Tag Archives: prayer

The Coming Of Christ

weekly theme #3 The Coming Of Christ*  

week containing the third Sunday in Advent

I have met people so focused on Jesus’ second coming that they fail to sense him right now.  Jesus’ first coming brought flesh and blood to prophesies in the Old Testament, and the invisible God became tangible.  Yes, I am supposed to look forward to his return to earth, but I must also live as he so clearly taught and exemplified.  Giving my attention to what is around me, as well as to the sky, actually hastens the answer to his prayer of “your Kingdom come, your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven”.

As soon as I sat down this morning for my Time With Father, I told him, “God, I’m having real trouble with this idea of watching for your second coming.”  I had this image of sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch staring at the sky – watching for his return, but when I read Ezekiel 34:1-10 and Luke 12:42-48 things started falling into place.  I “watch” for his return by doing his work.  I remembered Jesus’ parable about the owner of land turning it over to his servants’ care.  The owner did not want them standing around every day waiting for his return; he wanted them to care for what he had entrusted to them.  However, in truth, my work is most often a distraction from my watching.  It is when my “watching” wanes the most.

For years, I have longed to have better communication with God.  In church language, I wanted to “be constantly in prayer”.  (I wrote about this situation just last week – #2 Preparing The Way.)  Words from Brother Lawrence (he served in a Paris monastery in the 17th century) added some guidance to solving this dilemma.  As I understand it, he intentionally set up reminders for prayer so that his day was repeatedly “interrupted” by prayer.  Over time, each “interruption” became an anticipated oasis through the day.  Gradually he found himself conversing with God between these “assigned” times, making prayer a majority of his day.  And when he entered a task that might take his full concentration, he asked for his work to be an acceptable prayer.  This makes “constantly in prayer” and “always watching” seem reachable to me.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Preparing The Way

weekly theme #2 Preparing The Way*      

week containing the second Sunday of Advent

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  (Shakespeare –  As You Like It)  The life of John the Baptist would certainly bear evidence to that concept.  John’s destiny was foretold before his birth, and his place on the stage confirmed.  I think John’s introduction, preparation, and purpose were all unique, but the concept can also apply to me.  I am called to my part in God’s story, a part designed for me, or me for it. My cooperation with the Director’s instructions can have broad and deep impact on many others in the story.

Twice Satan called for proof from Jesus that he was the Son of God. (Matthew 4)  He challenged Jesus and showed doubt about Jesus’ position as Lord of creation.  Then, in the third confrontation, Satan portrayed himself as the owner/ruler of all earth.  He offered Jesus power on earth in exchange for Jesus worship to him, but Jesus did not lose his focus.  He kept his eye on the way prepared by his Father, and he ignored the way prepared by the enemy.

Decades ago I heard a message about Isaiah 40:3 whose theme still remains with me.  Between God and each human lies a path to salvation.  The path is littered with memories, attitudes, excuses, and beliefs that hinder them from making progress toward redemption.  My role is to add no new obstacles and remove as many obstacles already present as possible.  I save no one, God does that, but I can help prepare the path.

Part of my preparation for preparing the way is to become instinctively prayerful.  At this time in my life, I need visual cues (prayer lists) and audible reminders (an alarm on my phone) to prompt my prayers, but I desire to make praying an innate part of my living – like blinking or breathing.  This opens me to the Holy Spirit working through me to speak wisely, live holy, and to sense what I am unable to sense on my own.  I can be used to make the path exactly what a person needs in order to take their next step to Jesus.

I do not have the ability to woo a soul.  I can manipulate superficially for a desired response, but heart change comes from the Lord.  He must prepare and call the soul of the person.  Consider the preparation for Jesus’ first coming:

  1. sacred scripture foretold his coming
  2. he was the creator of the creation he entered
  3. John the Baptist served as his advance man
  4. Angels appeared at his birth

Despite all that, he was not widely accepted as the Messiah.  I should not beat myself up if not all those I try to “prepare” do not accept him.  I may sow and water, but the Lord gives the increase.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Christ The King

weekly theme #56 Christ The King*          

the last Sunday after Pentecost

My prayers are not like the songs I find in the book of Psalms.  Often a psalm begins with a recount of history, a history giving evidence of God’s power and faithfulness.  Following the history, they lament their current condition and beg God to intercede.  I don’t think God needs reminded of his faithfulness.  I, like those authors of the Psalms, am the one who needs reminded.  He knows my needs and cares deeply, but sharing my needs is not the primary reason for prayer.  The primary purpose of prayer is for me to open a portal for the Lord of the universe into my life, triggering peace, love, more praise.

What a strange King I serve.  He arrived as a weak child, not as a King.  He did not come to conquer but to convert and coach and commission.  He felt more at home with the common, marginalized people than with emperors – sleeping on the ground rather than royal sheets.  He suffered temptation, abuse, and death at the hands of those he could have overpowered.  This is the King I serve.

The book of Luke is a book of action.  In chapter eight alone, Jesus exercised power over natural storms, dictated the actions of powerful demons, healed disease, and raised the dead.  When the Lord of the creation speaks, things happen.  He offers power to me, but I both fear it and crave it.  I think the two in combination causes me to doubt my trustworthiness for such power.  Why would Jesus trust me with power I may be too scared to use or use for my own glory?  “LORD, make me a trustworthy vessel!”

I want fresh stories.  Don’t get me wrong, the bible stories of miracles, victories, and redemption inspire me.  I just want something fresh, something less than two-thousand years old.  The God of yesteryear is the same God today.  I know he is working, but is he working in the nation-changing ways of the Bible stories?  “LORD, open my senses to detect your power among the nations.  Let me give witness to works of your hand that are even greater than what I read in the Bible.  Cause people to say, ‘This only happened because of the Lord.’  May even the unbelieving confess your greatness.”

Historically, a person’s king was determined by where they lived, and their allegiance was not their choice, and that’s mostly true today.  However, allegiance is different in the spiritual realm.  Spiritually, I choose my ruler, and I have no reason to complain about how he runs his Kingdom.  I have no excuse to disobey just because some of his rules are difficult, I don’t understand his overall plan, I don’t like something that happened in his Kingdom, or some people in his Kingdom are annoying.  I have no excuse to disobey, but I still disobey.  Yet my King is so great that he loves me enough to forgive me when I turn to him.  He actually longs for me to come back.  He pursues me!  What a great King!

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

 

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See…Judge…Act

weekly theme #55 See…Judge…Act*        

week containing the Sunday between November 13-19

My past week has been grueling.  I have been in near-constant interaction with other believers, most whose hearts passionately want to serve God.  It would seem that this should make my days a joy, but I failed to find extended, private time for conversation with God.  God renews me in these times, and the absence of them was making me feel guilty, anxious, and irritable.  However, today, hiding in my bedroom, I had an extended, private conversation with my Lord.  He provided encouragement about our conversation, or lack of it, through scripture and the writings of others.  I completely understand why Jesus “went away by himself for prayer”.

I’m entering another week like my last, but I’m taking a different approach to my time with Father.  It must take a higher priority.  My Father should govern my schedule rather than my schedule govern my interaction with father.  I am responsible for making sure that happens; it is my choice.  Yet even as I write these words, I know that I will not always find a lonely spot to talk to Father.  Henri JM Nouwen proposes that real spirituality “makes us so alert and aware of the world around us that all that is and happens becomes part of our contemplation and meditation and invites us to a free and fearless response.”  By that measure, I do not have real spirituality.  And to be honest, I think I’ll always need times when I “get away” and be alone with Father.  I admire Henri, but I am not him.

The title for this week, “See…Judge…Act” puzzled me.  It wasn’t until today that it became clear; the middle word could be “Pray”.  I must insert prayer between something I sense and the action I take in response to my perceptions.  The prayer makes my judgment more aligned to a godly response.  The title for me is “See…Pray to judge rightly…Act”.  I’m not there yet, but I want to be.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Prayers and Promises

weekly theme #41 Prayers and Promises* 

week containing the Sunday between August 7 and 13

The prayers of Scripture seem different from the prayers I hear today.  They were more personal and simultaneously more reverent.  Sometimes they sound more like fond reminiscing, as when I say to a friend, “Do you remember when you…”.  Sometimes the prayers sound schizophrenic, talking of God’s faithfulness in times past and in the next paragraph complaining because God isn’t doing enough now.  Other times they simply share their wants and their needs with Father then put their trust in whatever he decides.  Why don’t I hear more prayers like those?  Why don’t I pray more like that?  Perhaps it’s because the LORD and I aren’t close enough.  We are in this life together, him and me.  He invested a lot to save me, and I forget that fact.  He has earned the right to own me, let alone to have me treat him with respect.  I can trust him to love me, even when he uses me to benefit others.  He deserves that faith – that devotion.

I’m struggling to combine the thoughts and feelings of this week into paragraph form.  A number of bullet points are my best offering.

  • God has saved me time after time, but I still fail to walk in faith.  I still fail to pray naturally and constantly.  I still fail; he still saves.
  • Prayers for my faithfulness during trouble are as critical as prayers for my deliverance from those troubles – actually, probably more.
  • I need prayer in the week of sunshine as much as the in the day of the storm.
  • Jesus’ prayer for me requires me to sacrifice.  (John 17:20-21)

“LORD, let me be wise from yesterday, relish today, and welcome tomorrow.”

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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