Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mystery of Prayer

"For My ways are not your ways... My ways are higher... My word... shall accomplish that which I purpose." Isaiah 55:8-11

Have you ever had a prayer answered differently that you wanted? Accepting the unknowns and uncertainties are the hardest places to be. Trying to understand the mysteries of God is beyond our understanding. In Isaiah we read that God's ways are not our ways; He exceeds our ability to know or explain circumstances or outcomes. It's not fair! Why is this happening? This isn't what I asked for! And on goes our disappointment when God's answers do not come as we would choose.
"In prayer we persistently, faithfully, trustingly come before God, submitting ourselves to His sovereignty, confident that He is acting right now, on our behalf." Eugene Peterson/Tell It Slant, pg. 144
Scripture gives many examples of faith and prayer. It provides examples of God's people praying for one thing but having to accept a different outcome. David prayed that his baby "would not die", but the baby died. In the garden on the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for God, if possible, to "let this cup pass from me", but the cross was God's reply. Paul prayed on several occasions pleading for God to remove the "thorn in his flesh", but this never happened. Sometimes, God does not give us the answers we desire; sometimes there is no explanation or reason or logic, sometimes circumstances are unfair and unfriendly. In these times, we can only accept the Sovereignty of God and trust that His plan will accomplish His purpose, especially when we cannot understand. ~dho 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Night Prayer

This week and next week, I will be leading a study "PRAYER: Whispers, SHOUTS, groans! for my church's women's ministry program. We will spend two sessions discussing the meaning and purpose of prayer, kinds of prayers, examples of prayer in the Bible and conversational prayer. Prayer takes many forms but it is always a spiritual communion with God, a two-way conversation, both speaking and listening required. The language of prayer is full of whispers, SHOUTS, and groans! Thomas Merton's reflection on prayer is this: "Prayer is an expression of who we are... We are living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment."

 As you contemplate "prayer" and what it means, ask yourself a few questions. Is my prayer life satisfying? Do I sense the presence of God in your prayer time? What is necessary for me to develop a richer prayer life? As I have pondered these questions recently, I find room for a deeper relationship desired but sometimes neglected. I encourage you to keep a devotional/prayer journal. Any size or style that fits your personality will do. I use mine to record devotional thoughts, to keep words or phrases or quotes I read in my study time, and as a place to write prayer requests, mine and others. Sometimes I write out my prayers, not always. This week I share a prayer I wrote several years ago infused by one Scripture verse. Praying God's word is always prayer! - dho

I get up in the middle of the night to thank You;
    Your decisions are so right, so true - I can't wait
    till morning!  Psalm 119:62

Loving God,
    The night sky is filled with luminaries that light the darkness.  Angels whisper evening songs to my weary soul. I do not notice. As sleep gently calls, I forget that I have breathed the morning air, listened to laughter, seen the evening sky appear. Another day! 
     Something disturbs the rhythm of my sleep, summons my soul.  In these sleepless moments, the Holy Spirit is waiting and listens for my response. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!  
    Father, when I fail to see the beauty of Your day, remind me with a glorious morning to take my breath away, a soul laugh that only a listening heart can find, and a night sky crowded with stars like diamonds that demand a lingering look. My heart should burst with unmeasured thankfulness! These are Your ordinary gifts! I simply miss them in the hectic hours and scheduled chaos and saturated time. 
    Give my heart the desire to breathe, to listen and to see the ordinary with extraordinary intention. Grant my soul the desire to breathe, to listen and to see Your Extraordinary Gifts of Love, Grace, and Joy! Let me find Your extravagant gifts in every day! Let me say Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    Refresh my spirit! Refine my faith! Restore my love! Renew my strength! Rebuild my trust! Reclaim my soul!  Amen.  ~dho

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Love's Healing Hands

"Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep 
consciousness of God..." 1 Peter 1:18 The Message

Within the past week I heard this song, new to me. The words flow from a place of knowing loss, a heart that has experienced grief and loss, but a soul that finds its source of hope in God. Take a moment to listen to the song; its lyrics are included in the video. Everyone has either experienced losing or will - the words "shattered" and "words fall short" and "tell your heart to beat again" become a balm of understanding that gently touches deep, invisible wounds; a "thousand pieces on the floor" affirms that grief marks us with a new identity, another way of living, a different kind of being. The "you that used to be" no longer remains. "Beginning" reminds there is more to come, that "Love's healing hands" can reach through the brokenness. Loss writes its own story, a different story for everyone. Grief becomes a part of you, another chapter in your God-story. The journey varies for each person, but there is one commonality - we are forever changed. Tell your heart to beat again! ~dho

Thursday, January 07, 2016

UNplanned Places!

"God is seen in the places we didn't plan." Valerie Burton

"God is gracious - it is He who makes things right, our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, He saved me.
I said to myself, "Relax and rest. GOD has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you have been rescued from death; Eye, you have been rescued from tears; and you, Foot, were kept from stumbling." I'm striding in the presence of GOD, alive in the land of the living!
I stayed faithful, though bedeviled, and despite a ton of bad luck, . . .
I'm ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice and pray in the name of GOD.
I'll complete what I promised GOD I'd do, and I'll do it in company of His people"
Psalm 116:7-10, 17,18 The Message

A few years ago a friend lost her wallet which had a significant amount of cash inside. Within a few hours of losing it she received a call from the Sheriff's Department; someone had turned in her wallet after they found it in a parking lot, AND, all the money was still there! According to the Sheriff's clerk, the person who turned it in did not want to leave a name, just hoped it would be returned. The most unusual thing is that my friend's phone number was not in her wallet. Her driver's license was there but she does not have a land line phone, and her cell phone is an unlisted, disposable phone to which she keeps adding minutes. We still aren't sure how they found her number! God's angels are all around!

When difficult and unexpected craziness interrupts our days, when disappointment and unexplained chaos interferes with our weeks, when deception and uneven cracks intersect our way, we must remember it is God who is gracious and loving! In God we find rest and peace! Offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving ~ a praise, a Hallelujah, a 'thank-You, Jesus' should be our frequent response, our faithful reply! God, who is always gracious, desires our obedience to Him and our praise! Be alert! Be alive in the land of the living! God is always present ~ don't miss Him in the crazy, unplanned places of this world! ~ dho