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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Prayer

ImageOne of the most difficult spiritual disciplines is to pray. Prayer is our response to God and his working out something in us. Prayer is difficult because it seems rather pointless. After all, it doesn’t produce anything tangible and after we’re done there is really nothing to show for our effort. Sometimes the response we hoped for, the feeling we wanted removed or established, or the clarity to our concerns just doesn’t happen. At least, not immediately. And, unfortunately, everything in our culture trains us to expect everything we want to receive to happen immediately. 

Prayer is not like that, it requires a language and understanding that only comes through constant practice. The language part is actually pretty simple. We have a rich language waiting for us in the Psalms. We have 150 Psalms that express a language that helps us respond to God with every emotion and experience that we might possibly undergo. The trouble is that we don’t know the Psalms well enough to pray them. In order to know the Psalms, we have to know the rest of the biblical narrative. For example, to understand many of David’s prayers in the Psalms we have to be well acquainted with David’s life in the Bible and know his very high, highs, along with his sulking lows.

But once we walk through the biblical narrative and begin to “speak the language” of Psalms we can begin to feel as they felt, pray as they prayed, and pretty soon we become interpreters who pray with just as much might, awe, and emotional intensity as the Psalmists did during their time. 

And finally, with long practice and many early mornings/late nights, we begin to understand. In prayer, we are changed. We understand that God does not change, but may be moved to action through our requests. We understand that in prayer we are co-writing history, not just passively accepting it. We begin to believe that God’s will really is better than our own and that we truly would rather be doing life God’s way than our own. Our view of life and opportunity expands, it doesn’t shrink. And, ultimately, through our prayer we reveal what is in God’s heart, which often we don’t know until we ask, until we search. And in God’s heart we find treasures and resources that can’t be found in any other way. Suddenly, we discover riches, not in money, fame, or power, but the riches of a warm heart, abiding joy, tender friendship. 

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Many of us know we have a divine call on our lives. We feel it reverberating in our souls and know that God has created us for some good work or good life’s work that we want to get started on. But often that divine call doesn’t just fall in our laps. And during some phases of our lives I believe we have to wait during certain periods (sometimes very long periods) of time in order to be pruned, shaped, sharpened, molded into the kind of person who can live out what God is calling us to do. 

Immediately, Moses comes to mind. Moses, the great herald of justice for the Israelites set out to do justice in a way that was not just in the eyes of the Lord. If you remember the story, Moses killed an Egyptian who was abusing one of the Israelite people and then was forced to flee.

“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?'” Exodus 2

Moses would one day go about justice in a godly way, but not until he spent many years wondering in the land of Midian. It was long enough for Moses to enter into a new family, get married, have children, and a new Egyptian ruler take the thrown.

“Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.’ During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” Exodus 2

Moses would one day return to be a new kind of herald for the justice of God’s people in Egypt, but not before he spent time being shaped and molded and delivered himself. The Bible doesn’t say, but Moses did have to reckon with killing a man. He also had to reckon with a new identity as one who identified with slaves and not royalty. All of these transformations took a “long period.” 

I believe the Lord does the same with us today. He works in us ever so slowly and molds our character until we have become shaped into His likeness going about God’s ends (justice, mercy, and peace), but doing so with godly methods (gentleness, prayer, humility). 

While we wait, we must pray. The call is coming. 

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Healing Prayer for Anger

angry babyLord, heal me from my anger. Your word says to allow room for anger, but do not let anger cause you to sin. Father, I need your love to overcome my anger. I ask for help in this because there is no one to turn to except you. Who can deal well with anger, except the Lord? The storyline of my life has cropped up for me a list of angry grievances. I’d like to be done with that list. But I can’t trash it unless you help me.

I think back to the many “friends” who have been friends to my face and then quick to roll over me when they weren’t happy with my choices or when they just weren’t happy and needed to take it out on someone. I think back to the “friends” who gave blessings to my face and cursed me behind my back. And then there were the “jealous” who were cheerful in person, but were quick to take advantage of position or power at all costs.

I’m angry about how things have gone. I’m angry and tired of all the pain. I’m angry that Christians don’t act like it most of the time. I’m angry with that there are no safe places to turn to when I am hurting. I’m angry that there are not more pockets of heaven on an earth scarred with hell. I’m angry that the day of your return, Jesus, seems to lag on.

But great are your mercies and many are the plans that you have. Who am I to question your powerful will? Who am I to question when, how, and where you will make things right? Every morning your mercies are new and your joys rush in. Don’t forget your servant Lord. My desire has always been that you get the credit that is due you. I will not vindicate myself, I will wait for you. Amen.

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Prayer for Healing

Lord, we come to you for healing, for restoration, for renewal. 

ImageLord, heal our minds, where we have thought wrong thoughts, believed wrong things, and been unguarded with what we let in it.

Lord, heal our bodies, where we have been lazy, where we have been careless, and where we have been lustful.

Lord, heal our hearts, where we have been slow to trust You, where we have been superficial, where we have been disconnected. 

Lord, heal our souls, where we have been quick to sell out, quick to bargain away, and have failed to live for the eternal and instead chosen the immediate. 

Lord, heal our emotions, where we have sought instant gratification, where we have given free reign, where we have suppressed and repressed. 

Lord, heal our self-image, where we have been too boastful and too absorbed, where we have lost sight of Your image and likeness for whom we were made.

Lord, heal us and quickly. We don’t want to wait for another moment. We are tired of the old and await the newly healed selves you promise. Come Lord Jesus come! Amen.

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Joy in 2012

I took some time yesterday to work through some really helpful questions from this email I received from Getting Things Done: http://www.davidco.com/newsletters/archive/0112.html. I realized one large gap in my life as I reviewed the previous year. I accomplished a lot, but had little joy. If there’s one word I want others to be able to describe me with in 2012 its the word joy.

As I was in prayer this morning I realized that I can do many things, but if I lack joy then it diminishes the beauty of the Christian life in to one big chore. Obviously we have things we must accomplish, but how can we do them in such a way as to exude and make evident to the world our deep joy and gladness?

My first step in this is to rededicate my prayer life. Before I set off to do my many tasks for the day I am seeking the calm and peace that comes from sitting in prayer before God. In short, I’m done being busy simply for the sake of busyness. Busyness seems to breed haste and haste breeds emptiness. Prayer breeds poise and poise breeds joyfulness. Let us be joyful.

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Meditation

SimplicityThis past week I have taken several days to try and discipline myself by taking 30 minutes for meditative prayer. It has been such a blessing to my life to spend time praying Jesus in this way. The enrichment that comes (the by-product) is peace.

Have you ever noticed that if you allow the many “to-do’s” consume your day that you quickly become anxious? I struggle with this at times. I’ve found that meditative prayer works as an antidote. I would encourage you to take 30 minutes this week to try it. Choose a scripture, pray for friends, pray for enemies, pray for countries, and you will find the time rewarding.

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