Spiritual disciplines like fasting, attending worship, and praying to name a few, teach us to live our lives in harmony with something larger than ourselves and larger than that which secular society values as ultimate. Living in harmony with God who is made known in Jesus the Christ is to live our lives from the inside out.
As we live life from the inside out, the spiritual disciplines keep us in the presence of the living and loving God. It is in these practices we learn to hear and respond to God's direction. It is in these practices we learn of God's love for us. It is also where our love for God is nurtured and sustained. However, remember each of us is unique and different which will cause us to structure and practice different spiritual disciples in an order that is helpful to us.
In several of the parables of Jesus, it would seem we must draw near to God with a determination to obtain the things we seek and not be put to shame by the seeming refusal or delay on God's part.
Consider the case of the Syro-Phoenician woman, Jesus seemed to put her request down with an uncharacteristic rudeness. Yet she continued to persist with the request. Finally, Jesus replied, "O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee as thou wilt." Matthew 15:28.
God does not always give us what we want at our first request. Rather it seems God trains us to work harder for the best things. He compels us to pray with determination. We need to keep hammering away at our prayer request until we obtain what we have requested.
Ice Cream for the Soul
Last week at a restaurant, my six year old son asked to say grace. As our heads were bowed, he said, God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food and I will thank him more if Mom gets ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all. Amen. One woman remarked, in a loud voice, That is what is wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for Ice cream, Why I never....
Hearing this my son burst into tears and asked me, Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me? I held him and assured him he had done a terrific job. An elderly mad approached the table. He winked at my son and said, I happen to know God thought you had a great prayer. Then nodding his head toward the woman who had started the whole thing, he said, Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul.
Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. When my son received his ice cream, he stared at it for a moment. Then he picked up his ice cream and walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes, and my soul is good already.
What are your thoughts about Ice Cream. Is it Good for your soul?
Waiting on God's Word
It is not necessary we should discover new ideas in our prayers or meditations. This may only divert us and feed our vanity. It is sufficient if the Word, as we read and understand it, penetrates and dwells within us.
For example, as Mary pondered in her heart the things that were told to her by the shepherds, similar to us casually overhearing something which follows us for a long time, sticks in our mind, occupies, disturbs or delights us, without our ability to do anything about it, so in mediation God's Word seeks to enter in and remain with us. It strives to stir us, to work and operate in us, so that we shall not get away from it the whole day long. Then it will do its work in us, often without our being conscious of it.
Discoveries in Prayer — In Nothing be Anxious
Keep in constant touch with God. So when trouble small or large come your way, speak to God about your troubles. Do not forget to give thanks to God for what he has already done. What will be the results of such actions. The peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and thoughts in the name of Jesus Christ.
Discoveries in Prayer — Do Not Neglect Prayer!
Prayer is God's way of allowing him to send us blessing and we instead choose to live in spiritual poverty because we neglect prayer. Consider this, Christ's ministry did not end with his death. According to Hebrews 7:25, Christ went to heaven to make intercession for us. Through his prayers for us God's grace abounds. Therefore, we must be like Christ giving ourselves to earnest and constant prayers of intercession for our neighbors and our church.
Focusing on Prayer
In Ephesians 6:18 we read about the need to focus on prayer — With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the spirit, and watching with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (RSV) It seems the apostle Paul realized humanity's natural laziness — how we seldom pray all things to completion. We get right up to receiving great blessings in prayer and we just let it drop or get sidetracked with less important tasks.
Why is constant prayer by us so necessary? Consider this, we are not dealing with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers and the spiritual hosts of wickedness.
Waiting Quietly for God's Response
It is good that one should both hope and wait quietly for the
salvation of the Lord.
The 5 poems in the Book of Lamentations, chapters 1-5, focus on the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans in 586 B.C.E. There is a bitter realism in the book of Lamentations. This book presents a vivid picture of death and destruction. Yet Lamentations lifts up suffering as a threat to God's purpose in history. The third poem or third chapter of Lamentations is the climax of prayer focusing on dealing with suffering and asking God to help the nation of Israel deal with its suffering.
Patience is a hard virtue to practice when your life has been turned upside down by war or natural disasters. Take time to study the 3rd chapter of the Book of Lamentations and ask yourself, Do I have the necessary patience to wait quietly for God to respond to my prayers?
Prayer as a Request for Joy
In Philippians chapter one verses 2-7, Paul prays that the Philippians may abound more and more in love. Without love, your heart can never pray or praise effectively. Love for, as well as, the love of Christ enriches your life, according to Paul. This was because Paul viewed Christ as highly exalted and his prayers in Philippians demonstrate this belief.
Prayer for Our County
O God, keep our whole country under your protection. Wipe out sin from this land; lift it up from the depths of sorrow, O Lord, our shining light. Save us from deep grief and misfortune, Lord of all nations. Bless us with your wisdom, so that the poor may not be oppressed and the rich may not be oppressors. Make this a nation having no ruler except God, a nation having no authority but that of Love. Amen.
This prayer entitled "For Our Country" was written by Toyohiko Kagawa, a Christian leader and pacifist who spoke out against the militaristic policies of imperial Japan during the 1930's and '40's. His prayer for Japan has been adapted for use by persons of many nations. It shows the deep concern that can characterize those who feel constrained to criticize their native lands.
Prayer for a Privileged Position
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, "What wilt thou?" She said unto him, "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand and the other on the left, in thy kingdom."
The request of Salome, mother of James and John, was one Christ could not answer and it produced indignation among the other ten disciples.
Salome probably felt she had some basis for her petition. One of her sons, John was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Her other son James was one of three who witnessed the Transfiguration of Christ.
Yet Jesus answered Salome, "Ye know not what you ask." James endured the baptism of blood (see Acts 12:2) and John endured persecution and loneliness on Patmos (Revelation 1:9). Let us be careful how we pray. Some answers to our prayer petitions may be costly.
Prayer for our National Leaders
Let us pray.
Be with our national leaders, O Lord. Give them courage to face the truth, prudence to make sound judgments and a willingness to work for a strong government. We want to be your agents for peace in the world — not a peace based on military parity alone, but one based on harmony and justice for people everywhere. Help us be strong and alert in the face of threats to our security, help us to keep alive the vision of a world in which all people are free from political and economic oppression, free to celebrate their unity as your daughters and sons — children bound together in your love. We offer prayer in gratitude for the many gifts you have given us, especially the gift of freedom. Amen.
Prayer for our Nation
Let us pray.
God, we pause to acknowledge your presence here with us; to remember your dream for us is abundant life — a life that is filled with joy, love and peace.
Lord, we are grateful for dedicated Americas who molded this nation into a land of the free and the home of the brave, a country for all people.
Those who passed the torch of liberty to us invested much of themselves in personal sacrifice. They gave energy to help their neighbors build homes. They gave food to feed those who lost employment. They gave their time to encourage the sick. They provided a place of rest to those who were homeless. Father, you have blessed us beyond the simple necessities of daily life. Grant us a clear vision of the needs of the poor. Help us emulate our forefathers by sharing our wealth with those less fortunate than ourselves. In so doing, we pass on to others the hope of opportunity and the encouragement of a caring nation. We know that is in giving we speak most clearly of our faith and patriotism. Bless us and guard our country. Amen.
The Power of Scripture to Enhance Your Prayers
Jesus prayed we would become followers of the Word of God.
For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.
The power of prayer is increased when we combine it with the study of the word of God. It brings vitality, meaning to our lives and is relevant to what we are facing now.
The power of your church's prayers increase and it motivates your church to grow, change and be obedient to God and God's purpose for his church. Amen.
Let Us Pray
Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless your children at play. We do not ask for favoritism. We do not ask for victory for ourselves and defeat for our friends. We do not seek intervention in the borderline calls and bounces of the ball. Keep us from praying piously and then talking trash.
We thank you for the skill and preparation of the players, coaches and especially the referees, without whom all of us fine Christians could not complete a single game without bloodshed. Spare the contestants from injury and the spectators from embarrassing themselves and their schools.
We ask this in the name of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Pray for our children
Lord, we come before you in thanks and adoration for the children of this community. You have blessed us with the resources and abilities to meet the needs of all the children in our community. Help us we pray to keep our children safe from abuse of all kinds. Forgive us for not doing more for our children. In this past year we are aware of the number of children who lost their lives through gun violence and drugs. It is such a senseless loss. Help us we pray so families will no longer grieve the tragic death of their children in this community and our nation. Amen.
Prayer for pregnant teenagers
O God, we lift up to your loving care all the pregnant teenagers and their parents. Let them know they are never alone. There are many willing to open their hearts and minds to the needs of these teenagers. Let them know your church is open to serve and assist them. Grant the protective power of the Holy Spirit to cover and protect each mother and unborn child.
Pray that we act, not to condemn, but rather seek to guide rightly the young mother and father. Finally we pray, may God provide us with the means to instruct our children in word and deed of what it means to be a community which leads a moral life.
Father, for the sake of your son, hear our prayers. We have fallen short in listening to one another and we have many broken homes in our community. We have bitter and discouraged children who have run away, often into the arms of people who mean them harm or wish to exploit them. We have parents who are afraid and do not know what to do. Father, hear our prayers.
Watch over the children who have run, who are not at home today. Calm the fears of their parents who care about them. Give the children the gift of courage to return home. To those who do return home, may they receive the spirit of forgiveness.
Last of all, Jesus, where there are home where parents truly do not care, provide their children with a safe shelter with someone who truly does.
Lord guide us in your church universal to help with the problem of runaway children. Amen.
O Holy Spirit, help us rid ourselves of our bad habits and destructive behavior. We ask for guidance to help all in our community overcome with substance abuse or other damaging addictions that imprison them from achieving their full potential. Help us hold them accountable with love when they become addicted. Give them public resources and strategies to help them cope with life and relationships. Bring them back from the captivity of addiction through the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Prayer Promotes Personal Holiness
Go through your Bible and you will find it stated every spiritual blessing is obtained by prayer. In Psalm 139:23-24 God searches us and knows our hearts, tries us and knows our thoughts, brings to light the sin that is there in us and delivers us from it. Psalm 19:12-13 tells us prayer cleanse us from secret faults. Check out Second Corinthians 3:18: But we are all reflecting as a mirror the glory of God, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.
How do you reflect God's glory in your life?
Christian marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and woman who are subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21) It is more than a contract. Covenant in contrast to contract involves giving of self unreservedly in love to the other. The couple encounters the risen Christ daily in their love for each other. They make a little family within the household of God, a little church in the body of Christ.
Prayer for National Trouble
And Samuel took a lamb, and offering it for a burnt offering unto the Lord;
and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel and the Lord heard him.
— 1 Samuel 7:9
The need for divine help felt in time of war drives men to God. Battlefield prayers were common in the early history of Israel. So Samuel prays before the battle of Ebenezar. The people asked him to pray for them in such an emergency. God heard Samuel's prayer.
What do we learn from this experience?
1. God is more ready to hear the prayers of his people when they repent than when they remain proud and disobedient. Amen.
2. God's ministers can pray with more comfort and confidence for a repentant people, than when the people do not repent.
A Glimpse of the Divine
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.
— John 1:14
Lord Jesus, you became flesh and dwelt among us so you could speak with us, walk with us, pray with us, and even die with us. You became a human being among other human beings so nothing human would be alien to you, so in everything but sin, you could be like us. By doing this you showed the immense love of your heavenly father. Through Jesus we catch a glimpse of the father's divine love for humanity.
Let us pray. Jesus, in you the father's loving heart is glimpsed. Amen.
A Prayer Teaching Us to Listen
Let us pray.
Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the many sounds which daily overwhelm me. Give me the spirit of thechild Samuel when he said to you, "Speak for your servant hears."
Let me hear you speaking to me. Let me get use to the sound of your voice, that it may be pleasing to my heart. Let your voice be music for my soul.
Matt is six months older than our 11 year old son, Brandon, and they are best friends. They have grown up together being neighbors since their birth. Our family has been an influence on Matt, taking him places with us, including church and church related activities.
I was not sure how much or how positive our influence was until Matt went out to eat with us one evening. My husband, I, Brandon and Matt sat down and were about to begin eating when Matt stopped and said, "Aren't we going to pray first?" I just about fell out of my chair. So we stopped to say the blessing and then eat.
Just when you think you will never get through to them, the unexpected happens. Hang in there, because they do hear you and see you, and you do influence them.
West College Corner, Indiana
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Let us pray.
Eternal God, you have given us everything; we now focus our thoughts on thanking you for such generosity. You have given us life. Help us to use our lives wisely, to enjoy your creation, the continual passing of the seasons which delights our senses, the work of our hands, and the gift of friendship.
Through Jesus Christ you have given us the revelation of your love in the life Christ led, the proclamation of truth in the things he said, and your promise of eternal life through our faith in him. To each generation you give the gift of inspiration to serve Christ — knowledge of your Word, new understandings, new power to control and direct our lives.
We thank you for all you have given to us so in everything may we give glory to Jesus the Christ.