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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Since Pentecost Sunday a couple of weeks ago, we’ve been singing the chorus of “Spirit of the Living God” at our church which goes,

“Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me”.

 

I cannot sing the song without my hands outstretched in open submission.

 

Last night as I was about to go to sleep I was praying and thinking of the words of this song. Every time I sing it, I can visualize being melted down into a puddle, then turned on a potter’s wheel while the Potter molds me into a usable vessel. I “see” liquid being poured into my vessel and then being put into service.

As that image was going through my mind I “heard” this question – “Are you sure you want to be melted…? You do know, don’t you, that melting takes away ‘you’ so that you can be reformed and ‘molded’ anew. Plus… it might hurt…”

I thought about it a few moments… Do I want to be… am I willing to be… melted?

And so I said, “Lord, I belong to You. If you choose to ‘melt’ me, what choice do I have? You are the potter, I am the clay. Am I going to tell You what to do? Plus, I know, that if You ‘melt’ me it will be all good, even if it doesn’t look so great at the time.”

Then in my mind, I sang the song again, and gave my will to God. It’s all His anyway. It’s all good, for sure.

Amen.

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In 2005, in the last 6 weeks of his life my Daddy spent 3 weeks in the hospital, then nearly 3 weeks at home before he passed. The first week or so wasn’t too bad, and then it began to wear on me – physically and emotionally.  We went through such a “roller coaster” of emotions from “he’s not going to live through the night” to “we’re going home in a day or two…” And then, to couple this with only getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night, well it was taking a toll!

One day, when I was particularly stressed, one of Daddy’s sisters-in-law called me. Now, this lady is just special! And she… just encouraged me so much that day. So, after I hung up from talking with her, I wrote this piece that I titled “Running on Empty”.

Running on Empty

“God is ever gracious, ever loving, ever caring, ever teaching in every trial of our lives.

When my physical and emotional “tank” is on empty, He sends someone with a smile, a hug, a laugh, or a prayer that adds a little fuel to the tank and gives me a few more “miles” of strength.

Oh God, thank You that in this time of need someone came to me. Thank You, that in this time of need I saw so clearly how need-ful something like that is, and how helpful it can be.

Grant me, I pray, the “eyes” to see the opportunities to pour a little in another’s “tank” when they, too, are “running on empty.”

Thank You for this one You sent to me today.
Amen”

 

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As I sat down this morning to work on the assignment for the Daily Bible Study series for the United Methodist Publishing House, I began as I always do – with prayer for clarity and wisdom in writing. I prayed that my words would be pleasing to God and glorify His name.

I also prayed (as I always do) for those who will be reading this series which will be out next summer. I always pray for the readers as individuals – but today as I prayed the image came to mind of hands reaching for the books for their daily devotional time. I “saw” – um – how should I say it? “Older hands”. Hands that were wrinkled and bent with arthritis; hands with thin and bruised skin. Hands that have worked hard and now are tired. I saw hands that often fold in prayer and yes, sometimes even wring with worry.

I pray that next year, when they pick up this book that they will find words that help them to stand strong and be faithful in spite of the world around them. Thank you God for this vision. Amen.

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How hard is it for you to see God at work in today’s culture?

Have you ever been discouraged about a turn of events? Not just when bad things happen to good people, but when very good things seem to be happening to very bad or immoral people? When it seems like justice will never be done, and the wicked get away with (sometimes literal) murder?

If you’ve ever felt that way (and who hasn’t), then you know exactly how the Psalmist felt in Psalm 73.

Psalm 73, verses 1-3, begins with what I’ve often called a “Yeah, but…” statement. The Psalmist says (to paraphrase), “Yeah I know that God is good to Israel, and especially to those with a clean and pure heart, but this is what had happened to me…” Then, he spends the next 13 verses despairing over how the wicked are getting away with everything, and, no matter how clean (pure) he tries to be, he still has problems!

“Until…” until verse 17 when we reach the “tuning point” in the Psalm.

In verse 17, we see the Psalmist’s “Ah-ha!” moment when he says, in essence, “I felt this way about what I saw, until I went into the sanctuary of God, then I perceived (or understood) their end.” Once he took his anguish to God, then his eyes were opened. Even though he was in despair, he knew enough, believed enough, to take (dare we say “drag”) his struggle into the sanctuary.  The Psalmist’s ultimate statement of faith in this Psalm is that God is good to Israel, as well as to those who have a pure heart, and when they seek God’s face, God will let them “see” Him. This is, in essence, the same thing that Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

The Greek word for pure is kat-har-os. It means clear, pure or unalloyed. It carries with it a sense of being untainted or free from pollution. The one who is “pure in heart” will have no mixed emotions, no ulterior motives, and does not “serve two masters” (cf Matthew 6:24). When one’s heart is pure, they will be allowed to “see God.” They will not just “see God” to look at Him, or see God someday in heaven, but will see, understand, be aware, of God at work in the here and now.

They will be able to see God’s mighty hand in the circumstances of everyday life so clearly that, when others are saying “luck” or “karma” or “coincidence,” the pure in heart will be saying, “No, it’s God!” And they will know, because they will see!

 

Prayer: Almighty God, we ask that in our times of struggle You will lead us to Your sanctuary and open our eyes to see You at work. Amen.

 

 

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newman-lane-winter

That “Thy Will Be Done” Thing

Sometimes “life” just blindsides you, doesn’t it? You think you have a plan – and then things change. It’s that way for all of us, I think. I recently had a situation arise that was completely unexpected – and I’ll admit – it sorta knocked me off my feet for a moment. (Ha! “Moment” nothing – for a good while!)

But – on the farm – chores still have to be done, regardless. So, as I was walking up the road toward the barn, I was praying. “Lord! How’m I gonna do this? How can I…” and I began naming off the things that I was (am) responsible to do. “What do You want me to do”? I cried. “I thought ‘this’ was what I was supposed to be doing… and now there’s ‘this’ added on… And I don’t see how I can do it all!”

But as I walked, head down and hands in my coat pockets due to the cold, the phrase “Thy will be done” came to mind and I looked up and said, “It’s that ‘Thy will be done’ thing, isn’t it?”

God’s will, will be done – the only variable is – what is my reaction to it. How will I say, “Thy will be done…”

In a Lenten study I wrote a few years ago we come to the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. You know the story – Jesus enters the garden and takes Peter, James and John with Him – and as Jesus agonizes in prayer, Peter, James and John immediately fall asleep. But what we study in that lesson is how do we learn to say, “Thy will be done”?

William Barclay puts it this way:

“It makes all the difference in what tone of voice a man says, “Thy will be done.”

  1. He may say it in a tone of helpless submission, as one who is in the grip of a power against which it is hopeless to fight. The words may be the death-knell of hope.
  2. He may say it as one who had been battered into submission. The words may be the admission of complete defeat.
  3. He may say it as one who has been utterly frustrated and who sees that the dream can never come true. The words may be those of a bleak regret or even a bitter anger which is all the more bitter because he cannot do anything about it.
  4. Or, He may say it with the accent of perfect trust. That is how Jesus said it. He was speaking to one who was “Father”; He was speaking to a God whose everlasting arms were underneath and about him, even on the cross. He was submitting, but he was submitting to the love that would never let Him go. Life’s hardest task is to accept what we cannot understand; but we can do even that if we are sure enough of the love of God.

This morning, standing in the cold as I prepared to do “farm chores” I had to decide just how I would say, “Thy will be done…” and I choose to trust.

God is perfect. He is Omnipotent – He is all powerful. He is Omnipresent – He is everywhere – and He is with me… He is Omniscient – He knows every single thing – and He knows what is best in my life and He knows what will bring Him glory. And so I choose to trust Him. But now, that’s not to say that I didn’t feel every single one of those other emotions. It’s just that at this point in my life I know that the only answer is to trust. I know that to “trust and obey” is truly the only to be “happy in Jesus”.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy – it just means that I choose to trust because it’s that “Thy will be done” thing.

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I have probably shared these before – but I think they bear repeating.

Three Prayers for the New Year

(Personal prayer)

Father, as I pause to think about praying for a new year, I have to wonder, what is it about changing the date on a calendar that makes us think of “starting over.”? Don’t we realize that every day, yes even every moment is new with You? That at any moment we can surrender ourselves to You and start afresh? Why do we think a date must change for us to change?

Or, is it the season we’ve just gone through that prompts us to make changes? We have experienced the Advent and the celebration of the Day of the birth of our Lord. Is somehow, that “advent” so ingrained within us that we long for “something new”? That we subconsciously want to “prepare” ourselves to be, what, better? More ready for His coming?

I don’t know the “why” Lord. I just know that we do. My prayer is, as Paul said, “forgetting what lies behind, but reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on to the goal…” And what is my goal, Lord? To know Thee more clearly, to serve Thee more nearly, and to love Thee more dearly… this is my prayer.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

(Universal prayer)

Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God; our Creator, our Adonay, our El-Shaddai, our God Almighty, You are everything we need. You have created us for Your purposes and to glorify You, hear our cries; hear our praises this day…

We lift up to You this day, a new year; a turning of our earthly calendar. Do You laugh at that, God? For to You “a thousand years is as a single day” and yet we turn the calendar with such pomp and circumstance – with such celebrations and resolutions, that one would think that we had some control… but, it is all Yours.

We humbly bow at that admission and revelation. It is all Yours! Make of us, Lord, servants of the Most High God, make of us, Father, servants of Your children.

We pray, Father, for those for whom the turning of the calendar brings hope; for those who just want to forget last year and start afresh. We pray that they would come to know that every day is new with You.

We pray for those for whom the turning of the calendar brings despair, anxiety and fear; for those who just can’t see how things can get any better. We pray that they would come to know You in all Your fullness, and to recognize that “this world is not their home.”

We pray for those for whom the turning of the calendar brings excitement; for those who know You and just can’t wait to see what You’ll do next. God! That is so exhilarating – just to know the joy of the Lord! But even at that Lord, may we too, realize that “this world is not our home” either. Don’t let us get so caught up with “living” that we forget “life.”

We humbly lay this year at Your feet and ask what would You have us do? Where would You have us go? Who would You have us touch? And who would You have touch us?

And may all that we do, glorify You.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

 

(My prayer)

My Father and my God, so order my steps in this coming year as to only bring honor to that Name I carry – “Christian.”

Lord, I know that means so many different things to different people – and some of it is not good. May I begin to change that!

Our younger son once said, “I keep tying my shoe, and it keeps coming untied – it must be something in my step…” Father, no matter how much I try to keep life together, no matter how often I tie my shoes, they keep coming untied. Life keeps coming unraveled, because that’s how life is. And as long as we live as humans, in fallen “containers” it will always be like that.

And so I pray, God, order my steps, control my walk, direct my path, that I may serve You and You alone this new year. That is my plea.

In Jesus’ name – Amen.

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Finishing Up Christmas

It’s just different – having Christmas on Sunday. Personally, I like the idea of being in church on the day that we celebrate our Lord’s birth, but there are a lot of other things that it changes, too. Not only does it mean that you’re in church two days in a row (and sometimes very late Saturday night as well as early Sunday morning) but, it also means that Christmas Sunday is the last Sunday in the month.

When Christmas falls on any other day of the week – there is one more Sunday left in the month of December. This allows for – well – closure. We’re allowed to “have Christmas” and still have one more Sunday to reflect on the year – and one more Sunday to hear a concluding Christmas sermon before taking down all the decorations and jumping into the New Year. Many pastors start new sermon series on the first Sunday in January, but there’s just something abrupt about starting something new, immediately the Sunday after Christmas.

I will be preaching on New Year’s Day this year and I’m going to “finish up Christmas”. My sermon will revolve around Simeon and Anna and their response/reaction to the Christ Child. But perhaps, that is a perfect New Year’s sermon. Just how will our response/reaction to the Christ Child direct our new year?

So really – maybe it’s actually the perfect way to begin the New Year after all!

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, what is my response to the Christ Child? Have I been waiting in anticipation for His coming? Am I waiting in anticipation for His second coming? As we take our first steps into this New Year, I pray that they will be made with a hope and eagerness that expresses our faith and trust that You, and You alone, hold this New Year.

Father, the world around us is in turmoil. As the hymn writer said [there are] “fightings and fears within and without…” How do we walk faithfully in such a time as this?

We turn, Father, to Your Word. Simeon and Anna lived in an equally fearful time and they walked faithfully. May we hold to their example as we face this daunting new year. We wait in eager anticipation for Christ’s glorious return, and every day we pray “Maybe today, Lord. Maybe today. But as we walk daily in the presence of our Savior we also sing with the hymn writer, “O Lamb of God, I come… I come”.

Thank you Lord for faithful writers who fill our hearts with courage, peace and joy! In the precious name of our Savior we pray – Amen.

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