written by Elaine Loe, CAP Debt Coach, Wye Valley
Find out more about our emergency food aid appeal here.
‘And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in his plan and purpose for you].’ – Romans 12:2 (AMP)
Romans 12:2 gives us permission to let go of the ‘superficial values and customs’ we’ve been conditioned to follow at Christmas and to rediscover the godly values of family, peace, love and joy that the season is really about. It’s a time of year that brings lots of financial pressures, which is extremely stressful for our clients on a Debt Management Plan who are trying to stick to a tight budget.
How amazing it is to be freed from the burden of needing to spend money on the novelties and expectations of Christmas and to realise that we have an everlasting, overflowing source of all we need this season, whether it’s hope, peace, or joy.
Take a moment to thank God for those things you are rich in, whether material or otherwise. Let him remind you of all that he’s provided this year, big and small.
And ask God to bring peace to those for whom Christmas is a stressful time, and reassure them that they have all they need without having to fork out for material things that are way beyond their budget.
– Written by Hayley Tearall, Communications team
‘When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.’ – John 6:5-6 (NIV)
God has drawn me to this well known story. It struck me as I read it again that all ‘the boy’ had to do was open his hands and give what he had to Jesus, and Jesus then took his offering and multiplied it to have an impact on thousands of lives.
It’s a simple act of faith and yet we can often find it so difficult to be ‘open handed’ and give everything to God. This story illustrates the huge impact we can have if we open our hands to God, allowing him to use all that we have.
Today, take some time in a quiet space and open your hands before God, asking him what he would like you to give to him.
Is it your time? Is it your finances? Could you be involved in opening a new CAP service? Does God want you to support a friend? Is God asking you to pray for someone? Is God asking you to volunteer to help CAP clients?
God will use whatever you are able to offer him.
– Written by Nicola Robinson, Head of Church Engagement
Find out more about opening a CAP service in your church here.
‘Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.’ – Leviticus 25:10 (NIV)
In Leviticus, we see the year of the Jubilee. During these times, the law saw people enslaved because of their debts. The aim of the Jubilee was to see people released from slavery, all debts written off and land returned to its rightful owner.
The Jubilee was to happen every 50 years. Historians believe that there is little evidence to suggest the Jubilee was regularly observed, if at all. Thankfully in 2018 we don’t have to wait 50 years to be released from poverty – we have insolvency law that enables the release from debt and gives that fresh financial start to people who need it.
At CAP, our insolvency clients, who are unable to repay their debts within a reasonable time, often have restricted budgets with little money to live off. 38% of our clients have been struggling with their debt for over three years. We saw in Leviticus that people who had been indebted for 50 years would finally be released from their burdens and restoration brought to them.
Today, please pray for our insolvency clients who are struggling to make ends meet until they are ready for their insolvency to be processed. And praise God for insolvency law that enables the release from crippling poverty and a fresh financial start.
– Written by Rachel Saxton, Insolvency Support team
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
December is one of the hardest times of the year to be unemployed. The peer pressure for good cheer is outrageous; the financial pressure of gifts is huge. When we feel that things are out of our control we tend to worry, but how do you stop worrying? Most of the awful things we imagine will happen never do.
However, as a Christian, we believe that God has everything in his control. We only need to trust that God will take care of everything as promised.
This Christmas, let's resolve to not spend excess money that we don't have, and to give the gifts of time and love, which have a far greater impact than mere physical gifts.
Today, please pray:
- For those who are unemployed at this time of year; that God would help them to be content in every situation, through the highs and lows of life, the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need, and claim his promise that they can do all things through him who strengthens them
- That God would grant them a generous spirit in spite of their circumstances, and that he would supply every need of theirs according to his will
– Written by Steve Hudson, CAP Job Club Manager, Skipton
‘They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.’ – Isaiah 61:4 (NIV)
This verse, written by Isaiah, shared God’s promise to the Israelites, that their land would be restored to them. I rely on God’s promise of restoration and rebuilding when speaking with CAP clients who are going through the trauma and devastation of being faced with eviction from, or repossession of, their homes. There’s such a sense of hopelessness and fear, and a sense that hopes and dreams are being destroyed in these situations.
There are people all over this country, in every town and city, perhaps on our streets, our neighbours or ourselves, who are faced with potential eviction or house repossession.
As a society we can do so much better than this. Everyone deserves a good, safe, affordable home.
Some actions we could take are:
- Ask God, 'Father, lead me to make a difference. Show me who to speak to and the actions I can take'
- Contact local and national politicians (councillors and MPs). Visit writetothem.com to send a message to the politicians representing your area – as a locally elected councillor I regularly raise issues of housing standards and homelessness
- Offer shelter by renting out a spare room
Every action we take can make a difference in the hand of God.
– Written by Michelle Swallow, CAP caseworker & local councillor
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ – Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Advent is a time of preparing for the birth of Jesus, and this verse reminds us of what this child brings into the world. Joy. Peace. Hope. Jesus came as a sign that God is with us, here throughout our time on earth and beyond, and that we’re safe in the knowledge that we can trust in him wholeheartedly.
Trust is the decision to fully surrender yourself into God’s hands, just as Jesus did on the cross. By continuing to trust in God, you will overflow with hope by the Holy Spirit – what a gift! Today, let’s just stop for a few minutes and remember this.
Listen to Living Hope by Phil Wickham, or your favourite worship song. You could do this on your way to church, on a run, in the bath, or during some specific devotional time – whatever works for you. Praise God for the hope we have through Jesus.
Then, why not share this message with a friend or neighbour who may not have heard it before? You never know the impact this could have on their life.
– Written by Ruth Wiseman, CAP Debt Coach, Swale
‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.’ – Isaiah 54:2-3 (NIV)
We’re at a critical point with our centre network capacity right now. We have Debt Centres that are fully booked for the next several months. In October, the busiest month in history for our helpline, we had to turn away 400 people who needed our help. This is not a place we want to be in.
Our vision is to see every area in the UK covered and every person able to access our services. We want to spread out to the right and to the left; we want to settle in desolate cities and restore lost hope. But for that to happen, we need more churches to come on board and partner with us.
Today, will you ask God to move through the many local UK churches, inspiring and encouraging their decision-makers to address the need in their communities and find out more about joining with CAP?
You could also help by booking a CAP Speaker to come along and inspire your congregation about the work of CAP.
– Written by Mark Cooke, Head of Network Operations and Head of Debt Centres
Find out more about partnering with CAP here.
Book a CAP Speaker for your church service here.
‘He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.’ – Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)
Thanks to your support of CAP, thousands of families have become debt free in 2018. Hundreds have found work, overcome habits and dependencies, and learned new life transforming skills. Together we are living out this verse in Isaiah.
Today, we’re bringing you a beautiful poem written by Jenny, a CAP Life Skills member. As you read it, please give praise and thanks to God for the amazing things he has done this year.
Forgive me Lord, I went astray,
But even so you heard me pray,
You sent friends that guided me,
Now I've found my family tree.
With roots so strong and branches tall,
I know my Lord, you're there for all,
I'm just a leaf upon the tree, but now I know your love for me.
Oh Lord, you are a mighty tree!
– Poem written by Jenny Henry, CAP Life Skills member
‘“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.”’ – 1 Kings 17:12 (NIV)
Picture for a moment the widow’s situation. She was a single mother with a young son, barely able to provide for the household. When Elijah met them, she and her child were on the brink of death. Thankfully, through God’s grace they endured and were provided for. God performed a miracle in the darkest of situations.
This situation is eerily familiar even today. Families without food and without heating. Houses so cold that the toilet water freezes over. Parents unable to afford to turn the heating on so they can cook a meal for their children. But remember: God still performs miracles!
Take a few minutes to pray for those families who will be without this Christmas. In particular, please pray for:
- Protection for families having to endure the cold this winter
- Those who need provision in a time of famine to receive it, just as the widow did
- The CAP Debt Coaches visiting those cold homes; that they would be like Elijah and speak the word of the Lord into those places
– Written by Paul Walmsley, Utilities Coordinator, External Affairs team
‘Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”’ – Acts 16:26-28 (NIV)
There are multiple miracles taking place in Acts 16. One of the more subtle miracles is the grace that Paul and Silas showed to their guard. They were in prison, in pain, and yet they held nothing over the guard’s head. He ended up getting saved because of the grace he was shown.
The thing is, we can be Paul and Silas AND the guard. When we’re trapped in a prison of our making, based on our own decisions, it’s easy to punish ourselves, both when we’re trapped and when we’re free again. It takes the form of regret, shame, guilt, and fear of it happening again. Paul and Silas could have let the guard kill himself because of the torture they endured, and let his shame take over, but they showed him God’s grace. It’s time that you did the same for yourself.
This is an activity we do as part of our Fresh Start groups:
- List a few of the mistakes you’ve made that you haven’t forgiven yourself for yet. Now, take a minute and forgive yourself for each of those items by name using God’s grace as your inspiration and strength. God never intended on us living a life of regret and shame. He delivered us from death so that we could truly LIVE.
- Finally, listen to the songs Forgiveness and Mended by Matthew West.
– Written by Tina Perry, Fresh Start Manager, Gloucester