Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Augustine and Prayer

I was cruising around the Internet thinking about the early church fathers and prayer and stumbled upon this gem at www1.villanova.edu and thought it was perfect for today's reflection and prayer:

St. Augustine on Prayer

According to St. Augustine, we need not pray for what we need because God already knows what we need before we even ask. Instead, we ought to pray, he suggests, to increase our desire for God, and so that we might be able to receive what He is preparing to give us.
"The deeper our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to receive the gift, which is very great indeed. .... The more fervent the desire, the more worthy will be its fruits. When the Apostle tells us: Pray without ceasing (1 Thes5:16), he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him alone who is able to give it."
(Letter 130)

Today's Prayer:

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you!  You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace. 
Confessions, X, 27, 38

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Getting Still

I may be the only one that has this challenge, but I love to be going Mach 2 with my hair on fire.  The lack of being busy can be troublesome for me and if you know me at all this will make total sense to you.

For some with this issue, they feel the need to manufacture tasks or drama to keep the pace fast and their hair on fire.  I have discovered that there is enough to do on any given day that I don't need to add anything extra.  But I still struggle with getting still.  Yes the scriptures say a lot about the need, the urgency and the immediacy of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God.  Yes the scrtures say that the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.  The Bible says all kinds of things along these lines.

But the Bible also says we should slow down, take sabbath time, recharge to be able to continue to meet the demands of life and ministry.

Specifically, Psalm 46:10 says to "be still and know that I am God."

I have a hunch that I'm not the only person that could use help in this area...so today's prayer is all about getting still.

Today's Prayer:
Holy God, help us to slow down the pace of our days and of our lives long enough that we might enjoy times of full communion with you.  Refill our spiritual tanks, that we may have enough fuel to complete the kingdom tasks you have called us to.  Allow us in our stillness to once again encounter the awesomeness of your presence and the fullness of your grace.  We give you thanks for all the ways you shepherd and renew us when we submit ourselves to your care.  Amen.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ending favoritism

In studying the letter James wrote to the church during Sunday School, we are learning a variety of things...some for the very first time and some for the umteenth time.  This week we began chapter two and these words still ring in my ears:

My brothers and sisters, I know you’ve heard this before, but stop playing favorites! Do not try to blend the genuine faith of our glorious Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with your silly pretentiousness.If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewelry, don’t trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless bum crawls in with his shabby clothes and a stench fills the room, don’t look away or pretend you didn’t notice—offer him a seat up front, next to you. 3-4 If you tell the wealthy man, “Come sit by me; there’s plenty of room,” but tell the vagrant, “Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there,” then you’ll be judging God’s children out of evil motives.

It was funny that in second service one of the songs was from Brandon Heath entitled "Give me your eyes."  The song refers to a request for God to grant us his eyes so that we may see the world and people around us the way that he does.  I share this because it was an interesting followup to our Sunday School lesson.  It was something that I couldn't have planned better (although I had no idea or help,in the selections this week).

So here is today's Prayer:
Gracious God, help us to see as you do.  Keep us from favoritism and prejudice.  Help us to recognize the problems and challenges in our lives and in the lives of others.  Help us too, to see the divine solution and our part in it if there is one.  Please don't let us miss an opportunity to be a reflection of you to the world around us. Amen.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

We all need healing

If we are honest with one another, we are all in need of healing at one time or another.  We need our hearts and spirits healed as much as our bodies.  Or minds need healing too.

Yesterday was a day of prayer for me as I tended to my daughter who is sick with a virus.  As symptoms began to escalate, I called a couple of trusted friends, took my daughter to the urgent care/ER clinic and continued to pray.  James tells us of the power of prayer in the scriptures, but there is an Old Testament promise relating to wholeness and healing:

But for you, the ones who tremble at the sound of My name, a warm sun of righteousness will come forth with healing in its rays, and you will go out, springing from the stalls like calves in open pasture. 

Those words are found in Malachi 4:2 and the above translation is from The Voice.  These were words of hope for me yesterday and I pray that they will be words of hope for you today.

Today's Prayer:
Gracious God, you know of our afflictions - mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual - long before the words leave our lips to be lifted to your ears.  Today we pray that you would hear our prayers for healing and would act in tangible and miraculous ways.  We give thanks for your faithfulness and look forward to all the different healings you will bring about in our midst.  This we pray with gratitude in Christ's holy and precious name.  Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Doing Good Today

John Wesley said:

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” 
Sometimes we can get so busy with doing things that we can forget to pay attention to the good things God is calling us to do.  It is Saturday, after all, and there is shopping, playing, family time and chores that are scheduled for today in most people's lives.  Some are even working today and have those related tasks to accomplish as well.  My hope,is that no matter what activities are ahead of us this Saturday, we can find ways to continue to live into Wesley's words.

Today's Prayer:

Gracious God, help us to be mindful of those around us.  No matter what our context or schedule today, help us to do good by being your hands and feet in this world. Let this be not for our glory, but for yours, now and forever more.  Amen.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Where you want my focus

I had a very wise friend/mentor/sponsor tell me once, "Russell, whatever you spend the most time focused on in any given day...that will become your God for that day."  This could mean an individual in my life, or my schedule, or my job, or any number of things.  As I reflected on those words, and have frequently revisited them; I am taken back by how many things I can let interfere with my focus on God.  Sometimes it is things that I think are of great importance and sometimes it is the voices of my critics that edge my focus away from God.

In the psalms, there is a song that was sung on the way to worship that addresses our focus.  I have provided the first couple of verses below from The Voice translation/paraphrase:

Psalm 123

A song for those journeying to worship.

I raise my eyes to fix my gaze on You,
    for Your throne resides in the heavens.
Just as the eyes of servants
    closely watch the hand of their masters,
Just as a maid carefully observes
    the slightest gesture of her mistress,
In the same way we look to You, Eternal One,
    waiting for our God to pour out His mercy upon us.

Today's Prayer:

Gracious God, help us to keep our focus on you today.  Keep us from allowing the distractions of critics and being busy to take your place in our hearts.  Help us to see the mercies you promise, made new each day, once again in our lives this day. We give you thanks for your faithfulness.  Amen.




Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bed time gratitude

It dawned on me that I didn't post a prayer for today...so here it is:

God, we give you thanks for the many blessings you presented us with today.  Help us to be ever mindful of all the ways you nurture and care for us.  Amen.