Archive for category prayer
I will likely write an update post soon, but for now, I wanted to post this prayer from yesterday’s daily office because I like it and I want to remember it.
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church.
Fill it with all truth, in all truth, with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purify it;
Where it is in error, direct it;
Where in any thing it is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen it;
Where it is in want, provide for it;
Where it is divided, reunite it;
For the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.
As I was pondering this on my Sunday morning walk, two pastors from the neighborhood passed me on their way to services – one the pastor of a large contemporary church, the other the pastor of a small fundamentalist church.
May the prayer above be so for both of them and their congregations, for me,
and for all of the church, wherever and however we gather.
“It is God who sets and removes the rulers of nations. We vote in obedience to His direction and then trust that the person chosen to lead the country is His plan for us.”
“It is up to believers to discern which candidate best represents godly and righteous values and to pray and act accordingly. God’s will for our nation can be hindered by our failure to act.”
Which of these statements most accurately represents you?
Any related thoughts?
Just a reminder, be nice to each other in the comments.
Many of us were raised with the understanding that Christmas joy comes in the form of presents, believing that a certain special gift was the key to our happiness, the fulfillment of our wishes. Someone was going to know us well enough and care about us enough that the deepest desires of our heart would be realized.
I Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to “be joyful always.”
That seems a bit unrealistic, maybe overly optimistic.
Interesting that in context, it is paired with the command to pray continuously.
“Be joyful always, pray continuously.” Hmmm.
Seeing this actually helped me to understand how we could be expected to be joyful always. To pray continuously requires that we grow in our understanding of God’s presence, no longer segregating our lives into compartments of sacred and secular activities. In order to pray continuously, we embrace an underlying frequency of God’s presence that is constant, whether we are tuned in or not.
Likewise, the scriptures tell us that our joy is made complete and that we experience fullness of joy in God’s presence. So rather than working at being joyful, experiencing joy is an awareness of the constance of God’s presence in our life which we can access at any time. His presence isn’t something we have to work up, but instead it is a constant reality that we simply open ourselves up to.
Joy isn’t a happy feeling that happens to us when everything is going right or when we get all of the things that we want. It also isn’t a fake happiness that we are expected to drum up in spite of our circumstances. It is a gift given to us by His Spirit as we experience God’s presence.
They were wrong. Christmas joy isn’t about presents. It’s all about Presence.
Other advent bloggers:
9 Killed in Shooting at Omaha Mall
5 Killed in New Life Church, YWAM Attacks
6 Shot After Leaving Vegas School Bus
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Today I was thinking about my advent post on peace. I was thinking about shalom and the restoration of all things to the way that they were intended to be. God’s intentional restoration is so amazing.
Yet this evening as I read the headlines and grieved for the families of those who lost loved ones, I also wondered about the lost and wounded souls who committed these violent acts. They seemed so far away from even beginning to grasp the love that could heal them.
In particular, I read about the young man from the Colorado shootings, wondering what caused him to target Christian groups. Apparently he was raised in a religious family that went to church. However, somewhere along the way the message of God’s love was distorted to him.
Ideally for each of us, as we grow in our relationship with the Father, the sins and wounds from our past are dealt with, and we grow in our experience of peace. But what happens when the very thing that has the power to heal and save is presented as abuse, shame, and control?
Yes, the killers are responsible, but what evil influenced them to the point of becoming the twisted and angry people they were? Virginia Tech, Columbine, and so many more. Would Jesus have recognized these outcasts hovering at the brink of despair and violence? Could they have been reachable?
Global peace, national peace, peace in our cities and streets, peace in our relationships and families – all of these are important. We are to be peacemakers, but in order to do that, we must experience peace ourselves.
As long as we act out of our brokenness, we will inflict pain on others, both intentionally and unintentionally. Of course not to the degree of these tragedies. Just the little things, like impatience with our children, criticism of our spouse, angry words to the store clerk, gestures to stupid drivers, all the little things that show our lack of peace oozing out the cracks of our vessel.
Peace doesn’t just happen. We all know the broken parts of our own lives – the areas where we struggle, where we feel ashamed of who we are, the things we are most afraid are true about ourselves. Quite often, these are the areas where we over-react. We sometimes become angry or anxious when others trigger our weaknesses. This is usually a big clue that there is an underlying issue that needs healing.
We will begin to experience wholeness when we bring these issues before the Father, one by one, for however long is necessary, allowing Him to reveal whatever is necessary to heal our hearts and minds. Our relationship with the Father can and should be one of progressive peace and wholeness.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
Other Advent Bloggers:
As I mentioned earlier, the whole concept of advent is somewhat new and unfamiliar to me. From what I understand, the overall theme is of waiting and anticipation.
I also posted a couple of months ago about beginning to pray the daily office. Although my participation is sometimes sporadic, I have come to appreciate the familiarity and repetition of the daily prayers.
Brother Maynard’s book, That You Might Believe, celebrates advent through the use of the daily office. Now familiar with that rhythm and structure, I look forward to using the book, prayers, and readings that he has compiled for this season.
As I said, the overall theme of advent is of waiting. The theme from the book for the first week of advent is hope.
This presented a bit of a problem for me as I approach the holiday season with clenched teeth, waiting for it to get over. In spite of the fact that I know better, hope feels far away.
I am not waiting for Christ’s birth, which happened over 2000 years ago. We all know December 25 isn’t really his birthday, and even if it were, the traditions and festivities often feel like a distraction rather than a celebration of His presence among us. I hope that advent is more than just a countdown to the big present day.
I also am not really waiting for His second coming. It would be great if it were tomorrow, but I’m not counting on it. Sometimes I feel the longing described in 2Corinthians5, “to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Can’t we just skip this part and get on with the eternal stuff?
Sorry, this isn’t really cheery so far, is it?
So what about waiting? What about hope?
I wait and hope for His indwelling presence. I wait and hope for His light to break through the darkness. I wait and hope for the revelation of His kingdom. Christ with us, Christ among us. This is my expectation and hope.
In spite of the fact that I am achingly hungry for His voice and for more awareness of His presence, I do not take for granted the underlying hope that I have in the fact that He has already reconciled us to Himself.
This passage from Lamentations 3:21-26 is appropriate here.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
I wait for Him, with hope to feel the nearness of His presence, and with expectation that, by His grace, He will provide the hope that I sometimes lack in my soul.
A few words of hope from Graham Cooke describing the Lord’s provision for us:
“All you need is here by Me.
Provision, peace and a rest for your soul
Come and sit quietly by Me.
I am the pool of water by your feet
I am the manna falling
I am the raven feeding you
The tree of life that gives you shade
I am the gentle breeze that kisses your brow
I am the eagle’s cry, watching over you from above
I am the velvet paws of the lion padding protectively around your camp.
Step back, far back into your spirit
Practice being still, learn the way of peace.”
“The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
The following is a list of all those participating in the advent synchroblog.